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them, that were once holy and happy, now. fallen
-fallen into sin, into misery, and (if sovereign Grace do not prevent it) into hell! Why did not I think of all this before? why am I not more affected with the thoughts of it now? If I had once been a king, with a large empire under my dominion, and a splendid court about. me, and had afterwards, by a sudden turn of Providence, been reduced to beg from door to door; surely I should never have forgotten that: every time I mentioned the dismal story, tears would have run down my eyes, and sighs have burst from my heart :-and is the loss of Paradise nothing? What sayest thou, O my soul, is not that affecting? Surely I will study this humbling history more than ever.'
Secondly. Our Present State—what we are.
God did not leave all mankind to perish in that deplorable state of sin and misery, into which we have just now seen them plunged. He saw the world lying in wickedness, and his eye affected his heart; so he sent his only and well-beloved Son to seek and to save that which was lost; and declared, that “whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”. In consequence of this gracious dispensation, some here and there are plucked as brands out of the burning, and are turn, ed from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Here, then, is another subject for conversation with ourselves, whether we are in the same miserable state into which we fell, or whether we are rescued from it.
Our first salutation to one another, when we meet," is, 'How d’ye. do?'-Let this be every man's(first address to himself : Heart, how dost thou . And this, not, as the other, merely,
out of compliment, or as words of course, but from a sincere and affectionate concern for its well being.---- O my soul, I have been hearing news the most important that ever I heard: I have been told, upon undoubted authority, that the eternal . Son of God came down to our world; and that he has been lately more than once or twice in this very place, offering, and actually distributing, salvation. There is Such-an-one, and Such-an-one; he asked them for their hearts, and they gave them to him without hesitation or reserve ; and, in the room of their old polluted hearts, he gave them a new heart, and put a new spirit within them; and see how they are walking before him in newness of life! O my soul, thou needest salvation as much as any of them : hast thou got it? didst thou 'ask for it? ---What! am I the same slave to sin, the same rebel against God, the same guilty, helldeserving wretch, that ever I was? Why was I persuaded that all was well; that I need not hurry myself; that there were thousands worse than 1, who go on quietly and cheerfully, and that I might do so too? Alas! alas ! have I any ground for cheerfulness ?-I heard lately-and I am convinced it was true-that I must be transformed, by the renewing of my mind, or I could never get 'to heaven: 'canst thou tell me when, and where, and how, any such change ever passed on me? Am I not still walking on in the ways of sin, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind ?-I cannot be cheerful, I will not be easy, till I know what I must do to be saved.'
In others, perhaps the conversation may take a different turn :-"O my soul, I have for some time
called myself a Christian, and hope I have not assumed a character that doth not belong to me; but my heart is so deceitful and desperately wicked, and God's dispensations are sometimes so dark and discouraging that I am
am often tempted to doubt the reality of my conversion. To be sure, a tree is best known by its fruits : if I am indeed.engrafted into Christ, I shall have my fruit unto holiness; the works of the flesh must be no longer manifest, and the graces of the Spirit must be in me, and abound. Instead of being carnal, sensual, sold under sio, serving divers lusts and pleasures, as once I was and did, now I must be spiritual and heavenly in my affections and pursuits.
In short, old things must have passed away, and all things become new.— They must—but, O my soul, are they so? In many instances, I can hope, I am renewed ; for whereas I was blind, now I see; what things were gain to me, now I count as loss, for Christ; once I was a willing servant of sin, but now I had a thousand times rather serve and please God. Tell me, O my soul-I would not be deceived for the world — tell me, all thou knowest, and what thou thinkest. Dost thou really think there is ground to hope that I am indeed a Christian ? -Glory, glory, glory, to the free and all-subduing grace of God! It is us by the grace of God I am what I am." I was dead in trespasses and sins, and a child of wrath, even as others; but “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved me, hath quickened me together with Christ”
not for works of righteousness which I had done, but according to his mercy he saved me, by the washiņg of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy
go to the
Ghost, which he shed on me abundantly, through Jesus Christ my Saviour.
Thirdly. We should converse about our Future State—what we are likely to be.
Let our present condition be what it will, good or bad, things will not continue always as they are: when a few years are come, we shall way whence we shall not return. We dignify this world with flattering and pompous titles; but it is all vanity, and nothing, in comparison of those infinitely awful scenes that will soon open upon us. We are, in general, so busy, or so easy, that we are not so apprehensive as we should be of what is coming. Let this, then, be the subject of our next conversation.
• O my soul, how canst thou be easy in such a precarious and hazardous situation! Why is nothing talked of or minded, from day to day, but the world, the world ? Dost thou consider, that there is a time coming when the world, and all things in it, shall be burnt up? “ It is appointed to all men,” and therefore it is appointed to thee, “ once to die;" and that once may be to-morrow, for what thou knowest. Death is a more serious thing than thou art aware of. It is the dissolution of the union between soul and body; when“ the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.” Death is the period and upshot of all thy employments and enjoyments in this world, when thou must take leave of those dear delights thou dost so fondly call thy own,. In that very day, “ thy thoughts perish”-that is,, all thy contrivances for profit or pleasure, they will all die with thee; and, busy
and bustling as thou art now, thou wilt, like all that have gone before thee, be buried and forgotten. And if this were all, we need not mind death much, for what is there in the world worth living for? But this is not all: death opens the door into eternity !-so that, when thou leavest this world, thou dost immediately enter into another; and by the time that thy friends have pronounced thee dead, God Almighty will have pronounced thee -blessed-or miserable — for ever !-O my soul how couldst thou forget these things, or think so. lightly of them as thou hast done? Art thou willing to die? Thou mayest say so, perhaps, in a fit of sullenness and discontent, when thou art out of humour with the world, because things do not fall out just as thou wouldst have them; but art thou fit to die? No one is fit to die till he is fit for heaven; for “ there is no more work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” And is the great work done, O my soul ? -The word of God assures me, that "except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Am I born again? Am I “ dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ my Lord ?" Am I in any thing different from what I used to be ?-And if death should come before this matter is cleared up, how dreadful would be my condition !-0 my soul! do not put the evil day far from thee: if I am so loth to think of death, how shall I encounter him! Should I not rather be dying daily, and keep myself in constant readiness? Then, let the time appointed for my change come when it will, I shall not need be hurried yea, then, the sooner it comes, the better. But