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liar exercises of his own mind: how then can it be expected, that embrio converts, so to speak, should be able, during an overwhelming tempest, to make such accurate observations and nice distinctions ?--The general proposal of the truth, and the scriptural exhortation and assurance, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou “ shalt be saved,” exactly suit the case of such persons; while the event will shew the nature of their convictions. Whatever better informed and more experienced persons may determine concerning the nature of saving faith, whether it be or be not an holy exercise of the heart; the convinced sinner can decide nothing of the kind in respect of his own experiences: nor can others determine the question for him; since many are alarmed, and convinced, and as far as we can see, appear even to be humbled, who never believe to the saving of the soul.

Two very small seeds may be essentially distinct in species, yet the best eyes, assisted by the finest glasses, can scarcely know one from the other: how then could a person,


weak eyes and with a very dim light, certainly distinguish between them? - But when they are sown and grow up, the plants that spring from them will be easily and infallibly distinguishable. Thus it is with men's convictions: some are essentially different from others; but all our endeavours exactly to know such as are spiritual from such as are merely natural, except by the event, will answer little purpose.

We must judge as well as we can, and act accordingly: but we shall frequently find ourselves mistaken. How impossible then must it be for the alarmed enquirer after salvation to find a warrant from any holiness in himself, to encourage his application to Christ? And how wise and gracious the general language of Scripture; “ Let him


66 that is athirst come, and whosoever will, let o him take of the water of life freely !"—While we proceed on the scriptural plan, the Lord will distinguish what we cannot. They that thirst for the pure "water of life-proceeding out of “ the throne of God and of the Lamb,” will be encouraged to approach and take of it freely; and others will either


back into the ways open ungodliness, or be found among the stony ground-hearers, resting in a false peace, without

sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, " and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.”

When the subject is considered in an abstract manner, the difference between a warrant to be lieve, and a disposition to believe, may at first glance appear trivial ; but, viewed in its relation to experience and practice, it is immensely great and important.-It can never discourage a trembling sinner, who honestly enquires, “ What he “ must do to be saved; to describe the nature of faith, and explain the way of salvation; and then to invite, exhort, and persuade, him to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, not doubting but in so doing he will certainly be saved. But should we enter into a discussion concerning the nature of genuine convictions, gracious thirstings, and spiritual desires; maintaining that it would be unwarranted presumption for him to believe, unless conscious that his experiences were of this nature; we should exceedingly embarrass his mind; take off his thoughts from the love of Christ, and the freeness and sufficiency of his mercy and grace; and give Satan an opportunity of tempting him to despondency, or of otherwise “taking the seed out of his heart, - lest he should believe and be saved.” Indeed, most deviations from scriptural simplicity may be traced back to this abstract way of discussing doctrines; and the subjects which chiefly. perplex speculating men, and furnish the most materials for controversy, appear very easy and plain when applied to practical purposes, according to the state of mind they were intended to meet. So that the wisdom and goodness of God, in not arranging revealed truths according to the

supposed exactness and consistency of human systems, are most illustriously displayed, when these truths are applied to the several cases to which they are suited, for conviction, instruction, warning, encouragement, or exhortation.

Whatever be the nature of divine illumination; or whatever may have been a man's previous thoughts about it; he cannot in general, when first divinely illuminated, very readily perceive any holiness in the change of which he is conscious. He now discovers, as it were intuitively, that he is a guilty polluted creature; that his supposed virtues were specious vices, and his religious duties formal, selfish, and hypocritical; and that his heart' is deceitful and desperately wicked: and in proportion to the degree of his illumination, is his convietion of these humiliating truths.-- These recent discoveries (or these new perceptions of what perhaps he before assented to as a notion) occupy his thoughts: he can hardly conceive that the hearts and lives of other men are so bad as his own; still less can he think that real and eminent saints feel those evils of which he is conscious: nay, he can „scarcely be convinced that his own heart was formerly so sinful as he now finds it to be. “ Without the law sin was dead : and the spirituality of the precept not only detects, but irritates, the depravity of nature, excites all manner of concupiscence, and sometimes even stirs up the dormant enmity of the heart into direct exercises of opposition to the holy character and righteous government of God. This is also connected with a discovery of the hatefulness of sin, and a disposition to abhor it in all its forms; so that self-loathing becomes a predominant part of the new convert's experience. The stone is become flesh; and exquisite sensibility, in feeling and hating every sinful emotion, is united to a quickness of discernment in discovering sin where not before suspected; and its odious nature and numerous aggravations, which before were excused and palliated.—Every thing, therefore, concurs to discourage, as well as to humble, a person in this situation ; except the glad tidings of the blessed gospel: and should a self-complacent thought intrude itself, while he reflected on these new and more just views of his own character, he would reject it with alarm and detestation.

Thus at the very time when the sinner is made completely willing to welcome Christ and his whole salvation; so far from perceiving any warrant in his own holy dispositions, to authorize his believing application to the Saviour and reliance on him, he commonly thinks himself worse than ever, and viler than any other sinner; and is often tempted to conclude that he has sinned beyond the reach of mercy, and that Christ will except him from the general rule of “casting out

none that come to him.' What then can meet this case but the scriptural assurances, “ Ask and “ it shall be given yoü : seek and you shall find;

knock and it shall be opened to you: for every

one that asketh receiveth?"-And what can be more improper than to embarrass him with nice distinctions; in direct opposition to the apostolical direction, “ Him that is weak in the si faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputa« tions?”-in proportion as the gospel is understood, it gives encouragement, and suggests pleas, to that man who is most vile in his own estimation. He cannot indeed say, 66 God I 66 thank thee I am not as other men: but he may smite on his breast, and say, “ God, be 66 merciful to me, a sinner.” " For thy name's “ sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is “ great.” “I do not present my supplications “ before thee for my own righteousness, but for " thy great mercies.” The infinite and everlasting mercy of God; the all-sufficient merits, atonement, and intercession of the incarnate Son: the unencumbered invitations of the

gospel, and its exhortations and injunctions, with ihe promises connected with them, fully warrant the vilest sinner that ever lived to apply for salvation without delay, and without any reason to fear a repulse. For they who have committed the unpardonable sin, “ cannot be renewed to repentance," and will never thus come to Christ for his

humbling holy salvation.

Trembling and almost desponding sinners seldom consider their convictions, as the effect of a supernatural influence: nor indeed do they in general reflect at all on the cause or nature of the change of which they are conscious. And when they have leisure from the tumult of theirthoughts, to make enquiries of this kind; they commonly ascribe the whole to means and instruments; and frequently imagine, that if others had heard the same sermon, or read the same book, they must have been equally convinced. And having a far worse opinion of themselves it is very difficult to make them sensible, even by the clearest evidence, that their temper of mind is really better in the sight of God, than it was before. It must therefore be impossible for a sinner in this condition to find a warrant for his faith in those feelings of his own mind which constitute a disposition to believe. Nor has he the least occasion for it; as the word of the gospel gives

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