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solemn in eternity, by all that is precious in the immortal soul, do not shrink from bringing home to your own conscience the charge of being wilfully in a sinful state. It is a true charge, and you will find it so when it is enforced by your Judge. You are now resigning yourself to the fatal influence of the most deadly malady under which the soul can labour. You are folding your arms to rest, just as the storm is about to break on your frail vessel. You are sliding smoothly down to the brink of a precipice, from which your eyes are averted, while you are amused and pleased with the scenery around, from which you will soon disappear. A little more of this kind of self-delusion, and you will be irrecoverably gone; you will drop into destruction. Awake, thou that sleepest. Be willing to think of Christ, of your soul, of eternity, of that conversion without which you cannot be saved. Admit the plain truth, though it may be disagreeable. Learn the worst of your case, though it may fill you with alarm; for you may learn it when alarm cannot lead to escape. There is more hope in candour and sincerity, than in self-flattery, false peace, and indifference. Sin will, sin must, destroy the soul, or sin must be destroyed by the grace of God now. You may not like to make the sacrifice required in order to be saved, but you make a much greater sacrifice to retain your sins.
Careless, enslaved sinner, have you yet a desire to live a new life, and taste real happiness. It is not too late, neither are the blessings placed beyond your reach. If you are in earnest for your everlasting salvation, there is One mighty to save, waiting to receive the confession of your sinfulness, willing to give eternal life to all that come unto
him. Haste to his throne of mercy, believe his promise, and receive, without money and without price, the precious gift of his ineffable and everlasting love.
THERE are many persons whose minds have been brought into the lamentable state indicated by the fearful word which stands at the head of this chapter, from very different causes. Some have trified with convictions till they have become insensible and reckless. Others are, perhaps, in an equally hopeless, but a less hardened and careless state. They are conscious that they have repeatedly broken through all the dictates of their consciences and warnings of the Divine word; and, sensible that they have no strength to carry out their good purposes, they have ceased to form any, thinking, at least, that they will contract no more guilt by breaking their solemn vows. Others there are, who have become hopeless through an overpowering sight of their own guiltiness. Such a view has been set before them of the law of God, and of their own long-continued and aggravated transgressions of it, that they have yielded to the suggestions of the adversary, who tells them there is no possibility of their salvation. They may feel, and deeply feel, that they need conversion, but they look upon it as an impossibility. Some such
have even gone so far as to say God could not save them, even if he would. They feel quite sure that he has given them up to hardness of heart and eternal wrath. Hence, they reject every word of consolation, and refuse the plainest promises of mercy, though addressed specially to the chief of sinners.
There is another class of the hopeless, who have fallen into this forlorn and wretched state through mistaken views of the Divine method of reconciliation. It is no uncommon case for those to lapse into this condition, who have been trying to work out a righteousness for themselves, but have failed. The inference by which they are entangled and fast bound is this : because they have made an earnest and a long effort to work themselves up to the hope of salvation, and this has proved utterly abortive, therefore there is no hope for them; there is some Divine decree of reprobation against them, and they must for ever despair of escaping from that wrath they deserve. This is the issue to which the enemy of souls would urge all who have been awakened to a sense of their sin and guilt, by the application of the law to their consciences. One of this description on a sick bed was addressed thus: “The gospel affords a balm for every wound which sin has made in the soul.” “True,” said he;“ but that gospel, despised through life, affords me no balm in my death. There is no mercy for me now.”
Some persons have had such a state of mind fixed upon them by the casual reading or hearing of some awful text of Scripture, which has come to them with such force, been so appropriate to their case, that, instead of taking it only as a salutary and merciful warning, they have construed
it into a direct revelation of their inevitable doom. Yet all the hopelessness, even of such extreme cases, consists not in the greatness of the sins committed, but in rejecting the promise of forgiveness. The decision of such minds is made in direct contradiction to the fulness of Divine mercy; and could they be convinced that they neither have, nor can have, any such ground for believing their cases hopeless, as they have for believing the Divine mercy sufficient for their pardon, they might then see that there is yet hope even for them in God's free mercy, though none in themselves. Nothing, therefore, must hinder us from asserting and proving the all-sufficiency of that atonement through which it is proclaimed, that “all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,” Matt. xii. 31.
Every soul that feels its condition to be hopeless, and rests that conviction upon the measure or the guilt of sin, does, in fact, affirm the insufficiency of Divine grace, the insufficiency of the blood of Christ, and the insufficiency of his mediation, in his case. If every reason alleged by such be carefully examined, it will be found to deny the truth of innumerable plain texts and promises of God, and must, therefore, be fundamentally and totally false ; for, “ Let God be true, but every man a liar," Rom. iii. 4, is a saying which even the most hopeless cannot resist : even their own fears and terrors all depend upon the truth of God, and they themselves all profess to admit the veracity of God, at least in his threatenings. These are the sources of their despair. They dread the wrath to come, and, therefore, they believe one part of the Divine word ; though they do not perceive that the threatenings are designed to work repentance. They do not profess to deny or despise these threatenings; they only disbelieve the gracious promises.
For instance, one says, “I have gone too far." But what is too far? Let him but define what he conceives is too far, and it will be found that the Divine forgiveness extends to that, and has been granted to it. Another says, “ I have sinned too long." But let him attach a clear idea to the expression, and still it will be found that Christ can save to the uttermost of time as well as of guilt; that a whole life of the most aggravated transgressions, though it had been the life of an antediluvian, does not carry the sinner beyond the reach of Divine mercy. The hopeless of another class say, “ But we have turned aside from our profession; we have been apostates, and have opened our mouth in blasphemy, in curses, in a denial of God and the Lord Jesus Christ." Still, all this does not exceed the power of Divine forgiveness. Many such have been converted; and the tender pity that forgave a weeping Peter after his repeated denial and his profane oaths, waits only for your repentance.
Still, another affirms the hopelessness of his case to arise out of the supposed fact, that he has committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, of which it is said that “it hath never forgiveness," Mark iii. 29. But if such a person is asked what is the awful sin thus exempted from forgiveness, he confesses that he cannot tell, but he supposes it to be speaking evil against the Holy Ghost, or it is denying Jesus Christ; yet he has no distinct idea, and certainly cannot say that he has clearly committed it. Why, then, should he pervert the Scriptures to prove himself guilty of that which Scripture