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ed to make of himself to us. The strongest and most acute reasoners, unassisted by him, will soon be bewildered and left at uncertainties. If, in some instances, we should stumble upon the truth, such is our liability to err, that we should be afraid to rely upon our own discoveries. It is, therefore, best for us to fly “to the law and the testimony,” and depend upon his teachings, which we shall find corroborated by our own reflections, and by the observations We make on the astonishing wonders of his hand, whatever way we turn.
Our Divine teacher informs us that “God is a Spirit.” What the real essence of a spirit is we know not, our chief acquaintance with it arising rather from its operations than the knowledge of its nature. Weknow, indeed, that it is widely different from matter, possessing properties peculiar to itself, which cannot be ascribed to any kind of gross material substances, however organized or diversified; and, from its controling influence over matter, our own bodies, for instance, we infer its excellence and superiority. By reasoning thus, as intelligent creatures, upon the feelings and actings of our own minds, we form an imperfect idea of other spirits, and of the great eternal Spirit himself. I say an imperfect idea; because, united as our minds are to a gross body of flesh and blood, and judging so much through the medium of the senses, we cannot comprehend the things of God as we shall do when "mortality is swallowed up of life.” This, how. ever, we do know, that as God is a Spirit, infinitely glo. rious and happy in himself, all his excellencies and felicity must centre in, and arise from his pure and spiritual nature, independent of all created existences, or any of the sensua. lities of their respective natures. He, therefore, that leads á spiritual, holy life, is far more excellent in his sight, as bearing a greater resemblance of himself, than he who leads a life of vanity and sensuality, which is the state of every carnal man. On this ground it is that conversion is absolutely necessary; as, without it, we are incapable of communion with him, of tasting the pleasures arising from his sera vice, of union with his people, or the enjoyment of those celestial delights prepared for the pure in heart. He that is after the flesh will persecute him that is after the Spirit. And whence arises this opposition in the carnal - heart, against the spiritually-minded? Is it not from the ennity it feels against the God they serve? Now conversion alone can destroy this enmity; and, consequently, the spirit of persecution;, and must necessarily take place, or there must ex. ist an eternal opposition to God; and, as long as they can be had, other objects will be chosen and pursued, as substitutes for him and his favours. Oh let us rise above the pleasures of the brute, let us consider the high origin of our immortal souls, and aim to have our conversation not among those whose god is their belly, and who mind earthly things, but with those whose conversation is in heaven, and thus become one spirit with the Lord! The same reasoning holds good with regard to his attributes and perfections. There is not one of these but what demands and requires our conversion. He perfectly understands the nature, situation, essential properties, connexions, and tendencies of every particle of matter in the universe : with the wants, inclina. tions, and capacities of every creature; and especially the powers and faculties of intelligent beings, with all the circumstances in which they are placed, or all the objects by which they are surrounded. He knows their origin, existence, and end; what is their proper good, that which constitutes their true happiness ; and what causes, increases, or perpetuates their misery. He sees into the evil nature of sin, its effects in separating the soul from himself, with all its deadly fruits; and he knows how to perform its radical cure. And since it is his will that we should all turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, it
is folly and madness in us not to comply, since we cannot · expect that his wisdom will be exerted in our behalf, while we act in opposition to it. On the contrary, if we obey its dictates, all good will follow. Are our souls fallen? He knows how to raise them. Are we guilty? He knows how
to remove the load, and to calm the terrors of our upbraid-
He is also well acquainted with both our friends and enemies, with what help we may derive from the one, and what evil may arise from the other. No thought can arise in their bosoms that passes unnoticed by him ; nor is any intention formed, but he perfectly understands both it and its tendency. While, without the smallest error, confusion, or laboured recollection, he traces back all that is past while, without distraction or fatigue, he beholds the present; so by his prescience he comprehends, without anxiety or surprise, the future. In a word, his understanding is infinite ; and in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and happy is that man, and he alone, that duly considers these things, and turns to him.
His mercy requires our conversion. The most glorious display of the Divine mercy was in the gift of the Lord Jesus, who was raised up for the express purpose of “turning away every one of us from his iniquities ;" by the gifts of his Holy Spirit, to realize to us all the benefits of his passion and death; and in the publication of the gospel, which instructs us in whatever belongs to the kingdom of God. And does the gospel call upon us to repent of our sins, and does the Spirit of the Lord reprove us for sin, and undertake to guide us into all truth ? Did the Saviour die, rise from the dead, and ascend to the right hand of God, to intercede for us, and to give repentance and remission of sins? And is not conversion absolutely necessary when Divine mercy has done so much to effect it? Can the Lord be pleased with those who refuse to turn to him, who prefer the service of sin to his service, and the works of darkness to the fruits of
righteousness ? Surely not. Ought not every one to contemplate with pleasure the great compassions of his God, and thankfully comply with his gracious will ? Such alone have any right to look for his approbation or bis blessing. Nothing but good descends from him to those who fear and glorify his name. If, wise as he is, he were not compassionate, then, indeed, we might look for evil in as many ways and forms as infinite wisdom, accompanied by Divine power, could invent or inflict. This, however, is far from being the case. If his wisdom appears in all his works, his tender mercy is over them all; and such as take hold of his covenant shall prove it for ever. We may then rest assured, that if his mercy prevail not with us to forsake sin and embrace holiness, it will be highly provoking in his sight; nor shall we derive any benefit from his compassions, if we continue in impenitency; for while he receives as with open arms the contrite in lieart, he will in “no wise spare the guilty--the unhumbled and obstinate offender.
The truth of God calls for our conversion. If Moses was particularly enjoined, when he made the tabernacle, faithfully to observe the pattern shewn him in the mount, that there might be a perfect resemblance between them; so we are called to be and to do all that God requires in his holy word. Now he requires us to be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises; but we nei-ther resemble them in their characters nor their works, without conversion; for they were holy, and their works pleasing to God, or they would never have been admitted into heaven; and if we resemble them not, we shall perish; for he declares, “the soul that sinneth shall die." On the other hand, he declares, that “when a wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, and doeth that which is lawful · and right, he shall save his soul alive ;” and he whose lips were never stained with falsehood, will confirın his word the unconverted must be punished, and the just rewarded. We may fully rely on all that he has spoken. He is not liable to error and mistake, and he abhors deceit. The descriptions, therefore, which he gives of holiness and sin are true; the descriptions of their consequences, and the manner in which he will act toward those who hold to the one or the other, are true also. If we believe him worthy of credit, either in his account of the evil and odious nature of sin, or in his gracious declarations concerning either penitents or believers, we must discover the necessity of conver. sion; since it would appear that he was insincere in all his proceedings, if he did not perform his word, in punishing sinners, and rewarding his saints.
The righteousness of God requires it. As the truth of God has ever been, and ever will be preserved inviolate, so it is the office of his justice or righteousness to secure its accomplishment in the fulfilment of both threatenings and promises. It is admitted that the Lord Jesus, by his one perfect oblation, satisfaction, and sacrifice upon the cross, hath atoned for the sins of the whole world; yet the full benefit thereof is not to be obtained, unless we receive from the ground of our heart that form of christian doctrine which the gospel delivers to us. Where this is done, God is faithful and just to forgive sin, and to cleanse from all unrighteousness ;" but the rejection of this will be followed by most dreadful punishments. If none that die ignorant of God, and are disobedient to his gospel, can be saved, what multitudes must, at this moment, be suffering the vengeance of eternal fire! And is God just in taking vengeance? Undoubtedly he is. If so, can they escape the like torments, who are walking in the same way? Would it be just in God to punish one that dies unconverted and spare another? The Judge of all the earth will do right. He is no respecter of persons; and, therefore, it is absolutely necessary for us to be converted; or, if ever the justice of God doomed any sinper to hell, it will doom us thither, if we die with the same carnal and unholy dispositions.
His holiness requires our conversion.--"God is light, (said the apostle) and in him is no darkness at all,”-no sin, no folly or impurity. Nor is it possible for any that"walk in