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ways, you would have it doubled untó you double, Rev. xviii. 6, 7: and should you be “redeemed from the earth,” and admitted into heaven, how must you see through the emptiness of such proceedings; and if sorrow could enter your breast there, you would be sorry for having so long acted a part full of folly and ingratitude! Thus we see how friendly such reflections are to the moderate enjoyment of this present state; and this is friendly to piety. Real good may therefore be expected to arise therefrom; and whatever has a tendency to bring us properly to ourselves, and our true interests, is an advantage worthy of our notice.'
They are the chief stimula to holy walking with God. It is with this design that he has been pleased to set life and death before us; that we, being alarmed at the one, and excited by the other, may choose life, and be blessed for ever. What but the dread of hell could induce men to give up their sins? Or what but the hope of heaven encourage believers themselves to persevere in holiness, amidst the taunts and frowns of the world? It was this recompense of reward that led the ancient worthies to renounce their all, that they might obtain the heavenly inheritance; and the apostle of the Gentiles declared, “ What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ-If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead." A firm belief in the revealed will of God concerning eternity, will make the most difficult things in religion easy, and lead us at all events to secure the favour of our God. It will make us careful of our thoughts, principles, words, and actions; knowing that by him actions are weighed, and that nothing will be acceptable to him, if sincerity be wanting; and what is not accepted will not be rewarded by him. When we feel disposed, from the love of the world, the weakness of our faith, or our natural slothfulness and backwardness to that which is good, to put off religion to a future period, it is as though eternity cried aloud, “Prepare to meet thy God.” If we have known something of the Divine goodness, revealed to us by believe ing, and become slack and indifferent; if we are for resting
in forms, or past experience; if we suffer the world to creep in, and begin, in consequence, to neglect ordinances, as the reproving voice cried out to the prophet of old, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” So eternity may be said to cry to
us, • Why is thy closet forsaken or coldly attended ? Why hast thou ceased to attend the table of thy Lord, or art, so seldom there, and art so little affected at that solemn ordinance? Why art thou so trifling in company; so careless to promote piety in thy family, so distant with truly spiritual characters, so improperly employed on sabbath days? Why is thy love become cool, thy zeal lukewarm, and thy soul so completely indisposed to those higher states of holi. ness to which thou didst once aspire? If a sense of eternity will not alarm these sleepers in Zion, nothing will; soine are alarmed thereby, and recover themselves from this treacherous snare, and work the works of God with zeal and di. ligence; many, however, sleep on, till poverty and want come upon them like armed men. Those who are most careful to please God and glorify his name, find great benefit from these considerations. They feel daily the necessity of being always ready. They observe that the wise virgins had no oil to spare. Nothing appears half so dreadful to these as the thoughts of final banishment from their God. What, they are ready to cry, be banished from these glorious realms, and have our portion with the slothful servants who knew their Lord's 'will, but did it not! What, with the promises of God in our hands, and the prospects of heaven in our eyes, shall we neglect our own mercies, and bring destruction upon our souls by folly and negligence! Such thoughts as these are as spurs in their sides, and constrain them to use every exertion to enter the kingdom of God, to find the hid treasure, and to buy, at the expense of all they possess, the pearl of great price. Their views of eternity cause them to run their race with patience, to fight the good fight of faith, to keep their bodies under, to watch and pray, and to be diligent in every good word and work; and when all is done, they are constrained to acknowledge that they are “unprofitable servants."
Oh then let all that read these lines lay it most seriously to heart to glorify God, by turning to him with all their hearts, that they may not be tormented at the last with fire and brimstone in the presence of God and his holy angels! For, though it is admitted that the judgments of some at the last day will be more tolerable than others, all in hell will be indescribably dreadful, and, with eternity stamped upon them, insupportably heavy; and yet they must be borne ages without end. May God Almighty incline our souls to seek their rest in hiin, that we may finally partake of the blessings of the heavenly Canaan, and be crowned with everlasting joy! Amen.
ON MISTAKES IN CONVERSION.
These mistakes particularized.
It cannot be doubted but that many have misunderstood the nature of true conversion, and have substituted in its stead part of it for the whole, or what has resembled it for the thing itself. Both are pernicious; they who come short of it, and they who wander wide from it, being found much in the same circumstances. This does not arise from any ain: biguity or mysteriousness attending conversion: it rather arises from the indifferency of men's minds concerning it, and their love of that to which it stands in opposition; that is sin. We can find a thousand excuses for not parting with that which we love: and this, if there were no other cause, is sufficient to account for the mistakes that are made about conversion. Those, however, who love truth, and would not be deceived in an affair of such importance, would de well to examine them carefully, and avoid them. It has already been observed, that grace is resisted by those who
rest in religious forms and ceremonies, which, if it had not been spoken of under that head, might with propriety have been introduced here, as it is greatly to be feared that many know nothing more of conversion than this; and would almost, if not altogether, unchristianize those who dared to suspect them deficient in piety: but, certainly, whether it offends them or not, a man may have the form of godliness, and yet be totally destitute of the power. The Pharisees paid tythe, frequented the synagogue and temple, and said long prayers; but they not only did not enter into the kingdom of heaven themselves, but hindered those that were entering; for which they were, among their other selfish and hypocritical works, to receive the greater damnation! Let none therefore trust in forms, gifts, worldly endowments, reading religious books, &c.; for it is not sufficient. We will now notice these mistakes in order.
The first mistake I shall notice is, that they were converted in their baptism.-Baptism is doubtless an ordinance of Christ, and to be administered to all adult persons, whether Jews or Heathens, who embrace christianity, and to their offspring; the promise, signified by baptism, of the influences of the Spirit, and a right to gospel privileges, being made to us and to our children. As I consider the mistake here alluded to, as originating with those who have been baptized in their infancy, I speak to that alone. Many of these suppose, or persuade themselves, or are persuaded by others, that they were converted, or regenerated, at the time of their baptism. At that time they were dedicated to the Lord, were considered visible members of Christ's church, placed under his immediate protection, as the Mediator of the everlasting covenant, and entitled to all the privileges of christianity; to commence as soon as they were capable of receiving them. These are certainly great mercies; but the design of baptism is not fully accomplished till the
grace of it is received, and produces a death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness; for being by nature born in sin, and the children of wrath,” by grace we become the
children of God. Can any one, therefore, who considers the nature of this change, conclude that it will not be followed with a suitable conduct? If the tree be made good, will not the fruit be good also ? If this be admitted, and I see not how it can be denied, then it follows that those who live in sin, either were not so converted in baptism, or they have departed from it, and must be converted again or perish; since all repentance which produces not its proper fruit will be so far from benefitting us, that it will itself need to be repented of; and where is there one who inculcates such erroveous opinions, or one that imbibes them, that does not live in sin? Let not, therefore, any deceive themselves with the supposition that they were converted in their infancy, when there is not the smallest proof of any such thing; or dream that he who is a Spirit, and requires spiritual worship, should be so pleased with forms, that if one form be observed once, we may follow the world, the flesh, and the devil, the rest of our life, without fear or concern about our salvation. Let them rather humble themselves in the dust, and take the apostle's advice, “Draw nigh to God-cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” This will afford hope of salvation; while persisting in such a dangerous error as that here opposed, will bring inevitable destruction on the offender.
2. That we may be converted and not know it. This is a common mistake, not only among those who make no pretence to religion, but among professors of religion, who consider themselves as standing high in the Divine favour; and it is founded on the denial of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. To deny this inspiration is to set the Bible aside, at least so much of it as teaches the necessity of spiritual influence. It speaks of the effects of the agency of the Spirit in terms which, if words have any meaning, shew, that though the