« AnteriorContinuar »
THE PROGRESS AND EFFECTS OF CONVERSION.
CONVERSION SHOUĻD NOT BE DELAYED.
The Origin-End-Design—and Suitability of Conversion,
The privileges of conversion are very great; and all who are brought to understand their value should be careful not to increase their guilt, nor expose themselves to the righ, teous displeasure of God, by putting off their conversion to a future period, for the following reasons : Conversion is of grace-it promotes the true end of our being-conforms us to Christ-secures our happiness—-corresponds with the pro, mises and commands—is suited to the brevity of human life and the nature of man,
CONVERSION is of grace." It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy;" according to his purpose, “ who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." By which we observe, that our salvation is wholly of grace, and that as no man possesses the smallest right to dictate to God after what manner he shall be saved, so no man can be saved, except in the way, and at the time the Lord appoints for his salvation. Now, as the way of salvation is hy conversion, and the time of conversion is the present time, as saith the Spirit, “ To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts," then no
man ought to defer his conversion to God another moment. He that puts it off to a more suitable opportunity, acts both a foolish and a dangerous part: a foolish one, because he deprives himself of the favour of God; and a dangerous one, because he knows not but that he may swear in his wrath that such sinners against their own souls shall never enter his rest. It is therefore necessary that we awake from our sinful lethargy, that we be no longer kept in bondage by the various temptations of the devil, that we do not, from yielding to any unholy disposition, or from any worldly consideration, put off our conversion; nor deceive our souls under a notion, that to whatever lengths of wickedness or folly we run, because God has spared others longer than he has spared us, or because others pray for us, or because we purpose some day to turn, that all will be well. If the mariner neglected the advantages of wind, tide, and season, he could not be looked upon as fit for his business; and he that delays his conversion is acting much in the same way, and may expect the same success. There are seasons when the Lord more powerfully calls, and when circumstances appear more favourable for conversion, which, if neglected, may never return. Nor is this to be wondered at, when we consider what an impious and ungrateful part that man acts who, when the Lord offers him mercy and salvation, will not accept of it, turns away from it, and will scarcely hear tell of it as what should immediately be done! His soul is so much en. grossed by his domestic concerns, his farm or his merchandize; that he excuses himself from coming, or absolutely refuses at present to make his appearance. We see from hence how just it would be in God to declare that such shall never taste of his supper.
The conduct of many towards God is as though they eonsidered themselves conferring a favour upon him, rather than receiving one from him. How exceedingly prepos, terous! What can we do for, or add to him ? Can we make him wiser, holier, better, or richer ? Surely not. It js God offering favours to man, favours that will remove all his evils, and enrich him with all good: he, therefore, who will not receive them when offered, but prefers the plea, sures and filthiness of sin before them, insults the Divine Majesty, and is in danger of eternal destruction. O, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness, think what it cost to redeem your souls, think of their worth, and yield this moment to the strivings of the holy Spirit; lest he should be gtieved, become your irreconcileable enemy, and depart from you! Confess your sin, comply instantly with the overtures of mercy, and thus secure his favour without delay.
The true end of our being is the glory of God.-From our views of his greatness and infinite wisdom, we see that it would be utterly inconsistent with his perfections to create any kind o fbeing whose existence did not more or less promote his glory. Hence it is said, "All things were made by him, and for him.” Man is certainly included here ; and it is a duty he owes to his Creator to inquire what is expected from him; and, when known, it ought to be sincere. ly, cheerfully, and gratefully done. Sin has made a rebel of him; but conversion restores him to his allegiance again, Thus when the Lord met Saul in the way to Demascus, he no sooner saw into the wickedness of his conduct, and pur: posed amendment, than he began to say, “Lord what wilt thou have me to do ?” and immediately obeyed the Divine direction; and it is the duty of all to follow his example, God should not only be glorified, but always glorified; therefore they who have hitherto dishonoured him, cannot possibly be too early in their submissions--cannot begin to glorify him too soon. Let us reflect a little how he may be glorified, and all will discover the necessity of being in a converted state.
He is glorified in the temperate and thankful use of the creatures.--The abuse of God's creatures is a great crime ; and those who lay it not to beart to give glory to his name,
turn all their blessings into curses, Mal. ii. 2. This all unconverted persons are necessarily guilty of, since all they lay to heart is to please themselves. Oh let such consider that the Divine goodness has not only given us the service of the creatures, but, where their flesh is proper for our nourishment and the increase of our comforts, he has permitted us to take away their lives. In addition to this, he has bestowed upon us fruits, seeds, and vegetables in abun. dance, with all that tends to our support and defence ; and crowns all, by diffusing gladness through our hearts in the enjoyment of all. We have also numerous instances of his care and goodness, arising from the peculiar advantages of our respective situations. Surely such indulgence and liberality ought not to be requited with forgetfulness, neglect, and ingratitude. If we were dealt with according to our sins, we should be treated in a very different manner. Let us then avoid such sinful conduct, and acknowledge the kindness of that munificent hand from whence incessantly descend such a profusion of benefits; and use the creatures not to excess, or in the mere gratification of the natural appetites, or the inflaming of the furious passions ; neither should we rest in them as our supreme good; but all should be rendered subservient to the purposes of our Almighty Benefactor. All who are converted see the propriety of this, and act upon these principles; and this shews how eagerly we should desire conversion, since God in all things should be glorified through Christ Jesus.
We glorify him by observing his righteous commands."God is the king of all the earth,” and he rules it by the most just and equitable laws, and if it was ever right for subjects to do the will and pleasure of their lawful sove. reign, it must indeed be right for all to obey the Lord of 'all. He has made known his will to us in his holy word, and it is our conforming, or not conforming to this sacred rule, that discovers whether we are righteous or unrighteous, and that entitles us to praise or blame. His boly laws, indeed, in our present sinful and enfeebled state,
without his gracious assistance, would be really grievous and intolerable to us ; but all apprehensions from that quarter are removed by those precious promises which assure us of his attention to our interests, and his grace to help us in the time of need. His yoke, far from being burdensome to those who are supported and strengthened by Divine aid, is found to be easy, and his burden light. On this ground he justly expects us to serve and glorify him, as superiors among men look for respect and service from their dependants, though in a higher and nobler sense. In this our blessed Redeemer has shewn us a most perfect example : he came not to do his own will, but the will of him that sent him, and to finish his work; and when his last suffering scene drew near, before he was received up, he said to his father, “I have glorified thee upon the earth, I have finished the work thou hast given me to do.” So ought we to conduct ourselves towards him from whom we receive our all. It is then very desirable that we should thus honour him; but it cannot be done without conversion: therefore it should not be delayed, lest we should rob our souls of the rewards of obedience, and bring severe punishments upon them by our obstinacy and impenitence.
He is honoured by us when we love him supremely, and decidedly prefer him to every other object.-Whatever beauty, glory, order, or excellency, appears in any part of the universe, is from God; and, in its most perfect state, is no more than a faint resemblance of his excellencies. He is the sum total of all perfection. His unsullied glories, and undecaying attributes, his uncircumscribed greatness, and unfathomable love, exceed all description, and are commensurate with eternity. All that is desirable and delightful centres in him. The enraptured hosts of heaven derive all their felicity from his presence and favour, and love and adore him to the highest possible degree of the purest affection; while every new discovery of his glories, and every fresh display of his excellencies, assures them of his paren•