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" life, sha!! lose it, and whosoever will lose his life, for my " fake, shall find it*.” Upon the whole, instead of find- . ing fault with the duty or lot of God's children, can you truly say, “ that there were such an heart in me that I “ could keep his statutes ! The law of the Lord is perfect

ly holy. The paths of the Lord toward me have been "infinitely gracious. My heart only is exceeding sinful. " O Lord, write thy law in my heart, and put it in my “inward parts: give me a new heart and a new spirit, and "cause me to walk in try statutes, and keep thy judg

ments, and do them.”

3. It is an excellent evidence of conviction's being right both in principle and in degree, when the penitent hath a greater fear of sin than of suffering. As the great fource of genuine conviction of fin is a sense of its evil in itself, rather than an apprehension of its consequences even in the life to come, there is no way in which this will discover itself more distinctly, than in the views we have of fin, and suffering in the present state. Whether do you grieve most heartily for fin, or for worldly losses ? Which of them do you avoid with the greatest solicitude and care? Will not this fhow what it is that lies neareft your hearts, and hath the dominion there? Will not this Mhow it in a manner that must be convincing even to yourselves, and leave no room to reply? Alas! how heavy a sentence does this carry against many professing Christians ? How great their anxiety about the things of time, how little about the concerns of eternity ? How carefully will they observe the increase or decrease of their trade and opulence ? But how little attention will they pay to the growth or decay of religion in their hearts? They will dread the arts, and fly from the society of a fraudulent dealer, but will suspect no danger while their ears are drinking in the poison of licentious or impure conversation. The loss of a child, or the loss of their substance, oppresses them with forrow, while even the commission of grofs sin, if concealed from the world, produces a reflection scarcely felt, and speedily forgotten.

* Matt. xvi. 24.

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I have said, indeed, above, that all persons are not equally susceptible of violent emotions of any kind. But what shall be said of the same perfon's, who have the strongest passions on every other subject, and nothing but cold. ness and indifference in matters of religion? What fhall be faid of the same persons, who are easily and deeply af. fected with all temporal fufferings, and yet are but very flightly affected with a sense of the evil of lin? Whose tears flow readily and copiously over a dying friend, but have no tears at all to shed over a dying Saviour ? Does this at all correspond with the description given by the prophet, “ of mourning as for an only fon?" in which penitential forrow is compared to the most severe and exquisite of all human calamities. I must, however, obferve, that temporal sufferings are ordinarily attended and aggravated by sensible images, and are also sometimes sudden and unexpected, on both which accounts they may more powerfully call forth the expressions of forrow and sympathy. But it is not difficult to judge which of them dwells moft hea vily upon the mind, which of them would be firft avoided by the deliberate choice of the heart. Every true penitent does certainly fee fin to be the greatest of all evils, and will discover this by comparison with all the other evils of which he hath at present any knowledge or experience.

4. I fall only mention one other evidence of conviction's being to a proper degree, which is when a fenfe of the evil of fin is still growing, instead of diminifhing. This will be found effentially to distinguish a fenfe of the evil of fin in itself, from a mere terror of God's power 'in taking vengeance' on the finner. Time gradually weakens the one, but knowledge, and even the mercy of God, continues to incrcase the other. When a finner is brought under great convictions, it is a state fó painful and distreff ing, that it cannot continue long. Some kind of peace must of necessity fucceed. Either he stiftes his convictions, hides the danger by shutting his own eyes, and returns to his former security and licentiousness of " practice; or he does some things for a time, to quiet the cries of conscience, and lay a foundation for future peace; or, lastly, be

returns to God through Christ, by true repentance, and continues to serve him in newness of life.

The first of these cases needs no illustration; the sense of fin in all such persons being not so properly weakened as destroyed. In the second, the finner is under great re. slrints for a season, but, when the terror is over, his obe. dience and diligence is immediately relaxed. This shows plainly, that he had no fincere or cordial affection to the law of God, but was afraid of his power. It fhews that his convictions never were of a right kind, and, therefore, it is no wonder their strength should decay. But, in every true penitent, a sense of sin not only continues, but dai. ly increases. His growing discovery of the glory of God, points out more clearly to him his own corruption and depravity, both in its quantity and its malignity, so to speak. The very mercies of God, whatever delight or sweetness they afford, take nothing away from his sense of the evil of his doings, but rather melt him down in penitential forrow. They serve to cover him with confusion at his own unworthiness, and to fill him with wonder at the divine patience and condescension.

The first work of a convinced sinner is, to mourn over the gross enormities of a profligate life, or a life devoted to worldly pursuits. And his continued employinent af ter conversion is, to refil and wrestle with that inherent corruption which was hidden from his view before, but be. comes daily more and more sensible. So true is this, that I have known many instances in which the most genuine expressions of self-abasement happening to fall from aged experienced Christians, have appeared to others as little Letter than affectation. They were not able to conceive the propriety of these sentiments, which long acquaintance with God and with ourselves doth naturally and infallibly inspire.

From these remarks, let me beg the reader to judge of the reality and progress of the spiritual life. Does your fense of the evil of fin not only continue, but grow? Do you now fee fin in many things which you never suspeated before? Do you see inore of the boldness, ingratitude,

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and sottish folly of finners and despisers of God? Are you daily making new discoveries of the vanity, sensuality, and treachery of your own hearts? Be not discouraced at it, but humbled by it. Let it empty you of all self-esteem and self-dependence, and give you a higher relish of the gospel of peace. The substance of the goldi is “fälvation to the “ chief of finners, by the riches of divine grace, and the * fan&tification of your polluted natures by the power of “ the Holy Ghost.”

As. I would willingly give as much information and instruction as poisible, I shall, before quitting this part of the fubje&t, speak a few words of a pretty extraordinary opinion to be found in some of the practical writers of the last age. It is, that genuine conviction, and the soul's fubjection to God, ought to be carried so far in every true penitent, as to make him willing, fatisfied, and, some fay, even“ pleased,” that God should glorify his justice in his everlasting perdition. This is so repugnant to nature, and to that very solicitude about our eternal happiness, by which the conscience is first laid hold of, that it appears to be utterly impollible. There have been many to whom this requisition has given inexpreffible concern, has been a daily fnare to their conscience, and an obstruction to their peace. There is such an inseparable connection between our duty and happiness, that the question should never have been moved; but, for the satisfaction of those who may have met, or may ftill meet with it in authors, otherwise cleservedly esteemed, I shall make some remarks, which I hope will either explain it in a found fenfe, or thew it to be at bottom falfe.

Men do often differ more in words than in fubftance. Perhaps what these authors chiefly niean, is no more than what has been explained above at considerable length. viz. That the finner finds himself without excuse, his “ mouth “ is stopped?," he seeth the holiness of the law, he confelfeth the justice of the fentence, he quits every claim but mercy: Thus he may be said to abfolve or justify God, though he should leave him to perish for ever. So far, I apprehend, it is undeniably juft; otherwife, the very foundation of the gospel is overthrown, and salvation is not “ of grace,” but “of debt.” If we impartially examina the word mercy, and the many strong declarations in fcripture of our obligations to God for the gift of eternal life, we shall find that they cannot, consistently, imply less, than that the finner “deferved," and was liable, to " eternal death."

But to carry the thing farther, and to say that the penitent must be pleased and satisfied with damnation itself, as he is pleased with suffering in another view, as it is his heavenly Father's sanctified rod, appears to me to be at once unnatural, unreasonable, unlawful, and impossible, It is plainly contrary to that desire of our own happiness which is so deeply implanted in our natures, and which seems to be inseparable from a rational creature. No such thing is, either directly or consequentially, asserted in the holy scriptures, which so often urge us to a due care of our own beft interests. Wherefore, says the prophet, do you

spend your money for that which is not bread, and

your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken “ diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, " and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your “ ear, and come unto me, hear, and your souls shall live, " and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even “ the sure mercies of David.”* Further, the proposition feems to me necessarily to imply an impossibility in itself. For what is damnation? It is to be for ever separated from, and deprived of, the fruițion of God. Is this then, a dutiful object either of desire or acquiescence? It is to hate God and blafpheme his name, as well as to be banished from his presence. Can this be tolerable to any true penitent? or is it reconcileable to, or consistent with, subjection to his righteous will ? Can any creature be fuppo!ed to please God, by giving up all hope of his favor? Or is it less absurd than “ disobeying" him from a sense of “duty," and “ hating” him from a principle of " love ?"

We must, therefore, carefully separate the acknowledgment of divine justice, and most unconditional subjection to the divine sovereignty, from an absolute despair, or giv. ing up all hope in the divine inercy.

We have a very

* lfa. lv. 2, :

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