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lent to asking, What must I do to be happy? Now his distress arises from an apprehension of the inconsistency between happiness and unpardoned sin. But mere pardon gives no man a title to happiness. Innocence in Adam did not give him a title to heaven. Eternal life was to be the reward of a course of obedience. Besides, mere pardon of sin does not make a man meet for “the inheritance of the saints in light;" or communion and intercourse with God. Truly there can be no communion between the holy nature of God and the sinful nature of man, and pardon does not change the nature of the person pardoned. Three things, then, are included in the inquiry after salvation; How shall I obtain the pardon of sin ? How shall I secure a title to heaven? and, How shall I be made meet for “the inheritance of the saints in light ?” The inquiring soul must have these inquiries answered, or there cannot be security or happiness.
III. But what is the nature of that concern, which results from conviction of sin ?
First. To be concerned about salvation implies dissatisfaction with all other enjoyments, so long as the soul is in the dark about this. The accomplishment of earthly wishes
can never calm the fears of an awakened conscience. In the words of Haman, we may say of riches, honours, and pleasures, “yet all this availeth me nothing," so long as I am in uncertainty about salvation. What are the riches, and honours, and pleasures of this world to a dying man? So it was with the jailer. A moment before he was so anxious about the prisoners, as to be on the point of committing suicide, for fear of their escape ; but suddenly this concern all left him; though the prison doors were open, he appears to have made no provision for securing them; nor does he seem to have received any satisfaction from hearing that they were safe.
Second. This concern implies also an earnest desire after salvation. When the thoughts are arrested by sin and misery, the mind refuses application to any thing but the means of escape. Whatever importance other things claim, this demands immediate attention. Like one in a besieged city, into whose walls the enemy has already made a breach, the man regards his present exigence; for if the enemy once enter, and sack, and destroy the city, all endeavours to save it will then come too late. It would be madness to attend to other matters; the breach must first be stopped, or
the enemy pacified, or the city is soon lost. So the awakened sinner knows, that if the wrath of God overtake him, ruin is inevitable. This posture of the mind keeps apprehension awake, and as the alarm increases, so does the desire for deliverance without delay. The possibility of escape excites hope of finding the way of safety. And as apprehensions of coming wrath fill the soul with terror, and a sense of sin with grief and shame, the bare possibility of deliverance is enough to awaken the most intense anxiety to obtain it.
Third. This inward frame of mind, just described, will manifest itself. It will show itself in words. Words are indications of thought; and when the mind is deeply concerned, especially for any thing so important as salvation, the thoughts naturally seek vent in words. 6 Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” So it was with the jailer; that which lay nearest his heart was the first to be expressed in words. But especially will there be the use of means to escape what is feared and secure what is desired. Perhaps the inward feeling will manifest itself more by this than by words. The jailer immediately went to the Apostles, and sought
direction from them. Probably he had learned what the possessed damsel cried out, that they were “the servants of the Most High God," who made it their business to show men the way of salvation; and this made him hasten to them as the most suitable persons to show him what to do to be saved. And when, as in this case, the anxiety becomes intense, it will produce intense application to the use of means. True, men may cry for mercy with their lips, while the heart continues unaffected as before; but if the heart be really moved, and the man really feel his danger, he will bestir himself to find a way of escape. The half-awakened man may say,
“ There is a lion in the way, and I shall be slain in the streets;" he may have a thousand trifling difficulties to prevent his acting; but one who lays salvation seriously to heart will use means and surmount obstacles to obtain relief. The jailer did not hesitate, though he had much reason to fear as to the success of his attempt. What! he might have said within himself, will these men, whom a few hours ago I bound in chains, and rudely thrust into the inner prison, be so kind and forgiving as to help me, when they have a fair opportunity to take ven
geance on me, and make their escape from confinement besides ! But wrath pursued him so closely that he durst not delay; he hazards an experiment, whatever might be the result. Sinners truly awakened will exclaim, like the lepers, “Why sit we here until we die?" To sit still would be inevitable death; and an unsuccessful attempt to find safety could be no more than death.
Fourth. Again, this concern will put the soul in an active and waiting posture, ready to comply with any injunction without delay. There is no hesitating to dispute about the terms of salvation, but any possible terms are readily accepted. The jailer applied to Paul and Silas, not to make terms, but to accept them, as soon as stated. As if he had said, I have no scruples as to any thing you enjoin upon me; speak what you will in the name of the Lord, and I readily comply.
IV. The next inquiry is, Why does an awakened sinner thus lay salvation seriously to heart? So strong a desire of self-preservation is implanted in the mind of man, that he can as easily cease to be as cease to desire it. “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it.” And the necessary consequence of this desire, is to fill us