« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
with dread of that which appears hurtful to nature. That which threatens our ruin we view with abhorrence. Hence death is called the king of terrors, because it threatens nature, not with alterations more or less important, as the case may be, but with entire dissolution. Any thing is more or less terrible, according as it has more or less of death in it. And by the light which is let into the soul of the awakened sinner, he sees the death of deaths, eternal wrath, ready to ruin him forever. It is this sight of impending ruin which fills the awakened sinner with anguish; and, while the whole man, soul and body, is seen to be in the greatest of all possible danger, all the powers will not fail to be exercised for deliverance.
PRACTICAL IMPROVEMENT OF THE SUBJECT.
SECTION I. The reader put upon trial to ascertain whether he is convinced of sin or not. 1. Unless you know whether you have been convinced of sin or not, you cannot know whether or not you have been profited by the foregoing considerations. You are made either better or worse by the perusal; for, “ As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater, so shall
word be that goeth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall
prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” It is a matter of vast importance, then, that you know your own case. Nor is it enough to have those general notions of sin which persons entertain from custom or education; there must be a work of the heart, a personal work, or it is insufficient.
We may set aside all profane persons, profane swearers, drunkards, liars, whoremongers,
and thieves, and the like, as not concerned in this trial; for such persons are doubtless without genuine convictions of sin. So far from being concerned to obtain salvation, they do all in their power to make damnation sure. As their “judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not,” so their condemnation will be just, for they run with open eyes into manifest ruin. While they know “that they which commit such things are worthy of death,” they themselves “not only do the same things, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
But besides these notorious sinners, there are others who are no less strangers to sound conviction, but the proof in their case is more difficult. Some of these profess to be convicted of sin. Have you, then, reader, felt more anxiety about salvation than any thing else? Can you be satisfied with other things while in utter uncertainty about your soul? You say you are convinced of sin; but could we know all your thoughts, what would these testify that you are most concerned about? What thoughts do you choose ? those about the body or the soul ? Are you more concerned to make a figure in the world, or to prepare for heaven? Do you not spend days and weeks together, without con
cern for the soul? If you ordinarily choose to think of other things, it shows that other things are your principal concern. You cannot but have the thoughts most occupied with that which lies nearest the heart.
Again, I ask, what are your desires ? Man is sensible that he is needy, and is ever longing either for fancied or real good. Now, what is your desire ? Is it salvation? Is it Christ? Perhaps you never have such desires, except in sickness and the fear of death; and even then it is principally a desire to be free from death, and to live a little longer. heart ever affected in view of salvation ? Have you any fears of falling short of it ? Concern never fails to set the heart at work. ever taste God's anger in the threatenings of the law? Do you ever feel any shame for sin in your heart ? If you have nothing of all this, you can have no true conviction of sin.
Upon what topics are you most ready to converse? Do you ever speak on the subject of salvation, unless it be to object, or cavil at the terms or doctrines of it? Talk not of accommodating yourself to the company you are in for if this were necessary, you can easily find the company of those who would willingly talk of heaven. Are
you may lead the conversation? Do you or not ever grow weary of the company that converses upon heavenly and divine things? If you were really concerned, it would be a restraint upon you to be kept from talking upon these things.
But do you use the means of salvation ? A drowning man will surely struggle to save himself; and so will a convinced sinner. Is there not, then, a lie in the mouth of him who says he is anxious for his soul, and yet makes no effort to secure its salvation ?
II. But let us descend to a few particulars. The means of salvation are of three sorts, seeret, private, and public. Attend
a few questions in reference to each.
First. Secret.--I shall name only secret reading of the Scriptures and prayer. Do you neglect prayer in secret ? Can you rise in the morning, and go to your work without bowing the knee to God ? If so, you cannot have anxiety for
your soul. Are you anxious to ascertain the success of your prayers, if indeed you do pray? Saints mentioned in the Bible were anxious to know the success and acceptance of their prayers. Are your secret prayers confined to stated times, as morning and evening, or do you often breathe out your desires to God