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with the most anxious concern; and till you find Christ formed in your heart the hope of glory, you ought not to rest, nor allow any thing to divert your mind from the one great concern.
Let me add, God has placed within your reach another important means of assisting you, in the advice and encouragement of Christian friends, or ministers. Some such, I am to suppose, you may find near you; and I think I may venture to say, you will find them glad to advise you on your soul's concerns.
Moreover, it is important to avoid all company of an opposite kind, especially that of the thoughtless, the gay, or the wicked. Flee from such, as from your worst foes. Their levity may be infectious ; their examples may betray your soul into perdition. Avoid, too, whatever engagements, or amusements, or recreations might divert your mind from the one great subject which you ought to have ever before you. The salvation of your soul should be your earnest, supreme, and constant pursuit.
Remember, too, how important are fortitude and resolution under the frown or scorn of frivolous and gay associates. You must brace up your purpose to withstand all such assaults, for you may be exposed to severe trials in these respects. Your former worldly friends will not part with you without making you feel their contempt for your new and strange notions. But you have to consider, and determine in your conscience, which is easiest to be borne, the scorn of your fellow men, or the just and everlasting displeasure of God. Consider, I entreat you, who has said, friendship of the world is enmity with God," James iv. 4. “ He that loveth father or mother
more than me is not worthy of me,” Matt. x. 37. “ Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels,” Mark viii. 38. Some have not been steady in their resolution, nor firm against worldly snares. Two young men, deeply impressed with the importance of salvation and the value of their souls, commenced a religious course together. For some time they kept their vows, and steadily pursued the great object both professed to have in view. But all at once a change took place in the conduct of one of them. He began to neglect public worship, and became shy of his pious companion. Shortly after, the backslider was invited to attend a fashionable ball, and assented to the proposal. His companion was greatly distressed at the intelligence, but still felt firmly resolved, for his own part, to seek the salvation of his soul, or perish with the publican's prayer upon his lips. Upon receiving the intelligence that his friend was going to the ball, he waited upon him, and, with tears in his eyes, endeavoured to dissuade him from his purpose, inviting him to go that same evening to a meeting that was to be held for prayer. But he pleaded in vain. On parting, he said to his pious companion, that he must not give him up as lost, for that after he had attended that ball, he intended to make it his business to seek religion. The evening arrived. One went to the prayer-meeting, the other to the amusements of the ball-room. Soon after the opening of the religious meeting, the heart of the young inquirer was set at liberty, and his soul was made to rejoice in the Saviour's love. Soon after the ball opened, the other was standing at the head of the ball-room, holding the hand of a young lady whom he was to lead down the dance. The music was just commencing, when this young man fell backward a lifeless corpse upon the floor. The other was immediately sent for to assist in conveying him to his father's house. These two young men were brothers. Reader, learn the peril of trifling with convictions, the danger of yielding to worldly friends, the ruin that may lurk in a return to worldly pleasures, the judgment that may impend upon a looking back to the Sodom” from which you have once escaped. “Remember Lot's wife,” Luke xvii. 32.
THE POSSIBILITY OF YOUR CONVERSION.
DEAR reader, if you are convinced that you are yet unconverted, let me entreat you now to attend to a few remarks, which may serve to show that the important and happy change signified by that word, may take place; that it is a thing quite possible, and not the less so, though you should think it impossible. Unconverted persons, when they are brought to think at all seriously upon this change, are very apt to view it as something so difficult as to be next to impossible. Their ignorance of its nature, and their entire inattention to what the New Testament teaches upon the subject, may explain how it is that they deem it
impossible. As soon as they begin to think, their difficulties and discouragements seem to multiply and strengthen, till sometimes they feel disposed to abandon all hope of ever undergoing it. Perhaps they have heard the subject described as involving mystery, or in terms which appeared to them unintelligible.
It is, therefore, highly desirable, that you should feel convinced that there is nothing in the nature of conversion to render it impossible in your case.
1. You are fully capable, as far as your natural powers are concerned, of understanding all the doctrines and facts of the gospel, which are made the means of producing a change. So that you can plead no natural incapacity for understanding "the truth as it is in Jesus.” You can understand what it is to be a sinner in the sight of God, to be under the curse of his law, to be in danger of eternal punishment. You can understand what is meant by Christ's atonement for sin; what, by a gracious forgiveness, a full pardon, and a promise of eternal life. You can, further, understand what is meant by an entire change of character. In so far as these things can be expressed by words, you can understand them, though to feel them may require a more intimate and perfect knowledge. Yet, in this respect, these subjects stand in no worse situation than any other matters of experience. We can understand by words and sentences what it is to think, to move, to live, to reason, to be pained, and to be pleased; though the actual experience of the things expressed by these terms gives us a more clear and complete conception of them. Hence, you ought to be impressed with the conviction, that there is nothing impossible, especially if you will pay adequate attention, in your apprehending the great truths of the gospel, which must be received before conversion can be effected. It is not intended here to intimate that there are no difficulties in the way both of your apprehending and feeling these subjects; but, simply, that there is no impossibility. You may not only understand them all, and perceive their authority and intimate connexion, but, by the blessing of God, which you may expect, and are encouraged to ask, you may also feel them in all their force. You can imagine no insurmountable obstacle in this quarter; for the truths in question are so simple and plain, that the humblest capacity may apprehend them: they are so plain, that even a child may understand them; and it is quite certain that many children, and persons of very inferior capacity, have understood them.
2. I observe, your heart, though sinful, is yet as susceptible of that change, called conversion, as the hearts of others who have experienced it. You possess
that very nature for which the means of conversion are provided. You can think, and reason, and are susceptible of hope and fear. You, probably, feel that you possess a heart that needs conversion; for you can hardly deem it fit in its present state to be admitted into God's immediate presence.
And you have, doubtless, seen, or known some, who have undergone this change. You knew them before their conversion, and you have seen them since, and have perceived a great alteration; even if you have not approved of it, yet you must have observed it. Then consider this fact: before their conversion they were just in the same state as you now are ; that is, they had not been quickened to a due sense of their sinfulness, but they are now quickened; they had not felt the