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but, on the contrary, it is said, “He is the propitiation for our sins : and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” 1 John ii. 2. His intercession is represented as continued in heaven, and as exercised on behalf of all that come unto God by him : “Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” Heb. vii. 25.
7. I may complete this part of the subject by observing, you are not cut off from any means of grace which is essential to your salvation, or which others enjoy. You may observe, that the principal means which others have enjoyed and used, and through which they have attained to conversion, are, the word of God read and preached, with access by prayer to the throne of God in the name of the Divine Mediator. If you could inquire minutely of these what means they found blessed to their salvation, you would find that the same are enjoyed by yourself. You can read the Bible as well as any other book; you can hear the gospel explained as well as any other subject; you can as readily devote an hour to prayer and meditation as to any other engagement. It is of no avail for any one to say, “ But there is something beyond all these which cannot be commanded, and which I have not in my own power.” Of course, for what is not in his power he is not to be held accountable, any further than as it may be necessary for him to depend upon the bestowment of it, to implore it fervently, and to rely upon the faithful promises which are made relative to its bestowment. But as to those matters for which he is held responsible, and which are fully within his reach, he may be sure that he has not yet faithfully employed these : till he has done so, and done it in dependence upon the Divine blessing, he cannot, even to his own conscience, release himself from his responsibility. Only let the unconverted sinner search the Scripture for salvation, and pray in earnest, with perseverance, and in dependence upon the promised and all-sufficient grace of God; and if he is disappointed of the blessing, he will be the first sinner so left to perish without grace and without hope. Try, sinner! Let me urge you to put God to the test of his fidelity to his own promise, and you shall soon find Him both a prayer hearing and answering God. You can have no right to complain, or demur, till you have fully complied with the commands of Scripture. Be entreated, then, not to deceive yourself with the fatal mistake, that you have any vindication for your unbelief and impenitency in the fact that grace is God's gift, since your destitution of that is clearly traceable to your own indisposition to seek it. “ Ye have not, because ye ask not,” James iv. 2 ; or, you have asked amiss—coldly, without sincerity, without faith, and without perseverance. Would you but resolve never to cease asking till you had received, or never to leave the cross of Christ till you either perished or were saved, you would soon enjoy“ the blessing, even life for evermore,” Psa. cxxxiii. 3.
REASONS WHY YOU HAVE NEVER YET BEEN
My intention in this chapter is, to examine the principal reasons which may be assigned for your continuance in a state of unconversion, with the view of impressing your mind more deeply and thoroughly with the conviction of the sinfulness of that state. It is, and it ever will be, quite impossible for any unconverted sinner to shift from himself the responsibility of being still, by his own free choice, an unconverted man, as long as Christ can say to all such, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life,” John v. 40. He must know and feel that he has never yet been willing to become a new creature; has never set himself heartily to pray for it ; has never used the means of coming to a full knowledge of the guilt of sin; and has never anxiously and steadily pursued the inquiry into God's method of salvation. He has not, therefore, acquitted himself of his responsibility, and he can in no way escape from the guilt of remaining to the present hour in an unconverted state. While it is clear he has not done his part, he can have no excuse for endeavouring to rid himself of the charge of neglecting his salvation. The reasons, therefore, of his continuing so long unconverted, ought to be placed before him, and pressed upon him with all the force that properly belongs to them.
Here we observe, 1. That the free and resolute choice he has made of a sinful life, proves that he has never really desired to be converted. He has delighted in evil things, has given a decided preference to a carnal state, and has entered heartily into the vain and sinful pleasures of this life, considering only how he might gratify his body, or please his carnal and sensual mind. scarcely have done this without a distinct knowledge of the better way; and if with such a knowledge, then his sin is the greater, the more aggravated, because his preference is the more clear and resolute. He knew there was a strait gate and a narrow way, leading unto life ; but he preferred to walk in the broad way, that leadeth to destruction, in which the many go, Matt. vii. 13, 14.
The unconverted reader cannot but be conscious, that he has given his entire heart to the vanities of the world, and to his temporal interests ; and that he has done so even to the conscious disregard of his higher interests ; frequently against convictions of his sinful state, and of his need of an entire change. He cannot but have experienced many admonitions and calls, many inward warnings, which have been utterly disregarded, and in defiance of which he has continued
to live, and to pursue worldly and temporal good. This obstinate adherence to his own sinful ways, ought now to appear to him as a positive and direct resistance to the will of God. Herein he has shown the depraved tendency of his affections, the perversion of his will to the choice of sin, and the guilty neglect of his eternal interests, with which he cannot but perceive himself to be chargeable.
2. It may be further alleged, that he has been guilty both of inattention to the truth of God, and of
disbelief of its most sacred and important principles; and this is another reason why he has not been converted. He has not applied his mind to the humble and candid examination of the gospel; he has not allowed it to operate upon his heart; he has both directly resisted it, and, by indulging dispositions opposed to the truth, has disqualified himself for understanding and feeling it; has raised clouds of evil passions, which have darkened the mind, and prejudiced the heart against the dictates of the Divine word. At times that word may have been powerfully urged, its authority presented to the mind, and its light and power in part perceived, so as to convince the judgment, and leave the conscience without ex
But, still, even all this has been resisted by a corrupt heart, and determined will, still urging forward in the way of disobedience. Probably he has laboured to fortify his mind by sophistical arguments, and by the reading of books designed to prejudice men against the Holy Scriptures. How many have been constrained to confess on a dying bed, that they were kept from an attention to the Bible by the wicked writings of infidels ! The following might be a salutary warning. “I was lately called," said the Rev. W. A. Gunn, in a sermon at Lothbury church,“ to attend a young man at Hoxton. On entering his room, I found him in the greatest horror of mind. Thinking it perhaps arose from the deep remorse of a penitent sinner, I began to point to Jesus, the sinner's only friend. With an agonizing look of despair, he said, “Ah! sir, but I have rejected the gospel. Some years since, I, unhappily, read Paine's Age of Reason. It suited my corrupt taste. I embraced its principles. After this, wherever I went, I did