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of all who truly repent and believe. Where, in temporal matters, there is only hope, in spiritual ones there is absolute certainty.
And now, to bring these remarks towards a conclusion, and to make way for the author, whom they are intended to introduce, I would speak to you for a few moments on the subject of his valuable and most impressive treatise – and which is just the subject, indeed, about which it concerns you to be anxious - I mean, your conversion to God. This is the most momentous change in the universe-the greatest which God can produce, or man can undergo. In some respects, it is greater than that which takes place when the redeemed, emancipated spirit drops the fetters of corruption, and soars away in happy freedom from earth to heaven; for heaven is but the perfection and perpetuation of the change which is wrought in conversion. How impressively does the apostle James speak of this, where he says,
“He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins !" chap. v. 20. Shall save a soul from death! A dead body is a fearful object, but how much more so a dead soul! Dead, not as to rationality, but to spirituality: dead to God, to holiness, to salvation. Perhaps you never reflected upon this. How eloquently, how impressively has it been touched upon by a great writer! « What, my brethren, if it be lawful to indulge such a thought, would be the funeral obsequies of a lost soul? Where shall we find the tears fit to be wept at such a spectacle ? or, could we realize the calamity in all its extent, what tokens of commiseration and concern would be deemed equal to the occasion ? Would it suffice for the sun to veil his light, and the moon her brightness; to cover the ocean with mourning, and the heavens with sackcloth ? Or, were the whole fabric of nature to become animated and vocal, would it be possible for her to utter a groan too deep, or a cry too piercing, to express the magnitude and extent of such a catastrophe ?"
This is not too strongly put, nor is the solemnity of the figure out of proportion to the magnitude of the awful truth to be illustrated. Now, conversion means the resurrection of the soul instead of its continued death. It is the rising into a new, glorious, and immortal life of the moral principle, compared with which, even the resurrection of the body, when it shall forsake the darkness, decay, and imprisonment of the sepulchre, and, in obedience to the call of God, put on incorruption and immortality, is but a dim manifestation of the power and glory of the Redeemer. This is the blessed change set forth in the present volume; and it is a change which must take place in you, or the obsequies above alluded to, and not the resurrection, will take place with regard to your soul. Oh that I could excite a hope, and awaken an expectation in your mind, of the felicities of this new, divine, heavenly, and eternal existence. Would that I could send on your attention to the following pages, with the kindling ambition to be a partaker of this sublime transformation ; with something of an anticipation that you are about to hear and obey the voice which saith, ** Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light,” Eph. v. 14. Yes, the day-spring from on high may be about to visit the grave in which your soul lies dead in trespasses and sins. A new existence, unknown and unthought of till now, with all its energies and activities, a career of eternal holiness and happiness, may be opening before you.
What an impressive view of the consequences of conversion does the declaration of our Divine Lord present to you, when he says, “ There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth!” Luke xv. 10. Repentance is conversion. Now, the conversion, not merely of a nation, or a multitude, but of a single individual, is of such importance as to be known in heaven, and is a source of such joy as to fill the mansions of the blessed with new interest and fresh rapture. Your conversion would do this. Your conversion would draw upon you the congratulations of the innumerable
company of angels. Think of this. It is not the joy of ministers and friends upon earth, but of the angels in heaven, who, from their position, capacity, and experience, can better appreciate the immensity of the consequences of conversion ; can penetrate far deeper than saints on earth can do, into the heights, and depths, and breadths, and lengths of that eternity, which is the seal and crown of the felicity promised to every real penitent; and can more accurately comprehend
“ the mysterious and undefinable value of the soul, its intense susceptibility as a rational, moral, accountable substance, incapable alike of extinction or unconsciousness through infinite duration.” Surely, surely, such a consideration alone is sufficient to awaken and sustain the most intense anxiety, that you might be the subject of a change with which are connected, as its inevitable result, the joyful sympathies of the celestial hierarchy over a felicity at once immense and eternal.
Such, then, is the design of this valuable work, to explain the nature, and enforce the necessity, of conversion to God. It comes with a message from God to you ; and it is a messenger of mercy, and not of wrath. "It comes to lead you to the fountain of life, the way of salvation, the path to glory, honour, and immortality. A special providence may have placed it in your hands. Receive it not with indifference, treat it not with carelessness. A seraph from the throne of the Eternal, a herald from the world of light, could not bring to you a subject in which you are more deeply, or more directly interested. God himself has nothing to say to you more momentous, or more necessary, than the admonition, “BE CONVERTED,” Acts ïïi. 19.
Read these pages with the deepest seriousness of mind. Choose a season of retirement; command all worldly subjects away; collect and concentrate your thoughts on that one word—CONVERSION. Read as with paradise opening above you, the bottomless pit yawning beneath you, eternity spreading out before you, and the eye of God fixed upon you. Read with docility, attention, and earnestness. Read with the recollection that, after you have perused the book, you will never be again as you have been, since, if you are not converted, you will acquire new light and new responsibility, by which an unconverted state will involve a deeper guilt, and a more dreadful punishment. Read, especially, with sincere, fervent, and believing prayer for the help of God's Holy Spirit. And may the Lord render the perusal the means of your conversion, and of the salvation of your immortal soul.
GRE AT CHANGE.
TO THE READER.
A MINISTER of the gospel was once summoned to visit a young lady in deep affliction. She was an entire stranger, but had been occasionally one of his hearers. The case was represented as urgent, and no time was lost in complying with the invitation. But though it required not more than half an hour to reach the house, yet he arrived too late. Although not dead, she was not in a state to be spoken to, and the medical attendant decidedly forbade any attempt to converse with her. Upon inquiry of her mother, it was stated that she had been for several weeks ill, and had frequently expressed the strongest desire to see that minister ; but her friends put it off till it was too late, and shortly after she died without the opportunity of an interview. Reader, pause and reflect upon these words—too late! They seem to suggest this