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cause it is in the tenderness of an appeal of this kind that a way seems better opened to your hearts. In these days Christ is busy at the hearts of men. How many are there whose situation with respect to property, has been most sadly changed within the last few years; how many, whose rising prospects have looked out fair as the morning and bright as the sun, have had those prospects overclouded, and that brightness turned into the most dismal shade. When clouds and darkness overspread the fair face of heaven, and the thunder sounds, and the lightnings play, and the torrents fall, we are constrained to acknowledge that God rides on the whirlwind and directs the storm; and true it is, my brethren, for the clouds are the treasure house, and the lightnings are his arrows, and this thunder of his power who can understand. If this is true in the world of nature, it is no less true in the world of providence, and in both cases the intention is kind and merciful. In every species of distress which may prevail, Christ is there; and in the very difficulties which have surrounded you, his footstep is heard at the door, and his voice sues for admittance.
In these days, at this very time, Christ is busy at the hearts of men; because, whether we will or no, we are constrained to behold the daily instances of mortality which gather around us. Some are cut off in the bloom and vigour of their days, as many an instance proves, and some are falling as a shock of ripe corn in his season. In the moving spectacle of funeral pomp, Christ is at the heart. In the house of mourning, where the bereaved family sit in breathless sorrow, and ever and anon cast some bitter thoughts towards that grave, within whose cold bosom they have placed some object of their tenderest affection, there is Christ knocking and hoping to gain access to the heart which is somewhat softened by its sorrows. Christ is there, and there for purposes of the tenderest mercy; for it is his desire to gain admittance, not only that he might save, but that he might succour; that he might be a very present help in the time of trouble; that he might sanctify the afflicted; that he might win the heart to himself; that he might make it a temple of the Holy Ghost, and fill it with peace and joy in believing; that there might be beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness. If there are any of you, my dear friends, who are suffering under any of these dispensations of adversity, turn not the Saviour, I beseech you, from your doors; it is your happiness and salvation which he desires; you may not see him now, but you shall see it, and that clearly, for
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform ;
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
And works his sovereign will.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But look to him for grace ;
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain ;
And he will make it plain.
Again: Christ knocks at the door of your hearts by the agency of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, as the third person in the ever blessed Trinity, is invariably represented in the Scriptures, and has been invariably believed by the Church to be the agent, who, as to his personal offices, was to supply the place of the ascended Saviour; for when the Lord Jesus Christ was about to repossess himself of that glory which he had with the Father before the world was, he left with his Apostles the promise that he would send them another comforter who should abide with them for ever, even the Spirit of truth; and one of the offices of that Spirit was to reprove or convince the world of sin. I shall leave off from this consideration every thing which pertains to the subject of spiritual influence antecedent to the Gospel times; for it is a subject which would necessarily require a more enlarged course of observations than we have now time to undertake. · And all that I wish now to say is, that by the special influences of the Holy Spirit, Christ knocks at the hearts of all men, and in this way renders every sinner without excuse. ask in what way this is accomplished, then are we beyond our depth. In a dispensation of this kind, we can only state, that thus it is writtenChrist said of the Spirit that when he is come he shall reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; and we are exhorted not to resist, and not to quench the Spirit. The operations of the
Spirit are most generally made evident through the medium of what is called the natural conscience. The effects are discernble when the understanding becomes enlightened, the perversity of the will subdued, and the affections have changed their object. It is the Spirit of God which alone is the efficient agent, when the word of God, either read or preached, comes home with power and demonstration to the heart. The Spirit of God is the agent when the dispensations of prosperity or adversity are made effectual to a change in the sinner's views and feelings. But the subject upon which I now speak is not the action of the Spirit on the heart through the medium of the written or the preached word, or the dispensations of Providence, but as immediately addressed to the heart without the intervention of any external medium whatever. I know that this is a subject which has upon it the weight of extraordinary difficulties; and I am also aware of the utter impossibility of giving it a full and satisfactory explanation. But my purpose is simply to show the fact, and to leave the difficulties of the case to the solution of that future state, where every thing which it is necessary for us to know will be fully developed. There is not an individual among us at whose heart Christ does not knock by his Spirit; and to substantiate this, let us first trace out, as far as we are able, the operations of what passes by the name of the natural conscience.
What is conscience? Who can explain the nature of this inward principle ? and who can tell the method of its workings? Sometimes it lies dormant; and sometimes it is roused, and rages like a very fire within the bosom. Is conscience something which acts spontaneously;
or is it something which only acts when acted upon? Let us leave these speculations for facts. Here we cannot be deceived. Every individual knows that there is a principle within him—call it what you may-an active principle, an inward witness, which testifies to the good or ill of human conduct. It is upon this principle, and through its intervention, that Christ speaks directly to the heart of every sin
Have you never felt alarmed at the consequences of neglect or of sin ? Have you never had a serious impression that you ought to serve and love God ? Have you never had a foreboding fear of the threatened doom of the sinner? What is it that
produced these impressions ? You had not been acted on by an external impulse. Conscience, or what I hope you will understand me as meaning, the Spirit of the living God striving with you through the medium of that faculty called conscience-conscience, for the most part, works silently and unseen by every eye; but yet its effects are frequently visible. There is, indeed, a restlessness in the sinner's mind, which is oftentimes seen to work in his outward appearance, and shows to every observer that his heart is not at peace; but, generally speaking, the pangs of conscience are secretly preying upon the sinner's soul, at the very moment when he would wish to appear before men in perfect peace. The voice of conscience is most distinctly audible in his ear, and speaks most powerfully at those times, when no other voice can be heard; in the solitary hour of night, when reflection compels the unwilling soul to look with horror into its real state; in the hour of necessary and painful retirement from other scenes, when business is over and pleasure gone; when the mind