« EdellinenJatka »
into the family of the Almighty: "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God: for ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father; the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.""Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is: and every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
Hyatt's Sermons on the Apocalypse.
Oh! wondrous love! the great Jehovah deigns
Whence rise my fears? why is my soul cast down?
My father holds in chains, and will control.
Own thou the kindred ;-tell me, I'm thy child:-
In the preceding article we have introduced the " under the appellation of " a son," and considered the great and glorious privileges to which he becomes entitled, as a member of the divine family. Now, the custom of our country is, soon after the child is born, to christen it; that is, to give it a name. So will we : the child of God shall henceforth be called CHRISTIAN. And this will lead us to the consideration of the doctrine of Conversion; for from the time we are received into the household of faith by adop tion, we exhibit to the world a new character; conversion being a change from one state to another-from sin to grace-from rebellion to obedience. So that Christian now "walks in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, and adorns the doctrine of God his Saviour in all things." He separates himself from his former companions in vice, and devotes himself to the service of
.Thus we find it written:
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the uuclean thing; and I will receive you; and will be a Father unto you; and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Cor. vii. 17, 18.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before
many witnesses, 1 Tim. vi. 11. 12.
O what a blessed change does the converting grace of God make in the soul of a son or daughter of Adam! It is like the beauty and pleasure which the rising morning diffuses over the face of the earth, after a night of storm and darkness; it is so much of heaven let into all the chambers of the soul. It is then only that we begin to know ourselves aright, and know God in his most awful and most lovely manifestations. It is in this light we see the hateful evil of every sin, the beauty of holiness, the worth of the Gospel of Christ, and of his salvation. It is a light that carries divine heat and life with it; it renews all the powers of the spirit, and introduces boliness, hope, and joy, in the room of folly and guilt, sin, darkness, and sorrow.
The nature of conversion will be more fully illustrated by the following extracts:
Sometimes conversion is speedily and suddenly brought about, and the times and circumstances of the change may be easily ascertained. This was the case with the gaoler recorded in the history of the Acts of the Apostles. The same may be said of the apostle Paul; and there have been particular examples of it in every age. Sometimes, on the other hand, the reception of the truth, and renovation of the heart, go on by slow and insensible degrees; nor
easy to say by what means the change was begun, or at what time it was completed. This was perhaps the case with most, if not all the disciples of our Lord, during his personal ministry.
Sometimes the change is very signal and sensible, the growth and improvement of the spiritual life speedy and remarkable, the greatest sinners becoming the most eminent saints, like the woman mentioned in the Gospel, to whom many sins were forgiven, and who loved her Redeemer much. Sometimes, on the other hand, the change is very doubtful, and the progress of the believer hardly discernible. Some of this sort are reproved by the apostle Paul in the following words, which are but too applicable to many professing Christians of the present age: "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have
need of milk, and not of strong meat." Heb. v. 12. Sometimes the convert hath much peace and sensible comfort, rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory; and sometimes, on the other hand, be is distressed with doubts and fears, and made to walk in darkness. Once more, some sinners are brought in by deep and long humiliation, and are almost distracted wiih legal terrors, while others are powerfully, though sweetly, constrained by the cords of divine love. All these "worketh the self-same Spirit, who divideth to every man severally as he will." I desire, that what has now been said may be still kept in mind; so that, if the evidences of a saving change can be produced, there need to be but little solicitude about the time or Witherspoon. manner of its being wrought.
True conversion is the turning of the whole man to God; Acts xxvi. 18. it is nothing less than the total change of the inward temper and frame of the heart, and the external course of the life. Isa. lv. 8. It is not the cool confession, but the real forsaking of sin, in which we shall find mercy. Prov. xxviii. 13. Thy heart and will, love and delight, must turn sin out, and take Christ in, or thou art no gospel-convert. A true convert loathes every sin, and himself for sin; Ezek. xxxvi. 31. but general confessions of sin are consistent with the full dominion of sin. Moreover, in all true conversion there is a positive turning unto God, a whole heart-choice of him, for your supreme and ultimate happiness and portion, Psal. Ixxiii. 25. and of the Lord Jesus Christ, as your Prince and Saviour, Acts v. 31. And answerably, it will devote your whole life to his service and glory. Phil. i. 21. And thus it brings forth the new map, and the whole frame of your life is marvellously changed and altered, 2 Cor. v. 17. “ Old things are passed away, behold all things
are become new."
It may be, you will think such a change as this impossible to be made upon you. And so it is indeed, until the day of God's power Psal. cv. 3. What! to forsake with loathing your old come panions and courses, which you have so long lived with and delighted in; and to embrace with highest pleasure, strict godliness, which you have so loathed and ridiculed! This would be a strange
alteration indeed: but as strange as it seems to be, it will be effected in a moment, when God fulfils that gracious promise (as I hope he is now doing) to you, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you." Operations follow nature: when the heart of a beast was given to that great king Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. v. 21. his dwelling was with the wild asses; they fed him with grass, like oxen. But let the spirit of a man return to him again, and he will blush to think of his brutish company, and way of life; and so will you of yours also. As marvellous a change as this has passed upon as eminent and notorious sinners as yourselves, Gal. i. 22. The God of the spirits of all flesh can with ease and speed produce all this by that almighty power, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.
Whatever the difficulties and hazards are, that attend this change by conversion unto God, the change itself is absolutely and indispensably necessary to every man's salvation. The door of salvation can never be opened, without the key of regeneration. Christ assures civil and formal Nicodemus, " That except he be born again, He cannot see the kingdom of God," John iii. 3. Think not con version to be the attainment of some singular and extraordinary Christians, for it is the very point upon which every man's eternal happiness or misery depends. There is one law for all the world: they must be changed or damned. No restitutions or reformations, no common gifts or abilities, no religious duties or services, can save any man from hell, without a change by thorough conversion, Rom. viii. 8. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Satisfy and please not yourselves with this: Though we live in sin, yet God is a merciful God. We will confess our sins to him, say our prayers, keep our church; and no doubt but God will be mer ciful to us, as well as others, Consider it, man, that this merciful God is also a God of truth; and this God of truth hath plainly assured thee, that all these external things signify nothing to thy salvation, unless thou become a new creature, Gal. vi. 15. and that thou must be born again, John iii, 3. Say not, without this you will hope in God; if you hope in God, you must hope in his word, Psal, cxix.11. Now where will you find that word in the bible, that war