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powerfully and constantly ; yet so long as he does not produce any radical or essential change in the nature of their moral exercises, they continue to resist and stifle convictions, and maintain there enmity, opposition, and selfishness. The common influence of the Spirit never produces the least degree of grace in the heart. This has always appeared, when God has poured the largest effusions of the Spirit. Multitudes were awakened under John the Baptist's preaching, under Christ's preaching, and under the apostles' preaching, who never repented, and embraced and professed the gospel. They were the subjects of only the common influence of the Spirit, which produced no saving change in their hearts. But when God operates by his special influence, he not only awakens and convinces sinners, but slays the enmity of their hearts, by producing new and holy exercises, and turning them from selfishness to pure, disinterested love to God. The subjects of his special grace become new ereatures. Their stony heart is taken away, and a new heart is given them. They become new creatures. Old things pass away and all things become new. They love God, whom they hated; and hate sin, which they loved. They renounce the things of the world, the men of the world, and the spirit of the world. They experience the fruits of the Spirit ; which are love, joy, peace, gentleness, faith, meekness, and every holy and virtuous affection. Such are the characters of true converts, or the subjects of special, saving grace. I now proceed to show,
II. What is implied in their professing religion, or entering into covenant to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. They are repre
sented in the text, as making a public profession of religion, and ratifying their profession by subscribing a covenant or some solemn obligation to fulfil their engagements to the Lord. The public profession of religion under the Mosaic dispensation was a covenant transaction, in which God and his people mutually stipulated to perform certain conditions. The people stipulated to love God with all the heart, and to obey all his commands. They avouch him to be their God, or solemnly declared themselves to be the Lord's, and he avouched them to be his people, and engaged to be their God. This mutual stipulation was considered and called an oath. The people are represented as swearing unto the Lord; and he as confirming the immutability of his promise by an oath, which it was impossible for him to violate. Though covenanting with God, at this day, is not attended with the same circumstances, that attended covenanting with God under the law; yet it is essential. ly the same, and creates a bond or obligation equally and mutually binding. Those who now make a public profession of religion, consecrate themselves and all that they have to God, and solemnly engage to take his word as the standard of their faith and practice ; and at the same time, call themselves christians, and virtually, if not literally, subscribe with their own hands, to walk in universal obedience to the divine laws and ordinances. It is said, that the primitive christians gave themselves to the Lord, and professed a good profession before many witnesses. They professed godliness, which was a good profession and contained every thing implied in vital piety. In this public and solemn transaction, they appealed to God and man to
witness the truth and sincerity of their profession, which was tantamount to a solemn oath. Such is the proper nature and solemnity of making a public profession of religion and entering into covenant with God at this day. It now remains to show,
III. Why the subjects of special grace choose to join the church and enter into covenant with God.--. The prophet represents young converts as spontaneously choosing to make a public profession of religion, and to bind themselves to be the Lord's. They choose to make it known, that they belong to the people of God, and to put themselves under the bond of the covenant to walk in the way of his commandments. This has been generally found by observation and experience to be the happy fruit and effect of a saving change or sound conversion. The question now before us, is, Why do such young converts spontaneously desire and choose to join the church and lay themselves under covenant vows and obligations to live in universal and persevering obedience to the whole will of God ? There is a variety of weighty and powerful reasons for their freely and voluntarily binding themselves to be the Lord's. In particular,
1. They love the commands of God. A change of heart always produces love to the law of God, or it rather consists in love to the divine law, which is a condition of the covenant of grace. So the apostle says in the eighth of Hebrews. “ This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts, aud I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” Paul said, " I delight in the law of God after the inward
man.” And David said, “O how love I thy law.” As soon as the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, it never fails to produce love to his law. And those, who love his law, choose to obey it and to bind themselves to obey it forever. This was exemplified in the views and conduct of the converts, that returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. “ In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping, they shall go and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, Let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, that shall not be forgotten.” The subjects of special grace have had their enmity to the divine law slain; and of course, love that law, which they hated and choose to love and obey it forer. er; which is one good reason, why they choose to join themselves to the Lord and to his people.
2. They love the ordinances, as well as the law of God. They love religion, and all the instituted duties ofit, which they once neglected and despised. They love to draw near to God, in secret and social prayer, and in his public worship in his house. And for the same reason, they desire to commemorate the death of their divine Redeemer according to his his dying command, “This do ye in remembrance of me.” Though this be an appropriate duty of the subjects of grace, yet they have no right to attend upon this special ordinance, before they profess Christ before men and bind themselves to walk with his friends in obedience to his commands, by a solemn and perpetual covenant. The positive and instituted duties of religion are calculated and designed for the benefit of the cordial friends of Christ ;
and as soon as any become his friends, they sincerely desire to name his name and join with his followers in celebrating his special ordinances. This was the case of those, who were converted on the day of Pentecost. We read, “ Then they that gladly received his word were baptised : and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” The same desire to join with the people of God, and to partake of the holy sacrament, is a common effect which flows from the special effusions of the divine spirit. Young converts never fail to flock to Christ as doves to their windows. They spontaneously desire to join the church, and to bind themselves to walk in all the ordinances of the Lord.
3. The subjects of special grace choose to join the church, because their hearts are united to christians. Though they once despised and avoided christians, yet as soon as they possess the spirit of Christ, they feel a peculiar complacency towards his friends, and delight to unite with them in the duties of religion, and in their attendance on divine ordinances. Those, who were converted on the day of Pentecost, were of one heart and of one soul, and united and continued together in social worship, and the celebration of divine or dinances. The subjects of special grace possess a spirit of mutual brotherly love. They love as brethren, and discern a peculiar beauty and excellence in all, that love the Lord. This christian union and affection is not momentary, but permanent and universal. It extends to all, who appear to be the subjects of special grace. David loved, esteemed and delighted in the saints, as the excellent of the earth. The