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my Lord me. in somato grow
spices to flow forth, and the plants of grace to grow and' flourish in my soul, that it may become, in some measure, a'i
suitable habitation, in which my Lord may condescend to take • up his constant residence !
I shall be enabled to look forward with triumphant expectation to auother, a far more glorious-and delightful spring, when this body, after having lain for a time in the cold and dreary regions of the grave, shall awake up in the likeness of my ever-blessed Redeeiner; and rise to join its former companion in the blissful realms of life and immortality! Then shall no chilling damps, no wintery storms, no gloomy nights, be ever known again; but soul and body re-united, shall enjoy a cloudless day, a perpetual spring, an uninterrupted sunshine
for ever and ever! What shall be my chief delight in those ? climes of bliss ? O, my ever-blessed Jesus, among all the en
chanting representations which are given in thy word of the
employments of that happy state, none appears to me half so ** desirable as that of lying low at thy feet, glorifying thy name,
and ascribing all my salyation to thy free grace and dying love! Crowns, sceptres, and kingdoms, -- streets paved with gold, and walls of precious stones, have but few attractions for me; but to behold thy smiles, to gaze on thy beauty, to hear thy gracious words, and to serve thee without any mixture.. of imperfection or weariness for ever! This, this is life eternal! - this is Heaven and happiness indeed! Wooburn.
CHRISTIANITY so justly recommends itself to the regard: of men, by the benefits, which it confers on them, that the cavils of the infidel seem to be no less the expressions of ingratitude than the indications of ignorance and pride. These cavils, however, it was the duty of the friends of religion to consider ; and they have considered and refuted them. In every instance, where unprejudiced discussion has taken place, the result has been favourable to the cause of revealed truth: but though the truth of Christianity hath been established to the satisfaction of the learned enquirer, it must be recollected, that a great part of mankind have neither leisure nor ability to examine a series of arguments. They must come at truth by some shorter, some easier way. These perhaps, when pressed by the sophistry of the infidel, may be disposed to think,' Surely, a system that must be contended for by weapons that we do not know how to use, could not bu intended for us. . We feel ourselves unequal to the dispute,
- We will not, therefore, concern ovirselves about it. It were
Lord Lyttleton has remarked, That the conversion of St. Paul (admitting the account of it to be authentic) affords a · sufficient evidence of the truth of Christianity. This, however, involves some controversy. Some will not admit that historical.evidence is sufficient in this case ; but why need we ask it of them ? why refer them to a transaction that occurred some hundred years ago, when we can point them to present facts, - to facts that take place every day, accompanied by circumstances of an equally supernatural nature? We believe we risque nothing in asserting, that in the conversion of every notorious wicked character there is exhibited as great a display of supernatural influence as was seen in the conversion of St. Paul; and that every such conversion affords a sufficient evidence of the truth of Christianity. ......
In what consisted the miraculous nature of Paul's conversion? In the heavens opening ? -in the voice that struck Paul and his companions with dismay? or did it not rather consist in the sudden change of mind and difference of pursuits which he manifested? That he who just before, to use the emphatical expressions of Scripture, was ' breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Christ, — that this infuriated being should be made to enquire, in the language of meekness and submission, · Lord, what wilt thou have nie to do? and that he should afterwards, by every means in his power, endeavour to promote that faith which he had once devoted bimself, as it were, to destroy !-such effects, such
a change indeed, could be produced by no human cause : there .we distinctly recognize the finger of God, and are constrained to exclain, 'It is the Lord's doing; and it is marvellous in our eyes.'
If then, in this instance, it be united, that none but an · Almighty Power could produce such effects, see that Power still exerted, and claiming of erery unprejudiced mind a recognition of its reality by a display of its efficacy!-- see, in the conversion of every notorious sinner, the exercise of a divine agency; for, unless any thing short of an Almighty Power can divest the human mind of its most dceply-rooted
prejudices, and eradicate from the heart those passions and propensities which, by a long indulgence, were in a manner interwoven with its very fibre, to what other cause shall we ascribe that change which we term Conversion? A change so complete and so extraordinary, that it may well be called A Newness of Life, since it affects at the same time the understanding, the will, and the affections; and gives them an impulse, nut only which they had never known before, but contrary to what they had ever experienced. To what cause else shall we ascribe it, that the man who has been so long dead in trespasses and sins,' - so long insensible to the denunciations of the divine anger, should now be alive and awake to his danger ? His danger was not recent, though his sense of it was. Why then was he not convinced of it before? or, Why was he convinced at all? Is his change of mind the result of more careful examination; of more serious enquiry? So far from it, there was nothing he so much hated, or so much avoided, as serious enquiry? How shall we account for the alteration that has taken place in his condect? - that he, who once was the slave of the most disgraceful passions, and who was so often borne down by their vioicnce, should express his aversion to what before had constituted the felicity of his life? and by what means was he able so easily to resist their influence? What power hushed into peace the storm that so lately raged within his bosom? Was the force of his reason able to curb the fury of his lusts ? or, Had they, by their frequent indulgence, lost their power over him?
Of the insufficiency of the most clear knowledge of the nature of his moral obligations, to induce a man to the practice of his duty, how many instances continually present themselves !-It is related of Sir Richard Steele,' who wrote like a saint, and who, in his Christian Hero, shews the strongest marks of a religious and devout heart, that he lived, notwithstanding all this, a drunkard and a debauchee;' and we need not to be reminded, that there is a certain condition in the life of man, when, to tell him to yield no longer to the influence of his passions, is the same thing as to bid his pulse beat slow when a burning fever fires his blood, is the same thing as to bid the raging sea be still. In such a state, it will avail him but little that he is willing to rid himself of their e aanny: he has given them the reins too long; he has no longer the power to resist them, the time when he could controul them has passed by. In vain he resolves and re-resolves: their violence baffles his endeavours, - his disappointed resolutions only serve to convince him of his own weakness, and he is reduced to the wretched necessity of submitting himself to their cruel influence, in defiance of the convictions of his better judge ment, and long after their gratification hath ceased to afford him pleasure. Is it possible that, from such a state, any human
means can recover him? Sooner must Heaven perform a mi: racle in his favour! - sooner must his very nature be changed! That the Almighty really doth effect this change, - that he really doth impart to the human soul a new principle of a spiritual life, which produces the effects we have been adverting to, is a conclusion which, though human pride may be unwilling to acknowledge, it will be unable to disprove.
We do not attempt to explain the modus of the divine ope. rations in producing this change, - we only assert the fact; and, in confirmation of its reality, would appeal to the subjects of it. It is not long since Colonel Gardiner and John Newton were living instances of its truth *. Concerning the former of these, it has been remarked, " That the criminal and disgraceful indulgences to which he addicted himself, were grown so habitual to him, and he imagined he was so invincibly impelled to them by his very constitution, that he used to say, The, Omnipotent himself could not reform him, without destroying that body, and giving him another; yet this man, from the period of his conversion (which took place while he was in the prime of life) during all his future years, discovered
a constant disinclination to, and abhorrence of, those sensual · indulgences; and was as remarkable for his piety and purity as he had been notorious for his blasphemy and lewdness!
Respecting the other instance we mentioned, we cannot better describe his character and feelings, both before and after his conversion, than in his own words. Speaking of the former part of his life, when he was not only abandoned to all manner of wickedness, but his mind had been deeply infected with sentiments of infidelity, he thus expresses himself: ‘I was now, to appearance, given up to judicial hardness: I was capas ble of any thing: I had not the least fear of God before my eyes; nor (as far as I remember) the least sensibility of conscience. I was possessed of so strong a spirit of delusion, tlaat I believed my own lie! and was firmly persuaded that, after death, I should cease to be!-and, adverting to some change that took place in regard to his situation in life, which was very agreeable to him, he remarks, ' That one reason why I rejoiced in the change, and one reflection I made upon the occasion was, “ That I now might be as abandoned as I pleased, without any controul ;" and from that tinie I was exceedingly ixqe indeed !-- little, if any thing short of that animated description of an almost irrecoverable state, which we have in 2 Peter ii. 14. I not only sinned with an high hand myself, but made it my study to tempt and seduce others upon
every occasion; nay, I eagerly sought occasion, sometimes to my own hazard and hurt;' and he adds, ' I shall say no more of this part of my story, let it be buried in eternal silence;
· * Mr. Howard, of Ferriby, near Hull, an account of whom was pub. lished by the late Rev, Mr. Milner, was, perhaps, equally remarkable. "Ed. but let me not be silent from the praise of that grace which could pardon,- that blood which could expiate such sins að mine! Yes ; "the Ethiopian may change his skin and the leopard her spots,” since I, who was the willing slave of every evil, possessed with a legion of unclean spirits, have been spared, saved, and changed, to stand as a' monument of his almighty power for ever! Such is the language of a man who, like Paul, was once the chief of sinners; but who too, like Paul, was afterwards the most eminent of saints. How many persons are still living, who can testify of his worth, mainan who can tell of his love to God, and of his usefulness to his fellow-men!
These two instances which we have adduced, were, from their situation in life, more conspicuous; but they were not more extraordinary than many others which continually occur. In the present period, indeed, when the gospel of Christ is glorified in the conversion of so many, even of the vilest of the vile,' every day furnishes fresh evidences that God hath not left himself without witness. The Almighty hath been pleased to give a revelation to mankind, wherein he hath declared, That man is by nature in a state of alienation from him; and that until that change, which is termed Conversion, has taken place in him, he cannot do any thing that shall be acceptable in the sight of God, nor be admitted, after death, into his blessed kingdom of glory; and this revelation, which åsserts the necessity of this change, hath also predicted the certainty of its existence. Hence the manifestations of it in the heart of man, present the most forcible evidence of the truth of that revelation which taught us to expect it. Every real Christian feels that this change has taken place in himself; and finds, in his own experience and feelings, the strongest confirmation of the divine origin of his religion; and he can no more be reasoned out of his belief than that man could, who, when pressed by the artifices of sophistry, replied, “One thing I know, that whereas I once was blind, I now see. This confirmation of the truth of Christianity is freely offered to the notice of men; for though some, who are the subjects of this supernatural change, have not been suffered to go to the same excess of riot' as others, and on that account the altération in their conduct has not been so conspicuous to the world, yet there are many who having once sinned with‘an high hand and an outstretched arm,' when they have been brought by the mighty power of God into a state of subjection to him, have claimed, from every observer of the astonishing transformation, the acknowledgment, 'Surely, God hath been here!'',
They have indeed claimed this acknowledgment; but how little has thcir claim been regarded! In vain doth Deity make known his power and his grace! The unhappy sons of Adam are too much occupied with other concerns, to be affected by