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The Scriptures speak much of these sealings of the Spirit, the earnest of our future inheritance." The Spirit of God helps his children to sensible experience of their undoubted truth and reality; whereby they are established in the faith, strengthened for their spiritual encounters, and supported under all the difficulties and trials they meet with, in their way to the future inheritance. soever you may make of what has been said, I hope,
Sir, you will live to rejoice in the delightful experi*ence, as thousands of others have done; and thereby
find occasion to say with them, “ We are witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”
Fourthly, I may yet add another instance, wherein the truth of Christianity is made matter of experi-, ence, which is the manner how the great change is wrought, and carried on, in the heart of every sincere Christian. There is, I confess, a vast difference, with respect to a variety of incidental circumstances, in the methods of the divine operation, in turning sinners from the power of Satan to God; and yet the Scripture account of this change, as to the substance of it, is always found to be exactly verified in all those who, at adult years, are the happy subjects of God's converting grace.
This has been continually confirmed by the blessed experience of the children of God in all the successive ages of the church.
How agreeably are we surprised, to see a careless and secure sinner, who was going on in the pursuit of his lusts, hardened against all the solemn warnings which he had continually received from the word,
ordinances, and providences of God, and deaf to all the pathetic admonitions of his godly friends,—to see such a one, I say, at once, by some ordinary passage in a sermon, in a book, or in conversation, thoroughly awakened out of his security, and put upon a serious and lasting inquiry, “ What he should do to be saved." His conscience can more now, as at other times, wear off the impression; nor dare he return to his mirth and jollity, to his sensual and worldly pursuits. speak peace to his soul, from his general hopes, or his good designs, nor rest in any thing short of an interest in Christ. Thus we see the promise verified, that Christ would " send the Comforter, to convince the world of sin;" and find it most evidently true, that “ the word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword.” We see a change made, that no means, no endeavours, could ever effect, till a divine power was exerted to bring it about.
How constantly does the thoroughly awakened sinner find, by experience, the deficiency of all his legal attempts to quiet his conscience, and to establish his hopes of the favour of God! He sees his sins too great and numerous to be expiated by his imperfect performances. He feels his corrupt affections, appetites, and passions, too strong for his good purposes and resolutions.
He is deeply sensible of so much defect and impurity in the best of his religious duties, as render them utterly unworthy the acceptance of an infinitely pure and holy God. He feels his heart so hard, and his affections so dead and carnal, that nothing but an Almighty power can
quicken them. He knows, by experience, that he lies at mercy; and that all his own refuges, and all endeavours, in his own strength, to relieve his distressed soul, are fruitless and vain. He finds it indeed the case of fallen man, that nothing but coming to Christ, with faith in him, and dependence upon him for righteousness and strength, can give rest to his labouring and weary soul. True it is, there are some convinced sinners that wear off their religious impressions, and stop short of these effects, which I have now described; but these consequences are always found in all those whose convictions are abiding and effectual. By these they are always necessitated to fly for refuge to Christ, and to look to him for that life and peace which they can find no where else. You will readily allow that my station gives me the advantage of a particular acquaintance with the circumstances of distressed souls; and, having conversed with very many under convictions, from time to time, I have always found the above observations exactly verified.
How surprising is the change made in convinced sinners, when a ray of divine light shines into their souls, and enables them to act faith in Christ, and to “ behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ !” Now these 66
mourners in Zion have
appointed unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called trees of righteous
From this time, they become indeed new creatures, in all spiritual respects. Their discovery of the excellency and sufficiency of Christ, whereby they were enabled cheerfully to trust their eternal interests
in his hands, proves a continued. source of love to God and man, and a principle that constantly inclines them “ to live: soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” We see this experimentally true, as the Scriptures represent it, that their “faith works by love, purifies their hearts, and overcomes the world.” There are, indeed, some hypocritical pretenders to faith in Christ, in whom we do not find these fruits and effects of it; but then there are through the goodness of God) numbers of others, the tenor of whose future lives does fully evidence that their faith is sincere, and that it produces all the effects which the Scriptures ascribe to it.
There is no room to impute this work to the irregular sallies of an over-heated imagination, when we see a thorough and lasting change both of heart and life. There is no room to suppose that enthusiasm or fanaticism can have any hand in this change, when we see the blessed effects of faith in Christ every way answer the description given thereof in the Gospel; and when the believer, visibly and in reality, is become a new man, from the time of his receiving and relying upon the Lord Jesus Christ for righteousness and strength.
And as bad: as the times are, as stupid and unbelieving as the world. in general appears, we have yet repeated examples of the blessed effects of faith, which I have now described; and of the verification of that precious truth, that “to as many as receive the Lord Jesus Christ, to them is given power to become the children of God, even to them who believe in his name.”
And now, Sir, if you will review what has been
said, does it not evidently appear, that he who believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself, when he finds the same change of heart, the same spiritual conflicts, the same joy, peace, and comfort of soul, and all these wrought in the very same way and method which the Scriptures so plainly and particularly describe? Can I doubt of the skill of that physician, or the efficacy of that medicine, whereby I am recovered from a dangerous disease, to health and comfort, exactly in the same method, and by the same sensible and progressive steps, as was foretold me ?
And is not this truth made most clearly evident, not only to the persons themselves, but to all diligent observers, when they find the same experiences reported by all true believers in Christ, and all the same external and visible effects of their faith, conspicuous and open to every one's observation, not in one or two instances only, but in thousands of those who profess to have had these experiences? As we must necessarily acknowledge the skill of that physician who effectually cures all that submit to his directions and applications, so are we constrained to acknowledge him for our Saviour, who, in the very same way and manner which he has proposed and promised, does actually and effectually save all those who believe in him, and, in the way of his appointments, trust to him for salvation.
In my former letters, I have laid before you some of the external evidences of Christianity: in this I have given you a very brief sketch of those internal evidences, which serve to confirm and illustrate the same important cause. By the former, the truth of