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Yet, if we were able to complete this purpose, as I have already said, the effects would vary in different persons, though the same end may be as certainly accomplished.

The false conclusion, however, on the whole subject consists in imagining, that a certain intensity and fulness of conviction is required on the part of the sinner, before he is at liberty to recognize the invitations of grace as applicable to himself; that this conviction must be well defined; and that its action must be regular. The Redeemer once said, “they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick :” and hence it has been concluded that, unless there be a consciousness of the power of disease, all application must be in vain. But the Redeemer could not have meant that none stand in need of a physician but such as are fully sensible of their state. His expression was a reproof to the querulous Pharisees, who considered themselves whole and the publicans and sinners sick. This the Saviour seems to have admitted, for the sake of argument; while he rendered it a reason for his associating with those of disreputable name. But, surely, he did not mean to intimate that all these degraded men had a just sense of their guilt, and that it was expedient, for this reason, that he should associate with them.

Apply to this subject a passage from the pro

phet Isaiah, which plainly refers to the invitations of sovereign grace through the future Messiah :

Ho, every one that thirsteth; come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."* The thirst referred to in this case was certainly not for spiritual blessings. It was for earthly happiness only. It was the panting of an immortal soul for pleasure: and it was indicated by toil and expense to purchase enjoyment which our smitten earth has not to give. The remonstrance which follows this passage tells us as much:

“ Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not.” There is no necessary connexion between such a desire as this, and that hungering for righteousness of which the Saviour spoke in his sermon on the Mount. And the same may be said of his address on the last day of the feast.

The degree of the conviction of sin, then, has nothing to do with the offer of salvation. This is put into the hands of all: and it is intended to meet the necessities of every inquirer after happiness.

You are to look to the gospel, my dear sir, for that peace which your soul desires ; and not to your particular mental impressions : and you see the reasonableness of this, in the fact, that the man who is under the most powerful evangelical convictions, is the last to consider them acceptable on their own account. Let your convictions, then, be what they may, they are never to afford you satisfaction in themselves.

* Isaiah ly. 1.

Adieu. Remember that, “ by grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."

I am yours, &c.

104

LETTER V.

Complaint of irresolution.--Its baneful effects.- Defective na.

ture of unstable resolutions.-Remedy.-Imagined peculiarity of situation.—How to be counteracted.—The sin and folly of speculating on the expected change. - Extreme danger of this state of mind.—Unscriptural and perverse objections. –“God will not pardon me.”—“I do not see how the promises can be fulfilled in myself.”—The glorious sufficiency of pardon.The grand duty, ever incumbent.

MY DEAR SIR,

When I adverted, in my third letter, to that buoyancy of feeling which is so frequently a subject of complaint, and which so often leads to a desperate renunciation of the professed pursuit after holiness and blessedness, I did not mean to confound this complaint with that of any other sense of irresolution. For there are certainly many who mourn, with bitterness of heart, under the consciousness of an irresolute and wavering mind, and who yet have no characteristic levity of disposition. Irresolution is the lament of many a Christian. The very language in which you have expressed your feelings, may be the utterings of a soul whose supreme affections are consecrated to God. But it may likewise be adopted by one who is influenced by a temporary earnestness, which never comes to a favourable decision. You tell me, “ There are times when the object of my salvation assumes an overwhelming importance; when every thought is engrossed by it; and when it would seem impossible to divert my attention from the reflections it occasions: and yet, the next hour insensibility succeeds; and I cannot recal one of my former ideas. There is a fluctuating operation of the mind, which seems peculiar to the subject. In the event of ordinary affliction, I have noted a sense of my loss to vary; but even when it was least intense, and when my faculties were abstracted in some degree by other things, I was conscious of an oppressive weight on my heart. Here, on the contrary, I discover a vacillation for which I cannot account; a rapid transition from interest to stupidity.”

There is nothing extraordinary in all this, though the subject of such experience is apt to attribute much mystery to it; to imagine a powerful supernatural agency employed against him ; or, to suspect that, either his natural peculiarities shut him out from the hope into which others enter, or that God, from some unrevealed cause, will not pardon him; or else that he must, in some

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