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converting Spirit of God does that for us, which we could never do for ourselves. He makes the Ethiopian, in a moral sense, fair as the driven snow, and renders the spotted leopard spotless, in comparison of what he was. The vassals of iniquity become vessels of glory; and the soul, that once cleaved to the dust of sensuality, and lay dead in trespasses and sins, is quickened from above, and made to sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. When the citadel of the human heart is taken by grace, the enemy's colours are displaced; satan's usurped authority is superseded; the standard of the cross is erected on the walls; and the spiritual rebel takes the vow of willing allegiance to Christ, his rightful sovereign. The strong holds of sin, on one hand, and of selfrighteousness, on the other, are battered down; and the soul, from that blessed moment, made free indeed, cries out, Other lords have had dominion over me; but the darkness is past, and the true light now shines : the snare is broken, and I am delivered.
From this experience of the divine power in our own hearts, we cannot but adopt the celestial anthem, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men! Our moderation becomes known to all; and some of the practical effects, produced by, and connected with that spirit of holy moderation, are these that follow :
Where lust, that fiery serpent, was wont to crawl, divine love kindles her hallowed flame, and raises the affections, as on eagles' wings, to heaven.
Where unbelief, blind and sullen as the mole, lay wrapt in malicious gloom, loving darkness rather than light, and seeking to undermine what she had not eyes to see; faith diffuses the brightness of celestial day, and leads the willing soul to him who bought her with his blood.
Where insensibility, thoughtless as the bird that hastens to the snare, and gay as a victim crowned
for the slaughter, sported on the precipice of destruction, and danced on the verge of death ; serious conviction fixes her keen, but salutary weapon ; and filial fear keeps the avenues of the converted person's heart, and the actions of his life, in ‘powerful, but sweet restraint.
Where envy pined; where malice hissed; where slander sharpened her tongue; and pride, that bloated snake, lifted her swelling crest : universal charity throws wide her arms; humility stoops to the tenderest offices of beneficence; and dove-like meekness smiles with benignity in her heart, and the law of candour upon her lips.
Where intemperance mixed the intoxicating bowl, and lawless riot pushed the superfluous glass; seeking to drown every thought of eternity, and to sink the poor remains of human dignity in the poisonous draught: there religious moderation marks out the limits; mindful of that more than golden rule, Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Where profaneness, assuming the mask of wit, spawned the irreligious jest, and solicited the bellish laugh; prostituting, perhaps, even the language of scripture to the purposes of licentious mirth, and playing on the very words of the Holy Ghost; trifling with sacred subjects, at which angels tremble, and lightly mentioning that adorable name, at which angels bow: there, from the moment of conversion, grace introduces a total change. The renewed sinner abhors himself, as in dust and ashes, for all that he has done; and can never sufficiently adore, admire, and revere, that infinite goodness, which, instead of turning him into hell, has turned him to God, and made him a living monument, not of deserved vengeance, but of unmerited mercy. His heart, which until then, was a sink of impurity and profanation, is transformed into a house of prayer; and his mouth, once the seat of blasphemy, is consecrated into an altar of praise.
Where avarice sat brooding, tenacious as death, and insatiate as the grave; unfeeling as marble, and deaf to the cries of distress, as the adder that stops her ear: discreet liberality unlocks the heart, and well directed beneficence extends her hand to bestow. The language of the soul is similar to that of Zaccheus: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor ; and, if I have taken any thing from any man, by false accusation, I restore him four-fold. The true believer, like his adorable Saviour, goes about doing good, and seeking whom he may relieve.
Where discontent, like a wild bull in a net, raged and struggled, turning the rod of affliction into a serpent, and charging providence with folly; reclining patience kisses the hand that smites, and, knowing that infinite wisdom and goodness have mingled the draught, not only receives, but even relishes the cup: while celestial hope casts her anchor on the inestimable promise of him who says, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee; and who has immutably declared, that all things, without exception, work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose. Thus does the follower of Christ, in the communicated strength of the Holy One, take up
bis cross; content to bear it as long, and to carry it as far as God's unerring will shall please :
“ Nor thinks it chance, nor murmurs at the load; But knows, what man calls fortune, is from God.”
Where sacrilegious impiety once robbed Jehovah of his own day, and profaned the Sabbath, either by rioting and excess, or by travelling, or by the
transaction of worldly business, or by making it an opportunity of recreation and idle amusement; thus rendering the best of days subservient to the worst purposes, either of atrocious guilt, or of criminal insignificance; either basely selling, or unprofitably squandering, those precious, those irretrievable hours, which should be appropriated to the glory of God, and to the spiritual improvement of the soul ;There, religious regard to divine appointment, and love to the gracious appointer, constrain the Christian to keep the Lord's Day holy to the Lord, and to cultivate an habitual, increasing fitness for the enjoyment of that Sabbatism, that everlasting rest, which remaineth for the people of God.
In a word, where impenitency, armed with tenfold brass, stiffened her neck, and withdrew her shoulder from the yoke of obedience; the once obdurate sinner, being made willing in the day of God's power, cries out with vanquished Paul, Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do? Tears of contrition flow, like water from the smitten rock; repentance strikes her conscious breast; and devotion darts her aspiring eyes to heaven.
May those of us, who have hitherto been unconcerned about the great work of conversion, beg of God to show them the things belonging to their peace, ere death makes them wise indeed; wise, perhaps, too late!
And may such of us, as are awakened by grace, to the experimental knowledge, love, and imitation of Christ, be led, farther and deeper, into acquaintance with God, and communion with his blessed Spirit: gaining, day by day, brighter evidences of our election to eternal life, and more substantial marks of our interest in the covenant of grace. Pray for the full assurance of faith, for the feeling of God's favour to you in Christ Jesus, and for the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins.
There are, indeed, seasons of darkness and distress, wherein God's dearest people may be tempted to fear, that their mark is not the mark of his children; and to say with them in the Psalmist, We see not our tokens.
But let not the doubting believer think himself an alien, because he doubts : nor let him imagine, that, because he sees not his tokens, he therefore has no tokens to see. A broken and a contrite heart is an infallible token for good. For justification, fly to the righteousness of Jesus. If you cannot wrap yourself in it, yet throw yourself upon it, and he will not cast you out. For sanctification, commit yourself in the diligent use of means, to the power and faithfulness of the eternal Spirit, who has inviolably promised and covenanted, to write his law upon the hearts of his people. Hewill not send you empty away, nor permit you to seek his face in vain.
To seek his face with fasting, and supplication, and mourning, is the duty, and, I trust, will be the grand business of us all this day. And reason enough we have to prostrate ourselves before the God of armies and King of kings : for, even as individuals, and much more as a nation, our iniquities are increased, and our trespasses are grown up unto the heavens.
" What land so favoured of the skies ?
And yet, what land so vile ?” Sin is the source of all the temporal evils, which we are met to deprecate. Mr. Soame Jenyns has justly reminded us, that,
“ If Christian nations were nations of Christians, all war would be impossible, and unknown among them.” Be it then our prayer, on this solemn, this interesting occasion, that, as the far greater part of the inhabitants of our island are nominal Christians, and have been baptized with water into the outward profession of the gospel; God would please to make us Christians