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He must see his sin and mi

ing convinced of sin and misery. sery before he can see the grace of God in redeeming him from that sin and misery.

3. Until the sinner is convinced of his sin and misery, he is not prepared to receive the redeeming mercy and grace of God, as through a Mediator; because he does not see his need of a Mediator till he sees his sin and misery. If there were, on the part of God, any exercise of absolute and immediate mercy toward sinners bestowed without any satisfaction or purchase, the soul might possibly see that without a conviction of its sin and misery. But there is not. All God's mercy to sinners is through a Saviour. The redeeming mercy and grace of God is mercy and grace in Christ. And when God discovers his mercy to the soul, he will discover it as mercy in a Saviour; and it is his will that the mercy should be received as in and through a Saviour, with a full consciousness of its being through his righteousness and satisfaction. It is the will of God, that as all the spiritual comforts which his people receive are in and through Christ, so they should be sensible that they receive them through Christ, and that they can receive them in no other way. It is the will of God, that his people should have their eyes directed to Christ, and should depend upon him for mercy and favour, that whenever they receive comforts through his purchase, they should receive them as from him. And that because God would glorify his Son as Mediator, as the glory of man's salvation belongs to Christ, so it is the will of God that all the people of Christ, all who are saved by him, should receive their salvation as of him, and should attribute the glory of it to him; and that none who will not give the glory of salvation to Christ, should have the benefit of it. Upon this account God insists upon it, and it is absolutely necessary that a sinner's conviction of his sin, and misery, and helplessness in himself, should precede or accompany the revelation of the redeeming love and grace of God. I shall also mention two other ends which are hereby attained.

4. By this means the redeeming mercy and love of God are more highly prized and rejoiced in, when discovered. By the previous discoveries of danger, misery, and helplessness, and desert of wrath, the heart is prepared to embrace a discovery of mercy. When the soul stands trembling at the brink of the pit, and despairs of any help from itself, it is prepared joyfully to receive tidings of deliverance. If God is pleased at such at a time to make the soul hear his still small voice, his call to himself and to a Saviour, the soul is prepared to give it a joyful reception. The gospel then, if it be heard spiritually, will be glad tidings indeed; the most joyful, which the sinner ever heard. The love of God and of Christ to the world, and to him in particular, will be

admired, and Christ will be most precious. To remember what danger he was in, what seas surrounded him; and then to reflect how safe he now is in Christ, and how sufficient Christ is to defend him, and to answer all his wants, will cause the greater exultation of soul. God, in this method of dealing with the souls of his elect, consults their happiness, as well as his own glory. And it increases happiness, to be made sensible of their misery and unworthiness, before God comforts them; for their comfort, when they receive it, is so much the sweeter.

5. The heart is more prepared and disposed to praise God for it. This follows from the reasons already mentioned; as they are hereby made sensible how free and sovereign the mercy of God is towards them, and how great his grace in saving them; and as they more highly prize the mercy and love of God made known to them: All will dispose them to magnify the name of God, to exalt the love of God the Father in giving his Son to them, and to exalt Jesus Christ by their praise, who laid down his life for them to redeem them from all iniquity. They are ready to say, How miserable should I have been, had not God had pity upon me, and provided me a Saviour! In what a miserable con

dition should I have been, had not Christ loved me, and given himself for me! I must have endured that dreadful wrath of God; I must have suffered the punishment, which I had deserved by all that great sin and wickedness, of which I have been guilty.

APPLICATION.

I. This subject admits of an application to unconverted sinners. If it be so, as has been represented, then let me exhort you to seek those convictions. Though you are at present sinners, and have no terrifying sense of your danger of hell, yet I presume to say concerning most of you at least, that you do not intend to go to hell. When you happen to think about another world, you flatter yourself, that in some way or other, you shall escape eternal misery; or at least, you do not think of it with a willingness to be damned. But if it be, that you do not suffer eternal damnation, you have a great work to do before you die. It ordinarily is a very difficult work, especially to those, who have gone on for a considerable time in ways of wickedness under the means of grace. If you are ever truly converted, you must be convinced of your misery and unworthiness; you must be guilty in your own sense. Begin your work, then, and seek to be made sensible of your misery and unworthiness. Make haste, and set about this work speedily. You may defer it so long, that it will be too late. It may be too late, if you delay, in these two ways. It may be too late, as you may be overtaken with death, before you

set about it, as thousands and millions have been before you. And if you should not die before you begin, yet it may be too late, as you may never have an opportunity to get through. Some persons are a long time under convictions, before they are converted. There are some, whom God suffers to continue a long time seeking salvation in their own strength before he makes them despair of help from themselves. They continue many years trusting in their own righteousness, as it were, wandering from mountain to hill, from one hold to another seeking rest and safety. They are a long time building castles in the air. They sometimes flatter themselves from one consideration, and sometimes from another. And if you should delay, there is danger that you may not have time. Some are many years under fears of damnation, and are seeking salvation. And there are many for whom death is too quick. Here we will consider briefly what are the occasions of the stupidity and senselessness of sinners; and thence shall take occasion to warn those, who would seek the convictions of God's spirit.

1. Some provoke God to withhold the strivings, and convincing influences of his spirit. Some provoke God to give them up to hardness of heart. God lets them alone, and intends to let them alone. Hosea iv. 16. "Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone." Psalms lxxxi. 11, 12. "But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up to their own heart's lust; and they walked in their own counsels."

Hosea v. 15.-I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face; in their affliction they will seek me early.

Doctrine. It is God's manner to make men sensible of their misery and unworthiness, before he appears in his mercy and love to them; particularly before he appears in his redeeming love and mercy to their souls.

Second use. To exhort those, who have some convictions of sin and danger, that they do not lose them. If you have the strivings of God's spirit, God has met with you, led you to reflect upon your sins, and sensible that you are in danger of hell; and so made you concerned about your soul, and put you upon seeking salvation. Take heed that you do not lose your convictions, and grow senseless of eternal things, and negligent of your soul's concern, that you do not return to your former careless way of living, that you do not return to your former sins. Here consider,

1. That there is danger of it. It is not all, who are under concern for their souls, and who, by the strivings of God's spirit, are

put upon seeking and striving for salvation, who hold out. There are many more, who set out at the beginning of the race, who do not hold out to the end. Many things intervene between the beginning and the end of the race, which divert, and stop, and turn back many who commenced well. There are many, who seem to be under strong convictions, and to be very earnest in seeking, whose convictions are but short-lived. And some, who seem to be much concerned about salvation for a considerable time, it may be for years together, yet by degrees grow careless and negligent. There is much in your own heart, which tends to stupify you. It is the natural tendency of sin and lust, to stupify the conscience. And as corruption is reigning as yet in your heart, it will ever be ready to exert itself in such acts, as will have a great tendency to drive away your convictions. And Satan is doubtless diligently watching over you, striving in all ways to abate, and to take off your convictions. He joins in with the sloth and lusts of your heart to persuade to negligence, and to turn your mind to other things. And the world is full of objects, which tend to take off your mind from the soul's concern, and are constantly, as it were, endeavouring to take possession of your mind, and to drive out the concerns of another world.

2. Consider if you lose your convictions, it will be no advantage to you, that ever you had them, as to any furtherance of your salvation. Whatever terrors you have been under about damnation, to whatever reflections you have been brought upon your sins, whatever strong desires you have had after deliverance, and whatever earnest prayers you have made, it will all be lost. What you have suffered of fear and concern will turn to no good account; and what you have done, the pains you have taken, will be utterly lost. When you have strove against sin, and laboured in duty, have stemmed the stream, and have proceeded a considerable way up the hill, and made some progress towards the kingdom of heaven, when once you have lost your convictions, you will be as far from salvation, as you were before you began; you will lose all the ground you have gained; you will go quite down to the bottom of the hill; the stream will immediately carry you back. All will be lost; you had as good never have had those convictions, as to have had them, and then to lose them.

3. You do not know, that you shall ever have such an opportunity again. God is now striving with you by his spirit. If you should lose the strivings of his spirit, it may be that God's spirit would never return again. If you are under convictions, you have a precious opportunity, which, if you knew the worth of it, you would esteem as better than any temporal advantages. You have a price in your hands to get wisdom, which is more valuable than gold or silver. It is a great privilege to live under means of

grace, to enjoy the word and ordinances of God, and to know the way of salvation. It is a greater thing still to live under a powerful dispensation of the means of grace under a very instructive, convincing ministry. But it is a much greater privilege still to be the subject of the convincing influences of the spirit of God. If you have these, you have a precious advantage in your hands. And if you lose it, it is questionable whether you ever have the like advantage again. We are counselled to seek the Lord while be may be found, and to call upon him while he is near. Isaiah v. 6. A time in which God's spirit is striving with a man by convictions of his sin and danger, is especially such a time, that is a sinner's best opportunity. It is especially a day of salvation. God may be said to be near, when he pours out his spirit upon many in the place where a person dwells. It is prudence for all then to be calling upon God as being near at such a time. But especially is God near, at a time when he is pouring out his spirit in immediately convincing and awakening a man's own soul. If therefore God's spirit is now at work with you, you have a precious opportunity. Take heed that you do not by any means let it slip. It may doubtless be said concerning many, that they have missed their opportunity. Most men, who live under the gospel, have a special opportunity, that there is a certain season, which God appoints for them, which is, above all others, a day of grace with them, when men have a very fair opportunity for securing eternal salvation, if they did but know it, and had hearts for it. But the misery of man is great upon him; for man knoweth not his time. The wise man tells us, Ecclesiastes viii. 6, 7, that "To every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be." And again, ix. 12, "Man knoweth not his time." If the spirit of God is now striving with you, it may be it is your time; and it may be your only time. Be wise, therefore, and understand the things, which belong to your peace, before they are hid from your eyes. You have not the influences of the spirit of God in your own pow

You cannot have convictions and awakenings when you please. God is sovereign as to the bestowment of them. If you are ready to flatter yourself, that although you neglect now, when you are young, yet you shall be awakened again; that is a vain and groundless presumption. It is a difficult thing for a man, who has been going on in a sinful course, to reform. There are a great many difficulties in the way of thorough reformation. If you therefore have reformed, and returned again to your former sin, you will have all those difficulties to overcome again.

4. If you lose your convictions, and return again to a way of allowed sinning, there will be less probability of your salvation, than there was before you had any convictions. Backsliding is a

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