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XV.--CONVERSION OF THE HEART TO GOD.
“ Turn thou me, and I shall be turned ; for thou art the Lord my
God.”_Jer. xxxi. 18.
What a wonderful work is the conversion of the heart to God. How far beyond the conception and power
of the natural man. It is the work of God. Repenting Ephraim prayed, "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God.”
Almighty Father ! begin, carry on, and complete this work in me, a worthless sinner.-But may I ask so great favour? Thy word encourages, yea, commands me to ask it of thee. “ Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. On what plea can I ask this blessing ? On thine own infinite mercy. Thou hast revealed thyself in thy word, as “ a just God, and yet a Saviour;"_"just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus;" _"as faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
0! my soul, what undeserved love is this ! When God created man, he formed him to show forth his praise. Infinitely happy in himself, he communicated of his own happiness to his creatures. He made man in his own image to manifest his glory. But Adam sinned, and fell! The Almighty, through the riches of his grace, in order to counteract this introduction of moral evil, devised a plan before the foundation of the world, * in the execution of which his glory would be displayed, and those of his creatures restored to happiness who sought for mercy in his own appointed way. Jesus, the Saviour, was revealed. In the fulness of time, he came forth
* 1 Pet. i. 20.
from the Father, took upon him our nature, suffered in our stead, made satisfaction to offended justice, and, just before his return to glory, declared, for the unspeakable consolation of perishing sinners :-“He that believeth, shall be saved.”_Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” What adequate return could man render to the Lord for all his benefits ? What compensation could he make for all this costly sacrifice ? -None. He was a debtor who had nothing to pay, therefore the Lord, for Christ's sake, frankly forgave him. Has man, then, no return to make ? Yes, he has ;-a return of
gratitude and love. This is what the Lord requires. “My son, give me thy heart.” We can give him nothing inore, and he will accept of nothing less. But how must we give him our hearts? Through his own grace; through the constraining influence of His Spirit. If we love him, it is because he hath first loved us. Both the will and the power to turn unto the Lord, and to give him our hearts, is the work of his grace.
“ Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Our duty is plainly revealed: we must pray without ceasing, 'in the name of Christ, for every promised blessing Whatever God hath promised, may be the subject of our prayer, and the object of our pursuit. -If we are true believers, the Land of Promise is ours. We
We may walk through the length and breadth of it, and say :- This is freely given to me.--Oh! how rich are the inheritors of the promises. But, how can we know when our souls are converted to God? When we are enabled, through the Spirit, to make a full surrender of ourselves, body, soul, and spirit, to the God of our salvation. Then we may feel assured that the work of Conversion has been wrought within us.
Lord, convert me by thy grace. Lead me to the Cross. Fill me with thy love, and fit me for thy heavenly kingdom.
O my soul ! what progress hast thou made in thy Christian course since first the Lord of all grace brought thee, by his Spirit, into the good old way?
What are thy views of God ? Dost thou reverence his Greatness, his Majesty, and his Omniscience ? Art thou impressed with his Holiness, his Justice, his Power, and his Truth? Have these awful attributes and perfections made thee tremble in his presence, when thou rememberest that all of them are directed against thee as a sinner ?
What are thy views of Sin ? When thou mournest over its effects, as displayed in the troubles and sorrows, the sicknesses and deaths, which desolate the earth, art thou far more grieved at the dishonour which sin brings to God, by lifting its rebellious arm against the Majesty of heaven; and by sinners crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh, and putting him to an open shame?
Is sin beheld by thee, as the greatest evil, from whence all misery takes its rise ? Art thou convinced of its deceiving, hardening, and polluting nature of its baneful, unprofitable, deadly fruits
What are thy views of Thyself? Hast thou seen thyself a sinner, a rebel, an apostate creature, deserving of nothing less than eternal fire ? And has this view of thyself, humbled thee in the sight of that God who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity ? who hateth all unrighteousness, and hath declared, that the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God?
Hast thou been convinced of thy utter inability to fulfil the righteousness of that law which reacheth to the thoughts and intents of the heart; which will
accept of nothing less than a sinless obedience, making no allowance for the least deviation from its requirements, but pronouncing him cursed who continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them ?
Has a deep conviction of thy own sinfulness, and the utter impossibility of thy ever appeasing the wrath of God, or of making an atonement for sin, made thee
66 What must I do to be saved ?" 560! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” How shall I escape the damnation of hell ?
What are thy views of Jesus Christ ? Hast thou beheld him by the eye of faith as an Allsufficient Saviour ; as one who can relieve thy wants, supply thy necessities, expiate thy sins, sanctify thy nature, ransom thee from hell, and raise thee to heaven?
Hast thou received Him as the Lord thy Righteousness ; by whose merits thou art justified? Is he thy only hope of glory, by whom thou hast access unto the Father ? Dost thou believe that as man, he died for sinners, and that as God, he gave an infinite value to all his sufferings, thus glorifying the Law and his eternal Justice more than if ten thousand guilty worlds had undergone an everlasting punishment ?
What are thy views of the Holy Spirit ? Art thou convinced that the great work of Conversion is his work ? that it is the office of the Spirit to take of the things of Christ and show them to his people; to apply first the Law to our hearts to humble us, to kill all the noxious weeds of pride and self-love; to lay us in the dust before God ; to fill us with self-despair ; and then, to reveal Christ to us in all his free salvation and redeeming love? Hast thou felt the Spirit's power in drawing thee from self to Jesus, from the world to heaven, from sin to holiness, from Satan unto God ? Convinced that repentance and faith are the gifts of God, hast thou earnestly and perseveringly sought these promised blessings, pleading the merits of the Son, and imploring the gift of the Holy Spirit to work in thee all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power ?
If thou hast felt the constraining influence of divine grace, inclining thee to seek the Lord Jesus and salvation through him: hast thou been faithful to these gracious motions of the Spirit ? hast thou assiduously cherished these workings of grace within thee ? have they filled thee with joy, and made thee long for a complete redemption from all iniquity, for an abiding union to Christ by faith?
Art thou, O my soul, waiting for the coming of Christ, as Anna and Simeon waited for redemption in Israel ? Is every thing here below tasteless and insipid, without an assured interest in the work and love of Jesus, in his blood and righteousness, in his prevailing intercession with His Father in heaven? Dost thou delight in the word of God, in the ordinances of God, in the people of God ;-yea, in all who bear his image, who promote his glory, and speak his praise, out of every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue ? Art thou looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of God? Is the second appearing of the Lord Jesus a delightful expectation, when the universal Hallelujah will swell the chorus of his praise ?
If these are thy views, O my soul, if this be thy daily desire, thy daily walk, thy daily hope and trust, then rejoice in the Lord always, who hath so graciously drawn thee to himself, and converted thee from a barren desert into the garden of the Lord.
Blessed Jesus, make me sincere. Thou knowest that I desire to love thee, to be separated from all sin. Unite me to Thyself; fill me with spiritual