and the inevitable ruin of those who neglect the Saviour. He was to convince them of righteousness ; of the righteousness of the Redeemer's person and office; of the necessity and perfection of that everlasting righteousness which he wrought out for sinners; and of this he was to give the fullest evidence from the fact that Jesus had gone unto the Father;" had gloriously, visibly, triumphantly ascended into heaven; and instead of being seen any more on earth in his state of humiliation, had proved his acceptance with the Father, by sending down the Holy Ghost. The Spirit was also to convince of judgment; of the certainty of future judgment, of the designation and authority of Jesus to be the Judge of the world. Of this, proof shall be given in the judgment of Satan, whose kingdom of darkness shall be shaken on the descent of the Holy Spirit; who by the gospel shall be dispossessed of his power over idolatrous nations; and shall be driven from his empire in the hearts of thousands, who had before blindly obeyed him.

Such, my brethren, is the general meaning of this interesting passage of Scripture: you see how many and what important truths are contained in it. I design on the present occasion to consider but one of them: The work of the Holy Spirit in the conviction of sin. "He shall convince the world of sin." It is true, as I have already remarked, that the Saviour here speaks particularly of the sin of unbelief; nevertheless it is a general truth that he lays down; and besides, we cannot be convinced of the sinfulness of unbelief, unless we are at the same time convinced of the necessity of faith; and we cannot feel this till we find that we have such a load of guilt

and unworthiness as deprives us of all hope in ourselves.

We are then authorized by the text to treat the subject in all its extent; and I know not any mode of treating it that will be more profitable than the examination of these four questions:

I. What is conviction of sin?

II. Who is the author of this conviction?

III. Do all convictions terminate in true conversion? and,

IV. What are the chief points of distinction between those legal convictions, which have been experienced by many who are lost, and those evangelical convictions that are peculiar to the children of God?"

I. What is conviction of sin? It is opposed to the insensibility of the thoughtless; to the vain self-flatteries of those who delude themselves with the hope that it will be well with them, though they are strangers to regenerating grace and unwashed in the blood of atonement; and to the perilous delays of those who defer the concerns of their souls to an uncertain future. Unlike all these, he who is under conviction of sin has awaked to an awful sense of the importance of eternity, of the danger of his state, and of the necessity of instant attention to his dearest, his everlasting interests. His carnal security is terminated; he can no longer hide from himself the sad truth that he is guilty, deeply guilty, and in constant danger of perdition. He once, with the mad and ungrateful world around him, could mock at sin; he now has a painful sense of it, and trembles at the threatenings and judgment of God. He grieves at the recollection of his transgressions; he displays his sorrow and his fear in his confessions and in his

prayers; he is diligent in his attendance on the means of grace, anxiously seeking instruction in divine things, and importunately inquiring in what mode he can obtain deliverance. Seeing himself pursued by the curses of the law, and exposed to everlasting agonies, the world diminishes in his esteem; much change is made in his affections, and much reformation in his outward conduct.

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Such is conviction of sin; that conviction that was felt by Peter's hearers on the day of Pentecost; by Saul of Tarsus when, " trembling and astonished, he cried, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" by the Philippian jailer, when he "sprang in trembling before Paul and Silas, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Such is the conviction which was once felt by you, children of God, when you were first enlightened to behold your guilt and misery. It is not conversion: it may be found in its highest degree while the soul is yet unrenewed; but it is a preparatory work calculated to strip the sinner of all selfconfidence; intended so to show him his perishing need of a Saviour, that he may suitably value the offers of pardon that are made in the gospel. It is the earthquake and the fire which precede the still small voice of God that speaks to the heart.

II. Who is the author of this conviction of sin? This question is answered by the text: it is the Holy Spirit of God. He is for this reason termed the Spirit of bondage: Rom. viii. 15. "For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." It is one and the same Spirit there spoken of in respect of two contrary operations. As he testifies to our sonship, he is the Spirit of adoption; as he discovers to us the fetters laid

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upon us by sin and Satan, and applies the law as the ministration of death, he is the Spirit of bondage.

To him we are indebted not only for grace, but also for all that is preparatory to the infusion of it into the soul of this the slightest observation must convince us. Christian! how often, before thou wast brought under conviction, hadst thou with insensibility heard or read those threatenings, which at last were fastened upon thy conscience? How often hadst thou slighted dispensations of providence similar to that by which thou wast at last awakened? When thou wast brought to solemn consideration, how many, who were "in the same condemnation" with thee, and who enjoyed the same means which reached thy soul, still slept on, regardless of their God, their Saviour, and eternity? These and ten thousand similar facts prove to us, that the best means are ineffectual to arouse the sinner, till the Spirit carry them home to the heart.

Let me add, that the great end and design of the gospel rendered it requisite that conviction should be wrought by the Holy Spirit. The gospel is intended to display the riches of divine grace, and to remove all cause of glorying in ourselves: and if we could convince ourselves, make ourselves sensible of sin, though afterwards God should by his power lead us to Christ, yet the glory of the commencement and preparation of the work would belong to ourselves. But in every thing relating to our salvation, the glory must be. God's alone; "the hewing of the stone as well as setting it in the building; the preparation of the members as well as uniting them to the head."

It is the Spirit then, who mediately or immediately, by his common or special, operations, produces conviction of sin.

III. Do all convictions terminate in true conversion? To this question the declarations of the scripture, as well as our own observation, answer, No. We are taught that we can "grieve," can "resist," can "quench the Spirit" of God. We read of the "striving of the Spirit" in the time of Noah, with those, who in the time of Peter were, and ever will continue, spirits in prison. We are told of the fruitless convictions of a Cain, an Ahab, a Judas, a Felix; of the unavailing tears of an Esau, and the vain cries of the foolish, delaying virgins. In these and similar examples we see that men may be convinced of their guilt and misery, and yet be strangers to regenerating grace.

And, my dear brethren, have such instances never occurred among ourselves? Are there none of you who are awful proofs that the deepest conviction may be felt without true conversion unto God? Have none of you, when lying on a bed of sickness, which you supposed to be the bed of death; when visited by some alarming providence; when hearing God's holy word announced with energy and faithfulness; when your relatives and friends have abandoned the path of sin in which you walked together, and have fled for salvation to the Redeemer? In these or in other circumstances, have none of you trembled at your guilt, acknowledged your transgressions, cried for mercy unto God, and besought the advice and the prayers of his children? And are there none of you who have withered those hopes of the pious which you had excited; who have fal

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