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delay of conversion; when we prove from the force of habits, that it is difficult, not to say impossible, for a man aged in crimes, to be converted at the hour of death; it appeared to you, that we shook two doctrines which are in fact the two fundamental pillars of your faith.

The first is the supernatural aids of the Holy Spirit, promised in the new covenant; aids which bend the most rebellious wills, aids which can surmount in a moment all the difficulties which the force of habit may oppose to conversion.

The second doctrine is that of mercy, access to which being opened by the blood of Christ, there is no period it seems but we may be admitted whenever we come, though at the close of life.

with which they abound, and which they address to all those who presume to delay conversion. We should have to repeat this caution of the prophet, "To-day if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts," Ps. xcv. 7. A caution he has sanctified by his own example, "I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments," Ps. cxix. 60. We should have only to address to you this reflection, made by the author of the second book of Chronicles: "The Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people; but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew the young Here is, in substance, if I mistake men with the sword. And had no compassion not, the whole of what religion and the Scripupon young men or maidens, old men or him tures seem to oppose to what has been advancthat stooped for age. They burned the house ed in our first discourse. If we make it thereof God, and brake down the wall of Jerusa- fore evident, that these two doctrines do not lem, and burned all the palaces thereof with oppose our principles; if we prove, that they fire," 2 Chron. xxxvi. 15, &c. We should contain nothing directly repugnant to the cononly have to propose the declaration of Eter- clusions we have drawn, shall we not thereby nal Wisdom, "Because I called and ye refused, demonstrate, that the Scriptures contain noI will laugh at your calamity, and mock when thing but what should alarm those who trust your fear cometh," Prov. i. 26. We should to a tardy repentance. This we undertake to have but to represent the affecting scene of Je- develope. The subject is not without difficulsus Christ weeping over Jerusalem, and say- ty; we have to steer between two rocks equaling, "O that thou hadst known, at least in ly dangerous; for if, on the one hand, we this thy day, the things that belong to thy should supersede those doctrines, we abjure the peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes," ," faith of our fathers, and draw upon ourselves Luke xix. 41. We should have but to say to the charge of heterodoxy. On the other hand, each of you, as St. Paul to the Romans: "De- if we should stretch those doctrines beyond a spisest thou the riches of his goodness, and certain point, we furnish a plea for licentiousforbearing, and long-suffering, not knowing ness: we sap what we have built, and refute that the goodness of God leadeth thee to re- ourselves. Both these rocks we must caupentance? But after thy hardness and impeni- tiously avoid. tent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgments of God," Rom. ii. 4, &c. And elsewhere that God sends strong delusion on those who believe not the truth, to believe a lie, 2 Thess. ii. S. We should have but to resound in this assembly, those awful words in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries," Heb. x. 26. For if the mercy of God is without bounds, if it is ready to receive the sinner the moment he is induced by the fear of punishment to prostrate himself before him, why is this precise day marked to hear the voice of God? Why this haste? Why this exhausting of resources and remedies? Why this strong delusion? Why this refusal to hear the tardy penitent? Why this end of the days of Jerusalem's visitation? Why this heaping up of the treasures of wrath? Why this utter defect of sacrifice for sin? All these passages, my brethren, are as so many sentences against our delays, against the contradictory notions we fondly form of the divine mercy, and of which we foolishly avail our selves in order to sleep in our sins.

All these things being hereby evident and clear, we stop not for farther explication, but proceed with our discourse. When we employed philosophical arguments against the

The first proofs of which people avail themselves, to excuse their negligence and delay, and the first arguments of defence, which they draw from the Scriptures, in order to oppose us, are taken from the aids of the Spirit, promised in the new covenant. "Why those alarming sermons?" say they. "Why those awful addresses, to the sinner who defers his conversion? Why confound, in this way, religious with natural habits?" The latter are formed, I grant, by labour and study; by persevering and uninterrupted assiduity. The former proceed from extraneous aids; they are the productions of grace, formed in the soul by the Holy Spirit. I will not, therefore, invalidate a doctrine so consolatory; I will profit by the prerogatives of Christianity; I will devote my life to the world; and when I perceive myself ready to expire, I will assume the character of a Christian. I will surrender myself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and then he shall, according to his promise, communicate his powerful influence to my heart; he shall subdue my wicked propensities, eradicate my most inveterate habits, and effectuate, in a moment, what would have cost me so much labour and pain. Here is an objection, which most sinners have not the effrontery to avow, but which a false theology cherishes in too many minds; and on which we found nearly the whole of our imaginary hopes of a death-bed conversion.

To this objection we are bound to reply.

We proceed to make manifest its absurdity, 1. By the ministry God has established in the church. 2. By the efforts he requires us to make, previously to our being satisfied that we have received the Holy Spirit. 3. By the manner in which he requires us to co-operate with the Spirit, when we have received him. 4. By the punishment he has denounced against those who resist his work. 5. By the conclusions which the Scripture itself deduces from our natural weakness, and from the necessity of grace. Here, my brethren, are five sources of reflection, which amount to demonstration, that every man who draws consequences from the promised aids of the Spirit, to live in lukewarmness, and to flatter himself with acquiring, without labour, without difficulty, without application, habits of holiness, offers violence to religion, and is unacquainted with the genius of the Holy Spirit's economy.

The ministry established in the church, is the first proof that the aids of the Spirit give no countenance to lukewarmness, and the delay of conversion. Had it been the design of the Holy Spirit to communicate knowledge, without the fatigue of religious instruction; had it been his design to sanctify, in a moment, without requiring our co-operation in this great work, why establish a ministry in the church? Why require us in infancy to be taught "line upon line, and precept upon precept," as Isaiah expresses himself, Isa. xxxviii. 10. Why, as St. Paul says, require us afterward to "leave the principles of the doctrines of Christ, and go on to perfection?" Heb. vi. 1. Why require, as the same apostle says, that we proceed from "milk to strong meat?" 1 Cor. iii. 2. Why require to propose motives, and address exhortations? Why are we not enlightened and sanctified without means, without ministers, without the Bible, without the ministry? Why act exactly in the science of salvation, as in the sciences of men? For, when we teach a science to a man, we adapt it to his capacity, to his genius, and to his memory; so God requires us to do with regard to men. "Faith comes by hearing," says St. Paul, "and hearing by the word," Rom. x. 17. Being ascended up on high, he gave some to be apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry (mark the expression,) for the edifying of the body of Christ," Eph. iv. 11, 12. Perceive you not, therefore, the impropriety of your pretensions? Seeing it has been God's good pleasure to establish a ministry, do you not conceive that he would have you regard it with deference? Seeing he has opened the gates of these temples, do you not conceive that he requires you to enter his courts? Seeing he has enjoined us to preach, do you not conceive that he requires you to hear? Seeing he requires you to hear, do you not conceive that he likewise requires you to comprehend? Seeing he commands us to impress you with motives, would he not have you feel their force? Do you think he has any other object in view? Show us a man, who has lived eighty years without meditation and piety, that has instantaneously become a good divine, a faithful Christian, perfected in holiness and piety. Do

you not perceive, on the contrary, that the youth who learns his catechism with care, becomes a good catechumen; that the candidate who profoundly studies divinity, becomes an able divine; and that the Christian, who endeavours to subdue his passions, obtains the victory over himself? Hence, the Holy Spirit requires you to use exertions. Hence, when we exhorted you to become genuine Christians, with the same application that we use to become enlightened merchants, meritorious officers, acute mathematicians, and good preachers, by assiduity and study, by labour and application, we advanced nothing inconsistent with the genius of our religion. Hence, he who draws from the aids of the Holy Spirit conclusions to remain inactive, and defer the work of salvation, offers violence to the economy of grace, and supersedes the design of the ministry God has established in his church. This is our first reflection.

We have marked, secondly, the efforts that God requires us to use to obtain the grace of the Holy Spirit, when we do not account ourselves as yet to have received them. For it is fully admitted that God required us, at least, to ask. The Scriptures are very express. "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God," Jam. i. 5; “seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened," Matt. vii. 7. And, if we are required to ask, we are also obliged to use efforts, however weak and imperfect, to obtain the grace we ask. For, with what face can we ask God to assist us in the work of salvation, when we deliberately seek our own destruction? With what face can we ask God not to lead us into temptation, and we ourselves rush into temptation, and greedily riot in sin? With what face can we ask him to extinguish the fire of concupiscence, when we daily converse with objects which inflame it?

We ought, therefore, to conduct ourselves, with regard to the work of salvation, as we do with regard to life and health. In vain should we try to preserve them, did not God extend his care: nature, and the elements, all conspire for our destruction; we should vanish of our own accord; God alone can retain the breath which preserves our life. Asa, king of Israel, was blamed for having had recourse to physicians, without having first inquired of the Lord. But should we not be fools, if, from a notion that God alone can preserve our life, we should cast ourselves into a pit; abandon ourselves to the waves of the sea, take no food when healthy, and no medicine when sick? Thus, in the work of salvation, we should do the same; imploring the grace of God to aid our endeavours. We should follow the example of Moses, when attacked by Amalek; he shared with Joshua the task of victory. Moses ascended the hill, Joshua descended into the plain: Joshua fought, Moses prayed: Moses raised his suppliant hands to heaven, Joshua raised a warrior's arm: Moses opposed his fervour to the wrath of Heaven, Joshua opposed his courage and arms to the enemy of Israel: and, by this judicious concurrence of praying and fighting, Israel triumphed and Amalek fled.

Observe, thirdly, the manner in which the Holy Spirit requires correspondent co-operation

new them again unto repentance," Heb. ii. 4 were once enlightened, if they fall away, to reI am aware that the apostle had particularly in view the sin of those Jews who had embrac ed the gospel, and abjured it through apostacy or prejudice. We ought, however, to deduce this conclusion, that when the Holy Spirit has enabled us to attain a certain degree of light and purity, if we relapse into our courses, we cease to be the objects of his regard.

ON THE DELAY OF CONVERSION. from us, as the objects of his care. ing his efficacy in the heart, he pretends not In displayto deal with us as with stocks and stones. It is an excellent sentence of Augustine: "God, who made us without ourselves, will not save us without ourselves." Hence the Scripture commonly joins these two things, the work of God in our conversion, and the correspondent duty of man. "To-day if ye will hear his voice," here is the work of God, "harden not your hearts." Ps. xcv. 8. Here is the duty of man. "You are sealed by the Holy Spirit." Eph. iv. 30. Here is the work of God. "Grieve not the Holy Spirit." Here is the duty of man. door and knock." Rev. v. 20. Here is the "Behold, I stand at the work of God. "If any man hear my voice and open." Here is the duty of man. worketh in us to will and to do." Phil. ii. 12. "God Here is the work of God. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Here is the duty of man. "I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh." Ezek. xi. 19. Here is the work of God. and a new spirit." Ezek. xviii. 31. Here, the "Make you a new heart, duty of man. What avail all these expressions, if it were merely the design of Scripture in promising grace to favour our lukewarmness and flatter our delay of conversion? What are the duties it prescribes, except those very duties, the necessity of which we have proved, when speaking of habits? What is this caution, not to harden the heart against the voice of God, if it is not to pay deference to all the commands? What is the precept, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit," but to yield to whatever he deigns to teach? What is it to open to God, who knocks at the door of our heart, if it is not to hear when he speaks, to come when he calls, to yield when he entreats, to tremble when he threatens, and to hope when he promises? What is this "working out our salvation with fear and trembling," if it is not to have this continual vigilance, these salutary cautions, these weighty cares, the necessity of which we have proved?

Our fourth reflection is derived from the threatenings, which God denounces against those who refuse to co-operate with the economy of grace. The Spirit of God, you say, will be stronger than your obstinacy; he will surmount your propensities; he will triumph over your opposition; grace will become victorious, and save you in defiance of nature. Nay, rather this grace shall be withdrawn, if you persist in your contempt of it. Nay, rather this Spirit shall abandon you, after a course of obstinacy to your own way. He resumes the one talent from the unfaithful servant, who neglects to improve it; and, according to the passage already cited, God sends on those, who obey not the truth, strong delusion to believe a lie, 2 Thess. ii. 10, 11. Hence, St. Paul draws this conclusion: "Stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or by our epistle." And elsewhere it is said, "That servant who knew his lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes," Luke xii. 47. And the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews affirms, "That it is impossible for those who


to show the absurdity of the sinner, who ex-
cuses himself on the ground of weakness, and
5. But why this mass of various arguments,
indolently awaits the operations of grace? We
resolve the sophism adduced by his depravity.
have a shorter way to confound the sinner, and
Let us open the sacred books; let us see what
trine of human weakness, and the promised aids
conclusions the Scriptures draw from the doc-
of grace. If these consequences coincide with
yours, we give up the cause; but, if they clash,
you ought to acknowledge your error. Show
us a single passage in the Bible where we find
arguments similar to those we refute. Show
asserted your weakness, and the aids of the
us one passage, where the Scriptures, having
Holy Spirit, conclude from these maxims, that
you ought to continue in indolence. Is it not
evident, on the contrary, that they draw con-
clusions directly opposite?-Among many pas-
sages, I will select two: the one is a caution of
Jesus Christ, the other an argument of St.
Paul. "Watch and pray, that ye enter not
into temptation; for the spirit is willing, but
the flesh is weak," Mark xiii. 33. This is the
caution of Christ. "Work out your salvation
with fear and trembling: for it is God that
worketh in you to will and to do," Phil. ii.
12, 13. This is the argument of St. Paul.
Had we advanced a sophism, when, after hav-
ing established the frailty of human nature,
and the necessity of grace, we founded, on
those very doctrines, the motives which ought
to induce you to diligence, and prompt you to
vigilance; it was a sophism, for which the
Scriptures are responsible. "The spirit is
principle of Jesus Christ.
you to will and to do:" here is the principle
willing, but the flesh is weak:" here is the
of St. Paul. "Work out your salvation:"
"God worketh in
here is the consequence. Are you, therefore,
actuated by a spirit of orthodoxy and truth,
when you exclaim against our sermons? Are
you then more orthodox than the Holy Ghost,
or more correct than eternal truth? Or rather,
whence is it that you, being orthodox in the
first member of the proposition of our authors,
become heretics in the second? Why ortho-
dox in the principle, and heretics in the con-

five arguments; open your eyes to the light,
communicated from all points, in order to cor-
Collect now, my brethren, the whole of these
rect your prejudice; and see how superficial
is the man who draws from human weakness,
and the aids of the Spirit, motives to defer con-
version. The Holy Spirit works within us, it
is true; but he works in concurrence with the
word and the ministry, in sending you pastors,
in accompanying their word with wisdom,
their exhortation with unction, their weakness
with power: and you-you who have never

12. Content thyself with adoring the goodness of God, who promises thee assistance, and deigns to surmount by grace the corruptions of nature. But, while thou groanest under a sense of thy corruption, endeavour to surmount and vanquish thyself; draw from God's promises, motives for thy own sanctification and instruction; and even when thou sayest, I am nothing, I can do nothing, act as though the whole depended on thyself, and as though thou couldest "do all things."

II. The notion of the aids of the Holy Spirit, was the first source of illusion we have had to attack. The notion of the mercy of God is a second, on which we shall also proceed to reflect. "God is merciful," say they, "the covenant he has established with man, is a covenant of grace: we are not come to the darkness, to the devouring fire, and the tempest. A general amnesty is granted to the wicked. Hence, though our conversion be defective, God will receive our dying breath, and yield to our tears. What, then, should deter us from giving free scope to our passions, and deferring the rigorous duties of conversion, till we are nothing worth for the world?"

read this word, who have absented yourselves from this ministry, who have not wished to hear these discourses, who have paid no deference to these cautions, nor submission to this power, would you have the Holy Spirit to convert you by means unknown, and beyond the limits of his operations? The Holy Spirit works within us, it is true: but he requires that we should seek and ask those aids, making efforts, imperfect efforts, to sanctify ourselves: and would you wish him to convert you, while you neglect to seek, while you disdain to ask; to say the least, while you give up yourselves to inaction and supineness? The Holy Spirit works within us, it is true; but he requires that we act in concert with his grace, that we second his operations, and yield to his entreaties: and would you wish him to convert you, while you harden yourselves against his voice, while you never cease from grieving him? The Holy Spirit works within us, it is true; but he declares that, if we obstinately resist, he will leave us to ourselves; he will refuse the aids he has offered in vain; he will abandon us to our natural stupidity and corruption; and you, already come to the crisis of vengeance, to the epoch for accomplishing his wrath, to Strange argument! Detestable sophism, my the termination of a criminal career, can you brethren! Here is the highest stage of corrup presume that this Spirit will adopt for you a tion, the supreme degree of ingratitude. What new economy, and work a miracle in your do I say? For though a man be ungrateful, favour? The Holy Spirit works within us, it he discovers sensibility and acknowledgement, is true; but thence it is concluded in our Scrip- for the moment at least, on the reception of a tures, that we ought to work, that we ought favour. Forgetfulness and ingratitude are octo labour, that we ought to apply to the con- casioned by other objects, which time and the cerns of salvation our strength of body, our world have presented to the mind, and which facility of conception, our retention of me- have obliterated the recollection of past favours. mory, our presence of mind, our vivacity of But behold, in the argument of the sinner, a genius: and you who devote this mind, this manœuvre of a novel kind; he acquires the ungenius, this memory, this conception, this happy art of embracing, in the bosom of his inhealth, wholly to the world, do you derive gratitude, the present and the future; the fafrom these very sermons sanction for an indo- vours already received, and those which are lence and a delay, which the very idea of those yet to come. "I will be ungrateful beforehand. talents ought to correct? If this be not wrest- I will, from this instant, misuse the favours I ing the Scriptures, if this be not offering vio- have not as yet received. In each of my acts lence to religion, and subverting the design of of vice, I will recollect and anticipate the fathe Spirit in the discovery of our natural weak-vours which God shall one day give; and I ness, and the promised aids of grace, we must be proof against the most palpable demonstration.

Enough, I think, has been said, to establish our first proposition, that the aids of God's Spirit confirm the necessity of discharging the offices of piety, in order to acquire the habit; and that the difficulties adduced, are all converted into proofs, in favour of what they seemed to destroy. These are also, according to us, the pure divinity, and the truths which ought to resound in our protestant auditories. Happy, indeed, were the doctors, if, instead of multiplying questions and disputations, they had endeavoured to press these important truths. O, my soul, lose not thyself in abstract and knotty speculations; fathom not the mysterious means which God adopts to penetrate the heart. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John iii. 8. "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Prov. xvi.

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will derive, from this consideration, a fresh motive to confirm myself in revolt, and to sin with assurance." Is not this extreme of corruption and ingratitude the most detestable?

But it is not sufficient to attack this system by arguments of equity and decency; this would be to make of man a portrait too flattering, by inducing a belief that he is sensible of motives so noble. This would effect the wicked little more than saying, you are very ungrateful if you persist in vice. The author of our religion knew the human heart too well, to leave it unopposed by the strongest banks. Let us extend our hypothesis, and demonstrate, that those who reason thus build upon false principles, on assurance of mercy, to which they have no possible claim. Hence, to find a compas sionate God, they must "seek him while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near."

Here a scholastic method, and a series of questions discussed in the schools, would perhaps be acceptable, did we address an auditory of learned doctors, ready to oppose us with their arguments and proofs. But we will not disturb the repose of these disputes and con


troversies; we will reduce all we have to advance to terms the most plain, and questions the most simple, and ask two things-Is the mercy of God offered in the gospel, offered absolutely and without conditions? And if it have prescribed conditions, are they of a nature, to which you can instantaneously conform on a death-bed, after having run a criminal career? Here is a second question.

I confess, my brethren, that I discuss these subjects with regret. I fear that those of other [SER. LXXXI. communions, who may be present in this assembly, will be offended at this discourse; and publish, to the shame of the reformed churches, that it is still a disputable point with us, whe ther the renunciation of vice, and adherence to virtue, ought to be included in the notions of penitents. "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not Nfaith, and in the conditions we prescribe to in Askelon," 2 Sam. i. 20. There are ignorant persons in every society: we have them also in our communion. There are members in each denomination, who subvert the most generally received principles of their profession: we also have persons of this description. There are none but captious men; none but fools: none but degenerate protestants, presume to entertain those relaxed notions of faith and repentance.


authors, that "he who confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall find mercy," Prov. xxviii. 13. A good protestant believes with our sacred That with God there is forgiveness, that he may be feared," Ps. cxxx. 4. "That God will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints; but let them not turn again unto folly," Ps. by love; and that we are justified by works," lxxxv. 8. A good protestant believes, that "faith without works is dead; that it worketh Jam. ii. 21-26. A good protestant believes, that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand, in order that men may bring forth fruits meet for repentance," Matt. iii. 3. 8. A good protestant believes, that "there is no condemnation to those who walk not after the flesh, but after I. Say that the gospel is a definitive cove- not have dominion over us, because we are not nant, and you save us the trouble of attacking under the law, but under grace," Rom. vi. 14. the Spirit," Rom. viii. 1, 2. That "sin shall and refuting an assertion which contradicts it- A good protestant believes, that "without hoself-for the very term covenant, implies a mu-liness no man shall see the Lord:" that "neitual contract between two parties; otherwise it would overturn a thousand express testimonies of Scripture, which we avoid reciting, because we presume they are well known to our audience.

II. The whole question then is reduced to this, to know what are the stipulated conditions. We are all agreed as to the terms. This condition is a disposition of the soul, which the Scriptures sometimes call faith and sometimes repentance. Not to dwell on terms, we ask what is this faith, and what is this repentance, which opens access to the throne of grace? In what do these virtues consist? Is the whole implied in a simple desire to be saved? In a mere desire to participate in the benefits of the passion of Jesus Christ? Or, if faith and repentance include, in their nature, the renunciation of the world, the forsaking of sin, a total change of life, an inward disposition, inducing us to accept all the benefits procured by the cross of Christ, does it not prompt us sincerely, and with an honest mind, to detest the crimes which nailed him to it? In a word, is it sufficient for the penitent to say on a death-bed, "I desire to be saved; I acknowledge that my Redeemer has died for my sins;" or must he subjoin to these confessions, sentiments proportioned to the sanctity of the salvation which he demands; and eradicate the crimes, for which Jesus Christ has made atonement?

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