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Shew your unfeigned consent now by accepting and by giving up yourself unreservedly to him, and you have Christ's blood, spirit, and sacrament to seal it to you. Sin and the world have deceived you, but trust in Christ on the terms of the Gospel covenant, and he will never deceive you.
And now, alas! what pity is it, that a soul, which is in a miserable state, and must be lost for ever, if it have not help, (and speedy help too,) should be deprived of all this grace and glory, and only for want of repenting and consenting! What pity is it, that a soul, which is ready to go into another world, where mercy shall never more be offered, should rather stupidly go on to a place of torment, than return to God and his mercy! Do but truly repent and agree to this covenant, and all the mercies of it are certainly yours; God will be your God; and Christ, and the Spirit, and pardon, and heaven, and all are yours. Oh that the Lord may open your heart, and persuade you not to be undone and lost for ever for want of accepting the mercy which is here offered you.
And now I know it would be comfortable to you, if you could be fully assured that you are forgiven, and shall be saved. In a matter of such unspeakable importance, how joyful would a well-grounded certainty be to any man, who has the right use of his understanding? I am authorized therefore from the word of God to declare, that there is no cause of your doubting on his part, but only on your own. There is no doubt to be made whether God be merciful, nor whether Christ be a sufficient Saviour and sacrifice for your sins, nor whether the covenant be sure, and promise of pardon and salvation to all truly penitent believers be strong and unalterable. AH the doubt is whether your faith and repentance be sincere, or not. And as for that, I can tell you how you may know it, and I will explain the truth to you, that I may
neither deceive you, nor unnecessarily discourage you.
1. If this repentance and change, which you now profess, and this covenant, which you have now made with God, proceed only from a present fear, and not from a changed renewed heart: 2. and if your resolutions be such, as would not bind you to lead an holy life, should you recover, but would be ineffectual to answer any good purpose; then it would be only a forced, hypocritical repentance, and would not save you, if you should die in that state.
1. But if your repentance and covenant proceed not only from present fear, but from a renewed heart, which now loves God, Christ, heaven, and holiness, and you would not relinquish the divine favour for all the riches and pleasures of the world: 2. and if this change of heart be such, as, should you recover, would excite and bind you to lead an holy life, and would not decline, or dwindle into an hypocritical formality, when the fright from sickness was over; then I can assure you from the word of God, that, if you die in such a state of repentance, you will certainly be saved.
Helps for a conversation (founded on suitable texts) with an awakened convinced sinner.
1. You should be thankful that there is room "Jesus Christ came into the world to
save the chief of sinners." (1 Tim. i. 15.)
2. You should meditate frequently on the promises made to repentance, confession, and humiliation.
"Repent and be converted, that your sins "may be blotted out." (Acts iii. 19.)
3. You should endeavour to impress on your mind the instances of the acceptance and efficacy of repentance and humiliation; such as the conversion of the persecutor Paul; of the gaoler at
Philippi; and of the once profligate, but afterwards holy Corinthians. "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." (Isai. lv. 7.)
4. You should break off all your sins, and practise the duties you have neglected, especially prayer. "Cease to do evil: learn to do well." (Isaiah i. 16.) 5. But make no delay. To-day, if you will "hear his voice, harden not your hearts." iii. 7.)
Helps in general previous to a conversation with doubting, melancholy, and despairing Christians.
In conversing with these, it should be well considered what is the true source and original of this melancholy gloom, unreasonable fear, and groundless despair. Whether it arises from bodily disorders; from worldly losses and afflictions; from some grievous sin committed; from an excessive apprehension and timidity of spirit. The person himself may perhaps impute it to none of these causes, but either to God's desertion, or the "buffettings of Satan." (2 Cor. xii. 7.) But all these causes must be carefully distinguished and explained, for they are frequently mistaken: and, after this has been done, the advice given to them, and conversation with them, cannot be here mentioned distinctly, but must be according to the true source of their spiritual trouble. Some helps however for a general conversation with them are here pointed out.
Helps for conversation with one who is oppressed with many doubts and unreasonable fears.
You are too much dejected aud doubtful concerning your salvation. He who is jealous of himself is always in the safest condition: the most
considerate and best prepared have fears, especially on a bed of sickness; and to fear nothing then is either a singular felicity, or a dangerous presumption. Comfort yourself with thinking on the terms of the Gospel; that it is a covenant of grace and mercy to all who seek it; that Jesus Christ came into the world to save penitent sinners; that he continues our advocate in heaven; that he daily intercedes for you; that the angels rejoice at the conversion of a sinner; that there are different degrees of glory in heaven; that God has promised to hear prayer; that he assists us with his spirit; and his ministers, as it were, beseech us in Christ's stead to be reconciled to him; (2 Cor. v. 20.) that we are ordered to shew such a temper of forgiveness to others, that we may be animated to trust in the much more unbounded mercy of God But those who have conversed with such persons, and heard their manner of evading every argument which could be suggested for their relief, must have had full conviction, that whatever is attempted in behalf of such pitiable objects, should be undertaken entirely in an humble dependence on the divine blessing; looking to that gracious and compassionate Redeemer, who in prophecy is represented as saying, "I am sent to bind up the "broken-hearted, and to give the garment of "praise for the spirit of heaviness." Isaiah lxi. 1, 3.
Helps for a short conversation with one who, though a real Christian, is grievously tormented with wicked and blasphemous thoughts.
These will not be imputed to you as sin, any more than a fever, or any bodily distemper, which you did not willingly procure, and from which you have tried all means to be freed. "My brethren,' says St. James, "count it all joy when you fall into "divers temptations." (James i. 2.) Our Saviour himself was tempted, and the best of men have
always been the most obnoxious to the malice of the devil. To be so much concerned at such evil thoughts is a certain argument of a good disposition, since the wicked are rather pleased with them than tormented.
Helps for conversing with one who is under religious melancholy.
Some truly religious persons are at times under sad apprehensions of not being in the favour of God, because they find their devotions cold, their delight in spiritual matters not so great as their delight in things of the world, and from other
1. Shew yourself affectionately concerned for the distressed state of such a person.
2. Endeavour to convince him, that it is partly a bodily disease which affects his mind.
3. Inform him, that the different degrees of affection, with which men serve God, very often depend on the difference of their tempers and constitutions; that the first motions of our minds (as it is impossible to hinder them) are not reckoned sinful, provided we do not encourage them.
4. Correct his mistaken apprehensions concerning some religious truths.
5. Caution him against other things, which may increase and prolong his disease.
6. Be sure to inform him of persons recovered
from as bad a state.
"The greater part of those who think they are
I cannot do such as are in this unhappy way more essential service, than by recommending to them a little tract, entitled, Observations on the Nature, Causes, and Cure of Melancholy, especially of that which is commonly called religious melancholy, written by the Rev. Mr. Benjamin Fawcett, A. M. printed in 1780, and sold by Longman and Buckland, in Pater-noster-Row, London. Let them see likewise Dr. Clark's Sermon (late Rector of St. James's, London) on religious melancholy, from Job vi. 4, vol. x. 8vo. edition, p. 315, 316.