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THE SINNER BELIEVING. TOWARD the close of a summer sabbath, says a Christian minister, my younger brother came into my room, and with every expression of confidence and love, the tear trembling in his eye, said, “ I want you to pray for me.” It was a moment of surpassing interest, and emotions never to be expressed or forgotten were awakened during the scene that followed.
The youth now begging an interest in my prayers had never been distinguished for his wickedness; on the contrary, his past life had been marked by strict morality, and the observance of many outward duties of religion. His countenance, his tears, his words, discovered that he was in deep distress; and I desired him to sit down and tell me the nature of his anxiety, to open his heart freely, and I would then comply with his request.
"Last evening," said he, “when you closed your remarks with these words, . Choose ye this day whom you will serve,'I resolved to seek the Saviour now, and never give it up till I found him. When I arose this morning, I was not conscious of any unusual anxiety; but through the day I have been more and more troubled; the preaching seemed to reach my case ; and since I have been at home this afternoon, I have been more deeply distressed, and now I feel that I am a sinner, a very great sinner, sinking into hell, and I want you to pray for me."
We kneeled, and I prayed for him, while he wept in bitterness
by my side. I then said to him, “ What is the immediate cause of your present distress? Have you a dread of God's wrath, which you so richly deserve on account of your past neglect of him, and the present enmity of your heart to all that is holy ?",
He replied, " I have been during the day particularly anxious lest I should sink into hell. It seemed to be opened before me, and every step I took was bringing me nearer to its brink. But that idea does not now distress me so much as a sense of any sins -they are so many and so great that I know not what to do or where to look. What shall I do to be saved from my sins ?”
"There are reasons," I said, “why you ought to feel deeply the greatness of your guilt. You have lived in the midst of gospel privileges; you have had religious instruction from your childhood upward; you have heard the offers of salvation a thousand times; and have slighted these privileges, forgotten these instructions, rejected these offers of life, and you do well to weep when these sins are set in order before you."
“I know it, I know it,” said he; “ I deserve to be made miserable, I have been such a sinner against God."
" But do you feel that you deserve to be eternally miserable ; that God would be just in shutting you out of heaven and shutting you up in hell ?”
" Oh yes, I cannot suffer more than I deserve to suffer, if I sink under the everlasting wrath of God. And yet it is not hell, so much as sin, that now fills me with distress. I would suffer anything, everything, to be delivered from this dreadful load of sin."
I then spoke to him of the Divine character, and told him, that he might contemplate the contrast between the holiness of God and the pollution of the sinner's heart. “ Think of that infinite purity which cannot look upon sin; of that justice which has sworn to punish it; that spared not the rebel angels, and that will not spare you ; think of the justice and purity of God, which can make no compromise with sin, nor relax a particle from the severity with which he must punish the finally impenitent.”
To all this and more that I urged, he answered, “ I feel all that; I see that all the attributes of God are against me, conspiring to punish me; it is all right; I deserve it; I must perish; oh, is there no way to escape ?"
- God is just, but God is merciful too. He has prolonged your life, given you space to repent, and is now ready to deliver you from hell and fit you for heaven."
“No, no," said he, “ I have sinned too much. I must perish in my sins." And sinking under this despairing thought, he gave utterance to his grief in sobs and tears.
It was an awful moment. I feared greatly for him. Again and again I prayed, that in the hour of his extremity he might find
THE SINNER BELIEVING.
cried unto God. But his cry seemed to be unheard. He did not believe. I then said to him,
"My dear brother, I have been striving to set before you those sins which now fill your soul with so much distress, and I doubt not that the Holy Spirit has opened your eyes to see your guilt and just desert of punishment. But you must not despair. Have you forgotten that the blessed Saviour, who came into the world and died for the chief of sinners, now waits to be gracious even to you? If you still doubt the willingness of God to have mercy on sinners, come with me to the cross on Calvary. Why does the Son of God there hang, and bleed, and die? If he died to save the sinner, is he not willing to do that for which he died ? Here is the crowning evidence that God can save, and offers to save, those who deserve to perish. And then listen to the invitations and promises of the gospel : how many ! how precious! how strong! They breathe the sweetness of dying love. They come from the heart that bled on the cross; and how can you refuse to believe? • Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,' Matt. xi. 28. •If any man tnirst, let him come unto me and drink,' John vii. 37. • Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,' John vi. 37. The gospel is full of such promises; they are made to sinners; they are made to you. Were you the only sinner on earth, the promises of Christ could not be more clearly addressed to you than they now are. And can you doubt? will you despair ? You see the plan of salvation revealed for just such sinners as you are; and now will you not, under the power of the Holy Spirit, who has awakened you to a sense of your condition, commit your immortal interests to Him who gave himself for you?” The solemnity of eternity seemed to rest on his soul, as he poured out his heart in prayer, and yielded himself into the hands of Him who is mighty to save. From that blessed hour my brother has found the Saviour precious to his soul.
In this record there are a few points on which the reader's attention should be fastened.
There was a determination to seek the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to this decision calmly, deliberately, and with fixedness of purpose. This is a most important step in the path that leads the sinner back to God. Will you now, relying on the grace of God, without which your resolution will be vain, resolve to make the salvation of your soul the first great object of pursuit, and with singleness of purpose seek the Lord ?
He saw his danger. He seemed to hang by a feeble thread over the burning lake, liable every moment to fall into the bottomless gulf! There you are suspended, O impenitent reader! in an instant the brittle thread may break, and then where are you?
He felt his guilt. And the more clearly he saw how long his heart had been at enmity with God, the deeper became the sense of his just desert of punishment. He knew that he deserved that God should cut him off in his sins, and cast him for ever from his presence.
He felt that the Lord Jesus Christ was just the Saviour he needed. With a heart broken for sin, he found that trusting wholly in the promises of Christ, there was peace for his soul. Here all his anguish was allayed; joy broke in upon his despairing mind, and the sweet assurance came that his sins were forgiven.
These are simple steps, but they lead to heaven. Repent, and “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," Acts xvi. 31.
You may be a desperate, abandoned profligate ; an outcast, forsaken and forgotten of men ; a child of infamy and crime, lost to yourself and friends, and lost to hope; but it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"—the chief of sinners! 1 Tim. i. 15.
Or, like him, whose story is here told, you may not have stained your character by crime, or wandered far into the paths of the wicked; still you have “ an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;" you have never loved the Lord with all your soul; nay, you have hardened your heart against him, and refused to yield yourself into his hands. But the Saviour waits to be gracious. He died for you; will you not live for him ? He calls you by his word and by his Spirit; he pleads with you by his dying love, to repent, BELIEVE, and LIVE.
CONVERSION.—The principal method which the Spirit adopts in subduing the heart of a sinner is, a spiritual discovery of Christ. There is an attractive force in the Saviour, when beheld by faith, which commands. Christ crucified possesses a drawing power. When the Son of man is lifted up, he will draw all men unto him, John xii. 32. No radical and saving change is effected, without the exhibition of this object; nor are the terrors of the law alone ever sufficient for that purpose : they are sufficient to show the heinousness of sin, and the extreme danger to which the sinner is exposed, but have no tendency to produce a complete renovation. « By the law is the knowledge of sin,” Rom. iji. 20: the law will discover our disease, but the knowledge of Christ is the discovery of the remedy. . The law denounces its awful sentence: the discovery of Christ points out the method of deliverance and escape. The law at most is but a “schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." All saving influence and solid consolation spring from him, and from him alone. “ The law kills," as the ministration of condemnation; it is " Christ who makes alive.”
THE SINNER AND THE SAVIOUR. In a short time, and perhaps very unexpectedly, you will be in eternity. Your opportunities and privileges fly with your moments, your account is fast filling up for the day of judgment, and soon your everlasting state will be fixed.
You know that you are A SINNER AGAINST God. You have been ungrateful, in rendering no proper return for his unceasing mercies; selfish, in disregarding his glory, and seeking your own interests; self-willed and obstinate, in casting off his restraints, and persisting in your own way ; proud, in overvaluing your supposed good qualities; vain, in seeking the approbation of men rather than God; rebellious, in resisting his rightful authority, and disobeying his most reasonable commands; unbelieving, in neglecting his most gracious promises and solemn warnings; and wicked, in stifling the admonitions of conscience, and deferring known and acknowledged duty. You have sinned against God the Father, by withholding your heart from him, and by contemning his wisdom and mercy, which proclaimed the gospel as the only method of restoring men to his favour: you have sinned against God the Son, by denying your sinful and lost condition, and neglecting the pardon purchased with his blood : you have sinned against God the Holy Spirit, in resisting him when he has