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to you that these are opiates, and not medicines, so long as you persist in a worldly
But, when these pleas- are silenced, you finally say, 'I cannot repent and turn to God, I would be saved, but how can I?'—How can you? Pray for God's Holy Spirit; think seriously of religion; avoid known sins; withdraw from such and such occasions of temptation ; keep holy the Sabbath, consider your accountableness. I am unable to do this,' is your reply.
In vain we endeavour to discover to you the illusion of these pretexts. In spite of the most pressing invitations, the most convincing reasons, the most fervent entreaties, in spite even of your occasional designs to repent, and of your very regret at being carried on so far in sin, you return always to the same answer • I cannot; would to God I had better guarded my heart; but it is taken, I despair of detaching it from its habits. Without divine grace I can do nothing. I am involved in a thousand bonds. Once more, I cannot. We admit in part your statement, but use it as the most startling proof of your danger.
You can indeed do nothing effectual in your present mind. The way of the slothful is as an hedge of thorns, but the way of the righteous shall be made plain. Every word you utter
proves your guilt. This very indolence of mind is your greatest enemy. It must be wholly changed, or you perish. Long habit has rivetted your chains. But reflect that the very strength and inveteracy of your, habits is the most cogent argument for an immediate and a desperate effort to shake off their thraldom. For, strong as their influence is, it grows yet more powerful every day, every hour; and, if a continuance in evil or worldly practices up to this time has so tied and bound you in the chain of your sins, how deep, how deplorable, will that bondage become by a yet longer perseverance in the same course! What madness, then, what wretched self-deception, to postpone the task of repentance because it is difficult, when you know that adjournment will only increase its difficulty! What frightful, what inconceivable absurdity, even on the ground of your own reasoping, to defer that exertion for which you know that every additional moment will only more and more unfit you, to delay your attack on an enemy when you know that your delays will only arm him with tenfold energy!
Let me ask, however, why is it that you can do nothing: Not because the grace of God is wanting to you, but because you will make no effort. Why? because you are flattered by the false sweets of custom in sin, and imagine it to be necessary to your happiness.
Why? because feeling your weakness and the force of inveterate usage, you fear engaging in a war, where you would have such difficult attacks to support, and which would demand a courage superior to every assault. Why? because you falsely conceive a religious life to be bitter, secluded, austere, without object, without variety, without consolation. Why? because you under-estimate the secret but mighty efficacy of the Holy Spirit of God, or entangle yourselves with some puzzling questions about the human will and the divine agency on it.
But away with such delusions, and all is practicable. You have in truth never yet done what you could. You have never yet used the means of grace.
grace. For remember that, if we have told you of the extent and magnitude of the work of conversion, we have also told you that this great and extensive work is the operation of an omnipotent agent. If we have told a change so mighty cannot possibly be produced by human power, we have also told you that divine power is ever able, ever ready, to produce it in him who desires it in earnest.-Here then is the true improvement of the present sub
If your enemy be so powerful, use the right, the only available means, of obtaining victory. We do not ask you to under-rate the power of habit. We rather call on you to see it in all its terrible extent,, We call on you to
feel, in the strongest manner, the utter imbecility of your own efforts to oppose it. We do so, in order that you may fly at once to the only remedy. With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. The greatest sinner may obtain in this way all needful help. No man ever perished for want of the offer of divine grace. All things are ready. If you delay, you will infallibly become more hardened. God may give you up to a reprobate mind. Age and death are approaching. Your chains may be rivetted for ever. Now is the time of mercy. Now a beam of light breaks across your path. Now you see for the instant something of your guilt and danger. Act immediately and thoroughly on the conviction; burst -asunder the bands of sin; despair of nothing in the strength of God; confess the crimes of your nature and heart and conduct and habits; begin those acts which may go to form habits of obedience and holiness. Your neglect of this renders nugatory
your excuses on the ground of your inability; you frame not your doings to, turn unto the Lord. It is not possible that all can be done at once. It is not possible that you can have perfect ease and readiness in religious duties in a moment. Only begin. Stop in the career of sin, and worldliness, and selfishness, and sensuality. Implore converting grace; avoid temptation; pray ; read the Bible; hear
the preaching of God's word; beg'the advice of pious friends. Conscience will guide you on your way. Light will increase, if you follow what you have. The Holy Spirit will work effectually in your heart. New thoughts, new desires, new principles' will arise. Things that seemed impossible, when you' were excusing yourself and only talking about religion, will become comparatively easy when you are actually engaged in it. You will acquire an aptness as you proceed. It is the first step, the turning from our evil ways, the breaking up of confirmed habits, the commencement of the service of God, which is the great difficulty. Only overcome this by the aid of divine grace ; and you will quickly find that your way is becoming plain before your face, and that the yoke of Christ is truly easy and his burden light.
Henceforth the influence of habit, instead of impeding, will begin to assist you in
your The inclinations which rendered you averse to religion will grow weaker. The difficulties in the ways of piety will diminish. The practical inward principles of religion will become stronger, both in themselves, and in reference to the habits which oppose them. Thus ,a new character will be formed; a character utterly unattainable by the unassisted efforts of fallen nature. The mind will be turned to, a