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of Christ's flesh, and they who commit it now, are both of them given up to an hardened, insensible mind: for, having resisted, by this awful means, the operations of that blessed Spirit, by which alone they can be quickened to the knowledge of their sins, and to a proper apprehension of Christ as a Saviour, they remain awful monuments of God's righteous judgment. And, continuing therefore in an hardened state of sin, they continue unreclaimable for ever, and thus they live and die lost to all feeling. But how different my brother is your case, if you really felt what you professed to feel at your entrance on the perusal of this little work! You said, that "sin is your greatest burthen, and a deliverance from it your first and most earnest desire." And if this be the case, I will venture to say that such impressions can only come from the teachings of God the Holy Ghost. And if God the Holy Ghost be your teacher, depend upon it you have never resisted his blessed operations by a blasphemy of this kind. And every other species of blasphemy, Christ says, shall be forgiven unto men; there is no exception of any but this. I shall venture to hope therefore, that the stating the case in this very plain point of view, and which I have purposely made use of that you may remember it, will be sufficient, under divine grace, to convince you that you have been kept by restraining mercy from falling into this condemnation.
And now what shall I say more? unless it be to fold up what hath been said, with a very earnest prayer, as I began, that God the Spirit will be graciously pleased to commission it as far as is agreeable to his own most sacred truths, to the heart of some poor self-condemned sinner, that "the labour may not be in vain in the Lord."
SPIRIT'S WORK IN THE HEART
THE GREAT WITNESS TO THE
TRUTH AS IT IS IN JESUS:
A SMALL TOKEN OF AFFECTION TO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST.
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit."-Rom. VIII. 16.
TO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
THROUGHOUT THE EARTH.
GRACE, MERCY, AND PEACE BE MULTIPLIED. I SEND forth this little tract with the more confidence, from a consciousness (if I know any thing of my own heart,) that it carries with it in its bosom, an unfeigned affection to all that "love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." And I send it forth at this particular period of the church, from a well-formed conviction, that it is a period more than ordinarily interesting to the concerns of our common Zion; and in which no one who feels for her welfare ought to keep back his testimony, however feeble that testimony may be in itself, to "the truth as it is in Jesus."
We live in an awful day. The opening of the nineteenth century is teeming with events highly portentous to the profession of christianity. Many of our modern infidels are for "causing the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us." They affect to call the present time The Age of Reason, and treat all the doctrines of Revelation with like indifference, as calculated only for the amusement of the childhood of existence, which, in their estimation, the world hath now passed. And many more in the opposite extreme, are, it is exceedingly to be apprehended, by what we behold in their lives, sporting themselves, as an apostle expresses it, with their own deceivings; not content with extending their views of salvation
universally to all men, they include the very devils also. And thus, while the former are aiming a deadly blow at the whole fabric of the gospel, the latter are sapping it at the foundation. Every cir cumstance therefore, connected with the pure religion of Jesus, loudly proclaims, that those perilous times are come, which were to distinguish the latter days.
But these are not all. Happy, comparatively speaking, would it be for the true interest of the gospel, if these were the only errors to be deplored in the present day of the church. The most violent assaults of a storm without are nothing, if there be perfect security and peace within.
How shall I speak on this subject, so as to conciliate while speaking faithfully! Is there not (I propose the question with all possible deference and humility,) is there not, even in the best professing churches of the day, more regard shewn to the appearance of godliness, than to the evidence of its reality in our hearts? Are we not, in our respective congregations, and even in the moment while seemingly contending for all the great and distinguishing truths of the gospel, abundantly more anxious to increase the number of professors among us, than careful to examine whether they who do profess are real followers of God as dear children? And is it not a fact, that while in the churches there appears to be an ́earnestness of exertion to promote the revival of the gospel in the nation at large, and to diffuse its glad tidings abroad throughout the earth, we are more attentive to the external form, than to the internal power of godliness?
Forgive me, my christian brother, whosoever you are, before whom these lines appear, whether of the ministry or people, in presuming thus to write. I am free to confess, that the questions have arisen in