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groans of creation, and the oppression of the Jew, and the travail of the Christian, cease together. No man can read the history of the Jews, and the prophecy of which that history is the shadow projected into many years and lands, and not conclude that the prescience of God pronounced the prediction, and the presence of God in history superintends its fulfilment.
PROVIDENCE EFFECTING CONVERSION.
Grace taught my roving feet
To tread the heav'nly road;
While pressing on to God.
which kept me to this day,
If there be one subject more important and more commanding than another, perhaps it may be allowed to be the subject of conversion. Whatever may be the condition of our minds, or the habits of our character, whatever may be the history of our conduct, or the strength of our confidence in religious matters, whatever may be the strictness of our religious observances, unless we be converted there is no hope held out to us by the gospel of Christ.
Conversion may be regarded as a change of mind, a turning from sin unto God. Those who are now real christians, formerly walked in their own ways, entertained their own thoughts, spoke their own words, and were governed by their own inclinations. Their minds were without a true knowledge of divine things, and their lives were “according to the course of this world.” Whilst they were living in this manner-according to their own views and inclinations—the light of divine truth was poured upon their minds, and proper feelings were excited in their hearts. They discovered what had been hitherto unknown, and they felt convictions which had hitherto been unfelt. A change took place, and the primary agent in producing it was the Spirit of God. He wrought effectually upon their souls; new views were communicated to them ; and they turned “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” Pride was lost in humility ; contrition succeeded to obduracy; and from dwelling on common virtue and morals, they fled for refuge to the crucified Redeemer. From human wisdom they turned to the wisdom from above: unfeeling formality was exchanged for spiritual devotion; and the
ways of sin were abandoned for the ways of holiness and obedience. The world, with all its cares, concerns, and objects, was subordinated; and their souls were raised to the serious, solemn, and sublime consideration of invisible and eternal things. This is what we mean by conversion.
And this great change, though primarily effected by the Holy Spirit, originates in many cases, in some particular circumstance; from hearing, or reading, or conversation, or some providential occurrence, or by a sudden thought of the mind. It is a relation of these circumstances, in a few cases, that we intend to present in this chapter. The various providences in connection with the conversion of some persons, are exceedingly interesting and instructive, and the strange and unaccountable ways in respect to others, are truly wonderful.
The name of the Rev. John Newton, the friend and associate of the poet Cowper, will always claim the respect and veneration of those who have any regard to that spiritual religion of which he was so long an able minister, and who attach
honour to a character in which consistency and usefulness were the predominant features. Yet,-as the simple monument erected to his memory, in the church of St. Mary's, Woolwich, London, testifies,-he was "once an infidel and libertine," although, "by the rich mercy
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had once laboured to destroy." In his childhood he had been otherwise taught: but having been, while a youth, and when engaged as a midshipman on board a manof-war, thrown into the company of those who affected to disbelieve the truth of Christianity, he plunged into the depths of infidelity, and renounced at once the hopes and the comforts of the gospel. His personal history presents an unusual variety of affecting incident. Many years of his life were passed far from home, and in circumstances most painful and humiliating. It was during a voyage home from the coast of Africa that he was led to see the error of his ways, and became the subject of that change of heart, the results of which were seen in the subsequent holiness and devotedness of his life. He had retired to rest one night in his usual security, but was awaked from a sound sleep by the breaking of a violent sea over the vessel, accompanied by a cry of distress. The vessel was a mere wreck in a few moments. He joined in the exertions which were necessary to preserve it from sinking, until from exhaustion he went and lay down upon his bed, uncertain, and almost indifferent, whether he should rise again,