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The Scriptures authorise us to determine, that regeneration always produces some correct views, of the holinessof God, and some measure of real love for holiness where. ever it is seen. Regeneration inclines the soul to mourn for sin, to believe in Christ; to be grateful for mereies, and gives some measure of tranquility to the mind, with which it was before unacquainted, and it produces some correspondent fruits in the life. But these affections and fruits, are often possessed in so small a measure at first as to be but barely pereeptible. GRACE, first appears in the blade. It is first only perceptible as the blade.
. Then it rises and becomes grace in the ear, afterwards it is matured the fult corn in the ear. We are ever babes in Christ before we arrive at the measure and stature of perfect men in bim.
There are those, who appear to overlook this distinction in their judgment of the Christian character of others. Men of the world, who believe that regeneration is necessary to salvation ; often appear to make a very wrong estimate of the weasure of sanctification which must be manifested, to give evidence to others that the heart has been renewed. They expect perfection in the Christian : character, where they find only hungerings and thirstings after righteousness. Hence they rashly pronounce the person newly introduced into the school : of Christ, but a mere pretender to religion.
Nor are Christians themselves, always free from too : uncharitable a spirit towards others. They sometimes -unreasonably expect to find precisely the same religous views, the same measure of religous affections and in the same order, in ALL who cherish the hope, that they are Christians. In some cases they appear to conclude that because exercises of a particular kind often precede the possession of- that hope which maketh not ashamed, These exercises must always precede it. Sometimes likę. wise, the real Christian is too much inclined to make his own experience in religion, the standard by which to try the religion of others, rather than to test the experience of both by the UNERRING WORD:
But it becomes as if we can gain any Seriptural evidence of the piety of others, not to despise the day of small things with'ihem.
Some persons err in too much disregarding the day of small things in the sanctifying influences of the divine
Spirit on their own hearts. Though they may be consrious, that as far as they know their own hearts, they do desire to be holy ;-desire to mourn for sin ;-believe in Christ ;-love God supremely ;-be thankful for bis mercies, and live to his glory , yet, because they discover so much sin in their lives, but especially in their hearts, and because their affections are so languid, compared with what they know they ought to be, they scarcely dare to indulge a hope, that they have any right affeetions. Sometimes, their doubts are increased by comparing themselves with more experienced Christians, and because they have reason to conclude, they have not ad. vanced so far in the divine life, as tlie others, they are ready to conclude, that they have not commenced the di. vine life. But such conclusions are unfavourable to their own improvement.
A second error, in judging of their own feelings, adopt. ed by some, though equally common with the other, is perhaps, more pernicious. It is comparing the present exercises of persons recently hoping, with their own, and hesitating about the nature of their own exercises, because they were not filled with similar views and feel. ing: lo what the others express. They were never filled with such terrors of destruction, they never felt so much opposition to the government of God, before they cher. ished their hopes as the others did. Though they have felt that they deserved eternal death, and believed that the carnal mind is enmity against God, yet because their own minds have not been exercised like some others, they fear a hope cannot be well founded ; and though they know that fear of punislıment, and conscious opposition to God are wrong, yet they wish these feelings them. selves, as preparatory ones to right exercises. But such desires are wrong. We oughi to desire only holy affections.
Because the transition from sorrow to joy, has not been so sudden with them as with some others; and because they have never known sucb sudden discoveries of spiritual things, nor felt such transports as others ex. press, soine fear that their own views and affections cannot be right. But this comparison of themselves with others is not wise. By the Law and the Testimony our views and feelings ought to be tried. If from a careful
and prayerful examination of ourselves, by the holy Seriptures, we have reason to believe, that our views and affections are in any measure conformable to that just standard, we may not despise the day of small things. Let such earnestly beseech the Searcher of hearts, to disclose to them the real character which they possess in his sight. Let them humbly, and gratefully receive, the consolations which are addressed to them in the Seriptures, remembering, that Christ will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax.
Let them attempt a pious observance of all the institu, tions and ordinances of religion, and a faithful performance of all its luties; humbly relying on Christ for pardon, righteousness, wisdom and strength. Forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, let them press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus our Loril. . In this way, their light and comfort, will be like the path of the just, which as the dawning light gradually ushers in the perfect day
Let us not be understood to depress the Gospel standard of moral virtue. That is a high and holy standard. All rational beings, at all times, are under sacred and immense obligations, to render to God his due, and to creatures their dues. Every moral agent in the uni. verse, who fails to do this, is criminal. The Christian is inexcusable unless he bear much fruit, to glorify his heavenly Father, and thus conclusively prove to himself and others, that he is Christ's disciple. He ought to live so near to God, and be so eminently holy, that the evidence of his sanctification, might be always clear anık strong, and his fruit a hundred fold.
THIRDLY; We must not despise the day of small things, in the awakening and convincing influences of the foly Spirit. He convinces of sin, of righteousness, and a judgment to come.
When we discover an unusual seriousness in the minds of sinners; when the word of God, perusello studied in the social circle-or preached, appears to liave more effect on then than usual, let us not disregard this day of small things. Let us be encouraged by these appearances to bear them on our hearts to the throne of grace, and use increased, but ju-dicious efforts, to make them more acquainted with their
guilt and danger as sinners, and with the only way of salvation for them. Who can tell, but these cfforts may be the means, in connexion with which God may be pleased effectually to awaken and humble them, and to reclaim them from the evil of their ways to the wisdom of the just. Let the
persons themselves, who feel any measure of the awakening and convincing influences of the Holy Spirit, tremble at the thought of despising this day of small things, Jest it should prove fatal to their immortal interests. They know from the Scriptures, that without their hearts are renewed by the Spirit, they cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Let them beware of resisting the Holy Spirit.
Where an increased seriousness prevails in any place; where the special influences of the divine Spirit are manifested in greater or less degrees with numbers, there an increased responsibility rests on Christians, and on ministers. Christians must be united and fervent in prayer, and active in duty. Ministers, must not only be plain and faithful, but judicious and discriminating. Then they especially need grace rightly to divide the word of truth, giving to the careless, the awakened, and those prayerfully fixing on hopes for eternity, each his particular portion in due season.
Do these lines meet the eyes of some, whose attention is in any measure arrested, and the conviction fastened on their consciences by the Spirit that they are sinners before God, sieners in deed, word, and thought è We beseech you, in the impressive language of another, te t6 cherish this conviction. Jie down under it. Endeavour to draw it upon you with all your might.” lo your closets apply the truths of God's word to yourselves. Earnestly beseech God, for Christ's sake, not to withdraw from you the influences of his Spirit, but that they may thoroughly humble and renovate your hearts. Nor dare we conceal from you that unless you pray with sin. cerity, penitence, and faith, your prayers' will pot be accepted. Though you have no evidence that you can pray aright, you may not neglect prayer on this account. You must pray, and pray aright or perish. Make an unreserved surrender of yourselves entirely into the hands of God, realizing that if he should cast you off forever it is but your desert, and if he grants you salvation, it will be all of his mercy.
of the dear youth, who may perase this, and for whose benefit this work was particularly intended, we would affectionately and solemnly inquire, Do some of you feel more impressed with what you read or hear of a religous nature than in times past ? Do the prayers which are offered in your bearing inerease your solemnity ? Do you feel a disposition to visit your closets to cry for mer
? These are evidences that the Holy Spirit is striving with you. Despise not the day of small things in these strivings of the Spirit. . As you value your immortal souls, do not seek to banish serious reflections. Do not defer to a more convenient season, , what might be done immediately. Be in earnest now to secure an interest in Christ while a gentle gale of heavenly influence is felt. If the Holy Spirit be provoked to withdraw his awakening and convincing influences, you may never again feel them. Our heart's desire and prayer to God for you, is that this may not be the unhappy case with any of you. Your pious friends are all deeply interested that this may not be the case. Be persuaded then, immediately to yield your souls, to be moulded entirely by the sacred influences of the divine Spirit, and rejoice pious hearts, rejoice all heaven, by your penitence and renovation.
Here let us caution all not to mistake the awakening influences of the Spirit for his sanctifying influences. Remember that you must not only be awakened and convinced, but you must be renewed. The judge of quick and dead has decided, Except ye le BORN OF THE SPIRIT ye cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Never rest in any thing short of being a new creature.
But what shall we say to the careless and the stupid. Do not you despise both the day of small things and the day of great things, with others ? Do you not practically care for none of these things ? But is this course justifi. able ? Is it wise ? Is it safe? You speculatively admit that you are the creatures of God. Åre not you therefore bound to love him and serve him continually ? When will you begin to do this ? Behold, now is the accepted time. You admit that you must die and appear before the bar of God. When will you begin to prepare for those solemn hastening scenes? Behold now is the day of salvation. The Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear his roice, harden not your hearts.