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symptom of approaching release from the power of degeneracy. The old nature is often sick of its own evils, feels much pain, and complains much under the wounds of conscience, as if it were going to expire, and yield to newness of life. But these often prove temporary pangs that come to no issue of good. Who among us has not experienced some inward strife against sin, some serious thoughts, and some impressive calls to conversion ? Alarming fears have sometimes disturbed the most obdurate, and apprehensions of death and hell have at times shaken even impenitent souls with a trembling concern. Yet as to many, has it come to nothing. Soon did old sins revive, and new corruptions break out, leaving no trace of past impressions.
It is not what pains of conviction we have undergone, that evidences our having become the subjects of a saving change, but rather the illumination of our minds in the knowledge of God, and the enduring spirituality of a new and sanctified heart. A deep sense of our own demerit is indeed indispensable; but it is not enough to ask, what think
yourselves? without adding to the inquiry, what think ye of God ?
of God? What are your senti.
your Saviour ?
ments of the divine character? and what are your views of the kindness and love displayed in the Gospel way of salvation ? Has there appeared any thing marvellous in the love of God towards man, in not sparing his own Son? And what think ye of Christ, who died for our offences? Have surprise, and gratitude, and holy wonder, moved your minds, in beholding what the everlasting Gospel reveals ? and have ye been led to reconciliation and trust in the knowledge of God
While we think a filial spirit, and a devotional frame of mind towards God, indispensable to evidence our being born again, we also require, as not less indispensable, a certain character of life, on which the ut. most stress is placed in the word of God. On temporary emotions, of whatever kind, we do not much rely; but what are the ordinary judgments of our minds with respect to sin and duty? To which do we incline in our every-day course of living? Are our tempers subdued, and our affections sanctified into love ? “ Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the
devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness, is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."
Try yourselves by these tests to ascertain what change has actually taken place. Or can the change have been so slight, and the transition from darkness to light soimperceptible, as to elude your own consciousness ? If so, we fear, it does not amount to the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which, if it has not taken place in early life, is surely something decided and distinguishable, if due respect be had, either to the tendency of our affections, or to the character of habitual life. If
any one feels the love of God, relies on Christ Jesus, approves the law of holiness, and sincerely yields obedience to its requirements of duty, though not without lamenting inability and grievous imperfections,-a consciousness of which commends the justifying righteousness of Christ, to which faith flees for acceptance: if there be such an heart towards God, and such a life, let no one be discouraged though he cannot recal first impressions, nor refer to a day when mercy began to save him. When we speak of the work, we necessarily take a distinct and prominent instance of it for delineation.
If a view of the work in its comparative completeness, discourage any in whom it is less advanced, it ought not to have this effect; but should rather engage them to press more ardently for what is unattained, and yet attainable : while, in an age full of profession without power in religion, we should contribute to the undoing of many, were we not to insist, both on the necessity of being saved by the washing of regeneration, and on the nature of the work as capable of being evidenced, and necessary to be known.
We grant that some are sanctified from the womb, and bear the image of their heavenly Father distinctly impressed on their amiable dispositions and attractive piety; and these cannot recal the period of a change which passed on them before reason began to notice the operations of thought. It is also admitted, that spiritual life máy be for a time hardly capable of giving satisfactory evidence of its existence to others, who know it only by external signs. For there may be little to change in the outward practice; and the chief difference lies in the new principles, new affections, and new zeal with which duties, formerly observed without spirituality, are now spiritually performed.
But we may lay it down as generally true, that the work of the Spirit will evidence itself in outward life, and that the Spirit will bear witness inwardly to his ownwork. And we cannot helpexpressing a fear, that the chief reason why so many labour under doubts, as to the reality of their regeneration, is their non-experience of it. They want evidence; and no wonder, if the thing itself be wanting. Still, however, they allay their apprehensions of the event by soothing views of the divine mercy.
“ We trust in mercy,” they cry, * for salvation.” This is well. But why forget that mercy does not delay its operations until the season of life has closed ? Why do they not consider, that mercy begins its divine exercise towards the sinner in this world ? And begins with saving him from his sins ? Mercy has a present salvation, as well as a future heaven; and to overlook this great fact of grace, and depend for eternity on an act of mercy at the last day, is one of the most ruinous delusions by which men perish. We look to mercy for salvation, but we never reckon ourselves beyond the peril of destruction, until we can say with the Apostle, “ of his mercy he saved us, by the