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almighty Governor of the world, holy and just, a sin-revenging God, a consuming fire against the workers of iniquity, daily grew upon my heart, and set home the law in all its rigour. A fresh view of all my evil ways from my youth up, continually preyed upon my spirits. ETERNITY! ETERNI. TY! Oh, how dreadful it seemed ! I watched, I prayed, I fasted. I spared no pains to obtain an humble, broken, contrite heart. But notwithstanding my greatest efforts, my heart grew worse ; my case more desperate : till in the issue, I found myself absolutely without strength; dead in sin ; lost ; condemned by law; self-condemned; my mouth stopped ; guilty before God: I was forced to be silent; as it was but fair and right, that God should be an enemy to me, who was an enemy to him ; and but just, if he should for ever cast me off. And in this case I had perished, had not mere sovereign grace interposed. But in the midst of this midnight-darkness, when all hope seemed to be gone, at a moment when I least expected relief, (for, the commandment came, sin revived, and I died,) even now, God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shined in my heart. Thus was the case.
It was in the evening, (after the day had been spent in fasting and prayer,) as I was walking in a neighbouring grove, my thoughts fixed with the utmost attention on God, as a consuming fire against his obstinate enemies; on the law, as cursing the man that continueth not in all things written therein to do them ; on my whole life, as one continued series of rebellion ; on my heart, as not only dead to God, and to all good, but full of enmity against the divine law and government, and (shocking to remember !) full of enmity against God himself. Feeling that my whole heart was thus dead in sin, and contrary to God, I felt it was a gone case with me.
There was no hope ; no, not the least, from any good in me, or ever to be expected from me. I lay at God's mercy, forfeited ; justly condemned, lost, helpless, undone! And I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, I clearly saw, was the fixed resolution of the Almighty. Thus stood my case ; a poor, wretched, sinful, guilty creature, completely ruined in myself! I retired to the most remote part of the grove ; where, hid
under the darkness of the evening, and the shade of spreading trees, no eye could see me. First, I smote on my breast; but could not look up to heaven, nor speak one word. I fell on my knees. But I could not speak. I fell prostrate on the ground; and felt as one ready to sink into eternal ruin; having no hope, unless from the sovereign good pleasure of my angry Judge. As I lay prostrate on the ground, a new scene gradually opened to my view. It was new, and it was exceeding glorious! God appeared not only infinitely great, and infinitely holy, as the Sovereign of the whole UNIVERSE; but also infinitely glorious : even so glorious as to be worthy of all the love and honour which his law requires. The law appeared holy, just, and good. I could not but approve it, from my very heart : and said within myself, ere I was aware,
« Let all heaven for ever love and adore the infinitely glorious MAJESTY, although I receive my just desert, and perish for ever!" Next came into view the whole Gospel-way of life, by free grace through Jesus Christ; the wisdom, glory, and beauty of which, cannot be expressed. The law did bear the divine image, and was glorious; but the Gospel exhibited all the divine perfections in a still brighter manner, and far exceeded in glory. 1 saw God might, consistently with his honour, in this way, receive the returning sinner, however ill-deserving. I saw he was ready to do it: that all might come, even the vilest and the worst, encouraged by the self-moving goodness and boundless grace of God, and the mediation, merits, and atonement of Christ; I looked up to God through Jesus Christ for mercy, and through Jesus Christ gave up myself to the Lord, to be for ever his, to love him and live to him for ever. Here prostrate on the ground, I thus lay above an hour, contemplating the ineffable glories of God, the beauty of his law, and the superabundant excellency of the Gospel-way of life, by free grace through Jesus Christ. I believed the Gospel, I trusted in Christ, and gave up myself to God through him, to be for ever his, with a pleasure divinely sweet, infinitely perferable to the most agreeable sensations I had ever before experienced. What I enjoyed this hour, did inore, unspeakably more, than overbalance all the distresses
of months past. To relate how I spent the night, and how I have spent my days and nights ever since, I shall oinit. But you shall soon hear again, my dear Aspasio, from
e Theron's Narrative of his former supposed conversion, (Let. I.) and of his experiences, (here,) is not designed to suggest, that either false or true converts all experience things, in every circumstanee, just alike: but only to point out the general nature of these two kinds of conversion, in a manner so familiar, that the weakest Christian may see the difference. And if any Christian cannot recolleet so exactly the particulars of his first conversion, yet as all after-acts of grace are of the same nature with the first, a clear understanding of the true nature of saving grace, may help him to discern his true state.
N. B. What is the true nature of saving grace, is not to be decided by the experiences of this or that man, or party of men ; but only by the word of God.
THERON TO ASPASIO.
New-England, April 2, 1759.
DEAR ASPASIO, With pleasure I now again sit down to write to my distant friend, and send my heart beyond the Atlantic to my Aspasio. For neither time, nor place, nor any change, can wipe your memory from my mind.
Methinks, were I now with you, as once at the house, the hospitable house, of the wealthy and illustrious Philenor, I would tell you all my heart. I remember how you urged me to believe, and how I longed to find some safe foundation, some sure evidence, on which to build my faith ; and with Thomas, to cry, my Lord, my God! Now I have found it! I have found it! I believe, that Jesus is the Christ. 1 John v. 1. I believe, that God hath set him forth to be a propitiation : to declare his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Rom. iii. 25, 26. I believe, that God raised him from the dead. Rom. x. 9. I believe, that Christ is entered into heaven, now to appear in the presence of God, as the Jewish high-priest of old entered into the holy of holies on the day of atonement, (Heb. ix. 24.) and that he is the way to the Father, (John xiv. 6.) the door, by whom men enter in. John x. 9. And that whosoever will, may come to God through him. Rev. xxii. 17. Wherefore I am emboldened to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, even into the very presence of the thrice holy one of Israel, in whose sight the heavens are not clean ; and to come to God in full assurance of faith, nothing doubting but that God is as willing to be reconciled through Christ, as the father was to receive the returning prodigal ; and as ready to give his holy spirit to them that ask him, as ever parent was to give bread to an hungry child. Heb. x. 19. 29. Mat. vii. Jl. For he that spared not his own Son, but
delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ; if we accept his Son as he is offered, and come to God through him, for all things, as we are invited ? Rom. viii. 32 John i. 12. and xvi. 23. For God's lionour is safe, God's law is answered, God's justice is satisfied; and all my guilt, infinite as it is, is no bar in the way of my reception into the divine favour, free as his infinite grace, felf-moving as his boundless goodness is, and appears to be, by the gift of his Son.
This way of salvation, my dear Aspasio, is glorious for God, safe for the sinuer, effectual to promote holiness, even the power of God to salvation, to every one that believeth ; and if the Gospel is true there is no room to doubt. “For we are constrained to believe on the clearest evidence.” Yea, “ our assurance is impressed” by complete demonstration.
It is glorious for God.-For God's law and authority are as much honoured, as if the whole world had been damned. And his grace more glorified, than if man had never fell. An incarnate God upon the cross, in the room of a rebellious world, sets God's infinite hatred of sin, his inflexible resolution to punish it, and the infinite goodness of his nature, in a light infinitely clear, infinitely bright; and contains a fund of instruction, which never can be exhausted, by angels and saints, throughout the endless ages of eternity. The more I think, the more I am swallowed up, confounded, overwhelmed ! 0! the height, the depth, the length, the breadth, of the love of God, which passeth all understanding ; 0! the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. The creation of the universe was a great work. It caused the eternal power and Godhead of the Creator clearly to be seen. But compared to the incarnation and death of the Son of God, the Creator, it is not to be mentioned, nor is it worthy to come into mind. Even the application of Christ's redemption in the latter day, is a more glorious work than the first creation of the world. Isai. lxv. 17. Behold, I create. new heavens, and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. Indeed, it had been but a small thing, for the Creator, by his almighty word, to have called millions of such systems as ours into being; a thing