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gladiy receive the word,” and were they baptized, before conversion ?

If conversion mean turning from one sentiment, pursuit, dependence, or tenour of conduct, to another which is very different or opposite, it cannot be instantaneous ; and the word sudden can only refer to the rapidity with which the change of views, and purposes, and conduct, takes place. The mind must have time to receive instruction, to feel conviction ; to desire, purpose, and actually turn from one thing to another; from idolatry to the worship of the one living and true God; from sin to holiness ; from Judaism to Christianity, and the devoted holy life of a Christian. The same steps, in these respects, which in some cases occupy months or years, in others may, by extraordinary circumstances, and a peculiar divine influence on the mind and heart, be passed through in a few hours, or even in a much shorter time. Exact men among Calvinists distinguish, scripturally, between regeneration and conversion ; between the communication of divine life to the dead in sins, and a man's actually turning unto Christ, to God through him, and to holiness, in consequence of being thus “ made alive unto “ God.” The latter may be more sudden in one case than in another, but the former is, and must be instantaneous. Lazarus was instantaneously made alive : but he came forth from the grave and walked home, in consequence of it ; and this was not instantaneous, nor was he passive, but active in it.

The case of Zaccheus, and especially that of the converted thief (or robber) on the cross, is suited to illustrate this part of our subject : but the latter will come before us, in another part of the work, perhaps to rnore advantage.

* Those who are baptized are immediately trans• lated from the curse of Adam to the grace of * Christ : the original sin which they brought into “the world is mystically washed away; and they * receive forgiveness of the actual sins which they may themselves have committed ; they become reconciled to God, partakers of the Holy

Ghost, and heirs of eternal happiness; they ac‘quire a new name, a new hope, a new faith, a new • rule of life. This great and wonderful change • in the condition of man, is as it were a new na'ture, a new state of existence; and the holy rite ' by which these invaluable blessings are commu

nicated is by St. Paul figuratively called regene‘ration, or new birth.'2

Now, if this be indeed the case, a more sudden conversion 'is wrought than almost any enthusiast ever thought of; when even a hypocrite, receiving baptism from one duly authorized to administer it, and who administers it in due form and right manner, is converted almost instantaneously into a true Christian! The passage in another view will hereafter be considered : but it shews that in some cases it is possible for sudden conversions to occur, at least that it is thought so by our opponents.

But, in fact, the circumstance of sudden or gradual is not the main thing to be estimated on this

1 Tit. iii. 5.

? Ref. 83, 84.

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subject; the reality of the conversion forms the grand inquiry: and this must be judged of principally by its permanent fruits and effects on a man's conduct. Supposed conversions, which are hastily effected, so frequently fail of answering expectation in this respect, that all sober observers, whether Calvinists or Anticalvinists, regard them with a jealous eye, and disapprove the confident public declaration of them, which many have injudiciously been led to set forth. But there have been conversions, not only very sudden, but attended by circumstances bearing the semblance at least of enthusiasm, which yet have introduced so holy and exemplary a conduct during a long course of

years, as to put the reality of the conversion beyond all doubt. Who, that is alive to any jealous fears of enthusiasm or delusion, can read, as insulated, the account of Colonel Gardiner's conversion, by Dr. Doddridge, without demurring, suspecting, and objecting? Yet who, on reading the narrative of his subsequent life with impartiality, can doubt the reality of his conversion, and the sterling excellence of his character ?

God will not be limited by our rules, nor ought we to attempt to limit him. He who said to Zacchéus, “ This day is salvation come to this house,” still continues to work“ all things according to “the counsel of his own will,” notwithstanding our systems and objections. Yet he allows us to judge of what is wrought by its nature and its fruits, according to the rule and standard of his holy word.

* The apostles preached the doctrines of Christi

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'anity to men, whose senses bore testimony to the

supernatural endowments of the preachers : and • thus, “ in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” they converted multitudes to a steadfast 'belief in Christ, and to consequent holiness of living. But therefore to suppose that the eloquence of a mere human preacher, assisted only by the ordinary visitations of divine grace, is to 'be followed by the immediate conversion of mul. titudes of sinners, to whom the truths of the 'gospel have been long familiar, to uniform habits ‘of Christian purity, were as gross an absurdity as 'to suppose that a peasant could verify the boast of Archimedes, and move the earth; or that an astronomer could realize the fiction of romance, and divert the sun from his orbit.'1

If the success of the apostles had been the direct effect of their miracles, no eloquence of any modern preacher could at all supply the want of them. But, if true conversion was then, and is now, effected by the power of the Holy Spirit, accompanying the word preached by his life-giving energy in the soul ; then modern preachers, who make no pretensions to eloquence, may hope that, while even they, such inferior workmen, “ plant and " water, God may give the increase,” in the conversion of some sinners, at least, among their hearers ; not only to a more Christian belief than they before had, but to uniform habits of Christian 'purity.' As, however, it is too notorious to be denied or doubted, that great multitudes of baptized persons do live ungodly, immoral, and grossly

· Mant's Tracts, 56.

wicked lives, the question occurs to us, Are these multitudes to be left as more hopeless, and more absolutely incorrigible, than even the poor gentiles, or are they not? If they are not, we must endeavour and


for their conversion from sin to holiness, from the world to God; and the only inquiry must be, What are the proper methods which we ought to use for that purpose ?

With this passage from Dr. Mant the sentiments of his Lordship may be compared.

• Those who call themselves Christians merely because they happen to be born in a Christian country, but attend neither to the doctrines nor ' to the duties of the gospel, seem to differ but ' little, with respect to the point now under consideration, from those to whom the gospel was first preached. The process in both must be nearly the same.

The nominal Christian, who has hith‘erto neglected the portion of grace vouchsafed

to him at the time of his baptism, may by some cause be roused from his indifference, and be*come convinced of the error of his ways : he ' may at length be brought to a sense of his duty, by listening to religious instruction, or by the

awakening force of severe affliction : but the ' firmest conviction of the truth of the gospel, the 'keenest sorrow for past offences, and the strongest

resolutions of amendment, will not, in his fallen ' and degenerate state, enable him of himself to 'do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God. 'His will must be guided, and his actions must be * assisted, by the Holy Spirit.'

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| Ref. 59.

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