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gospel. And what gave them a preeminent importance, was their contemporary, wide, and powerful influence, the character of the individuals who were chiefly concerned in them, and their standing first in a long succession of occurrences, reaching down to the present moment, and resulting in the saving conversion of sin

On the day of Pentecost was witnessed the first grand experiment of the power of the gospel. Then was experienced to an unexampled degree in power and extent, one of those times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, which from age to age have revived, purified, and enlarged his visible church.

From the history of the transactions of that day, given by the pen of inspiration, much may be learned of the genuine nature and effects of the gospel. There the christian minister is instructed how to preach, how to distinguish between real conviction of sin, from the bare excitement of the imagination or the passions, and how to direct the awakened and convicted sinner in the way of salvation. The passage selected from that history for present consideration, contains suggestions on each of these points. Now wHEN THEY HEARD THIS, THEY WERE PRICKED IN THEIR HEART, AD SAID UNTO PETER, AND TO THE REST OF THE APOSTLES-Men AND BRETHREN, WHAT SHALL WE DO? The prominent thoughts here suggested, naturally arrange themselves under the following heads :

The means of producing conviction of sinThe nature of such convictionThe inquiry to which it leads.

I. The means of producing conviction of sin. That Infinite Being, who alone is the author of every favorable change in the human mind and character, is not limited in the range of means which he can employ to this end. He is, likewise, a sovereign in selecting and communicating the requisite efficiency to any which lie within the reach of his boundless resources. Those which in the view of man, appear powerless, or to possess a directly opposite tendency, he often converts into instruments of achieving the most signal victories over the native blindness and obduracy of the human mind. But his truth, either directly or indirectly, is the means which he generally uses to create conviction of sin in the unregenerate. This is the weapon that reaches the heart and conscience, when affliction seems to be the sole occasion of first turning the mind of the thoughtless, thankless rebel, upon the sin and guilt of his ingratitude and rebellion. This has the principal agency , in arresting the attention, and in bringing over the soul an agonizing impression of the consequences of sin, when sickness and the apparently near approach of death, seem to arouse the sinner from the long and unbroken slumbers of spiritual death. Indeed, so invariable is its agency in this work, that it is emphatically denominated the sword of the Spirit. There is no evidence, that genuine conviction of sin, is ever experienced without the instrumentality of the word of God. It is this alone which is armed with life and power to pierce the soul, and to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is this, which is mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong holdscasting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God. Is not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord, and like a hammer, that breaketh the rock in pieces.

If we recur to the memorable example of the apostle on the day of Pentecost, it will be seen, that this was the grand means, which he employed with such unparalleled success. It was not by coldly discoursing on the beauties of virtue ; it was not by delighting the multitude with the pleasing creations of a lively imagination; it was not by senseless and unmeaning appeals to the passions and feelings, that he achieved the wonders of that day. Had he pursued this course, the three thousand might have been moved and melted, but they would not have been convicted and converted. Instead of this, however, with great simplicity and plainness,

though with much point and force of application, he only introduced some of the more important facts and doctrines of the gospel. After noticing the blasphemous insinuation of some among the Jews, that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon the disciples, was the effect of intoxication, and assuring them that what they witnessed was a manifest accomplishment of a well known prophecy, he, in the first place, exhibited, and fastened upon them, the exceeding guilt of rejecting and crucifying the Lord of glory. And although by these acts, they had only executed whàt the hand and counsel of God determined before to be done, he insisted on the criminality of such acts. They had all of them had the means of knowing that he was the Saviour of the world. Many of them had listened to his public discourses. And not a few of them were, doubtless, of the number who had cried with emotions of strong aversion to his person and kingdom, away with him-crucify himcrucify him! But he whom they had thus despised, and rejected, and crucified, had escaped from the bonds of death and the grave. And

being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father, the promise of the Holy Spirit, he had shed forth that which they that day had seen and heard.' In view of these undoubted facts, he admonished them of their danger. To remain as they were, the enemies of the risen and exalted Prince of life, was to expose themselves to speedy and irremediable ruin. The crucified Jesus, now seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high, would soon exert his resistless power in treading beneath his feet, and crushing all who thus continued incorrigible foes to his gracious sway.

Nor did the apostle fail to assure them, that he who was thus able to destroy, was no less mighty to save. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Ignorant, guilty, and helpless as you are, you may obtain abundant instruction, atonement,

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and grace in him whom, with unequalled wickedness, you have but lately nailed to the cross.

Such were the principal topics upon which the apostle dwelt, when addressing the Jews on the day of Pen

And which of them would he have occasion to omit, were he to address unbelieving sinners in this assembly? Oh, that these very truths could be pressed upon them with the spirit and power of that apostle on that day! But you have not actually crucified the Lord of glory. No! nor had they actually done it, on whom the undaunted disciple so unhesitatingly charged the dreadful guilt of shedding his blood. It was Roman hands that platted the thorny crown, that drove the nails, and thrust the spear. While Jews urged forward the awful catastrophe by madly demanding his death, by falsely accusing him of treason and blasphemy, by insulting and beating him before their tribunal, and mocking and exulting at his dying agonies. And have

you been strangers to feelings which, in them assumed such undisguised forms of aversion to the Saviour ? With means of becoming acquainted with his character, and offices, and grace, and glory, greatly superior to theirs, have you not, when he has been passing by in his word and ordinances, scornfully rejected and despised him? Have you not, when he has been faithfully preached and urged upon your acceptance, as your only and all sufficient Saviour, had your hearts rise with emotions which no language could more accurately express, than the infatuated cry of the Jews-away with him-away with him! And when in the ordinance of the Lord's supper, he has evidently been set forth before you, crucified and slain, how have you treated this affecting exhibition of his dying love? Have you not, times without number, turned away from it as nothing to you, secretly regarding it an unmeaning rite, and practically mocking the atoning blood and agonies it represents ? And are you guiltless in all this? Less guilty you may be than those whom Peter address

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ed; but you cannot escape if you only neglect the Saviour. You are guilty enough to be numbered among his enemies. With them you are liable to be crushed by the terrible power of him whom as yet you are treating with causeless and ruinous neglect. To say nothing of that fearful curse under which you lie as transgressors of the perfect law of God, by your obstinate indifference to the condescension, and grace, and tenderness of Immanuel, you have reached a degree of criminality from which you must inevitably sink into endless perdition, unless touched by a sense of your guilt, and of his love and compassion, you are constrained to look to him with the earnest confidence of perishing want in almighty power and willingness to

Say not, then, that you are not guilty enough to be banished from holiness and heaven, while you persist in banishing the compassionate Saviour from your hearts. Say not, that you are willing to receive him, so long as you can hear these truths, and not be pricked in your hearts.

II. The nature of genuine conviction of sin.

It has been already observed, that the word of God is the great instrument in working such conviction in the mind. But the word of God may be read, it may be listened to as faithfully preached by the ministers of reconciliation, and there may be a general understanding, or intellectual conviction of its great truths, and yet no true conviction of sin effected. No one lives where the common means and influences of religious instruction are enjoyed, who has not some indistinct impression of personal sin. But it is not felt.

But it is not felt. To perceive, and to feel, are very different acts of the mind. In real conviction of sin, divine truth comes home to the soul. Before it was seen and acknowledged, but now it is felt. It comes with a power and illumination, that stirs up the elements of that mass of sins, which had been accumulating and lying unregarded through many years, and discloses them in their strength and terrible greatness.

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