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Then it is, that the word of God pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The discovery is often sudden, and arrests, absorbs, and agitates the whole mind. All is new, and the novelty of the scene which opens upon the sinner, serves to render the disclosure more overwhelming. The thought of having, amidst so much light, and knowledge, and moral influence, been cherishing and treasuring up such an amount of sins, now adds not a little to their greatness and aggravation. The disposition so universal among unawakened and hardened sinners, to attempt an excuse or palliation of their sins, is lost in the first afflictive discovery of their actual state before God. Instead of self-justification, and self-flattery, they pronounce themselves entirely blamable, utterly inexcusable, and justly condemned. Instead of shielding themselves under the opinion, that others are much more sinful and guilty than they are, it is with difficulty they can conceive of any other rational beings throughout the universe of God, so deserving his wrath, and whom he might not more consistently pardon and save. If any sins appear to them more exceeding sinful-clothed with a deeper turpitude and malignity than others, they are such as they have accumulated in neglecting the Saviour. They pierce their hearts with the keenest anguish. These sometimes give them an impression, that they are more hateful in the view of God, than those fallen spirits in the prison of despair, who never sinned against redeeming love and compassion.

But the anguish which conviction of sin creates in the sinner's mind, arises not less from a discovery of the greatness of his danger, than of the greatness of his guilt

. Indeed, as a discovery of the latter can scarcely be separated from a view of the former, their influence is commonly united and simultaneous in its effects. He who sees the greatness of his sins, but does not loathe them, must see the greatness of his danger without the

means of avoiding it. And perhaps, if the views and feelings of the convicted sinner, were accurately analyzed and traced to their origin, it would be found that apprehension of danger, is the chief source of the inward pangs he feels. With no disrelish of sin apart from the sufferings to which it leads, no views of its greatness could give distress, if these sufferings were not known to follow. But sin and suffering are linked together by the immutable laws of the moral universe, and they cannot be separated even in thought. When truth, therefore, flashes conviction of sin into the mind, the sinner cannot but behold in the same light, which discloses to him sins innumerable and guilt incomprehensible, an approaching perdition as terrible in its nature, as these are numberless and aggravated in their character. Oh! it is a solemn and agonizing impression of a life of crimes and an eternity of retribution, which drinks up his spirit and withers his very soul. Though he would not lose this impression, it often almost drives him to despair, and leads him to new acts of sin in doubting whether the divine mercy can pardon so great a sinner, and save him from so dreadful an end. Such is the nature of genuine conviction of sin. It is doubtless, varied in degree of clearness of views, and depth and poignancy of impression, by the circumstances of education and natural character. really convicted sinner feels the greatness of his sins, the immense guilt he has contracted, the righteousness of God in punishing him for it, and the amazing danger to which he is exposed. He is ready to inquire, with deep and earnest solicitude, whAT HE SHALL DO. i.

The inquiry to which genuine conviction of sin leads. Great numbers of those who heard the apostle preach on the day of Pentecost, THEIR HEART, AND SAID UNTO PETER, AND TO THE REST OF THE APOSTLES-MEN AND BRETHREN, WHAT SHALL WE DO? Theirs was real conviction. It was the beginning of repentance. It was the first giving away of

But every

WERE PRICKED IN

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the blindness and obduracy of their rebellious minds. It was the first impression of the powers of the world to

Their inquiry, (and it is an inquiry almost daily heard where the gospel is faithfully preached,) viewed in connexion with the previous and subsequent incidents of the day, indicated an agitated, perplexed, and highly excited mind. It expressed desires, which however earnest and sincere, were wholly sinful. They were yet sinners, though deeply convicted sinners. They were no longer as they had been up to that hour, ignorant of their true character and condition before God. They had ceased to be indifferent. They had ceased to regard sin as a small evil. They did not sin as before without concern, because they dreaded the consequences. Before, the language of their heart had been to every faithful message of God to them-Go thy way for this time. Heretofore, they had felt no desire after the way of salvation—now the dreadfulness of their condition and prospects, presented to their minds in appalling distinctness, prompts the earnest interrogatory WHAT SHALL WE DO ?

Sinners in the state of mind indicated by this question, find themselves exceedingly ignorant of spiritual things. They may have read the bible and thought they understood it. But now Egyptian darkness seems to brood over every page of the sacred volume. All is obscure and unintelligible, but the fearful threatenings of divine wrath. The way of salvation which it reveals to the pure in heart, is altogether blind to them. Although they have a strong conviction, that, if ever saved, it must be in some way through Jesus Christ, yet they have no apprehension of the suitableness of his character, offices, and work to their wretched case. Thus like the blind, they grope in darkness, at noonday, and wander about to seek some safe guidance. Formerly they viewed the Sabbath a weariness, and felt that the house of God was an irksome place ; now they welcome the return of holy time, and hasten to

the house of prayer, with restless longings after something to meet their case, quiet their fears, and set their burdened spirit free. The bible is searched with a prying eagerness to catch a glimpse of some promise, that will speak peace to their agitated mind. Spiritual christians whom they once avoided with scorn, as rigid, gloomy, or enthusiastic, are now sought as their chosen friends and companions; while their former associates, the gay, the unthinking, the worldly minded, and the vicious, are forsaken as exciting a dangerous influence on their eternal interests. If they were accustomed before, occasionally to pray, and thought their prayers acceptable to God, or wholly omitted even the form of prayer, now they cry earnestly and constantly unto God for deliverance, though they see their prayers are scarcely other than an abomination unto the Lord.

These are some of the marks of that state of conviction, which prompts such earnest interrogatories as the text contains. But it needs to be observed, that no strength of impression of personal guilt and danger, amounts to repentance. Real conviction is not conversion. Not a few have been the subjects of the former, who never experienced the latter. Some have been led, after being the subjects of deep conviction, to conclude that there was no prospect of deliverance from danger, and thus have relapsed into their original indifference-have returned like the dog to his vomit-and like the swine that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire. But none who have cherished such convictions, continued earnest in such inquiries, and persevered in the direction their impressions urged them, have ultimately failed of finding the path of life-the rest of heaven. None ever reached those holy mansions without such convictions, though some have had them, and have gone down to the chai ers of eternal death! Most of those who WERE ØRICKED IN THEIR HEART by the preaching of the apostle on the day of Pentecost, were probably renewed in heart and at length received to glory. And be it remembered, that all whose convictions have this blessed issue, continue unremitted the deep and agonizing struggles thus awakened-learn more and more of the alarming obduracy of their hearts, and of the exceeding perverseness of their dispositions, of their guilt and helplessness, their wretchedness and their ruin, until despairing of all help from men, and withdrawing all dependance upon their own endeavors, they give up themselves cheerfully and entirely to the sovereignty of divine mercy, breathing forth the earnest and believing cry from their inmost soul-Lord save us, we perish.

REMARKS.

1. Real conviction of sin is the work of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of divine truth. This is eminently true of the instances mentioned in the text. There was an unexampled effusion of the Holy Spirit, but we have no reason to conclude, that a single one of the assembled multitude would have been PRICKED IN THE HEART, had not the truth been presented to the mind and conscience. To perceive and feel the great truths of scripture, is to be convinced of sin. But the discovery and strong impression of the truth, is the effect of a spiritual influence. In promising the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, the Saviour refers the work of conviction to him, but refers also to the instrumentality of truth as the means of effecting it. Indeed, his invariably operating through the agency of truth, is strikingly indicated by his being called the Spirit of truth. When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth. He shall glorify me--for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. This fact is full of instruction, both to the preachers, and hearers of the gospel. The ministers of Christ are taught that their great business is to preach the simple truths of the bible in season and out of season. If they employ any, other means for the salvation of men, it is not the sword of the Spirit, and it must consequently fail of any sav

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