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EDITED BY REV. AUSTIN DICKINSON, NEW-YORK.
Office, 150 Nassau Street,—J. S. Taylor, Agent.
NO. 99.-AUGUST, 1834. CONTENTS—"Ground of the Difficulty of Conversion ;" by Rev. B. DICKIN
“Christ died for man;" by Rev. C. WALKER.
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UPWARDS of fifty clergymen, of five Christian denominations, and belonging to sixteen different states, most of whom are well known to the public as authors, have allowed the Editor to expect from them Sermons for this work; among whom are the following :
Rev. Dr. Richards, Professor in the Theological Seminary at Auburn; Rev. Dr. Proudfit, Salem ; Rev. Drs. Tucker and Beman, Troy ; Rev. Dr. Sprague, Albany ; Rev. Drs. Milnor, Mathews, Spring, Woodbridge, and De Witt, Ń. York City ; Rev. Drs. Alexander and Miller, Professors in Princeton Theological Seminary; Rev. Professor M Clelland, Rutgers College, New-Jersey; Rev. Drs. Green, M'Dowell, and Bedell, Philadelphia ; Rev. Dr. Bishop, Presi. dent of Miami University, Ohio; Rev. Dr. Fitch, Professor of Divinity, Yale College ; Rev. Asahel Nettleton, Killingworth, Con.; Rev. Dr. Wayland, President of Brown University ; Right Rev. Bp. Griswold, Salem, Mass.; Rev. Dr. Griffin, President of Williams College ; Rev. Dr. Humphrey, President of Amherst College, Ms.; Rev. Dr. Beecher, Cincinnati ; Rev. Professors Porter, Woods, Stuart, Skinner, and Emerson, of Andover Theological Seminary; Rev. Dr. Fisk, President of the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Ct.; Rev. Daniel A. Clark, Bennington, Vt.; Rev. Dr. Bates, President of Middlebury College ; Rev. Dr. Matthews, Hanover Theological Seminary, Indiana ; Rev. Dr. Baxter, Union Theological Seminary, Va.; Rev. Dr. Tyler, Portland, Me.; Rev. Dr. Lord, President of Dartmouth College ; Rev. Dr. Church, Pelham, N.H.; Rev. Dr. Leland, Charleston, s. C.; Rev. Dr. Coffin, President of E. Tennessee College ; Rev. Professor Halsey, Western Theological Seminary ; Rev. Drs. Perkins, and Hawes, Hartford, Ct.; Rev. Dr. Cuyler, Poughkeepsie, N. Y.; Rev. President Wheeler, Vermont University.
GROUND OF THE DIFFICULTY OF CONVERSION. JER. ii. 25. There is no hope : no; for I have loved strangers, and
after them will I go. This is the language of Israel, in a state of great worldliness and corruption. That corruption had been steadily waxing worse and worse. It had come to be characterized by great obstinacy of sin- -an obstinacy that threw a deep gloom over their prospects, even in their own estimation. God had urged their repentance with intensity of interest. He had admonished; he had afflicted; he had tenderly invited. But amid these efforts of divine forbearance, they were unyielding ; and seemed settling down to utter despondency, in view of the inveteracy of their own corruptions. There is no hope : no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go. They were aware of their guilty estrangement from God. They recognised it as voluntary. They knew that appropriate means had been employed for their repentance, and employed long, but without effect. They could recur to solemn purposes so often violated, that they had now lost all confidence in good resolutions, and anticipated only a perpetual and willing slavery to sin.
The case forcibly illustrates the general fact, that,
IT IS VERY HARD FOR MEN TO BE CONVERTED AND SAVED. look at some proof of the fact, and at the ground of it. In proof of the fact, we have,
1. The testimony of the Bible. See it exhibited in the parable of the marriage-supper. It was the festival of a monarch. The king had sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding ; and they would not come. He sent others to press the invitation : but they still made light of it; going their way, one to his farm, another to his merchandise. The same truth is exhibited in the more direct declarations of Christ: “Ye will not come to me that ye might
have life. No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.
How can ye believe which receive honor one of another? It is easier for a camel to go through the eye
of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And when his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? Jesus said unto them, With men it is impossible ; but with God all things are possible.” What sentiment is more plainly revealed than the truth we are contemplating? The obvious design of Christ in such passages is to exhibit the obstinate aversion of man to the gospel scheme of mercy, and the utter hopelessness of his case except omnipotent grace interpose.
That it is very hard for men to be converted and saved is manifest, 2. From the nature of the Gospel provisions.
The provisions of the Gospel show that formidable difficulties still remain, even after the foundation of pardon is laid in the great atonement. The guilty and lost, in order to gain pardon and heaven, must “repent and be converted.” And conversion from sin to holiness-from Satan to God—is a momentous change—a change to be achieved by no ordinary agency
Notice the system of means God has put in operation looking towards this change. Why has he thrown such a flood of light upon your character, upon your relations to himself, and upon other topics connected with your immortal interests? Why brought together such mighty array of motives, if there was not something great to be done? something extremely difficult to be achieved? Who, in view of such preparations for reclaiming men, would question that God was aware of fearful opposition to be surmounted ?
But he has not simply appointed this great system of means for the conversion of men. He has provided for the direct application of his own omnipotence. “That your faith might stand, not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; and I will take heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of Nesh. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” But if it be a small and easy matter for the degenerate to regain the divine image,--to pass from rebellion to loyalıy-from Satan to God-from hell to heaven-if this involve no difficulty, why does omnipotence thus interpose ?—why needful this special and direct application of that power which called worlds into being ? Such interposition on the part of God is full of meaning. It evinces a case of. mighty extremity. It presents most affecting evidence of the fact