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successful means of civilizing them. The grace of the Lord Jesus will do what philosophy and the arts will never do, tame the wild heart; and there is no doubt of a corresponding alteration in the conduct. One Christian institution alone, the holy Sabbath, will go farther to civilize them in a year than all human expedients in a century. Driven continually before an extending frontier, -- their manners debauched by the commerce of unprincipled whites,-their number diminishing by war and by vice,-the only alternative which seems to be offered them is, Conversion or Extermination."
On a summer's evening, as Corylus was looking on the descending sun, he was led to reflect on the termination of his own life : -"0! that I could sink into my grave with the same composure as the light of the world has left my country!" He sat down and reclined his head on his hands ; fatigued by the labours of the day, he fell asleep, and dreamed that he met with his deceased brother in his father's house, who announced to him his speedy departure from time to eternity. “I have obtained," said he, permission from God to make your bed in your sickness, - to assuage the anguish of death, - to lead you through the dark valley, and introduce you into the presence of God; for I have often heard you say, there is no one returned to tell the sad talc, - what dying is.' Corylus then asked his brother wliat dying was. “I am not authorized to say,” he replied, “ what it is; but I am commissioned to be your guide and comfort in your afliction. Remember that I am your brother; you never doubted my
I remain the same; have full power from Go:l to minister to you every possible comfort that wisdom can dictate or kindness perform : I have suffered,--and can, therefore, sympathize ; I have died, and know what dying means. Corylus was comforted ; he waited for the summons; but, looking roumd on his family, his aflections were wounded, and the tumult of his heart awoke him from his slumbers. He arose, and wished his dream realized ; wher, pating his hand into his pocket, and taking out his Bible, he read, “ For both be that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them Brethren, saying, “I will declare thy name unto my brethren ; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thec.” Yes, he said, my broulier has died indeel, and is alive again. I have trust in die incrits of his cross; I have hoped in the prevalence of his intercession; and I will rely on the veracity of his promises, and the perpetuity of his affection. Who can separate me from the love of Clirist? not even death. "Yea, viough I walk through the valley of the shadow of deatli, I will fear no evil,” &c.
THE EFFICACY OF GRACE DISPLAYED
IN EXTRAORDINARY CONVERSIONS.
Some general remarks having been made in a former essay *, on the Efficacy of Grace, it is the design of this paper to investigate that important subject, as it is illustrated in extraorclinary conversions. Conversion is a figurative term ; and, in its generally acknowledged acceptation, supposes an essential change in the state and character of its subjects; it is, therefore, adopterl, on the present occasion, as synonimous with Believing, Regeneration, and Effectual Calling. Conversion is the work of God ; -of God alone; and this work he often accomplishes in extraordinary ways. It is accomplished under such circumstances as are pre-eminently calculated to excite attention, admiration, surprize, and astonishment. As in the government of the world he is sometimes pleased to dispense with the established laws of nature, --so, in the dispensations of grace, he displays the sovereignty of his good pleasure, by sometimes departing from the usual course of his procedure in the salvation of souls.
To confirm the truth of this remark, let us, in the first place, attend to local circumstances. Let us go in the spirit of meditation to the dark places of the earth, where vice and violence long defied and bafiled every attempt to introduce the means of salvation ; and which seemed as if wholly abandoned of God to perish by the tyranny of the destroyer. In such places we have seen the prey taken from the mighty; --- we have beheld the glorious triumphs of God our Redeemer, in the deliverance of captive sinners from their galling yoke, and in bringing them to enjoy the transcendent blessedness of spiritual liberty. By some great and unexpected event, or by some. peculiar conjunction of circumstances, a wide and electual door has been opened for the preaching of the truth; and, by ihat truth, the strongest holds of siu bave surrendered to his victorious arm, who was manifcsted to destroy the works of darkness. The carlier days of the gospel dispensation, and every subsequent period of it, afford some illustrative evidence of the omnipotence of Jesus over all that is liostile to his mediatorial government; and the innumerable trophies already erected by liis omnipotent hand, will be contemplate, with joyful anticipation of his universal reign, by all who are devoted to the promulgation of his gospel
When the gospel thus makes its way to those parts of a country where the God of this work Iras maintained an undisturbed authority, we are generally presented with some singular instances of the power of grace in the conversion of notorious sinners. Then does it please God to reveal his Son in those who have taken the lead in rebellion against his throne; and often to make them preachers of the faith they once destroyed. Men enslaved by the most diabolical errors, abandoned to the most hateful vices, and who were as obdurate as they were wicked; - men whose lives were the grief and disgrace of their families, the plague of their neighbourhoodis, and a curse in civil society ; -- en studied in the arts of sensual gratification, inventive in profanity, daring in blasphemy, and seemingly ripe for destruction ; --- in a word, men who were literally the chief, the most desperate of sinners, have been brought into the kingdom of God by discriminating grace, while the self-righteous, trusting in their morality and good works, have perished in their guilt.
* See Vol. viv, p. 19,
Glory to Gol in the highest! we have seen all this mercy exemplified in our churches! The mighty power of Jesus, displayed in his own ministry, and in the first preaching of the gospel by bis apostles, that mighty poter still triumphs in the word of truth. There are many who now have an honourable name, and who now occupy stations of usefulness in our Zion, who once ranked with the most degraded and injúrious of fallen men. Yes, we have many with us, “ sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothes, and in their right mind,” who are suspected, and feared, and despised, on account of their former eminence in the paths of guilt. Like the elder brother in the Parable of the Prodigal, inflated with the pride of his comparative goodness and worthiness, some will be angry, and refuse to partake of the feast prepared to celebrate the wandering sinner's return to God. But, whatever be the thoughts of the vain and presumptuous Pharisee, this shall still be the confidence and joy of the believing penitent, that there is no character, no condition, no crime, to which the salvation of Jesus does not apply, and that there are none now prostrate at his feet, though before the most infamous of wretches, who shall not finally realize all the free blessings of that salvation before his throne.
The extraordinary efficacy of grace appears in the conversion of sinners, when, independent of all the peculiar aggravations of their guilt, their exterior circumstances are such as tend to fill the minds of surrounding observers with desponding thoughts of so desirable an event. The circumstances of one of the malefactors, who was crucified with the Son of Man, were of this description. They were such as tended to discourage the liope of bis salvation. Not that we consider the case of any sinner on this side eternity as hopeless; or that we believe there was any thing so extraordinary in the con:lition of the dying thief, as to preclude the expectation of the same mercy under similar circumstances of ignonny and approaching dissolution : and we rejoice in the persuasioit, that our Lord intended this
event as a pledge to every future 'age of his ability to save the greatest criminals in their utmost extremity,
The maladies of the soul gather strength with time. Every day they become more obstinate and malignant.
But the remedy, the precious blood of Christ, is intallible; and, in various instances, we have seen the efficacy of that remedy glorified on the very verge of eternity. There is no case beyond its reach: it is adequate to the salvation of man in the most desperate of all possible conditions. The brief history of Alcimus affords an affecting confirmation of this truth. He was well known in the place where he resided; but was known only as an object of pity and detestation. He had now passed the bounds of threescore years and ten, and was rapidly descending to the grave, an infidel of the highest order ; an infidel struggling for the miserable consolations of Atheism. Although become utterly incapable of enjoying the workl, and just going to leave it for ever, he clave to it with unliminished solicitude, and, with an exultation too evidently feigned to deceive, declared his disbelief of future retribution, The blasphemous epithets he applied to the character and work of the Saviour, and the unbounded contempt in which he held his disciples, most strikingly exemplified the wretchedness of man grown grey under the hardening influences of sin.
In all his conversations he betrayed the most complete subjection to the basest passions of our fallen nature; and affected to laugh away the feeble remains of life, till forced to think hie was actually dying. In that critical and awful moment a religious neighbour, who knew his character, obtained permission to see him : when, taking the 'old dying infidel by the hand, he abruptly proposed the following questions to hini: -
you still sure there is no God? Are you now as fully satisfied, as you have often professed to be, that there is indeed no Hell? that there is no Heaven ? Will you now tell me that there is no such thing as sin in the world ? and that the blood of Christ is of no more account than the blood of any common animal?" Here a long and solemn pause ensuel, which Alcimus himself at last interrupted by exclaiming, “Oh ! what folly ! What madness!”
The visiter was at a loss to know whether these terms were intended to characterize the Christian or the Deist; till one of the ignorant attendants whisperingly said, "Poor man, his mind has been wandering in this way most of the night; and but a little while before you came in, he was talking to himself, and saying, “ All is wrong! I see it will not do! Almost eighty years gone, and not to be recalled! Millions to come, not to be endured !” and many other such things just as foolish." Upon this the good man resumed and said, But yet there is mercy, yet there is hope.' “Ah!" rejoined Alcimus, “but I am too guilty! and it is now too late! Last night, for the first time, I
felt the horrors of my situation; and now I see there are only a few moments between me and the infinite torments I have made the subject of ridicule. Wretched man! I have lived the li e of a beast, and go to meet the final doom of a sinner justly abandoned of God!"
Under these affecting circumstances his compassionate neighbour, an “ interpreter, one of a thousand,"earnestly directed his attention to the gospel of Jesus, as an all-sufficient and immutable ground of hope to the chief of perishing sinners. “Here, Alcimus,” said he, “the justifying righteousness of God our Saviour is brought nigh to the guilty ; and here you will find that, in the work of salvation, nothing can be impossible with bimHe has power to forgive, - unconditionally to forgivo all manner of 'sins and blasphemics unto men, even in the last period of life. Believe then on him, and 66 thou shalt not perish, but have everlasting life.” Look from the borders of the pit to his recovering grace ; -- and this day, if he call thee from earth, thou shalt be with him in paradise.
The prescribed bounds of this essay forbid a more minute detail of particulars. We will only further observe, that the word of truth came with such efficacy to the mind of Alcimus, that when his friend came to visit him next morning, he was joyfully surprized by a complete revolution in his sentiments and language.
56 Yes,” said he, “ the Son of Man hath power to forgive all manner of sins and blasphemies unconditionally. This is the report of the gospel ; -- this is the faithful saying that is worthy of all acceptation; and here I will rest. In the evening of this day he died, repeating the prayer of the publican, with an addition that proved the depth of his humility, “ God be merciful to me, the greatest of sinners."
When the set time of Jehovah is come to discriminate the vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory, all places are consccrated to the sovereignty of his decrees; all events and circumstances 'combine to celebrate the sovereign ellicacy of his grace; which, like the wind, not only blosveth where it listeth, but when, and as it listeth. Sometimes, amidst scenes of confused gaiety and noisy dissipation, that drown the voice of reason, there the voice of God has lmeen lieard, awakening the guilty mind to reflection. That Spirit, whose power is so glorious in the sanctuary of God, has been known invincibly to triumph in the
synagogue of Satan. How many have been subdued to the wisdom of the just, while in the act of gratifying some foolish and criminal passion! And in how many instances has our Lord Jesus made the very sins of men subservient to their conversion! The curiosity of Zacheus, the persecuting spirit of Saul, and the dishonesty of Onesimus, are among the most striking instances of the overruling providence and wonderful grace of Jesus recorded in Scripture.
Ile, as the God of grace, and Governor of the world, ordains