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These were generally the views and feelings of those who now hope they are reconciled, while they were under conviction, although there might be some circumstantial differences. The convictions of some were more sharp and powerful than those of others. Some experienced them for a longer, some for a shorter term. But when they were very powerful, the subjects of them commonly found relief the sooner. A certain person who is among the hopeful converts, was not under real conviction more than half a day before her mind was filled with comfort. She lived in a remote part of the society, which rendered it difficult for her to attend public worship, and so had not been at any religious meetings since the uncommon attention began. But hearing of it, and of the conversation of some youths, who appeared to be converts, it struck her mind that it must be something great and powerful to produce such a change in their feelings and conversation; and that therefore, conversion must be a great and important change. Soon after this, she attended a meeting one evening, and thought she never before heard such truths and exhortations as were delivered by the speaker. As he endeavored to show the importance of religion for support on a dying bed, and preparation to meet our Judge in peace, she was affected with a sense of the dreadfulness of being called to meet death while in a state of sin and opposition against the Almighty. These thoughts lay with weight on her mind that night, till she fell asleep, and returned next morning when she awoke. But soon after she was very powerfully impressed with a sense of her exceeding wickedness, and felt as if she was the most vile, unworthy sinner on earth. She was so oppressed and disturbed with a sense of her sinfulness, that she could not attend to the concerns of her family. But before noon her mind was relieved. Her heart was filled with joy, love and praise to God, from a view of the loveliness of his glorious character, and of great mercy and condescension to sinners. Her great desire was, that all would praise God. She continued in this state, praising and rejoicing in God two or three days, before she thought she had any title to salvation.
Others were under conviction three or four days, or a week, and some for several weeks or months, before they appeared to become reconciled to God.
When they found sensible relief in their minds, it was commonly from a discovery of the glory, amiableness, and rectitude of the divine character, and from a disposition to submit to God. On discovering the glory of the divine character, they felt a disposition to love, praise, and rejoice in God, whatever became of them. They had new views and feelings towards almost everything around them. Jesus Christ appeared glorious and lovely, and such an all sufficient Savior, as they needed; and therefore, they cordially trusted in him for salvation. They were pleased with the terms of the gospel, which are suited to exalt God, and humble sinners. They could rejoice that the Lord reigned, and that he would dispose of all events, as he saw best. The Bible appeared new and delightful. They cordially approved of its truths and requirements as just and reasonable. Sin appeared hateful. They felt themselves to be vile, and wondered that they had been spared, or that there was any hope in their case. They felt a disposition to love and forgive their enemies, and to seek and pray for the salvation of all around them. These and other similar views and feelings have been generally manifested by the converts. But some have manifested a much more lively sense of these things than others. At first their minds were so much engrossed by these objects, that they thought little or nothing about their own salvation. Others have observed that it seemed to them that God’s character would appear glorious and lovely, and they could rejoice in it, even if they should be cast off. Their love to God and his government appeared to originate from a reconciliation to his holy character, and therefore to be essentially different from that false, selfish love, which arises from a belief that God is reconciled to us, and designs to save us in particular. For it is from finding in themselves this love and reconciliation to God’s character, law and government, and a disposition to delight in the truths and duties of religion, that they indulge a hope, that they have become heirs of salvation.
Those who entertain this hope, generally appear to have a humble sense of their sinfulness, unworthiness, and entire dependence upon God, and continual need of the quickening, assisting influences of the Holy Spirit, and express an earnest desire to be freed from their remaining depravity. Numbers of the youth have observed, that they formerly supposed religion to be gloomy, and disagreeable, and that it would destroy all their pleasure and comfort, should they embrace it. Therefore, they could not think of engaging in it, and were really afraid they should have it. But they now say, they never knew what real peace or happiness was before—that at times, they find a joy and satisfaction in God and divine things, which far exceeds all the pleasures that the world can afford, and that they have experienced more real happiness in attending one religious meeting, than in all their vain and sinful amusements.
The peculiar doctrines of the gospel, such as the entire depravity of the natural heart, regeneration by the efficacious influences of the Holy Spirit, justification by faith alone, God’s sovereignty and universal government, or his decrees and election—these doctrines which are so crossing to the feelings of the natural heart, and so bitterly opposed and denied by many, appear to be very fully and cordially embraced by those who are hopefully renewed. Although many of them once disliked these doctrines, and thought them very hard and unreasonable, as impenitent sinners generally do, yet they appeared to be led immediately into them by the convictions of the divine Spirit, as being the only doctrines, which afforded any ground of hope to sinners. Some of them have observed, that it appears to them, that everyone who has been brought to a just sense of his condition, through the renewing influences of the Spirit, and become reconciled to God, must be convinced of the truth of these doctrines, and cordially embrace them.
To be continued…