CO VERSIO , A D ITS EFFECTS. BY REV. CHARLES SIMEO , M. A.

Gal. i. 15, 16. When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood. GREAT were the trials which the Apostle Paul met with in the Churches of Galatia through the subtilty of some Judaizing teachers, who laboured, and with too much success, to turn the newly converted Christians from the faith which Paul had preached to them, and to bring them over to a faith compounded of Judaism and Christianity. To give the greater weight to their doctrines, they represented Paul as preaching a Gospel which he had received only from human authority, and not from the Lord Jesus Christ, as all the other Apostles had ; and consequently, as unworthy of the confidence

24. GALATIA S, I. 15, 16. [2052. which his followers reposed in him. To counteract the sad effects of their representations, St. Paul, in the very introduction to his Epistle to the Galatians, declared, that he had received his Gospel, " not of men (as the authors), nor by man (as an instrument), but directly from the Lord Jesus Christ, and from God the Father, who had raised him from the deader" and then, after expressing his " wonder that they had been so soon turned away from him who had called them into the grace of Christ," he proceeds to vindicate more fully his apostolic authority : '^ I certify you, brethren," says he, " that the Gospel

which was preached of me is not after man : for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ''." Then, after specifying the time when it was revealed to him, namely, in his way to Damascus, he asserts, that he studiously avoided every thing which might be construed into a reception of it from men ; for he had not gone at all at that time to Jerusalem, where the other Apostles were, but into Arabia, where there was none but God to teach him. In the account which he thus gives of himself, he gives us an insight into the work of conversion, and into that line of conduct which all converted persons should pursue. It is for the elucidating of these two things that we have selected the passage which we have just read : from which we shall take occasion to shew, I. Wherein our conversion must resemble Paul's — Certainly it is not at all necessary that our conversion should resemble his in the external circumstances ; for in respect of them he stands alone, not so much as one of his attendants being, as far as we know, converted with him. or even in respect of the suddenness of it, is it at all necessary that we should resemble him : our conversion may be so gradual that we cannot trace it to any particular time ; and yet it may be as certain and as evident as » ver. 1. ^ ver. 11, 12.

2052.] CO VERSIO , A D ITS EFFECTS. 25 his. But in its essential parts conversion is the same in all. Ours therefore must resemble his,

1. In its origin, the electing love of God — [God " separated him from his mother's womb " to the apostolic office, just as he had done the prophet Jeremiah to the prophetic office". It was evidently not for his righteousness that he was thus chosen to know Christ for himself, and to preach him to others : for, to the very instant of his conversion, he was a blasphemer, and injurious, and a persecutor. His election can be traced to nothing but the sovereign will of God. And to this must our conversion also be traced, if ever we have been converted at all. " We have not chosen Christ, but Christ us :" yea, " we were chosen of God in Christ before the foundation of the world," and " predestinated to the adoption of children" into his family. In this very epistle St. Paul most studiously marks this. He speaks of the Galatians as having known God : but, fearing, as it were, lest they should suppose that the work had begun on their part, he recalls his word, and says, " after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God^." Let us bear in mind therefore, that, if we are converted, it is "not because we loved God, but because he loved us^ :" " he loved us with an everlasting love ; and therefore with loving-kindness hath he drawn us^"] 2. In its means, the effectual grace of God — [God " called him by his grace ;" and without the effectual working of his grace the Apostle would never have been called at all. or shall we ever attain to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus in any other way. Of ourselves " we can do nothing," no, " not so much as think a good thought :" it is " God alone who can give us either to will or to do " any thing that is good^. " If we are brought into a state of grace," it is " he who hath made us willing in the day of his power." " We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works^ :" the new creation is his work as much as the old : whatever be the means, or whoever be the instrument " to plant or water, it is he alone that gives the increase'." Every child of man must say with the Apostle, " By the grace of God I am what I am^ :" " whoever he be that is born again, he is born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the

will of man, but of God'."] <= Jer. i. 5. d Gal. iv. 9. See also Phil. iii. 12. ^ 1 John iv. 10. f Jer. xxxi. 3. e Phil. ii. 13. '' Eph. ii. 10. i 1 Cor. iii. (j. k i Cor. xv. 10. ' John i. 13.

26 GALATIA S, I. 15, 16. [2052. 3. In its manner, by a revelation of Christ to the soul — [As far as relates to the external circumstances, we have before said that no analogy exists : but as it respects the revelation of Christ to the soul, conversion is the same in all. There may be a preparatory work of conviction without this ; but no conversion : for in this consists the essence of conversion, if we may so speak. The revelation given in the Scriptures may inform the mind ; but it is the revelation made to the soul, that can alone convert and save the soul. The means which converted Saul, produced no such effect on his companions. Many others heard the word preached to them, as well as Lydia : but she received benefit from it which others did not, because " the Lord opened her heart to attend to the things that were spoken." So, if we are savingly enlightened, it is because God has " opened the eyes of our understanding," and " given us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of his Son"^," and " shined into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ"." It is then only that we truly "receive Christ" as our Saviour °: then only do we "feed truly on his flesh and blood ;" then only do we " believe in him to the saving of the soul."] 4. In its end, to make him known in the world —

[We are not all called, like St. Paul, " to preach Christ among the heathen ;" but we are called, like Paul himself, to confess him openly r, and to become his avowed followers, and to shew forth in our life and conversation the power of his grace. We are all to " shine as lights in a dark world, holding forth the word of life i." We are to be his witnesses, even " epistles of Christ known and read of all men." We are so to make our " light shine before men, that all who see us may approve of his ways, and glorify his name^"] From the effect produced on him by his conversion, we are led to consider, II. Wherein our conduct must resemble his — It is probable that his words relate rather to his not seeking any intercourse with those who were at that time the pillars of the Christian Church, than to any workings of his own mind, which he studiously m Eph. i. 17, 18. n 2 Cor. iv. 6. " John i. 12. P Acts xxii. 14, 15. Matt. x. 32, 33. 'i Phil. ii. 13, 10. r Matt. V. 16.

2052.] CO VERSIO , A D ITS EFFECTS. ''Zl suppressed. Yet the decision of his character on the occasion shews us what we should be and do, when once we have received the converting grace of God. We must enter on the duties assigned us, 1. Without hesitation — [Many doubts will be suggested by our own corrupt hearts, how far it is necessary or expedient to devote ourselves

to the Lord Jesus Christ ; and our carnal friends will not fail to remonstrate with us on our new views and pursuits. They will tell us of the injury which we shall sustain in our reputation and interests, if we make ourselves singular, and join ourselves to " a sect that is everywhere evil spoken of." They will beseech us with much affectionate importunity to put away these enthusiastic notions : and, if they have power over us, they will blend menaces with their entreaties. But, from whatever quarter the temptation may come, we must examine its tendency, and, as soon as we see that its effect will be to draw us back to the world, we must say to it, as our blessed Lord under similar circumstances said to Peter, *' Get thee behind me, Satan : for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men." We must listen to nothing, however specious it may be, that would cause us to dissemble with God, or divert us from the path prescribed to us in his word. Our one question must be. What does my Lord and Saviour require of me ? and by that must we be determined, though the whole world should endeavour to obstruct our way. We must neither be allured by interest, nor deterred by fear ; but must " hate father and mother, and even our own lives also, in comparison of Christ."] 2. Without delay — [Thus did Paul: " immediately'''' he betook himself to the work assigned him^ Thus should we also: we should not say. Let me go home first and take leave of my friends, or bury my father : o: let the dead bury their dead: our duty is to fulfil the will of Him who has called us to his kingdom and glory. We shall occasionally feel strong temptations on this subject. When difRculties and dangers present themselves, we shall be ready to think we shall find some more convenient season, when our way will be more plain and easy. But we must, like Matthew at the receipt of custom, or like others of the Apostles at their nets, forsake all and follow Christ.] Application — \. Let those of you who have experienced con-

verting grace, give God the glory — s Acts ix. 19, 20.

28 GALATIA S I. 23, 24. [2053. [There is a strange backwardness in man to do this. If all be traced to the sovereign grace of God, we bring forward a thousand objections, that so we may divide the glory with him. But this is not so in heaven: nor should it be on earth. In heaven there is no song but that of " Salvation to God and to the Lamb." Let it be so on earth. It is our indispensable duty, our truest interest, our highest happiness, to give glory to the God of heaven. Let us do it cheerfully, and without reserve.] 2. Let those in whose hearts Christ has been revealed, seek to know more and more of him — [It is but little that any man knows of him. Paul himself, after preaching Christ for twenty years, desired to know more of him, in the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings. Let us also seek to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of him." The more we behold his glory, the more we shall be changed into his image : and the more we comprehend of his unsearchable love, the more shall we be filled with all the fulness of God.] 3. Let all learn how to avoid the snares which Satan lays for their feet — [We must not parley with temptation, but act with promptitude and decision. There must be in us a firmness that is immoveable : yet should that firmness be tempered with suavity. We must not think, that, because our superiors are wrong in their endeavours to keep us back from Christ, we are at liberty to slight their admonitions on other subjects, or even on religion itself, as far as we can without violating

the commands of Christ. Whilst we guard against an undue conformity to the world, we must guard also against two common evils, superstition, and unnecessary scrupulosity : scrupulosity makes that to be sin which is no sin ; and superstition makes that to be duty which is no duty. Let us get our minds rightly instructed : in matters of indifference, let us be willing to yield ; but in matters of vital interest and importance, let us be firm and faithful even unto death.]

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