Are you a Christian?
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I will show what is intended in the command of the text.
It is, that the sinner should change the governing purpose of his life. A man resolves to be a lawyer. Then he directs all his plans and efforts to effect that object, and passes by or resists every thing which would hinder its attainment; and that, for the time, is his governing purpose. Afterward, he may alter his determination and resolve to be a merchant. Now he directs all his efforts to that object, and so has changed his heart, or governing purpose, in regard to his secular affairs. Sinners, in like manner, have made it their governing purpose to seek their own interest or happiness, and have lived without God in the world. They are required to turn about, and choose the serve of God: and when they do so, they make themselves new hearts in the sense intended in the scriptures. God is infinitely holy; not because his nature is holy, but because his governing purpose is infinitely holy or virtuous. He is immutably holy because his holy governing purpose is infinitely strong. He also knows all things from eternity. He can therefore have no new ideas, and consequently no new motive; from which it follows, that he can never be induced to change his governing purpose. Adam was made with a nature neither sinful nor holy.
When he began to act, he made it his governing purpose to serve God. He was afterwards induced to change his purpose, through the suggestions of Satan, who told him he would become like God. Wishing to enjoy that distinction, he chose to gratify himself; and in doing this he transgressed a divine command, and became a selfish being or a sinner. Thus we easily solve those knotty questions which have long puzzled theologians “How could Adam, being holy, become a sinner? How could sin enter the universe, in heaven or on earth, when God made all rational creatures in his own likeness?”
Adam changed his heart, or governing purpose, from good to evil. Now suppose that God, when he came to reprove him for his transgression, had bid him repent and make him a new heart, and Adam should say, “I cannot make a new heart.” God might reply, “Why not? You have just done it.
Our not varying from a governing purpose depends on the strength and permanency of that purpose. Angels do not transgress and revolt, because of the amazing strength of their purpose to love and serve God. The new purpose of the young convert is a governing purpose, but feeble. He would soon be perfect, if he adhered to his purpose fully, and went on decidedly in the Christian life. But though he never gives up his governing purpose, he pursues it inconsistently; and this accounts for the instability of Christians.
It is apparent that the change now described, effected by the simple volition of the sinner through the influence of motives, is a sufficient change; all that the bible requires. It is all that is necessary to make a sinner a Christian. It is, moreover, all the change that can possibly have a moral character. I grant that it is very different from the change which sinners have been accustomed to expect, according to the instructions they have received. They have waited in perfect stillness, forgetting that they are required to change their own hearts, and expecting God to come suddenly and perform some wonderful work upon their souls, like the man who is going to take for the first time an electric shock. He takes hold of the chain, and waits trembling for a sudden and indescribable shock, to affect him he knows not how. A sinner may wait thus till doom’s day, and never be converted. The sentiment that teaches this waiting, is calculated to send souls to death and hell.