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this the death of Christ would be of no avail for my salvation.
In a subsequent letter to his brother, he gives a further account of this change of heart:-I speak from experience. I have been successively deluded by all those desires, which I here so sincerely reprobate; and sometimes I have been the sport of them all at once. This will appear incredible, except to those who have discovered that the heart of unregenerate man is nothing more than a chaos of obscurity, and a mass of contradictions. If you have any acquaintance with yourself, you will readily subscribe to this description of the human heart: And if you are without this acquaintance, then rest assured, my dear brother, that whatever your pursuit may be, you are as far from true happiness as the most wretched of men. The meteor you are following still flies before you; frequently it disappears, and never shews itself but to allure you to the brink of some unlooked-for precipice.
Every unconverted man must necessarily come under one or other of the following descriptions: He is either a voluptuary, a worldly-minded person, or a Pharisaical philosopher; or, perhaps, like myself, he may be all of these at the same time: And, what is still more extraordinary, he may be so not only without believing, but even without once suspecting it. Indeed, nothing is more common among men that an entire blindness to their own real characters. How long have I placed my happiness in mere chimeras! How often have I grounded my vain hopes upon imaginary foundations! I have been constantly employed in framing designs for my own felicity: But my disappointments have been as frequent and various as my objects. In the midst of my idle reveries, how often have I said to myself, "Drag thy weary feet but to the smmit of youder eminence, a situation beyond which the world has nothing to present more adequate to thy wishes, and there thou shalt sit down in a state of repose." On my arrival, however, at the spot proposed, a sad discovery has taken place →→→
The whole scene has appeared more barren than the valley I had quitted; and the point of happiness, which I lately imagined it possible to have touched with my finger, has presented itself at a greater distance than ever.
"If hitherto, my dear brother, you have beguiled yourself with prospects of the same visionary nature, never expect to be more successful in your future pursuits. One labour will only succeed another, making way for continual discontent and chagrin. Open your heart, and there you will discover the source of that painful inquietude, to which, by your own confession, you have been long a prey. Examine its secret recesses, and you will discover there sufficient proofs of the following truths:-'The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. The thoughts of man's heart are only evil, and that continually. The natural man understandeth not the things of the Spirit of God.' On the discovery of these, and other important truths, you will be convinced that man is an apostate being, composed of a sensual, rebellious body, and a soul immersed in pride, self-love, and ignorance: Nay more, you will perceive it a physical impossibility, that man should ever become truly happy, till he is cast, as it were, into a new mould, and created a second time.
For my own part, when I first began to know myself, I saw, I felt that man is an undefinable animal, partly of a bestial, and partly of an infernal nature. This discovery shocked my self-love, and filled me with the utmost horror. I endeavoured, for some time, to throw a palliating disguise over the wretchedness of my condition; but the impression it had already made upon my heart was too deep to be erased. It was to no purpose that I reminded myself of the morality of my conduct. It was in vain, that I recollected the many encomiums that had been passed upon my early piety and virtue. And it was to little avail, that I sought to cast a mist before my eyes, by reasonings like these, -If conversion implies a total change, who has been
converted in these days? Why dost thou imagine thyself worse than thou really art? Thou art a believer in God, and in Christ: Thou art a Christian: Thou hast injured no person: Thou art neither a drunkard nor an adulterer: Thou hast discharged thy duties, not only in a general way, but with more than ordinary exactness: Thou art a strict attendant at Church: Thou art accustomed to pray more regularly than others, and frequently with a good degree of fervour. Make thyself perfectly easy. Moreover, Jesus Christ has suffered for thy sins, and his merit will supply every thing that is lacking on thy part.
It was by reasonings of this nature, that I endeavoured to conceal from myself the deplorable state of my heart: And I am ashamed, my dear brother; I repeat it, I am ashamed that I suffered myself so long to be deluded by the artifices of Satan, and the devices of my own heart. God himself has invited me; a cloud of apostles, prophets and martyrs have exhorted me; and my conscience, animated by these sparks of grace which are latent in every breast, has urged me to enter in at the strait gate; but, notwithstanding all this, a subtle tempter, adeluding world, and a deceived heart, have constantly turned the balance, for above these twenty years, in favour of the broad way. I have passed the most lovely part of my life in the service of these tyrannical masters, and am ready to declare, in the face of the universe, that all my reward has consisted in disquietude and remorse. Happy had I been, if I I had listened to the earliest invitations of grace, and broken their iron yoke from off my neck!