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JOSEPH MASTERS, ALDERSGATE STREET,
AND 78, NEW BOND STREET.
Price 2d., or 149. per Hundred.
141. K 087.
"Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall
not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”—S. Matt. xviii. 3. The word conversion is only once used in the Bible; and those other words which are like it, namely, convert, and converted, and converting, are not used very frequently, yet the things which they signify are spoken of from one end of the Bible to the other. And the words are good words when rightly used, but very dangerous when misused or misunderstood.
Indeed some persons avoid using them as much as possible, Test they should be understood in a bad sense even when they use them in a good sense; and instead of using them, express what they really mean in other words. And this they are obliged to do for the good of those who hear them, lest through mistake and perversion of good words the wholesome food of sound doctrine should be turned to poison in the diseased minds of those who receive it. Yet even when with great pains the true doctrine has been taught in other words, these words will be heard from time to time from the lips of false teachers, as well as of those who teach the truth; and so long as they are commonly used in a perverted sense, they will be liable to be misunderstood, even when they are
“ Except ye
used in a good one. For this reason I think it is desirable that the true meaning of conversion should be explained to you; and it seems to me better that you should have this explanation in a little book which you can read quietly by yourselves, and reflect upon, and look over again, if you do not understand it at the first reading, than hear it once, and then forget it.
Now our Blessed Saviour says, be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." These are remarkable words, more remarkable and more important than any other words on the same subject. Let us consider them.
Now observe, two things are here required of us, first that we should be converted ; and secondly, that we should become as little children: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” By nature we are not of childlike dispositions,
as little children;" if we are to become so, we must be made so: we require to be changed, that is, converted ; to be turned about. Having our faces by nature turned from God, to be turned towards Him: this is to be converted.
Simply, then, to be converted means to be changed. This is the meaning of the word in itself.
But further, our Saviour says, “and become as little children." This shows of what kind our conversion must be. It is nothing to be converted, unless we become as little children. A mere change is of no value, unless it is the right change. And that change is utterly vain, and foolish, and deceitful which makes us utterly unlike little children.
There are a number of changes which may be called conversion; as a man may turn his face in various directions, north, or south, or east, or west. When he has been walking southward, he may turn westward; or if he has been walking westward, he may turn northward. But suppose he were commanded to turn his face eastward, and journey towards Jerusalem ; then he is no longer free to turn in which direction he pleases, but eastward he must turn, and eastward only, and steadily he must persevere in that direction, and in that direction only, if he would reach his journey's end. In like manner persons may choose to call any change of feeling or disposition, or course of action, conversion ; and yet if the change they call conversion is not that change spoken of in the Bible, it will never lead them to heaven; if it does not make them obedient, and humble, and simple, and childlike ; and modest, and retiring, and distrustful of themselves, and willing to learn, as children are, it will not save them.
For example, A man may fear one day that he shall be lost, that his sins will never be forgiven him, and the next day he may feel certain that his sins are forgiven him, and that he shall be saved. This certainly is a change, and a great change. It is a change of feeling. Again ; a man may at one time think himself very wicked, and in a short time he may come to think himself very good. This, too, is a great change. Again, a man may be low-spirited and melancholy, and may find no pleasure in his ordinary duties; and especially he may feel it a toil and a burden to say prayers and read his Bible; and in a little while he may become cheerful and joyful, and find great pleasure in reading, and praying, and