The unchangeable method of God!
(Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian" 1661)
"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:32. That is — such as see themselves as sinners, and thereby in a lost condition.
God will have the soul truly sensible of the bitterness of sin — before it shall taste the sweetness of mercy. The plough of conviction must go deep, and make deep furrows in the heart, before God will sow the precious seed of grace there — so that it may have depth of earth to grow in.
This is the unchangeable method of God in bestowing grace — to begin with conviction of sin.
First to show man his sin — then his Savior;
first his danger — then his Redeemer;
first his wound — then his cure;
first his own vileness — then Christ's righteousness.
The sinner must see the worthlessness and vileness of his own righteousness — before he can be saved by Christ's righteousness. The Israelites are first stung with the fiery serpents — and then the brazen serpent is set up to heal them.
We must see the leprosy of our righteousness, and be brought to cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" We must mourn for Him whom we have pierced — and then He sets open for us "a fountain to cleanse us from all sin and impurity." Zechariah 12:10, 13:1
Be convinced of the evil of sin — the filthy and heinous nature of it. Sin is the greatest evil in the world —
it wrongs God;
it wounds Christ;
it grieves the Holy Spirit;
it damns a precious soul!
All other evils cannot be compared with this. Though to DO sin is the worst work — yet to SEE sin is the best sight!
Sin discovered in its vileness — makes Christ to be desired in His fullness!
Alas! it is Christ's infinite righteousness which must atone for our sins — for it is an infinite God whom we have sinned against!
If ever your sin is pardoned — it is Christ's infinite mercy which must pardon it!
If ever you are reconciled to God — it is Christ's infinite merit which must do it!
If ever your heart is changed — it is Christ's infinite power which must effect it!
If ever your soul escapes Hell, and is saved at last — it is Christ's infinite grace which must save it!
"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.." Luke 19:10