How the sinner ought to prepare himself for conversion.
Ques. What ought a man to do, that he may be translated out of a state of sin, into the state of grace?
Ans. Of those things which are necessarily required to this purpose, some pertaine to the pulling a man out of the state of sinne, and some to the setting him in the state of grace, Those things which pertaine to the pulling a man out of the state of sinne, are such as serve to shake a man out of that carnall security, in which he slept before, and to worke in him a carefulnesse of his salvation above all things else Act.2.37 & 16.33. That this may be done, many things are necessary.
1. For it is first of all required, that a man seriously looke into the Law of God, and make an examination of his life, and state according to Jam. 1.23.24 25.
2. It is required, secondly that upon comparing of our state with Gods Law, there do Follow a conviction of Conscience which in Scripture is called anapologia a being without excuse,Rom.1.20. And a concluding one under sin, Rom. 11.32. Rom.2.10 & 7.7.
3. Thirdly, after this conviction of Conscience, there must follow, a despare of salvation, both is respect, or all strength of our owe, and of any helpe which is to be had from the Creatures, Rom. 18.104.22.168.
4. Fourthly, after all these; there must follow, a true humiliation of heart, which consists in griefe and feare because of sin, and doth bring forth confession, Mat.9.12.
5. For the procuring of this humiliation, it is alwayes necessary that there be a distinct consideration of some particular sinnes: for a general apprehension of sinne, causeth a confused astonishment, but no right and true humiliation, Rom 7.7.
6. This humiliation is oftentimes occasioned by the sight of some one sin, Act. 2.23.27.
7. It is helped forward oft times by some heavy affliction, as in Manasses. 2 Chron. 33.12. The degrees of this humiliation are not the same, in all that be converted: for some feele greater trouble, and some lesse. But all those that are truly converted are also truly humbled. So put a man in that state of grace, it is required, that there be 1. Such an apprehension, upon the Gospell, as whereby a man judgeth it possible that his sinnes should be forgiven, Rom. 12.23. Psa. 130.4. 2. An earnest desire to obtain that mercy, which in Scripture is called a spirituall hunger, or thirst, Esa. 55.1. John 7.37. Luke 1.53. 3. An actuall union with Christ, which consists in Faith, that is wrought in use by effectual vocation, John 15.1. 4. True repentance, whereby forsaking all sin, we give up and consecrate our selves wholy to God in Christ, Acts 2.38 & 3.19.
- Excerpted from Conscience With The Power And Cases Thereof by William Ames, doctor of divinity at Christís College, Cambridge, and professor of divinity, University of Franeker in Friesland. Translated from Latin and imprinted in 1639.
Note: Vocation, as Ames uses the term, refers to the divine call to salvation.