A CALL to turn to God may be very practical, when the voice of the teacher points to no specific offences, nay, when the conscience itself is awake to none. A dull mechanical temper of mind--obedience to mere custom--impulses communicated from without, not from a Spirit within--a will recognising no higher law than the opinion of men--this is that turning away from God, that implicit denial of His Presence, which makes it a most needful thing, that the call should go forth from some human lips, and be echoed by unwonted natural calamities, and be received as coming straight from the mouth of the Lord, "Repent, and be converted."
Repentance is God's choicest and deepest gift; repentance for our habitual dreariness and coldness, for that shallowness of heart, which overtakes us, where we are surrounded with the tokens of His Presence, where we are partakers of the ordinances of His grace; which those very privileges seem to produce in us; from which troubles, individual or national, cannot of themselves deliver us. Divines may have infinite refinements about the mode, degrees, and effect, of repentance. That one phrase of Scripture, turning to God," contains, I think, all that we can say of it. "Man! thou art living, moving, having thy being, in One, Whom thou art habitually forgetting. That forgetfulness makes thee forget thy brethren,--yea, and, in the truest sense, forget thyself. Thou dost not know what thou art, whither thou art tending. All the earth is a riddle to thee. Thy fellow men are hindrances in thy way. Thou art thine own great curse and terror."
"Recollect from Whom come the thoughts, and impulses of the mind and will within thee, Who can make those thoughts and impulses an order instead of a chaos. Turn round to the Light, which is ever sending flashes into the midst of thy darkness. Ask that instead of such momentary appearances, from which thou shrinkest as a guilty thing surprised, it may penetrate thee, and possess thee, and become thy constant habitation. Open thine eyes, and see what witnesses there are of this Light all around thee. Every church, every prayer, every season of the year, is testifying of it, and reminding thee of it. These are visible things, established upon earth, powerless in themselves, but signs of a Kingdom of Heaven, signs of a power which can transform thee, and transform the world. When thou yieldest thyself to its transforming energy, thou wilt not bear to see the earth lying crushed under the weight of its sins and oppressions. Thou wilt believe in thy heart, and declare with thy lips, that, in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, in the Church which God has set up, in the people who believe in His Love, there is a prophecy of deliverance for the universe."--Prophets and Kings, p. 18:3.