Spiritual conviction

(Matthew Mead, "The Almost Christian" 1661)

"When He comes, He will convict the world of sin."
    John 16:8

Spiritual conviction reaches to all sins; to sins of
heart—as well as sins of life; to the sin of our nature—
as well as the sins of practice; to the sin which is born
in us—as well as the sin which is done by us. Where
the Spirit of the Lord comes to work effectually in any
soul—He holds the looking-glass of the Word before the
sinner's eyes, and then opens his eyes to look into the
looking-glass, to see all that deformity and filthiness
which is in his heart and nature!

How blind was Paul to his sinfulness—until the Spirit
of the Lord revealed it to him by the Word! The Spirit
alone, can make the sinner see all the deformity and
filthiness which is within! It is He alone, who pulls off
all the sinner's rags, and makes him see his naked
and wretched condition! It is He alone, who shows us:
  the blindness of the mind,
  the stubbornness of the will,
  the disorderedness of the affections,
  the searedness of the conscience,
  the plague of our hearts,
  the sin of our natures,
  the desperateness of our state!

Natural conviction carries the soul out to look more
on the evil which comes as a result of sin—than on the
evil which is in sin. The soul which is under natural
conviction, is more troubled at the dread of hell, and
wrath, and damnation—than at the vileness and
heinous nature of sin!

But spiritual convictions work the soul into a greater
sensibleness of the evil which is in sin—than of the evil
which comes as a result of sin. The dishonor done to
God by walking contrary to His will; the wounds which
are made in the heart of Christ; the grief which the
Holy Spirit is put to—this wounds the soul more than
a thousand hells!

Natural convictions are not durable, they quickly die
out. They are like a slight cut in the skin, which bleeds
a little, and is sore for the moment—but is soon healed
again, and in a few days not so much as a scar is seen.

But spiritual convictions are durable, they cannot
be worn out, they abide in the soul until they have
reached their end—which is the change of the sinner.

The convictions of the Spirit are like a deep wound which
goes to the vital organs, and seems to endanger the life
of the patient, and is only healed by the great skill of the
heavenly Physician. And when it is healed, there are the
tokens of it remaining in the soul, which can never be
worn out!

Spiritual conviction is an essential part of sound conversion.
True conversion begins in convictions—and true convictions
end in conversion. Until the sinner is convinced of sin—he
can never be converted from sin. Christ's coming was as a
Savior to die for sinners. The Spirit's coming is to convince
us of sin—that we may close with Christ as our Savior. So
long as sin is unseen—Christ will be unsought. "Those who
are whole need not the physician—but those who are sick."

Slight convictions, when they are but skin-deep, are the
cause of much hypocrisy. Slight convictions have filled the
church with hypocrites! Nay, this is not only the spring of
hypocrisy—but it is also the spring of apostasy! What was
the cause that the seed was said to wither away? It was
because it had no depth of soil. Just so, where convictions
of sin are slight—there the seed of the Word withers for
lack of depth! But where there is thorough conviction,
there is a depth of soil in the heart—and there the seed
of the Word grows!