Marks of a False Conversion . . .

The following is the introduction to a sermon preached by George Whitefield, 'Marks of a True Conversion'

Before he unpacks the marks of a true conversion, he highlights indicators of a false conversion.

Matthew 18:3, "Verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as
little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

I suppose I may take it for granted, that all of you, among whom I am now about to
preach the kingdom of God, are fully convinced, that it is appointed for all men
once to die, and that ye all really believe that after death comes the judgment,
and that the consequences of that judgment will be, that ye must be doomed to
dwell in the blackness of darkness, or ascend to dwell with the blessed God, for
ever and ever. I may take it for granted also, that whatever your practice in
common life may be, there is not one, though ever so profligate and abandoned,
but hopes to go to that place, which the scriptures call Heaven, when he dies.
And, I think, if I know any thing of mine own heart, my heart's desire, as well
as my prayer to God, for you all, is, that I may see you sitting down in the
kingdom of our heavenly Father. But then, though we all hope to go to heaven
when we die, yet, if we may judge by people's lives, and our Lord says, "that by
their fruits we may know them," I am afraid it will be found, that thousands,
and ten thousands, who hope to go to this blessed place after death, are not now
in the way to it while they live. Though we call ourselves Christians, and would
consider it as an affront put upon us, for any one to doubt whether we were
Christians or not; yet there are a great many, who bear the name of Christ, that
yet do not so much as know what real Christianity is. Hence it is, that if you
ask a great many, upon what their hopes of heaven are founded, they will tell
you, that they belong to this, or that, or the other denomination, and part of
Christians, into which Christendom is now unhappily divided. If you ask others,
upon what foundation they have built their hope of heaven, they will tell you,
that they have been baptized, that their fathers and mothers, presented them to
the Lord Jesus Christ in their infancy; and though, instead of fighting under
Christ's banner, they have been fighting against him, almost ever since they
were baptized, yet because they have been admitted to church, and their names
are in the Register book of the parish, therefore they will make us believe,
that their names are also written in the book of life. But a great many, who
will not build their hopes of salvation upon such a sorry rotten foundation as
this, yet if they are, what we generally call, negatively good people; if they
live so as their neighbors cannot say that they do anybody harm, they do not
doubt but they shall be happy when they die; nay, I have found many such die, as
the scripture speaks, "without any hands in their death." And if a person is
what the world calls an honest moral man, if he does justly, and, what the world
calls, love a little mercy, is not and then good-natured, reacheth out his hand
to the poor, receives the sacrament once or twice a year, and is outwardly sober
and honest; the world looks upon such an one as a Christian indeed, and
doubtless we are to judge charitably of every such person. There are many
likewise, who go on in a round of duties, a model of performances, that think
they shall go to heaven; but if you examine them, though they have a Christ in
their heads, they have no Christ in their hearts.

Read the whole sermon at Sermon Index.