A man is suddenly waked up to the importance of religion. Seeing himself to be a sinner, under condemnation, he is distressed and agitated. But on hearing the messages of divine mercy, and the offers of free pardon, he is filled with inexpressible rapture, resolves to be a Christian, cries glory to God, and exults in the hope of heaven. Now many Christians at the present day look upon such appearances as good evidence of a saving change, and without any qualification, speak of the person who exhibits them, as converted.
But is this according to truth? Is it the dictate of Christian wisdom? What real evidence is there, that the person described, has been savingly converted? Does the evidence consist in the sudden waking up of the mind to the things of religion? in a consciousness of guilt? in fear, and distress, and agitation? We learn from the scriptures, that these things afford no satisfactory evidence of conversion. Is evidence found in the rapturous joy which is excited by the offer of pardon, and by the hope of happiness in heaven? The slightest acquaintance with the nature of man teaches, and the word of God teaches more fully, that such joy is altogether equivocal, as it has in ten thousand instances sprung from a selfish and deluded heart, and may spring from the same source in the case before us. There is nothing of more dubious import than the feeling and utterance of such rapturous joy.
Leonard Wood’s introduction to William Sprague’s Lectures on Revivals of Religion, pp. xviii-xxi.
The rest of the quotation can be found here.