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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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In general, is the assurance of the truth of any proposition. In a religious sense, it is the first degree of repentance, and implies an affecting sense that we are guilty before God; that we can do nothing of ourselves to gain his forfeited favour; that we deserve and are exposed to the wrath of God; that sin is very odious and hateful, yea, the greatest of evils. There is a natural conviction which arises from natural conscience, fear of punishment, moral suasion, or alarming providences, but which is not of a permanent nature. Saving conviction is the work of the Spirit, as the cause; though the law, the conscience, the Gospel, or affliction, may be the means, John 16:8-9 . Convictions of sin differ very much in their degree in different persons. It has been observed that those who suffer the most agonizing sensations are such as never before enjoyed the external call of the Gospel, or were not favoured with the tuition of religious parents, but have neglected or notoriously abused the means of grace.

To these, conviction is often sudden, and produces that horror and shame which are not soon overcome; whereas those who have sat under the Gospel from their infancy have not had such alarming convictions, because they have already some notion of these things, and have so much acquaintance with the Gospel as administers immediate comfort. As it is not, therefore, the constant method of the Spirit to convince in one way, it is improper for any to distress themselves because they are not, or have not been tormented almost to despair: they should be rather thankful that the Spirit of God has dealt tenderly with them, and opened to them the source of consolation. It is necessary however to observe, that, in order to repentance and conversion to God, there must be real and lasting conviction, which, though it may not be the same in degree, is the same in nature. Evangelical conviction differs from legal conviction thus: legal arises from a consideration of God's justice, power, or omniscience; evangelical from God's goodness and holiness, and from a disaffection to sin: legal conviction still conceits there is some remaining good; but evangelical is sensible there is no good at all: legal wishes freedom from pain; evangelical from sin: legal hardens the heart; evangelical softens it: legal is only temporary; evangelical lasting.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Conviction'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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