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the particular relative duties of different ages and different classes of society, and the general spirit of meekness and charity, without which, though understand all mysteries and all knowledge, though we give our body to be burned, it profiteth nothing.” That Christianity which, by any delusion, however apparently accordant with the language of Scripture, engenders in the heart a spirit of pride, and therefore of strife and dissension, belies its name, betrays its carnal origin, Without natural affection, was one of the marks by which the apostle noted the unconverted and unregenerate world. Where natural affection does not prevail, and prevail in the highest degree, we listen not to the Scriptural lan
may be for ever upon the lips ; we regard not the assertion of superior religious knowledge; we tremble rather than are convinced at the asserted or implied participation in the grace of God's Holy Spirit; and in so doing we are assured that nature, and the God of nature, the Law and the Gospel of Jesus Christ excuse, or rather imperatively enforce our apprehensions of the dangerous, the unrenewed condition of those hearts. “ He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen,” says the apostle, “ how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" He who loveth not those who are more closely connected with him than by the ties of Christian brotherhood, how shall he pretend to Christian love either of man or of God?
Let us not consider the whole of Christianity to consist in those virtues, which might and did exist before the revelation through Christ; but be assured that without those virtues, our faith in Christ is barren and ineffective, and consequently our hope in Christ without reasonable ground or warrant. " Where envying and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work; but the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, of them that make peace.” And if there be a thought which may hallow, as it were, the earnestness of family devotion; if a consideration which may heighten the consolations of the Gospel in the hour of severest trial, even in the last crisis of mortality, is it not the conviction that as the members of a Christian family have embraced one faith, acknowledged one Lord, been baptized with one baptism, they may share in one hope, in one reliance for salvation on the same Redeemer; kindred in blood, kindred in affection, they may likewise be kindred in immortality?
Behold,” says the Psalmist, “how good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" And how is the joy, the beauty, the sanctity of that unity, which in the Christian family may comprehend the most remote as well as the most intimate relations, the faithful servant, the stranger that is within our gates,”—exalted and amplified by the well-grounded trust, that the society commenced on earth may be perpetuated in heaven; that the fellow pilgrims who have shared each other's joys, horne each other's sorrows, assisted each other's steps along the dangerous wilderness of life, shall enter into the same rest: that the voices which have so often united in the daily prayer may also join in the hallelujah of thanksgiving before the throne of grace!
THE IMPORTANCE OF IMMEDIATE
[* TAKE VAKE the most favourable view of the case.
Admit, that as you approach the boundary of all mortal things, you are thoroughly awake to a sense of your condition, and that you see the necessity of an entire change in the temper of your minds; yet changes of this kind are not, in the ordinary course of events, the work of a day, a month, or a year; still less are they brought about at the closing hour of a wasted and mis-spent life. You may grieve, you may confess your transgressions ; you may deplore your habitual and determined resistance to the truth ; you may offer up your prayers; but this is not repentance, the blessed repentance which will bring you effectually, as sinners, to the mercy-seat, or by which you can make your peace with Heaven; it is not the repentance which is able to correct and purify, to amend and save. If you are sincere, and have nothing else to distract you, the number and magnitude of your transgressions will arise in awful retrospect, and conscience will unfold scenes, which if you are not more or less than human, you cannot behold without amazement. “ Innumerable evils have compassed me about. Mine iniquities have taken fast hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head,
therefore my heart faileth me.”
And who can understand, or who describe, the difficulties with which you will have to struggle? The power of sin has been gradually gaining ground upon you ; your appetites have been growing more clamorous, your passions more headstrong and untameable ; and before you can work out your redemption from this slavery, and be wholly free,-before you can number yourselves among the sons of God, and know the “ joy and peace of believing,” + you must unlive your former lives, and undo all that you have done; you must not only forsake the path in which you have so long trodden, but you must measure back every false step that you have taken. The chains that years and years have riveted, must all, all be broken, and the whole of the intricate web that you
have spun must be unravelled. You must imbibe new principles, and act from purer motives. You must put away anger, wrath, malice, and pride, and put on mercy, kindness and humility. A complete revolution must take place in your secret desires. In a word, you must alter your nature. I need say nothing to prove that this is of all tasks the most arduous. The little rivulet which at first constituted your only obstacle, is now increased to a mighty, tumultuous, overflowing stream. Hear in what lofty strains the contrast is described by the prophet Jeremiah : “ If,” says he, “ thou hast run with footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses ? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan ?"'*
* Ps. xl. 12.
+ Rom, xiii. 15.
THE DANGERS OF DELAY.
*] S to those who know that they are careless and
indolent, to whom life has been little more than a series of fair occasions neglected and golden hours misemployed; whose affections are “ of the earth earthy;" who having wandered far from God, are the slaves of sin, but in whom all sense of duty is not lost,—could any such hear my voice, I would remind them of the precious promises by which they are invited to arise and shake themselves as if from sleep, to bewail their ingratitude, to forsake every evil way, to turn unto the Lord, and to thirst for a new life. I would say to them, Be persuaded to put off no longer, what has already been put off too long. The work which you have to do is most momentous : the time is short: the day is far spent: the sun is declining: the shades of night are gathering. Yet, be ye not dismayed: rather listen to the assurances of the gospel of peace, and look up. When the sorrowing prodigal returned, “ his father went out to meet him, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed
* Jer. xii. 5.