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nbelief, which departs from the living God. VAIN ONFIDENCE-thinks himself in no danger: he knows he truth: he can dispute for the truth: “What. hould we fear?” Why, that we have no fear. T'RI-, 'LING WITH CONSCIENCE, is a snare: no man inulges himself in any thing which his conscience ells him ought not to be done, but it will at length year away nis spirituality of mind.
The SYMPTOMS of a religious decline are many:
When a minister begins to depart from God, and to lose a spiritual mind, HE BECOMES FOND SOMETIMES OF GENTEEL COMPANY, who can entertain him, and who know how to respect his character! This genteet spirit is suspicious: it is associated with pride and delicacy, and a love of ease: in short, it is the spirit of the world. It is the reverse of condescending to mean things: it is the reverse of the spirit of our Master.
It is a symptom of decline, when a man will UNNECESSARILY EXPOSE THE IMPERFECTIONS OF THE RELIGIOUS WORLD. "Such a man,” he will say, “is fond of praying; but he is fond of money.” This is the very opposite spirit to that of St. Paul, who speaks even weeping of those who mind earthly things.
A VIOLENT SEGTARIAN SPIRIT is a sign of religious declension. Honest men stand firm for the vitals of religion. If the mind were right, the circumstantials of religion would not be made matters of fierce contention. The spirit of St. Paul was of another kind. If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no meat while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend-One believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, câteth herbs. Let not him, that eateth, despise him that eateth not; and lot not him, which eateth not, judge him that eateth.
AVERSION FROM REPROOF marks a state of religious decline. The man cannot bear to have his state depicted, even in the pulpit. He calls the preaching, which searches and detects him, Arminian and legal. Hast thou found me, O mine enemiy3 Why should he quarrel with the truth? If that! truth is delivered in its just proportions, his quarrel is with God!
STUPIDITY UNDER CRASTISEMENT proves a man to be under declension. He is not disposed to ask, Wrerefore dost thou contend with me? He is a kicking against the pricks. He is stricken, but has not grieved. He is chastised, as a bullock unac- : customed to the yoke.
Such a man, too, has often a HIGH MIND. He is anhumbled boasting---stout-hearted. He is ready to censure every one but himself. UNNECESSARY OCCUPATION is another evidence of declension. Some men are unavoidably much engaged in the world; to such men God will give especial grace, if they seek it; and they shall maintain a spirit of devotion even in the bustle and occupation of their affairs. But some men will be rich, and therefore fall into temptation and a snare; they will have shops in different parts of the town; they say they do not feel this affect their religious state; but I cannot believe them: a man is declined from God before he enters on such schemes: a spir itual and devout man will generally find the business in which he is already engaged a sufficient snare.
In short, the symptoms may be this or that, but the disease is a dead palsy. Ephraim! he hath , mixed himself among the people: Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea gray hairs are here and There upon him, yet he knoweth it not.
ET On a Christian's associating with Imreligious
Persons for their Good. CHRIST is an example to us of entering into mixed society. But our imitation of him herein must admit of restrictions. A feeble man must
avoid danger. If any one could go into society - as Christ did, then let him go; let him attend marriage-feasts and Pharisees' houses.
Much depends on a Christian's observing his call
the openings which Providence may make before him. It is not enough to say that he frequents public company in order to retard the progress of evil.
But, when in .company of people of the world, we should treat them kindly and tenderly with feeling and compassion. They should be assisted, if they are inclined to receive assistance. But if a Christian falls into the society of a mere worldling, it must be like the meeting of two persons in rain they will part as soon as possible." If a man loves such company, it is an evil symptom.
It is a Christian's duty to maintain a kind intercourse, if practicable, with his relatives. And he must DULY APPRECIATE THEIR STATE;if not religious, they cannot see and feel and taste his enjoyments: they accommodate themselves to him,
and he accommodates himself to them. It is much ra matter of accommodation on both sides. F AVOID DISGUSTING SUCH FRIENDS UNNECES
SARILY. A precise man, for instance, must be humored. Your friends set down your religion, perhaps, as a case of humor.
CULTIVATE GOOD SENSE. If your friends perceive you weak in any part of your views and con-duct, they will think you weak in your religion.
AVOID VAIN JANGLING. There is a disposition in such friends to avoid important and pinching truth. If you WILL converse with them on the subject of religion, they will often endeavor to
draw you on to such points as predestination. The will ask you what you think of the salvation of it fants and of the heathen. All this is meant to throw out the great question.
SEIZE FAVORABLE OCCASIONS-not only the “mollia tempora fandi;” but when public charac F ters and public events furnish occasions of profit able reflection.
Bring before your friends THE EXTREMET: CHILDISHNESS OF A SINFUL STATE. Trez worldly amusements as puerile things. People the world are sick at heart of their very pleasures
On the Christian Sabbath. IT belongs to our very relation to God, to set u apart a portion of our time for his service; but, as w it might have been difficult for conscience to deter I mine what that portion should be, God has preo scribed it: and the ground of the observance rele mains the same, whether the remembrance of God's resting from his work, or any other reason, be : assigned as the more immediate cause.
The Jewish Sabbath was partly of political insti- to tution, and partly of moral obligation. So far as it was a political appointment, designed to preserve the Jews distinct from other nations, it is abrogated: so far as it was of moral obligation, it remains in force.
Our Lord evidently designed to relax the strict.h ness of the observance. Christianity is not a hedge placed round a peculiar people. A slave might enter into the spirit of Christianity, though obliged to work as a slave on the sabbath: he might be in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, though in the mines of Patmos.
Difficulties often arise in respect to the observance of the Sabbath. I tell conscientious persons, "I you have the spirit of Christianity, and are in an employment contrary to Christianity, you will
or to escape from it, and God will open your y." If such a man's heart be right, he will not Ow himself out of his employment the first day
suspects himself to be wrong, but he will pray I wait till his way shall be opened before him." Christ came not to abolish the Sabbath, but to plain and enforce it, as he did the rest of the w. Its observance was no where positively enved by him, because Christianity was to be pracable, and was to go into all nations: and it goes ther stripped of its precise and various circumnces. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, ems to be the soul of the Christian Sabbath. In this view of the day, a thousand frivolous estions concerning its observance would be aniered. “What can I do?” says one: I answer, Do what true servants of God will do. Bend it to what is wrong. Be in the Spirit. God will elp you."
In short, we are going to spend a Sabbath in ternity. The Christian will acquire as much of ie Sabbath-spirit as he can. And, in proportion . a man's real piety in every age of the church, le will be found to have been a diligent observer of de Sabbath day:
On Judging Justly. A PERFECTLY just and sound mind is a rare and nvaluable gift. But it is still much more unusual o see such a mind unbiassed in all its actings. God las given this soundness of mind but to few; and a very small number of those few escape the bias of some predilection, perhaps habitually operating; and none are, at all times and perfectly, free. I Doce saw this subject forcibly illustrated. A watchmaker told me that a gentleman had put an exquisite watch into his hands, that went irregularly. It was as perfect a piece of work as was ever marle.