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the midst of the city,” he says in Ezekiel, to him who attended upon the destroyers sent to smite it, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof;" * that is, that they may be known and spared, when the rest are smitten. But then sighing and crying, and rivers of tears running down our eyes, be it observed, is all nothing, if there it stops. Some people's inward spirit is easily moved and melted, but we cannot judge of the sincerity, and much less of the stedfastness of religious principle, by the mere flow of the affections. David was a tender-spirited man, and he wept for sin ; but that was not all. Read his history, and you will see, especially if you will look at the concluding chapters of the first book of Chronicles, what pains he took to put sin down, and to set up the ordinances of God. And Christ wept for sin, but he died to put it down; and if earnest, you also will act as being so, and strive to do something to convert sinners from the error
many ways there are, some or other of which everybody may take, and actually do good thereby, if, in taking them, they will bear in mind, that when we talk of one man converting another, or doing anything to
you are in
of their ways.
* Ezek, ix. 4.
wards it; we mean only that he may be made an instrument for that purpose,—for that “ we are not sufficient of ourselves " even “ to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." *
In this dependence, however, let heads of families, like Abraham, command their children and their household after them to keep the way of the Lord. Let“ parents bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Let those of
you who are unable yourselves to instruct your children, either because of your ignorance or because of your engagements, take care to see that they go where they may be instructed ; and that you second yourselves, by your example at home, those lessons which good people and honest schoolmasters are at the pains of instilling into them. If
you will not do this, it is idle to weep, and wail, and complain, that
you undutiful or ungodly family, and quite hypocritical to pretend to any concern for God's honour or your neighbours' souls.
For with those nearest to you, your own household especially, you are especially put in trust; and if against sin is not shown in your care for them, you have denied the faith altogether in effect, and are worse than infidels. Very pious parents, it is true, may have very wicked children in
* 2 Cor. iii. 5.
spite of their best pains; but if no pains be taken, and family religion is altogether neglected, nothing which may be done abroad will serve instead to prove your honesty. I mention this, because it concerns so many.
But, speaking of others, besides those under our own roof, St. Paul says further, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called to day, lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin : * and I have quoted a plain text already, which says, you must in any wise rebuke your neighbour, if need require it. No doubt, there are rules to be observed in giving reproof, and difficulties to be encountered : but this does not discharge you
your obligation. You must study the matter, and pray for guidance—but not leave the thing undone-and you will seldom be very far wrong; and not often be altogether unsuccessful, if under a due sense of your accountableness to God, you speak the truth in love. Indeed, if you are sincerely grieved on your neighbour's account at seeing him hurt himself, such a feeling is a softener of the spirit, and con. sequently of the manner and the language; and then, because you feel yourself bound to reprove your neighbour, you will not thence take license to revile him ; you will not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother : you will not be harsh, or insolent, or presuming : you “ will restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, as evidently considering yourself, that you, also, may be tempted : and then,
* Heb. iii. 13.
and then, "a word spoken in season, how good is it!" It is “ the soft word which breaketh the bones ;” and, “he that is overtaken in a fault,” may be a man of sense, at least, in his cooler moments; and “a reproof,” says Solomon, “entereth more into a wise man, than an hundred stripes into a fool.”* So there is encouragement enough. I have not time, in addressing those who profess to mourn for sin, to particularize at present all the ways and means by which, without supposing them to be called to the ministry of the Gospel, they may yet be fellow-labourers, in the word and doctrine, with those who are called to it. But, I say, in general, the faith of the Gospel is God's remedy for the evil you lament; and, therefore, if there be any ways by which you can strengthen the hands of the commissioned preachers of it, you are bound to use them. Some of you, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, can support by your money schools for the religious instruction of the poor, and some or other of the many religious institutions and associations which happily subsist among us; using your own discretion, as you have a right to do, in * Prov. xvii. 10.
making choice among them: and if you do not do something in this way when you can, the rivers of tears which run down your eyes, and the sorrow which you say you feel, because men keep not God's law, is much like the fair speeches, noted by St. James, of those, who say to the naked and to the destitute, “ Depart in peace, be ye warmed, and be ye filled : but, notwithstanding, give them not the things which are needful for the body.” Feelings, as I have said before, are good for nothing which produce nothing; and
every tree which beareth not good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.” many who hear me are not the wealthy; though most would enlarge their givings, if grace had enlarged their hearts. So, I will only further note two ways of helping the cause of godliness, and putting down sin, which are open to every body, and, therefore, may from every body be demanded.
I mean, your example and your prayers. In proportion as you profess to grieve for sin in others, you confess your obligation to walk very circumspectly yourselves, otherwise you promote what you lament; and a little want of vigilance will be sufficient for that bad end. There are few of us, I am afraid, who have not done damage here, more or less ; for, “ as dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour, so,” says Solomon,