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port as shall bring him to an untimely end !—The debauchee was once, it may be, a sober man. His illicit connexions might origirate in what were thought at the time very innocent familiarities. But having once invaded the laws of chastity, he sets no bounds to his desires. His eyes are full of adultery; and he cannot cease from sin.
Sixthly: When the sinner becomes thus besotted in the ways of sin, there are commonly a number of circumstances and considerations, besides his own attachment to it, which entangle his soul, and, if infinite mercy interpose not, prevent his escape.--He has formed connexions among men like himself. ... His interest will suffer ...... His companions will reproach him ... ... The world will laugh at him. Many in such circumstances have been the subjects of strong convictions, have shed many tears, and professed great desire to return from their evil courses; yet, when it has come to the test, they could not recede : having begun, and gone on so far, they cannot relinquish it now, whatever be the consequence.
Reader, is this, or something like it, your case? Permit a well-wisher to your soul to be free with you. Be assured you must return, or perish for ever, and that in a little time. Infidels may tell you there is no danger; but when they come to die, they bave commonly discovered that they did not believe their own words or writings. Verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth; and before Him you must shortly give an account. Will you plunge yourself into the pit from whence there is no redemption? That tremendous punishment is represented as not prepared originally for you, but for the devil and his angels. If you go thither, you in a manner take the kingdom of darkness by force.
Let me add; It is not enough for you to return, unless in so doing you return to God-Ye have returned, but not unto me, saith the Lord. If I felt only for your credit and comfort in this world, I might have contented myself with warning you to break off your outward vices, and cautioning you against the inlets of future evils. Animals, though void of reason, yet through mere instinct, fly from present danger. In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird.
The fishes of the sea avoid the whirlpool. And shall man go with his eyes open into the net? Will he sail unconcerned into the vortex of destruction? But it is not from present danger only, or chiefly, that I would warn you to flee. My heart's desire and prayer to God for you is, that you may be saved from the wrath to come. Know then, that though you should escape the grosser immoralities of the world, yet you may be still in your sins, and exposed to eternal ruin. Your danger does not lie merely, nor mainly, in open vices. Satan may be cast out with respect to these, and yet retire into the strong holds of proud self-satisfaction, It is not the outward spot that will kill you ; but the inward disease, whence it proceeds. From within, even from the heart, proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. Every out-breaking of sin in your. life is a proof of the inward corruption of your nature. If this fountain be not healed, in vain will you go about to purify the streams. I mean not to dissuade you from breaking off your sins ; but to persuade you to break them off by righteousness. But the only way in which this is to be done is that to which our Saviour directed in his preaching ...... Repent and believe the gospel. All reformation short of this is only an exchange of vices. But if you can, guilty and unworthy as you are, renouncing all other hopes and dependencies, believe in Christ, you shall be saved. His blood was shed for sinners, even the chief of sinners. His obedience unto death was so well-pleasing to God, that any sinner, whatever bas been his conduct or character, that comes to him in his name, pleading his righteousness, and his only, will be accepted for his sake. He has not only obeyed and died for such as you, but is now at the right band of God, carrying into effect the great ends of his incarnation, life, and death. Wherefore he is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
If, reader, thou canst embrace this doctrine, it will heal thy malady. If, from thine heart, thou canst receive salvation as of mere grace, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, it is thine own. If thou canst confess thy sins upon the head of this sacrifice, God is faithful and just to forgive thy sins, and cleanse thee
from all unrighteousness. God makes nothing of thy reformations, prayers, or tears, as a reason why he should accept and save thee'; but every thing of what his Son has done and suffered. If thou canst be of his mind, make nothing of them in thy pleas and hopes for mercy, but every thing of Him in whom he is well-pleased, eternal life is before thee. And at what time this doctrine shall give peace to thy troubled soul, it shall purify thy heart in such a manner that all thy former ways shall become hateful, unto thee; and sobriety, righteousness, and godliness shall be thy delight. · But if thy heart be still hardened in sin ; if Jesus, and salvation by grace through his name, contain nothing attractive, but rather offensive to thy mind ..... Know this, There is no other name given under heaven, among men, by which thou canst be saved; and the remembrance of thy having, once in thy life at least, been told the truth, may not a little embitter thy dying moments.
Happy are all they, who, returning in the name of Jesus Christ, to his father and their Father, his God and their God, are made free from sin, and have their fruit unto holiness! They, too, are progressive, but it is in a course the opposite of that which has been set before the reader. The righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger. The service of God shall become more easy to him; truth shall appear more evident ; the marks of his conversion shall multiply ; bis character shall strike its roots deeper ; the hope of bis perseverance shall continually renew its strength ; and sorrow and joy, retirement and society, the dispensations of Providence, and the ordinances of grace, shall all contribute to make him more meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. :
THE PROGRESS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Having offered a few thoughts on the progress of sin, in your last number, the following may be considered as a counterpart. Righteousness is no less progressive than unrighteousness. As in the one case, sinners are servants to iniquity unto iniquity; so in the other, believers are servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Some, I am aware, have denied that sanctitication is progressive; but this, if they understand what they say, is only a proof, I fear, that they are strangers to it. The following remarks may serve to show the tendency of true holiness to aspire after perfection, however far we may be from attaining to it. ......
First: The right discharge of any one duty, supposes a principle which will lead us to be holy in all manner of conversation. Strictly speaking, there is no duty performed, nor any thing done by a sinner, that is well-pleasing to God, till, repenting of sin, be believes in Jesus for salvation. This is the turning point which gives a new direction to his future course : all before it is worse than nothing. When, therefore, the Jews inquired of Christ what shall we do to work the works of God? The answer was, This is the work of God, that ye believe in him whom he hath sent. It is on this principle that the apostle declares of him that doeth righteousness, that he is righteous. A single act of righteousness proves that the subject of it is created anew in Christ Jesus, unto good works. But where this is the case, there is that in the mind which tends to universal holiness. A few insulated services may satisfy a formalist ; but he that believeth in Jesus, has bis heart enlarged, and runs with delight, in the way of his commandments. It is not . the inquiry of such a person, how low a degree of spirituality will consist with true religion; but how high a degree of it is attaina
ble in this state of imperfection. The religion of a mere professor, resembles the legs of the lame, which are not equal. In the house of God, he weeps and seems to be all devotion ; but if a poor man, or even a poor Christian, call at bis door, his heart is shut against bim. Or it may be, he prides himself in his generosity ; but then he is dead to every thing spiritual and heavenlyminded. Not so the true Christian ; his religion is uniform. In bim, the fear of God produces good will to men; and his charity to men operates in harmony with zeal for truth, for righteousness, and for God. When a mere professor has once established bis religious character, he will commonly sit down to rest, and leave the young people to be zealous in their turn, as he thinks he has been sufficiently in his : but love will go on to bring forth fruit in old age. When the Lord bad given David rest round about from all his enemies, he is said to have sat in his house ; not, however, in a state of indolence, as though he had done enough, but medi. tating wbat more he could do for God, now that new opportunities were afforded him. See now, (said he to Nathan,) I dwell in a house of cedar; but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains. And more than twenty years afterwards, when he was old and grayheaded, and nature worn out with troubles in his family and in his kingdom, be still resolves to go in the strength of the Lord God, and to praise him more and more.
Secondly : Every duty rightly performed prepares the beart for the discharge of other duties. It was a remark of the great and good Mr. Whitefield, and there is no man's lips whom it would bare better fitted,“ that the more a man does for God, the more he may.” Gracious dispositions strengthen and increase by exercise. The chariot in full motion, surmounts hills of difficulty with much less effort than at its first outset. The truth of these remarks is most sensibly felt iu exercises of self-denial, and in the influence of private on public duties. Every act of self-denial for Christ's sake is a victory over temptation, and every such victory doubles our strength for a future onset. Thus also, the spiritual and retired exercises of the closet, prepare the mind for those of the family, and both have a tendency to fit us for those of the house of God. A little religion, it has been said, and with much propriely,