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duty; and the wisdom and perfect holiness which forbid one sin, forbid them all.
If, then, any person, whatever be his rank and situation in life, whatever be his age or knowledge of religious duties, live in the com mission of wilful sin, he cannot yet have so surrendered himself to the belief and to the obedience of the Gospel, as to have a common hope that he is in Christ, or Christ in him. He lives a life of dreadful danger; and it is but the guileful artifice of his spiritual enemy that he entertains some vague, some feeble hope, that, the general course of his life being free from outrageous sin, he shall not be called into judgment for what he deems pardonable transgressions.
But if he at all understand the nature and the promises of his relation to a Redeemer, he will see that the blood was shed for and that, of manifest necessity, every known sin must be resisted and forsaken. It was the Redeemer's own hallowed judgment of such half-obedience as man chooses to yield, when He declared, even of the less weighty matters of commandment, that they must still be fulfilled : “These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone.”
The inference from all this is plain, and full of most serious consequence.
Self-deceit is, perhaps, the state of spiritual danger more to
every sin; be dreaded than any other of the temptations which the malice of our great enemy lays before us. If the mind, in its carelessness, think itself right, how impenetrable are the avenues to a better belief, all can tell : "there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”. Whither to that end, can there be so ready, so short a course, as in the instance of that self-deception now before us; Christians living in wilful violation of some one or more of the commandments of God, under the unscriptural hope of acceptance in their observance of the rest? Moral evil, and error of heart and daily life, continually accompany such sad perversion of the plainest construction of the rules of the spiritual life. In whatever rank of life such sinners be found, much positive suffering to themselves or others necessarily disturbs their peace. Religion becomes discredited when its very professors relinquish the bond which, in more solemn hours of converse with their own conscience, they feel that it ought to have upon their minds. Hence arises great and permanent ill; and the rule of moral obedience, thus only partially endeavoured to be preserved, ceases in themselves at last, as it has long ceased perhaps in the conduct of those over whom their influence has produced its baneful effect, to be respect
ed as the rule of life. Thus contradictory, insincere, and oftentimes weighed down under the terrors of an expected future, the partial keepers of the gospel law go on in their hapless path, and, wilfully blind to their best interests, find only at its , fatal termination how true the warning, how sad the issue of the vain attempt to keep the whole law, and yet wilfully to offend in some favourite point reserved.
If this thought be blest from above with but a present conviction of its truth, and an inward apprehension of its future terrors, should life end in an unexpected, unpreparedfor hour; let it not issue in a passing impression, and so be forgotten in its better end. Let us deeply think for ourselves, let us earnestly think for those whom we love in this world, and would gladly see advancing in right progress to a better, and so let us beware of the real dangers and the oftentimes concealed evils of partial obedience. As parents, as masters, as heads of families, as members of a Christian public, as individuals of the church of Christ, we must “let our light;” unobscured by moral darkness, “ shine before all.”. We must be earnest in prayer, in self-examination, in daily conyerse with our own hearts, lest the dangers of a partial keeping of the law,
and offending in one or in many points, bring us into spiritual and present errors of heart, of judgment, and of will, which will be but the too certain forerunners of blindness that shall no more be removed, and of suffering which shall never end. We are bought with a price paid for all our sins : but the high ransom of a Redeemer's blood was paid for those only, who strive, in their weakness, relying upon the strength of God, to keep the whole law. If His sufferings be believed in with the simplicity manifested in the relation of their intended effects, we shall know that they were endured for sin: but for sin repented of and forsaken. We are free ;; we may “ stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." But if, in a partial obedience to His Gospel, we still keep our souls in bondage under the service of some evil habit, some long-indulged favourite sin, some sad and lamented practice in word or deed, we are still dead in trespasses and sins; and the very circumstance of our obedience in other points will but aggravate the bitterness of our final condemnation.
Let us be persuaded, then, to give this matter its due consideration. In secret communion with God and our own soul, let us examine the usual course of our daily life, and
see whether we sin wilfully, or by long inveterate custom, unconsciously, in the manifest violation of any of the commands of God. Such an examination may haply shew us to ourselves as Christians violating the plain moral law, as parents sinning daily in the retired circle of their own offspring; as masters and mistresses in frequent error before the presence of their own household; as members of a Christian community, bringing daily dishonour upon that Master's service, whose precepts we only partially observe. If such a discovery be made to our own hearts, which others, perhaps, have long lamented in vain, let us be at last prevailed upon, in real concern for our near summons to a tribunal where all must be made manifest in the deeds done in the body, to consider well, and by God's grace, profitably, while time shall permit us to consider at all. A little while, and we and all belonging to us shall be gone from this busy scene of temporal cares, and present duties, into that place where there can no repentance be found, and when the time of probation shall have ceased. Our Christian vows and promises in outward religious duties pronounce us professed believers in these things. Let our belief then become practical in better obedience, lest our full