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in admonishing, or reproving, or exhorting, tends not only to prevent the effect designed, but to embitter the spirit of those who seem to be insulted by such behavior. Persons in stations, of authority may claim the privileges of it. But the authority that we claim to ourselves, from the high thoughts that we entertain of our excellencies, or the respect that we suppose to be entertained for us, is very frequently a castle in the air. It will at least be disputed by those whom we humiliate by displaying it. Even those who are vested with indisputable authority, often find it useful to entreat, when they might command. Paul, in the exercise of his authority, set always before his eyes the meekness and gentleness of Christ.
Beware of impertinent meddling with persons over whom you can pretend to no control or influence. We have heard of a certain zealous Protestant, who, in a fit of zeal or of derangement, made a voyage to Rome that he might convert the Pope. I do not suspect that any of you will ever expose yourselves, or your profession, to ridicule by such absurdity of conduct. But there are meddlers, who expose themselves to ridicule by attempts no less hopeless, to convert all their neighbors to their own way of thinking in religion. They are constantly laboring to
make proselytes to their own religious party, and thus raising up enemies to it, as if it were hostile to the peace of every other. Such persons are commonly those who are least fit to manage a cause, but are very well qualified to bring it into disrepute.
Keep within the bounds of your station, “My brethren,” says the apostle James, “ be not many masters,” or many teachers, “ lest you should receive the greater condemnaa tion.” You may be sufficiently qualified to do good by your private converse, and yet totally unqualified to be public instructors, If you think yourselves qualified, it is ten to one but you are single in your opinion; or if you are not, you ought to remember that there is a difference between qualifications and a call.
Beware of an overheated or a blind zeal. “ It is always good to be zealously affected in a good thing." But many zealots have brought zeal under disrepute, by making it a pretence for impertinence, for evil surmi. sings, for rash judgments, for persecution and bloodshed. “ The wisdom that is from above is first pure, their peaceable." True zeal is the fervor of charity under the guidance of knowlege and prudence.
Make nothing worse than it is. The Pharisees, pretending to be holier than Christ, called him a winc bibber, a glutton, a friend of publicans and sinners, because he sometimes accepted an invitation to dine 1 from bad men, whom he wished to convert by his discourses, and a sabbath breaker, because he did that good to men on the Sabbath day, which they themselves would not have scrupled to do to a beast. If you inake those things crimes which are not forbidden by the law, you speak evil of the law, and judge the law; and as a liar will not be believed when he speaks the truth, so those who make every thing a crime, will not be regarded when they justly reprove real crimes.
It is to be confessed, that there is in our age, great need to warn men against mistaking sins for innocent amusements, Of matters of indifference. But if we would keep our feet from evil, we must turn nei. ther to the right hand nor to the left. There is danger in being righteous overmuch, although there is greater danger perhaps in being overmuch wicked.
Such is our weakness, that we are ever ready in avoiding one evil to rush upon at nother, and to deceive ourselves by false names given to our principles of action.When we are called to be wise as serpents, we are too ready to forget the harmlessness of the dove. Christian prudence is an ex. cellent endowment, but let us beware of put:
scorn for the raid of expos
ting in its place the wisdom of the world. We must be afraid of doing any thing that may expose our holy profession to derision, but why should we be afraid of exposing ourselves to scorn for the honor of our profession? Jesus wrought a miracle, that he might not offend those who sought oCcasion of offence against him ; but he would not, at the instigation of the devil, change stones into loaves to satisfy his own hunger, nor would he exert his divine power to preserve his face from shame and spitting, but suffered every indignity with patience, that he might accomplish our salvation. A due sense of the love of Christ in sufiering and dying for us, would make us willing to die a thousand deaths rather than bring dishonor upon our religion by imprudent conduct, or neglect an opportunity to gain a precious soul, to be to him for a name and for a praise. Let us therefore,
5. Endeavor to live continually under the impressions of these awful or pleasant truths which will have the most owerful influence upon us, for disposing us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Let us never forget that we came yesterday into the world, and must leave it tomorrow; that we brought nothing into the world, and can carry nothing out of ii, but our good or evil works. Should we collect mountains of gold, of what use will they be to us when God requires our souls? But should we convert one sinner froin the error of his ways, it will be to us for a joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus.
One of the holy fathers said, that these words still sounded in his ears, " Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment." The day of judgment will soon come. It will be probably a longer day than all the days and nights of our life put together. It will have eternal consequences of importance, exceeding all our apprehensions. “Knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men,' says Paul. Knowing these terrors, let us exhort one another to flee from the wrath to come, while Alight is yet possible. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” O that we could persuade you, thoughtless sinner, not to receive the grace of God in vain.
Nothing ought to be a more frequent subject of our delightful meditation, than the love of God in Christ Jesus. The love of Christ constrained Paul to exert such zeal in his labors for the salvation of men, that he was thought by many to be beside him. self. But the salvation of one soul was in fi. nitely more than a compensation to him for