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and ag to that on which they stand by nature.—A frown, even a cold and disapproving look, may be a reception which the profane expression or loose action of a neighbour of rank and opulence may have never before encountered from his flatterers or convivial companions. A vehement censure in his case might inflame his resentment without amending his fault. Whether the attempt be to correct a vice or rectify an error,one object should ever be steadily kept in view, to conciliate rather than to contend, to inform but not to insult, to evince that we assume not the character of a dictator, but the office of a christian friend ; that we have the best interests of the offender, and the honour of religion at heart, and that to reprove is so far from a gratification that it is a trial to ourselves ; the effort of conscience, not the effect of choice.
The feelings therefore, of the person to be admonished should be most scrupulously consulted. The admonition, if necessarily strong, explicit, and personal, should yet be friendly, temperate, and well bred. An offence, even though publicly committed, is generally best reproved in private, perhaps in writing Age, superiority of station, previous acquaintance, above all, that sacred profession to which the honour of religion is happily made a personal concern, are circumstances which especially
call for, and sanction the attempt recommended. And he must surely be unworthy his Christian vocation, who would not conscientiously use any influence or authority which he might chance to possess, in discountenancing or rectifying the delinquency he condemns.
We are, indeed, as elsewhere, after the closest reflection and longest discussion, often forced into the general conclusion that “ a good heart is the best casuist." And doubtless, where true Christian benevolence towards man meets in the same mind with an honest zeal for the glory of God, a way will be found, let us rather say will be opened, for the right exercise of this, as of every virtuous disposition,
Let us ever remember what we have so often insisted on, that self-denial is the ground work, the indispensable requisite for every Christian virtue ; that, without the habitual exercise of this principle we shall never be followers of him who pleased not himself.” And when we are called by conscience to the larg. est use of it in practice, we must arm ourselves with the highest considerations for the trial : we must consider him, who (through his faithful reproofs)“ endured the contradiction of sinners against himself.” And when even from Moses we hear the truly evangelical precept, “ thou
shalt in any wise rebuke thy brother, and not suffer sin upon him ;" we must duly weigh how strongly its performance is enforced upon ourselves, by the conduct of one greater than Moses, who expressly “ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his footsteps."
F all the motives to vigilance and self-disci. pline which Christianity presents, there is not
more powerful than the danger, from which even religious persons are not exempt, of slackening in zeal and declining in piety. Would we could affirm, that coldness in religion is confined to the irreligious ! If it be melancholy to observe an absence of Christianity where no great profession of it was ever made, it is far more grievous to mark its declension where it once appeared not only to exist, but to flourish.
We feel on the comparison, the same distinct sort of compassion with which we contemplate the pecuniary distresses of those who have been always indigent, and of those who have fallen into want from a state of opulence. Our concern differs not only in degree but in kind.
This declension is one of the most awaken. ing calls to watchfulness, to humility and selfinspection which religion can make to him or who thinketh he standeth"_which it make to him who, sensible of his own weakness, ought to feel the necessity “ of strengthening the things which remain that are ready to die.”
If there is not any one circumstance which ought more to alarm and quicken the Christian, than that of finding himself grow languid and indifferent, after having made not only a profession, but a progress, so there is not a more reasonable motive of triumph to the profane, not one cause which excites in him a more plausible ground of suspicion, either that there never was any truth in the profession of the person in question, or which is a more fatal, and, to such a mind, a more natural conclusion, that there is no truth in religion itself, At best, he will be persuaded that this can only be a faint and feeble principle, the impulse of which is so soon exhausted, and which is by no means found sufficiently powerful to carry on its votary throughout his course. He is assured that piety is only an outer garment, put on for shew or convenience, and that when it ceases to be wanted for either, it is laid aside. In these unhappy instances the evil seldom ceases with him who causes it. The inference be