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believe; they do not love God, nor do they wish to love him: they hate him, and could curse him, and gladly would they tear him from his throne. Sleep forsakes their eyes, and they wander about, like Cain, fugitives and vagabonds on the earth, envying the dog that barks at them, and the stones on which they tread.
Reader! do not think that the character and misery of the apostate is overdrawn. An unhappy man is now alive (or was very lately) whose apostasy and wretchedness, as related to me by his own lips, tallies exactly with what I have written. Look well to yourself. Remember that "the hope of the hypocrite shall perish." "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."
I asked him, What minister did you generally sit under? He told me. Why did you prefer his preaching to that of Mr. who preaches in the same town? said I. Is it not because you could not hear Mr. and live quietly in sin; whereas the other preaches in such a high doctrinal strain, perpetually harping on privileges and final perseverance, and touching so seldom and so slightly upon holiness, that his sermons never disturbed your conscience, but rather composed and lulled it? That was exactly the case replied he. Let this serve as a hint to ministers how they preach, and to the people whom and what they hear.
EPISTLE TO A BACKSLIDER.
To the Editor. SIR, The following Effusion of Christian Love, was written
to a young friend in the country, who, on receiving it was unwilling to give much attention to its contents, but put it into the hands of his wife, who had been the mean of drawing him from a Christian walk into the gay pursuits of the world. It made such an impression on her mind, as continually harassed her when engaged in the vain course of earthly pleasure, until our kind Shepherd brought her back to his fold. She repeatedly urged her husband to read it, without effect; but in the Lord's appointed time he also was brought to lament his backslidings; and has, for a considerable time past, returned to the ways of God, finding them only the ways of pleasantness, and paths of peace.” If you conceive that it may be useful, as an instrument to awaken any poor wandering sheep that is straying in the wilderness, it is at the service of your Miscellany. I am, Sir, yours, &c.
J. T. DEAR FRIEND, I EXPECTED the pleasure of hearing from you, agreeable to your promise; but being disappointed in that expectation, and feeling an anxious concern for your welfare and that of your family, I embrace the opportunity of writing to a friend, whom I still respect, however I may have lost his esteem; though I flatter myself I have not given the least cause for offence.
As, I understand, the Gospel is preached in purity in your neighborhood, I would hope that you continue to hear the word; and that you know the truth, not only in word, but in power. I trust your friendship will excuse me, when I exhort you to be firm and steadfast in the religion you profess. It was with much sorrow and regret that I observed that coldness in Divine things, which was evident in your conduct for some time previ. ous to your leaving London, and which was especially manifest in your neglect of those ordinances you once regularly attended: ordinances instituted by our blessed Lord, as gracious helps in our pilgrimage through this vale of sorrow. Shall we profess the name of Jesus, and treat his Sabbaths with contempt, by absenting ourselves from his house, or by neglecting public prayer, and en. tering but in time to hear the sermon; thus proving ourselves not worshippers, but hearers only; or after spending the former part of his day in slumbering or trifling, shall we pay him the honor of a cold attendance on the evening service of his courts? What opinion would you entertain of one who professed himself your servant, and treated the privileges and assistances you bestowed on him in like manner? would you not spurn him with contempt, and consider him as an ungrateful, execrable wretch? Apply this to your treatment of Jesus, who not only granted those privileges, but gave his very life to purchase them for you.
You are now honored in providence as the head of á family: as such you are more particularly called upon to be vigilant and watchful over every part of your conduct, lest, by the baneful influence of bad example
(which has more weight than a thousand precepts) you encourage those under
of sin; and Satan will avail himself of every advantage in the conduct of superiors, to promote the interests of his kingdom.
You are, as it were, the watchman over your little flock: the importance of which situation is awfully shewn in the 33d chapter of Ezekiel. If you use not diligence to bring them to Christ, you are, in a measure, accountable for the loss of their souls.
Consider, my friend, how dreadful it must be to stand at the bar of that Jesus whom we have slighted, and hear a child or brother charging us with having had the care of their education, and that we never taught them they were sinners; never shewed them their only hope and remedy as such; never called on them to join in prayer to Him who has instituted a throne of grace for sinners; nor in praise and adoration to Him from whom we receive every blessing that we enjoy. On the contrary, how delightful must it be to hear them say, “I was placed by thy gracious providence under such an one; he taught me to look unto Jesus as my only hope for salvation; he prayed earnestly with me and for me; and thou hast graciously answered him, by bringing me through my pilgrimage with comfort and joy! reward him, O Lord, an hundred fold into his bosom!"
Remember, my dear friend, by thus slighting the Lord who bought us, we are treading under foot the Son of God, and counting the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing; of which we have a remarkable picture in Hebrews (x. ver. 25 to 31;) and our sin will be aggravated in a higher de
gree, as we have sinned against the light. Should we die in a state of apostasy from God (which, may he avert!) every ordinance we have attended, every sera mon we have heard, every privilege we have enjoyed, will appear in the great day of account but as so many witnesses against us; at a period when repentance will not be known, and when we shall be ready to say to the rocks, Fall on us; and to the hills, Coyer us. What an unspeakable mercy is it, that we have a God so long suffering, who will receive the returning prodigal, and heal the penitent backslider!
Fly then to Jesus, who stands ready to embrace you; seek an interest in him; by falling prostrate at the throne of grace; pray earnestly for the direction and support of the Holy Spirit; without which, the strongest is unable to resist the numerous attacks of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Forgetting those things which are behind, may you look to those which are before, and press toward the mark of the prize of your high calling in Christ Jesus with joy.
Dear Sir, bestow a thought on these things: if the remonstrances are wrong, I willingly retract them; if right, you will not pronounce me impertinent. Love and friendship dictate what I write; and the only end I have in view is the holiness, the usefulness, the happiness, the final salvation of my much esteemed friend. It is for this, and this only, I have now taken my pen in my hand; and for this I shall often bend my knees before God, and thereby prove myself to be Your sincere and affectionate friend,