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infirmity will admit, and good hereafter, to the utmost capacity of his nature. To accomplish this noble end, it adopts every means ; it urges every motive. It speaks loudly to our understandings,-to our passions,—to our affections : it reasons,-it promises,-it threatens. If we have any sense of what is true, just, pure, lovely, -we must see the beauty of holiness; if hope can stimulate, we must ardently seek after“ glory, honour, and immortality;" if fear can agitate, we must dread and fly from “tribulation and anguish;" if gratitude can warm our hearts, we must love,and if we love, we shall obey,--that Redeemer, who was voluntarily“wounded for our transgressions,” and took upon himself “ the chastisement of our peace.” And loving Him as we ought, we shall reverence and praise Him;—not tremblingly and unfruitfully, with our lips, in the secluded chamber of dotage and disease, but joyfully and profitably, in our lives,-on the active stage of the world.
Evidently and unquestionably, the Father of spirits has ordained us to pass through this mortal state to try our fidelity and prove our filial obedience. Human life is, beyond all doubt, a stage of probation—a school of discipline. It is “to humble us, and to prove us." How these
purposes can be answered, when the scene is closed on which this probation is to take place, this discipline to operate, I cannot understand. The whole Bible is one continued incitement to faith and virtue, to piety and purity. The prophet, by Divine commission, proclaimed of old, “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” The apostle confirms the solemn decision, “ The wages of sin is death.” He, who, calling himself a Christian, “ continues in sin” through life, that grace may abound at death, -as far as rests with him, counteracts the purpose and decree of his Creator, and makes his Redeemer the “minister of sin ;"--than which nothing can be conceived more foolish, more impious, and more decidedly wicked.
Not having completed what I meant to say, yet aware that no good purpose can be answered by fatiguing attention, I must reserve what remains to be urged to some future day. Meanwhile, let it not be suspected, by any thing that has dropt from me in the course of this address, that with useless barbarity, I would sharpen the sting of death, and aggravate the despair of parting guiltiness. No!—to the last, let every means be tried—let every thing be done, that can be done, though with little assurance of a happy result,—though with scarce a trembling hope. But to them, who, like us, “ are alive at this day,” alive to the world and its concerns,to them I call them will I warn, them will I supplicate, to seek “the things that belong unto their peace, before they are hid from their eyes.”
-Them will I entreat, while yet in the vigour of their days, to“ set their house in order," lest, at the last, that house be “ left unto them desolate.”
THE TEN VIRGINS.
Matt. CHAP. XXV. VER. 8.
“Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out."
It is a well-known maxim among the sons of commerce, and indeed among all who are wise after the flesh, -"never defer till the morrow what can possibly be done to-day.” I could wish this maxim were as readily adopted and observed by those who would be wise after the Spirit ; for, certainly, as nothing is more injurious to our temporal interest than that procrastinating disposition, which indolently neglects a present opportunity, and postpones a necessary work to “a more convenient season,” so is nothing more fatal to our eternal welfare, than that slumbering resolution, which satisfies itself with good inten
tions, but will never rouse to vigorous exertion, till time and occasion have irretrievably passed away.
A creature like man, sensible of religious and moral obligation, responsible for his conduct, yet conscious of repeated and continual transgression, must see the necessity of repentance to warrant any hope of pardon: nor, indeed, is it disputed by any one, who makes the least pretension to religion. Repentance, however, being not merely regret and sorrow, but a change of mind, and consequently of manners,—a change, implying a renunciation of all that the world calls pleasant, and an indifference to all that the world calls great, the bulk of mankind cannot bring themselves to make such a sacrifice, in the ardour of youth and the prime of manhood; and therefore look about for some excuse to defer, for the present, what they know must be done at some time or other; and continue to journey on, not wholly losing sight of the sanctions of religion, though little influenced by its prohibitions; and purposing, though not immediately, to submit to them hereafter,--in old age, in sickness, or, at the worst, on the near approach of death.
Errors, of every kind, are to be carefully