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wise, they do but form a greater capacity for sin, and expose to a heavier infliction of punishment. It is a momentous truth, “ Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required : and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."* To have “ the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” is the best possession, without which you must perish; and if you remain without it, you will find at last, that all you have possessed on earth, the source of exaltation, and the subject of glorying, must only contribute to augment the woes that distract and agonize the unprofitable servant, amidst the weeping and gnashing of teeth of the outer darkness. “ Covet earnestly the best gifts :" let
your paramount desire be, that the empire of holiness may be established in the heart, and that the light of privilege and attainment may 'be hallowed by that purer and enduring radiarice of religion, which shall shine brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.
: 4. This passage commends the duty of Christian caution and watchfulness.-A leading design of its introduction into the apostolic exhortations, was, that professing believers might be excited to that self-examination and diligence so needful to the security of spiritual interests. An express exhortation to this effect was emphatically given in terms which apply to disciples of all ages,—
* Luke xii. 48.
“ We desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end ; that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."* The exhibition of apostasy would naturally prepare the mind for such advice as this ; and we can easily follow the process by which their resolutions would be strengthened, to strive above all things that they might be established and rendered eminent in the graces of the “ heavenly calling.” To ponder on the condition of the fallen, and to survey all that belongs to the circumstances and prospects of men walking no more ” with the Redeemer whose cause they once espoused, must ever convey the most powerful calls on those who are numbered with the fellowship of the saints, to resist the advances of carnal security, to exercise sleepless care over their own tendencies, emotions, and habits, and to cultivate with intense devotion whatever may assist their Christian improvement, and augment their Christian strength. Imagine not that, in religion, there is one principle to sanction presumption : there is every thing to render you humble and vigilant, prudent and prayerful. “ Look diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.” Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to
* V. 11, 12.
godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.–Give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall ; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“ Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
ACTS vir. 59.
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord
Jesus, receive my spirit.
The power of example is a topic on which much illustration has been employed. It is a topic truly copious and instructive; it affords opportunity for elucidating the principles of our intellectual nature, and for impressing moral truths of transcendent importance. To ascertain, and state accurately, the source whence the influence of example is derived, and the manner in which it operates, and to set forth distinctly and fully what ought to be avoided in the passions and conduct of others, and what ought to receive the tribute of approval and imitation, can never be reckoned a work of inferior moment; and he who honestly engages in performing it, must doubtless be numbered among the benefactors of mankind..
That perversion of human nature which the minister of Christian truth has so frequently to expose, has exercised a fearful agency on the selection made by men of the patterns of character and life. The models of true virtue and
excellence have been shamefully undervalued and disregarded, while others tainted with impurity and vice, whose
very splendours are deceitful and meretricious, have received the admiration and regulated the actions of millions. That has been rejected which ought to have been cherished; that has been preferred and exalted, which ought to have been avoided with abhorrence. Under the influence of fatal delusion, the votaries of habits alike insulting to God and degrading to man, have been pronounced the beings from whom generations were to catch the spirit of their existence, while those of whom the world was not worthy,” and whose attributes bore the unequivocal impress of the divine likeness, have been despised as “ the filth of the earth, and the offscouring of all things.”
The Christian religion has furnished us with accurate principles, on which our judgment of the comparative value of human attributes ought to be formed ; its annals have presented living instances of excellence and moral grandeur, the imitation of which should be the diligent study of all succeeding ages: and truly if those principles were duly impressed, and those instances were duly followed, nothing, in the spiritual circumstances of our species, would be left for the philanthropist to desire.-An example is now chosen from the inspired records of the church, for the
of commending important truths connected with doctrine and