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of death-like formality, without a guilty and an uneasy conscience.
But may we not hope, that there is on the part of the reader, a sincere desire to do what is right in this matter—a wish to possess that Christian character, which is so fully described in the word of God, and without which there can be no salvation. With joy we would assist him in his earnest desires.
Let it be his first object, to obtain correct views of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To believe the testimony of God concerning his Son, and to renounce for ever all his false and delusive hopes, produced by an outward attention to religious duties. Let him not, however, be too easily satisfied with the change of his views respecting religion. He should see that the conviction of his former errors and wickedness, is so strong as to lead him to deep humility of spirit, and to a grateful acquiescence in the plan of human redemption. Let it at the same time be kept in view, that there can be no change for the better, if he is not taught to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts—to restrain his passions and temper, and indeed to abstain from every thing that would give an unfavourable view of the Gospel of Christ.
It is not too much to say, that if there is faith in Christ, the inquirer will experience real joy and peace. He will be able to show, to his relations and friends who may still be cherishing dangerous delusions, that real religion does not produce gloomy effects. That, on the contrary, it imparts real happiness to every possessor of it, and enables him to
enjoy the things of this life far better, than when he was a mere formalist like themselves. For never till taught the value of the Gospel, did he view every temporal and spiritual blessing, as coming from the hand of a Father in heaven. Again, if there is the operation of religious principles in his heart and life, he will refuse to join in those vain amusements which he once eagerly pursued, and which
be described as the amusements of the world. This will not be done in the spirit of moroseness, or in the language of contempt; but in the spirit of meekness and of firmness. It is well also, when the Christian can give good reasons for his conduct. Indeed, it appears to be his duty to give a reason for his practice, as well as of his hope, A calm, judicious statement of reasons may
be quired by those friends or relations, whose authority may have weight, and whose affection may be unquestionable. Even though the inquiry may be made in an angry tone, and from a wish to perplex, yet it is a noble triumph for Christian principle, when the answer is affectionate, scriptural, and decided. Those friends who are still pursuing the
. gay, and corrupting, and corroding pleasures of the world; some of whom are perhaps approaching the last stage of human life, should be told that time is too valuable to be spent in mere amusements—that a regard for their own peace of mind should keep them from such vanities, even if time were of no value. It may with truth be stated, that Christians
. ought not to do any thing, which would unfit the mind for the service of God, and that would induce
others to pursue the world, and neglect the concerns of the immortal spirit. That there can be no happiness--no enjoyment,-even if there was no sin, in the pursuits and worldly conversation of the irreligious. And it could also be said, that it was a mark of folly, for any one wilfully to place himself in a situation, which would render him unprepared to obey the summons that calls him into eternity. The inquirer, whose mind became established in the truth, could likewise show, that there is no necessity for seeking worldly pleasures that God has given those powers of mind, which are capable of almost unlimited improvement—that, from the streams of human knowledge, he can draw many valuable supplies, and which can enable him to judge better and so decide more correctly, respecting the visible works of God, and to scan more easily the movements of the human mind. He can thus show, that many hours of rational enjoyment may be obtained without exciting his passions, or rendering him discontented, by pursuing objects which multitudes admire. He too could tell (perhaps to incredulous ears) of the pleasure to be derived from the study of the word of God of the stores of heavenly wisdom to be found there-of the refreshing streams of living water flowing from that fountain of divine love, and which are so well fitted to cheer him amidst the difficulties of his earthly pilgrimage. And he can add to all the rest, that no man can live merely for himself, or luxuriate in his own indulgences, without a great crime. There are works of benevolence, which humanity and Christianity alike call on him to perform ; he has the ignorant to instruct—the afflicted to relieve - the mourner to comfort, and the dying to pity and assist. He has his family to bring up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; many duties as a master, as a citizen, and as a neighbour to perform. The man who conscientiously attends to these, will frequently find his time too brief, his mind too much occupied, though he seeks not the amusements of the day, or the addition of anxiety and worldly disappointment. Indeed, no man who really knows the purpose for which time was given, will find it necessary, in order to spend it, to commit sin, or rush into the way of temptation.
Let this conviction be shown in your improvement of the hours of life, in attending to every relative duty, in enduring trials without repining, and in suffering affliction without murmuring. Let the power of religion not only be felt, but also shown in constraining you to seek the happiness of all around you.
6 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be idle nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Pet. i. 8.
THE INFLUENCE OF RIDICULE ON THE MINDS OF
THE Saviour, who knew the end from the beginning, warned the children of men against the influence of a false shame arising from ridicule, as well as against the fear which results from a more violent opposition to divine truth. « Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." He knew what was in man, and therefore applied his monitory language in such a way, that we should fear his displeasure more than the laugh of the scor
He was well acquainted with the variety of ways in which men would oppose his cause, and he prepared the mind by his warnings and promises.
There are cases (which, alas ! too frequently occur), in which the constant and persevering petty opposition of some relation or friend, may be more injurious than one or two instances of violent persecution on the part of an avowed enemy. Against the latter you can be better armed, as the very boldness of the attack will arouse every energy in repell