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and which, though not a proof that the individual is safe from danger, yet encourages a hope that it will not be long before he accepts the divine invitation.

And how consolatory is it for the returning backslider to know that the same blood that washed away his guilt at first can still cleanse from all sin ! He has already found that it is an evil and a bitter thing to sin against the Lord. That it is the very essence of misery to be separated from the light of God's countenance. But even his iniquities can be forgiven. How necessary, however, is an immediate application to the blood of atonement. He may well be addressed in words like these, “ Do not come to the foot-stool of mercy as a good man, who has wandered from God, but come as a sinner. All evidences of your conversion to God may be obscured or lost. Your approach must of necessity be as that of one defiled by sin, and deserving of the everlasting displeasure of God."*

There is, however, a state of mind very different from this, and which presents a striking proof of the hardening and deceiving nature of sin. When the backslider, instead of being ashamed and grieved on account of his own guilt; excuses himself by laying the blame on others, as first tempting him to stray from God: when instead of being excited to thankfulness when a kind and faithful friend warns him of his danger ; his angry feelings are roused, and he counts him as an enemy. Again, when the backslider can think of his sins with complacency, or at least without any feeling of contrition, proof is given that he is not in a state of mind to return. To such an one the gracious invitations of mercy convey no feelings of delight, and present no inducement to forsake sin. If any emotion is produced, it is rather that of dislike than of pleasure.

* Fuller on Backsliding.

How difficult is it to speak or write to such individuals in a proper manner. We can, however, warn them of their danger; nay more, we may entreat them to consider their criminality and infatuation, and before judicial blindness of understanding and hardness of heart seal their everlasting doom, to flee to the refuge of the Gospel. The gate is not yet closed against the sinner, the remedy is yet proposed. How long it may be so we cannot tell. This very uncertainty should be a powerful argument to constrain to immediate inquiry and application.

In closing our remarks, it may be proper for a moment to address Christians, especially those who have recently commenced their Christian course. Let them beware of the crime and misery of backsliding ; let there be a habitual, watchful jealousy exercised over the very thoughts and desires of the mind. It has often been remarked that backsliding begins in the closet ;-it begins sooner. Before that, there has been an admission and cherishing of evil in the imagination or in the affections, and this will undoubtedly lead to the neglect of spiritual and fervent prayer. Oh! could the bitterness of a backslider's tears be known, the anguish and distress occasioned by a departure, even in heart, from God, be presented in all their wretchedness to the minds

of the young, they would shun the very appearance of a temptation to backslide from God, as the greatest of all evils; and as that which should be avoided as the bitterest enemy of their peace and safety.

Even the experienced Christian requires the constant exercise of holy vigilance. His motto has been, and it must remain the same to the end of his days, “ Watch and pray.This great duty is what every reader should understand and practise, for it is connected with his present and everlasting happiness. “ Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

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CHAPTER VIII.

THE DIFFICULTIES ARISING FROM THE EXISTENCE

OF SO MANY DIFFERENT DENOMINATIONS IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH.

The right of private judgment in matters of religion is one of the leading principles of Protestantism. Against this principle, it has again and again been urged, that the exercise of it has produced a multitude of sects, all opposed to each other, and each supposing the other doomed to destruction. It has even been stated, by some nominal Protestants, that a complete uniformity should exist; not only as to the great leading doctrines of Christianity, but in its outward forms and ceremonies; and that coercive measures, mildly, though authoritatively applied, might be useful in producing such a state of things. It is not the object of this paper to show how utterly opposed to the principles of real Protestants, any such measure would be ; and that a triumph would be given to the enemies of religious liberty. They might well say, “ Protestants themselves are now convinced, that the liberty they possess is injurious to their cause.”—But every sound Protestant will disown such false brethren, and tell them they should, with sentiments like these, return to the bosom of the church of Rome. There, their fears of the evils resulting from freedom of religious inquiry, will all be removed. There, under the iron despotism of a forced and heartless uniformity, they may, if they can, breathe freely.

Protestants at once admit, that the outward shades of profession and conduct existing among Christians, result from the principle which caused and justified the reformation ; and yet, it is to the right of private judgment that we must look for the extension and establishment of the doctrines of the Bible among all the nations of the world. Nay, while they wish to object to every measure that would in the smallest degree interfere with that liberty, which every human being ought to possessi

, to examine, and decide for himself, in those matters connected with God and his conscience; they will at the same time readily acknowledge, that the variety of sects in the Christian church, presents a considerable difficulty, and frequently occasions anxiety and distress to inquiring minds. Here, we do not refer to a certain class of individuals, who excuse their total indifference to all religion, by an appeal to the multitude of sects among professing Christians. They ask, in the most triumphant manner, “ How shall we know which is right among all parties of these religionists? We think it better not to be troubled about any of them."

With such persons no arguments would avail ; else it might be shown; that the existence of this variety is an additional reason for the closest investigation, and the most unwearied attention in the pursuit of truth,

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