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of instructing and saving men. If, then, those who have the Bible in their possession continue in ignorance, and in a state of indifference respecting these great concerns, it is an insult offered to him who inspired holy men to write the Sacred Volume, and is a daring refusal to become acquainted with his perfections, which are so fully revealed in that

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While ignorant of these it is impossible to love God, to trust in his Son, or to attend properly to the duties of life. In such a state, the sinner continues exposed to the displeasure of God. He is. thus acting unjustly towards his own soul, by depriving it of present peace, and insuring an eternal separation from the source of all happiness. He is preferring sin to holiness, death to life, and the world to God. He is rushing into ruin in the very face of invitations of mercy, promises of deliverance, and proofs of Jehovah's love. He is doing so without being able to assign one reason which can in the smallest degree justify such madness. All that can be said is, that he is preferring ignorance and present indulgence to all the knowledge which God can impart, and to all the blessings he is ready to bestow. Should not such persons lay to heart the solemn language of Jehovah, “Behold ye despisers, and wonder and perish ?"*

To the inquirer we would offer the language of congratulation, and at the same time the voice of warning. It is well, if he really seeks instruction

# Acts xiii. 41.

in the knowledge of God; and as he has been induced to do this by the power of the Most High, let him give the praise to God. At the same time let him remember, that his present state of mind is an additional reason for going forward in his pursuit of religious truth. His conscience, as well as his judgment, now tells him that he needs instruction. Let its monitions be attended to ; let inquiry be pursued in a right spirit, and success will be the result. Let no delays intervene ; it is of immediate, as well as of future and eternal moment, that he should now, with all his heart, seek divine knowledge. “ Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom: and, with all thy getting, get under

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standing." *

• Prov, iv. 7; ij. 1-6.

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CHAPTER II.

THE INFLUENCE OF ERRONEOUS PREACHING ON

THE MINDS OF RELIGIOUS INQUIRERS.

THERE can be no question but that multitudes are deceived in matters of religion, and rendered indifferent, and even hostile to the doctrines of grace, by listening to preaching which may be characterised, in apostolic language, as “ another gospel."

In bringing before the reader some of the injurious effects resulting from unscriptural statements, the writer has no wish to expose the errors of men who call themselves ministers of the gospel, or to deal out invective, because their conduct is “ not according to godliness,” but to execute a serious and important duty relative to others. Were the evils referred to confined to those who taught, there would be less necessity for exposure. We might leave them to God and their own consciences, and pray that they might become the subjects of deep and genuine repentance. But when we know that many of the young, and many of those who occupy situations in life, in which they influence others, are prejudiced and misled, and their everlasting happiness endangered; it becomes an imperative

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duty, in a work of this kind, plainly and fully to state things as they are. The preaching of error is a public offence committed against the well-being of society, and fitted to injure the cause of truth and righteousness. Those who are guilty of it feel no shame, and those who suffer by it are not aware of the amount of injury that is done to their principles and their happiness.

In bringing forward some particulars respecting erroneous preaching, it is not intended to allude to any particular denomination. The guilt is equally the same, in whatever section of the Christian community it may be practised. Let the remarks be applied only to those to whom they are applicable, and then justice will be done.

No arguments need to be advanced, to show the influence which preaching must produce on the opinions of a people, and consequently the solemn responsibility of the preacher's office. The magnitude and duration of the consequences which must result to the preacher himself, and to every one of his hearers, from a proper or improper discharge of his duties, must be evident to those who believe the statements of the Bible respecting the soul and eternity. To such the subject before us will be important, and they will consider it their duty to counteract, as far as they can, the preaching of

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error.

There is a class of religious teachers to be found in this country who do not preach the Gospel, as made known by Christ and his apostles. They do not present to their hearers, according to the Scrip

ture statements, the doctrines of human depravity and moral inability—of regeneration—of justification by faith—of the atonement, and the necessity of the Holy Spirit's influence to change the heart. Their preaching is defective on all these great points, and the consequences are fatal to themselves and their hearers. They may not speak openly against the doctrines referred to ; but by presenting erroneous views of human nature, they weaken, and indeed render unnecessary, all the great truths of the Gospel. Let us, however, descend to particulars.

The object of these preachers seems to be, not to alarm their hearers by the descriptions of the Bible respecting human depravity. The statements of the Scriptures on that topic are either altogether avoided, or, if at any time introduced, they are spoken of as confined to the periods in which they were written, and to the characters there described. They speak of the human heart as possessing many good qualities in the sight of God; and if men should occasionally be incorrect in some outward action, they tell their hearers of human frailty-of the power of temptation, and the infirmities of man. They speak of God as making allowances for

peculiar circumstances, and if men will only on the whole do right, he will not be very strict to mark their failings. There is, in short, throughout all their preaching a concealment of the real seat of the disorder-the source of all evil. The Saviour did not do so. He openly and publicly declared, that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adul

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