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they should have remained for so long a time indifferent to such interesting and delightful topics, and suffered their minds to be deluded by sophistries which might so easily have been detected. Error, however, has now lost its attraction. Truth has been found, and it has set them free from the maxims and opinions of the world.
But is this too favourable a result ? Is it not what might be desired rather than what is often realized ? That these effects are produced, in some instances, we know; but that it is too flattering a view of consequences in general, we are ready to confess. It may, however, be said, that all inquiry after diviné truth will be unprofitable to the soul, if it does not bring the sinner to the Saviour_if it does not cast down every imagination, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Pardon of sin—justification in the sight of God the peace that passeth all understanding-can never be obtained till the sinner believes 66 the record that God has given concerning his Son;" till there is an entire acquiescence in the scheme of deliverance revealed in the word of God.
It is to this great result that we feel anxious to lead every inquirer. The way to Zion is not only to be sought, it must be found; not only found, it must be walked in, or the sinner can never arrive at the celestial country. And how necessary is it, in pursuing the journey of life, that the heart should be established in the great truths of Christianity; that the mind should be well furnished with the nu
merous and powerful arguments which are sufficient to convince every candid mind that the Gospel is divine ; and above all, that the inquirer should feel himself to be interested in the blessings of salvation, and daily experience the purifying and constraining influence of divine truth. He should seek to possess an abiding conviction of the value of the soul, and a deep and habitual sense of the holiness and omniscience of God. In this way a strong barrier will be raised against the inroads of infidelity, and a ready and satisfactory reply to his own mind will be at hand when tempted to question any part of essential truth. He will also be better preserved against the ensnaring maxims and spirit of the world, inculcated in modern works of literature, The Christian's weapons of defence are numerous and valuable ; let them be always bright and fit for service, and thus having resisted successfully every effort to shake or overturn his faith and hope, he will at length receive a crown of glory which fadeth not away.
INFLUENCE OF INTIMATE INTERCOURSE WITH
OPEN TRANSGRESSORS OF THE DIVINE LAW.
THERE are multitudes to be found, who, though not guilty of those gross sins, which in the world's estimation injure the character, are yet decided enemies of true religion, and neglect even the outward forms and duties of Christianity. They may be persons of amiable dispositions, of considerable talents, and of cultivated minds. Their knowledge of men and things may be extensive, and their love of literature, and of the arts and sciences, may be great. In all their dealings with their fellow men, they may act honourably, and their deeds of benevolence may be numerous. In the judgment of men, they are respectable, and as members of the community, useful. They may sustain a high character, for attention to the relative duties of life. They may be affectionate parents, and obedient children, and faithful friends. They may profess a respect for the Supreme Being, and say that they admire his Power, Benevolence, and Wisdom; but this is all the length they will go, and they imagine it is enough. We are here taking the highest
ground for irreligious characters; for it is seldom indeed, that all the qualities referred to, centre in one individual. When found in any one person, however much we may admire and esteem such an one, we cannot but lament that he should remain destitute of still higher qualities of mind, and greater purity of life.
At the same time, it must be evident, that the influence resulting from intercourse with, and relationship to such persons, will be injurious to those who readily receive the opinions of the world ; and lead them to conclude that the religion of the Bible is altogether unnecessary. Nay, even on minds which do not so easily receive such impressions, and who, from some circumstance or other, had been led to think about religion, the effects, though not so injurious, are yet calculated to retard their progress in the pursuit of scriptural knowledge. It is to such persons, and the effects produced on their minds, that the remarks of this section will chiefly apply.
Unaccustomed to compare the principles and maxims of men, with the doctrines and precepts of the word of God; and having constantly before them conduct, which, though really wicked, is not in the estimation of worldly men immoral, but, on the contrary, praiseworthy, they know not what to think. When they see men of talent, of learning, and of good sense in other things, rejecting Christianity, or at least decidedly and systematically refusing to conform to its outward ordinances, or even to profess it, they are induced to' ask, “ Can it be
supposed, that such individuals would reject the claims of Christianity, if they were just ? Can persons of such soundness and discrimination of mind, object to the doctrines of the Bible, if they are really of great importance; and can it be possible, that such excellent and amiable people, are exposed to the wrath of God?”
That these thoughts should pass through the minds of those who have been brought up in such society, and accustomed to admire what was' excellent in their worldly characters, need not surprise
But we should indeed deem it unreasonable, if they refused to view the matter, in the only light which can discover it in all its bearings. On attempting to guide them in this inquiry, it seems desirable to enter more particularly into a statement of the effects produced by the intercourse alluded to, and to point out some things, which may tend to counteract the evils that have resulted. In general, it may be said, that the seeing per
, sons who make no profession of religion, possessed of talent and of amiable dispositions, useful and respectable in society, will tend to give erroneous views of the standard of morality, and to weaken their impressions of the claims, which the Divine Being has upon the affections of His creatures. They will be in danger of supposing, that He requires no more than what their friends and acquaintances render to him ; and they will also conclude, that the language of Scripture is unnecessarily strict and severe, in declaring that those moral, kind, and excellent individuals, if destitute of faith in Jesus