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religion and virtue required. And observe, this is not the vain and glorious boast of a self-righteous and self-justifying man; for although he was a pharisee, and the son of a pharisee, and had been brought up in the school of that outwardly rigorous, but too often secretly licentious sect, yet as he had none of their hypocrisy, so (at least after his conversion to christianity) he had none of their pride. No man was more humble, none more vile in his own sight, none more conscious of his natural weakness, none more sensible of his need of the free mercy of God through the blood of the atonement, and of the perpetual support of the Holy Spirit, to carry him successfully through his christian course. What was he in his own estimation ? " The chief of sinners,” “ less than the least of all the saints," “ the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle.” And what was his opinion of the merits of our blessed Saviour, and of the doctrine of justification through faith in him alone? It is needless for me to quote passages on this subject; open his epistles almost any where, and you will be satisfied; one passage shall suffice on the present occasion; it is a very striking one, and therefore I will read it to you at length, as it confirms the belief already expressed, that he was always a sincere, conscientious man, and yet shows how entirely he rejected all thoughts of self-righteousness, and how fully he relied on Christ alone for salvation. (Read, Philip. iii,

, 3 to 9).

And what view did he take of the necessity of divine aid ? Hear these two passages out of a multitude ;-“Not that we (speaking of himself in particular,) are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” By the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace which was bestowed on me, was not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Yet, although these were his doctrines, he was not one, who thought it lawful to continue in sin that grace might abound. You have heard what value he set upon his own clear conscience; in another place he says, “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience;” and again, “ we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” Now observe how he urges the necessity of it upon others :“ the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, that thou mightest war a good warfare, holding faith, and a good conscience.”


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In his direction for the conduct of deacons, he says they must “ hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” Of reprobates, who have departed from the faith, and given heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, he speaks, as “having their conscience seared with a hot iron." And finally, he seems to be describing the most desperate state of sin, in which a man can be sunk, when he says, “ unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” For what indeed can be a more hopeless condition, than when that very conscience, which God has mercifully implanted within our breasts to warn and check us in our sins, itself becomes corrupted and perverted, and loses the power of discerning what is sinful?

To this dreadful, this almost totally lost and abandoned state, we are in danger of being reduced, if we habitually disregard the admonitions of our conscience. As long as a man sins with fear and trembling, with some restraint, some reluctance, some pain, some hesitation, some forebodings, some remorse, so long there is yet hope of him. The war is going on between the “law of his mind,” and the “other law in his members "--the spirit and the flesh still strive within

him-his better part is not entirely subdued. there are yet signs of life-there yet remains a power of resistance, which by the grace of God may be rendered effectual—the man has some perception of his sin-he feels something of the burthen and misery of it, and of the condemnation due to it—though in captivity, he is not pleased with his chains-he has some desire to be free. Here is a hope of recovery; he may yet exclaim, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” And he may yet with grateful heart reply, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ my Lord.” But when once he has made that unhappy and fatal progress in sin, that he feels no check or restraint in the commission of it, when all scruples, doubts and fears concerning it have vanished from his mind, when the law of the flesh is as it were his principle and rule of life, it is greatly to be feared that he has effectually quenched and grieved the Holy Spirit, that he is altogether dead in trespasses and sins, and that there is scarcely a hope of his reviving through the ordinary operation of divine grace; it seems to require a miracle to restore him. This is the state of those, who are said to be hardened in sin, and to have their consciences seared with a hot iron, i. e. deadened and benumbed, and incapable of sensation. A man is you, who

not hardened as long as his sin torments bim, as long he reproaches and condemns himself for it, as long as he merely wishes that he had resolution and strength to contend against it.

My brethren, if there are any of in the sad career of vice, still feel within yourselves the existence and working of the “ willing spirit,” (and I hope there are none among you sunk so deep as to have no experience of this), Oh cease to oppose those better suggestions! beware of stifling that friendly voice, which now warns you

of your danger, but which, too long neglected, may soon be heard no more! You are in a miserable state now; I know nothing more miserable than a man living thus at variance with his better feelings and principles and knowledge, and ever disapproving of his own conduct. It is like a civil war, or domestic strife, when subjects are in rebellion against their king, or the household quarrelling with the master of the family; ali is confusion, tumult, unhappiness ;-or as the holy scriptures well describe the turbulent state of such a man's mind, it is “ like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt." An evil conscience can make a hell in this life, and it will probably cause no little portion of the pains of hell hereafter. What have not men done to escape from its stings and

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