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of instances ! To men, who are involved in a sinful course, and devoted to the idle follies and vanities of the world, you may address the most convincing arguments in proof of their present danger, and the clearest assurances, that a way of safety is open to them, and they will only be angry at your intrusion, and, turning from you with indifference, will refuse the good you offer, plunge again into their vices, and wilfully court their own ruin; and why is this? Is it that your arguments are not good ? that there is no power in your persuasions ? that you promise groundless hopes, and threaten empty fears ? No; but because they will not hear; they will not be persuaded; they love their sins, and prefer them; their deeds are evil, and they hate and shun the light that would expose them; “ their heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and be converted.” I know not how such as these are to be reclaimed ; certainly by none of the ordinary means of conviction ; no, nor by a miracle wrought before their eyes, nor by one being sent unto them from the dead; God must convert them by his powerful operation upon their hearts, “if He will have” them.
But be not any of you, my brethren, who, sensible of the emptiness of earthly enjoyments, impressed with the vanity and shortness of life, grieved at the recollection of your sins, conscious of your infirmities, anxious for pardon and assistance, studious of improvement, who long for peace of mind upon earth, and hope for a better inheritance beyond the grave-be not any
you staggered by the unbelief of such as I have described. They may sin, they may object, they may ridicule, they may blaspheme, and go unpunished in this world; but the Gospel is true, nevertheless; and though you may be scandalized by their sins, know no answer to their objections, and are discomposed by their mockery, and terrified at their blasphemy, and wonder perhaps, that you
“ see the ungodly in such prosperity,” yet let none of these things shake your faith ; for the Gospel, (I say again) is true, in spite of all; and if you are previously disposed to do the will of God, you will easily be persuaded by the mere study of the Gospel, that it is true, and you will have a conviction within your own hearts, that will need no miracle to confirm it, and that will defy all the opposition of the gain-sayers.
For after all, to him who reads with humility and piety, and a desire of instruction, the best book on the evidences of our religion, is the very book that contains it; other arguments may sometimes persuade a careless and vicious man, and induce him to consult the revelation that God has given ; but, more frequently they will only confound him, and excite his hostility to the truth which he cannot deny. But“ an honest and good heart,” a heart that wishes for religious comfort, a heart that seeks after God, a heart that is inclined to learn the way of righteousness, a heart that is sick of wordly wisdom, tired of human folly, a heart that thirsts for divine illumination and guidance, will find the most impressive arguments, in the pure, and consoling, and awakening, and satisfying doctrines, which
of the Gospel disclose. The unlearned cannot have a deep acquaintance with what are called the external proofs of the truth of Christianity; and I only set a few of them before
you in an easy and popular form, that you might see how strong they are, and that you might in a slight degree, be prepared to answer the idle cavils of ignorant objectors; but the most unlettered, who knows nothing of these, and has the Gospel in his heart, is better armed in the cause of religious truth, than he who has the most profound knowledge of all other arguments in its favour, but possesses no experimental
feeling and conviction of its power, within his own bosom.
Study that sacred book diligently, and your faith will continually increase; pray that you may understand it arigit, and God (whom no man sincerely seeks without finding) will impart to you all the information which is necessary for your comfort; you will comprehend it, you will admire it, you will love it, you will obey it, better and better as you advance; you will be fully persuaded (to use the words of a great writer) that it “has God for its author, eternal happiness for its subject, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.” And
And may the study of it make us all “ wise unto salvation !” May it bring down upon us the blessing of God the Father, whose word it is, may it secure to us the salvation of God the Son, who sealed it with his
it open our hearts to the purifying operation of God the Holy Ghost, who will guide the devout and humble readers of it into all truth! And may it so direct us throughout our whole lives, that we may at last be permitted to behold the God whom it reveals to faith, and to enjoy the Heaven which it promises to the penitent and obedient Christian !
blood ; may
WATCH AND PRAY.
St. MATTHEW, XXVI. 40, 41. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter; what, could ye not watch with me one hour ? Watch and pray,
enter not into temptation, the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
I know not that there is any part of the Scriptures more interesting or instructive than that portion of the history of St. Peter, which records his fall. One example is often of moreavail than many precepts; and therefore, although we may lament over the weakness of so good a manas this zealous Apostle, yet, since it did actually occur, we cannot but be thankful that it has been recorded for our admonition. Nor can we fail to admire and praise the honesty and impartiality