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The Word of God, my beloved friends, declares that all have sinned. The same Word also declares, that the soul that sinneth, (sinneth but in one instance,) it shall surely die. It is written again, "cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Now, under the “wrath and curse of God, due to men for sin,' every one of us hath natu. rally lain. Everlasting destruction must be the portion of every man, who flees not from the wrath to come. To do this is no light matter. It is spoken of as “running labour-striving-fighting.” Now, dear friends, if we see any of you, who are all, by nature, children of wrath, even as others, still living careless and indifferent about the eternal salvation of their souls; unawakened to the inquiry, “what shall we do to be saved ?” going on quietly and securely in neglect of the “one thing needful," sure. ly we must doubt, and more than doubt, that such are not striving to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, that such persons are yet dead in trespasses and sins; and if not awakeped to feel deeply for their sin, and to flee to Jesus sor pardon and life, that without doubt they must perish everlastingly,
In like manner, when we find, from Scripture, that men "perish for want of knowledge, and that it is upon them that “know not God and obey not the Gospel of his Son,” that the Lord will take vengeance in the day of judgment,-surely we must tremble for those among you, (if such there be) whose Bibles are unread and almost unknown--who cannot tell to their neighbours, nor to their own drooping hearts, in prospect of eternity, what is the way, the only way of salvation. O, my friends, when, notwithstanding that we testify from Sabbath to Sabbath, in the preached Gospel, that it is by grace, free undeserved favour, ye are saved- we still find you anxious to rest some part of your hope on your own works; must we not “stand in doubt concerning you.” He that depends in whole, or in part, upon the merit of any thing he has done, or expects to do, is under the curse ; he is cut off, by his own self-righteousness, from all inte rest in Christ. For it is thus written, Gal. iii. 10.“Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Examine yourselves then,-are you brought to reject with abhorrence every imaginary merit of your own, and become willing to be entirely indebted to grace, through the
righteousness of the Redeemer? If so, it is well; if not, ye are yet in your sins, and strangers to his saving power.
Nor have I less reason, beloved, to stand in doubt of those who with fairer professions and appearances ; with a general knowledge of the plan of salvation by grace, and a zeal for its maintenance; are still found habitually to ne. glect some known duty, comply with some known temptation, or commit some known sin. If there be
any such among you brethren, let them solemnly consider, that “the ser. vant that knew his master's will and did it not, the same was beaten with many stripes ;" and that we are not " Christ's friends, unless we do all things whatsoever he hath com. manded us." Yet, brethren, whatever
your state or character to be, rejoice that there is hope concerning the very worst condition of man; and salvation in Jesus for the “ chief of sinners.” The blessed truth stands blazoned on the front of the divine word, “The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin." No amount of guilt, no depth of iniquity, can bar us from its saving efficacy. The efficacy of the Saviour's sacrifice is like his own nature, unbounded and inexhaustible. It can never fail him that trusts it. While every other foundation of a sinner's hope will prove a refuge of lies; this foundation of God, the all-sufficient sacrifice and righteousness of Christ, "standeth sure.” “ He that believeth on the Son hath life : he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him, John iii. 36. O that we could.win every sinner to come to the glorious Redeemer for pardon, and peace, and holiness, and eternal life! Then would they find that rest to their souls, which is never found but in returning to Christ in repentance and faith. Noa thing but your own unbelief can keep you
from any of these blessings. Jesus has procured these “ gifts for men; yea even for the rebellious.He delights to bestow them “ without money, and without price.” His bowels of compassion still yearn over miserable sinners; and his arms of love are opened wide to receive returning sinners. He came to seek and to save the lost, to call sinners to repentance; and still he receiveth sinners, even the chief. Could I but persuade each one of you, my friends, to receive him as your all in all, and to give yourselves up to him, to live to him, and for him, then would I secure your happiness, and my own. Blessed people would ye be in such a case, and great would be my crown, and rejoicing in the day of the Lord.
Thus far have I written in great weakness, and with much difficulty. I must draw to a close; but I must not conclude without thus publicly thanking you, my dear friends, for all the Christian affection and kindness I have received from you. Believe me, it has sunk into my heart. If it please the Lord to continue his heavy hand on me, you may yet be called to bear a little longer with my absence. Most earnestly do I long to see your faces in the flesh and again to speak among you of the ever blessed, ever glorious subject, of redeeming love. And this I hope through the mercy of my God in answer to your prayers will be granted: but if it may not be; his will be done in life or death-blessed be the name of the Lord.
Finally beloved, be of one mind ; let brotherly love more and more aboand. Forget not the Lord's sabbath. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together. Parents who have care of children, Masters who have care of servants, see that you instruct them in the truths of God's word. God has put them under your care for this purpose, and will require it at your hands. Children and servants improve your time, and especially your Sabbatlis in getting acquainted with the Bible, and your Catechism. Your Minister expects this of you. And what is far more important, God expects it, and will require an ac. count. Abstain beloved from all appearance of evil, and in all things, seek to “adorn the Gospel of God our Saviour." And now to God, and to the word of his grace
I com. mend you.-- Amen.
In great weakness of body, but with strong desires for your present and eternal welfare, I am your afflicted, affectionate Pastor,
W. D. STEWART.
We have long considered the time of admission to the Table of the Lord, in the Presbyterian Churches, to be one of the most critical seasons in the history of the young. It ought to be embraced by every Minister of Christ, as one of the most favourable opportunities for imparting sound instruction, accompanied with earnest exhortation and faithful addresses to the conscience. We concur in the sentiment expressed by Mr. James in his popular work, "A Christian Father's present to his children:" that the majority of God's people appear to be born again, not later than in their eighteenth year. And if those who have enjoyed the opportunity of witnessing å goodly number brought to the knowledge of the truth, will only reflect upon their own observation, they will probably be furnished with evidence of the justness of Mr. James's remark, far beyond what they would at first have anticipated. It has therefore occurred to us, that a corner of our little work, for the present year, might be profitably occupied with some plain suggestions, or a course of religious instruction for
communicants--a class of persons, who usually come ander the particular notice of the Ministers of religion about the age alluded to, and under circumstances most favourable for producing a reli. gious impression on their minds, and bringing their future lives under the power of the Gospel. We shall not enter on the subject in the present number, farther than to submit a few general prefatory remarks.
1. We fear that a large proportion of those who offer themselves, as candidates for admission to the Lord's Table, do so in a melancholy state of ignorance respecting the doctrines of the Gospel. It might be supposed, that any person presenting himself, in order to make a public profession of the Gospel would surely be acquainted with that Gospel, and able to give in answer to those who asked a reason of the hope that was in him. But, in point of fact, it is found to be far otherwise. Many reasons may operate to induce young persons to offer themselves as communicants, besides a love of the truth growing out of knowledge. There is sometimes the importunity of parents, or a regard to outward de. cency of character, or what is perhaps more frequent than either, an undefined and indescribable impression, that it is right to make a profession of religion, at the Lord's Table, and that some advantages are thereby necessarily obtained. But, however it comes to pass, so it daily happens, that numbers offer themselves for the high privilege of communicants, who appear to have no distinct apprehension of the doctrines of the Gospel. We believe that religious knowledge is at a very low ebb among the youth of our churches. Were we to relate the cases of ignorance that have fallen under our observation, we fear many of our readers might be incredulous. But we will
only add, on a theme so distressing and humbling, that when we meet with a few persons, in a large number of communicants, who appear to have a tolerable knowledge of the way of salvation, it is a refreshment, and a relief for which our souls are glad. Should any be sceptical on the subject, we request them just to present this simple question to the youth of any of our congregations, "what shall a man do to be saved ?” and see, from how many they will receive a distinct and intelligible answer ; such as would be satisfactory for the information of any person who had not before been acquainted with the subject.
2. Now, in order to meet this state of ignorance, we believe it is essentially necessary, that some course of re. ligious instruction should be adopted, and orderly and diligently prosecuted. To substitute the mere repetition of the Shorter Catechism is too childish an expedient to pass without censure in the present times. Indeed, if that catechism is diligently taught in childhood, it is the most sound course of religious instruction, after the explanation of the Scriptures, that could possibly be adopted. But then it must not merely be committed, but explained and understood ; and whoever rightly understands it is a sound divine. But as things are, a great proportion of our youth are unable to repeat it, and far less do they understand it. The reign of error in the Synod of Ulster, induced a frightful degree of ignorance among the people ; and the families of too many are now growing up to manhood, with less knowledge of the Gospel than should be possesed in childhood. It is in this state that we find a great proportion of the young, and it is in this state that we must deal with them. How then shall we proceed ? To us it appears essential, that familiar lectures should be delivered to them on the leading topics of the Gospel, on which they shall be thoroughly examined ; till, by the blessing of God, they are enabled to understand them. We would suggest that they should be met with once in the week, for not less than a quarter of a year a separate topic being brought before them at each meeting, so that their minds may be familiarised with a general view of Christian truth. The practice of meeting with commu. nicants two or three times, merely on the week previous to the Sabbath on which the Lord's Supper is to be cele. brated, is surely altogether insufficient for imparting religious knowledge to persons generally ignorant. How