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purposes ; in a word, in the reluctant giving up of a part of this world, that we may, in the rest, be worldly without risk.

In this time of trial the utter vanity of every such system of compromise may first be clearly perceived, and the great distinctive principle of Christianity, as proclaimed by our Lord Himself, be first truly apprehended, that principle which reveals to us the secret of all real spiritual life :-"Abide in me and I in you: as the branch cannot bear fruit, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” And if so, the notion of resting satisfied because we occasionally approach Him, while in truth we are living a separate and independent life; which is in such manifest opposition to his own most blessed will concerning us; will be altogether abandoned. For we may not consider our religion as an affair, which, though indeed important, has but its set time, and which, being transacted, may be put aside to give room for others. For our life is our religion,-our life, and nothing less. Insomuch that all our engagements and pursuits, our daily intercourse with others, even when not a word is spoken on strictly religious subjects, all must be chastened, elevated, brightened, pervaded, by the grace of Christ within.

If such truths are wrought into the heart when the hour of sickness or calamity has touched and opened it, if a new meaning is given to life, and if, when eternity in all its vastness appears so close at hand, God also is brought very near; then indeed there

will be reason to bless Him for all this time of severe and heavy trial.

But affliction is perhaps sent to some other, who, having had far better opportunities of knowing the truth, is too wayward to follow it.

God has long been speaking to him by his providence, by the example and by the ministry of others, by his holy word and sacraments ; and his voice has been disregarded. For here is an open understanding but a closed heart, and a rebellious and disobedient will. With all the great truths of which mention has just been made, he is quite familiar; his conscience is not asleep; and he is far from happy; knowing himself to be in doubtful and dangerous circumstances, but still resolved that he will not, at least for the present, relinquish what he loves so much better than he loves God. Yet because he dares not look down into that abyss, upon the edge of which this disobedience places him, he interposes some slight screen of moral respectabilities and religious observances ; he half persuades himself that the peril is not imminent, and would rejoice if in his inmost heart he could only arrive at some settled belief that his duty to himself or to others justifies the risk.

Expostulation is idle here; the ear that is closed against the voice of God will not be open to that of man. To such an one it is vain to plead the cause of Him to whom all pure intelligences throughout the range of unnumbered worlds bow and obey. The clear understanding, so strong in argument, so ready with illustration, so keen in detecting sophistry, is here all darkened and confused. He can but feebly strive to defend his false position with reasonings of which he more than half perceives the hollowness. He can but speak of what society--(which means his fragment of society) -and its usages demand: for these usages form his gospel,-what is written there he will believe and obey. He dares not stand alone in

wrong doing, but finds great sense of security in a crowd.—And yet when did their multitude ever protect offenders from the wrath of God ? It did not amongst the angels which sinned; it did not when the Lord overthrew the cities of the plain.--He is, however, glad (for his convictions are all on the side of religion) that his associates, in breaking down the distinctions between right and wrong, and confounding the evil with the good, do so only in pursuit of pleasure, and not in deliberate and proclaimed hostility to God. He has heard, indeed, the solemn command, “ Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil,” but it is inconvenient to him to believe, and therefore he will not believe that this can refer to the brilliant throng by which he is surrounded.

The gracious God, who willeth not the death of a. sinner, has visited him ere now with the discipline of affliction. Heavily it has fallen upon him once and again. Under the pressure of his calamity, and when other objects were excluded, he turned to God. And ever, with restored health or recovered spirits, he went back again to his idol worship: and so he has lost the blessing of these visitations, and grieved the Holy Spirit, that would have wrought in the midst of them. Once more, now—and perhaps for the last time — God has come to him with the merciful severity of suffering; and our best hope for him isalas that we should say so !--that whether it be the wasting power of some lingering and sore disease, or the ruin of his best earthly good—it may not pass away, until he be turned to Him whom he might have served in joy and gladness. For otherwise what remains for him, if it be not that fearful sentence only less fearful than the final judgment doom

Ephraim is joined to idols : let him alone ?"


In the first of the two instances just given, God's service had been neglected from ignorance, from pre-occupation of the time and thoughts, and unbroken prosperity.

In the second, there was no such ignorance, nor had the sunshine of life been always unclouded. The strong love of the world, the hunger and thirst after pleasure, as the chief good, (next to which the love of God had leave to stand, if it could,) these, stimulated by success in society, and the consciousness of being supported by the multitude, had led away the heart from God : though the desire of doing right, when the cost was not too great, had never wholly been relinquished.

Take, however, a third case, differing in many

respects from these. It is that in which affliction lights upon one who has lived hitherto a life of selfish ungodliness, pursuing unchecked a course of manifest evil doing. It may be, and too often it is so, that affliction drives such a man still further from God. But on the other hand it

may be the beginning of a most blessed change.

Imagine him to have passed on hitherto through life in bold and undoubting confidence, giving himself up to every solicitation of evil which promised him present enjoyment; and if thoughts of death and eternity ever crossed his mind, putting them easily from him.

Suddenly, at the stroke of this calamity, at the first sight perhaps of approaching death, all his confidence forsakes him. He cannot shake off the fearful thoughts and clinging apprehensions which now for the first time have taken hold of him. All that sustained him hitherto is gone, he knows not how. From the height of that confident security where he soared, he feels himself falling suddenly, as with a smitten wing, down into utter and irretrievable ruin.

What has his life been? In his baptism he was made

a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven." His whole life has been one continued practical denial of this relationship, one practical assertion, begun how soon, continued, alas ! how long, that he is his own, and that he need render no service to any : ignorant that no one can be truly his own but as he belongs to

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