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own mind, as to his proper place and work, and should act consistently with his engagements; not
doing evil that good may come," or even causing, by any impropriety, "his good to be evil "spoken of." But, if we candidly look around us, and take a large view of the Christian church, we shall evidently perceive that God brings home lost sheep, and so causes "joy in heaven," by persons who are very far from exactly coinciding with us, in those things on which we perhaps lay an undue stress. It is too much for us to assume it, as fact, that our views are exclusively scriptural; for other conscientious men are equally confident in their opinions and, if we were sure that we were right and they mistaken, yet as the only wise God sees good to execute a part of his counsel by their means; and as "there is joy in heaven over one "sinner that repenteth;" it does not become us to manifest the pharisaical spirit of the elder brother, who was objecting and complaining, when his father and the whole family were feasting, and rejoicing over "him who had been lost and was "found, had been dead and was alive."
St. Paul was sure that they who preached Christ out of envy and strife were wrong, not only in circumstances, but in the radical temper of their hearts: yet, as it seemed that they preached the substance of the true gospel among those who had been strangers to it; so that sinners were by their means brought to repentance and faith in Christ; he determined to rejoice in their success: doubtless because the Saviour calls on all his friends to rejoice with him when he "finds his lost sheep." As to consequences, he left them with God; as
also the judgment to be awarded to those who wanted" to add affliction to his bonds."
We also learn, from the language of the text, that we should, with proper caution, encourage every relenting in those who have hitherto appeared stout-hearted and far from righteousness. We should meet with kindness and meekness every dawning of light and conviction, and spare no pains in leading forward the newly awakened sinner, notwithstanding his mistakes, prejudices, or ignorance; imitating him who "did not quench the "smoking flax, or break the bruised reed." It is indeed proper to avoid such encouraging language as may tend to self-deception: but whatever can inspire the hope which animates to diligence; whatever can tend" to lift up the hands that hang "down, and to confirm the feeble knees; or to "make straight paths for the feet, that that which "is lame may not be turned out of the way, but "rather be healed;" should be perseveringly attempted. "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye; but not to doubtful disputations."
We should also be reminded to attend to another apostolical injunction which is often forgotten: "If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye that are 'spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of "meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also "be tempted." For the recovery of one, who seemed in our judgment to be a believer, is often that very event over which angels and the Lord of angels rejoice. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let "him know that he which converteth the sinner "from the error of his way shall save a soul from
"death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."Let us, in these and all other cases, connected with the joyful event referred to in the text, use all the means we can, and pray fervently for a blessing on every attempt made by others, as well as by ourselves, all over the world. Let us expect to receive answers to our prayers, and stand prepared to bless and praise God, whenever we hear of sinners brought to repentance, and of the success of that cause, for which Christ Jesus came into the world and shed his blood upon the cross.
Brethren, you have heard many things concerning the love of Christ to sinners, in general, and to repenting sinners in particular; and of his unspeakable condescension, compassion, and loving kindness: but do not on this ground conclude that he cannot, or will not punish. "Despisest "thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, "and long suffering, not knowing that the good"ness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but, "after thy hardness and impenitent heart, trea"surest up unto thyself wrath against the day of "wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment "of God; who shall render to every one accord
ing to his deeds ?"-Notwithstanding the inexpressible love of Christ, he will at length "be "revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, "in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that "know not God, and that obey not his gospel ; "who shall be punished with everlasting destruc❝tion from his presence." "How shall we then
escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" They, who are emboldened by the grace of the gospel
to continue impenitent, will perish with the most aggravated condemnation. "Seek the Lord," therefore, "while he may be found; call upon him "while he is near:" and beware of trusting in any transient impressions, which leave no abiding effect on your general temper and conduct; for no persons are more hopeless in their impenitence, than they who groundlessly think that they have repented. Yet be thankful for any degree of feeling, any disposition to relent and submit to God: but give diligence, and exercise watchfulness, that these convictions may be rendered deeper, and made more effectual in producing "works meet for repentance."
We, who cannot see the heart, must encourage whatever appears right: but you should look to God to search and examine you, that you may become acquainted with yourselves, and not be deceived by a repentance which must eventually be repented of. Take care, in this view, of every scheme which tends to reconcile religion with conformity to the world; and of all smooth and soothing ways of stating the great truths of Christianity. Whatever your conscience declares should be broken off, given up, or attended to; obey its dictates promptly and implicitly. And in this way, no doubt, you will be led forward to establishment in the faith and hope of the gospel.
If any have had impressions that have subsided, without producing a real change, they must begin all over again. And, here no particular directions seem needful, except not to yield to the discouraging thought that it is now too late. Still, still it is said, "To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden
"not your hearts." "Behold now is the acceptat tin "time; behold now is the day of salvation." Anhoul still Christ says, "Him that cometh unto me, you l "will in no wise cast out."
But, above all, beware of further procrastination Gc None can say, "what shall be on the morrow.ithf "The Master of the house may have risen up andarne "shut the door;" and then it will be as vain tound 1 "stand without, and to say, Lord, open to us," as hir it was for the inhabitants of the old world, to seek va admission into the long-despised ark of Noah, when to the days of the Lord's long-suffering were ended. tu Nay it is impossible to say, whether, even if life be liv prolonged, God may not be provoked to give you A up to final obduracy, and to " swear in his wrath scier "that you shall not enter into his rest."-In any conc view of the subject, if not now truly penitent, and for seeking diligently salvation through Christ our Lord; you have reason to fear lest he should at last address you with these tremendous words: "Because I called, and ye refused, I stretched out my hand, and no man regarded, but ye have set "at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity; I "will mock when your fear cometh.-When your "fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction "cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come upon you; then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek "me early, but they shall not find me." "Then "will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Oh my fellow-sinners, such of you as have been favoured with manifold advantages, and have