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such conduct. With regard to the instances of religious, and sometimes of moral failure, which take place among accredited believers, the sacred writers teach us to expect such things; and they record some painful examples of this nature belonging to different ages of the church. The man, therefore, who shall urge these, as in any way excusing his own impenitence, does wickedly, and, persisting in so doing, will deservedly perish. Do men deem wealth, or power, or pleasure, less real, or of less worth, because some who strive to obtain them grow weary and fail? The thought is absurd: not more so, however, than is the policy of the man who pretends to excuse his own irreligion by appealing to the occasional failures of religious men. The question is not to be determined by examples; since, if the halting of some would justify one conclusion, the perseverance of others must enjoin its opposite. The fact to be borne in mind is, that we must each one of us give an account of himself unto God. If, instead of seeking our own salvation, it should be our pleasure to wound religion, by exposing, or perhaps magnifying, the deficiencies of its professors, we need not travel far in search of the materials from which this kind of gratification may be extracted. But we have also to remember, that a day is coming in which the head of the church will bring the offending in this matter the men who show the refinement of their moral taste by every where turning from the sound to the offal-to his bar.

Every man, conscious of the unhappy change which has now been reviewed, will do well to consider THE DANGER WITH WHICH HE IS BESET, AND THE SORROWS BY WHICH HE MUST ERE LONG BE

WOUNDED AND OPPRESSED. Every step, in his present course, must be the adding of another, and another bitter ingredient to the cup awaiting him. The impenitent have an awful hereafter, and may, in consequence, go unpunished even to the grave. But it will not be so with the declining Christian : all that he can know of the bitterness of sin must be known in this world; and as surely as the guilt of a departure from God is upon him, there is a punishment that will be upon him. How is it with us, then, in regard to those spiritual exercises which constitute the test of spiritual prosperitythe worship of God, sincerity of heart, humbleness of mind, and homage to the divine word? If we shrink from a strict investigation now, the effect can only be to burden the duty with greater difficulties at a future day. Remember how nearly the backslider resembles the apostate; and let the bare thought of entering into the secret of such men furnish a salutary alarm: for, doubtless, many are the instances in which those who have persuaded themselves that they were only wanderers for a season, have found the end of their course in the second death! It was to avowed Christians that Jesus said, I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of its place, unless thou quickly repent: and again, If thou shalt not watch,

I will come on thee as a thief in the night, and thou shalt not know at what hour I will come. And it was to men with the same vows upon them that Paul addressed himself when he affirmed, Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap; if he sow to the flesh, he shall of the flesh reap corruption. The insensibility of the backslider is often such as to make any less solemn appeal than this without effect. He must sometimes be made to see that he is not only in danger of much spiritual loss and suffering, but of sinking into perdition; or his slumbers will remain unbroken, and the sins which easily beset him continue undisturbed...

But, in scripture, the word of admonition is rarely without the word of encouragement. That volume does not include more than two passages that may be at all regarded as placing an insuperable difficulty in the way of the backslider's return; and both of these occur in the epistle to the Hebrews. The one speaks of Esau as seeking repentance, even with tears, and seeking it in vain; the other affirms the impossibility of renewing those minds to repentance, which fall away after having tasted of the pleasures and power of religion, in the manner which the passage describes.

With regard to the first of these passages, we may observe, that it is by no means so simple and obvious in its import as to become in itself a rule. It appears to have a greater reference to those external privileges which pertained to Esau, as the first-born of Isaac, than to the question of indi

vidual piety; and it does not follow, that the soul must necessarily be lost, because certain advantages of this nature, being once forfeited, were declared to be irrevocable. Our depravity may bring shame and poverty upon us; but these, if sanctified, may conduce to our salvation, instead of preventing it. With regard to the other passage, it is manifestly one of those obscure scriptures which should be interpreted by others on the same subject, the meaning of which cannot be mistaken.

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Should the backslider continue to infer from the texts now adverted to, that he has probably sinned to an extent that may not be forgiven, what does the DIVINE CONDUCT suggest as to the correctness of this conclusion? Can you persuade yourself that the mercy which pardoned Peter, David, Ephraim, and Manasseh, Saul of Tarsus, and the men of Corinth, and of Jerusalem, will find their sins all surpassed in your history? The conduct of God, in these instances, is in strict agreement with the general statements of his word. Nothing could more betoken approaching destruction than the description which Jeremiah has given of the depravity of his countrymen, or than the threatenings denounced against them;-yet observe the words in which the Most High addresses them :-Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding. See also what is written in Hosea :-And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ?

how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not return to destroy Ephraim, for I God and not man. And again, O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely. The epistles to the churches of Asia contain many intimations of the same encouraging truth. It is accordingly written, If any man sin-whether before conversion or afterwards, in a greater extent or a less-we have an advocate with the Father, and one whose atonement may avail against all sin.

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