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more. Now, to such persons, and to such plans, themselves deceived, will never persist in their enI say this, that it would not have cost them one deavours to any purpose of actual reformation. tenth of the mortification, pain, and self-denial, to all mankind feel a reluctance to part with their have kept themselves at a distance from sin, that sins. It must be so. It arises from the very nai must and will cost them to break it off; adding ture of temptation, by which they are drawn into the further consideration, that, so long as men sin. Feeling then this strong reluctance, it is preserve their innocence, the consciousness of very natural for men to do what great numbers doing what is right is both the strongest possible do, namely, propose to themselves to part with support of their resolution, and the most constant their sins by degrees; thinking that they can source of satisfaction to their thoughts; but that more easily do it in this way than in any other. when men once begin to give way to vicious in- It presents to their view a kind of compromise; a dulgences, another state of things takes place in temporary hope of enjoying, for the present at their breasts. Disturbance at the leart, struggles least, the criminal pleasures to which they have and defeats, resolutions and relapses, self-reproach addicted themselves, or the criminal advantages and self-condemnation, drive out all quietness and they are making, together with the expectation of tranquillity of conscience. Peace within is at an a final reform. I believe, as I have already said, end. All is unsettled. Did the young and un- that this is a course into which great numbers fall; experienced know the truth of this matter; how and therefore it becomes a question of very great much easier it is to keep innocency than to return importance whether it be a safe and successful to it; how great and terrible is the danger that they course or not. What I am speaking of is the trydo not return to it at all; surely they would see, ing to break off our sins by degrees. Now, in the and see in a light strong enough to influence their first place, it is contrary to principle. A man is determination, that to adhere inviolably to the supposed to feel the guilt and danger of the pracrules of temperance, soberness, and chastity, was tices which he follows. He must be supposed to their safety, their wisdom, their happiness. How perceive this, because he is supposed to resolve to many bitter thoughts does the innocent man avoid? quit them. His resolution is founded upon, springs Serenity and cheerfulness are his portion. Hope from this perception. Wherefore, I say, that it is is continually pouring its balm into his soul. His in contradiction to principle, to allow ourselves heart is at rest, whilst others are goaded and tor even once more in sin, after we have truly become tured by the stings of a wounded conscience, the sensible of the guilt, the danger, and the conseremonstrances and risings up of principles which quences of it. It is from that time known and they cannot forget; perpetually teased by return wilful sin. I own I do not see how the plan of ing temptations, perpetually lamenting defeated gradually diminishing a sinful habit can be conresolutions." There is no peace unto the wicked, sistent with, or can proceed from sincere religious saith my God." There is no comfort in such a principles ; for, as to what remains of the habit, it life as this, let a man's outward circumstances be implies an express allowance of ourselves in sin, what they will. Genuine satisfaction of mind is which is utterly inconsistent with sincerity. Whonot attainable under the recurring consciousness ever continues in the practice of any one known of being immersed in a course of sin, and the still sin, in defiance of God's commands, cannot, so remaining prevalence of religious principles. Yet continuing, hope to find mercy: but with respect either this must be the state of a sinner till he re to so much of the habit as is yet allowed by him cover again his virtuous courses, or it must be a to remain, he is so continuing, and his continustate infinitely worse; that is, it must be a state of ance is part of his plan. •These attempts, thereentire surrender of himself to a life of sin, which fore, at gradual reformation, do not proceed from will be followed by a death of despair; by ruin a true vital religious principle; which principle, final and eternal; by the wrath of God; by the succoured by God's grace, is the only thing that pains of hell.
can stand against sin, strengthened by habit. So But, secondly, In what manner, and by what I should reason, upon the case, looking at it in its methods are sins to be broken off? for although own nature. The next question is, How is it in the maxim which we have delivered be perfectly fact ? Is it in fact better, is it in experience more and certainly true, namely, that it is ease and hap- successful, than from its nature we should expect piness to preserve innocence entirely, compared it to be ? Now I am much afraid, that all the with what it is to recover our innocence, or even proof which can be drawn either from observation to set bounds to guilt, yet it is a truth which all or consciousness is against it. Of other men we cannot receive. I do not mean that all will not must judge by observation ; of ourselves by conacknowledge it, for I believe that those will be sciousness. What happens then to gradual remost ready to give their assent to it, who feel formation ? Perpetual relapses, perpetually defeatthemselves bound and entangled by the chain ofed and weakened resolutions. The principle of their sin. But it is not applicable to every man's resistance is weakened by every relapse. Did case; because many having already fallen into vi- the mortification of a defeat incite and quicken cious courses, have no longer to consider how men to stronger efforts, it would be well. But it much ter, how much happier it would have has a contrary effect; it renders every succeeding been for them, to have adhered closely to the laws exertion more feeble. The checked indulgences, of virtue and religion at first, but how to extricate which in the progress of our fancied amendment themselves from the bad condition in which they we allow ourselves, are more than sufficient to are placed at present. Now to expect to break feed desire, to keep up the force and strength of off sin in any manner without pain and difficulty, temptation ; nay, perhaps the temptation acquires is a vain expectation. It is to expect a moral im- more force from the partial curb which we impose possibility. Such expectations ought not to be held upon it. Then, while the temptation remaing out, because they are sure to deceive; and because with unabated, or perhaps augmented strength, they who act under such encouragement, finding our resolution is suffering continual relaxation;
our endeavours become unsatisfactory even to our Spirit in the work and struggle through which selves. This miserable struggle cannot be main- we have to go. And I take upon me to say, that tained long. Although nothing but persevering all experience is in favour of this plan, in preferin it could save us, we do not persevere. Finding ence to that of a gradual reform; in favour of it, not ease, but difficulty increased, and increasing both with respect to practicability, and with redifficulty, men give up the cause; that is, they try spect to ease and happiness. We do not pretend to settle themselves into some mode of thinking but that a contlict with desire must be supported; which may quiet their consciences and their fears. that great resolution is necessary; yet we teach They fall back to their sins: and when they find that the pain of the effort is lessened by this their consciences easier, they think their guilt less; method, as far as it can be lessened at all. Passions whereas it is only their conscience that is become denied, firmly denied and resisted, and not kept more insensible; their reasoning more treacherous up by occasional indulgences, lose their power of and deceitful! The danger is what it was, or tormenting. Habits, absolutely and totally disgreater; the guilt is so too. Would to God we used, lose their hold. It is the nature of man. could say, that gradual reforms were frequently i They then leave us at liberty to seek and to find successful; They are what men often attempt;, happiness elsewhere, in better things; to enjoy they are, alas ! what men usually fail in. as well as to practise virtue; to draw comfort from
It is painful to seem to discourage endeavours religion; to dwell upon its hopes; to pursue its of any kind after amendment; but it is necessary duties; to acquire a love, a taste, and relish for to advertise men of their danger. If one method its exercises and meditations. of going about an important work be imposing in One very general cause of entanglement in expectation, and yet in truth likely to end in ruin; habits of sin is the connexion which they have can any thing be more necessary than to set forth with our way of life, with our business, with ihe this danger and this consequence plainly? This objects that are continually thrown in our way, is precisely the case with gradual reforms. They with the practices and usages which prevail in the do not very much alarm our passions: they soothe company we keep. Every condition of life has our consciences. They do not alarm our passions, its particular temptation. And not only so, but because the absolute rupture is not to come yet. when we have fallen into evil habits, these habits We are not yet entirely and totally to bid adieu so mix themselves with our method of lite, return to our pleasures and indulgences, never to enjoy so upon us at their usual times and places, and or return to them any more. We only have in occurrence of objects, that it becomes very difficult view to wean and withdraw ourselves from them to break the habit, without a general change of by degrees; and this is not so harsh and formida- our whole system. Now I say, whenever this is ble a resolution as the other. Yet it soothes our a man's case, that he cannot shake off his sins consciences. It presents the semblance and ap- without giving up his way of life, he must give pearance of repenting and reforming. It confesses up that also, let it cost what it will; for it is in our sense of sin and danger. It takes up the pur- truth no other sacrifice than what our Saviour pose, it would fain encourage us with the hope, himself in the strongest terms enjoins, when he of delivering ourselves from this condition. But bids his disciples to pluck out a right eye, or cut what is the result ? Feeding in the mean time and off
' a right hand (that is, surrender whatever is fomenting those passions which are to be con- most dear or valuable to thein,) that they be not trolled and resisted; adding, by every instance of cast with all their members into hell fire. If a giving way to them, fresh force and strength to trade or business cannot be followed without habits which are to be broken off, our constancy giving into practices which conscience does not is subdued before our work is accomplished. We approve, we must relinquish the trade or business continue yielding to the importunity of temptation. itself
. If it cannot be followed without bringing We have gained nothing by our miserable endea- us into the way of temptation to intemperance, vour, but the mortification of defeat. Our sins more than we can withstand, or in fact do withare still repeated. The state of our salvation is stand, we must also relinquish it, and turn ourwhere it was. Oh! it is a laborious, a ditlicult, a selves to some safer course. If the company we painful work to shake off sin ; to change the keep, the conversation we hear, the objects that course of a sinful life; to quit' gratifications to surround us, tend to draw us, and do in fact draw which we have been accustomed, because we per- us, into debauchery and licentiousness, we must ceive them to be unlawful gratifications; and to fly from the place, ihe company, and the objects, find satisfaction in others which are innocent no matter with what reluctance we do so, or what and virtuous. If in one thing more than another loss and inconvenience we suffer by doing it. we stand in need of God's holy succour and This may appear to be a hard lesson: it is, neverassistance, of the aid and influence of his blessed theless, what right reason dictates, and what, as Spirit upon our souls, it is in the work of reform- hath already been observed, our Saviour himself ation. But can we reasonably expect it, whilst enjoins, in terms made as strong and forcible as we are not sincere ? And I say again, that the he could make them. plan of gradual reformation is in contradiction to Sometimes men are led by prudential motives, principle, and so far insincere. Is there not rea- or by motives of mere inclination, to change their son to believe that this may in some measure employment, their habitation, or their station of account for the failure of these resolutions ? life. These occasions afford excellent and invalua
But it will be asked of us, what better plan ble opportunities for correcting and breaking off have we to offer? We answer, to break off our any vicious habits which we may have contracted. sins at once. This is properly' to deny ungod- It is when many associations, which give strength Jiness and worldly lusts. This is truly to do, to a sinful habit, are interrupted and dissolved by what, according to the apostle, the grace of God the change which has taken place, that we can traches us to do. Acting thus, we may pray, we best resolve to conquer the sin, and set out upor may humbly hope for the assistance of God's a new course and a new life. The man who
THIS LIFE A STATE OF PROBATION.
does not take advantage of such opportunities
SERMON XXXIII. when they arise, has not the salvation of his soul at heart : nevertheless, they are not to be waited for.
But to those sudden changes which we recom- It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that mend, will it be objected that they are seldom I might learn thy statutes.--Psalın cxix. 71. asting? Is this the fact? Are they more liable io fail, than attempts to change gradually? I Of the various views under which human life think not. And there is always this difference has been considered, no one seems so reasonable between them. A sudden change is sincere at as that which regards it as a state of probation ; the time; a gradual change never is such truly meaning, by a state of probation, a state calculated and properly: and this is a momentous distinc- for trying us, and calculated for improving us. A tion." In every view, and in every allowance, and state of complete enjoyment and happiness it cerin every plea of human frailty, we must distin- tainly is not. The hopes, the spirits, and the guish between what is consistent with sincerity, inexperience of young men and young women and what is not. And in these two methods of are apt, and very willing, to see it in this light. setting about a reformation, by reason of their dif- To them life is full of entertainment; their relish ferent character in this respect, the first may, is high; their expectations unbounded: for a very though with fear and humility, expect the help of few years it is possible, and I think barely possiGod's aiding Spirit, the other hardly can. For ble, that they may go on without check or interwhilst, not by surprise and unpremeditatedly, we ruption ; but they will be cured of this delusion. fall into casual sins, but whilst, by plan and upon Pain and sorrow, disease and infirmity, accident system, we allow ourselves in licenses, which, and disappointment, losses and distress, will soon though not so many or so great as before, are meet them in their acquaintance, their families, or still, whenever they are indulged, so many known their persons. The hard-hearted for their own, sins; whilst, in a word, though we imagine our- the tender for others' wo, will always find and selves to be in a progress of amendment, we yet feel enough at least to convince them, that this deliberately continue to sin, our endeavours are so world was not made for a scene of perpetual gayety corrupted, I will not say by imperfection, but by or uninterrupted enjoyment. insincerity, that we can hardly hope to call down Still less can we believe that it was made for a upon them the blessing of Almighty God. place of misery : so much otherwise, that misery
Reformation is never impossible ; nor, in a strict is in no instance the end or object of contrivance. sense, can it be said to be doubtful. Nothing is, we are surrounded by contrivance and design. properly speaking, doubtful, which it is in a man's A human body is a cluster of contrivances. So power to accomplish; nothing is doubtful to us, is the body of every animal ; so is the structure of Sat what is placed out of the reach of our will, or every plant; so is even the vilest weed that grows depends upon causes which we cannot influence; upon the road-side. Contrivances, therefore, and this is not the case with reformation from sin infinite in number, infinite also in variety, are all On the other hand, if we look to experience, we directed to beneficial purposes, and, in a vast pluare compelled, though with grief of heart, to con- rality of instances, execute their purpose. In our fess that the danger is very great of a man, who own bodies only reflect how many thousand things is engaged in a course of sin, never reforming must go right for us to be an hour at ease. Yet from dis sin at all. Oh! let this danger be known. at all times multitudes are so; and are so without Let it stand, like a flaming sword, to turn us aside being sensible how great a thing it is. Too much from the road to vice. Let it ofter itself in its or too little of sensibility, or of action, in any one full magnitude. Let it strike, as it ought, the of the almost numberless organs, or of any part souls of those who are upon the brink, perhaps, of the numberless organs, by which life is susof their whole future fate ; who are tempted; and tained, may be productive of extreme anguish or who are deliberating about entering upon some of lasting infirmity. A particle, smaller than an course of sin.
atom in a sun-beam, may, in a wrong place, be Let also the perception and convincement of the occasion of the loss of limbs, of senses, or of this danger sink deep into the hearts of all who life. Yet under all this continual jeopardy, this are in such a situation, as that they must either momentary liability to danger and disorder, we reform or perish. They have it in their power, are preserved. It is not possible, therefore, that and it must be now their only hope, by strong and this state could be designed as a state of misery, firm exertion, to make themselves an exception to because the great tendency of the designs which the general lot of habitual sinners. It must be an we see in the universe, is to counteract, to prevent, exception. If they leave things to their course, to guard against it. We know enough of nature ihey will share the fate in which they see others, to be assured that misery, universal, irremediable, involved in guilt like themselves, end their lives. inexhaustible misery, was in the Creator's power It is only by a most strenuous effort they can if he had willed it. Forasmuch, therefore, as rescue themselves from it. We apprise them, the result is so much otherwise, we are certain that their best hope is in a sudden and complete that no such purpose dwelt in the divine mind. change, sincerely begun, faithfully persisted in ; But since, amidst much happiness, and amidst broken, it is possible, by human frailty, but never contrivances for happiness, so far as we can changed into a different plan, never declining into judge, (and of many we can judge,) misery, and a compromised, partial,' gradual reform; on the very considerable portions of it do exist, it becomes contrary, resumed with the same sincerity as that a natural inquiry, to what end this mixture of with which it set out, and with a force of resolu- good and evil is properly adapted? And I think tion, and an earnestness of prayer, increased in the Scriptures place before us, not only the true, proportion to the clearer view they have acquired (for, if we believe the Scriptures, we inust believe of their danger and of their want.
it to be that.) but the most rational and satistac
tory answer which can be given to the inquiry; and our tongues with praise. This is easy; this namely, that it is intended for a state of trial and is delightful. None but they who are sunk in probation. For it appears to me capable of proof, sensuality, sottishness, and stupefaction, or whose both that no state but one, which contained in it understandings are dissipated by frivolous puran admixture of good and evil, would be suited to suits; none but the most giddy and insensible can this purpose; and also that our present state, as be destitute of these sentiments. But this is not well in its general plan as in its particular proper- the trial or the proof. It is in the chambers of ties, serves this purpose with peculiar propriety. sickness; under the stroke of affliction; amidst
A state, totally incapable of misery, could not the pinchings of want, the groans of pain, the be a state of probation. It would not be a state in pressures of infirmity; in grief, in misfortune ; which virtue or vice could even be exercised at all through gloom and horror-thai it will be seen
-I mean that large class of virtues and vices, whether we hold fast our hope, our confidence, which we comprehend under the name of social our trust in God; whether this hope and confiduties. The existence of these depends upon the dence be able to produce in us resignation, acexistence of misery as well as of happiness in the quiescence, and submission. And as those dispo world, and of different degrees of both ; because sitions, which perhaps form the comparative pertheir very nature and difference consists in pro- fection of our moral nature, could not have been moting or preventing, in augmenting or diminish- exercised in a world of unmixed gratification, so ing, in causing, aggravating, or relieving the neither would they have fuund their proper office wants, sufferings, and distresses of our tellow- or object in a state of strict and evident retribucreatures. Compassion, charity, humanity, bene- tion; that is, in which we had no sufferings to volence, and even justice, could have no place in submit to, but what were evidently and manifestthe world, if there were not human conditions to ly the punishment of our sins. A mere submisexcite them; objects and sufferings upon which sion to punishment, evidently and plainly such, they might operate ; misery, as well as happiness, would not have constituted, at least would very which might be affected by them.
imperfectly have constituted the disposition which Nor would, in my opinion, the purposes of trial we speak of, the true resignation of a Christian. be sufficiently provided for, by a state in which It seems, therefore, to be argued, with very happiness and misery regularly followed virtue great probability, from the general economy of and vice; I mean, in which there was no happi- things around us, that our present state was ness, but what was merited by virtue ; no misery meant for a state of probation; because positively but what was brought on by vice. Such a state it contains that admixture of good and evil which would be a state of retribution, not a state of pro- ought to be found in such a state to make it anbation. It may be our state hereafter; it may be swer its purpose—the production, exercise, and a better state; but it is not a state of probation, it improvement of virtue; and, because negatively, is not the state through which it is fitting we it could not be intended either for a state of abso should pass before we enter into the other; for lute happiness, or a state of absolute misery, neiwhen we speak of a state of probation, we speak ther of which it is. of a state in which the character may both be put We may now also observe in what manner to the proof, and also its good qualities be confirm- many of the evils of life are adjusted to this partied and strengthened, if not formed and produced, cular end, and how also they are contrived to by having occasions presented in which they may soften and alleviate themselves and one another. be called forth and required. Now, beside that, It will be enough at present, if I can points out the social qualities which have been mentioned how far this is the case in the two instances, which, would be very limited in their exercise, if there of all others, the most nearly and seriously affect was no evil in the world but what was plainly a us—death and disease. The events of life and punishment, (for though we might pity, and even death are so disposed, as to beget, in all reflecting that would be greatly checked, we could not ac- minds, a constant watchfulness.
“ What I say tually succour or relieve, without disturbing the unto you I say unto all, watch.” Hold yourselves execution, or arresting, as it were, the hand of in a constant state of preparation." Be ready, for justice ;) beside this difficulty, there is another you know not when your Lord cometh.” Had class of most important duties which would be in there been assigned to our lives a certain age or a great measure excluded. They are the severest, period, to which all, or almost all, were sure of the sublimest, perhaps the most meritorious, of arriving: in the younger part, that is to say, in which we are capable; I mean patience and com- nine tenths of the whole of mankind, there would posure under distress, pain, and affliction; a have been such an absolute security as would steadfast keeping up of our confidence in God, have produced, it is much to be feared, the utmost and our dependence upon his final goodness, even neglect of duty, of religion, of God, of themselves; at the time that every thing present is discourag. whilst the remaining part would have been too ing and adverse; and, what is no less difficult to much overcome with the certainty of their fate, retain, a cordial desire for the happiness and com- would have too much resembled the condition of fort of others, even then, when we are deprived of those who have before their eyes a fixed and apour own. I say, that the possession of this tem- pointed day of execution. The same consequence per is almost the perfection of our nature. But it would have ensued if death had followed any is then only possessed, when it is put to the trial: known rule whatever. It would have produced tried at all, it could not have been in a life made security in one part of the species, and despair in up only of pleasure and gratification. Few things another. The first would have been in the highare easier than to perceive, to feel, to acknowledge, est degree dangerous to the character; the second, to extol the goodness of God, the bounty of Pro- insupportable to the spirits. The same observavidence, the beauties of nature, when all things tion we are entitled to repeat concerning the two go well; when our health, our spirits, our circum- cases-of sudden death, and of death brought op stances, conspire to fill our hearts with gladness, by long disease If sudden deaths never occurred,
those who found themselves free from disease | Many virtues are not only proved but produced would be in perfect safety; they would regard by trials: they have properly no existence withthemselves as out of the reach of danger. With out them. “ We glory," saith St. Paul, “in triall apprehensions they would lose all seriousness bulation also, knowing that tribulation worketh and all restraint: and those persons who the most patience, and patience experience, and experience want to be checked and to be awakened to a sense hope.” of the consequences of virtue and vice, the strong, But of sickness we may likewise remark, how the healthy, and the active, would be without the wonderfully it reconciles us to the thoughts, the greatest of all checks, that which arises from the expectation, and the approach of death; and how constant liability of being called to judgment. If this becomes, in the hand of Providence, an exthere were no sudden deaths, the most awful ample of one evil being made to correct another. warning which mortals can receive would be lost: Without question, the difference is wide between That consideration which carries the mind the the sensations of a person who is condemned to most forcibly to religion, which convinces us that die by violence, and of one who is brought gradually it is indeed our proper concern, namely, the pre- to his end by the progress of disease; and this difcariousness of our present condition, would be ference sickness produces. To the Christian done away. On the other hand, if sudden deaths whose mind is not harrowed up by the memory of were too frequent, human life might become too unrepented guilt, the calm and gentle approach perilous: there would not be stability and depend- of his dissolution has nothing in it terrible. In ence either upon our own lives or the lives of that sacred custody in which they that sleep in those with whom we were connected, sufficient Christ will be preserved, he sees a rest from pain to carry on the regular offices of human society. and weariness, from trouble and distress : GraIn this respect, therefore, we see much wisdom. dually withdrawn from the cares and interests of Supposing death to be appointed as the mode the world; more and more weaned from the plea(and some mode there must be) of passing from sures of the body, and feeling the weight and presone state of existence to another, the manner in sure of its intirmities, he may be brought almost which it is made to happen, conduces to the pur- to desire with St. Paul to be no longer absent poses of warning and admonition, without over- from Christ; knowing, as he did, and as he asthrowing the conduct of human affairs. sures us, that “if our earthly house of this taber
Of sickness, the moral and religious use will be nacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, acknowledged, and, in fact, is acknowledged, by a house not made with hands, eternal in the heaall who have experienced it; and they who have vens.” not experienced it, own it to be a fit state for the meditations, the offices religion. The fault, I fear, is, that we refer ourselves too much to that state. We think of these things too little in
SERMON XXXIV. health, because we shall necessarily have to think of them when we come to die. This is a great THE KNOWLEDGE OF ONE ANOTHER IN A FUTURE fault; but then it confesses, what is undoubtedly true, that the sick-bed and the death-bed shall in. evitably force these reflections upon us. In that Whom we preach, warning every man, and it is right, though it be wrong in waiting till the teaching every man in all wisdom, that we season of actual virtue and actual reformation be may present every man perfect in Christ Jepast, and when, consequently, the sick-bed and sus.-Col. i. 28. the death-bed can bring nothing but uncertainty, horror, and despair. But my present subject leads These words have a primary and a secondary me to consider sickness, not so much as a prepa- use. In their first and most obvious view, they ration for death as the trial of our virtues; of vir- express the extreme earnestness and anxiety with tues the most severe, the most arduous, perhaps which the apostle Paul sought the salvation of his the best pleasing to Almighty God; namely, trust converts. To bring men to Jesus Christ, and, and confidence in him under circumstances of dis- when brought, to turn and save them from their couragement and perplexity. To lift up the fee-sins, and to keep them steadfast unto the end in ble hands and the languid eye; to draw and turn the faith and obedience to which they were called, with holy hope to our Creator, when every com was the whole work of the great apostle's ministry, fort forsakes us, and every help fails; to feel and the desire of his heart, and the labour of his life: tind in him, in his mercies, his promises, in the it was that in which he spent all his time and all works of his providence, and still more in his word, his thought; for the sake of which he travelles and in the revelation of his designs by Jesus from country to country, warning every man, as Christ, such rest and consolation to the soul as to he speaks in the text, and exhorting every man, stifle our complaints and pacify our murmurs; to enduring every hardship, and every injury, ready beget in our hearts tranquillity and contidence in at all times to sacrifice his life, and at last actually the place of terror and consternation, and this with sacrificing it, in order to accomplish the great pur. simplicity and sincerity, without having, or wish. pose of his mission, that he might at the last day ing to have, one human witness to observe or know present his beloved converts perfect in Christ Jeit,-is such a test and trial of faith and hope, of sus. This is the direct scope of the text. But it patience and devotion, as cannot fail of being in is not for this that I have made choice of it. The a very high degree well-pleasing to the Author of last clause of the verse contains within it, indirect. our natures, the guardian, the inspector, and the ly and by implication, a doctrine certainly of great Tewarder of our virtues. It is true in this instance, personal importance, and I trust, also of great as it is true in all, that whatever tries our virtue comfort to every man who hears me. The clause strengthens and improves it. Virtue comes out of is this, " That we may present every man perfect the fire purer and brighter than it went into it. J in Christ Jesus :" by which I understand St. Paul