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Look well to the state of your own heart. You must humble yourself before God, and when you do so as you ought, there will be no very great self-denial in taking the attitude before your family of a pardoned sinner, seeking mercy for yourself and them at the cross of Him who gave himself to die for man.

Look at that youth, the favored object in the circle of friends and companions in which he moves. His upright character has commanded respect, and his amiable disposition has secured affection. His companions seek his society; they observe and imitate his example; they catch and adopt his opinions. He has never, now, said a word against religion. He complies respectfully with all its external observances, and in fine does all which he can do without being personally humbled. But how would he shrink from having it whispered about in the circle in which he moves, that he is anxious for the salvation of his soul. How unwilling would he be that it should be known that he went to his pastor for personal religious instruction, or that he had taken any step which should admit before all that he had been himself, personally, a guilty rebel against God, and that he wished to change sides now, and do good as openly and as publicly as he had before done injury. But O, reflect; you have taken an open stand against God, and are you not willing to take an open stand in his favor? I know it is painful—it is the very crucifixion of the flesh; but God cannot propose any other terms than that those who have been open enemies should become open friends, and no generous mind can ask any easier conditions.

Indeed, if another mode of entering the kingdom of heaven had been proposed, we should ourselves see its impropriety. Suppose the Saviour were to say to a sinner thus: "You have been my enemy, I know. In the controversy which has existed between God and his revolted subjects, you have taken the wrong side. You have been known to

be without piety, and for many long years you have been exerting an influence against God, and against the happiness of the creation. But I am ready to forgive you, if you will return to me now. And as publicly giving up in such a controversy is always painful to the pride of the human heart, I will excuse you from this. You may come secretly and be iny friend, to save you the mortification of publicly changing sides in a question on which your opinions and your conduct have long been known."

My repent

To this, a spirit of any nobleness or generosity would reply, "If I have been in the wrong, and I freely acknowledge that I have, I choose openly to avow it. ance shall be known as extensively as my sin. I will not come and make my peace secretly with God, and leave my example to go on alluring, as it has done, others to live in sin. If pride remonstrates, I will cut it down; and if my comrades deride my change, I will bear their reproaches. They cannot injure me as much as my ungodly example and influence has injured them."

Whether, however, the sinner sees the necessity of his being really humbled before he is forgiven, or not, God sees it-every holy being sees it; and Jehovah's determination is fixed. We must submit, or we cannot enter his blessed kingdom.

Do you not now, my reader, see what is the reason why you cannot be a Christian? You say you wish to be, but cannot; and in nine out of ten of such cases the difficulty is, you are not cordially willing to give up all to God. Pride is not yet humbled, or the world is not yet surrendered; and until it is, you cannot expect peace. You know you have been wrong, and you wish now to be right; but this cannot be without an open change, and this you shrink from. The jailer who came trembling to know what he must do to be saved, was told to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. How humiliating to appear the next morning a spectacle to the

whole community-a stern public officer bowed down tc submission through the influence of the very prisoners committed to his charge. Yet he was willing to encounter it. And you, if you can consent to yield—to yield every thing— to throw down every weapon, and give up every refuge, and come now to the Saviour, bearing your cross-that is, bringing life and reputation and all you hold dear, and placing it at his supreme disposal, you may depend upon forgiveness and peace. But while your heart is full of reservations, while the world retains its hold and pride is unsubdued, and you are thus unwilling openly and decidedly to take the right side, is it unjust or unkind in God to consider you as upon the wrong one? Far be it from me to advocate ostentation in piety. The humble, retiring Christian, who communes with his own heart and with God, is in the right road to growth in grace and to usefulness; but every one ought to be willing, and, if he is really penitent, will be willing, that the part he takes in this great question should be known.

I now dismiss this subject, not to resume it again in this volume. Knowing, as I did, that there would undoubtedly be many among the readers of this book who can only be called almost Christians, I could not avoid devoting a chapter or two to them. I have now explained as distinctly as I have been able to do it, the submission of the heart which is necessary to becoming a Christian, and what are the difficulties in the way. I should evince but a slight knowledge of the human heart if I were not to expect that many who read this will still remain only almost Christians. I must here, however, take my final leave of them, and invite the others, those who cordially take the Saviour as their portion, to go on with me through the remaining chapters of the book, which I shall devote entirely to those who are altogether Christians.



"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God."

THE young Christian, conscientiously desiring to know and to do his duty, is, at the outset of his course, perplexed by a multitude of difficulties which are more or less remotely connected with the subject of religion, and which will arise to his view. These difficulties in many cases cannot be removed; the embarrassing perplexity, however, which arises from them, always can, and it is to this subject that I wish to devote the present chapter. My plan will be, in the first place, to endeavor thoroughly to convince all who read it, that difficulties must be expected-difficulties too which they cannot entirely surmount; and in the second place, to explain and illustrate the spirit with which they must be met.

It is characteristic of the human mind, not to be willing to wait long in suspense on any question presented to it for decision. When any new question or new subject comes before us, we grasp hastily at the little information in regard to it within our immediate reach, and then hurry to a decision. We are not often willing to wait to consider whether the subject is fairly within the grasp of our powers, and whether all the facts which are important to a proper consideration of it are before us. We decide at once. It is not pleasant to be in suspense. Suspense implies ignorance, and to admit ignorance is humiliating.

Hence, most persons have a settled belief upon almost every question which has been brought before them. In expressing their opinions, they mention things which they believe, and things which they do not believe; but very few

people have a third class of questions which they acknowledge to be beyond their grasp, so that in regard to them they can neither believe nor disbelieve, but must remain in suspense. Now this is the secret of nine-tenths of the differences of opinion, and of the sharp disputes by which this world is made so noisy a scene. Men jump at conclusions before they distinctly understand the premises, and as each one sees only a part of what he ought to see before forming his opinion, it is not surprising that each should see a different part, and should consequently be led to different results. They then fall into a dispute, each presenting his own partial view, and shutting his eyes to that exhibited by his opponent.

Some of the mistakes which men thus fall into are melancholy; others only ludicrous. Some European traveller showed a map of the world to a Chinese philosopher. The philosopher looked at it a few moments, and then turned with a proud and haughty look, and said to the by-standers, "This map is entirely wrong; the English know nothing of geography. They have got China out upon one side of the world, whereas it is, in fact, exactly in the middle."

Multitudes of amusing stories are related by travellers of the mistakes and misconceptions and false reasonings of semibarbarous people, about the subjects of European science and philosophy. They go to reasoning at once, and fall into the grossest errors; but still, they have much more confidence in their silly speculations, than in any evidence which their minds are capable of receiving.

But you will perhaps say, Do you mean to compare us with such savages? Yes; the human mind, in its tendencies, is everywhere the same. The truths which relate to the world of spirits are, to us, what European science is to a South Sea islander. Our minds experience the same difficulty in grasping them, and we hurry to the same wild speculations and false conclusions.

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