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do use this language, and use it honestly. That is, they use it honestly, if they mean by it what the language properly does mean, that they see the propriety and duty and happiness of a new life, so that in some sense they desire it, but that some secret cause which they have not yet discovered prevents their obedience. I design in this chapter to help you to discover what that cause is. If you really wish to discover and to remove it, you will read the chapter carefully, with a willingness to be convinced, and you will often pause to apply what is said to your own case.

There are three very common causes which operate to prevent persons who are almost Christians, from becoming so altogether.

I. A spirit of procrastination. Waiting for a more convenient season. The following case illustrates this part

of our subject.

A boy of about twelve or fourteen years of age, a member of an academy, in which he is pursuing his studies preparatory to his admission to college, sees the duty of commencing a Christian life. He walks some evening at sunset alone over the green fields which surround the village in which he resides, and the stillness and beauty of the scene around him bring him to a serious and thoughtful frame of mind. God is speaking to him in the features of beauty and splendor in which the face of nature is decked. The glorious western sky reminds him of the hand which spread its glowing colors. He looks into the dark grove in the edge of which he is walking, and its expression of deep, unbroken solitude brings a feeling of calm solemnity over his soul. The declining sun-the last faint whispers of the dying evening breeze-the solitary and mournful note which comes to him from a lofty branch of some tall tree in the depth of the forest-these, and the thousand other circumstances of such a scene, speak to him most distinctly of the flight of time, and of the approach of that evening when the sun of his

life is to decline, and this world cease for ever to be his home.

As he muses on this scene, he feels the necessity of a preparation for death, and as he walks slowly homeward, he is almost determined to come at once to the conclusion to commence immediately a life of piety. He reflects however upon the unpleasant publicity of such a change. He has many irreligious friends whom it is hard to relinquish, and he shrinks from forming new acquaintances in a place he is so soon to leave. He reflects that he is soon to be transferred to college, and that there he can begin anew. He resolves, that when he enters college walls, he will enter a Christian; that he will from the first be known as one determined to do his duty towards God. He will form no irreligious friendships, and then he will have none to sunder. He will fall into no irreligious practices, and then he will have none to abandon. He thinks he can thus avoid the awkwardness of a public change. He is ungenerous enough to wish to steal thus secretly into the kingdom of heaven, without humbling any of his pride by an open admission that he has been wrong. He waits for " a convenient sea


When he finds himself on college ground, however, his heart does not turn any more easily to his duties towards God. First, there is the feverish interest of the examination; then, the novelty of the public recitation-room; the untried, unknown instructor; the new room-mate; and all the multiplied and varied excitements which are always to be found in college walls. There are new acquaintances to form, new countenances to speculate upon, and new charac ters to study; and in these and similar objects of occupation and interest, week after week glides rapidly away. At last on Saturday evening, the last of the term, he is walking over the college grounds, and among the other serious reflec tions that come upon his mind, there are the following:

place, become I must come

"One whole term has now passed, and what have become of all my resolutions to return to God? How swiftly the weeks have glided away, and I have been going farther and farther away from God and from duty. I find that I cannot in college, any more than in any other a Christian without effort and self-denial. boldly to the duty of giving up my heart to God and commencing publicly a Christian life; and whenever I do this, it must be hard at first. I will attend to the subject this vacation. I shall be quiet and retired at home, and shall have a favorable opportunity there to attend to my duty and turn to God. I will come back to college next term a new man."

Such are his reflections. Instead of resolving to do his duty now, he looks forward again, notwithstanding his former disappointment, to another more convenient season. The bustle of the closing term, and the plans and preparations for the approaching vacation, soon engross his mind, and instead of coming to his Maker at once and going home a Christian, he puts it off in hopes to return one. Vain hope. He will undoubtedly come back as he goes, procrastinating duty.

Term after term and vacation after vacation pass away, and the work of preparation for another world is still postponed and neglected. The longer it is postponed the worse it is, for he is becoming more and more known as an irreligious young man, and more and more intimately connected with those whose influence is all against religion. He soon quiets conscience with the reflection, that while he is in the lower classes, he is much more under the control of public opinion; others, older and more advanced than he, take the lead in forming the sentiments of the community, and it is harder for him to act independently now, on a subject which affects his standing in the estimation of his companions, than it will be when he shall have passed on to a higher class, and shall have influence in forming a public sentiment to act upon others, instead of having others form it for him.

The closing months of college life at last come on, bring ing with them less and less disposition to do his duty. He has become familiarized to the idea of living without God His long and intimate acquaintance with irreligious companions has bound him to them by ties which he is not willing to sunder. Not ties of affection; for there is seldom much confidence or love in such a case. They are ties of mere acquaintance-mere community of sentiment and action. Yet he dreads to break away from what gives him little pleasure, and is thus bound by a mysterious and unreasonable, but almost hopeless slavery. He leaves college either utterly confirmed in insensibility to religious truth, or else, when he occasionally thinks of the subject, faintly hoping that in the bustle of future life some more convenient season may occur, which he may seize as a time for making his peace with God.

This is the history of many a college student, and by a slight change of the circumstances of the description, it might be made the history of thousands of others in every walk of life. The secret of this procrastination is this: The subject of it is deluded by the chimerical hope of finding some opportunity of coming to God without real submission; some way of changing sides on a most momentous subject, without the mortification of changing-of getting right without the humiliating acknowledgment of having been wrong. Now these difficulties, which constitute the straitness of the gate through which we must enter, cannot be avoided. We cannot go round them-we cannot climb up some other way, and it is useless to wait for some other way to offer. The work of coming directly and decidedly to our Maker, to confess sin and to ask his forgiveness, must be done. The public acknowledgment that we have been wrong, which a public change of conduct implies, must be made, and it will be painful. Irreligious friends must, as intimates and associates, be abandoned; and whenever that is done it will

require an effort. These steps must be taken, and the difficulty of taking them is increased, not diminished, by the lapse of time.

My reader, is not the reason why you cannot repent of sin and love God this-that you can never say, "I am willing to do it now?" Are you willing to be, from this time, the servant and follower of Jehovah; or are you trying the mad experiment of postponement and delay?

II. Love of the world. This is the second of the three secret obstacles to piety which I was to mention; I mean, secret obstacles in the way of those who think that they wish to be penitent, but that they cannot. I am not now considering the causes which are operating so extensively in chaining the great mass of mankind down in their bondage to sin; I speak only of those who feel some interest in this subject, who think they desire salvation, and are willing to do what God requires, but cannot. Under this second head I am to endeavor to show, that many of my readers who are in this state of mind are prevented from doing their duty by a secret love of the world. I shall not however succeed in showing this, unless you coöperate with me. If, while you read it, you put yourself in an attitude of defence, you can easily set aside what I have to say. I shall suppose, how. ever, that you really wish to know, and that you will apply what I present, with impartiality and candor to yourselves.

In one sense, it is right to love the world. God has made it for our enjoyment, and filled it with sources of happiness for the very purpose of having us enjoy them. We are to look upon it, therefore, as a scene in which the Creator intended that we should be happy, and we are to derive from it all the happiness that we reasonably can.

There are, however, temptations in this world, as all will admit; that is, pleasures which beckon us away from duty. When a young person begins to think of religious duty, these pleasures, which have perhaps long been enjoyed, come up

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