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suppose, along a dark passage-way, until he comes to the door of a gloomy dungeon. The keeper removes the heavy rusty bars, and unbolts and unlocks the door, and as he opens it, he hears the unexpected sounds of mirth and revelry within.

As he enters, he sees the wretched-looking inmates lying around the cold stone floor, upon their beds of straw. In a corner sit some, with wild and haggard looks, relating to each other, with noisy but unnatural mirth, the profane jest or immoral story. In the middle of the room two are quarrelling for a morsel of food which each claims, filling the air with their dreadful oaths and imprecations. Near the door lies a miserable object half covered in his tattered garment, and endeavouring in vain to get a little sleep. A small grated window, high in the wall, admits a dim light, just sufficient to reveal to view the objects which compose the scene of vice and misery.

The quarrellers and the rioters pause a moment, each retaining his attitude, and listen while the messenger from the senate lays before them the offer of forgiveness and freedom. They gaze upon him for a few minutes with vacant looks, but before he has fairly finished his message, the angry combatants recommence their war,-the story-teller in the corner goes on with his narrative,-the sleeper composes himself again to rest, and perhaps, some fierce and angrylooking criminal comes up to him and says, in a stern voice of defiance, "Away,-you have no business here."

Do you think that these prisoners would be liberated for the sake of Regulus? No! The bolts and bars must be closed upon them again, and they must bear their sentence to the full.--This is the way that multitudes receive the offers of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

Once more. Suppose this messenger were to meet, in some part of the prison, one of the convicts walking back and forth alone in his cell, and should repeat to him the story which he was commissioned to bring.


Forgiveness for the sake of Regulus!" says he, with a tone of scorn :- "I want no forgiveness on account of another; you have no right to shut me up here for any thing I have done. It is unjust and cruel. I demand release on my own account, without any condition, or any acknowledgment of my dependance for it upon the sufferings of another."

Now if the messenger should meet with the exhibition of such a spirit as this, he would turn away and close the bolts and bars of the prison again upon such a convict, and seek subjects of mercy elsewhere. God, too, requires of us all a humbled and subdued spirit, and willingness to accept of pardon in the name of Jesus Christ who died for us. We must come with the spirit which I first described ;—the spirit of the convict who said,

"I am grateful to the Roman senate for offering to pardon me for the sake of Regulus. I was really guilty of the crime for which I was sentenced, and the term of my imprisonment is not longer than I justly deserve. But I am glad to be restored to freedom's happiness now. I shall always be grateful to the senate, and shall cherish the memory of Regulus as long as I live.”

Before dismissing this illustration, I wish to remind my readers again, that I have been endeavouring to exhibit by it the spirit of mind with which we ought to receive the offer of mercy through Jesus Christ,-not the nature of the atonement which he has made for sin. The case I have imagined could not safely occur in any human government, because there would be no way of ascertaining who, among the convicts, were truly penitent, and were really determined on leading a life of virtue in future. Several other difficulties which in God's government do not exist, are unavoidable in every human empire. The spirit of mind with which the offer of free forgiveness in Jesus' name is welcomed or refused, is all which I design this case to explain. If the heart is really ready to acknowledge its guilt, and willing to accept of pardon which it does not deserve, the offer of a Saviour is most admirably calculated to restore peace of conscience, and heal a wounded spirit. And nothing but the Bible can make such an offer. Thus one of the most powerful means by which it changes character, is by awakening the sensibilities of the heart, through the exhibition of a Saviour crucified for our sins; and leading us to feel that we may be forgiven, and the obligation and authority of the law we have broken be yet sustained.

5. These changes of character are often attended with strong excitement, and sometimes with mental delusion. My readers recollect that the first convict saw, at one time, a

black coffin, according to his statement; and at another, he was addressed by an audible voice in his cell, telling him that his sins were pardoned. Those two circumstances were what chiefly induced me to insert that narrative, that I might bring up distinctly this point, viz. that the changes of character produced by the Bible are often attended with mental delusion in little things, especially among those minds that have been but little disciplined by philosophical thought. I could not have a fair specimen without including an example of this.

The human mind is so constituted, as all who have studied its nature are fully aware, that when any subject of great interest, or any strong emotion, takes possession of it, it operates immediately upon the body,-producing sometimes animal excitement and sometimes delusions of the senses; so that these very delusions and this very bodily excitement, prove the greatness and the reality of the emotions of heart which have occasioned them. If a man becomes very much interested in any scheme, how likely he is to become enthusiastic in it. And this enthusiasm the public usually consider as proving, not disproving, his sincerity. It indicates the strength of the interest which he feels. It is astonishing what extravagances people will put up with from men engaged in the prosecution of favourite plans, and will consider them as pleasant indications of the strength of the interest which is felt. Brindley, a famous canal engineer, was so much interested in his favourite mode of transportation, that he used to express the opinion, that a canal was far more valuable to a country than a navigable river. He was once asked what he supposed Providence intended in creating rivers. He said they were good for nothing but to feed canals. And this story has been copied by every biographer of Brindley; it has been told again and again in lectures and conversations and debates, as a pleasant instance of extravagance in a man devoted to a favourite pursuit, which proves nothing but the greatness of the interest he feels in it. Nobody ever thought the worse of Brindley for it, or distrusted his judgment on any point in the science of engineering. Millions were risked on his opinion while he was living, and his name is remembered with the highest respect. So Christians of uncultivated minds will be sometimes extra

vagant in their opinions or in their conduct, and only show by it the strength of the interest they feel.

A man who is inventing a machine will get so excited that he cannot sleep. He will, perhaps, in his efforts to obtain a repose, fall into an uncertain state, between sleeping and waking, in which, half in reverie and half in dream, fancy will present him with splendid images of success. He will hear a voice, or see a figure,—or he will be assured by some extraordinary mode that he shall overcome all his difficulties, if he will persevere. In the morning, light and the full possession of his faculties return, and as he is generally a man of intelligence, he can analyze the operations of his mind, and separate the false from the true. If he was an unenlightened man, however, and should in the morning tell his story, how narrow would be the philosophy which would say to him, "Sir, it is all a delusion. Your mind is evidently turned. You had better give up your invention, and return to other pursuits." It would be a

great deal more wise to neglect altogether the story of supernatural voices and appearances which he might tell, and judge of the value of his proposed invention by examining impartially his plan itself, and calculating on sober evidence the probability of success or failure.

So, my reader, when you hear of any thing which you deem extravagance or delusion among Christians, remember how immense a change the beginning of a Christian course sometimes is. The man has been all his life neglecting and disliking religion. He has been engrossed in sinful pursuits and pleasures, and perhaps addicted to open vice. All at once the Bible opens his eyes-shows him his guilt and his imminent danger of ruin. He is, and he must be strongly excited. If he feels in any sense his condition he cannot sleep. Can an arrested malefactor sleep quietly the first night in his cell? He must be strongly excited, and this excitement must, in many cases, bring some temporary mental delusion. He must do and say many things in which the calm spectators cannot sympathize. But it is most certainly very unphilosophical to fasten upon these, and say it is all delusion and wildness. The real question to be considered is this; Is a bad character really changed for a good one? If so, it is a great moral change, invaluable in its nature and results, productive of inconceivable good to the individual

himself, and to all connected with him. The delusion is momentary and harmless. In regard to the permanency of the change in the case of those convicts, there is one whose subsequent character I have no means of knowing. The other, however, when he was liberated, became a useful and respectable citizen; and after sustaining uninjured for two or three years the temptations of the world, he was admitted to a Christian church, and up to the latest accounts which I have been able to obtain, he was a most trustworthy man and an exemplary Christian. An abandoned profligate, imprisoned for his crimes, becomes a useful citizen and a virtuous man. Can you expect such a change without excitement? How unphilosophical then is it to fasten upon the slight and momentary indications of it, as evidence that there is nothing real in the case.

And yet, unphilosophical as this is, I have no doubt that there are many persons whose eyes, if they were reading the first convict's story, would catch at once the accounts of the supernatural appearances which he thought he saw, and they would stop short there. "Ah!" they would say, "he heard a voice forgiving his sins;-he saw a black coffin!It is all fanaticism and delusion." This is narrow-mindedness. The intellect which reasons thus is in such a state that it does not take a survey of the whole of a subject presented, so as to form an independent and unbiassed opinion. The man fastens upon one little blemish, which happens to be turned towards him, and seeing no farther, he condemns the whole. Like the inexperienced mariner, who thinks he has come to a barren and inhospitable land, because he sees nothing but precipitous rocks or sandy beaches on the shore which first comes to view.

There is, however, a narrow-mindedness which may operate in another way. Many a sincere Christian will read such an account, and be perfectly satisfied, because he meets with a few expressions of penitence, that the convict's heart is really changed. He thinks the criminal has certainly become a Christian, just because he talks like one. Whereas it is very possible that he is only repeating language which he has heard others use, for the sake of exciting sympathy, or pretending to be reformed in hope of pardon and release from his cell. Now it is as narrow-minded to judge from a very partial knowledge of facts in one way as

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