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"If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."

I HAVE now in the several chapters which the reader has already had the opportunity of perusing, endeavoured clearly to explain the first steps to be taken in Christian duty, and the principles and feelings by which they ought to be guided. I think that all who have read these pages must have understood clearly and distinctly what they ought to do. Take for example the subject of the first chapter; Confession. You cannot read or even think upon that subject for half an hour, without seeing plainly that you have disobeyed God again and again, and that you have, by thus doing what you know to be wrong, destroyed your peace of mind, and displeased your Maker. This no one can deny. There is a vast variety of religious opinion and religious controversy in the world, but I believe no sect believing the existence of a deity was ever heard of, which maintained that man does not do wrong, or that he ought not to acknowledge his sins to God.

But when you saw clearly that you had done wrong, and destroyed your peace, did you go and seek reconciliation? How many probably read that chapter, and distinctly understood what duty it urged upon them, and saw the reasonableness of that duty, and yet shut the book, and laid it away, without ever intending at all to set resolutely about doing it. To understand clearly what duty is, and to have a disposition to do it, are very different things.

I have during the preceding chapters been confined exclusively to explaining what the duty of my readers is. I have said scarcely any thing to persuade you to do it, and as I have gone on from page to page, and endeavoured so


to explain and illustrate the principles of piety that every one could clearly understand, the melancholy reflection has often forced itself upon me, "How many now will read or hear read, these things, and yet entirely neglect to do any thing I describe.” Melancholy reflection!" you will say perhaps; "why do you call it a melancholy reflection? If some are induced to do their duty in consequence of your explanations, you may rejoice in the good which is done, and not think at all of those who disregarded what you say. The book will certainly do them no harm."

Will do them no harm! I wish that could be true. But it is not. The religious teacher cannot console himself with the thought that when his efforts do no good, they will do no harm. For he must, if he speaks distinctly, and brings fairly forward a question of duty, cause every one of his readers to decide for it or against it; and when a person decides against duty, is he not injured? Is not good principle defeated and weakened, and his heart hardened against a future appeal?

The chapter on Confession of Sin, for example, has been undoubtedly read by multitudes, who shut the book and laid it aside, without at all attempting to perform the duty there pointed out. The duty was plainly brought before them. He could not, and probably would not, deny its obligation. But instead of going accordingly to God and seeking peace and reconciliation to him by a free confession of guilt,they laid the book away, and after a very short time, all the serious thoughts it suggested vanished from their minds, and they returned as before to their sins. Now this is deciding once more distinctly against God.

For to decide against God, it is not necessary to use the actual language of disobedience. Suppose that a father sends a child to call back his little sister who is going away contrary to her father's wishes. The boy runs and overtakes her, and delivers his message. The child stops a moment, and listens to the command that she should return immediately to her home. She hesitates-thinks of her father, and of her duty to obey him, and then looks over the green fields through which she was walking, and longs to enjoy the forbidden pleasure. There is a momentary struggle in her heart, and then she turns away and walks boldly and carelessly on. The messenger returns slowly and sadly home.

But why does he return sadly? He has done his duty in delivering the message. Why should he be sad? He is sad to think of the double guilt which his sister has incurred. He thinks that the occasion, which his coming up to his sister presented, might have been the means of her return and of her forgiveness, but that it was the means of confirming her in disobedience, and of hardening her heart against the claim of her father.

It is just so with the messages which a Christian teacher brings to those who listen to his words. If they do not listen to obey, they listen to reject and to disobey, and every refusal to do duty hardens the heart in sin. There can be no question therefore that such a book as this must, in many cases, be the innocent means of fixing human souls in their sins, as the gospel itself, while it is a savour of life unto life to some, to others is a savour of death unto death.

Reader, is your name on the sad catalogue of those who read religious books, and listen to religious instruction, merely to bring the question of duty again and again before your minds, only to decide that you will not do it? If it is, read and consider attentively the narrative to which the remainder of this chapter is devoted. It has never before been published. I providentially met with it in a manuscript while writing these chapters, and it teaches so forcibly the lesson that ought now to be impressed upon my readers, that I requested of the clergyman who wrote it permission to insert it here. The circumstances are of recent occurrence, and the reader may rely upon the strict truth and faithfulness of the description.

The reader will observe, however, that there are no remarkable incidents in this case. There are no peculiar circumstances of any kind to give interest to the narrative. It is only a plain common instance, such as are occurring all around us by tens of thousands, of the consequences of being only almost persuaded to be a Christian.


Shortly after my settlement in the ministry, I observed in the congregation a young lady whose blooming countenance and cheerful air showed perfect health and high ela

tion of spirits. Her appearance satisfied me at once that she was amiable and thoughtless. There was no one of my charge whose prospects for long life were more promising than her own, and perhaps no one who looked forward to the future with more pleasing hopes of enjoyment. To her eye the world seemed bright. She often said she wished to enjoy more of it before she became a Christian.

Louisa, (for by that name I shall call her,) manifested no particular hostility to religion, but wished to live a gay and merry life till just before her death, and then to become pious and die happy. She was constant in her attendance at church, and while others seemed moved by the exhibition of the Saviour's love, she seemed entirely unaffected. Upon whatever subject I preached, her countenance retained the same marks of indifference and unconcern. The same easy smile played upon her features, whether sin or death, or heaven or hell, was the theme of discourse. One evening I invited a few of the young ladies of my society to meet at my house. She came with her companions. I had sought the interview with them that I might more directly urge upon them the importance of religion. All in the room were affected-and she, though evidently moved, endeavoured to conceal her feelings.

The interest in this great subject manifested by those present was such, that I informed them that I would meet in a week from that time any who wished for personal conversation. The appointed evening arrived, and I was delighted in seeing, with two or three others, Louisa enter my house.


I conversed with each one individually. They generally with much frankness expressed their state of feeling. Most of them manifested much solicitude respecting their eternal interests. Louisa appeared different from all the rest. was anxious, and unable to conceal her anxiety, and yet ashamed to have it known. She had come to converse with me upon the subject of religion, and yet was making an evident effort to appear indifferent. I had long felt interested in Louisa, and was glad of this opportunity to converse with her.


Louisa," said I, "I am happy to see you here this evening, and particularly so, knowing that you have come interested in religion."

She made no reply.

"Have you long been thinking upon this subject, Louisa ?" "I always thought the subject important, sir, but have not attended to it as I suppose I ought."

"Do you now feel the subject to be more important than you have previously?"

"I don't know, sir; I think I want to be a Christian." "Do you feel that you are a sinner, Louisa ?"

"I know that I am a sinner, for the Bible says so, but I suppose that I do not feel it enough."

"Can you expect that God will receive you into his favour while you are in such a state of mind as that? He has made you, and he is now taking care of you, giving you every blessing and every enjoyment you have, and yet you have lived many years without any gratitude to him, and continually breaking his commandments, and now do not feel that you are a sinner. What should you think of a child whose kind and affectionate parents had done every thing in their power to make happy, and who should yet not feel that she had done any thing wrong, though she had been every day disobeying her parents, and had never expressed any gratitude for their kindness? You, Louisa, would abhor such a child. And yet this is the way you have been treating your Heavenly Father. And he has heard you say this evening that you do not feel that you have done wrong, and he sees your heart, and knows how unfeeling it is. Now, Louisa, you must be lost unless you repent of your sins, and ask humbly and earnestly for forgiveness. And why will you not? You know that Christ has died to atone for your sins. God will forgive you for his Son's sake, if you are penitent." To this Louisa made no reply. She did not seem displeased, neither did her feelings appear subdued.

After addressing a few general remarks to my young friends, we kneeled in prayer, and the interview closed. Another meeting was appointed on the same evening of the succeeding week. Louisa again made her appearance with the same young ladies, and a few others who were not present the first evening. She appeared much more deeply impressed. Her coldness and reserve had given place to a frank expression of interest and exhibition of feeling.

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Well, Louisa," said I, as in turn I commenced conver

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