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Injury which this book will do.

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 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 endeavored 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 disregard what you say. The book will certainly do them no harm."

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Will do them no harm? I wish that could be true. it can not be. The religious teacher can not 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 subject 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 or weakened, and his heart hardened against a future appeal?

The chapter on Confession of Sin, for example, will have been undoubtedly read by multitudes who will shut the book, and lay it aside, without at all attempting to perform the duty there pointed out. The duty was plainly brought before them. They 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 which it suggested vanished

The disobedient child.

The message disregarded.

The Christian message.

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 the parent'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 her 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 claims 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 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 savor of life unto life to some, to others is a savor 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

Story of Louisa.

Her character.

and consider attentively the narrative to which the remainder of this chapter is devoted.* It is strictly true, and is only a plain, common instance, such as are occurring all around us by tens of thousands, of the consequences of being 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 indicated perfect health and great buoyancy of spirits.

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Her appearance, as I saw her seated in her pew, led me at once to suppose that she was an amiable but thoughtless girl, and this opinion my subsequent acquaintance with her abun

* By Rev. John S. C. Abbot.

The evening meeting.

Louisa's interest in religion.

dantly confirmed. 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 that 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 Savior'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, endeavored 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 to come, for personal conversation. The appointed evening arrived, and I was delighted at seeing Louisa, in company with two or three others, enter my house.

I conversed with each one individually. They generally, with much frankness, expressed their state of feeling. Most of them expressed much solicitude respecting their eternal interests. Louisa appeared different from all the rest. She was anxious, and unable to conceal her anxiety, and yet ashamed to have it known. She had come to converse with

Conversation with Louisa.

me upon the subject of religion, and yet was making an evident effort to appear unconcerned. 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, as you have come interested in the subject of religion."

She made no reply.


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

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

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'I don't know, sir; I think I wish to be a Christian."


you feel that you are a sinner, Louisa?"

"I know that I am a sinner, but I suppose that I do not feel it much."

'I suppose you do not; but consider, Louisa, how ungrateful and insensible the heart must be, not to feel its sins against God. God has made you, and he is now taking care of you, giving you every blessing and every enjoyment that you have, and yet you have lived many years without gratitude to him, and have been continually breaking his commandments, and now do not feel that you are a sinner. What would you think of a child whose kind and affectionate parents had done every thing in their power to make her 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. yet this is the way in which 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. You know that


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