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tion. In the lives of the best Christians how many acts and instances are there which betray the instability of their resolutions, and the weakness of their endeavours to combat those propensities? But if in the unguarded moments of surprize and inattention their virtue fails them; the brightness of it is obscured, not extinguished ; the force of it is suspended, but not destroyed. They return to the road out of which they had started; they recover the guide they had left and lost. On such occasions more especially, indeed in all cases but that of obstinate habitual wickedness, the efficacy of repentance, rightly understood, is unquestionable. It is one of the clearest, as well as most comfortable of all the evangelical doctrines.
He, therefore, who studies to correct his faults, and strives to be constant and regular in the practice of what is right, may be said to persevere ; just as a work is said to go on, though discontinued at intervals, and obstructed by casual interruptions. But here it may not be amiss to observe, that to such as know neither rule nor measure, perseverance is impracticable; nothing violent can be lasting; and it is seen by experience, that devotion which has much of passion mixed with it, either evaporates in the extacies of joy, or subsides in the languors of melancholy. How different is this from the temper of true piety!
earnest, and yet equable; cheerful, and yet sedate.
In every action which men engage in, some point is proposed, as the object or end of such action; and to attain the end, we must have recourse to the means, whether we come to the knowledge of them by obvious experience, by the natural use of our faculties, or by the help of revelation. In the use of these means we must persist, or absolutely drop our design, and quit all pretensions to success. Such is the order of: nature: and no one is vain enough to expect that, for his convenience, this order should be changed or interrupted. Why then that of Providence? Yet he who ceases to put his trust in Christ, and to be virtuous, desists from the use of the only means which God hath appointed for the attainment of salvation. And it is just as contrary to the order of Providence, that such a one should continue in the progress towards perfection and happiness, as it is to the course of Nature, that a heavy body should continue in its motion upwards after the force is spent by which it was impelled. Virtue is that force, which, in conjunction with the Divine Grace, can alone carry us to the great end of our existence, in spite of all the resistance from without, and all the obstructions from within. When this active principle is invigorated by a firm belief of the Truths revealed in the Gospel, the Christian, un
forwards towards the mark of his high calling. Eager, but not precipitate; resolute, but not rash, he will follow the directions, and obey the orders of his great leader, let the duty be ever so trying, the discipline ever so severe. He will “fight a good fight, he will finish his course, he will keep the faith ;” animated by that crown which is laid up for him, on account of those sincere, though imperfect services, which God will accept for the merits of our blessed Redeemer.
retarded in his progress,