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truth is as pre-eminently practical as it is doctrinal; and as practical, as it is pure. Thus, while you honour God by acting as he commands, you may most confidently expect his blessing upon yourselves and others; and, also, upon all that you say and do for his sake, and for the sake of your fellow-men.
What a strong confirmation of the necessity of thus dealing with every vice have we in the circumstance, that the precept, “ be not conformed to this world,” occurs in one of the most doctrinal, as well as the most logical, of all the epistles of holy writ? As a necessary consequence, are we not warranted to assert, that Christianity is sufficient for all moral as well as spiritual purposes; sufficient for time, as well as for eternity? If, in the former of these respects, this were not true, how could it be true in the latter? For example, if Christianity could not moralize us, how could it save us? If it could not regulate our lives, how could it regenerate our hearts? If it could not reform us from drunkenness, how could it reclaim us from other sins, which are no less soul-destroying, and as powerful through the force of habit? Or, if it could not cure drunkenness as a physical evil, having its seat in the body, how could it cure it as a moral evil, having its seat in the
soul ? If it could not cure the smaller, how could it cure the greater evil ? In short, if it could not fit us completely for the discharge of all the duties of this life, how could it be supposed to fit us for serving God day and night in his temple above? And, not being able to accomplish the least of these ends, is it not obvious that it would not be adapted to our circumstances in this world, or be effectual for enabling us to meet the many evils of life?
We need scarcely, however, add, that, from the very nature of Christianity, as well as from its divine origin, this cannot be the case. On the contrary, it must be all-sufficient, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, for all the ends for which it is appointed, and applicable to the state of society in all ages. It must, therefore, be fitted, as well as intended, to effect the greatest of moral changes externally, as well as the greatest of spiritual changes internally; fitted, not only to renew the heart, but to reform the life; fitted, not only to enlighten and quicken, to convince and convert, but to make the most dissipated sober, and even the best of abstainers ;" as vell as the liar a man of truth, the swearer the fearer of an oath, the thief honest, and the unclean chaste; and, consequently, to raise from the darkness and depravity of sin, to the light and life of
holiness; to change the chief of sinners into the chief of saints; or to transform, as it were, the lion into the lamb.
So it was in the experience of many among the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Romans, in ancient times, who were steeped to the lips” in these and other sins; and of whom Paul could say, “such were some of you; but ye are washed; ye are sanctified; ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” So it may still be, in the experience of all who “ receive the record which God has given us of his Son;" or who, in the exercise of faith, lay hold of Christ as their Saviour. Just, also, as the Corinthians, in the primitive ages of Christianity, and others since, did not require to become members of any human society in order to be delivered from their besetting sin, whatever that was, but were commanded to come to Christ at once, and to “deny themselves to all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present evil world," so it may ever be with every class of sinners. In other words, we must never forget that “ doctrine is the basis of duty,” and that there can be no true holy practice of any of the Christian virtues apart from the holy doctrines of Christianity. To think otherwise,
DOCTRINE THE BASIS OF DUTY.
is, as a great master in Israel has well said, “the most empty of all delusions ;" it is even worse than the opposite error of trusting in a doctrine without a corresponding practice.” For, while “the vitality of doctrinal truth” may sooner or later practically “revive the Church ;" if, on the other hand, no doctrinal truth is radically held, all godly practice must “speedily perish."
DUTY OF PROFESSING CHRISTIANS
TO ACT UPON THIS PLAN.
INCONTROVERTIBLE as this is, as part of “the truth in Jesus," all professing Christians must not only guard against raising any external obstacles to the progress of Christianity, or in the way of the appointed means of grace, but take heed that, when such obstacles have been set up, they do not keep them up, but rather do every thing possible to sweep them away. Agreeably with this, while we are called upon in Scripture to beware that we “put not a stumbling-block in the way of our brother,” God also says, up the stumbling-block out of the way of my people.” So it should be, especially, with the drinking usages of society, which have become such a fruitful source of crime; and also with the numberless facilities to drunkenness, in the way of trade, which almost everywhere abound. For this purpose, should not all who have a name and a place in the Church, whether they be Ministers or Members, male or female, young or