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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 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, “ take 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 old, be banded together as much as others ? And professing, as they do, to be the followers of Him who is the kindest and best of Masters; who pleased not himself, and went about doing good; and who has said, “if any man will come after
me, let him take up his cross and follow me," instead of being apathetic or indifferent in this noble cause, should they not exhibit not only as much self-denial and zeal, sympathy and compassion, benevolence and love, as those who belong to worldly societies, but, in each of these respects, far excel them? Or, if they do not vie with them with a holy rivalry, will not "the children of this world” not only be "wiser in their generation than the children of light,” but condemn them? For this purpose, also, should they not deal affectionately and faithfully, closely and kindly, with relatives and friends, neighbours and acquaintances, and especially with those over whom they have the greatest influence, and with whom they are most intimate; and yet not in their own name, or in the name of man, but in the name of Christ, their Lord and Saviour? For this
purpose, likewise, should not man go to man, woman to woman, and child to child, and, by their living example, as well as by earnest entreaty, strive not only to break off their intemperate habits, but to bring them to Christ? For this purpose, should they not speak to the drunkard, or to him who is addicted to " tippling," as soon as he is restored to his reason; and while setting before him the evil of his sin, spiritually and eternally, as well as bodily and temporally, remind him meekly, but firmly, that “drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” For, if he is capable of listening to arguments in favour of worldly abstinence, and of being moved by a sense of human kindness, and of joining a worldly society, is he not as capable of attending to arguments in favour of Christian “abstinence from all appearance of evil,” of being influenced by the voice of Christian love, and of becoming a member of the Christian Church? Or, if he is already a professing Member, or Office-bearer, of the Church, but has been guilty of drunkenness, either occasionally or frequently, should be not be reminded, not only that he has sinned grievously against the Lord, but that he is professedly “joined to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, never to be forgotten;" that he has “subscribed with his hand unto the Lord, and surnamed himself by the name of Israel ;” and thus that he has voluntarily vowed, not to man but to God, to “depart from all iniquity?" In like manner, should not all connected with the Church, in