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the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things. May their numbers and their success be abundantly increased, till the whole earth be filled with the glory of the Lord.

But with sorrow we have to lament, that the Gospel does not exhibit its primitive power amongst Its conquests are few; and the dispensers of it have reason to complain, that they spend their strength to very little purpose.


And why is this? Is the Lord's hand shortened that it cannot save? or, is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear? Are the truths of the Gospel less important now than when they were first preached? or the threatenings against those who neglect them, less alarming? By no means.

As professing Christians we must seek for the cause of this evil in ourselves.

Like those whom our Lord describes in the parable, we are ever ready to frame excuses for not attending to the call of the Gospel. We try to shelter our slothfulness under the plea of inability to do what the Gospel requires; or, from the want of time to seek after the promised strength. Thus we deceive ourselves, till death reveals to us our fatal error.

O! that we were wise, that we understood this, that we would consider our latter end. May the Spirit awaken us to a sense of our danger. What language can exceed the tenderness of our heavenly Father: "Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. O that thou

hadst hearkened to my commandments, then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea."

We might have supposed, that the world would have grown more holy and more confirmed in the faith of the Gospel, during the lengthening period of the Christian dispensation: but St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy discloses a painful truth: "The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron."-" For the time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

To the Thessalonians he also writes: "Be not shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming."

Under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, St. Peter declares: "There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction, and

many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. There shall also come in the last days, scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying: where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were, from the beginning of the creation."

From whence arises all this evil in the Christian Church? The springs which supply these bitter waters are clearly revealed in the charges which St. John was commanded to deliver to the angels of the seven churches: "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die. Thou art neither cold nor hot, I would thou wert cold or hot; so then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. This defection of Christian principle, this declension from the holiness of the Gospel, must be traced to the innate corruption of the heart. A growing insensibility to the evil of lukewarmness, a neglect of closet duties, or a heartless performance of them, a want of watchfulness and circumspection, a sinful conformity to the world, an eager grasping after earthly things, bespeak a people fallen from that exalted standard of faith and love which so signalized many of the early Christians from the world

around them.

But, if in the days of St. Paul the mystery of iniquity began to work; if John had to rouse the declining churches, and even in the purest age of Christianity had to declare, that many deceivers

and antichrists were entered into the world: let us look to ourselves, lest we fall from our own steadfastness; let us daily examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith; and knowing that the end of all things is at hand, let us seek for more grace, that we may be sober, and watch unto prayer, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If such signs of declension are visible among professing Christians, who still maintain an outward regard to the ordinances of the Gospel; what black marks may we not expect to find upon those, who, though called Christians, do not pretend to make any profession of religion at all.

These hate the light, and will not come to it. They love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. The world reigns in their hearts, and Satan has the sway over them. They will not part with those sins which the Word of God condemns, nor perform those duties which it enjoins. They may attend a preached Gospel, but they do not hear it with teachable hearts. Their fastidious minds are soon offended with the matter or manner of the preacher. They criticise the style of his discourse, but overlook, or are offended at its homedirected truths. They, being whole in their own estimation, feel no need of the Physician; and would gladly absent themselves altogether from the house of God, did not some secret whisper of conscience, the force of early habit, or a desire to keep up an outward decency of character, restrain their departing steps.

These and other similar causes operate to ex

clude the light of the Gospel from the hearts of sinners.

O! what a wretched being is man, when left to himself! Every evil nestles in his heart, producing a thousand stings to torment him in time and through eternity.


St. Paul directs us to the contemplation of this misery: " If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

David, who was well acquainted with the deceitfulness of the heart, describes the wicked man as flattering himself in his own eyes, until his iniquities be found to be hateful.

It is awful to think what delusions men practise upon themselves. Through the artifices of Satan, and the false reasonings of their own hearts, they are deceived to their ruin :

By comparing themselves with those who are more notoriously wicked; and thus thinking themselves good.

By magnifying their supposed virtues, and softening down their vices.

By presuming upon the Mercy of God, as if he were too benevolent to put his threatenings into execution; or in other words, too good to be true.

By depending upon a death-bed repentance, not considering that repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit; and that they cannot turn and prepare themselves by their own natural strength, to faith and calling upon God.

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