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belief, upon which religion may be embraced. All men are not affected in like manner by the same arguments and motives; but there must always be conviction and belief; there must always be a choice. If religion be embraced at all, it must be both by the understanding and the heart. It requires sacrifices; it promises rewards: the will must be interested in the question; and therefore there must be a choice. We say then, that unless a man have chosen his religion, he has in fact no available religion at all; and we fear this is the case with too many persons in the world. It is to be feared that there are many,

who have never seriously laid this question to heart, What must we do to be saved ? for that is in fact the same thing as considering what religion we shall choose.

When Christianity was a new religion, and before it was firmly established, and extensively received; while the profession of the Gospel was attended with great peril of persecution, and even of death; those persons who embraced it, did so upon deliberate consideration and conviction: it was with them a matter of the most serious and determined choice. On the one hand Jesus Christ invited them to escape from the wrath to come; to repent and believe in him,

and be saved. On the other hand, the world held out, not only its present enjoyments to those who adhered to it, but its menaces of poverty and persecution to those who renounced it: and although many remained in the service of the world, without paying any attention to the message delivered to them from God, yet all who did take up the cross, must have done so from conviction and choice. But no such alternative is now presented to those, who live in a country, which has for many ages received the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christianity is no longer persecuted; it is not even openly denied or called in question, except by a few miserable sinners, who have no influence upon public opinion. So that in fact there is no question raised, at least men are not compelled to make an open choice, between Christianity and any other religion. But one evil consequence, which results from this general and unresisted predominance of Christianity, is this; that men become Christians as a matter of course, without inquiring why they are so; and consequently without a thorough understanding of that great and vital truth, that there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we may be saved, but only the name of the Lord Jesus.

Now we maintain, that religion is still a matter of choice. If you are not called upon to choose between Christianity and paganism, or any other false religion; yet still you must make your election between Christ and the world; between a carnal and a spiritual state: and it must be a deliberate choice; made after a due consideration of the advantages which each has to offer; or at least from a sincere feeling of heart, which prompts you to prefer one to the other. A state of careless neutrality is not permitted; he that is not with me, said our Saviour, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth. He who is not decidedly a Christian is no Christian at all; at least as far as his own prospects of salvation are concerned. All attempts to compromise the question, and to serve Christ, just so far as his service does not interfere with that of the world, will be fruitless; ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Yet we see too much reason to fear, that this is the actual state of a very great number of professing Christians. They are well content to bear that name; and see no reason why they should lay it aside. It subjects them to no particular inconvenience; they take good care that it shall not debar them from any of the profitable or honourable things of this world; nor from many of its customary pleasures. They attend, with decent regularity, the ordinances of their religion, except such as they imagine may require of them a more than ordinary degree of self-denial: and thus they endeavour to make Christianity, which is the purest, the most uncompromising, the most heart-controlling of all religions, compatible with just as much pleasure and indulgence as is not inconsistent with outward decency. This profane hypocrisy, or, to call it by a gentler name, this miserable selfdeceit, in the most important of all concerns, arises simply from this ; that such men have never made choice of their religion. They never choose whom they will serve.

3 Matt. xii. 30.

Ask of yourselves whether it be not so. To some, at least, of those who hear me I may propose the question, Have you ever, since you have arrived at years of discretion, applied yourselves in good earnest to consider whether you should embrace religion or not? ever taken a careful and deliberate survey of the various paths, which profess to conduct mankind to happiness, and selected that which leads to life eternal ? When was it that you

Have you

retired within yourselves, to meditate upon the certainty of your being accountable to an almighty and omniscient God, for every part of your conduct, and to consider by what methods you might hope to escape from his just indignation? Did you ever say to yourselves, “I “know that I must inevitably go either to heaven

or to hell; that the strait path and the wide way are both before me to choose, and that “choose I must? I know that I may be saved by Jesus Christ; for he is the way, the truth, and the life ;* no man cometh unto the Father but by him: but then I must come unto him heartily “and resolutely. I am sure that I cannot be “saved by the world; because the world and all “ that it contains will pass away, and the very elements will melt with fervent heat, when my “soul shall receive its eternal doom from the “mouth of the supreme Judge. Nothing can “ make amends to me for the loss of life eternal: “ for what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul 25 On the “other hand, if I determine to embrace the Gos“pel, and to follow Jesus Christ, I know that I “must submit to many temporal inconveniences; “to much self-denial at least, perhaps to much

* John xiv. 6.

5 Matt. xvi. 26.

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