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influence? Will you not be able to do as much for your own comfort and that of those around you, if cheered by the hope that your sins are forgiven, and that God is your friend, as you are while oppressed with the consciousness that the wrath of God is abiding on you, and that you have no portion secured beyond the grave ? But suppose that a due attention to the subject of religion were to interfere, in some degree, with your worldly interests and pursuits; which does Christ tell you to seek first? Which does your own conscience tell you, is most valuable and important ? Would you think the man acted wisely, who, by busying himself to save a single dollar, should lose the opportunity of securing a large estate? And what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?
3. Interference of religion with favorite pursuits. – Another excuse, often felt, though not very often expressed, is an apprehension that religion will render it necessary to abandon some favorite pleasure or pursuit. Most people, whose minds are enlightened by divine truth, understand very well what is, and what is not, consistent with Christian character. But so long as they make no pretensions to religion, they seem to feel no scruple in doing things, which they would be the first to condemn, if done by a professing Christian. They have many worldly pleasures, which they know it would be very unseemly for a disciple of Christ to indulge ; or, they are governed by principles in their inodes of doing business, which the Gospel plainly condemns; and as they have such a regard for consistency of character, that they cannot think of becoming Christians, without giving up whatever the spirit of the Gospel condemns, they are unwilling to be closely pressed upon the subject. They had rather keep it at a distance; and when an awakened conscience brings it home to them, they drive away their convictions, and close their eyes to the truth. But, my friend, religion will only probibit you from doing that which is wrong; and will not conscience tell you that you are wishing for a continued license to sin ? Does it not also tell you that a day of reckoning will come ? — and can it be wise to go on swelling the amount that you will then have to settle ?
In connexion with this, I would observe that pride is a very frequent obstacle, that prevents many from giving up their hearts to God. I presume there are those among my readers, who will know what I mean. A feeling of shame would come over you, to have your thoughtless companions and associates look upon you, and know that you were thinking seriously about the welfare of your soul. And, therefore, if you have feelings on the subject, you try to conceal them, and will perhaps even deny that you have any. But is it best to be ashamed of Christ, when he has declared that of such he will be ashamed in the kingdom of his Father ?
" Ashamed of Jesus? — yes you may,
No fear to quell - no soul to save. 4. Inconsistencies of professing Christians. — Another very common feeling, which reconciles the heart to a life of sin, is that many persons who profess religion, do not live consistently. My heart is pained within me when I think how grievously the Saviour is often wounded in the house of his friends; how little conformity they exhibit to the character of Him, whom they profess to make their pattern, and how little concern they manifest for the eternal welfare of those, with whom they daily associate. And whether many of them have not deceived themselves with a name to live, while they are dead in sins, is a serious question, which must soon be decided. — But is the blessed Saviour himself, on this account, any the less worthy of your love and confidence? Is this a reason why you should crucify him afresh by your unbelief? And especially, is this a reason why you should expose your immortal soul to eternal wretchedness and despair? Will you once think of offering it as an excuse, when you stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that his professed disciples, whom you knew on earth, did not live as they ought? Or, will it help to dispel the gloom of your dark abode, to have associated with you, those whorn you had seen numbered with the professing people of God ? Look at the subject candidly, and tell me if you think this a good excuse.
5. Conversion, the work of God. — Perlaps you have a secret feeling that it must be the work of God; he must work repentance and faith in you, or you cannot repent and believe ; and this in such a sense as to free you from the responsibility and guilt of sin. Suppose a person were exposed to death, in a situation where he had a full view of his danger, and say that it was utterly out of his power to relieve himself, while there was an entire uncertainty whether relief would be afforded from any other quarter. Would he be able to maintain an air of indifference to his condition ? Would he eat and drink with his usual relish through the day, and lie down and slumber quietly at night? Can any, then, really believe that they are in this fearful state, exposed to the eternal wrath of God, entirely unable to relieve themselves, and lying under a fearful uncertainty whether any other being will afford them help; while at the same time they appear wholly indifferent to their situation, and are perhaps amusing themselves with the trifles that surround them? Do they really believe their condition is such as is here
supposed? Or, are they only wishing to quiet their consciences in sin, and avail themselves of this as a plausible excuse? Would you say that the more wicked a man is, the more excusible he is? Yourself being judge, a strong inclination to do wrong, furnishes no good excuse for doing wrong. There is one plain consideration that should satisfy us on this point. God holds man responsible for his conduct, and shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Will you think of urging your depraved inclination as an excuse at the bar of Jehovah ? Certainly not. Then do not let it operate to keep you from accepting Christ now.
6. Influence of earthly friends. — Others are prevented from accepting Christ by the influence of earthly friends. “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." But will Christ consider the influence of earthly friends a sufficient excuse for pot accepting his invitation ? Let his own words decide. “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.” Yes, we are required to forsake wife and children, if need be, for the sake of being his disciples. — But some will plead the opposition of friends, if friends they can be called, as an obstacle to their embracing religion. But your friends cannot control your thoughts. They may abridge your privileges, but they cannot prevent your giving your heart to God, and loving him with your whole soul. And do not forget that your obligations to no earthly friend can bear any comparison with those which you are under to Christ.
7. Irksome duties. — Others are in heart unwilling to become Christians, because they know there are duties connected with the profession of Christianity, which appear to them exceedingly difficult and irksome. They therefore hesitate, and waver. — Do take up the subject in earnest. Some adopt a kind of half way course ; indulge a hope that they have become the disciples of Christ, but decline the responsibility that belongs to a public profession of religion ; and because they do not render themselves responsible to a body of their fellow-men, feel at liberty to omit those duties, which appear most forbidding to them. It.is not my province to say that people never get to heaven in this way; but I do feel bound to repeat what Christ said when on earth ; — He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. Those cannot expect to have any thing less than a comfortless pilgrimage, who undertake to pursue it in a different manner from what Christ directs, if, indeed, it should carry them safe to the heavenly Canaan Christ has enjoined no duties, which are not needful on account of their inAuence on the character. They cannot, then, with safety be neglected. The difficulties connected with these duties, are greater in the prospect, than when actually encountered ; and when once overcome, we find that in keeping the commands of Christ, there is great reward.
8. Want of conviction of sin. — Others think they cannot accept the invitation of Christ, because they think they have not experienced such powerful convictions as they think needful, before it is proper for them to enjoy the consolations of religion. What would you think of the condemned criminal, who should refuse to comply with the term of offered pardon, though perfectly easy and just, because in his own view, he did not feel so penilent as he ought, for the offence he had committed ? Do you feel sensible that you are guilty in the sight of God, that you are justly condemned by his law, that there is no way of escape but by the atoning blood of Christ ? And do you believe that Christ stands ready and willing to save you? Why, then, do you not commit yourself entirely into his hands? Do you still say you have not felt your guilt so much as you ought ? Think one inoment. If God has been so kind as to show you your situation without that overwhelming sense of guilt, and those distressing stings of conscience, which some experience, is it a proper requital of his kindness to stand up and obstinately refuse to obey him ? He commands you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do it now; and how strangely will it sound for you to plead at last, that you saw your danger, and perfectly understood what a remedy was provided, but you did not apply unto it, because you did not feel so much as you supposed you ought.
9. More convenient season. — Others secretly think they shall have, some time or other, a more convenient season than the present. This is not expressed, but the heart feels it, and it betrays at once the fact, that the individual does not wish to be a servant of God. He postpones entering his service, as an evil which must be put off as long as possible, and submitted to at last, only when it can no longer be postponed. Reader, is this your state of mind? You do not mean to die impenitent. You are not calculating on the horrors of a dying bed, uncheered by the presence of the Saviour; but you are not ready to repent now. You expect a more convenient season. A more convenient season ? — Why? — When your weight of guilt has accumulated, your heart bardened, your conscience seared, and the patience of God well nigh exhausted by your long delay ? Do these things render it more convenient to effect a reconciliation with God?
“ To-day attend, is wisdom's voice;
Such are the real feelings which lie concealed in the hearts of thousands who are called serious, thoughtful enquirers, and who think they are seeking salvation, with honest desires to find it. Reader, examine your heart, and find what the tie is which really binds you in sin, and break away from it. At least, distinctly understand the case; for if these are the feelings which secretly reign in your heart, they prove that you sull deliberately prefer the world and sin, to the enjoyments of holiness and the service of your Maker.
SABBATH SCHOOL TEACHERS' VISITS.
While the Christian Community are generally agreed as to the importance of Sabbath Schools, there exist various opinions respecting the best mode of conducting them; and of course there is a considerable diversity in the practice of different teachers. It is of the highest moment, that every ibing which impedes or limits their usefuness, should be carefully noted and publicly exposed, that thus the Christian public may profit by the experience of individuals, engaged in these institutions.
Some questions respecting the management of Sabbath Schools cannot be settled absolutely, but must depend upon the circumstances of each case ; — such, for example, as the comparative advantages of holding one or two sessions on each Sabbath. The determination of this depends, principally, upon local circumstances, since the facilities for holding two schools are much greater ia the city, than in the country. There are oth- · er questions of vital importance to the welfare of these schools, which need not argument, so much as illustration by means of facts, accompanied with an appeal to the conscience of the teacher. We consider the subject placed at the head of this article, as one of this class, and we purpose to exhibit, as concisely as may be practicable, the necessity and effect of these visits.
A superintendent on entering his school one Sabbath morning, discovers several new faces among the pupils. Afier prayers he notices an increased number of this description, and as he passes round he assigns them to the different classes, according to their ages and other circumstances. He inquires as to their residence, parentage and motives for joining the school, and receives such answers as the following:
I live in Street, in the neighborhood of this School; my father and mother attend meeting in the churcb adjoining, and when the minister called to see them last week, he advised them