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most important and effectual means of accomplishing his charitable object is,
1. To discourage sin, both in principle and practice. He will think it his duty to lay open the fountain from whence all the wickedness, of which men are guilty, flows, by declaring, in the words of Christ, " that which cometh out of a man, that defileth a man: for from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness."
To make men acquainted with the depravity of their nature, is the readiest way to induce them to pray for the renewal of their souls in righteousness by the Spirit of God : for, until we hold up the mirror of Divine truth, through which they may both see and read the corrupt state of their hearts, they will be too apt to flatter themselves, that they have no need of the grace of God, either to regenerate their souls, or to assist them in overcoming the sins which most easily beset them.
In the next place, we must strip off the disguises which are put upon sin, and expose it in all its native deformity and guilt.
The Christian, in mercy to a ruined world, will denounce every vice, however common or fashionable, in the age and country in which he lives. He will not allow men to cover over the baseness of an evil act by soft imposing names ; but, knowing that the least as well as the greatest sin“ deserves God's wrath and damnation," he will affectionately entreat men to repent, and cast off their transgressions, “ that iniquity may not be their ruino.' In perfect consistency with the law of charity, we d Mark vii. 20—21.
e Ezok. xviii. 30.
may boldly reprove those who violate the commands of God. Nor should a fear of reproach, nor a dread of consequences, make us shrink from a duty so obviously enjoined upon us for the benefit of others. "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil":" “ thou shalt in anywise, rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon hims."
Yet, to convince the offender that we really intend his good, let us watch the proper season for reproof, and administer it in a spirit of kindness; otherwise, a rash and indiscreet censure of his conduct may only provoke him to more daring acts of impiety and blasphemy.
Now, were Christians more faithfully to exert themselves, in this manner, to discountenance all unrighteousness, who can tell how.great a quantity of evil they might prevent or diminish in society; how much contention, and bickering, and variance, they might lessen or terminate in family connexions; and how many individual sinners they mightreclaim from the errors of their ways, to walk with God, and become heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? At all events, when we reflect that the wages of sin is everlasting death,” we are bound, by the law of love", to shew the utmost compassion to the souls of men ; saving them with fear, and pulling them as brands out of the fire of God's holy indignation". If we can stand as unconcerned spectators, whilst we see men insulting God, and bringing swift destruction upon themselves; or if, instead of admonishing them of the danger they incur by their hostility to him, we tacitly connive at, or openly encourage their transExod. xxiii. 2.
Lev. xix. 17. h James ii. 5. Rom. vi. 23.
Mat. vii. 12. * Jude 23, 2+.
gressions ; what then becomes of our boasted philanthropy? Where is our love to Christ? our desire to spread the triumphs of his cross?
At the day of judgment, it will not be a sufficient justification of such neglect of a plain duty, to allege the general failure of charitable endeavours to convert men from sin to the practice of righteousness; or to urģe, we were afraid lest our efforts should be condemned, or ascribed to wrong motives, by “a world which lieth in wickedness!" It is incumbent on us to make the attempt; and though (which is highly improbable) all our labour of mercy should be totally useless, we shall, even then, have the consolation to think that we have done what we could to promote the salvation of sinners; and then our peace and Christian benevolence will return with * sevenfold blessings into our own bosoms"."
2. To promote the knowledge of true religion amongst men, is a second branch of our duty to our neighbour. We must not rest satisfied with merely reproving the sins of mankind, and shewing their tendency to destroy their souls ; because charity requires us to make another effort in their behalf namely, to lead them to an acquaintance with those religious truths, which not only afford the sublimest happiness to the mind, but actuate it to the diligent pursuit of all that is holy and excellent.
In conducting the important work of instructing the souls of others, we must be careful to avoid inculcating erroneous or doubtful principles; and lay the foundation of a holy life in those doctrines, however humiliating, which Scripture suggests as necessary to be embraced in order to our acceptance with God". 1 1 John v. 19.
” Luke x. 5,6. 1 Cor. iii. ll.
-. 3. Inform men what their actual condition is by nature. Tell them, that “they were estranged from God, from the wombo ;” that “they were shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin "n;" and, consequently, that they are “by nature the children of wrath, even as all otherso.” Tell them this melancholy representation is verified by observation, which proves that man is inclined to evil, and averse to good. ; By this faithful declaration of their polluted lost estate, you will open a way for the deepest humility and repentance; whilst they will be led to feel the necessity of joining in the petition of David, “ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!"
4. Acquaint them with the method by which God reconciles guilty creatures to his favour, through Jesus Christ. By the transgression of Adam, the law of God was dishonoured, and the sentence of “ death passed upon all men to condemnationo." Now, the law thus broken, Christ, by his voluntary death and obedience, has fulfilled. He is, therefore,
the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth?.” The justice of God being thus ainply satisfied by the atonement of Jesus", a solid ground is laid for the exercise of his mercy to all who repent and embrace the Gospel. “Be it known unto you, therefore, that through this man (Christ, the Lord) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, froin which they could not be justified by the law of Moses'.
Proclaim, then, to all, the riches of Divine grace, » Psalı lvii. 3. nn Psalm li. 5.
Eph. ii. 2, 3. P Psalm li. 10. 9 Rom. v. 12-18. rkom. X. 4. ir Isa. xlii. 21. • Acts xii. 38, 39.
as exhibited in the dying love of our Saviour ; who, rather than the world should perish without remedy, gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Assure those souls that are wounded by a sense of their iniquities, that Christ is a Physician of great valué, whose blood is a sovereign balm for healing the diseases of the mind, and for removing the heaviest burthens of guilt from the conscience ; yea, that he invites them to make trial of his power, to save, and to render them perfectly happy. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give
Publish, with holy delight, these glad tidings of salvation, even amongst the most abandoned of the sons of men. Tell the unworthiest of the human race, and even “those who have made a covenant with death and hell,” that there is hope, yea, " forgiveness with the Lord, that He may be feareda.”
Before the day of grace is gone beyond recall, urge both old and young, poor and rich, by arguments addressed to their hopes and fears, and by the most affectionate expostulations, “to seek the Lord while he may be found ; to call upon
him wliile he is near ". To encourage those who have long submitted to the tyranny of Satan, to break his degrading yoke from off their necks; tell them, that many of the most desperate sinners have already been “ delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son*;" and that the proclamation of Heaven warrants thern to hope for the same favour, if they will but attend to its cheering sound..." Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have 'Mat. xi. 28-30. "Ps. cxxx. 4.
un ls.lv: 6. * Col. i. 13.