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fortably enough—and they often die more uncomfortably than they have lived. A principal object which I have in view in this course of lectures is, to endeavour to ground you fully and correctly in the very faith of the gospel_"the faith which was once delivered to the saints"—that you may have the advantage and the comfort of it, both in life and in death.

You are, however, by no means to suppose, that in any thing you have heard at this time, it has been my design, to deny or undervalue the practical part of religion, or the performance of Christian duties. No verily-I have only aimed to lay a solid foundation for practical duty. There is an error here, I admit, which is quite as bad as that which I have exposed. There is a description of people who value themselves on their correct, systematic knowledge of religion, who, notwithstanding, never practise religion. It would seem as if they supposed that a correct creed would save their souls: whereas, the fact is, that if “they hold the truth in unrighteousness”—if "they know their Lord's will, and do it not-they will be beaten with many stripes:”—They will perish with a more aggravated condemnation than the ignorant or deluded. Hence it has sometimes been said, that a bad life is the worst heresy: and if such a life be persisted in to the last, by those who have been taught the truth as it is in Jesus, their doom will no doubt be peculiarly awful. This notwithstanding, it is of the utmost importance that the mind should be fixed in just principles of religion, even before practical piety takes place;–because, as already shown, just principles naturally lead to a right practice. Corrupt principles lay the conscience to sleep. He who holds them is wrong upon system, and you cannot disturb him until you have broken up his "refuge of lies.” But he who transgresses practically, while his principles are sound, must contend with conscience. You can address him with arguments and admonitions drawn from what he admits to be right-And even without this, his own reflections, especially in those

hours of seriousness which occur in the lives of all, will have a constant tendency to work his reformation. Hence we see, in fact, that those who have been early and well indoctrinated in religion, do so often become practically pious;—sometimes even in those mournful instances, in which, for a season, they have broken restraining bonds asunder, and been dissolute and profane. The Spirit of all grace, operating on an enlightened understanding and the remaining sensibility of natural conscience, brings them to serious consideration, to deep repentance, to an earnest application to the atoning blood of the Redeemer, and to a new and holy life. Of such momentous importance is it, that the mind have clear and consistent views of revealed truth, and be rooted and grounded in it.

From what you have now heard on this answer in the Catechism, I shall make, in concluding the lecture, a few inferences of a practical kind.

1. You may perceive, from what has been said, that holding fast the truth as it is in Jesus, and even contending earnestly for it, is not inconsistent with genuine Christian charity. This, indeed, we know at once must be the fact; because as firmness in the faith, and Christian charity, are both duties, and every duty must be consistent with every other, the two duties in question can never be discordant. But we here perceive how the agreement takes place, and what is the ground of it. There are certain things, both in faith and practice, which are essential to religion. For those who understandingly deny and reject these things, we are not bound to exercise charity_if by charity we understand the regarding of such persons as being in a state of safety and salvation. indeed, to cherish toward them the most kind and benevolent feelings, and to seek to do them all the good in our power, and especially to bring them to the knowledge of the truth that they may be saved. But we must either renounce our adherence to the fundamentals of religion ourselves, or regard them as in a state not only dangerous but ruinous.

We can

We are,

not do the former, and must therefore, however reluctantly, do the latter. Yet genuine charity will make all due allowance for the prejudices of education, for the want of correct information, and for numerous other causes, which produce error, confusion, and indistinctness, in relation to some important doctrines of religion. Charity will also lead us to hope, when the essentials of religion are not openly and avowedly rejected, that they may be held, (though it be with a mixture of much error,) in such manner as to consist with a measure of vital piety: And real fervent charity will always incline its possessor to embrace, in cordial Christian affection, all who appear to love the Saviour in sincerity, by whatever name they may be called, or to whatever sect, or church, or denomination of Christians they may belong. I have never read of an uninspired man who appeared to me to have a more diffusive genuine charity than Dr. John Owen; and yet I know of none who has more zealously, laboriously, and successfully, contended for all the important doctrines of the Bible.

2. You may perceive, from what you have heard on the answer in the Catechism discussed at this time, that there are some parts of the Scriptures which should be read more frequently, and more studiously than others. This follows from the distinction made between what the Scriptures principally teach, and what they teach incidentally and subordinately. It is, however, by no means the design of this remark, to recommend the omission of any part of the sacred volume. On the contrary, I would earnestly recommend, as a matter of great importance, that the Bible be read throughout, and in regular order-and that frequently. If there be any young person now hearing me, who has reached fifteen years of age, without having read the Bible carefully through, I would say that such an individual, male or female, has neglected an important duty which he or she ought immediately to begin to perform.

There is a great advantage in knowing what is contained in every part of this holy book;—for almost every part has some connexion with another part. It is, however, perfectly consistent with this to say, that some parts should be perused much oftener than others. The whole of the New Testament should, I think, be read more frequently and studiously than the Old; and the devotional, didactic, and historical parts of the whole Bible, more frequently than the rest. The book of Psalms, and the book of Proverbs, should be very familiar. The prophecies of Isaiah and Daniel, are more plain than the most of the others. What relates to the Mosaic ritual, though certainly not to be neglected, will not claim as frequent a perusal as the other parts of Scripture. I recommend an abundant reading of the sacred text, without note or comment. Yet commentators are useful, and their labours ought not to be undervalued. The prophecies, and some other portions of Scripture, cannot be understood fully, without their aid;—and their practical remarks are often highly excellent. For popular reading, the commentaries of Henry, Scott, Guise, Doddridge, Burkitt, and Horne, are, in my opinion, the best in our language.

3. You may learn from the statement you have heard, to guard against the evil of separating, in religion, what God hath joined together. This is an evil of very extensive, and very pernicious influence. I have shown you that truth is in order to goodness ;-and that truth and duty cannot be separated. In the same manner, it is impossible to separate faith and good works; genuine morality and true religion; or the use of means and the blessing that comes from God alone. The attempt is often made to separate these things in practice, but a real separation is utterly impracticable. They are indissolubly united by the Divine appointment. Never therefore, attempt to disunite them. Let it be your object to avoid error, not only that your speculations may be correct, but that knowing the truth, you may reduce it to practice. Let a lively faith in Christ, as the ground of your justification, be evinced to be sincere, by every good word and work that can adorn religion, honour God, or do good to mankind. Never imagine that there can be any religion that will save the soul, without good morals; nor that good morals without unfeigned piety will render you a whit safer. Use all the means of God's appointment diligently and faithfully, and yet look to him, and depend on him, at every step, for his grace and blessing to render them effectual. Here is the true gospel system; and every thing contrary to it, is unquestionably erroneous and delusive.

4. Finally-From the whole that you have heard on this subject, let me earnestly inculcate the importance of practical piety. After all that can be said, or taught, there is no full security against running into the most ruinous errors, except in real, experimental, heart religion. The human heart is depraved throughout, in its natural state; it is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” It is therefore in natural alliance with all those principles which will admit of sinful indulgence; and is hostile to those which forbid that indulgence: And one error in principle and practice, may lead on to another, till every extreme of impiety is reached. But when the heart is renewed and sanctified, this dreadful bias of corrupt nature is corrected and changed. The love of holiness is implanted, which is always connected with a supreme love of truth and duty. And above all, the soul is committed, for its safe keeping, to Him who will assuredly“ keep that which is committed to him.” Here, then, is the only absolute protection against those errors that destroy the soul. Seek, therefore, with the utmost engagedness, the renewing grace of God; and give yourselves no contentment, till you have obtained this “pearl of great price.”

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