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ACTS XVI. 30.
What must I do to be saved ?
In speaking to a number of persons of different ages, and infinitely different characters, it cannot be easy to address them in language which shall be equally suited to them all. If we speak to them as to advanced Christians, who have begun in earnest, and are steadily pursuing their way to heaven, we must needs use a style which many of them will be utterly unable to understand. Or if, on the other hand, we address them as children in Christian knowledge, as requiring to be taught the first principles of the wisdom of the Gospel, many of them who are themselves further advanced will be somewhat impatient of these elementary truths; and will say that they are weary of
; hearing once again what they have already heard so often and know so well. Were our congregations indeed such as they ought to be,
there would be no difficulty; for as all of us have been acquainted with the name of Christ from our infancy, as we have been baptized in his name, and have been all accustomed more or less to attend his worship, we ought all to be familiar both in word and deed with the beginnings of the Gospel, and to require only exhortations to persevere in our course, and those fresh openings of heavenly knowledge which a good man will ever be gaining till he arrives at his last perfection in the kingdom of heaven.
But it is quite needless to say that our congregations are not such as these; but that a large proportion of them for ever require to be told afresh what is the very foundation of a Christian life. Nor indeed is it unprofitable even to the best of us to be brought back from time to time to these first elements, that we may see whether or no our foundation does stand sure, and that we may refresh our feelings of thankfulness to God, and of humiliation for ourselves. The Israelites, when they were
become a great nation, and were entered into Destovi
. the enjoyment of Canaan, were commanded to
come before the Lord with the first fruits of their rich land, and then to look back
their poor and humble origin. They were to say, “A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and