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they could but deliver their own souls, and that in a temporal sense, but thou, O blessed Saviour, wast called Jesus from thy birth, because thou camest to save thy people from their sins! But it would be erring in principle, if we thought of working out our own salvation by personal efforts were no part of a Christian's duty, because we are justified freely by Christ, that is, freely by his undeserved favour, freely, in procuring a ransom and redemption for us. As the Creator of the universe saw every thing that he had made, and, behold! it was very good, although natural perversions, the storms and tempests of the human breast, wrested aside the great blessings he had designed for man: so the Author and Finisher of our faith arranged every link of the chain in the order of his salvation, in such a manner, that wilfully to destroy any, the smallest particle, in spiritual connection, endangers the plan of salvation, and deprives the unhappy offender of all the benefit of the Saviour's love.

Descend deep into thy breast, Christian! and search diligently the inmost recesses of thy heart. If selfscrutiny has done its perfect work; if hidden deceit and secret sin are eradicated from their native soil; if the impure spirit is cast out, the child of God, and member of Christ, will show himself in the delightful colours of a renovated body, and an holy life—your light will shine forth in double brightness; it will reflect backward on yourself, and so shine before men, that they


will see your good words, and glorify your Father who is in heaven 1.”

XIV.-Sins of the Understanding.

"He is little acquainted with the subject of THE UNDERSTANDING who does not know, that as it is the most elevated of the soul, so it is employed with a greater and more constant delight, than any of the other. Its searches are after truth, wherein the very pursuit makes a great part of the pleasure. Every step the mind takes in its progress towards knowledge makes some discovery which is not only new, but (generally) the best2" I have selected this passage from a celebrated philosopher, not so much for the illustration of a truth well known, and well appreciated, as for the converse of the observation: namely, that if the understanding of man be thus valuable and thus delightful, who will not know, (to repeat Locke's inquiry) that offences against the understanding, are sins of a very aggravated nature; and so far from being productive either of profit, or delight, in the pursuit, are the parents of misery and ruin.

The sins of the body, no man of religion, or com

Matt. v. 16.

* Epistle prefixed to Locke's Essay on the Understanding.'

mon sense, can justify. They stand condemned. The voice of conscience, and the record of the Almighty are against them. All compromise on the subject is impossible. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." A covenant of mercy, indeed, may be open, but the sinner is without excuse. And if the heart were not deceitful, if it were not untrue to itself, sins of the understanding would be equally subjects of jealousy, and apprehension. But being less visible, more deeply rooted in the mind, and requiring more personal energy to resist, they are less feared, and consequently less guarded against. But a moment's thought will remove the impediment, and the sin will stand confessed.

Is it no sin against the finest faculty of the soul, to take arms against its own existence? Is it no offence to hate knowledge, to despise wisdom, to resist the glimmerings of reason, of which the most ignorant may be sometimes sensible? It is perverse will which sets itself doggedly against declared good. The unconquered passions of human nature are yet in rule; the breathings of discretion are yet without their use; the wavering of a thick cloud hangs over the mind, and the best principles of the understanding are obscured. To rescue this valuable faculty from this danger, the profound philosopher says, Use thy own thoughts. "It is to them, if they are thy own, that I refer myself: but if

1 Ezek. xviii. 4.

they are taken upon trust from others, it is no great matter what they are, they, not following truth, but some meaner consideration." Genuine thought will produce a sound understanding. Nor let any man despair, who sits down with a professed intention of investigating the properties of his own mind. There is something within, if sought for by diligent supplication, that will prevent deception. The Spirit of God is always ready to suggest, always alert to remove impediments in the way of truth; it is not, indeed, easy to describe, but the contemplative man will experience a flow of thought which will direct him to the haven where he would be. I speak not here, either of irresistible influence, or of an infallible conclusion. We are neither inspired prophets, nor despotic controllers of opinion. But purity of heart will work wonders. "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God"."

Apologies are often made for ignorance. But the pardon must be adequate to the offence. A man may be ignorant, and he is pitied: he is wilfully ignorant, and he is punished. But when the wise (as we are wont to call men of talent and learning) when the wise of this world prostitute the fine faculties of an improved understanding to the base and unworthy purposes of scepticism and infidelity; when, not satisfied with a possession of their wisdom in solitary in

1 Locke, ut supra.

2 Matt. v. 8.

dulgence, they diffuse their pernicious opinions, controverted, but not quelled, by the resistance of the pious and the good; when they substitute ridicule for reason, and sophistry for argument; when they deny what they cannot confute, execrate what they do not choose to believe, and clamour when they cannot convince; may we not with justice aver that sins against the understanding, are base and malignant sins; and the more so, as they are the dicta of men, whom a vain world unwisely estimates for an assumed character of wisdom?

The honest and ingenuous heart disdains such affectation!--Turn, my soul! from such pretenders to wisdom, to the great Apostle and prototype of truth, to him, who brought light into the world, and without whose celestial brightness, all is darkness:-to him, who illumines the understanding of man, and, by whom alone, he receives "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption '."

"My son! if thou receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding: if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures: then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God."

11 Cor. i. 30.

Prov. ii. 1, &c.

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