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inveterate, more firmly established? Do we not observe, that improper practices, which might have been subdued when we were young, obtain the dominion over us in advanced years, and render us slaves to their influence and power? Is it not more difficult to eradicate evils which have been gathering strength by long indulgence, than to have left the pursuit of them in early life? Is it not more easy to tear up a young tree, than to pluck up by the roots the aged oak? How seldom does it happen that a man, who has grown gray in profane habits, is recovered from the practice of swearing? How seldom does it occur that an individual who has been intemperate from early life, ceases to be so in old age."

The mind, my beloved hearers, as we advance in years, instead of becoming more yielding, acquires an inconquerable obstinacy. We become impatient of control; so settled down and confirmed in the imaginary rectitude of our opinions, that it is almost impossible to correct or change them. Is it not from a consciousness of such considerations, that the parent endeavours to lay in the youthful mind the foundation of virtuous principles? Is it not from such causes that we are enjoined to train up a child in the way he should go, that when he is old he may not depart from it?

Look around you in the world, and take a view of those who delight in the law of the Lord, and then reflect how few there are of the number, who have commenced the work of religion in old age. No, brethren, no, it is contrary to all experience to expect it. I have never, during a ministry of between thirty and forty years, known but two or three instances, in which those who have lived in sin until they were old, have ever been persuaded to adopt a truly religious course. The convenient time, after a certain period of life, seldom or never arrives; and that spirit of procrastination which ruins the indolent in worldly concerns, proves equally injurious in spiritual matters, and prostrates the soul in endless distress.

Felix was blessed with an opportunity of repentance and reformation. but he rejected it. When God called him, he

refused to hear. When the Almighty stretched out his benevolent hand, the Roman governor refused its acceptance. Instead of bidding the Apostle to retire from his presence, he should have entreated him to stay; he should have solicited his advice, and closely followed the counsel of his lips. "My Spirit shall not always strive with man," says the Almighty, and Felix was an evidence of the truth of the declaration. That his heart became harder than ever, appears evident from his treatment of the venerable apostle; for instead of granting him his liberty, he was callous to every plea of justice and of mercy; he added ingratitude to the list of his offences, and, willing to show the Jews a pleasure, after he retired from office, he left Paul bound, subject to the tyranny of Pontius Festus.

To conclude. The conviction of sin, the knowledge that we have offended God, unless that knowledge separates us from transgression, is not conversion. Felix trembled, and still he retained his attachment to sinful pleasures, and for aught recorded to the contrary, perished in them.

When, through the influence of divine grace, we feel sensible of our aberrations from the path of duty, let us cherish these impressions; let us listen to the voice of God within us, and be determined to follow Christ. When Jehovah knocks at the door of our hearts, let us immediately admit him. How improper, how unwise, to put off the concern of our salvation until to-morrow, when to morrow, as it respects us, may never arrive! Tell me not, that after you have accomplished such and such an object, you will then think of God-eternity-your souls! Tell me not, to go away for this time, and at a more convenient season you will send for me! I ask you, my beloved parishioners, is not the concerns of your souls of paramount importance? Is it not the business for which you should live, the object you should wish to secure?

Eternal happiness is now offered to you all; close in, I beseech you, with the offers of divine love. "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, and call ye upon him while he is near."


"What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."-MARK, X. 51, 52.

GRATITUDE to the Almighty is an unequivocal evidence of the existence of divine grace in the mind. It secures to the possessor the approbation of the Almighty, and commands the reverence and respect of the reflecting and judicious. The bosoms of those happy spirits who surround the throne of God are warmed by its inspiration, and their happiness is increased by the exercise of that virtue. Resolutions of obedience, founded on a principle so pure, will in general prove permanent, acquiring fresh strength as the Christian advances in the divine life; while declarations of affection, extorted from us by fear, will only obtain a transient existence in the mind; continuing no longer than the cause which first excited the alarm.

The more deeply the believer reflects upon those circumstances which first awakened in his soul the heavenly emotion of gratitude, the greater will be his inclination to fulfil its important duties. His first impressions of religion, if suffered to grow cold and languid by his neglect, will always be excited to action, and obtain fresh ardour, by recurring to that cause and calling to mind those peculiar providences by which they were produced. Instead of

continuing forgetful of that Being, to whose paternal goodness he confesses himself obligated, his inclination to love and respect him will be increased, and, under all the vicissitudes of life, he will look up with adoring confidence to that God, "who hath delivered his soul from death, his eyes from tears, and his feet from falling."

Through the weakness of our nature, and the perverseness of our tempers and dispositions, we may sometimes act as if the remembrance of past mercies was obliterated from our minds; but the moment in which the cloud of depravity and corruption is pierced by the light of conviction; the moment in which the believer, aroused from his slumbers by the Holy Spirit, considers the weight of his obligations to heaven; that moment his bosom will feel that godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto life, and grace will discover its existence in the soul by those warm effusions of gratitude and love, of which it is always productive. The recollection of that continued mercy he has enjoyed in the season of his wanderings from the path of duty, will act with all its force upon his mind; and, awakened by a sense of gratitude, the united powers of his soul will fall prostrate at the footstool of a compassionate, sin-pardoning Jehovah.

If the enjoyment of one mercy excited in our hearts a wish to be grateful and obedient, the astonishing repetition of those mercies we are daily receiving, must certainly increase that disposition. The Christian, therefore, when communing with his own heart; when retired from the view of mortals, he is engaged in the examination of himself, and inquiring into the extent of those returns he makes to heaven for the mercies he enjoys, must discover, unless blinded by self-love, so much cause for lamentation, so much reason for humility and sorrow, that his mind, oppressed with the weight of obligation to his Redeemer, will constrain him to exclaim, "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and goodness of God!" "He hath not dealt with me according to my sins, nor rewarded me according

to my iniquities." "What shall I render to the Almighty for all the benefits he hath done unto me?"

It is in the character of a merciful and indulgent parent, that the Almighty is represented to our view. Every page of Scripture speaks of our God as long-suffering and abundant in goodness; and, from that benevolence which distinguished the life of the Redeemer, the intentions and wishes of heaven with respect to man may be clearly perceived. In the Lord Jesus Christ we find the most perfect assemblage and union of celestial virtues; and that mortal, whose heart habitually resists the pleading eloquence of his love; that man whose mind is not subdued to obedience by the goodness of God, cannot be prepared for the enjoyment of heaven; and can have no reasonable claim, while he continues in impenitence and rebellion, to that mercy reserved for the followers of the Saviour.

Was the conduct of the Ruler of the universe marked with the appalling features of a tyrant, who exercised his power over mortals, because mortals are unable to resist him-was not the Almighty governed by laws founded on the basis of justice and of love-despair might be adduced as a plea in favour of rebellion against his precepts. But as mercy and truth in him have met together; as the most unexampled benevolence and compassion characterize his dealings with us; as he is represented in Scripture as always ready to relieve our distresses, heal our moral diseases, and to pardon our sins; as we are assured, that in order to rescue his intelligent creatures from remediless woe, he undertook the salvation of their souls, and by his own blood and sufferings opened the kingdom of life and glory to all the human family; as we are informed that God is no respecter of persons, but that he tasted death for every man:-it is impossible to express in language sufficiently strong, the legitimacy of his claims to our affection and regard.

The subject of our text is an exemplification and proof of the mercy and goodness of God; and while it presents to our view, in the most affecting language, the tenderness and compassion of the Saviour, it shows us also that the

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