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mighty work within us : “ Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk ?” Why then do we, like the Pharisees of old, refuse to give our hearty assent to this cheering truth ? Let us be encouraged by the reception which he ever gave to the needy and the wretched ; let us not hesitate to cry unto him in earnest faith and heartfelt supplication, that he would strengthen our souls and forgive us our sins; that he would deliver us from the bonds of iniquity, and renew us unto righteousness by the power of his

grace. We may further remark from this narrative, the value of affliction. It was the affliction of bodily disease which brought this man and numberless others to Christ; and whether they came merely under a sense of his power over diseases, or with a reference also to spiritual mercies, yet it was in most cases the hand of affliction that guided them to his feet. Thus it is, that God blesses us, even while he lays upon us his chastening hand; thus it is, that his chastisements are indeed the kind dealings of an affectionate Father; the earnest strivings of the Spirit of grace, to wean our affections from the surrounding objects of time and sense ; to give us the opportunity for serious thought and self-examination ; to humble our pride and waywardness of heart; and to teach us where to seek for comfort under all distresses, whether of a temporal or a spiritual

nature. Blessed are those whom God has thus corrected, and who can say with David, “Before I was troubled I went wrong, but now have I kept thy word.”

We may also remark, that while some have attempted, from the details of this narrative, to conjecture how far a man's intercessions may be available for the benefit of others—(an idea which may have a mischievous tendency, if overstrained,) there is nevertheless great encouragement for every Christian, to labour earnestly both by his admonitions and by his prayers, to bring men to a knowledge of the truth. The faith of those who brought this paralytic to Christ is commended, as well as his own faith; and as their faith wrought with his, and was therefore in some degree instrumental in obtaining the blessing, we have at least some encouragement to hope, that by the effectual fervent prayer which is said to prevail, we may be happily instrumental in drawing down upon some of our brethren the influence of the Spirit of grace. Who can tell how the prayer of a pious parent may be blest, in the support of a godly, or the correction of a wayward child? Who can tell how the doubts of a penitent, yet wavering friend, may be dissipated, by the earnest prayer of one more advanced in knowledge and in godliness ? Who can tell how the united supplications of the church for the speedy conversion of the ungodly,

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may hasten on that glorious period, when God shall extend the rich blessings of his gospel, and the whole earth shall be filled with the knowledge of him? Who that reflects on the great efficacy of prayer, can ever neglect so interesting a privilege, or omit so important a duty ? The prayer sent up in faith for the best and eternal welfare of others, is never without effect. It shall at least return into our own bosoms, laden with the blessing of heaven ; it shall at least attune our souls to the feelings of that blessed company who dwell in the mansions of our Father's house, and in whose presence there is joy unspeakable “ over one sinner that repenteth.”

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SERMON XVI.

THE CORRUPTION OF HUMAN NATURE.

EPHESIANS ii. 3.

And were by nature the children of wrath,

even as others.

It is indeed a melancholy thought, that the earliest

pages of the history of man should be the record, at once of his dignity and his ruin, of his glory and his fall. The conciseness of the sacred historian marks, with a degree of awful interest, the rapid inroads of sin and death, upon the fair works of God. A few short sentences carry us, from the moment when the almighty Spirit, moving over the face of the waters, gave life and form to the creation, to the period, when, in just indignation at the prevailing wickedness of man, he called forth the waves of an avenging deluge, and swept from the face of the earth the sinners that had despised his mercy.

And what are the facts of which the intervening history is composed ? They are the lamentable results of sin, the awful triumphs of death. One after another the patriarchs lived their appointed term of years: one after another they departed as a dream when one awaketh ; and all that remains of their history is, that they lived, and begat sons and daughters, and then died. One exception alone remains a monument of divine favour; and his character was scarcely less remarkable among the general ungodliness, than his wonderful translation amid the universal mortality. Enoch walked with God, and he was not ; for God took him. Whence, then, this sequel to the operations of God's creative wisdom ? It is, that "

by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”

The inclination of man's heart to sin ; the imperfection of all his actions; the contest between good and evil which is carried on in the soul, and the too frequent prevalence of evil over good; the propensity to choose the worse instead of the better, even when this conduct is acknowledged to be detrimental to our highest interest, and contradictory to our bounden duty ; these have been experienced and deplored in all ages, and by all ranks. The origin and cause of this evil has been a question, which has ever been found to baffle all the attempts of unassisted reason. The speculations to which this inquiry has led,

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