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not only an initiatory but a confirmatory rite.

There were at that time no hereditary professors, there was no such thing as Christianity by transmission. There was therefore a broad line to step over whenever the new faith was adopted. There was no gradual introduction into it by education, no slipping into it by habit, no wearing its badge by fashion.

But if the novelty attending the early introduction to Christianity has ceased; if living in a land where it is universally professed, being educated in some acquaintance with the Christian faith, finding easy access into the Temples in which it is preached, habitually attending on its services, living under laws which are imbued with its spirit: if all this takes off from the apparent effect, if it lessens the surprise, if it moderates the joy and wonder, which a total change

in external circumstances was calculated to excite; if it even lessens in a degree the visible alteration produced in hearts awakened by it; if this change was more obvious in the conversion of those who were before wallowing in the grossest abominations, or sunk in the most degrading superstitions, than in those who are conversant with the decencies of life, who had previously observed the forms of religion, and practised many of the social virtues; yet in the views and in the feelings, in the heart and in the spirit, in the principle of the mind, and in the motive of the conduct, the change in the one case has a very near affinity to the change in the other. The difference of circumstances diminishes nothing of the real power of Divine grace; it does not alter the nature of the change inwardly effected; it does not manifest now less than it did then, the "pitifulness of God's great mercy in deliver"ing those who are tied and bound with "the chain of their sins."

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Had Saint Paul been a profligate or immoral man, we apprehend that his conversion would, as an example, have lost much of its power. The two extremes of character might in that case, indeed, more forcibly strike the superficial enquirer. But to shew the turpitude of gross vice a miracle is not necessary; Christianity is not necessary. The thing was self-evident; Antoninus and Epictetus could have shewn it. But for a man who had previously such strong claims to respect from others, such pretensions on which to value himself,-his Hebrew descent-his early initiation into the distinguishing Jewish rite-his Pharisaic exactness, an exactness not hypocritical but conscientious- his unquestionable morals, his blameless righteousness in all that pertained to the law, his correctness of demeanor, his strict observance of religious forms; that such a man should need the further subjugation of his passions, his pride, his bigotry, and uncharitableness;

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that in short, he should require a total and radical renovation of the character and the soul, -this was indeed a wonder worthy of Divine inspiration to declare, as well as of Divine grace to accomplish; and this change, when really effected, afforded an appeal for the truth of the doctrine, both to the heart and to the understanding, more powerful than volumes of arguments.

Saint Paul was aware that there is frequently more danger where there is less scandal; that some fancy they are reformed, because they have exchanged the sensual for the spiritual vices; that in truth men oftener change their sins than their nature, put pride into their correctness, and violence into their zeal, and uncharitableness into their sobriety, and covetousness into their prudence, and censoriousness into their abstinence. Among the better disposed, he knew there were many who, after they are brought

brought to embrace religion, think they have nothing more to do. They were, perhaps, sincere in their enquiries, and their convictions were strong. But hav ing once obtained a confidence in their acceptance, they conclude that all is well. They live upon their capital, if we may be allowed the expression; and so depend upon their assurance, as if their personal work was done. To both of these classes he directs the warning voice, Go on unto perfection; to both he virtually represents that if the transformation were real, it would animate them to increased earnestness; while their desires would be more fervent, their piety would not evaporate in desires, their constant fear of relaxing would quicken their progress.

It is worth remarking that throughout the Holy Scriptures, and especially throughout the writings of the Apostlestriving with principalities and powers,


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