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speak to them the pardon of the gospel. It will not say what new object he is running is only if they themselves are washed, and after. It may be wealth, or ambition, or sanctified, and justified, that we can warrant philosophy; but it is nothing connected with their personal deliverance from the wrath the interest of his soul. It bears no referthat is to come. But under all the conceal-ence whatever to the concerns of that great ment which rests on the futurities of God's relationship which obtains between the administration, we know that there are de- creature and the Creator. The man has grees of suffering in hell--and that while withdrawn, and perhaps for ever, from the some are beaten with few stripes, others scenes of dissipation, and has betaken himare beaten with many. And surely, if they self to another way—but still it is his own who turn many to righteousness shall shine way. It is not the will or the way of God as the stars for ever and ever, we may be that he is yet caring for. Such a man may well assured that they who patronize the bid adieu to profligacy in his own person. cause of iniquity—they who can beckon But he lifts up the light of his countenance others to that way which leadeth on to the on the profligacy of others. He gives it chambers of death-they who can aid and the whole weight and authority of his conwitness, without a sigh, the extinction of nivance. He wields, we will say it, such an youthful modesty--surely, it may well be instrumentality of seduction over the young, said of such, that on them a darker frown as, though not so alarming, is far more danwill fall from the judgment-seat, and through gerous than the undisguised attempts of eternity will they have to bear the pains of those who are the immediate agents of cora fiercer indignation.
ruption. The formal and deliberate conspiHaving thus looked to the commence- racy of those who club together, at stated ment of a course of dissipation, and to its terms of companionship, may be all seen, progress, let us now, in the third place, and watched, and guarded against. But look to its usual termination. We speak how shall we pursue this conspiracy into not at present of the coming death, and of its other ramifications ? How shall we be the coming judgment, but of the change able to neutralize that insinuating poison which takes place on many a votary of licen- which distils from the lips of grave and retiousness, when he becomes what the world spectable citizens ? How shall we be able calls a reformed man; and puts on the de- to dissipate that gloss which is thrown by cencies of a sober and domestic establish- the smile of elders and superiors over the ment; and bids adieu to the pursuits and sins of forbidden indulgence? How can the profligacies of youth, not because he we disarm the bewitehing sophistry which has repented of them, but because he has lies in all these evident tokens of complaoutlived them. You all perceive how this cency, on the part of advanced and reputmay be done without one movement of the able men? How is it possible to trace the heart, or of the understanding, towards God progress of this sore evil, throughout all -that it is done by many, though duty to the business and intercourse of society ? him be not in all their thoughts that the How can we stem the influence of evil change, in this case, is not from the idol communications, when the friend, and the of pleasure unto God, but only from one patron, and the man who has cheered and idol to another--and íhat, after the whole signalized us by his polite invitations, turns of this boasted transformation, we may still his own family-table into a nursery of libehold the same body of sin and of death, centiousness ? How can we but despair of and only a new complexion thrown over it. ever witnessing on earth a pure and a holy There may be the putting on of sobriety, generation, when even parents will utter but there is no putting on of godliness. It their polluting levities in the hearing of their is a common and easy transition to pass own children; and vice, and humour, and from one kind of disobedience to another, gaiety, are all indiscriminately blended into but it is not so easy to give up that re-one conversation; and a loud laugh, from belliousness of the heart which lies at the the initiated and the uninitiated in profliroot of all disobedience. It may be easy, gacy, is ever ready to flatter and to regale after the wonted course of dissipation is the man who can thus prostitute his powers ended, to hold out another aspect altogether of entertainment? O! for an arm of strength in the eye of acquaintances; but it is not to demolish this firm and far spread comso easy to recover that shock, and that pact of iniquity; and for the power of overthrow, which the religious principle some such piercing and prophetic voice, sustains, when a man first enters the world, as might convince our reformed men of and surrenders himself to the power of its the baleful influence they cast behind them enticements. Such were some of you, says on the morals of the succeeding generathe Apostle, but ye are washed, and sanc- tion. tified, and justified. Our reformed man We, at the same time, have our eye perknows not the meaning of such a process ; fectly open to that great external improveand, most assuredly, has not at all realized ment which has taken place, of laie years, it in the history of his own person. Wel in the manners of society. There is not the
same grossness of conversation. There is condition in society; and a high tone of not the same impatience for the withdraw-moral purity must be infused into the bosom ment of him, who, asked to grace the outset of many individuals; and their agency will of an assembled party, is compelled, at a effect through the channels of family and certain step in the process of conviviality, social connexion, what never can be effected by the obligations of professional decency, by any framework of artificial regulations, to retire from it. There is not so frequent so long as the spirit and character of society an exaction of this as one of the established remain what they are. In other words, the proprieties of social or of fashionable life. progress of reformation will never be sensiAnd if such an exaction was ever laid by bly carried forward beyond the progress of the omnipotence of custom on a minister of personal Christianity in the world; and, Christianity, it is such an exaction as ought therefore, the question resolves itself into never, never, to be complied with. It is not the likeliest method of adding to the numfor him to lend the sanction of his presence to ber of Christian parents who may fortify a meeting with which he could not sit to its the principles of their ehildren at their first final termination. It is not for him to stand outset in life-of adding to the number of associated, for a single hour, with an assem- Christian young men, who might nobly blage of men who begin with hypocrisy, dare to be singular, and to perform the anand end with downright blackguardism. It gelic office of guardians and advisers to is not for him to watch the progress of the those who are younger than themselvescoming ribaldry, and to hit the well selected of adding to the number of Christians in moment when talk, and turbulence, and bois middle and advanced life, who might, as far terous merriment, are on the eve of bursting as in them lies, alter the general feeling and forth upon the company, and carrying them countenance of society; and blunt the force forward to the full acme and uproar of their of that tacit but most seductive testimony, enjoyment. It is quite in vain to say, that he which has done so much to throw a palliahas only sanctified one part of such an en- tive veil over the guilt of a life of dissipation. tertainnient. He has as good as given his Such a question cannot be entered upon, connivance to the whole of it, and left be- at present, in all its bearings, and in all its hind him a discharge in full of all its abom- generality. And we must, therefore, simply inations; and, therefore, be they who they satisfy ourselves with the object, that as we may, whether they rank among the proudest have attempted already to approach the inaristocracy of our land, or are charioted in difference of parents, and to reproach the splendour along, as the wealthiest of the unfeeling depravity of those young men citizens, it is his part to keep as purely and who scatter their pestilential levities around indignantly aloof from such society as this, the whole circle of their companionship, we as he would from the vilest and most de- may now shortly attempt to lay upon the basing associations of profligacy.
men of middle and advanced life, in general And now the important question comes to society, their share of responsibility for the be put; what is the likeliest way of setting morals of the rising generation. For the up a barrier against this desolating torrent promotion of this great cause, it is not at all of corruption, into which there enter so necessary to school them into any nice or many elements of power and strength, that exquisite contrivances. Could we only give to the general eye, it looks altogether irre-them a desire towards it, and a sense of sistible? It is easier to give a negative, than obligation, they would soon find their own an affirmative answer to this question. way to the right exercise of their own inAnd, therefore, it shall be our first remark, fluence in forwarding the interests of purity that the mischief never will be effectually and virtue among the young. Could we combatted by any expedient separate from only affect their consciences on this point, the growth and the transmission of personal there would be almost no necessity whatChristianity throughout the land. If no ever to guide or enlighten their understandaddition be made to the stock of religious ing. Could we only get them to be Chrisprinciple in a country, then the profligacy tians, and to carry their Christianity into of a country will make its obstinate stand their business, they would then feel themagainst all the mechanism of the most skil-selves invested with a guardianship; and ful, and plausible, and well looking contriv- that time, and pains, and attention, ought ances. It must not be disguised from you, to be given to the fulfilment of its concerns. that it does not lie within the compass either It is quite in vain to ask, as is there was of prisons or penitentiaries to work any any mystery, or any helplessness about it, sensible abatement on the wickedness of " What can they do?" For, is it not the our existing generation. The operation must fact, most palpably obvious, that much can be of a preventive, rather than of a corrective be done even by the mere power of ertendency. It must be brought to bear upon ample? Or might not the master of any boyhood; and be kept up through that whole trading establishment send the perrading period of random exposures through which influence of his own principles among some, it has to run, on its way to an established at least, of the servants and auxiliaries who
belong to it? Or can he, in no degree what- furnish us with a single hundred of such ever, so select those who are admitted, as houses in this city, where the care and chato ward off much contamination from the racter of the master formed a guarantee for branches of his employ? Or might not he the sobriety of all his dependents, it would so deal out his encouragement to the de- be like the clearing out of a piece of cultiserving, as to confirm them in all their pur- vated ground in the midst of a frightful wilposes of sobriety? Or might not he inter-derness; and parents would know whither pose the shield of his countenance and his they could repair with confidence for the testimony between a struggling youth and settlement of their offspring; and we should the ridicule of his acquaintances? Or, by behold, what is mightily to be desired, a line the friendly conversation of half an hour, of broad and visible demarcation between might not he strengthen within him every the church and the world; and an interest principle of virtuous resistance? By these, so precious as the immortality of children, and by a thousand other expedients, which would no longer be left to the play of such will readily suggest themselves to him who fortuitous elements, as operated at random has the good will
, might not a healing water throughout the confused mass of a mingled be sent forth through the most corrupted of and indiscriminate society. And thus, the all our establishments; and it be made safe pieties of a father's house might bear to be for the unguarded young to officiate in its transplanted even into the scenes of ordichambers; and it be made possible to enter nary business; and instead of withering, as upon the business of the world without en- they do at present, under a contagion which tering on such a scene of temptation, as to spreads in every direction, and fills up the render almost inevitable the vice of the whole face of the community, they might world, and its impiety, and its final and flourish in that moral region which was oceverlasting condemnation? Would Chris- cupied by a peculiar people, and which they tians only be open and intrepid, and carry had reclaimed from a world that lieth in their religion into their merchandize; and I wickedness.
On the vitiating Influence of the higher upon the lower Orders of Society. Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come; but wo unto him through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”—Luke xvii. 1, 2.
To offend another, according to the com- , the word, when he speaks of your own mon acceptation of the words, is to dis- right hand, or your own right eye, offendplease him.-Now, this is not its accepta- ing you. They may do so, by giving you an tion in the verse before us, nor in several occasion to fall.--And what is here transother verses of the New Testament. It lated offend, is, in the first epistle to the were coming nearer to the scriptural Corinthians, translated to make to offend; meaning of the term, had we, instead of where Paul says, “If meat make my brooffence and offending, adopted the terms, ther to offend, I will eat no more flesh scandal and scandalizing. But the full sig- while the world standeth, lest I make my nification of the phrase to offend another, brother to offend." is to cause him to fall from the faith and The little ones to whom our Saviour alobedience of the gospel. It may be such a ludes, in this passage, he elsewhere more falling away as that a man recovers him- fully particularises, by telling us, that they self-like the disciples, who were all of- are those who believe in him. There is no fended in Christ, and forsook him; and, call here for entering into any controversy after a season of separation, were at length about the doctrine of perseverance. It is re-established in their discipleship.-Or it not necessary, either for the purpose of may be such a falling away as that there explaining, or of giving force to the practiis no recovery-like those in the gospel of cal lesson of the text now submitted to John, who, offended by the sayings of our you. We happen to be as much satisfied Saviour, went back, and walked no more with the doctrine, that he who hath a real with him. If you put such a stumbling faith in the gospel of Christ will never fall block in the way of a neighbour, who is away, as we are satisfied with the truth of walking on a course of christian disciple- any identical proposition. If a professing ship, as to make him fall, you offend him. disciple do, in fact, fall away, this is a It is in this sense that our Saviour uses phenomenon which might be traced to
an essential defect of principle at the first; might have been the little ones of Christ, to which proves, in fact, that he made the fall; and it is against him that our Saviour, mistake of one principle for another; and in the text, lists not a cool, but an impasthat, while he thought he had the faith, it sioned testimony. It is of him that he was not that very faith of the New Tes- utters one of the most severe and solemn tament which is unto salvation. There denunciations of the gospel. might have been the semblance of a work If this text were thoroughly pursued of grace without its reality. Such a work, into its manifold applications, it would be if genuinely begun, will be carried on- found to lay a weight of fearful responsiwards even unto perfection. But this is a bility upon us all. We are here called point on which it is not at all necessary, at upon not to work out our own salvation, present, to dogmatize. We are led, by the but to compute the reflex influence of all text, to expatiate on the guilt of that one our works, and of all our ways, on the man who has wrecked the interest of an- principles of others. And when one thinks other man's eternity. Now, it may be very of the mischief which this influence might true, that if the second has actually en- spread around it, even from Christians of tered within the strait gate, it is not in the chiefest reputation: when one thinks of power of the first, with all his artifices, the readiness of man to take shelter in the and all his temptations, to draw him out example of an acknowledged superior; again. But instead of having entered the when one thinks that some inconsistency gate, he may only be on the road that leads of ours might seduce another into such an to it; and it is enough, amid the uncertain- imitation as overbears the reproaches of ties which, in this life, hang over the ques- his own conscience, and as, by vitiating tion of-who are really believers, and who the singleness of his eye, makes the whole are not ? that it is not known in which of of his body, instead of being full of light, these two conditions the little one is; and to be full of darkness; when one takes the that, therefore, to seduce him from obe- lesson along with him into the various condience to the will of Christ, may, in fact, ditions of life he may be called by Proribe to arrest his progress towards Christ
, dence to occupy, and thinks, that if
, either and to draw him back unto the perdition as a parent surrounded by his family, or as of his soul. The whole guilt of the text a master by the members of his establishmay be realized by him who keeps back ment, or as a citizen by the many observers another from the church, where he might of his neighbourhood around him, he shall have heard, and heard with acceptance, that either speak such words, or do such acword of life which he has not yet accepted; tions, or administer his affairs in such a or by him, whose influence or whose ex- way as is unworthy of his high and imample detains, in the entanglement of any mortal destination, that then a taint of corone sin, the acquaintance who is meditating ruption is sure to descend from such an an outset on the path of decided Christiani- exhibition, upon the immortals who are on ty-seeing, that every such outset will land every side of him; when one thinks of in disappointment those who, in the act of himself as the source and the centre of a following after Christ, do not forsake all ; contagion which might bring a blight upon or by him who tampers with the con- the graces and the prospects of other souls science of an apparently zealous and con- besides his own--surely this is enough to firmed disciple, so as to seduce him into supply him with a reason why, in worksome habitual sin, either of neglect or of ing out his own personal salvation, he performance--seeing, that the individual should do it with fear, and with watchfulwho but for this seduction might have ness, and with much trembling. cleaved fully unto the Lord, and turned But we are now upon the ground of a out a prosperous and decided Christian, higher and more delicate conscientiousness, has been led to put a good conscience than is generally to be met with. Whereas, away from him--and so, by making ship- our object, at present, is to expose certain wreck of his faith, has proved to the world, of the grosser offences which abound in so that it was not the faith which could ob- ciety, and which spread a most dangerous tain the victory. It is true, that it is not and ensnaring influence among the indipossible to seduce the elect. But even this viduals who compose it. To this we have suggestion, perverse and unjust as it would been insensibly led, by the topics of that disbe in its application, is not generally pre- course which we addressed to you on a forsent to the mind of 'him who is guilty of mer occasion; and when it fell in our way the attempt to seduce, or of the act which to animadvert on the magnitude of that carries a seducing influence along with it. man's guilt, who, either by his example, or The guilt with which he is chargeable, is his connivance, or his direct and formal that of an indifference to the spiritual and tuition, can speed the entrance of the yet everlasting fate of others. He is wilfully unpractised young on a career of dissipa the occasion of causing those who are the tion. And whether he be a parent, who, little ones, or, for any thing he knows, trenched in this world's maxims, can, with
out a struggle, and without a sigh, leave his rules of the great trading establishment; and helpless offspring to take their random and every thing is made to give way to the hurunprotected way through this world's con- rying emergency of orders, and clearances, formities; or whether he be one of those and the demands of instant correspondence. seniors in depravity, who can cheer on his Such is the magnitude of this stumblingmore youthful companion to a surrender of block, that many is the young man who has all those scruples, and all those delicacies, here fallen to rise no more-that, at this which have hitherto adorned him; or whe- point of departure, he has so widened his ther he be a more aged citizen, who, having distance from God, as never, in fact, to rerun the wonted course of intemperance, can turn to him—that, in this distressing contest cast an approving eye on the corruption between principle and necessity, the final throughout all its stages, and give a tenfold blow has been given to his religious princiforce to all its allurements, by setting up the ples—that the master whom he serves, and authority of grave and reformed manhood under whom he earns his provision for time, upon its side; in each of these characters do has here wrested the whole interests of his we see an offence that is pregnant with eternity away from him—that, from this deadliest mischief, to the principles of the moment, there gathers upon his soul the rising generation: and while we are told by complexion of a hardier and more deterour text, that, for such offences, there exists mined impiety-and conscience once stified some deep and mysterious necessity-inso- now speaks to him with a feebler voicemuch, that it is impossible but that offences and the world obtains a firmer lodgement in must come-yet let us not forget to urge on his heart-and, renouncing all his original every one sharer in this work of moral con- tenderness about Sabbath, and Sabbath emtamination, that never does the meek and ployments, he can now, with the thorough gentle Saviour speak in terms more threat- unconcern of a fixed and familiarised proseening or more reproachsul, than when he lyte, keep equal pace by his fellows throughspeaks of the enormity of such misconduct. out every scene of profanation-and he who There cannot, in truth, be a grosser outrage wont to tremble and recoil from the freecommitted on the order of God's administra- doms of irreligion with the sensibility of a tion, than that which he is in the habit of little one, may soon become the most darinflicting. There cannot surely, be a directer ingly rebellious of them all--and that Sabact of rebellion, than that which multiplies bath which he has now learned, at one time, the adherents of its own cause, and which to give to business, he at another, gives to swells the hosts of the rebellious. There unhallowed enjoyments—and it is turned cannot be made to rest a feller condemna-into a day of visits and excursions, given up tion on the head of iniquity, than that which to pleasure, and enlivened by all the mirth is sealed by the blood of its own victims, and and extravagance of holiday-and, when its own proselytes. Nor should we wonder sacrament is proclaimed from the city pulwhen that is said of such an agent for ini- pits, he, the apt, the well trained disciple of quity which is said of the betrayer of our his corrupt and corrupting superior, is the Lord. It were better for him that he had not readiest to plan the amusements of the combeen born. It were better for him, now that ing opportunity, and among the very forehe is born, could he be committed back again most in the ranks of emigration--and though to deep annihilation. Rather than that he he may look back, at times, to the Sabbath should offend one of these little ones, it were of his Father's pious house, yet the retrobetter for him that a millstone were hanged spect is always becoming dimmer, and at about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. length it ceases to disturb him-and thus the
This is one case of such offences as are alienation widens every year, till, wholly adverted to in the text. Another and still given over to impiety, he lives without God more specific is beginning, we understand, in the world. to be exemplified in our own city, though it And were we asked to state the dimenhas not attained to the height or to the fre- sions of that iniquity which stalks regardquency at which it occurs in a neighbouring lessly, and at large, over the ruin of youthmetropolis. We allude to the doing of week- ful principles--were we asked to find a place day business upon the Sabbath. We allude in the catalogue of guilt for a crime, the to that violence which is rudely offered to atrocity of which is only equalled, we unthe feelings and the associations of sacred- derstand, by its frequency--were we called ness, by those exactions that an ungodly to characterise the man who, so far from master lays at times on his youthful de- attempting one counteracting, influence pendents-when those hours which they against the profligacy of his dependents, wont to spend in church, they are called issues, from the chair of authority on which upon to spend in the counting-house—when he sits, commandment, in the direct face that day, which ought to be a day of piety, of a commandment from God--the man is turned into a day of posting and of pen- who has chartered impiety in articles of manship-when the rules of the decalogue agreement, and has vested himself with a are set aside, and utterly superseded by the property in that time which only belongs to