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are—they are Christians as we are;—and who shall presume to say that they are beyond the reach of God's mercy; more especially when we recollect that they have, for the most part, fallen victims to the vices of others? I hope it will be remembered, that I am alluding here only to penitent sinners of this class. It is moreover a melancholy fact, that although they are generally betrayed into guilt by the profligacy of our sex, they are too frequently continued in it by the neglect and reproaches of their own.

To many, who judge with extreme rigour of such unfortunate beings, the words of the prophet may be very justly applied: “Thou also, who hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame, for thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou."

God forbid, that I should be thought to recommend communion with revolting profligacy! No! there are states of daring and intractable delinquency, from which female purity must shrink with consternation and abhorrence; but there are, nevertheless, conditions of guilt where virtue might step in to reclaim, instead of indulging in morose invective; and I have no hesitation in asserting, that, in all such cases, an endeavour to recover the delinquent should supersede a disposition to condemn.

Let me not, however, be misunderstood: I trust I cannot be. The sanctity of the function in which



the sacred character of the place in which I stand, must secure me against misrepresentation ; let me, however, guard even against the possibility of misapprehension. I would, under no circumstances whatever, encourage even a seeming approbation of vice; I would, however, stimulate every attempt to promote a return to virtue. Repentance for past transgression, by whomsoever felt, is always to be respected; and I must ever deprecate that cold and sinister morality, which could wantonly aggravate the miseries inseparable from guilt, by bitter reproaches and unfeeling accusations.

My brethren, the laws of God, the laws of natural justice, forbid us to speak evil one of another. Let us look even at the minor consequences which accrue from this disingenuous propensity, and we shall be satisfied that it is everywhere pregnant with evil results. It frequently disunites the closest ties; converts friendships into the most determined enmities; scatters discord among families; confounds the harmony of societies, and, but too often, accelerates the most malignant passions of our perverted nature. Besides, if we carefully trace this propensity to its source, we shall almost invariably discover it to proceed from some insidious feeling, some lurking jealousy, by which we should be ashamed to own ourselves excited. It prevails too most commonly in narrow minds, which are unable to discriminate justly between the action and the motive. “From an action they presently look into the heart, and infer the motive. This supposed motive they conclude to be the ruling principle, and pronounce at once concerning the whole character."* Thus oftentimes, upon no better foundation than conjecture, or at best, upon the light afforded only by partial and imperfect views, they deliberately pass their sentence of condemnation.

How often is defamation made the common business of life with those, whom want of employment, and that listlessness which is ever attendant upon an unoccupied mind, render morose; or whom a consciousness of demerit in themselves, urges to vent the overflowings of a splenetic humour against the more conspicuous merits of others, who are happily free from the excitements of such a warped and cankered spirit. Even where there may be just cause for censure, it would be well for us to embrace the advice of an inspired teacher—“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye, which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

I shall now close the subject, in the words of a most accomplished scholar and eloquent divine. “ The aged and the unfortunate, who have toiled through an unsuccessful life, with long experience


of the falsehood and fraud of evil men, are apt to be the most severe in the opinions which they entertain of others. For such, their circumstances may be allowed perhaps to form some degree of apology. But if, in youth and prosperity, the same hard, suspicious spirit prevail ; if they who are beginning the career of life, set out with all the scruples of distrust; if, before they have had reason to complain of the world, they betray the diffidence of a jealous, or the malignity of a censorious mind, sad is the presage which may thence be drawn of their future dishonour. From such, you have nothing to look for that shall be either engaging in private life or respectable in public character. To youth, it particularly belongs to be generous in sentiment, candid' in opinion, undesigning in behaviour, and open to the most favourable constructions of actions and conduct. Throughout all the stages of life, candour is one of the most honourable distinctions of the human character: it is connected with magnanimity; it is justified by wisdom; it is suitable to the relation in which we stand to one another. But if reason and humanity be insufficient to restrain us from rash and uncharitable judgments, let that awful denunciation frequently resound in our ears, ‘He shall have judgment without mercy, who hath showed no mercy.

* Blair.




1 CORINTHIANS, vi. 19 & 20.

"What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the

Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.”

In the views which we are most commonly apt to take of the Divine mercies, we look but for the most part to such as are external, without paying a sufficient regard to those silent, but nevertheless perceptible, dispensations, by which a right spirit is renewed within us, and by which we, “ who were once darkness, are now become light in the Lord.” The gifts and graces of God's holy spirit are commonly but too little considered in the light of gifts and graces. We are apt to look upon them rather as the necessary and unalienable consequences of our prayers, our piety, our devotion, than as the free gift of God, vouchsafed to that devotion, that piety, and those prayers. Without the assistance of the spirit, the Scriptures

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