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reasonable doubt, are not Christians. Some we know to have lived in this manner, and to have sustained this character, both in ancient and modern times, without a pretension to vital religion. Judas was believed by his fellow apostles, for a length of time, and not improbably without a single doubt, to be a true follower of Christ. Hymenæus and Philetus appear to have sustained the same character; and apparently with as little foundation. All these were believed to be Christians by apostles, inspired men, of singular understanding in subjects of this nature. Yet these men were deceived. No words are necessary to prove that we and all others are liable to deception in similar cases. If the belief of Peter and Paul, that the objects of their charity, in the cases specified, were Christians, was no evidence of their Christianity; then the belief of others that we are Christians is no evidence of our Christianity.


From these observations we learn,

1. That we ought to exercise the utmost care and caution in examining the evidences of our own religion.

How many professors of Christianity have considered the things, which I bave specified as decisive proofs that themselves were good men! Yet, if I mistake not, it has been clearly shown that all of them united furnish no solid evidence of this fact. We are just as liable to be deceived as others; and, unless peculiarly guarded, by the very same means. Others have rested their hopes of salvation on these things, as proofs of their religious character, and have been deceived. If we rest on them, we shall be deceived also; for we may possess all these things, and yet not be Christians. In a case of this moment, nothing ought voluntarily to be left at hazard. We are bound by our own supreme interest, as well as our duty to God, to fulfil the command of the text; to‘examine and to prove ourselves, whether we be in the faith;' and in doing this, to make use of the best means in our power; to fasten, with as much care as possible, on those things which the Scriptures have made tests of a religious character; and

earnestly to pray to God that we may not be deceived, either by ourselves or by any others.

2. From the same source we learn also the impropriety and folly of making these things the foundation of our judgment concerning the religious character of others.

Whenever we determine, that others are or are not Christians, because they exhibit these as evidences of their Christianity, we are plainly liable to gross error concerning this subject. All these things may be truly testified concerning himself by a Christian; and with equal truth by a person destitute of Christianity. They are therefore no proofs of his religion or irreligion.

Still, a great multitude of professing Christians, many of whom, I doubt not, are really Christians, and all, or nearly all, enthusiastic professors, make these very things, or the want of them, the foundations of their favourable or unfavourable opinions of the religious character of others. They resort to them as to an acknowledged and scriptural standard, which they do not expect to find disputed, and to question which would not improbably be regarded by them as a proof of irreligion.

What is still more unhappy, among various classes of Christians in this country, these very things, particularly those mentioned under the first, second, and fifth heads of this Discourse, are, if I am not misinformed, not unfrequently made the objects of a public examination of candidates for admission to Christian communion, and the foundations of a public judgment concerning their religious character. To be able to remember the time when convictions of sin began, with their attendant distresses, at the time when they were followed by hopes, consolations, and joys; to have had these occasioned by the sudden, uncontrived, and unexpected influx of certain passages of Scripture into the mind; especially, if, according to a pre-established and acknowledged scheme of regeneration among themselves, these things have taken place in a certain order of succession; still more especially, if the sorrows and consolations have risen very high; and, most of all, if they are succeeded by distinguished zeal about things pertaining to religion; are boldly pronounced ample evidence of the candi

date's piety. In this manner, there is reason to fear, multitudes are miserably led astray, both by being induced beforehand to labour that these things may be truly said of themselves; and by settling down in a state of security on this false foundation afterwards.

Nor is the case less unhappy, when persons rest their hopes on their exactness in performing the external duties of religion and morality. Yet vast numbers of mankind repose themselves on these, as on a bed of down; and feel satisfied that God will not finally condemn persons who have laboured so much in his service. All of them will, however, find in the end, that to such as have done all this, and nothing more, one thing is lacking;' viz. an interest in Christ; a thing without which they cannot be saved.


3. We see the danger of being strongly confident in the piety of ourselves or others.

All or nearly all such confidence, so far as I have observed, has been derived from these supposed evidences of religion; any part or the whole of which may be possessed by men totally destitute of Christianity. It is a fatal mark on them all, that the Scriptures have nowhere alleged them as proofs of religion. As they are not scriptural proofs, they cannot be sound. To trust in them is to trust in a nullity. Accordingly, those who give the fairest proofs of Christianity in their life and conversation, never make these things the foundation of their hope, and are very rarely found to be strongly confident of their acceptance with God.

To pronounce boldly that others are Christians, is, in many cases at least, equally hazardous. There are many persons, however, who roundly declare others, of whose life they have had little or no knowledge, to be Christians; and others not to be Christians, whose conduct and conversation give them at least as fair, and often fairer, claims to this character. Nay, they will peremptorily make these assertions concerning ministers of the Gospel; and pronounce some to be sanctified, and others unsanctified, from a sermon or a prayer, or even from the tones of voice with which they are uttered. Judge not, saith our Saviour, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.' Who




art thou,' saith St. Paul,' that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth.' It is sufficient, to show the impropriety and rashness of these unwarrantable decisions, that they are founded on no scriptural or solid evidence. They are generally built on the very things exploded in this Discourse, or others of still less importance; all of which united go not a single step towards proving a religious or an irreligious character.

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IN the last Discourse I attempted to point out several things which furnish no real evidence of regeneration, although they have been supposed to furnish it by multitudes in the Christian world. I now propose to mention several other things which actually furnish such evidence.

By all who believe the doctrine of regeneration, as formerly taught in these Discourses, it must be admitted, that the disposition communicated when this work is accomplished in us, is new; and something which before did not exist in the soul. If it were the mere increase, or some other modification, of the former disposition, man could not be said to be born again; to be created anew; to be a new creature; to be renewed in the spirit of his mind. It could not be said by St. Paul, concerning persons who were the subjects of Regeneration, that 'old things were passed away' in them, and that all things had become new.'


It must further be acknowledged, that this new disposition

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