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His sake to rise also. We see Jesus of Nazareth, who was born as on this day, a little child, who grew up as our own children grow up through youth to manhood; who wept for human sorrows, and who could love a human friend; and who shed His most precious blood upon the cross, that we might

, live for ever.

Then there is indeed death before us, but there is also Christ with us; He knows the way through that dark valley; it kept Him not in it a prisoner, neither did it destroy Him ; but He rose again to live for evermore, and He can and will keep in perfect peace and raise to perfect glory those who have put their trust in Him.

BRATHAY CHAPEL, AMBLESIDE,

December 25, 1839.

SERMON IV.

CHRISTIAN CONVICTION.

ROMANS, xiv. 5.

Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

I HAVE always thought that he who preaches to any congregation for once or twice only, without being regularly connected with it, has a peculiar difficulty in fixing upon a proper subject on which to address them. He must consider not only what is most fit for them to hear, but also what is most fit for him to say to them. Matters of the very deepest import, and the most earnest exhortations to attend to them ;-that is, the highest style of Christian prophesying or preaching, which consists especially in repeating the great Gospel message, “ Believe and be saved;"—these, it is true, cannot be foreign to the business of any Christian minister when speaking to any of Christ's people ; and yet the very depth and solemnity of them seems to befit a closer connexion than that of one who is as a stranger to the congregation, who speaks to them for once, but whose own appointed line of duty lies elsewhere. Or, again, if a man takes up the interpretation of Scripture, this also is not without its difficulties; for sermons on the interpretation of Scripture require to be continuous; the field is too vast for one solitary discourse upon it; and not only so, but what is said on a single occasion may be absolutely misunderstood, and may give offence, because explanations and qualifications which would remove the offence, cannot be given along with it for want of time. There seems then no choice but to take some one particular point, not of the very deepest character, but yet important; some one point which may be sufficiently considered at one time, and on which a stranger may be allowed to speak, without assuming a deeper or nearer connexion with his hearers than of right belong to him.

Such a point seemed to me to be furnished by the words of the text, “ Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” In our common experience of life, the need of this command of the Apostle's forces itself continually on our observation. Men are for ever acting without being fully persuaded in their own mind; and that in various ways. For instance, those who act hastily, from mere impulse or feeling, they cannot be said to be fully persuaded in their own minds. Nor yet can they who act indeed on a very fixed and habitual impression, but that impression is not a reasonable one, but a mere prejudice or habit. Nor, again, are they fully persuaded in their own mind, who, although they do examine the grounds of their actions a little, yet stop too soon, and run away with an opinion only half formed, and therefore full of error. By this process we deceive ourselves very sadly, fancying that we have examined a question, and that therefore we may rest fully satisfied with our decision upon it; whereas that to which we have attained is all the while not the truth, but the most deadly enemy of truth, that is, falsehood ingeniously and plausibly supported.

Now the mischief of all this is great and manifold. It makes men either, as so many are, wholly without depth and earnestness—living and acting as it were quite at random, and without an interest in any thing but their own comfort or enjoyment; or else it makes them obstinate and unjust, persisting doggedly in their own ways and their own notions, without being able to render the least reason for either; or lastly, again, it makes them insincere and sophistical, beguiling themselves and others with a show of reason, attacking other men's opinions and maintaining their own, yet never having gone far enough to arrive at the rest and thorough satisfaction with which the mind welcomes at last

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not the silencing of an adversary, or the detection of a blunder, but the discovery of a positive and fruitful truth.

This would probably be allowed to be true; but looking at the great mass of mankind, and considering their natural powers and their opportunities of improving them, how is the evil ever to be removed; and confining ourselves only to its two most common forms, how can men in general avoid one or other of these two faults: the being, on the one hand, thoroughly unsettled and thoughtless, living by impulse, and embracing no opinion earnestly; or else, the becoming prejudiced and obstinate, and therewith, as almost necessarily happens, unjust and uncharitable, not firm in truth, but perversely resolute in error ?

It is evident that there must be, if we could but find it, some middle point between these two; where men could be fixed and earnest, yet not obstinate or unreasonable; having opinions and principles dear to them as their very life's blood, and yet being all the while fair and teachable, ready to hear and to be convinced, and to make all just allowance for others. And this state would be his and his only, who, according to the Apostle's words, were to be fully persuaded in his own mind. How then is this state to be attained to by persons in general; by those who are endowed neither with extraordinary faculties nor extraordinary

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