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betake themselves to stratagem ; they frame or exhume a system which in some of its features resembles that which is so obnoxious, and running back to the time when such a system had supporters here and there, a story is invented, and its incidents and characters so arranged as to bring into discussion the offensive creed. The tale will be wrought up with surpassing skill. A clergyman will be introduced, who espouses and promulgates the odious doctrines. A disciple of his will be another leading person in the drama, and perhaps a rare specimen of credulity and bigotry. Other parties will appear of the most amiable and attractive character; they shrink from the harsh doctrinal views of the preacher; they take brighter views of religion, and are made to exhibit all the loveliness, and gentleness, and benevolence, which are supposed to be the fruits of a true faith. The contrast is very effective, and the reader gladly turns away from the cold, stern severity of what passed for orthodoxy, as from a frightful dream. The next sermon he hears will perhaps bring to view some leading truth of Scripture, so nearly allied in substance, if not in form, to what he has seen so odiously depicted in the romance of a past generation, that he is shocked, and hastens to some place where his new taste will not be offended. Or suppose again, the purpose is to bring into contempt, in a more general way, evangelical religion, and its ministers and disciples. Then the story is framed to present in contrast, (not so boldly as to awaken suspicion,) on one side a character, genial, generous, companionable, and free from all offensive traits that worldly people are quick to detect and condemn; and on the other, a professor, and perhaps public teacher of religion, thrusting himself, and his favourite topics, out of season quite as often as in season, into all places and companies, and ex. hibiting in his temper and manner, anything but the gentleness, and suavity, and punctilious regard to the proprieties of life, such as religion enjoins, with much more consistency and authority than the customs of society. Interviews occur, in which questions of duty or consistency are discussed, and the "parson” or the " deacon," or the other well meaning man," is made to propound and defend the most ultra views in such terms, in such a tone of voice, and with such weak arguments, as a lively imagination may conceive to be most provocative of contempt and disgust. If the tale is well wrought, the reader is scarcely conscious of its being other than a veritable report of something which actually occurred, instead of a gross caricature. The religious opinions of some of the most learned and godly men, that

appear

in the annals of the Christian church, have been thus presented in some

fictitious tale; first misrepresented and distorted, and then made responsible for inferences and conclusions, which shock common sense, and expose those to whom they are imputed to pity or contempt.

In the graver class of books—as histories and biographies,similar insidious attempts to subvert sound principles implanted by a careful education, are by no means rare.

But the more common theatre for the display of such skill is, as we have said, the lighter and cheaper literature, which finds its way into the hands of all classes and communities. Cart-loads of printed trash, decked out with coarse cuts, are in constant transit over the thoroughfares of the country; and though you may be protected by your social position from direct contact with them, you can scarcely fail to feel their incidental influence in the general deterioration of moral sentiment and intellectual vigour, which they are sure to produce. So rapid is the accumulation of printed matter, good and bad, that but a small portion of it can be read, even by those who have no other occupation. Some selection is therefore indispensable, and in making it, you should have reference to the cultivation of taste, the improvement of the mind, a proper familiarity with the current topics of interest; but most of all to the establishment or confirmation of right moral and religious principles. The authorship, or imprint of a volume, has long since ceased to be any certa in guarantee of its character. Doctors of divinity in high repute among those who are regarded as evangelical, arow and defend doctrines and principles that are entirely irreconcilable with the received systems of our Protestant faith. Works of science are deeply impregnated with the poison of atheism. Magazines and newspapers, by incidental, but not less effectual, thrusts at our holy religion, succeed in diverting large numbers from the contemplation of it, and in imbuing others with prejudices and false views, which are, perhaps, never fully removed. Hence you will not wonder that your Christian friends should feel some anxiety to forewarn you on this subject. There will be no difficulty in finding as much reading as you desire, both secular and religious, outside of all obnoxious or equivocal productions. You will have neither time nor inclination to investigate questions of speculative theology; and as to the teachings of Holy Scripture, few religiously disposed people at the present day would insist on a higher, or be satisfied with a lower standard of orthodoxy, than is found in Hannah More's writings.

If you should decline to read a book or periodical, which a friend commends to you, on the ground that you stand in doubt of the author's views, or that you do not wish to read anything which

advocates what you regard as an error, you will perhaps be at once rebuked for a course so narrow and illiberal. How will you ever know what truth is, it will be said, unless you examine it in contrast with error ? A pretty judge indeed, to make up your mind upon hearing one side ; you set down all who differ from you as errorists; to be right, they must embrace your opinions. Well, you withdraw yourself into the shell of your infallibility, and refuse to examine the grounds on which they rest their convictions. There is something plausible in this appeal. There is an appearance of bigotry, of pusillanimity in declining a challenge to investigate the grounds of another's convictions; and yet it is eminently unjust. Two men are about to engage in business, one decides to embark in manufacturing cotton goods, and the other betakes himself to mining coal. They have severally considered the probabilities of success, and each has acted upon his own conviction. It would be no evidence of narrowness or illiberality of views, if the manufacturer should decline to go into argument with the miner upon the comparative eligibility of the two pursuits. All his thoughts and energies must be bent to the prosecution of his own business; to spend his time in reading, or hearing arguments to unsettle his confidence in it, would be only to insure his failure. If each has used all proper and available means to obtain information, and has embarked heartily and energetically in the chosen enterprise, their success depends upon turning the eye and ear away from all diverting sights and sounds. Blind men who think they see, are very unsafe guides for those who are conscious that they are blind. Why should one who has been convinced upon evidence satisfactory to himself that, as a descendant of apostate Adam his nature is unholy, that his violations of the divine law have made him obnoxious to its terrible penalty, that provision is made in the gospel for the pardon of his sin and the remission of deserved punishment, that by faith in Christ and repentance towards God, he may obtain eternal life, and that faith and repentance are gifts of God, freely bestowed in answer to prayer, why should such a one willingly read a book, or hear a sermon or lecture in which these convictions are assailed ? Why demolish a house built with so much care, and on what appeared a rock, in order to try some other foundation which cannot possibly be so safe? Why leave a good harbour, and put out into a stormy sea, upon a vague suggestion that a safe anchorage may be found somewhere else? Would a dutiful child willingly read or hear an argument against the obligation of the fifth commandment ? Would a trustworthy and contented labourer patiently listen to evidence that his employer is a tyrant or a fool ?

If I were asked to read a treatise advocating the doctrine of universal salvation, I should courteously, but peremptorily decline, on the ground that my views on that subject were well settled, from such an examination of the Sacred Scriptures as I had been able to give, and that I had no desire to know how much could be said in support of some other theory, so long as I was entirely satisfied of the truth of the one I had embraced. But, says my friend, you want me to adopt your views, and to this end you ask me to read your books and tracts. By no means; if, after proper inquiry and investigation, you are convinced that my views of this subject are not in accordance with divine revelation, you should resist every attempt to persuade you to renounce or modify your convictions, and should cleave to them with invincible pertinacity.

LINES WRITTEN IN THE ALBUM OF AN OLD SCHOLAR.

Thou hast heard, beloved, a gentle call,
Speaking to thee as it speaks to all,

Come to the Saviour nou!
" Come in the freshness of life's young spring,
" While early affections are blossoming,
“ These as thy tribute to Jesus bring-

" Come to the Saviour nou!"

Say, hast thou answered that gentle call,
Gratefully yielding thy life, thy all,

To Him who loveth thee now?
Waiting not till the day draws on,
Till most of its golden hours are gone,
And thy labours on earth are nearly done,

But living to Jesus now ?
Thou hast heard, beloved, a dying cry,
Ring from the Cross of Calvary,

“ Look to the Saviour now !
“Look, and thine every sin shall be
" Cleansed by the blood that is shed for thee-
“Look, and thy perfect redemption see,

" Look to the Saviour noi !"

Tell me, oh! tell, is thy trusting eye,
Turned to the Cross of Calvary,

Looking to Jesus now ?
Waiting not till the sins of years,
Burden thy spirit with doubts and fears,
Nou—while the promise so nigh appears-
Look to the Saviour now !

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Ion. EXPOSITORY NOTES ON SCRIPTURE LESSONS.

APRIL 5TH.-A SABBATH WITH JESUS. For Repetition.-Luke vi. 10--12. Reading Lesson.-Luke vi. 1-19.

First. Christ'S TEACHING RESPECTING THE SABBATI.

The two Sabbath days mentioned in the lesson were probably some weeks apart. Jesus was censured again and again because his acts on that day set at nought the received interpretations of the divine law respecting the Sabbath. The conduct of the cavillers in this matter shows that people, themselves unmindful of divine precept, readily blame others for supposed faults, Matt. vii. 3--5.

Two things are brought out by Christ's teaching as to the Sabbath :

1. That mere ceremonial observances were of little worth. He would not have the external in religion disregarded. His teaching is comparative, as in Matt. ix. 13; xxiii. 23. Attention to external things, or ceremonies merely, becomes offensive to God, since it implies an idea of Him as if He were pleased with what is nothing more than external.

We may put on devout looks, and affect a devout demeanour on the Sabbath day ; but if the heart is not devout, all will be unmeaning and hypocritical. Do not neglect the external in religion ; but do not be satisfied with the external only, Isa. i. 11.-15; xxix. 13, 14.

2. That the Sabbath was under his control, ver. 5. This was an assertion of a prerogative which could not pertain to a mere man; and it was an intimation that the law of the Sabbath was about to be modified in some important particular. The Sabbath was a significant institution—a sign of the relation of the Israelites to God, Ezek. xx. 12. It has, however, another and a different relation in Christianity. It commemorates the rising of Christ from the grave, and has, therefore, been changed under New Testament authority from the seventh to the first day of the week.

And two classes of work are mentioned by the Saviour as proper and laudable on the Sabbath day.

One comprises all that is really necessary. We must, however, be satisfied concerning what we do, that it is really necessary.

This limit, however, indicates that the Sabbath should be kept free from unnecessary works--mere matters of convenience, gratification, or pleasure.

The other class of works comprises what benevolence and doing good to others may require. We are to do good at any time, and

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