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would be called on to pluck him out of the fire, or to prevent his walking down a precipice.

It is not, indeed, the prevailing fault of the present times, that the contact of sinners of a common degree is abhorred or shunned by those who think themselves righteous. Yet there is a smooth insincerity which carries itself alike with all; there is an indifference as to the moral condition of those with whom we live; and there is a readiness to desert and despair of those who have advanced beyond a certain point in the broad and beaten track which leads to perdition, as distinctive, perhaps, of the present day, as the superstitions which I have noticed were of the later Jewish republic; and as hurtful to the souls of men, and as opposite to the obligations of Christian charity, as the intolerance of the modern Turk, and the stiffness of the ancient pharisee.

We see our neighbour wasting his goods, impoverishing his family, destroying his health, and flinging himself, body and soul, into intolerable and everlasting misery, without a word or a look which can show we disapprove of his conduct, or a single entreaty to consider what he is doing and retrace his steps in time. We smile on his progress as he wades further in sin and ruin, and when, at length, he plunges out of his depth, and the stream hurries him away beyond those bounds of vice which the custom of the world has marked out as tolerable, then those who sport in the shallows of the torrent, and they that linger by its side,

alike grow zealous in the cause of morality and of insulted Heaven, alike begin to "shake their heads and whisper much, and change their countenances"," and call all mankind to witness their indignation against vice, and thank their God that they are not such as this man is, who went, if the truth should be told, but a few paces further in wickedness than themselves.

Many a man whom the neglect or flattery of his neighbours has consigned to incurable destruction, might, if those neighbours had, in the beginning of his wanderings, stepped in with their advice, their entreaties, their prayers, have been preserved for ever in the sheepfold. And many a man, and still more, many a deceived and miserable woman, who had been given up by her former, and, perhaps, less strongly tempted associates, to infamy and to perdition, might yet have been recalled, when their situation appeared most desperate. A little unexpected notice from persons of unblemished character, a little advice conveyed with meekness and affection, a little confidence shown, and some little help or countenance given to enable them to begin their lives anew; these, or less than these, if administered with prudence and good will, and in a manner of which the motives admitted of no doubtful interpretation, would have opened many a heart which unkindness and despair had dried up and withered, and (unless they were entirely hardened and for

Eccles. xii. 18.

saken by God as well as by men) would, under His blessing and with His assistance, have preserved a member to society, delivered the soul of a fellowcreature from torment unspeakable, recovered a servant to his Lord and ours, and occasioned a day of joy in Heaven.

If any of those who hear me have an opportunity to try their generous zeal in such a task as I have now marked out for them, let me express an earnest hope that no unreasonable timidity, no culpable indifference will be allowed to interfere with a work so holy! Suffer not, I would say to a person thus situated, suffer not your unhappy brother to perish if your advice can save him. I do not call on you to become a public teacher, an intrusive and unauthorized censor of other men, occupied in detecting their faults, and vexing society with morose and needless admonition. But, in the moments of private intercourse, amid the confidence of private intimacy, there are times to be found, by whoever looks for them in sincerity, when the honest and affectionate counsels of a friend are worth more than many sermons. And do not, above all, when a wretched fellow-creature is given up as irreclaimable and not to be endured by that very world whose example first led him into transgression, when his heart is sick and can find no physician, and they who might help him lift up their voices against him, or pass by on the other side, do not, if you have any chance of re

claiming such a creature, do not be hasty to abandon him.

St. Paul the apostle, during his abode as a prisoner at large in Rome, is related in ecclesiastical story to have met with the runaway slave of one of his friends who had robbed his master. Instead of giving up this unfortunate man immediately to justice, instead of hardening him by reproaches, or shunning him as pestilential or dangerous, the apostle undertook, it is said, the care and conversion of the reprobate; he received him into his house, and by the counsels and comforts of the Gospel, awakened in him a sense of his errours, and a faith in the great Redeemer of mankind. He did more; he persuaded him, as a proof of his sincerity, to return to his injured master, whom he, at the same time, induced to receive him again by that letter which is read in our Churches under the name of the Epistle to Philemon.

Onesimus, for this was the fugitive's name, did not disgrace his recommendation; he became a sincere Christian and a faithful servant, and in process of time, for his distinguished piety, was chosen a minister of the Church; he died a bishop and a martyr.

The means and language to be employed in the holy work which I have been recommending, must naturally vary according to a thousand various circumstances. Some may be "saved with fear, pulling them out of the fire';" over some a winning

St. Jude 23.

softness may possess greater influence; continued admonitions and patient discussion may be necessary to subdue a third; while even the apparent displeasure and expressive silence of a respected and holy person may, with a fourth, be sufficient evidence of his danger. In general, however, it may be laid down as a rule, that gentle means and gentle language are much more likely to save a soul than menaces or harshness. These rather serve to harden men in sin than to draw their steps aside from it; they may provoke, they may terrify, but they seldom work an effectual or lasting change in Better is it to imitate the conduct of the Heavenly Shepherd who, while He was found in likeness as a man, did not spurn the sinner at His feet, or reproach the publican at His table; who describes Himself as seeking His lost sheep diligently, but without anger or clamour; and as not driving, but affectionately carrying it on His shoulders to the sheepfold.

any one.

Do not, however, mistake me; when I recommend gentle means, I do not recommend guilty compliances. We must not humour our brethren in their sins, nor deceive them by the hope that their state is more secure than the truth will warrant. Far less must we, in order to gain their good opinion, become the companions of their evil deeds, or, even in appearance, countenance their false principles. By acting thus, we shall be so far from saving a soul, that we shall be the occasion of two souls perishing; our neighbour's, by confirming him

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