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(Fourth Sunday in Lent.)

HEB. IV. 7.

"Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To-day, after so long a time; as it is said, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."

THE persons for whose benefit this discourse is chiefly intended, have entered upon the most important period of human life. They have passed nearly half the days of man; "the days of our years are threescore years and ten." Childhood and youth, have, by these, been estimated at their just value; and they judge the saying of Solomon to be true," that childhood and youth are vanity." Persons

advanced so far in life, have seen many of those who entered the world about the same time with themselves, laid in the grave, where they have become the food of worms. They who survive, are placed in far different circumstances from those in which they expected to be placed. The buoyancy and hilarity of youth are gone from them. The keen appetite which rendered less palatable food grateful, and " every bitter thing sweet to them," is but seldom felt. The changes of the seasons, the cold of winter, and the heat of summer, more sensibly affect their bodies.


But how are their minds affected? Some, perhaps, fret and vex themselves, because their families are become a burden to them, or their means of sustenance are diminished. They find it difficult to provide food and raiment for themselves and for their children; and they plead these cares as an excuse for neglecting "the one thing needful," the salvation of their souls.

Persons of both sexes may have passed to this period of human life, without taking one right step toward entering into the kingdom of heaven. If this be so, how many are the sins of those who have arrived to this age, and yet have not begun with religion! There is a catalogue of sins of disobedience to commandments, concerning things, which we cannot omit without incurring great guilt. Such as these, "Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day." "Honour thy father and thy mother." Or to speak more comprehensively, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and thy neighbour as thyself." The duties, which every one, who has not learned to live godly in Christ Jesus, has left undone, through so many years, must appear to every enlightened mind to make his sins to be innumerable. When the pious Psalmist contemplated this, he asks, "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults."

There is another view in which those who, without possessing personal religion, have come to this period of life, should contemplate themselves. They have settled into some habits which make godliness now, a more difficult thing to prac tise without suspicion of hypocrisy, than it would have been, if "they had borne the yoke of Christ in their youth." The force of sinful habits is not easily perceived, by those who have indulged in them, until they begin to make attempts to shake them off. Even the pride of not changing opinions, which men have once expressed, helps to keep them from repentance. And the knowledge that much moral discipline will be requisite, makes them shun the thoughts of turning to the Lord, as a thing that could in nowise be submitted to, without the most urgent necessity; they, therefore, propose to put off repentance, until they fall into mortal sickness. Great ignorance of religion prevails in some minds, and also pride,

lest that ignorance should be discovered by others: hence men shun conversation with intelligent Christians, lest it should lead to any personal inquiry respecting their knowledge of the doctrines and duties of the Bible. How deplorably ignorant are many persons, upon the subject of religiou, who are otherwise well-educated! If childhood and youth have been neglected, maturer years do not, without great labour, and a real change of heart, add such knowledge of religion as will humble the hearts of those advanced to riper years, and make them bow to the sceptre of divine grace.

When persons at this age have been some time united in marriage, if a thought enters into the heart of one of them, that in reference to another world, all is wrong with them, that God and religion have been neglected, and that they are in great danger of perishing everlastingly; will not a husband or a wife endeavour by every means to allay such

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