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are not to treat all those persons as heathen men and publicans, who cannot be present. ly reclaimed from the error of their ways. “ If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no fellowship with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but ad monish him as a brother.” Let us learn to discover the most unrelenting hatred to all şin, and at the the same time fervent charity to sinners.
While we use all proper means for reclaiming sinners, we must not trust to them. A. las! the power of sin is far superior to the power of men, Have we not too often felt the power of sin in ourselves to be unconquerable, but by divine strength? With all other means for reforming our brethren, let us join fervent prayer for their success. Paul, with all his depth of knowlege, and Apollos, with all his fervent eloquence, were nothing, and could do nothing without God. Do we imagine that our powers of persuasion are sufficient to turn sinners from the errors of their ways unto the Lord ? We may as well hope, by the powers of persuasion, to'raise the dead from their graves, that they may enjoy the pleasures, and do the works of life.
If you desire to be happily instrumental in turning sinners from the error of their ways, it is likewise necessary for you to walk circumspectly. A few blemishes, or one great
fire, but we palace of his wickedneses, which
blemish in your conduct, will deeply affect your usefulness, Eccl. X. 1. Matt. V. 16.
It is plain that some of those means of reforming offenders, which have been specifi. ed, cannot with propriety, or hope of success, be employed by every person who is grieved to see the evils that abound around him. We do not enjoy opportunities of so. cial converse with every sinner in the coun. try-side. Should we reprove those who are scarcely known to us by face, we are more likely to make our good be evil spoken of, than to reclaim them. We do not find that Paul, (whose zeal was ever burning like a fire, but was directed by prudence), ever went to the palace of Nero, or to the palaces of the ministers of his wickedness, to reprove them. He seized opportunities, which God gave him, for the conversion of sine ners; but he did not cast his pearls before swine.
Yet, as a fervent zeal ought to burn in all our hearts, we ought not to think that we are blameless, if we do not, what all may do, to promote the conversion of-sinners. We are soldiers called to fight against the devil and his followers, under the banners of the Captain of salvation.
With this view, we ought to hold forth the word of life by a public profession of the truth. Many, it is to be feared, will shut their eyes against the light shining around
them, but others will be induced to walk in the light of the Lord. The light of truth makes the evil of sin manifest to the consci. ences of men. When the truth of the gos. pel is exhibited by a public profession, the hatefulness of many vices practised among the heathen is acknowleged and felt, even by those who receive not the love of the truth that they may be saved, and the en. trance of it will give understanding to those whose hearts God is pleased to open, that they may attend to their own present and eternal welfare.. :: We ought likewise to strive against sin, by shewing our abhorrence of it in our practice. In our public profession of the truth of the Scripture, we ought to bear testimo. ny against opposite errors, especially against - those which are most prevalent in our own age. In our practice, we ought to manifest our aversion to those sins that are most common, especially wheu their malignity or their dangerous consequences are generally overlooked. When luxury is the reigning evil, we ought to practise the strictesttemperance. When drunkenness is the prevailing iniquity, we must not look upon the wine when it is red. When fornication or adultery are shamelessly practised by the fashionable part of mankind, they must not be once named among saints; and every thing ought care. fully to be avoided, which may lead us by insensible degrees to such enormities, or which may lessen our detestation of vices so displeasing to God; and so pernicious to men. . We likewise contribute to the reciaiining of sinners, by concurring in the support of those public means of instruction which God hath appointed for the conversion of sinners, and in every seasonable and needful testimony aagainst prevailing evils. Whensins and errors abound, let us make it apparent that we are on the Lord's side. The followers of the Lamb must not be ashamed of him, or of his words, at any time, and least of all when the generation - with which they live is adulterous and sinful. „66. Come out from among them, saith the Lord, and be ye separate ; touch, not the unclean thing, and I will receive you."
We ought, finally, to be fellow helpers to to the truth, by strengthening the hands of those who are set for the defence of the gospel, and whose office requires them to reprove, rebuke and admonish sinners. The, Corinthian Christians, in the days of Paul, were highly blameable because they did not support his character against his enemies. He found it absolutely necessary to speak like a fool in commending himself, because they did not commend him, nor vindicate him from the aspersions of the false apostles.
The believers at Corinth deserved much blame on another account. Church discipline was neglected among them. This was
not merely the fault of the rulers of the church. All the members of it ought to have testified their zeal, by urging those rulers to do their duty, and by concurring with them in executing the prescribed discipline, 1 Cor. v. Those who are appointed to bear rule in the church, must judge and pronounce sentence. But they often need excitation from the people to their duty, and ought to have their countenance and help in the performance of it; for Christians are under indispensable obligations to strive together for the faith. of the gospel and the purity of the church.
We cannot calculate the happy effects that may result from our combined endeavors to support the cause of truth, and to oppose sin. It will be known at the last day how much sinners have contributed to extend the devil's influence in the world, and how much saints have contributed, or used faithful endeavors to contribute, to the overthrow of the devil's kingdom. This at present we know, that if any among us do err from the truth, and one convert him, he hath saved a soul from death, and hides a multitude of sins.