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After this conversation they immediately returned, and went to church with the family. Mr. Lovegood on that afternoon, preached a more awful sermon than usual, on the parable of the Ten Virgins; observing what a remarkable similarity subtisted for a while, between such as were wise, and others who were foolish, till the day of trial made known the difference between them. That the lamp of a profession may give a splendid light for a while, but at length it may go out in everlasting darkness. That the grace of God may be so nearly imitated by natural gifts and outward advantages, as that many persons may “have a name to live, and yet be dead." He first mentioned some who might have "the form of godliness, and deny the power." He asked his formal hearers, if they had ever examined their hearts by that expression, "The power of God." He remarked its emphatic meaning,-how different from a mere mechanical form! that though he by no means condemned forms of prayer, for that we had them in our psalms and hymns, and in the word of God itself; yet that these would not cover the sin of those, who are merely formal in prayer. That the best and most spiritual forms of prayer, if not offered up from a heart which is spiritual, are but an abomination for that God thus complained of his own Israel: "This people draweth near to me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me." He observed farther on the same subject, that forms of prayer can never create, though they may lead devotion: and that as we advance in the spiritual life, we shall be constrained to extend the wings of devotion, and not merely confine ourselves to such directories as we once needed, in the earlier part of the divine life; but that as our spirits

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grow up into God in all things," we shall find, that the fervour of holy prayer will require to be released from the cold and frigid business of a form; especially when we retire into the closet, that we

may "pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit."

He then discoursed on reading the Bible; attending public worship, and frequenting the Lord's table; showing that as these were the means of grace, we might expect good from them; yet, that it was possible to give a very diligent attendance on all these things, in a formal customary manner, with our lips, without the oil of grace; that the question is not so much what we do, but that we should examine the motives why we do it: that the true worshippers of God, whose services are acceptable, are only they who "worship God in spirit and in truth." He then made some remarks on a living faith, which ever unites to Christ, and by which union, alone, "the oil of grace" is communicated to our hearts, and distils itself throughout all our actions; that a mere dead faith makes a professor, but, that it is a living faith, which makes a possessor of the grace of God,

in deed and in truth.

He next went on the business of rectifying another mistake, that the oil of grace consists in our being blessed with good natural dispositions. He observed, that even among the brutes, though of the same kind, some of them have their good dispositions, and prove naturally manageable and kind, while others of them are sulky and perverse: and that this mere diversity of disposition, is equally conspicuo us in the human race; and consequently, a mere good disposition, however excellent in its, place, which may befound in a brute, as well as in the human race, can never be called "the oil of grace." That these sweet-blooded sinners, are too frequently found among the most negligent and profane before God; yet, in their way, affectionate and kind towards others of their fellow sinners, while all of them are equally at a distance from the holy, spiritual mind, belonging to those who are truly "in Christ Jesus."

Having thus warned his hearers against supposing

:

that a mere good disposition was of the nature of divine grace, he next showed that a life of the strictest morality may exist when "the oil of grace" is still wanting. Mr. Lovegood boldly said, that an Atheist as well as a Christian,* may be a moral man; and that the morality of most men, is in general, little better than negative, consisting much more in what people do not do, than in what they really do and that any man will, for self-interested motives, and for the sake of his own ease and comfort, attended to the common rules of morality, as all those who violated them are guilty of the grossest acts of folly against their own interest. That a man of unjust and knavish principles is sure sooner or later, to suffer for his own folly. That the man of passion and revenge will certainly entail much greater sufferings on himself, than what others have felt from him, by the mad violence of his anger. In short, if a man did but consult his own health or interest, he would be moral and that, however highly advantageous, a strict attention to the rules of morality may prove to the good of society, yet that real Christians, who are blessed with the "oil of grace," have much higher motives to go by, than such as are to be found among mere moralists. On these things, he afterwards expatiated so well, that it puzzled Mr Lovely's mind not a little. On the one hand, he felt himself half angry, that all his religious props, were knocked from under him, while he found it a considerable difficulty to deny the truth of what he had heard. But when he perceived that Mrs Lovely was still more seriously impressed, under a farther discovery of her defective righteousness, and began again to express the anxiety of her mind, after her second return from church, how much both of them had fallen short of the sacred standard of real Christianity; he was still more highly incensed against the harsh doctrine

*It is probable Mr. Lovegood borrowed this expression from a famous charge, the late bishop of St, Asaph delivered, when bishop of St. David's.

of Mr. Lovegood, which had so discomposed the mind of his dearest Ann. Even the blessed tears of repentance, as they trickled from her eye, pierced him to the heart, while he heard with astonishment, that one of so pure a mind, in his esteem should still acknowledge herself such an unworthy sinner in the sight of God. Matters, however, thus passed till the next day. The reader is therefore requested to suspend his curiosity until to-morrow; and, after a night's rest, the subject will be resumed.

DIALOGUE XXV.

THE FAMILY OF THE WORTHY'S, MR. LOVEGOOD, AND THE LOVELY'S.

THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED, WITH

FROM THE BOOK OF JOB.

ILLUSTRATIONS

ON the morrow, Mr. Lovegood attended on his customary visit. Mr. Worthy having introduced his guests to each other, it was observable, that Mr. Lovely received the address of Mr. Lovegood, with a degree of coldness and formality, very contrary to that which belonged to the natural sweetness of his disposition. And after dinner the following conversation took place. [Mrs. Lovely appears rather faint and weak.]

Lov. I told you, my dear, that going to Church yesterday afternoon, would be too much for you. [To Mr. Lovegood.] And Sir, I must be free to tell you, that your doctrine is too severe and harsh for my delicate and tender wife; though I am sure Sir, you mean it for the best, and I should be glad, if all the clergy followed your good example.

Loveg. Indeed Sir, it was not my design to have advanced any thing, that was improperly rash and severe; and if I have been guilty of such a mistake, I wish to be open to conviction, and shall be quite ready to retract it.

Lov. Why Sir, you must allow me the liberty to say, (I hope Mr. Worthy will pardon me,) that I never heard any body but yourself make so free with the character of Job, as you did in your morning sermon; certainly he was a very holy man.

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