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that remarkable phrase of the apostle Paul, Ye walked according to the course of this world; that there is a course which is general, and common to all ages and places, and which includes the gratifying of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, and such like things: but that, besides this, there is a course, which is more particular, and which varies incessantly. Like the tide, it is ever rolling, but in different directions. In one age or country it is this, in another that, and in a third different from them both. The course of this world in the early ages was a course of idolatry. In this direction it ran till the days of Constantine; at which period the prince of darkness found it impracticable, in the civilized parts of the earth, to support the Pagan throne any longer. The leaders in the Roman empire resolved to become Christians; and great numbers, from different motives, followed their example. The tide had then changed its direction. To profess Christianity was fashionable, was honorable, was the high road to preferment. Satan himself, so to speak, could now have no objection to turn Christian. The external profession of religion now began to grow splendid and pompous: but its true spirit was gradually lost; and a system of ignorance, superstition, and persecution, was introduced into its place. For many centuries, the course which the European part of the world took, was that of Popery: and so powerful was it, that those who ventured to resist it, did so at the expense of every thing that was dear to them on earth. In this direction it ran till the Reformation. Since that period there has been another turning of the tide. Sev eral nations have become Protestant; and yet the course VOL. III.

of this world goes on, and Satan has great influence amongst us. He has no objection to our laughing at superstition, provided that, in any form, we remain the slaves of sin. The world has of late years not directed its course so immediately towards superstition, as towards a criminal carelessness and infidelity. Formerly, the minds of men were so bent on uniformity in religion, as to require it in civil society. Now they tend to the other extreme; and are for admitting any kind of sentiments, even into religious society. In short, the propensity of the world in this day, is to consider all religious sentiments whatever as of little or no importance. I am afraid, my dear friend, that this is one of the principal sources from which the lenity of the present day springs.

Crisp. Be it so; yet the effect is friendly to mankind. If mutual forbearance amongst men arose from a good motive, it would indeed be better for those who exercise it; but let it arise from what motive it may, it is certainly advantageous to society.

Gai. Very true: but we should endeavor to have laudable behavior, if possible, arise from the purest motives, that it may be approved of God, as well as advantageous to men.

Crisp. But, do you think we ought to expect so much from the apostate race of Adam? In the apostle John's time, the whole world was represented as lying in wickedness; and, in fact, it has been so ever since. Formerly, its wickedness operated in a way of intemperance: now works in a way of indifference. Of the two, does not the last seem to be the least injurious?

Gai. It is indeed the least injurious to our property, to our liberty, and to our lives; but with regard to our spiritual interests, it may become the reverse. Fashion, be it what it may, will always, in some degree at least, diffuse its influence through the minds of men, even of those who are truly religious. The intemperance of past ages gave to the temper of pious people, as well as others, a tinge of unchristian severity; the indifference of the present times, has, I fear, operated with equal power, though in a different manner. We ought to be thankful for our mercies; but, at the same time, we should take heed lest we be carried away by the course of this world.

Crisp. Pray, are your apprehensions well-grounded? What evidence have we that religious people are influenced by a spirit of indifference?

Gai. The crying up of one part of religion at the expense of another. You may often hear of practical religion as being the all in all; and of speculative opinions (which is the fashionable name now for doctrinal sentiments) as things of very little consequence. Thus, by placing the doctrines of the gospel at a distance from practical godliness, the unwary are led to conclude that it has no sort of dependance on them. The effect of this has been, that others, from an attachment to doctrinal principles, have run to the contrary extreme. They write and preach in favor of doctrines, and what are called the privileges of the gospel; and utterly neglect those subjects which immediately relate to practice. In some places you may hear experimental religion extolled above all things, even at the expense of Christian practice and of sound doctrine. But surely

the gospel ought not to be mangled and torn to pieces. Take away its doctrines, and you take away the food of God's people. Insist on them alone, and you transform us into religious epicures. And you may as well talk of the pleasure you experience in eating, when you are actually deprived of sustenance, or of the exquisite enjoyments of a state of total inactivity, as boast of experimental religion unconnected with doctrinal and practical godliness. The conduct of a man who walks with God, appears to me to resemble, in some measure, that of the industrious husbandman, who eats that he may be strengthened to labor, and labors that he may find pleasure in sitting down to a meal.But, my time is gone. Business calls me away. I must therefore take my leave.

Crisp. Farewell, my dear friend. But I hope we shall soon have an opportunity of some further conversation on this subject.



How do you do, my dear Gaius? As I was providentially coming into your neighborhood, I could not help calling on you; though, I must confess, that as the weather is fine, I was somewhat fearful, lest I should interrupt your evening walk.

Gaius. Indeed, my friend, I am always glad to see you; but particularly now. I have been from home to day longer than usual, on business; and don't intend to walk this evening. I was just wishing that some friend would drop in, and spend an half hour with me.

Crisp. I was thinking, as I came along, about the subject of our last conversation. You made some remarks on the indifference, of the present age, with regard to religious principles, which struck me forcibly⚫ I should be glad to know what degree of importance you ascribe to the leading doctrines or principles of Christianity.

Gai. If you mean to ask, whether I consider the belief of them as essentially necessary to the enjoyment of good neighborhood, or any of the just or kind offices of civil society, I should certainly answer in the negative. Benevolence is good will to men; and so far as good will to them can consist with the general good, we ought to exercise it towards them as men, whatever be their principles, or even their practices. But if your question relate purely to religion, I acknowledge that I consider a reception of the great doctrines of Christianity (in those who have an opportunity of knowing them) as necessary to holiness, to happiness, and to eternal life.

Crisp. If your ideas be just, they afford room for very serious reflection. But will you not be subject to great difficulties in deciding what those truths are, and to what degree they must be believed? You cannot deny that even good men entertain different opinions of what the truth is; nor that those who receive the truth, receive it in very different degrees.

Gai. The same objection might be made to the express decision of Scripture, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. It might be said, you will find great difficulties in deciding what true holiness is,and what degree of it is necessary to eternal life: for you cannot deny

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