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but themselves, and that they are no one's enemies but their own. Are they not indeed the worst enemies of their dearest friends ? Are they not the most dangerous foes of those whom they most cherish, and by whom they are most cherished in return? Are not their vices and their evil example bringing misery and death upon numbers who might otherwise have walked in innocence and peace? And will they not at the last day have to answer, not only for their own transgressions, but for those of all whom their evil example may have caused to fall, and whose blood will be upon their heads?
And how awful a consideration to such a one it is—indeed to all—that should they hereafter be awakened to a sense of better things: should they be brought to a knowledge of the saving truth as it is in Christ, and by sincere repentance obtain the pardon of the Almighty for their sins, it may be, nay it most surely will be, altogether out of their power to bring back with them those, who have been led astray by their example; and to remove in the day of their repentance those offences, which in the day of their transgression they so heedlessly caused.
I can conceive no subject of remorse more painful—nothing that would sooner tend to plunge into despair a person awakened to a sense of the sinfulness of his former life, than the reflection, that it is utterly out of his power to repair the evil he has done to the consciences of others, and to turn them from that way of destruction into which they were led by him.
Mysterious are the ways of Providence! the tempter comes back by repentance to the path of life: is awakened to a sense of God's mercy in Christ: by faith in Him is made a sharer of his promises : is renewed by his Spirit unto holiness; and made an inheritor of his eternal kingdom. The victim of his temptation, once comparatively innocent, goes on in unrepented sin : proceeds unchecked in the course of wickedness: becomes day by day more and more the slave of Satan; and sinks finally into the pit of hell. O! what a thought to harrow up in the soul of one newly awakened to a sense of his sinful state. How, when he raises his longing eyes to Heaven, must the sight of those who through his agency are hurrying on the descent to hell drag his soul down with them : and how hard must it be for him to entertain hopes of that mercy for himself, which he can see no prospect that they can share.
Mysterious indeed are the ways of Providence ! But let us, my brethren, use these speculations for that end only, for which it is fitting to entertain them; as a warning, viz., against exposing ourselves to this bitter pang, and embarrassing our entrance into the path of life with the accumulated obstacles,
, which must cumber their way, who have led others into sin.
Let us ever remember, that we are not isolated beings, but exercise, whether we will or not, an influence for good or ill upon all around us.
Let us ever remember, that whatever is injurious to our own salvation, is injurious to that of others : and that whatever tends to keep us from God, is an offence, which directly or indirectly keeps others from God also. If beyond this he has gifted us with any qualities of means of influence more than belong to our fellows around us, let us be doubly careful to consecrate his gifts to his service; and not basely and ungratefully to turn against Himself the blessings He has bestowed.
Thus shall we fill our part in the social system in which God has placed us, to the glory of our Maker, and the good of our fellow men. Thus shall we be living members of Christ's body, renewed by his Spirit unto holiness of life. Thus shall we be received at the last day into that blessed company, among whom is no offence: while they, by whom on earth offences have come shall experience the full completion of the Saviour's denunciation of woe.
CHRIST NOT TO BE LEFT ON ACCOUNT
John vi. 67-69.
THEN SAJD JESUS UNTO THE TWELVE, WILL YE ALSO GO AWAY?
THEN SIMON PETER ANSWERED HIM, LORD TO WHOM SHALL WE
THOU HAST THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE.
BELIEVE AND ARE SURE THAT THOU ART THAT CHRIST, THE
SON OF THE LIVING GOD.
This question of our Lord, and answer of St. Peter, occur at the close of that very remarkable chapter of St. John's Gospel, which opens with the account
, of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, and is principally occupied with the conversation on the same subject, which arose on the following day between our Saviour and some of the multitude, who had followed him to Capernaum. In the course of this conversation and in its results, is plainly shown the truth of that declaration, with which our Lord commenced it, viz., that they who thus followed him did so, not because they saw the miracles, but because they did eat of the loaves and were filled. It was doubtless the miracle that brought them.
It was doubtless, in one sense, because they saw the miracle that they came. But what they saw in the miracle was not an evidence to which they would submit their judgments and their wills, but a power which might supply their bodily wants. They saw in Christ not Christ himself, a heavenly teacher whose words they were to receive, whatever they might be, and whose commands they were to obey; but Christ, a rich provider whose hands distributed plenty; who might in other ways more abundantly gratify their desires; and whose miraculous power might thus be made subservient to their unhallowed wills.
It was no part of the plan of our Lord to attach to himself such followers as these. He did not desire the attendance of the selfish and the sensual. He did not wish to enrol under his banner those who through his service sought in truth not Him, but his : or to lay the foundation of his kingdom in worldly feelings, and the passions of men. When, therefore, these eager followers came around him, he addressed them in a style calculated not to stimulate, but to try and prove their hearts. He plainly announced his conviction of their hollowness; and then proceeded to state some very unacceptable truths, which could only be received by those who from a sincere conviction in his divine authority, would be ready to believe and obey his words, not only when they were in accordance with their