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The only important question is, Do we possess it? Every other inquiry is swallowed up in this. For we might repeat the truest storis of once experienced raptures, and remove mountains by faith, and overcome kingdoms by our zeal; and yet, if we be not-formed after God, in righteousness and true holiness,' we should be much nearer the school of the Pharisees than that of Christ.
In regard to this subject, we have a most important and solemn duty of self-examination; an examination, which relates to nothing less than our personal claims to share the name of Christ, and the hope and prospect of our souls for eternity. Of all questions which can come before us, there is none to be compared to this in deep and awful interest; none, which it is of any consequence, comparatively speaking, that we should be in haste to settle. Let us, then, put away,
for a moment, all indifference and levity, and try ourselves by the standard of Christ, and ascertain whether we be truly his disciples. The question is not whether we believe the Bible, whether we are Pagans, or Infidels. The answer to this is easy, and we are too ready to be satisfied with it. But it relates to our personal claims to the hopes and promises of the gospel. “There are,' says a certain writer,* (two sorts of Christianity; the one opposed to infidelity, the other opposed to worldly mindedness. Suppose that we have the first, and hate infidelity; yet what will that avail us, if we have not also the second, and hate worldly-mindedness? Of what use to put the Bible under our arm, and walk forward in the way of sin? Of what use to possess the
* H. More's Practical Piety.
candle of the gospel, and boast of it, and yet put it under a bushel, and go about our deeds of darkness?
Upon this subject is necessary to come home to ourselves, and meet the interrogation openly and fairly. It is simply, Are we Christians not, were we born in a Christian land, and baptized in a Christian church, and can we repeat a Christian creed; not, have we the Bible in our houses, and do we attend public worship on the Sabbath. Let us not suffer ourselves to be led away by any such evasions. But Are we CHRISTIANS in deed and in truth, at heart, in spirit, thoroughly, earnestly? Do we receive from the scriptures of Jesus their holy teachings, and faithfully follow them in life, conrersation, and temper?
It can avail us nothing to temporize in this matter, and strive to stifle the conviction of our deficiencies. The state of things will not be changed by our refusing to see what it is. Better far that the inquiry should disturb us now, than that we should go sluggishly on, satisfied with our general standing and general name, till it is too late to recover ourselves. Let us then be honest, and know the truth. It can profit us nothing to have a name to live, while we are yet dead; to walk with the followers of Christ, and yet not be numbered with his friends. This is the most dreadful of all delusions, - the more dreadful, because voluntary. God grant, therefore, that by a timely knowledge of ourselves on earth, we may escape the shame and horror, at the last day, of seeing ourselves in our true characters for the first time; and of discovering, that although we have been all our lives long crying out, 'Lord, Lord,' yet we must be rejected as strangers, because we have not done the will of our Father who is in Heaven.
To the Executive Committee of the
AMERICAN UNITARIAŅ AssociaTION. GENTLEMEN, Permit us to lay before you the details of our mission during the last six months.
The office, opened in the fall, has been continued to the present date, and we are happy in being able to state that it has fully answered our expectations.
The large number of applicants that have been brought under our notice among
has enabled us to approach somewhat nearer to just and definite views of the extent and character of that class of our population.
Many of the cases referred to us have shown so clearly the necessity of caution and judgment, in exercising true benevolence, that we rejoice in having been permitted thus to learn the lesson. The past months have been full of instruction. They have laid before us the facts, and revealed to our experience the principles, upon which the practice of charity ought always to proceed.
It is true that a great amount of labor and much of it of an unpleasant kind — has been devolved upon