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Would to God we could say, that gradual reforms were frequently successful. They are what men often attempt : they are, alas! what men usually fail in.

It is painful to seem to discourage endeavours of any kind after amendment: but it is necessary to advertise men of their danger. If one method of going about an important work be imposing in expectation, and yet, in truth, likely to end in ruin, can any thing be more necessary than to set forth this danger and this consequence plainly? This is precisely the case with gradual reforms. They do not very much alarm our passions ; they sooth our consciences. They do not alarm our passions, because the absolute rupture is not to come yet. We are not yet entirely and totally to bid adieu to our pleasures and indulgences, never to enjoy or return to them any more.


We only have in view to wean and withdraw ourselves from them by degrees; and this is not so harsh and formidable a resolution as the other. Yet it sooths our consciences. It presents the semblance and appearance of repenting and reforming. It confesses our sense of sin


and danger. It takes up

the purpose, it would fain encourage us with the hope, of delivering ourselves from this condition. But what is the result? Feeding in the mean time, and fomenting those passions which are to be controlled and resisted, adding, by every instance of giving way to them, fresh force and strength to habits which are to be broken off, our constancy is subdued before our work is accomplished. We continue yielding to the importunity of temptation. We have gained nothing by our miserable endeavour, but the mortification of defeat. Our sins are still repeated. The state of our salvation is where it was. Oh! it is a laborious, a difficult, a painful work, to shake off sin ; to change the course of a sinful life; to quit gratifications to which we have been accustomed, because we perceive them to be unlawful gratifications; and to find satisfaction in others which are innocent and virtu

If in one thing more than another we stand in need of God's holy succour and assistance, of the aid and influence of his blessed Spirit upon our souls, it is in the work of reformation. But can we reasonably expect it whilst we are not sincere ? And I say again, that the plan of gradual reformation is in contradiction to principle, and so far insincere. Is there not reason to believe that this may in some measure account for the failure of these resolutions ?


But it will be asked of us, what better plan have we to offer? We answer, to break off our sins at once. This is properly to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. This is truly to do, what, according to the apostle, the grace of God teaches us to do. Acting thus, we may pray, we may humbly hope for the assistance of God's spirit in the work and struggle through which we have to go. And I take upon me to say,

that all experience is in favour of this plan, in preference to that of a gradual reform ; in favour of it, both with respect to ease and happiness. We do not pretend but that a conflict with desire must be supported, but that great resolution is necessary: yet we teach, that the pain of the effort is lessened by this method as far as it can be lessened at all. Passions denied, firmly denied and resisted, and not kept up by occasional indulgences, lose their power of tormenting. Habits, absolutely and totally disused, lose their hold. It is the nature of man. They then leave us at liberty to seek and to find happiness elsewhere, in better things; to enjoy, as well as to practise, virtue ; to draw comfort from religion ; to dwell upon its hopes ; to pursue its duties ; to acquire a love, a taste, and relish for its exercises and meditations,

One very general cause of entanglement in habits of sin, is the connection which they have with our way of life, with our business, with the objects that are continually thrown in our way, with the practices and usages which prevail in the company we keep. Every condition of life has its particular temptation. And not only so, but when we have fallen into evil habits, these habits so mix themselves with our method of life, return so upon us at their usual times, and places, and occurrence of objects, that it becomes very difficult to break the habit without a general change of our whole system. Now I

whenever this is a man's case, that he cannot shake off his sins without givwhen he bids his disciples to pluck out a right eye, or cut off a right hand (that is, surrender whatever is most dear or valuable to them), that they be not cast with all their members into hell fire. If a trade or business cannot be followed without giving into practices which conscience does not approve, we must relinquish the trade or business itself. If it cannot be followed without bringing us into the way of temptation tointemperance, morethan wecan withstand, or in fact, do withstand, we must also relinquish it, and turn ourselves to some safer


his way of life, he must give up that also, let it cost what it will. For it is, in truth, no other sacrifice than what our Saviour himself in the strongest terms enjoins,

ing up

If the company we keep, the conversation we hear, the objects that surround us, tend to draw us, and do in fact draw us, into debauchery and licentiousness, we must fly from the place, the company, and the objects, no matter with what reluctance we do so; or what loss and inconvenience we suffer by doing it. This may appear to be a hard lesson ; it is, nevertheless, what right reason dictates, and what, as hath already been observed, our Saviour himself enjoins, in terms made as strong and forcible as he could make them.


Sometimes men are led by prudential mo

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