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and most important, should immediately be corrected ?' Some, even of those who are living most viciously, it will be found were religiously educated, and will not have forgotten the care with which they were reared, and the hopes which were indulged of them. This is a circumstance which may be of great importance to the objects of a religious teacher; for of those who have been recovered from gross vice, I believe that nineteen out of twenty will be found to have received early religious instruction; and that their reformation, under God, is principally to be ascribed to the revived influence of this instruction. Some, also, have been reared from infancy in an atmosphere of sin, and have never received a strong impression of a religious principle, or had a strong sense of a religious obligation. Still they may not be, and in truth they are not, wholly without natural conscience; and the skill of the teacher is to be exerted upon this conscience, in awakening its almost deadened capacities. Some were early accustomed to a condition of at least comparative prosperity, and others have never known any other than a life of poverty. Having then obtained as perfect a knowledge as he can of all within, and without, which is conducing to the virtue or vice of the individual, the teacher will understand something of the nature of the work which he will have to do; of the objects to which he is particularly to direct his attention and cares ; and, of the means he is to employ to attain these objects. And though, after all that he may thus have learned, his success may be far short of his hopes, he will, yet, to the extent to which his influence shall be felt, and to which the individual shall be brought to coöperate with him, have the satisfaction to
know that he is working for a radical, and a permanent reformation.
I would state another principle which is constantly to be cherished, and maintained in this ministry. I mean, that we should be careful to carry into it a deep feeling of respect for the actual rights, and capacities, of the individual mind. I do not indeed suppose that this principle is of greater importance here, than in any other department of the christian ministry. But here, more easily perhaps than in the ministry of our churches, we may lose sight of it. What, indeed, it may be asked by some, are the rights, which belong to a condition of ignorance, and dependence, and degradation, and sin ? And, what is the respect which is due to him, who has no respect for himself? I reply, that the capacities and rights of an immortal nature, of a being who must account for himself to God, and in whom the objects of the gospel of Christ can be accomplished only by his own free choice of truth, and virtue, and duty, have the highest claims to the respect of a religious teacher, even in the inost wayward and debased of our fellow men. For how is it, but through his capacities and rights of thought and understanding, of judgment and affection, of choice and of will, that any one is, or can be, a subject of the moral government of God, and accountable to him? It is a new world of interests, and as distinct a course of action, into which we are brought in our intercourse with our fellow-beings, by christian sentiments on this single subject respecting them. Our own use of these rights, and our improvement of these capacities, inay, perhaps, have raised us, in our moral condition, above some poor, degraded fellow-beings, even more
are raised above them by the circumstances of our outward condition. But enfeebled as these powers may be in them, and perverted, and corrupted, they are not wholly lost ; for if they were, the individuals would not be proper subjects of the christian ministry. A man may be regardless of his capacities and rights, and unconscious of their importance and worth, and of the responsibility which they bring upon him ; and it may even be the high office of the minister into whose charge he may fall, to reveal this individual to himself. And what an exalted ministry is that, in which we are called to bring home to any soul a conception which it never had, of the capacities with which God has endowed it ; of the certainty, which has been unfelt, of an immortal existence; and of the necessary connexion of human happiness, and misery, with its freely formed habits, and its chosen moral condition! And does God himself, - I ask with reverence,
act upon the human mind, or heart, for its conversion, or restoration, independently of the free exercise of those capacities, by which he has constituted us moral and accountable agents ?
How then shall man be made an instrument of the salvation of his fallen brother, if he respect not in him those powers and rights, which are the essential constituents of the soul that is to be redeemed ? Is it still asked, how may we aid the poor manacled and settered spirit, to regain its freedom? How may we awaken in him a sense, and fasten upon him a conviction, of the greatness and excellence of the capacities which he has given over to sin ? How shall we teach him, and help him to feel, that he has power, and that he must use it, to return to God; and that if he will seek, because he
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truly wants it, God will not withhold the assistance he needs to break his chains and to recover his liberty ? I can only answer, that, as far as human agency may be effectual in this work, he, I believe, will possess the best light, and will labor with the best success, who, under the guiding influence of the instructions and example of our Lord, shall always, and in everything, most carefully maintain the respect which is due to these capacities and essential principles of human nature, which our heavenly Father himself respects in all his dealings with man as a moral being. And he, I think, will most faithfully regard these capacities and principles of our common nature in others, who is most strongly impressed with their importance and worth in himself, and with his own accountableness for the use which he shall make of them. If any one have not a consciousness in what consists the essential worth of the rights and powers of his own moral, accountable and immortal nature, I know of no rules which aid him in awakening this consciousness in the soul of another.
It is another principle, which should never be forgotten in this ministry, that human nature, — or, to speak more definitely, a fellow sinner, - is never to be given up, as if he were either beyond the pale of God's mercy, or of human hope, and charity, and labor. I give a prominence also to this principle, because in this ministry, far more than we should be in that of our churches, we are called to a frequent and intimate communication with obdurate, and reckless offenders; and because here, therefore, unless we are strongly impressed with it, we shall not only find our own energies daily enfeebled by new discouragements, but we shall be disregarding one of the highest, and most glorious of the objects of Christianity, and of the ministry it has instituted, the salvation of the lost. Here, it may be, that from day to day we shall be brought into the society of the confirmedly intemperate, into whose very bones and marrow, and every thought and affection, the chains of the appetite which has enslaved them seem not only to have grown, but to have become identical with the very principle of their existence. But are they, therefore, to be overlooked, as no longer subjects of the moral government of God? Even if all expedients which have yet been tried shall have failed, are there no new expedients which christian benevolence can devise for their recovery ? Would he who came to seek and to save that which was lost, pass them uncared for, while God continues to them any use of their reasoning powers, or while any principles of their moral nature are still living in their hearts? Here, too, we shall meet the equally perverted, who have reasoned themselves, as far as they could, out of all principle, and into a justification of every sin, to which passion may prompt, or desperation may drive them. And here must be met those, who have fallen into that deepest of the abysses of human iniquity, that foulest and most corrupting of sins, that sin which extends the deepest and deadliest of moral poisons into the soul, and of all sins seems most completely to deprave and deaden every faculty of the moral nature; I mean, the sin of licentiousness; of profligacy. But, is even the profligate to be given up ? I have seen the human soul, and have been called to minister to it, in some at least of the most painful varieties of debasement into which