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stage, with a just detestation of vice, they are furnished with apologies for it, which they never forget; and are even taught to consider it as a necessary part of an accomplished character.
And as if we had not enough of this disgusting nonsense and abominable profligacy in our own country, and in our own language, we are every day importing fresh samples of them from abroad, are ingrafting foreign immorality on our own native stock, and introducing characters on the stage, or into the closet, which are calculated to recommend the most licentious principles, and favour irregularities and attachments that deserve the severest reprehension and punishment.
These are the several modes in which we may weaken or even destroy the moral and religious principles of very sincere Christians, or in the words of Scripture, may make our brother to offend. And whoever is guilty of giving this soffence, ought most seriously to consider the heavy punishment, and the bitter woe which our Lord here denounces 'against it. There is scarce any one sin noticed by him, which he reprobates in such strong terms
as this? Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me; it were better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world be cause of offences; for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.” These are tremendous words; but we cannot wonder that our Lord should express himself thus strongly, when we consider the dreadful consequences of spreads ing infidelity and immorality among oun fellow creatures. We distress them with doubts and scruples which never before entered into their thoughts; we rob them of the mast-inu valuable blessings of life, of that heavenly consolation and support which is derived from religious sentiments and virtuous habits; of that trust and confidence in the Supreme Disa poser of all things, which gives ease and comfort to the afflicted soul;" of that unspeakable satisfaction which results from a conscientious discharge of our duty, and of that peace of God which passeth all understanding qi But what is still worse, we not only deprive them of the truest comforts of the present life, but
we cut off all their hopes of happiness in the next;s we take from them the only sure ground of pardon and acceptance, the death and merits of a crucified Redeemer: we bar up against them the gates of heaven, into which but for us they might have entered, and perhaps consign them over to everlasting perdition. mis not this beyond comparison the greatest injury that one human creature can infiet upon another? And does it not justly merit that severe sentence which our Lord has pronounced against it? Let then every one keepp at the utmost distance from this most atrocious crime. Let every man who commits; his thoughts to the public, take especial care that; snothing drop even incidentally from his pen that can offend those whom our Saviour calls little children that believe in bim; that can either stagger : their faith or corrupt their hearts. Let every father of a family be equally careful that nothing escape bis lips in the unguarded hour of familiar con verse, that can be dangerous to the religious principles of his children, his friends,i or his servánts si nothing that tends to lessen their reverence for the sacred writings, their respect,
for the doctrines, the precepts, or the sacred ordinances of religion, or raise any doubts or seruples in their minds respecting the truth or divine authority of the Christian revelation. I mention these things, because even the friends of religion are sometimes apt through mere inadvertence or thoughtlessness to in dulge themselves in pleasantries even upon serious subjects, which though meant at the time merely to entertain their hearers, or to display their wit, yet often produce a very different effect, and sink much deeper into the minds of those that are present (especially of young people) than they are in the least aware of. More mischief may sometimes be done by incidental levities of this kind, than by grave discourses or elaborate writings against religion. . .. ,
I have dwelt the longer on this interesting topic, because few people are aware of the enormity of the sin here reproved by our Lord, of the irreparable injury it may do to others, and of the danger to which it exposes themselves. But when they reflect, that by the commission of this crime they endanger the present peace and the future salvation of their
fellow-creatures, and expose themselves to the woes which our Lord has in the passage before us denounced against those from whom these offences come, they will probably feel it their duty to be more guarded in this instance than men generally are; and will take heed to their ways, that they offend not either with their pen or with their tongue. 90 I now go on with the remaining part of our Lord's admonition to his disciples. v1After having said in the 7th verse, “ Woe unto the world because of offences; for it must need be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence comet h ;”, he hen adds, wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off and cast them from thee; it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands ortwo feet to be cast into everlasting fire; and if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee; it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast inte hell fire." w Our Saviour here applies to the particular. sin which he was then condemning, the very same words which he had used before in his -Wollst