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of truth by being too decided, or intruding religious conversation, has so concealed the lovely features of Christian intercourse, that its existence amongst us seems doubtful!
But I took up my pen with a very different idea than to presume to add any thing to give weight to what has been said. You will little suspect, after my agreement with, and admiration of the work alluded to, that my real intention was to criticise some expressions which repeatedly occur in its pages, and to question the justness of their application.
That we often make use of phraseology, without due consideration of its true signification, and frequently productive of error, both as to the sense we wish to convey, and its conception by others, is a lamentable fact. Much misunderstanding, difficulty, and misappreciation of motive, in the common intercourse of life, result from this habit, which now so universally obtains, though, in many instances, almost unconsciously acquired, and therefore the more vigilantly to be guarded against. I should rejoice to see a radical reform in a variety of expressions now current in daily conversation, the employment of which is continued just because it has been the fashion or the custom to do so by preceding generations; whereas a truthful investigation of their meaning might lead to the detection of much inconsistency, and to their consequent exchange for more simple and genuine terms of communication, in the comprehensive spirit of the Divine injunction, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt,” Col. iv. 6; and “Let your yea be yea, and your nay nay,” James v. 12.
But I am again wandering from my original design. The expressions referred to, in Sprague on Christian Intereourse, are these- Professing Christians and Professors, as there used to designate those whose separation from the world, and fruits of a holy and religious life, prove them to belong to the little flock of Christ's fold. Yet, in page 3 of the work in question, a distinction is admitted between
professors of religion,' and · true Christians,' while the latter class is afterwards continually spoken of by the former appellation. A professor (in this acceptation of the word) conveys to my mind the idea of insincerity,—the absence of experimental realization of truths outwardly declared to be entertained, as in Rom. i, 22. “ Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” 1 Tim. vi 21. “Some, professing, have erred from the faith ;” and in Tit. i. 16.“ They profess that they know God, but in works deny him.” To profess, where it occurs in scripture, except in this sense, appears to mean simply to declareand we do not meet with professing believers' or “professing Christians,'any where in holy writ; wherefore then should they be used together, unless to point out a difference between those who are really what others only profess to be? Does the name Christian imply a profession, or declaration of the doctrines taught by Christ, as being outwardly recognized by those who are so denominated ? Why then add a qualification of the same signification as the substantive? Since reading Sprague on Christian Intercourse, I have met with the expressions which there peculiarly attracted my attention, used by other writers in the two opposite senses. Perhaps you may be able to inform your readers which is correct. I may have taken a prejudiced view of the
case, and shall be glad to be set right—but surely, there should be some agreement as to the just application of terms employed; or where doubt is entertained, less questionable words substituted in their stead.
How very sad it is to be compelled to admit the melancholy fact, that there are so many who have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof,—who have a name to live, but are dead, as to oblige a distinction to be made between them and those whose endeavour and desire is to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour, in all things. And yet, however the natural man may resist the conviction, God's unchangeable word declares the solemn, the deeplyhumbling truth, “ Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matt. vii. 13.
• What have you got there?' said my uncle, seeing my hands well filled with papers. • Various things, sir; some of them are criticisms,
Humph! I should have thought that by this time our critical friends must have considered us incorrigible.'
• It is not on the old ground, uncle. Either they are improved, who formerly rebuked us, or they suppose us, as you say, past mending. But some of our friends are discomposed at the familiar style of our conversations on subjects so grave, and wish the closing article to assume a more didactic form.'
· Like the leading article in a newspaper?'
' I suppose so: they say we are a great deal too lively.'
• No wonder, niece, when you presume to expose me, as you have done, for a great blustering, blundering Jack Tar, running down your geraniums. I never read any thing more impertinent than your last number. It made me laugh in my own face.'
• All the better, dear uncle; it will render you more cautious for the time to come. But, seriously, do you think we should gain any thing by adopting the newspaper style?'
* Nothing, my child. Tastes differ so widely, and opinions tread so closely on their heels, that, take
what path you may, a multitude will be found preferring other roads, each diverse from yours and from the rest. As far as I can learn, no general objection is made to our present plan; and many who kindly accompany us through a familiar dialogue, would close the book at nce on a solemn dissertation.'
! I'm glad you think so, uncle. Here go the criticisms :' and I put them aside.
• What comes next?' said my uncle.
'A very different matter : documents relating to the dear Irish clergy.'
My uncle immediately mounted his spectacles, and looked all anxiety, while he inquired the nature of those documents.
• You know, uncle, there was a paper in the last number, headed “The Centenary,' and setting forth somewhat of the claim that our persecuted brethren have on our sympathy and assistance.'
• Well ?'
• It has been responded to, in a way that I scarcely dared to have hoped: and I have many applications as to the best mode of rendering the aid which they have not even asked. On inquiry, I found that though a regular fund was established in this country, yet that a question is made as to the eligibility of such establishment, on grounds at once delicate and prudential.'
How, then, is help to be conveyed ?' 'In the first instance, a doubt seemed to exist, whether the facts were so strong as was represented ; and this kept back some liberal hands, really anxious to assist. The letter, however, of the Archbishop of Tuam to a clergyman who had forwarded a collection to him, set the matter at rest : for His Grace denomi