BLTC Press Titles

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The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh

Vanity Fair

William Thackery

A serious call to a devout and holy life

by William Law



Although the goodness of God, and his rich mercies in Christ Jesus, are a sufficient assurance to us, that he will be merciful to our unavoidable weaknesses and infirmities, that is, to such failings as are the effects of ignorance or surprise ; yet we have no reason to expect the same mercy towards those sins which we have lived in, through a want of intention to avoid them.

For instance, the case of a common swearer who dies in that guilt, seems to have no title to the divine mercy, for this reason, because he can no more plead any weakness or infirmity in his excuse, than the man that hid his talent in the earth, could plead his want of strength to keep it out of the earth.

But now, if this be right reasoning in the case of a common swearer, that his sin is not to be reckoned a pardonable frailty, because he has no weakness to plead in its excuse ; why then do we not carry this way of reasoning to its true extent ? Why do we not as much condemn every other error of life that has no more weakness to plead in its excuse than common swearing ?

For if this be so bad a thing, because it might be avoided if we did but sincerely intend it, must not then all other erroneous ways of life be very guilty, if we live in them, not through weakness or inability, but because we never sincerely intended to avoid them 1

For instance, you perhaps have made no progress in the most important Christian virtues ; you have scarce gone half way in humility and charity: now if your failure in these duties is purely owing to your want of intention of performing them in any true degree, have you not then as little to plead for yourself, and are you not as much without all excuse, as the common swearer ?

Why, therefore, do you not press these things home upon your consciences 1 Why do you not think it as dangerous for you to live in such defects as are in your power to amend, as it is dangerous for a common swearer to live in the breach of that duty, which it is in his power to observe ? Is not negligence, and a want of sincere intention, as blameable in one case as in another ?

You. it may be, are as far from Christian perfection as the common swearer is from keeping the third commandment; are you not therefore as much condemned by the doctrine of the gospel, as the swearer is by the third commandment ?

You perhaps will say, that all the people fall short of the perfection of the gospel, and therefore you are content with your failings. But this is saying nothing to the purpose. For the question is not whether gospel perfection can be fully attained ; but whether you come as near it is a sincere intention and careful diligence can carry you,—whether you are not in a much lower state than you might be, if you sincerely intended and carefully laboured to advance yourself in all christian virtues.

If you are as forward in the Christian life as your best endeavours can make you, then you may justly hope that your imperfections will not be laid to your charge ; but if your defects in piety, humility, and charity, are owing to your negligence and want of sincere intention to be as eminent as you can in these virtues, then you leave yourself as much without


excuse, as he that lives in the sin of swearing through the want of a sincere intention to depart from it.

The salvation of our souls is set forth in Scripture as a thing of difficulty, that requires all our diligence, that is to be worked out with fear and trembling.

We are told that " Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it,"— that " many are called, but few are chosen,"—and that many will miss of their salvation, who seem to have taken some pains to obtain it, as in these words, " Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."

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