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he shall surely be guided into the often a proud and rebellious heroway of peace, find effectual assist- ism, when a man prefers death to ance in the path of duty, be extri- penury, ignominy, or bondage. Yet cated from all perplexities, made our Lord hath said, " Fear not them victorious over all enemies, and that kill the body, and after that finally be brought to the enjoyment have no more that they can do; of eternal felicity. Indeed, when- but fear him, who hath power to ever we mistake our duty or our destroy both body and soul in hell.” interest, or whenever we are cast And "what is a man profited, if he down on any account, it may be gain the whole world, and lose his said to us, "Ye do err, not know- own soul?" Our temporal life is ing the Scriptures ;" and forget that not principally concerned in the "thus it was written, and thus it subject before us, but our future must be." We want no other di- and eternal condition. When Christ rections or encouragements, than declares, "These shall go away such as are contained in the Bible: into everlasting punishment, but nothing can be added to this perfect the righteous into life eternal;" the rule of faith and practice. All that same original word is used in both men can do in this matter to good clauses: the punishment could not purpose, consists in calling the at-be eternal, the person punished tention of mankind to the Scrip- should at length cease to exist; tures, explaining their contents, and and the strongest expressions of exhorting them to believe and obey the copious Greek language, that the divine message; and if any one, language of speculating philosowhether he be a moralist or philo-phers, are used in Scripture to desopher, an inventor of superstitions, note the eternity of the punishment or a pretender to new revelations, prepared for the wicked in another attempt to add to the Scriptures, world. We are not competent to or to amend any thing in them; he determine what sin deserves, or may be compared to an optician, how it behoves the Governor of the who should undertake, by new disco- universe to show his abhorrence of veries, and well constructed glasses, it. "Shall not the Judge of all the to improve the light of the sun. earth do right?" It is our wisdom

Nor is the message of Scripture to submit to his justice and to seek a vain thing, or a matter of small his mercy, and not to waste our importance: Moses therefore added, lives in vain disputations concern"because it is your life." "What-ing matters too deep for our invessoever a man hath will he give for tigation. his life," is a maxim that is gene- We must, however, close this rally found true, though it was once part of the subject in a summary spoken by the father of lies. The manner. It depends on the recepmerchant throws his rich freight tion which we give the message of into the sea, when it endangers his God, whether we shall for ever life: and the patient rewards the enjoy his inestimable favour, or feel surgeon for performing some tor- the weight of his awful indignation; turing operation, when it is neces-whether our capacity of reflection, sary to rescue him from death. In memory, and anticipation, shall be ordinary computations life is deemed our noblest privilege, or our most our highest interest; capital punish- aggravated misery; whether we ment is regarded as the most formi- shall bear the holy image of God, dable; and it is an admired, though or be given up to the unrestrained

dominion of every hateful passion; men, do you act upon principle, or and whether happy angels, or apos- do you not? If you answer in the tate spirits, shall be our companions affirmative, you profess yourselves during our eternal existence. In the to be atheists, or at least to hold meantime, this must also determine, sentiments which are practically whether in the present life we shall equivalent to atheism. But does possess that peace of God which any one of those frantic enthusiasts, passeth all understanding, or re- whom you despise, imagine so wild semble the tempestuous waters of an absurdity as they do, who ascribe the ocean, in the dissatisfied and this fair creation, in which wise conunsettled state of our minds; whe- trivance and boundless goodness ther we shall pass through life with emulate each other, to blind chance comfort and usefulness, and meet or necessity; or imagine a Creator, death in joyful hope; or spend our who totally disregards the work of days in vanity and vexation, and at his own hands? But were this ablength be driven away into darkness surd principle, which contradicts and despair. demonstrable truths, as near to cer

The Scriptures certainly require tainty as it is possible, what would all who would declare the whole you gain by it? Should you at last counsel of God," to use this decided find yourselves mistaken, your loss language and whatever plausibi- would be infinite: should you be lity may appear in the reasonings right in your notion, you have not or conjectures of those that become the smallest advantage; unless you the advocates of the heathen, whom choose to own, that as you spend St. Paul declared to be "without your lives, it will be an advantage excuse;" it is impossible, consist- to die like the brutes, and that ently with Scripture, to entertain the atheism of your understandings the least hope concerning persons springs from the depraved affecwho reject revelation, and prefer tions of your hearts.

their own self-flattering imagina- But if you allow that there is a tions to the sure testimony of God. God who created and governs the It hath therefore been sufficiently world, on whom all are dependent, shown, that the subjects of which and to whom all are accountable: we treat, as far as we adhere to how infatuated must you be, to live Scripture, are most certain, neces- as if there were none! Never to sary, and important; and that, in inquire what your Creator comcomparison, all the objects which mands or forbids! To be indifferent ambition, avarice, or sensuality pur- whether he be pleased or displeased! sue, are frivolous as the toys of Wantonly to do those things, against children, and transient as a dream which your consciences protest, as when one awaketh. contrary to the will of God! stowing no pains to avert his wrath, III. Then let us conclude the sub- when you know you have offended ject by a practical improvement. him! But wasting your lives in It can scarcely be expected, that palling sensualities, insipid dissithey, who avowedly disregard all pations, wearisome pursuits, and a religion, will trouble themselves to constant succession of vain expectaattend to these instructions: other- tions, bitter disappointments, and wise we might very forcibly insist multiplied crimes, till a hopeless on the folly and madness of their death drops the curtain, and closes conduct. We would say to such the mournful scene.


And are you then entitled, as the subject with application to himpersons of superior discernment and self, and to act accordingly. It will sagacity, to treat pious Christians then be deemed most rational to with supercilious contempt, as men examine with diligent and impar of weak intellects and disordered tial care the evidences of divine minds? When all the instances of revelation! and, if the mind be satiscredulity and indiscretion, which fied in this respect, daily to search the whole company of religious the Scriptures, with earnest prayer people through all generations have for divine instruction, according to exhibited, bear no manner of pro- the apostle's exhortation, "If any portion to the madness and folly of man lack wisdom let him ask of an irreligious life. God, who giveth to all men libeSupposing however that you do rally, and upbraideth not." But pay some attention to this most let it be also remembered, that mulimportant concern: is it not also titudes study religion as a science, evident from the subject we have and thus adopt a Scriptural creed, been considering, that you ought to yea, are useful in propagating_the bestow great pains to discover the truth, who yet are not themselves true religion, and to discriminate it truly religious. Nay, many have from all others. Numbers are of prophesied and wrought miracles, opinion, that people should adhere who have been at the same time to the religion in which they were workers of iniquity. Notions may educated: but does not this imply float in the understanding, when that they deem all religion a vain they do not durably affect the heart and trifling matter? A nation may or influence the conduct: but unretain some inconvenient usages, less the truth be an engrafted and without much censure: but to sup- sanctifying principle in the soul, it port unjust and ruinous laws, be- must be "held in unrighteousness;" cause their fathers did so, would and such a religion is indeed a vain imply a most unreasonable and de- thing, though vital Christianity is testable obstinacy. Thus some cir- unspeakably valuable and imporcumstances in religion may perhaps tant.

be retained, because they are deemed Our Lord requires his disciples venerable for their antiquity; but to "seek first the kingdom of God its grand essentials are our life, and and his righteousness." We should we are ruined, if we prefer human set out in early youth with this most tradition to divine revelation. Such important business: but if we have an opinion vindicates the Jews in wasted a great part of our lives rejecting the gospel, and exculpates already, we should immediately atthose who cried out, "Great is Diana tend to it with proportionable earof the Ephesians." It espouses the nestness and industry. We should cause of Pagans, Mahometans, and begin every year, month, week, and Papists; while it condemns pro-day, with this one thing needful; phets, apostles, and zealous reform-to which the prime of our affecers and in short, it considers it tions and the best of our hours criminal to oppose any established should be dedicated: and all other error or imposition. But the mon-pursuits if possible rendered substrous deformity of this tenet must servient. "Labour not then," my be visible, whenever it is brought friends, "for the meat that perishforth to the light; and we need eth, but for that meat which enonly exhort every one to consider dureth unto everlasting life, which

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the Son of man shall give you." If ral are far more punctual to their
this be neglected, all is lost, what- commercial engagements, or even
ever else may seem to succeed: it to their social appointments, than
this be secured, all things will surely in the ordinances of God; and did
turn out to our advantage.
lawyers or physicians study their
While we therefore call upon you several subjects, no more than no-
in the name of Christ, to strive to minal Christians do the Bible; or
enter in at the "strait gate;" to were the courtier as slack in waiting
deny yourselves and bear your cross on his prince, as they are in coming
for his sake; and to beware that no to the throne of grace; how would
earthly object rival him in your men exclaim against their folly and
affections: while we warn you, that inconsistency! Alas! even the true
it is impossible to serve God and believer may reflect on the conduct
Mammon, and remind you that the of the prudent tradesman, the valiant
friendship of the world is enmity soldier, and the candidate for royal
with God or while we endeavour or popular favour, till he be covered
to prevail with you, "to count all with shame and confusion.


things but loss, that you may win But let us, my brethren, not yield
Christ, and be found in him :" what to this supineness; let us examine
do we,
but inculcate the maxims of the grounds on which we expect
heavenly wisdom? Does any pru- eternal life, as a prudent man would
dent man hesitate to renounce an look into the title-deeds of a valu-
inferior interest, when it comes in able estate. Let us endeavour to
competition with a greater, or to convince our children and relatives,
neglect some trivial concern, when by word and deed, that we seek
business of the last importance de- these blessings for them also, as the
mands his attention? And who, grand concern: for alas, even where
almost, refuses to part with a right creeds and catechisms are taught,
hand, in order to preserve his life? the conversation of the parlour, and
But alas! "The children of this the general system of education,
world are wiser in their generation often suggest an opposite conclu-
than the children of light."
sion. Let us consider, that we

The worldly man, having selected make the best use of our talents,
his object, gives it the most decided and are the best friends to our
preference; he adopts and persists country, and to mankind, when we
in the most suitable means of suc- most endeavour to promote the in-
cess; he exercises self-denial in va-terests of true religion. And should
rious ways, devises new expedients, we in this course meet with many
never loses sight of his main point, discouragements, let us not be weary
and endeavours to render every in well-doing, for assuredly we shall
thing, even religion itself, subser- reap in due season, if we faint not.
vient to his grand design. But how
different is the conduct of numbers
who profess the gospel! How neg-
ligent are they of the means of
grace! or how soon weary of at-
tending on them! how trivial a
matter serves as an excuse for omis-
sion, and how unwilling are they to
venture or endure any thing in this
momentous concern! Men in gene-


RELIGION MAN'S GREAT CONCERN. DEUT. vi. 6...9.-These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children; and thou shalt talk of them when thou

sittest in thine house, and when thou I command thee this day," even the walkest by the way, and when thou great doctrines and precepts of the liest down, and when thou risest Bible," shall be in thy heart; and up: and thou shalt bind them as a thou shalt teach them diligently to sign upon thine hand, and they thy children: and thou shalt talk shall be as frontlets between thine of them when thou sittest in thine eyes; and thou shalt write them house, and when thou walkest by upon the posts of thine house, and the way, and when thou liest down, on thy gates. and when thou risest up: and thou shalt bind them upon thine hand, THE observation is not more com- and they shall be as frontlets bemon than just," that if religion between thine eyes: and thou shalt any thing, it is every thing.' If write them upon the posts of thine Christianity be true, the conse-house, and on thy gates." It is, quences of our present conduct are alas! too obvious, that professed infinitely important: and while the Christians do not generally observe infidel may be more atrociously cri- either the letter or the spirit of this minal and extensively mischievous, exhortation: nay, that numbers of the professed believer, who lives them would censure or ridicule any like other men, is the most incon- of their acquaintance, who should sistent character in the world. The manifest a disposition to practise language of Scripture does not ac- according to it! Whether this

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cord to that of modern times: prove that most men among us are wicked Christians and irreligious Christians only in name, or whether believers, are never mentioned in some more satisfactory account can the sacred volume: faith is never be given of the undeniable fact, supposed to be separable from a every one must be left to determine holy life: all worldly men are re- for himself.

presented as unbelievers, or as only I shall endeavour from the words possessing a dead faith; and all of the text, believers are spoken of as the ser

vants of God, who live to his glory, I. To point out some of the leadand are distinguished from other ing principles of our holy religion, men by the whole tenor of their which especially demand our unreconduct, and not merely by their mitted attention.

III. Show the reasonableness of

principles. These things are as II. Explain and illustrate the observable in the Old, as in the exhortation, and suggest the most New Testament: for true religion effectual methods of reducing it to has been essentially the same, ever practice. since the fall of Adam; though many circumstantial alterations have such a conduct. taken place and indeed the per- And may the Lord vouchsafe us fections of God, the wants of a sinner, his special help and blessing, while and the nature of holiness and happi- we meditate on this important subness, are in themselves immutable. ject! For it is astonishing and laI shall therefore, without further mentable to observe, how slightly introduction, proceed to discourse even they who seem to be religious on the words of the text, as appli- pass over such urgent exhortations! cable to Christians, with an autho- So that while a vast majority of rity proportioned to their peculiar mankind are altogether asleep in advantages. "These words which sin, the rest seem not to be half

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