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his Maker: every favour which the Lord bestows, aggravates that criminality: and to endeavour to plead any excuse for such complicated guilt, renders us still more criminal in his sight whose "judgment is according unto truth."
I proceed therefore,
IV. To prove that this view of the subject brings in many exceedingly guilty, who, on other grounds, would scarcely seem at all so; and that this shews the need which men in general have of the mercy and grace proposed to them in the gospel.
Acts of gross immorality, evidently injurious to society, are sometimes avoided in the habitual tenour of a man's conduct, from prudential and worldly motives, and during the whole, or a great proportion, of his life: and, when this is by no means the case, they are occasional, and form but a small part of the actual conduct of men in general; if the most abandoned of the human species be excepted. But neglect and forgetfulness of God, ingratitude, and a will opposed to his will, and a violation of all obligations to him, are in every ungodly man habitual; they run through every day, and every action of the day; they influence all his thoughts, words, and deeds; they constitute his selected plan of life; they influence him in the spending of his time and money; and they direct the use made of his talents, property, health, spirits, body, and soul, Every thing is by men of this character arranged and conducted, as it were, by a system of forgetfulness and neglect of God: of ingratitude and rebellion, nay, defiance of him. So that, where no gross vice is perpe
trated, a degree of guilt is constantly contracted, far greater in total amount than that of the most atrocious immorality, considered in any other light: and even where sins are committed, for which the conscience sometimes reproaches a man, the habitual and systematical enmity against God, which the immoral, and even the most moral, may be charged with, is unspeakably the greater part of their guilt.
Thus, while in reference to society we would give virtuous characters due respect, and reprobate the vicious in the sight of God, there is far less difference than is generally supposed. For, if men were restrained from immorality by a regard to the divine authority, that principle would influence their whole conduct, and lead them also to every breach of piety.
Criminality is not always the greatest where we judge it to be so we are not competent to decide on so complicated a question, as the degrees of men's guilt; but must leave it to him who searches the very thoughts of the heart. But "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of "God." In this respect "there is no difference:" and, as all are involved under one common sentence of condemnation, all should, with one consent, welcome the gospel of grace. For "it is a "faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, "that Jesus Christ came into the world to save "sinners."
May I not even now be addressing some persons, who, if asked what part of their conduct they would choose to alter, were they persuaded that Christianity was a mere delusion, though not dis
posed publicly to avow this opinion; would scarcely be able to fix on any particular? Regard to health, character, peace, and interest; the company with which they have been used to associate; and various other considerations, would induce them to persevere nearly in the same tenour of outward conduct, if they were of opinion that no future state of retribution awaited them; if they had in no degree the fear of God before their eyes. But the case would be very different, if they attended to even the same things from a real religious principle. And surely that must be vastly different from Christianity, which would scarcely be affected if Christianity were abrogated!
Sins of omission seldom burden the consciences of men in general. If direct violations of some express prohibition are not chargeable upon them, they do not often condemn themselves for neglect of duty. They forget that there are injunctions as well as prohibitions; and that refusing to hallow the Lord's day, or to honour and obey their parents and superiors, is as really disobedience to God, as robbery, adultery, or murder. For unless we consider sin as committed against God, sins of omission will almost always be overlooked.
It has pleased our gracious God, to give us the holy scriptures, which are "able to make us wise "unto eternal salvation;" yet how few love and reverence them, and search them daily! Can any man suppose that the neglect of the sacred oracles, by those who own them to be the word of God, is not contempt of him that inspired them?
The holy sabbath affords the spiritual mind the most important and highly valued opportunity of
waiting upon God, worshipping him, and learning his will. Yet how few, even among moral men, count this holy day their "delight, and ho"nourable!" There are not many who are convinced that they ought deeply to repent, and have need of mercy, and of the atoning blood, because they have been used to spend part of the Lord's own day in business, sloth, worldly company, or dissipation.-" Thou shalt not take my "name in vain," says the God of infinite majesty and glory yet how commonly is this great and tremendous name of God used in common conversation, even such as is frivolous or profligate! But, unless we consider sin as committed against God, we shall not be struck with the criminality of so irreverent and contemptuous a profanation of that which should be adored with the profoundest veneration.-This view of the subject is also peculiarly suited to detect the secret enmity of the heart against God, and his holiness and truth, even in such as are called amiable moral characters. Habitually desiring to approve themselves to men, as seeking their approbation, they either forget God, or they frame a false notion of him, and live in a constant infringement of all obligations to him. Yet, when this is set before them, and the holy character and righteous law of God are explained, they feel their hearts rise in opposition to the statement, as militating against their self-complacency: the peculiar doctrines of the gospel excite still stronger repugnancy; and their continuance in neglecting reconciliation to God by Jesus Christ manifests a heart deeply alienated from him.
It is impossible, within the compass of a sermon, protracted even beyond the usual limits with which you are used to indulge me, to enter on all the various particulars that belong to this part of the subject. But the principles, which I have endeavoured to establish, will enable such as seriously desire to re-consider it, to trace it into a vast variety of instances, in which they may find cause to say, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, " and done this evil in thy sight." It is certain that the subject, if duly attended to, brings in all men guilty before God. "Every mouth," if these views be scriptural, " must be stopped:" we are all" concluded under sin ;" and " by the works of "the law shall no flesh be justified before God."
If then we are saved, we must be " justified "freely by the grace of God through the redemp❝tion that is in Christ Jesus." We "must be "born again ;" and the whole and every part of the gospel must be to us as "life from the dead." To those who have deeply entered into the views here given in a spirit of diligent self-examination, application by the preacher is needless.
All that earnestness in attending on the word of life and on every means of grace, which some manifest and others object against, arises from this source: and, whenever the objectors become equally sensible of the criminality of every sin, as rebellion against God, they will imitate that conduct which they now censure; Christ will become to them also" the pearl of great price;" they too will" count all but loss for the excellency of the "knowledge of Christ;" nor will they inquire, How often are we bound to pray, or attend the