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promote the happiness of his people, every | the burden we are to bear is made easy. thing is done that is requisite, his grace is Our sins are pardonable, if repented of and all-sufficient, his spirit is able to conduct us
forsaken. through this vale of tears, to never-fading
Consider this, all ye who have never yet bliss.
regarded religion, but pursued a course of We should also remember, that the great
vice and sensuality all your lives long. doctrine of the gospel, concerning the pro
Though your conduct has been base, to the pitious mercy of God to all penitents through last degree, your case is not desperate. Christ Jesus, greatly contributes to the
| Far from it. The God whom you have so consolation of christians. Let it be grant. | highly offended commiserates your errors, is ed, that the hope of pardon is essential to ever ready to extend his pardoning mercy the religion of fallen creatures, and one of to his most degenerate creatures, upon their its first principles, yet, considering the faith and repentance, and " is in Christ doubts and suspicions which are apt to arise
| Jesus reconciling the world to himself, not in a mind conscious of guilt, it is un imputing unto penitent sinners their tresdoubtedly a great, and inestimable favour, passes. Let the wicked, therefore, forto be relieved in this respect, by a messen sake his way, and the unrighteous man bis ger from omnipotence bimself. This is our thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, happiness. We are not left to depend upon
and he will have mercy upon bim ; and to consequential reasonings, which the bulk our God, for he will abundantly pardon.". of mankind are little used to; but we are Isaiah lv. 7. assured, that upon our true repentance, we | Another particular, which renders the shall, “ through the mediation of Christ,"
christian religion delightful is, its leading us receive the “full remission of past sins,"
to the perfect, eternal life of heaven. It and be restored to the same state and favour
cannot be denied, but that we may draw with our Maker, as if we had never trans
from the light of nature strong presumpgressed his laws. Here the gospel triumphs.
tions of a future state. The present exisWith these assurances it abounds. Upon
tence does not look like an entire scene, but this head the declaration of our blessed
rather like the infancy of human nature, Saviour and his A postles are so express and
which is capable of arriving at a much full, that every one who believes them,
higher degree of maturity ; but whatever and knows himself to be a true penitent,
solid foundation the doctrine of a future must banish every doubt and fear, and re
state may have, in nature and reason, cerjoice with joy unspeakable. “Come unto
tain it is, through the habitual neglect of me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, reflection, and the force of irregular pasand I will give you rest.” Matt. xi. 28. “ All
sions, this doctrine was before the coming manner of sin and blasphemy shall be for
of our blessed Saviour, very much disfi given unto men.” Matt. xi. 31. “ Be it
gured, and, in a great measure, lost among known unto you, therefore, men and bre
the sons of men. thren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by In the heathen world, a future state him all that believe are justified from all of rewards and punishments, was a matthings, from which we could not be justified ter of mere speculation and uncertainty, by the law of Moses.” Acts xiii. 38, 39. sometimes hoped for, sometimes doubt" The blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin." | ed of, and sometimes absolutely denied. What grace and favour is this! Who can | The law of Moses, though of divine origivdwell upon the transporting theme too al, is chiefly enforced by promises of temlong! Now our way is plain before us, and 'poral blessings; and, even in the writings
dare heavy a Alisions, thisesed Saviour
of the prophets, a future immortality is , the joys which God bath prepared for them very sparingly mentioned, and obseurely that love him.” represented: but the doctrine of our
What is the heaven of the heathens, Saviour hath brought life and immortali. ty to light. In the gospel we have a
compared with the beaven of the chrisdistinct account of another world, attended
tians ? The hope, the prospect of this, is with many engaging circumstances; about
sufficient to reconcile us to all the difficulwhich the decisions of reason were dark
ties that may attend our progress, sweeten and confused. We have the testimony of
all our labours, alleviate every grief, and the author of our religion, who was raised
silence every murmur. from the dead, and who afterwards, in the But why; says the libertine in the gaiety presence of bis disciples, ascended into of his heart, should there be any difficulties, heaven. In the New Testament it is ex or restraint at all? God hath made nothing pressly declared, that good men, “ when ! in vain. The appetites he hath planted in absent from the body, are present with the the human breast are to be gratified. To Lord." Here we are assured of the resur deny or restrain them, is ignominious bondrection of the body in a glorious form, age; but to give full scope to every desire clothed with immortal vigour, suited to the and passion of the heart, without check active nature of the animating spirit, and or control, is true manly freedom. assisting its most enlarged operations and incessant progress towards perfection. Here
In opposition to this loose and careless we are assured, that “ the righteous shall way of reasoning, let it be considered, go into life everlasting ;” that they shall | that the liberty of a rational creature doth enter into the kingdom of the heavenly
not consist in an entire exemption from all Cavaan, where no ignorance shall cloud the
control, but in following the dictates of understanding, no vice disturb the will. In reason, as the governing principle, and in these regions of perfection, nothing but keeping the various passions in due suborlove shall possess the soul ; nothing but gra.
dination. To follow the regular notion of titude employ the tongue; there the righ
those affections which the wise Creator hath teous shall be united to an innumerable implanted within us, is our duty: but as company of angels, and to the general
our natural desires, in this state of trial, are assembly and church of the first-born ; often irregular, we are bound to restrain there they shall see their exalted Redeem
their excesses, and not to indulge them, er, at the right hand of Omnipotence, but in a strict subserviency, to the inteand sit down with bim on his throne; there
grity and peace of our minds, and to the they shall be admitted into the immediate order and happiness of human society estapresence of the supreme fountain of life
blished in the world. Those who allow the and happiness, and beholding his face, supreme command to be usurped by sensual be changed into the same image, from
and brutal appetites, may promise themselves glory to glory-Here language-here liberties, but are truly and absolutely the imagination fails me! It requires the ge servants of corruption. To be vicious, is to nius, the knowledge, and the pen of an be enslaved. We behold with pity those miangel, to paint the happiness, the blissful serable objects that are chained in the gallies, scene of the New Jerusalem, which human or confined in dark prisons and loathsome eyes cannot behold, till this mortal body dungeons: but much more abject and vile shall be purified from its corruption, and is the slavery of the sinner! No slavery of dressed in the robes of immortality: “ eye the body is equal to the bondage of the hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither | mind: no chains press so closely, or gall hath it entered into the heart to conceive, so cruelly, as the fetters of sin, which cor
rode the very substance of the soul, and, if he truly understands it, and seriously fret every faculty.
reflects on its wise and useful tendency. It
conducteth us to our journey's end, by the It must, indeed, be confessed, that there plainest and securest path; where the are some profligates so hardened by custom, w steps are not straightened, and where he as to be past all feeling ; and, because sensi that runneth stumbleth not.” Let us who ble of their bondage, boast of this insensibi. live under this last, and most gracious dislity as a mark of their native freedom, and pensation of God to mankind, “count all of their happiness. Vain men! they might things but loss, for the excellency of the extol, with equal propriety, the peculiar knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord,” and happiness of an apoplexy, or the profound not suffer ourselves, by the slight cavils of tranquillity of a lethargy.
unbelievers, to be “ moved away from the
hope of the gospel.” Let us demonstrate Thus have we endeavoured to place, that we believe the superior excellency of in a plain and conspicuous light, some of the christian dispensation, by conforming the peculiar excellencies of the chrisian re- to its precepts. Let us shew that we are ligion; and, from hence, many useful re. | christians in deed, and in truth; not by flections wil naturally arise in the mind of endless disputes about trifes, and the every attentive reader. It is the religion transports of a blind zeal, but by aboundof Jesus that hath removed idolatry and ing in those « fruits of righteousness, superstitions, and brought immortality to which are, through Christ, to the praise light, when concealed under the veil of and glory of God.” darkness almost impenetrable. This hath set the great truths of religion in a clear and . From what has been said, we may clearly conspicuous point of view, and proposed perceive how groundless all those prejudices new and powerful motives to influence our are, which some conceive against religion, minds, and to determine our conduct. as if it was a peevish, morose scheme, Nothing is enjoined to be believed, but burdensome to human nature, and inconsis. what is worthy of God, nothing to be tent with the true enjoyments of lite. Such practised, but what is friendly to man,- | sentiments are too apt to prevail in the heat All the doctrines of the gospel are rational of youth, when the spirits are brisk and lively, and consistent: all its precepts are truly and the passions warm and impetuous; but wise, just, and good. The gospel contains | it is wholly a mistake, and a mistake of the nothing grievous to an ingenuous mind : it | most dangerous tendency. The truth is, there debars us from nothing, but doing harm is no pleasure like that of a good conscience; to ourselves, or to our fellow-creatures; and no real peace but what results from a sense permits us to range any where, but in the of the divine favour. This enables the mind, paths of danger and destruction. It only and can alone support it under all the varirequires us to act up to its excellent com. ous and unequal scenes of the present state mands, and to prefer to the vanishing plea of trial. This lays a sure foundation of an sure of sin, the smiles of a reconciled God, I easy, comfortable life, of a serene, peaceful and “ an eternal weight of glory." And is death, and of an eternal joy and happiness this a rigorous exaction, a heavy burden hereafter ; whereas vice is ruinous to all our not to be endured ? How can sinful mor most valuable interests: spoils the native tals harbour so unworthy a thought? beauty, and subverts the order of the
soul; renders us the scorn of man, the reSurely no man who is a real friend to thejected of God, and, without timely repent. cause of virtue, and to the Interest of man ance, will rob us of a happy eternity. Re. kind, can ever be an enemy of christianity, ligion is the health, the liberty, and the
happiness of the soul; sin is the disease, the , both aim at miracles. You would raise the servitude, and the destruction of it.
dead.” If this be not sufficient to convince y
Heaven, I said, was merciful... let me lead you into the chamber of an « Or I could not, answered he, have been habitual rioter, the lewd debauchee, worn thus guilty. What has it not done to bless, out in the cause of iniquity,“ his bones full and to save me I have been too strong of the sins of his youth," that from his own
for Omnipotence. I plucked down ruin." mouth, as he lies on his expiring bed, you may learn that “the way of transgression I said, the blessed Redeemeris hard ;" and that, however sweet sin may be in the commission, “it strikes like a
:.“ Hold, hold, said he, you wound me! serpent, and bites like an adder."
This is the rock on which I have split ! I
denied his naine.” I am going, reader, to represent to you the last moments of a person of high birth and Refusing to hear any thing from me, or spirit; of great parts and strong passions;
take any thing from the physician, he lay every way accomplished, but unhappily
silent, as far as sudden darts of pain would attached to those paths which lead to vice
permit till the clock struck. Then he cried and destruction.
out with vehemence, “ Oh time! time! It
is fit thou shouldst thus strike the murderer His unkind treatment was the death of a
to the heart.-How art thou Hled, for ever! most amiable wife : and his monstrous ex
--A month !-Oh, for a single week! I travagance, in effect, disinherited his only
| ask not for years, though an age were too child. And surely the death-bed of a pro
little for the much I have to do.” Aligate, is next in horror to that abyss to which it leads. It has the most of hell that
| On my saying to him, We could not do is visible upon earth, and he that hatb seen
| too much ; that heaven was a blessed place ! it has more than faith to confirm him in his
"So much the worse, replied he, creed. I see it now, says the worthy divine
lost ! 'ris lost! Heaven is to me the severest from whom I shall borrow this relation, for who can forget it? Are there in it no flames
part of hell !” and furies? -You are ignorant then of what Soon after I proposed prayer. To which a secret imagination can figure! what a guil he answered, ty heart can feel! How dismal it is! The two great enemies of soul and body, sickness .:“ Pray you that can; I never prayed. I and sin, sink and confound his friends ; si
cannot pray. My conscience is too much lence and darkness are the dismal scene.
wounded. I have deserted my benevolent Sickness excludes the light of heaven, and Maker, and my soul is enveloped in the sin its blessed hope. Oh, double darkness
deepest horrors.” . ; ; more than Egyptian ! acute to be felt !
His friend being much touched; even
to tears, this (for who could forbear? I The sad evening before the death of that
could not) he, with a most affectionate look, noble youth, whose last hours suggested
said, these thoughts, I was with him. No one else was there but his physician, and an “ Keep these tears for thyself, I have intimate acquaintance, wliom he loved, and undone thee-Dost thou weep for me? whom he had ruined. At my coming he said, That's cruel. What can pain me more?" ." You and the physician are come too . Here his friend, too much affected, would . late. I have neither life nor hope. You' have left him. No. 18.
"No, said he, stay. You may still hope him) arose, this gay, young, noble, inge. —therefore hear me. How madly lave nious, accomplished, and most wretched I talked ? How madly hast thou listened | mortal, expired. and believed ? But look on my present state, as a full answer, to thee and to my It must, indeed, be owned it sometimes self. This body is all weakness and pain ; happens, that men who have led very wick-' but my soul, as if stung up by torment, to
ed lives, have gone out of the world as they greater strength and spirit, is full powerful
have lived in it, defying conscience, and deto reason ; full mighty to suffer. And that
riding a future judgment as an idle fiction : which thus triumphs within the joys of mor- |
but these instances are very rare, and only tality, is doubtless immortal. And, as for a
prove that there are monsters in the moral, Deity, nothing less than an almighty could as well as the natural world. inflict the pains I feel." I was about to congratulate this passive, I
It will perhaps be said, that the sons of
vice and riot have pleasure in sensual ininvoluntary confession, in his asserting the two prime articles of his creed, extorted by
dulgences. Allowed; but it is altogether the rack of nature; when he thus very pas.
of the lower kind, empty, Aleeting and sionately added,
transcient : “ like the cracking of thorns ,
under a pot, so is the mirth of the wicked.” “ No, no ! let me speak on. I have not
It makes a noise and a blaze for the prelong to speak.My much injured friend!
sent; but soon vanishes away into smoke My soul, as my body, lies in ruins; in scat
and vapour. tered fragments, of broken thought ; remorse for the past, throws my thoughts on
On the other hand, the pleasure of reli. the future. Worse dread of the future i
gion is solid and lasting: and will attend us strikes it back on the past. I turn, and
through all, even the last stages of life, turn, and find no ray. Didst thou feel half
When we have passed the levity of youth, the mountain that is on me, thou wouldest
and have lost our relish for the gay enterstruggle with the martyr for his stake, and
tainments of sense; when old age steals bless heaven for the flaine :-that is not an
upon us, and stoops us towards the grave, everlasting flame: that is not an unquench
this will cleave fast to us, and give us relief. able fire."
It will be so far from terminating at death,
that it then commences perfect, and conHow were we struck ? yet, soon after,
| tinually improves, with new' additions. still more. With what an eye of distraction; what a face of despair he cried out, Clad in this immortal robe, we need not « My principles have poisoned my friend : 1 fear the awful summons of the king of termy extravagance has beggared my boy: rors, nor regret our retiring into the my unkindness has murdered my wife! - chambers of the dust. Our immortal part And is there another hell? Oh ! thou blas will wing its way to the arms of its Omni. phemed, yet most indulgent Lord God ! potent Redeemer, and find rest in the Hell itself is a refuge if it hides me from heavenly mansions of the Almighty. And thy frown." .
though our earthly part, this tabernacle
of clay, returns to its original dust, and . Soon after his understanding failed; his is dissolved, our joy, our consolation, terrified imagination uttered horrors not to our confidence is, that " we have a buildbe repeated, or even forgotten; and before ing of God, a house not made with hands, the sun (which I hope has seen few like l eternal in the heavens."
for the days for his
tinually then commom termina give us peiver