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objections, communicate their discoveries, and reciprocally assist each other's edification : for deprive those who love sensual pleasures, of gaming and diversions, conversation instantly languishes, and converse is at an end.
But, secondly, if the love of sensual pleasure raise such great obstacles to the knowledge of speculative truths, it raiseth incomparably greater still to the truths of practice.
There are some scripture maxims, which are never thought of by the persons in question, except it be to enervate and destroy them, at least, they make no part of their system of morality.
In your system of morality, what becomes of this scripturemaxim, evil communications corrupt good manners? i Cor. xv. 33. Nothing forms connections more intimate, and, at the same time, more extravagant, than an immoderate love of pleasure. Men, who differ in manners, age, religion, birth, principles, education, are all united by this bond. The passionate and the moderate, the generous and the avaricious, the young and the old agree to exerc:se a mutual condescension and patience towards each other, because the same spirit actuates, and the same necessities haunt them ; and because the love of pleasure, which animates thein all, can only be gratified by the concurrence of each individual.
In your system of morality, what become of those maxims of scripture, which say that we must confess Jesus Christ before men : that whosoever shall be ashamed of him before men, of him will he be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father? Matt. x. 32. Mark. viii. 38. A man, who is engaged in the monstrous asseinbly which the love of pleasure forms, must hear religion disputed, the morality of the gospel attacked, good manners subverted, the name of God blaspheined: and he must hear all these without daring to discover the sentiments of his heart, because as I just now observed, patience and compliance animate that body to which he is attached by such necessary and intimate ties.
In your system of morality, what become of such scripturemaxims as threaten those with the greatest punishments who injure others? The love of sensual pleasure causeth offences of this, the most odious kind; I mean, it betrays your partners in pleasure into vice. You game without avarice; but do you not excite avarice in the minds of those who play with you ; You do not injure your families ; but do you not VOL. I.
occasion other men to injure theirs ? You are guilty of no fraud ? but do you not tempt others to be fraudulent?
What become, in your moral system, of those maxims of scripture that require us to contribute to the excision of all wicked doers from the city of the Lord, Psal. ci. 8. to discountenance those who commit a crime as well as to renounce it ourselves? The love of sensual pleasure makes us countenance people of the most irregular conduct, whose snares are the most dangerous, whose examples are the most fatal, whose conversations are the most pernicious to our children and to our families, to civil society and to the church of God.
In your system of morality what become of those maxims of scripture, which expostulate with us when the Lord chastiseth us, to be afflicted and mourn, James iv. 9. to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God; 1 Pet. v. 6. to enter into our chambers, and shut the doors about us, to hide ourselves until the indignation be overpast, Isai. xxvi. 20. to examine ourselves before ihe deci'ee bring forth, Zeph. ii. 1, 2. to prepare ourselves to meet our God, Amos, iv. 12. to hear the rod and who hath appointed it, Micah. vi. 9. to mourn in sackcloth and ashes; and, while we feel present miseries, to remember those that are past, tremble for those that are to come, and endeavour by extraordinary efforts to avert the anger of heaven? The love of sensual pleasure turns away people's attention from all these maxims, and represents those who preach theni as wild visionaries, or dry declaimers. The people of whom we speak, these pious people, these people, who love their salvation, these people, who pretend to the glory of being proposed for examples, can, in times of the deepest distress, when the church is bathed in tears, while the arm of God is crushing our brethren and our allies, when the same terrible arm is lifted over us, when we are threatened with extreme miseries, when the scourges of God are at our gates, when there needs only the arrival of one ship, the blowing of one wind, the wafting of one blast, to convey pestilence and plague into our country; these people can ..... O God! open their. eyes that they may see! 2 Kings vi. 17.
In your system of inorality, what become of scripture exhortations to redeem the time, to know the time of our visitation, to do all that our hands find to do, because there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither we go? The love of pleasure inclines mortals, who may die in a few days, people, who perhaps have only a few days to bid their last adieus, to embrace their families, to settle their temporal affairs, to examine the neglecred parts of religion, to re-establish the injured reputation of a neighbour, in a word, to prepare themselves to appear before that terrible tribunal to which deach cites them: the love of sensual pleasure inclines these por creatures, who have so short a time to live and so great a task to perform; the love of sensual pleasure inclines these people to waste a considerable part of this fleeting life in amusements, that obliterate both the shortness of life, and the necessity of death.
How often have we seen old age as greedy of pleasure as youth ! how often have we seen people bowing under the weight of age, how often have we seen them, even when their trembling hands could scarcely hoid the cards, or the dice, make their feeble efforts to game; and, when their decayed eyes were incapable of distinguishing the spots, assist nature by art, their natural sight with artificial glasses, and thus consecrate the remains, those precious remains, of life to gaming, which God had granted for repentance!
All these causes, of the infancy and noviciate of christians in regard to religion, unite in one, which, in finishing this ciscourse, we cannot but lament, nor can we lament it too inuch. We do not understand our own religion: we are, most of us, incapable of perceiving the admiral le order, the beautiful symmetry of its compotent paris. Why? It is because we have so little zeal for our salvation; it is because we form such languid desires to be saved. Indeed I know, that, except some few unnatural creatures, except some monsteis, to whoin this discourse is not addressed, every body professes to desire to be saved, yea, to prefer salvation before whatever is inost pompous in the universe, and most pleasant in this life. But, when the attainment of it in God's way is in quession, in the only way that agrees with the holinessof his nature to direct, and with our ha piness to obey, what a number of people do we meet with whose desires vanish? I desire to be saved, says each to himself, I desire to be saved, but not by such a religion as the gospel prescribes, such as Jesus Christ preached, such as the apostles and mia nisters of the gaspel preach after him: but I desire to be saved by such a religion as I have conceived, such an one as gratifies my passions and caprices. I desire to be saved, but it is on condition, that, while I obey some of the precepts
of Jesus Christ, he will dispense with my obedience of
others. I desire to be saved: not on condition of my cor· recting my prejudices, and submitting them to the pre
cepts of Jesus Christ, but on condition that the precepts of Jesus Christ yield to my prejudices. I desire to be saved : but on condition of retaining my prepossessions, the system I have arranged, the way of life I pursue, and intend to pursue till I die. To desire salvation in this manner is too common a disposition among christians. But to desire salvation in saying to God, with a sincere intention to obey his voice, Lord, what wilt thou havé me to do? Acts ix. 6. Lord, what wilt thou have me to believe? Lord, what wilt thou have me to love ? Lord, what inclinations wilt. thou have me to oppose, to mortify, to sacrifice? To be willing to be saved in receiving, without exception, all the practical truths, which compose an essential part of that religion, which God hath given us : Ah! my brethren, how rare is this disposition among christians ! .
Without this disposition, however, (and let us not be ingenious to deceive ourselves) without this disposition there is no salvation. It implies a contradiction to say God will save us in any other way: for as it is contradictory to say that he will give to an equal number the qualities of an unequal number, or to bodies the properties of spirits, or to spirits the properties of bodies ; so also is it a contradiction to say that vice shall reap the rewards of virtue, that the highway to hell is the path to paradise.
So that nothing remains in concluding this discourse but to ask you, what are your intentions? What designs have you formed? What projects do you resolve to pursue ? What are your aims? Have you any thing more precious than your souls ? Can you conceive a nobler hope than that of being saved? Can you propose a more advantageous end than your own salvation? Can you persuade yourselves that there is a greater feli ity than the fruition of God? Will you destroy yourselves ? Do you renounce those delightful höpes that are set before you in the gospel? And shall all the fruit of our ministry be to accuse and confound you before God?
Young man, thou mayest live fifty or sixty years : but at the expiration of those fifry or sixty years, time finishes and eternity begins. People of mature age, your race is partly run ; ten, fifteen, or twenty years more, through the dissipations and employments inseparable from your lives, will
vanish with an inconceivable rapidity; and then, time finishes and eternity begins with you. And ye old people, a few years, a few months, a few days more, and behold your race is at an end; behold your time finishes and your eter-nity begins. And can we resist this idea! Alas! what heart! what christians! what a church !
Grant Almighty God that our prayers may supply the defect of our exhortations ; may we derive from thy bosom of infinite mercies what we despair of obtaining from the insensibility of our hearers ! O thou author of religion, thou divine Spirit, from whom alone could proceed this beautiful systein, which thou hast condescended to reveal to us, impress it in all its parts on our minds ! Pluck up every plant which thy good hand hath not planted! Triumph over all the obstacles that our sins oppose against thine empire! Shut the gulfs of hell ! Open the gates of heaven! Save us even in the spite of ourselves! Amen!
To the Father, to the Son, to the holy Ghost, be honour and glory, dominion and power for ever. Amen.