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whenever a man commits a wilful bad action,
whe drinks down poison, which, though it may work slow. ly, will work surely, and give him perpetual pains and heart-aches and, if no means be used to expel it, will destroy him at last ;-so that, notwithstand. ing that final sentence of God is not executed speedily, in exact weight and measure,—there is, nevertheless, a sentence executed, which a man's own conscience pronounces against him ;-and every wicked man, I believe, feels as regular a process within his own breast comnienced against himself, and finds himself as much accused, and as evidently and impartially condemned for what he has done amiss, as if he had received sentence before the most awful tribunal ;--which judgment of conscience, as it can be looked upon in no other light but as an anticipation of that righteous and unalterable sentence which will be pronounced hereafter by that Being to whom he is finally to give an account of his ac. tions, I cannot conceive the state of his mind un
character than of that anxious doubtfulness described by the prophet, " That the wicked are " like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose “ waters cast up mire and filth.”
A second caution against this uniform ground of false hope, in sentence not being executed speedily, will arise from this consideration,
-That, in our vain calculation of this distant point of retribution, we generally respite it to the day of judgment and, as that may be a thousand or ién thousand years off, it proportionably Itssens the terror. To rectify this inistake, we should first consider, that the distance of a thing no way alters the nature of it. 2dly, That we are deceived in this distant prospect,
not considering that, however far off we may fix it in this belief, that, in fact, it is no farther off from every man than the day of his own death ;-and how certain that day is, we need not surely be reminded ;-'tis the certainty of the matter, and of an event which will as surely come to pass as that the sun shall rise to-morrow morning,—that should enter as much into our calculations as if it was hanging over our heads ;-for though, in our fond imaginations, we dream of living many years upon the earth-how unexpectedly are we summoned from it !-How oft, in the strength of our age, in the midst of our projects, when we are promising ourselves the ease of many years !-how oft, at that very time, and in the height of this imagination, is the decree sealed, and the commandment gone forth to call us into another world ! This may
suffice for the examination of this one great cause of the corruption of the world ;--from whence I should proceed, as I purposed, to an inquiry after some other unhappy causes which have a share in this evil.
But I have taken up so much more of your time in this than I first intended that I shall defer what I have to say to the next occasion, and put an end to this discourse, by an answer to a question often asked relative to this argument, in prejudice of Christianity, which cannot be more seasonably answered than in a discourse at this time ;-and that is, Whether the christian religion has done the world any service in reforming the lives and morals of mankind, which some, who pretend to have considered the present state of vice, seem to doubt
of ?-_This objection I, in some measure, have anticipated in the beginning of this discourse ;and, what I have to add to that argument is this, That, as it is impossible to decide the point by eyidence of facts, which, at so great a distance, cannot be brought together and compared, it must be decided by reason and the probability of things ; upon which issue, one might appeal to the most professed deist, and trust him to determine,-whether the lives of those who are set loose from all obligations but those of conveniency,-can be compared with those who have been blessed with the extraordina. ry light of a religion ?-and whether so just and holy a religion as the christian, which sets restraints even upon our thoughts,-a religion which gives us the most engaging ideas of the perfections of God, -at the same time that it impresses the most aw. ful ones of his majesty and power ;-a Being rich in mercies, but, if they are abused, terrible in his judgments ;-one constantly about our secret paths, -about our beds ;-who spieth out all our ways, noticeth all our actions, and is so pure in his nature, that he will punish even the wicked imaginations of the heart, and has appointed a day wherein he will enter into this enquiry, and execute judgment according as we have deserved ?
If either the hopes or fears, the passions or reason of men are to be wrought upon at all, such principles must have an effect, though, I own, very far short of what a thinking man should expect from such motives.
No doubt, there is great room for amendment in the christian world ;-and the professors of our holy religion may, in general, be said to be a very cor. rupt and bad generation of men,--considering what reasons and obligations they have to be better.-Yet still I affirm, if those restraints were lessened-the world would be infinitely worse ;-and, therefore, we cannot sufficiently bless and adore the goodness of God for those advantages, brought by the coming of Christ ;-which God grant that we may live to be more deserving of ;-that, in the last day, when he shall come again to judge the world, we may rise to to life immortal. Amen.
TRUST IN GOD.
PSAL. XXXVII. 3.
Put thou thy trust in the Lord.
WHOEVER seriously reflects upon the state and condition of man, and looks upon that dark side of it which represents his life as open to so many causes of trouble ;=when he sees how often he eats the bread of affliction, and that he is born to it as naturally as the sparks fly upwards :--thal no rank or degrees of men are exempted from this law of our beings : but that all, from the high cedar of Libanus to the humble shrub upon the wall, are shook in their turns by numberless calamities and distresses :-- when one sits down and looks upon this gloomy side of things, with all the sorrowful chang. es and chances which surround us at first sight, -would not one wonder, how the spirit of a man could bear the infirmities of his nature, and what it is that supports him as it does, under the many evil accidents which he meets with in his passage through this valley of tears ?-Without some certain aid within us to bear us up-so tender a frame as ours would be but ill fitted to encounter what generally befalls it in this rugged journey :-and accordingly we find, that we are so curiously wrought by an allwise hand with a view to this, that, in the very composition and texture of our nature, there is a reme.