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SERMON those intermediate stages, in one of which you are now perhaps found. Vice always creeps by degrees; and insensibly twines around us those concealed fetters by which we are at last completely bound. - As you value therefore your liberty and your happiness, avoid every approach to evil. Consider all vicious pleasures as enchanted ground, by entering on which, you will be farther and farther ensnared within the magic circle, till at length you are precluded from all retreat. The most pure and virtuous man is always the freest. The religion of Christ is justly entitled the perfect law of liberty *. It is only when the Son makes us free, that we are free indeed: and it was with reason the Psalmist said, I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts †. + Pfalm cxix. 45.
* James, i. 25.
On the IMPORTANCE of PUBLIC
PSALM xvi. 8.
Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.
D is a spirit, and they that worship SERMON him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. That religion chiefly consists in an inward principle of goodness, is beyond dispute, and that its value and efficacy are derived from its effects in purifying the heart, and reforming the life. All external services, which have not this tendency, are entirely insignificant. They degenerate
SERMON degenerate into mere superstition, equally unacceptable to God, and unprofitable to man. Hence they are so often treated in scripture, with high contempt, when substituted in the room of the important duties of a virtuous life.
Notwithstanding this, it is certain that external services have their own place, and a considerable one too, in the system of religion. What their proper place is, no one can be at a loss to discern, who will only make a just distinction between the means, and the end, in religion. It is evident there is danger in man's erring here, either on one side or other; and it is certain that they have erred on both. After it was observed, that mankind were prone to lay too much weight on the external parts of religion, it began to be thought that no weight was to be allowed to them at all. The time was, when all religion centered in attending the duties of the church, and paying veneration to whatever was accounted sacred. This alone sanctified the character, and compensated every blemish in moral conduct. From this extreme the spirit of the age seems to
be running fast into the opposite extreme, of SERMON
Psalmist, whose words are now before us,
SERMON three lights; as it respects God; as it XI. respects the world; as it respects our
I. LET us consider it with respect to God. If there exist a Supreme Being, the Creator of the world, no consequence appears more natural and direct than this, that he ought to be worshipped by his creatures, with every outward expression of submission and honour. We need only appeal to every man's heart, whether this be not a principle which carries along with it its own obligation, that to Him who is the Fountain of our life and the Father of our mercies; to Him who has raised up that beautiful structure of the universe in which we dwell, and where we are surrounded with so many blessings and comforts solemn acknowledgments of gratitude should be made, praises and prayers should be offered, and all suitable marks of dependence on him be expressed.- This obligation extends beyond the silent and secret sentiments of our hearts. Besides private devotion, it naturally leads to associations for public wor