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has rendered imbecile. Consider and treat the pious, as absurdly sacrificing to a hope, they will never realize ; foregoing their pleasure and worldly advantages from a foolish regard to conscience and another life. Represent your own conduct, as the result of superior discernment, independence, and manly courage. If Christians have faults or singularities, delight to expose them, and place them in such a light, as will attach most ridicule to the religion which they profess. If they are allured into sin, let your triumph evince, how much you have been secretly alarmed by their previous piety.
If constrained to pay an external regard to the Sabbath, and to attend on its public institutions, harden yourselves against all serious impressions, and bid defiance to every truth and every representation, there brought to your mind. Emulate the stupidity of the ancient Jews, “whose hearts had waxen gross, whose eyes were closed, and whose ears were dull of hearing; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed ?"
Strive to diminish the terrors of religion, by desecrating the language, in which these terrors are conveyed. Associate the name and attributes of God with words or ideas, which excite contempt or levity. Set your mouth against the heavens, and call God to witness your assertions, whether trifling or false. Indulge in all licentiousness in defiance of him, who has said, that no impure person shall inherit the kingdom of God. Assemble for nightly revelling, for intemperance, and dissipation; and as you dread nothing so much as to exist beyond the grave, and desire nothing so much as to be annihilated at death, stupify your intellectual powers, and approximate as far as possible, to the condition and character of that part of creation, which at death mingles with the elements, and loses all susceptibility of pleasure or pain. Choose such, for your companions, who will applaud your spirit, and by whose encouragement and example your hatred of virtue will become the more inveterate.
We now come to the unwelcome part of our text: Know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Vol. II.
In these words, I request you to notice two things :
1. The certainty of that which is here taught : Know thou, that there will be a judgment.
2. That all youthful sins will be matter of investigation. For all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
The former of these I will briefly prove from analogy, from reason, and from Scripture.
1. Analogy teaches, that human actions will be brought into judgment.
That the resurrection is past already, is indeed branded by an inspired apostle, as pernicious falsehood; but there is no error in asserting, that the judgment is already begun. Even in the present state, there is much of a retribution. No inconsiderable difference between the righteous and the wicked results at present from the hopes of the one, and the fears of the other. The most thoughtless person has suffered much from the disapprobation of his own mind, and from the apprehension of future punishment. Knowing as you do, that reason requires a circumspect and virtuous life, you often feel the pain and reproach of self-condemnation. Your breasts are the seat of unremitting hostility between your intellects and your passions. You are occasionally constrained to pass judgment on yourselves. And notwithstanding your efforts to be fortified against it, you are not unfrequently invaded by the fear of something yet to come. You already experience, therefore, the beginning of a retribution; some foretaste of that shame and self-reproach, to partake in which the Scriptures inform you, that the wicked shall be roused from the slumbers of the grave. How can you doubt, that there is an immortal worm, when its corrodings, even in the present life, have been occasionally felt ?
2. That there will be a judgment, may be shown, with a high degree of probability, from the light of nature. existence and that of the universe proves, that there is a God. What his moral attributes are, is not a question, on which you can entertain any serious doubts. If he approves virtue, and hates vice, do you imagine, that he wants the means of express
ing his approbation of the one, and his abhorrence of the other? Will he treat, in the same manner, those who honor and observe his laws, and those by whom they are contemned and violated ? No; if the author of the universe be pure, upright, and benevolent, no uncertainty can remain as to a retribution. On this ground, even withoat revelation, we might use the confident language of Solomon : Though the sinner do evil an hugdred times, and his days be prolonged; yet surely I know, that it shall be well with them that fear God; but it shall not be well with the wicked, because he feareth not God.
3. That there will be a judgment, is made perfectly certain by the sacred writings. Even Balaam had such clear views of a divine moral government, and of a future state, as led him to exclaim: Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his. The prophets were directed to say to the righteous man, that it shall be well with him ; for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him. Many of them, saith Daniel, who sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake; some to everlasting life ; some to shame and everlasting contempt. In the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, our Saviour has, with some minuteness, and in language uncommonly impressive, portrayed the last judgment. Paul preached not only of righteousness and temperance, but of a judgment to come ; and asserts in one of his letters, that we shall all
appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Indeed this subject was so frequently introduced by the apostles, and their remarks upon it constituted so considerable a part of their preaching, that an expectation of its speedy arrival became current among their disciples.
To enumerate more passages on a subject so common, and so little questioned, can scarcely be necessary. If analogy, if reason, and Scripture, be entitled to regard, there is a season ordained, when human characters will be investigated, and when discrimination will be made between those, who serve God, and those who serve him not.
Concerning many passages and doctrines of revelation, doubts may be entertained, and difficulties presented. You may question, in what sense those who rise at the last day, shall have the same bodies in which they died. You may doubt, to what degree human beings are depraved, and in what manner they became so. You may ask how it is possible to reconcile the doctrine of human liberty with the prescience of God, or the dependance of man. You may inquire, whether God operates directly on the hearts of men, or only through the medium of the understanding. You may feel uncertain whether the renovation of wicked men is a change, instantaneously, or gradually produced. On all these subjects many great men, and, it is presumed some good men, have been undetermined. But in regard to the accountability of man there is no uncertainty. It is inscribed, in striking characters, on all the pages of Scripture. This is represented in our text, not as a matter of conjecture, but of knowledge: Know thou, that for all these things, etc.
2. The other particular to which I would urge your attention, is that no youthful sins will escape investigation. For all these things, (he is speaking to the young, you will observe,) for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment.
That which constitutes accountability, is a moral nature; i. e. a capacity for discerning the difference between moral actions. All beings possessing this capacity, whatever be their nature in other respects, whatever part of the universe they occupy, and however various may be the forms which they assume, are subjects of moral government,-are bound by certain laws, and will be rewarded or punished, according to their observance, or neglect of them. As it respects accountability, whether you are young or old, whether you have existed fifteen years or fifty, is a question of no moment. This is agreeable to the common sense of mankind, as is evinced in human laws. The highwayman, the incendiary, or the murderer, receives the same punishment, whether these crimes are committed in the earlier, or more advanced periods of life. Society will not suffer its order to be interrupted, and its tranquillity to be disturbed by the rashness of youth, more willingly, than by the per'verseness of
Neither will God suffer the one, any more than the other, to introduce anarchy and misrule into his moral kingdom.
Observe further, if there is a moral government, it extends to all times, and to every place. If God in general requires conformity to certain rules, he requires it in every instance. It is perfectly absurd to imagine, that while in possession of rational powers, we can be free from the obligations of duty. For if we are exempt from law at one time, why not at another? If for one hour, why not for a day, a month, or a year? A licentious or a profane speech was uttered, you say, in a thoughtless moment; a scene of dissipation was entered upon under the influence of youthful passions. Be it so. But God allows no person to be thoughtless, or to be impelled by his passions. If this would excuse one crime, it would excuse another. Many of those offences which bring their authors to capital punishment, were committed either in an unguarded moment, or when their passions were roused.
It appears then, that when the inspired preacher says to the young man : For all these things God will bring thee into judge ment, his doctrine as well corresponds with reason, as with the other parts of Scripture.
Consider that every violation of wholesome restraints, whether human or divine ;-all the hours which are lost, or which are spent in forming habits of licentious living ;-all conversation which tends to deaden the moral feelings, and to enfeeble the sanctions of religion ;-all habits of conversing or thinking, which tend to render virtue less venerable and vice less detestable and more alluring ;-every word which is uttered in praise of wrong conduct and in disapprobation of that which is right; -the indulgence of every impure, envious, malignant, or revengeful passion ;-all these will be investigated and made public at the last day. Not only every work shall be brought into judgment; but every secret thing, whether it be good or bad: Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to ex