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ecute judgment upon all ; and to convince all that are ungodly of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Among the many things, which will be examined at the last day, will be your attention to religious counsel, your improvement or neglect of divine admonitions. The importance, which the Scriptures attach to a clear exhibition of duty and to circumstances calculated to enforce it, deserves much notice. As the Jews had been distinguished from other nations by their superior knowledge, God speaks of them as meriting a heavier punishment: You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore will l punish you for all your iniquities. That the disobedience of the people might appear more heinous, God reminds them of the means, which had been used in vain for their reformation : I have hewed them by the prophets : I have slain them by the words of my mouth. In another place, the various judgments, with which the people had been visited, are distinctly mentioned ; to which it is added : Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord. The days shall come, saith Christ, in regard to Jerusalem, when thine enemies shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee, because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
There can be no reason for adopting this mode of proceeding with communities more than with individuals. When God's judgments are abroad in the earth his intentions are that men should learn righteousness. But if they set at nought his counsel, and despise his reproof, their guilt accumulates, and corresponding punishment awaits them.
I will suppose it possible, that among those, whom I address, there are three descriptions.
First, those who are decidedly immoral;—those who by profaneness and dissipation, put beyond question their profligacy and want of principle.
Men who sail between the tropics, are exposed to a disorder denominated the calenture. Under the delirium which it
produces, they fancy the ocean to be a verdant, delightful field. Allured by these hallucinations to regale themselves in their imaginary field, they step from the deck and are lost forever.Where now are those young men, to whom Solomon directed the words in our text?—who rejoiced in their youth, and walked in the way of their heart, and in the sight of their eyes ? Where now are those bold spirits, who in every period of the world, and in every country, have cast off the fear of God and of death? Were the pleasures of a dissolute life sufficient to compensate for all the remorse and anguish of soul, wbich they have already experienced, and which eternal ages have yet in reserve? Miserable pittance of sensual pleasure ;-criminal years, that have passed away as a tale which is told ! Momentary joys, that'are followed by an everlasting abode among the chains of darkness!
Were you assured that the present is the last day of your lives, and that this night would seal your destiny, would not your agitation and anguish be intolerable, both to yourselves, and to those whose compassion might not suffer them to desert you? You have no principles which would support you in such an hour. You are not the less immoral, because you disbelieve
. a God and a future state, however such infidelity might destroy remaining fears. You imagine that death is far distant, and will not arrive without sufficient warning. Your courage is precisely that of the poltroon, who boasts when he imagines that no danger is nigh.
2. There are others, and I hope a large proportion, of fair, unblemished morals; who, from the force of education and a general respect for religion, perceive something in open vice, at the same time infernal and brutish. The interest and delight with which your characters are viewed, must not however, induce you to believe, that any course of conduct, not grounded on real piety, affords a title to the divine favor. The Scriptures recognize no real goodness, but that which consists in the love of God, and results from renewing grace. Would you be content with any religion, but such as will abide with you at
death, and secure your salvation ? Scrutinize your motives, and see whether you have ever performed a single action from real affection to the Supreme Being; and whether from a conviction of being justly condemned by the law, you have cordially assented to the terms of the new covenant. A good life, I acknowledge, proves the piety, and by consequence, the security of him who maintains it. But in a good life are comprehended repentance, faith, and submission. Without these, you may enjoy human applause, but can never attain to honor, glory and immortality.
3. Possibly there are a few individuals who are persuaded that religion is an internal principle, and that they do not possess it. Convinced that one thing is wanting, you cannot rest entirely satisfied either with a fair reputation, or with those acquisitions of knowledge, which are secured to you by application and perseverance. Between these, and the divine favor, you know there is no necessary connexion. As you expect forever to exist under the government of God, you feel some anxiety as to that part which never dies. When you
witness good information, and richly endowed with the gifts of nature, convinced that they have hitherto lived without God in the world, and afterwards maintain lives of active and conspicuous virtue, professedly under the influence of a new principle, you cannot bring your reason to ascribe this to fanaticisin or su: perstition.
But remember, that to bestow praise on pious people, will not prove your own piety. God does not allow you to defer repentance, because you confess that repentance is your duty. By every hour's delay, you enlarge the mass of guilt previously contracted.
My Young Friends, I quit this address with reluctance, and with an overwhelming depression of spirits ;-a depression arising from the fear, that no permanent effects will be produced by it; but that you will still neglect religion, refuse the Saviour, and walk in the way of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes.
I will add one entreaty in the words of a well known poet.
“ By silence, death's peculiar attribute ;
Young. Consolation, 2093.
THE PERPETUITY AND IMPORTANCE OF THE
Genesis, 2: 2, 3.–And on the seventh day, God ended his work,
which he had made, and rested on the seventh day from all his works, which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.
There is no book, which may, with so much propriety as the Scriptures, be denominated the history of religion. This history is naturally divided into three parts, corresponding with the era preceding any written revelation, the era of the Mosaic law, and that of Christianity. Of the last period it is only the commencement, concerning which the sacred writings give us any historical information. In making preparation for this period, the divine attention seems to have been employed during those which preceded. The first age of the world is that, about which curiosity is peculiarly excited. We are earnest to know, whether religion existed; and, if it did, what form it assumed, when the succession of human beings commenced, and the world was new.
Nearly connected with religion is the appointment of a day to be appropriated to divine worship. That a seventh part of the
a time was once consecrated to this purpose by the direction of God, will be questioned by no one, who receives the writings of Moses, either as inspiration or authentic history.
Our present object is to show, First, the perpetuity; and, Secondly, the importance of this institution.
I. The perpetuity will be considered as proved, if it can be made to appear, that the consecrating of one day in seven to religious purposes, has been expressly required, or approved by