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of their regard for that religion, which yet they would be thought to believe? Or, have they such an aversion from the exercises of religion, that the spending of an hour or two in solemn acts of adoration, in prayer and thanksgiving, is a weariness which they cannot endure? What is this, but to avow the great degeneracy of their minds, and their want of a proper disposition for the employment which best deserves the attention of reasonable beings? Or, do they affect a high regard for moral virtue, as an excuse for neglecting positive institutions? And will any man, who knows the true state of things among us, take upon himself to declare that the growing neglect of the ordinances of religion has helped to promote the practice of virtue; or that men's morals are generally improved, since they became more indifferent to those sacred solemnities? Nothing is more evident to any one, who impartially considers the nature of those ordinances and solemnities, than that a due observance of them (besides being a public avowal of our faith in God, and in the Lord Jesus Christ) has a manifest tendency to exercise and strengthen in us those good affections, which naturally lead to a holy life.

But there are also Christians, on the other hand, who seem to flatter themselves that a mere outward attendance on these ordinances will be alone sufficient, though they at the same time indulge themselves in habits contrary to the rules of virtue and morality. All expedients, however, for re conciling the practice of dissoluteness or dishonesty with the faith and hope of the Gospel are obviously absurd. The most inconsistent of all characters is, a wicked Christian; which to any one


acquainted with the true nature of Christianity, must appear to be a contradiction in terms. For nothing can be more evident, than that a vicious life is the most manifest contradiction to the whole design of the Gospel. To profess to hope for salvation from the Redeemer, and yet to neglect the necessary terms, without which (we are assured) salvation is not to be obtained! To believe that he came to destroy the works of the Devil, and yet to allow themselves in those very works! What an unamiable representation would such persons afford of the Gospel, if a judgment were to be formed of it from their conduct! You would perhaps conceive a horror at the thought of blaspheming Christ, and openly renouncing all hope of salvation from him and yet the plain tendency of your practice is, to harden the hearts of infidels, and give occasion to the enemies of Christianity to blaspheme. And should not you tremble to think of being charged as accessary to the indignities cast upon that dread name into which you were baptized, and on that excellent system, the divine origin of which you profess to believe? Surely it highly concerns you, for your own sakes and that of the Gospel, instantly to set about reforming a conduct irreconcileable at once to all the rules of reason, and to your own most evident interests. Implore the mercy of God through Jesus Christ, and the assistances of his grace, which shall not be wanting to the truly penitent; and show yourselves to be Christians by endeavouring to get your souls effectually brought under the influence of that religion, the natural tendency of which is to inspire ingenuous hope, and confidence, and joy.

I shall conclude, with laying a few advices be


fore those who take upon them the name of Christians, and who profess to receive the Gospel as of divine authority.

1. And, first, let us be thankful to God for our glorious privileges. It is our unspeakable advantage, that we are not left to the uncertain light of our own unassisted reason in a matter of such importance. We have God himself instructing us by his word concerning his perfections and his providence, displaying all the riches of his grace toward perishing sinners, setting our duty before us in its just extent, animating us to the practice of it by exceeding great and precious promises, and assuring us of the aids of his Holy Spirit to assist our weak endeavours. A happiness is provided for us, as the result of our patient continuance in well-doing, transcending all that we are now able to express, or even to conceive. These things certainly call for every return of love and gratitude within our power. Our civil liberties are justly to be valued; but our privileges, as Christians, are of a far loftier and nobler character.

2. A natural consequence of this is, that we should treasure the faith which we profess, and endeavour to make ourselves well acquainted with it, as it is contained in the Holy Scriptures. There are to be found those discoveries, which God was pleased to make of his will at sundry times and in divers manners by the mouth of his holy prophets; and there is that last and most perfect Revelation, which he gave by his well-beloved Son. The very discourses of that Son are there transmitted to us, with an account of his wonderful works, his pure life, and his most perfect example. Let us, therefore, search the Scriptures, which are able to make

us wise unto salvation. And if we meet with difficulties in them, as may justly be expected in ancient writings relating to a great variety of matters (some of them of a most extraordinary nature) let not this discourage us. For beside that by carefully examining the Holy Volume, and making a proper use of the helps afforded us, we may have many of those difficulties cleared up, it must be observed, that the things most necessary to be known are most plainly revealed; and those are the things which we should especially labour to get impressed upon our consciences and our hearts. But it should be our principal concern, that our whole conversation be such as becometh the Gospel of Christ. He must be an utter stranger to Christianity, who is not sensible that it both enjoins, and, in the highest degree, encourages a virtuous practice. Let us, therefore, as we would secure our own salvation, and advance the glory of our Blessed Redeemer, endeavour to adorn its doctrines by a "godly, righteous, and sober life." A mere form of godliness will not be sufficient: the energy and beauty of religion must appear in our whole temper and demeanour. And oh! how amiable is the idea of a Christian acting up to the obligations of Christianity!

Consider him in the exercise of piety and devotion toward God, diligent in attending on the or dinances of religion, filled with a profound reverence and devout admiration of the Supreme Excellence, his soul at one time rising in grateful emotions to his sovereign Benefactor, at another exercising an unrepining submission to his will, and a steady dependence on his providence, and always rejoicing in Christ Jesus as his Saviour, in the

wonders of his love and the beauties of his example.

But the religion of a real Christian is not confined to immediate acts of devotion. It animates his whole conduct. It teaches him to be strictly just and honest, to behave suitably in the conjugal, the parental, and the filial relation, and to fulfil all the duties of civil and social life. It tends to suppress the malevolent affections, and to diffuse a sweetness and complacency throughout his whole behaviour. It makes him ready to bear with the infirmities of others, to rejoice in their happiness, and endeavour to promote it; and instead of being overcome of evil, to overcome evil with good. Behold him in another view, as exercising a noble self-government, keeping his appetites and passions under a regular subjection to the laws of reason and morality, disdaining to defile himself with vicious excesses; yet partaking at the same time, with moderation and gratitude, of the innocent enjoyments of life, and having every enjoyment heightened by the glorious prospects before him. To which it may be added, that religion inspires him with a true sense of honour, as signifying an abhorrence of every thing base and impure, and with a constancy and fortitude not to be bribed or terrified from the path of duty.

Such a character, in every condition, as far as it has an opportunity of exerting itself, cannot but attract universal approbation. But when it is found in conjunction with nobility of extraction, dignity of station, and affluence of fortune, what a glory does it diffuse !

It may be observed, in the last place, that those

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