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in itself unlawful, much less to the most unlawful of all things, the destruction of an innocent and virtuous man.

I have entered thus minutely into the detail of this remarkable transaction, because, as I have before remarked, every line of it is replete with the most important instruction; as, indeed, is the case with every part of the sacred history in the Gospel, and the Acts, which teach full as much by the facts they relate as by the precepts they inculcate. The moral lessons to be drawn from the passage before us, I have already pointed out in some degree as I went along; but there are one or two of a more general import, which I shall briefly add in conclusion, and which will deserve your very

serious attention,

The first is, that in the conduct of life there is nothing more to be dreaded and avoided, ' nothing more dangerous to our peace, to our comfort, to our character, to our welfare here and hereafter, than a criminal attachment to an abandoned and


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unprincipled woman, more particularly in the early period of life. It has been the source of more misery, and, besides all the guilt which naturally belongs to' it, has led to the commission of more and greater crimes, than perhaps any other single cause that can be named. We have seen into what a gulf of sin and suffering it plunged the wretched Herod. He began with adultery, and he ended with murder, and with the total ruin of himself, his kingdom, and all the vile partners of his guilt. The same has happened in a thousand other instances ; and there are, I am persuaded, few persons here present, of any age or experience in the world, who cannot recollect numbers, both of individuals and of families, whose peace, tranquillity, comfort, characters, and fortunes, have been completely destroyed by illicit and licentious connexions of this sort. Nor is this the worst. The present effects of these vices, dreadful as they sometimes are, cannot be compared with the misery which they are


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preparing for us hereafter. The Scriptures every where rank these vices in the numþer of those presumptuous sins, which in a future life, will experience the severest marks of divine displeasure. The world, indeed, treats them with more indulgence. They are excused and palliated, and even defended, on the ground of human frailty, of natural constitution, of strong passions, and invincible temptations; and they are generally considered and représented in various popular performances (especially in those imported from foreign countries) as associated with many amiable virtues, with goodness of heart, with high print ciples of honour, with benevolence, compassion, humanity, and generosity. But whatever gentle names may be given to sensuality and licentiousness, whatever specious apologies may be made for them, whatever wit or talents may be employed in rendering them popular and fashionable, whatever numbers, whatever examples may sanction or authorize them, it is impossible that any thing can do

away well


their natural turpitude and deformity, or avert those punishments which

, the Gospel has denounced against them. They are represented there as things that ought not even to be named among Christians, as defiling the man, as warring against the soul, as grieving the Spirit of God, as rendering men incapable of inheriting the kingdom of heaven, as exposing them to the indignation of Him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity*. And as if men had endeavoured in those days, as well as in our own, to soften and extenuate and explain away the guilt of licentiousness, the Apostle adds, with great solemnity and great earnestness, “ Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience t."

Let every man then that pretends to be a Christian, and lives in the habitual practice of the vices here condemned, weigh

Ephes. v. 3. Matt. xv. 18. 1 Pet. ii. 11. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Habak. i. 13.

+ Ephes. v. 6.

well these tremendous words. If there be any truth in the Gospel, they will not be vain words; nor will offences of this nature ever pass unnoticed or unpunished by the righteous Governor of the world.

These remarks are not introduced here without reason. It is the peculiar prevalence of these very vices at this moment which demands such animadversions as

. these; a prevalence, which I infer not merely from an imaginary estimate of the low state of morals amongst us, founded on rumour, on conjecture, or misconstruction, but from facts too well ascertained, and which obtrude themselves on the notice of every observing mind*.

I mean those daring violations of the nuptial contract, and the frequent divorces resulting from them, which seem daily gaining ground in this kingdom. This is a most melancholy and incontrovertible proof of increasing depravity amongst us, and I am sorry to add, of depravity of the very deepest dye; for instances have not long


* In the Spring of the year 1800.

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