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fresh fund of chearfulness in store for
you, when the vivacity of youth begins to droop; and is the only thing that fill
that void in the soul, which is left in it by every earthly enjoyment. It will not, like worldly pleasures, desert
have most need of consolation, in the hours of folitude, of sickness, of old age; but when once its holy flame is thoroughly lighted up
your breasts, instead of becoming more faint and languid as you advance in years, it will grow brighter and stronger every day; will glow with peculiar warmth and lustre, when
your diffolution draws near ; will disperse the gloom and horrors of a death-bed; will give you a foretaste, and render you worthy to partake, of that FULNESS OF joy,
pure celestial PLEASURES which are at « God's “ right hand for evermore *
• Psal. xvi. II.
HERE are few passages of scripture
which have given more occasion of triumph to the enemies of Christianity, and more disquiet to some of its friends, than that now before us. The former represent it as a declaration in the highest degree tyrannical, absurd, and unjust: the latter read it with concern and terror, and are apt to cry out, “ it is a hard saying, who can hear it * ?". And a hard saying it undoubtedly is, if it is to be understood, as some have contended, in
* John vi. 6o.
all its rigour. But it is not easy to conceive why we are to be bound down to the literal meaning in this particular passage of scripture, when in several others of the same nature, and to the full as strongly expressed, we depart from it without scruple. No man, I suppose, thinks himself obliged to “ give
(without distinction or exception) to every “ one that asks him
to pluck out his right eye, or cut off his right arm; to offer “ his coat to him that has taken away his “ cloak; or, when his enemy smites him on " the right cheek, to turn to him the other “ also *.” Yet all these things, if we regard the mere words only, are commanded in the Gospel. We all hope and believe, that it is poffible for a rich man to be saved, and for a great sinner to repent and amend his life. But look into the scriptures, and they tell you,
" that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich “ man to enter into the kingdom of God ;' and that, if “ a leopard can change his spots, “ and an Ethiopian his skin, then may they « also do good that are accustomed to do
* Luke vi. 30. Matth. v. 29, 30, 39, 40.
" evil *.” These expressions, literally taken, imply an absolute imposibility. Yet no interpreter, I believe, ever pretended to infer from them any thing more than extreme difficulty. By what rule of criticism then are we obliged to understand the text more strictly than the paffages just mentioned ? It certainly stands as much in need of a liberal interpretation, and is as justly entitled to it, as these or any other places of holy writ. Consider it only with a little attention. " Whosoever shall
keep the whole law, and yet offend in one “ point, he is guilty of all.” The meaning cannot possibly be, that he who offends in one point only, does by that means actually offend in all points; for this is a palpable contradic, tion. Nor can it mean, that he who offends in one point only, is in the eye guilty, and of course will in a future state be equally punished, with him who offends in all points: for this is evidently false and unjust; contrary to every principle of reason and equity, to all our ideas of God's moral attributes, and to the whole tenour of the Gospel, which uniformly teaches a directly • Matth. xix. 24. Jer, xiii. 23.
of God equally