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But if, on the contrary, he fets himself sea riously and in earnest to search out and to correct his infirmities; if he flies at the first
approach of temptation, and takes alarm at the most distant intimation of danger ; if he curbs that busy dangerous power, the imagination ; “ if he keeps his heart with all diligence *,' and guards the issues of life; if, as the apostle advises, he takes unto him THE SHIELD OF FAITH, opposing the joys of heaven to the pleasures of fin, and having less regard to a prefent gratification than the future recompence of reward;
reward; above all, if he never ceases importuning the Throne of Grace for the afsistance of God's Holy Spirit to purify his soul, invigorate his resolutions, and support him under all the difficulties and discouragements of his Christian warfare ; he may depend upon it, that whatever may be his constitution, whatever the nature or degree of the temptations he is exposed to, not all the powers of darkness shall be able to prevail against him, Though he may perhaps accidentally fall, yet he shall “ never be cast away; for the " Lord upholdeth him with his hand t,"
Prov. iv. 23.
+ Pfal. xxxvii. 24.
HIS is one among numberless other
passages in holy writ, in which a future judgement, and an eternal state of existence hereafter, are clearly and positively announced to us; and it is from these declarations of the Gospel, and these only, that we derive the certain expectation of immortal life. To pretend, therefore, as fome have done, that we had already sufficient notices of this important truth from the light of nature, and that the convicțion, produced by these notices, is so complete as to supersede the necessity of any
further information, is to give nature a degree of merit, to which she is far from having any just pretensions, and to make a very ungrateful return for the invaluable advantages we have received, in this and
many other respects, from the Revelation made by Christ. But yet to assert, on the other hand, that natural religion gives us not the smallest ground to hope that we shall survive the grave, and that every argument for it, except those which Scripture supplies, is perfectly vain and nugatory, and unworthy of the least regard, is surely running into another extreme, no less destitute of foundation, and no less hurtful in its consequences than the former * The natural and moral evidences of another life after this, though confessedly inferior, very greatly inferior, in authority and force, to those of Revelation, yet undoubtedly have their proper weight and use ;
* It has been very juftly observed, that some writers, by exalting the powers of reason, in matters of religion, too high, have destroyed the necesity of Revelation, and others, by dea grading them too low, have risqued the reasonableness of it, Diy. Leg. vol. ii. p. 26.
and to depreciate their just value, and sink them as much as possible in the estimation of mankind, is to do no real service (although there may
have been a sincere intention of doing it) to the cause of Christianity; which has no need, in this or in any other instance, to rise on the ruins of human reason. On the contrary, it disdains not to receive reason as its friend and ally, and occasionally to elucidate and confirm both its doctrines and its precepts, by such collateral arguments as that faculty is capable of supplying. In the present case more especially, the consideration of a future state is a subject so full of comfort and satisfaction, that the mind of man must necessarily love to dwell upon it ; must with to contemplate it in every point of view; to examine it in every light, whether natural or revealed; to let in conviction from every quarter ; and must be soothed and delighted to find that so important an article of belief, on which so much depends both in this life and the next, is perfectly conformable to the natural sentiments of the human heart, and the justest conclusions of the human understanding. This must be the case, even with
the sincerest believers. But there are some also (as is but too well known) in every Christian country, who are not believers, and yet profess to receive, on the principles of natural religion, the doctrine of another life, and a day of recompence. Now, no one, I think, would wish to deprive even these of their persuasion, on whatever grounds it rests, that they are formed for immortality, and that they are responsible for their conduct here, at the bar of their Creator hereafter. There are other unbelievers (for they are divided into many different sects) who, though not yet convinced of a future state of existence, are willing to listen to the natural and moral evidences in its favour, and to no others. These, surely, it is of . portance, both to society and to themselves, to bring, if possible, to the acknowledgment of a future retribution. This acknowledge ment will, even on their own principles, bind them down to a course of action very different from that which a contrary persuafion would have been apt to produce į and will, moreover, in all probability, pave the way for their entire belief of a religion which