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ful enemy of our fouls, that would robous of our present as well as future happiness? How should the consideration of these things make us take heed left there be in any of us an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God? and how stedfastly should we resolve to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; but to walk as children of light in the ways of true piety and holiness; and not to delay for one moment the care of our immortal fouls ? For, although God is a being of infinite goodness and mercy, and is patient and long-suffering towards finners, being unwilling that
any should perish, but that all should come to repentance; yet we must remember, that he is also infinitely juft, and will affuredly vindicate the honour of his laws. All fin and wickedness is an abomination in his sight. He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; and, if his wrath be kindled, yea, but a little, what will become of the wicked and ungodly? nothing but a fincere repentance and amendment of life will be sufficient to secure them from the vengeance, which he has threatened to pour down upon all obstinate and rebellious finners; and true repentance will most undoubtedly avert his anger. : V. To conclude with the sentiments of a devout and pious divine: The great plea, that men do generally It is in evemake for the wickedness or carelesiness of their ry man's lives, is this : “ That it really is not in their power pamera s to live up to such a state of holiness and virtue, cefjary cam • as the law. of God obligeth them to: grace is in of his foul.
them too weak, and their natural corruptions too strong, · for their ever being in a capacity, without more assistance * from God, to live strict and religious lives: conversion is
the work of God, and cannot be wrought by a man's felf: s and therefore, till God Thall- please to come upon thein .. with an irresistible power of his Holy Spirit, they must be * contented to live as they do; nay, they must unavoidably
live so.”. Now it is readily granted, that without God's grace no man can do any thing; and we grant likewise, that it is very probable their circumstances may be such, that it is not mörallý poflible, unless they had greater strength and more grace than they have, on a sudden to live as they
power to j
ought to do; for their bad principles are really more powerful than their good ones; but yet, in the mean time, we must needs tell them, that they are not mere stocks and stones. How much reason soever they have to complain of the infirmity or degeneracy of their natures, yet some things they can do towards the bettering of them: for instance, though they cannot on a sudden conquer the inward bent and inclination of their minds, so as to hate all fin, and to delight in virtue; yet they must needs confess that they have a power over their outward actions: they can as well (if they think it reasonable) direct their feet towards the church, as to a house of gaming, or drinking, or lewdness: their eyes will serve them as well to look upon a bible, or a serious discourse about religion, as to read a fcurrilous and a prophane book: it is as much in their power (if they please) to yield their ears to the reasonable advice of their sober friends, as to the mad harangues of the dissolute company they keep. These things they must needs acknowledge they can do, if they will: nay, and they can do more than this; for (if they please) they may give themselves time to conhder and think of what they read, or what is said to them, or what their own experience or observation of things will suggest to their minds; and they can further (if they please) add to their consideration their prayers to Almighty God to direct them, to assist them, to strengthen them. And tho' it is certain that all this without God's especial grace will not be effectual for the irregeneration and conversion ; yet, if they will but do as much as this comes to, we can affure them, that in time they shall have this especial grace, which they now want. In the same proportion that they use andemploy those gifts and powers, which they at present have, God will increase and enlarge them. And the truth of all this is confirmed to us by that memorable saying of our Saviour, which we find in his mouth at several times,
and upon several occasions: To him that hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have in abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath. Let it then, above all things, be our great and constant endeavour to make him our friend, who is the best of beings, the sovereign good and
happiness of all his creatures, and the fountain and foundation of all our comforts and enjoyments in this life, and of all our hopes and expectations in that which is to come. Let us make religion the great business of our lives, and, whilst we have time and opportunity, let us prepare ourselves by a life of virtue and righteousness, for that great account which we must one day give. Let not the pleasures and vanities of this world, which will shortly have an end, make us unmindful of the great and momentous concerns of eternity. There shall in no wise enter into that holy place any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lye; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. And those only are the good and virtuous, who have kept themselves from the pollutions of this wicked world, and have led a life of piety and renewed obedience towards God, and of love and charity towards their neighours.
O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, who waff
pleased to accept the death and passion of thy dear Son Jefus Cbrift for an expiation for the fins of mankind, and a ranJom of their guilty fouls from the torments of bell; grant that I may duly weigb the efficacy of his merits, and faithfully improve the benefits of my redemption. Let not the pleasures of fin betray me, nor the craftinefs of Satan deceive me : but do tbou guard and protect me with thy blessed Spirit against all spiritual temptations ; and let me always bave the danger and care of my soul before my eyes, and the torments of the damned fresh in my memory, so that, by contemplating upon the misery of otbers, I may hate their practices, and avoid their punisaments, through the all-sufficient merits of Jefus Christ, my Lord and Saviour. Amen.
I. Of true morality and of the duty of man, as taught by
natural and revealed religion; containing the three great branches of our duty to God, to our NEIGHBOUR, and to OURSELVES. II. Our duty to God is to believe in him, and in his affirmations, commands, promises, and threatenings. III. To hope in him, without presumption or despair. IV. To love him for his excellencies and kindness. V. To fear him rather than men. VI. To trust in him in all dangers
and wants. VII. To submit to bis divine will, both in respect of obedience and patience, in all bis commands Cand disposals. I. HE christian religion being the means, which God.
has appointed for the restoring mankind to his fa-. vour, which man had forfeited by his wilful disobedience; and for his recovering the image of God; the Almighty does therein give us a new hope and title to that everlasting happiness, for which man was at first created : but this is only to be hoped for on certain conditions, * namely, our lively. faith, and sincere and hearty endeavours to obey his will; on the performance or neglect whereof depend our 'eternal happiness and misery: therefore it is of the greatest importance for us to inquire, what that faith is, and what those feveral things are, to which God requires our obedience. But, first, I think it will not be improper to consider what we are to understand by true morality.
a See page 11.
True morality, in the largest sense of the word, consists in acting agreeably to those relations, which we bear to our Creator and fellow-creatures. It takes in kitz in what even our duty to our blessed Saviour and Redeem- it confifts. er; unless either gratitude beno part of morality; or unlesshe, who was the author of our eternal salvation, be'intitled to ng gratitude from us. Yet nothing is more common, than to subftitute some part of our duty for the whole. Of this we have a pregnant instance in those, whom the world mifcalls mere moral men. A mere moral man, in the language of the world, is one, who lives in a state of open disregard, or at least of fashionable indifference to religion in general; yet shall do some generous and good-natured actions, and never be guilty of any flagrant breach of honesty. He shall condemn the man who is wanting in proper returns of gratitude and affection to his fellow-creatures; but he never condemns himself, who continually receives, and never acknowlodges the favours he receives from the Author of every good gift. It is absurd to pretend a love for benevolence; and yet to be regardless of the most benevolent being that is. And it is likewise abfurd to pretend to love him, without a serious examination into his will ; never dismissing what bears that venerable stamp, without a fair and impartial hearing of the evidences for the truth of it. For, on whomsoever the world may bestow the title of moral men, yet an indifferent carelessness, and a wilful neglect to examine into his will and pleasure is no part of morality. Nay, his will, whose pleasure we must either do, or whose displeasure we must unavoida. bly suffer, ought to be the uppermost consideration of every man. Yet some may urge, that there are several of strict probity, generosity, and worth, without the least tincture of piety. To which I answer several have from their infancy afsociated the ideas of happiness and esteem; of inifery and disgrace. This makes them decline those actions, which may intail infamy and disgrace upon them; and pursue those, which
may beget an esteem for them; esteem being to them an essential ingredient of happiness. For which reason they are impatient to have the favourable verdict, which they pass upon themselves, feconded and confirmed by the approba