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the dregs of wickedness deprave and corrupt, as much as its more subtil parts.--Let us, however, my brethren, rather look at home than abroad; and take a specimen of the wickedness of the times from what we observe among ourselves.
How fares religion amongst us? In general, I fear, we have not much even of the appearance of it. The people of ancient times were ready to give up their lives for their religion : people now are as ready to give up their religion-not for their lives, but even for their diversions. The bell tolls on Sundays; and many well-disposed people, no doubt, consider it as a call to worship God, and hear their duty explained: but what becomes of the rest ? you will find them perhaps loitering Sdly at home or following some unlawful diver. sion in the forest-or, probably, at the alehouse: the bell which calls others to worship God, gives them only a greater relish for wickedness.
Few virtues survive the decay of religion. A sort of decorum of manners, among the higher classes of mankind, hath somewhat the appearance of virtue, though it is but an appearance; yet even this appearance is removed among the lower ranks. We fee drunkenness staggering about in open day--we hear loud conversations
made up of obscenity, swearing, cursing, and blasphemy--we see family-quarrels, abuse, spiteful actions, and ill neighbourhood. Vice scorns to wear any disguise, when religion alone takes account of actions.
of actions. When the law, indeed, steps in, men are more cautious. How long is it ago -not very long-since I heard of a neighbour's horse being killed in the night? What a mind must that wretch have, who could commit so malicious and wicked an action, from which he could receive no advantage himself, merely to gratify, a horrid spirit of revenge! Another wicked fellow was obliged to fly the country for theft; while another, I believe his companion, was taken and convicted. And, the other day, some wicked person put abroad an incendiary "letter, threatening death, and burning of houses but for what, I could not discover. They who were able had just made a subscription to lower the price of bread, which I hoped had given general fatisfaction: but malice is a vice without either gratitude or feeling.
These things, my brethren, shew that we of this place are not clear of that guilt which hàngs over the land. Corruption insinuates itself into the manners of men by degrees. Human nature
will always be wicked; but where people are not greatly corrupted, such wickedness and crimes as I have been describing do not often appear: when they do, I should fear they shew corruption has spread very deep. And though the greater part of you, no doubt, abhor such heights of wickedness, yet the best amongst us hath still great reason to call himself to account.
Let us then all endeavour to take our own fins, at least, from the burden of the land : it has guilt enough to weigh it down without ours. Nor let any one think his fins will be lost in the general mass. No: they will certainly increase it. They may, for any thing we know, be that addition that will turn the scale against us. Ten righteous persons might once have saved a 'city: God knows how many it may require to save such a country as this. Let us, however, strive to be among those righteous few; and not proyoke God to bring his judgments upon us, as he has always done on wicked and corrupt nations. A people is armed against us, whom we never yet feared; but, if God forsake us, they may be a dreadful instrument of his wrath.Let us then endeavour to avert that wrath, before it be yet too late; that we may be able, from our hearts, to join in the triumphant song of the text, The Lord is king : the earth may be glad thereof; yea, the multitude of the isles (and our own in particular) may be glad thereof,
SE R M O N IX.
MAT. V. 34•
BUT I SĄY UNTO YOU, SWEAR NOT AT ALL.
I DESIGN, in the following discourse, to new
you the great wickedness of common swearing. I shall endeavour, as far I can, to deter the young finner from forming habits of this vice; and, if it be in my power, to reclaim the old one.--I shall first, therefore, thew you the wickedness of common swearing; and, secondly, I shall exhort those who practise it to lay it aside.
The first argument against the wickedness of common swearing may be taken from its tendency to perjury, by making a foleann onth received with less reverence.