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of the world, the pleasures of a moment, or an earthly inheritance, which I have to offer; but it is an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled in the heavens; it is a kingdom that fadeth not away, and those pleasures which flow at God's right hand for evermore: fo, on the other hand, it is not a momentary pain, the torment of an hour, anguish of body or temporal death, which I have to denounce against the finner; but it is a death eternal, it is a torment of the foul, it is the worm that never dieth, and the fire that cannot be quenched.
And now then, life and death are before ye; chufe ye which ye will. But do not vainly imagine, that this choice will always be in your power. The gate of mercy is now indeed open; God now invites you by his ministers, by his word, by the checks of confcience and the filent impulfes of his holy spirit: but how long ye will enjoy these advantages, is known only to him from whom no fecrets are hid. Yet furely ye have all of you feen enough of human life, to know by how precarious a bond you hold them. Or if ye are still ignorant of this, look back to A a 4 the
the generations of old, and learn of them. Ye who have ever loft the friend of your bofom, or have been witnesses to the expiring groan of the child ye loved, go to their filent tombs, and from them learn wifdom: like you, they probably rejoiced in the ftrength of youth, and vainly imagined they had many years to work out their falvation. Like you, they trode the flowery paths of pleasure, or were immersed in the busy persuits of life, regardless of the God who gave them life. Like you, they deferred the work of repentance from day to day; like you they hoped, that the forbearance of God would always prolong their time of grace. But ah! their mouldering afhes now too plainly declare, how vain and fruitlefs were all their expectations.
And which of us can pretend to fay, that we are more certain of life than they were. However vainly we may truft in them, it is not strength, youth, or beauty which can
fave us from death: the undistinguishing grave receives alike the bloom of infancy and the tottering steps of decrepid age. Nay, in the very midst of life itself we are in death:
the very breath that we are now drawing is carrying away a part of our being, and bringing us nearer to the confines of the grave, and the hour of judgment.
The hour of judgment! Oh! horrible found to thofe who are unprepared for its coming! Oh words of terrible import, which contain in them all the miseries which guilt can fear or human nature fuffer! an exclufion from heaven, a feparation from God, and ages of eternity spent in utter darkness, amidst unutterable torments.
And what then, my brethren, can hide these things from your eyes? What charm is it that hinders you from feeing your eternal welfare and being wife unto falvation? Had ye all the enjoyments the world can afford, nay, had ye the world itself in poffeffion, with all its empires and kingdoms, yet, when compared with the kingdom of heaven, it would appear but as the duft of the balance; and therefore it would be madness to hesitate which ye fhould chufe. And is it not then the heighth of madness to prefer the painful enjoyments of fin, when
have a religion
offered to you, which cannot only enfure that heavenly kingdom, but also the only true happiness which the prefent ftate of trial affords; a religion which has not only the promifes of the life to come, but also of that which now is,
Come then, religion, daughter of heaven, parent of happiness, poffefs our hearts with thy divine influence, and make us all thy own! Too lang, mifguided by youth, mifled by ambition, or corrupted by example, we have neglected the fear of God, we have trodden the steps of folly, we have listened to the voice of fin. But now, convinced of our danger, we fly to thee for fuccour, we fall as proftrate fuppliants at thy altar. Teach, oh teach us, therefore, to despise the vanities. of the world, to look down with pity on the flaves of ambition, to abhor the maxims of fin, to fly the wiles of temptation, and to, place our happiness on objects beyond the power of fortune, beyond the reach of chance.
And thou, eternal providence, who doft make the heavens revolve and the infect crawl,
crawl, who art watchful even over the leaft and lowest of thy works; oh! lend thy friendly hand to fnatch us from the paths of darkness and the fhadow of death! Do thou deign to receive from us that homage and fubmiffion which thou alone canft render worthy to be offered to thee! Do thou teach us to revere thofe virtues which thou haft condefcended to inftruct us in, and infpire our breafts with thy heavenly graces of innocence, peace, and contentment.
Thus guided by thy fpirit, inftructed by thy precepts, fupported by thy comforts, we fhall fecurely conduct our trembling fteps through the paths of life: thus fhall we joyfully refign this anxious being at the hour of death, in full confidence of receiving from thy hands the immortal crown of patience and virtue, which thou haft prepared for them that love and fear thee.