Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

upon others for the fame crimes; when, after all or any of these means employed to reclaim them, they still hold fast their iniquities, and will not let them

go:

then should the godly lament and mourn, and pray

with redoubled earneftness for those miserable creatures, who have neither the ingenuity nor the wisdom to pray for themfelves.

How far thefe causes of grief and lamentation are to be found among us, I might leave to the determination of those whofe « hearts are wife to discern both time and

judgement :” but I should reckon inyfelf unfaithful to God, and injurious to the souls of men, if I did not hint a few obvious remarks relative to the time and place in which our lot is cast; which was the

Second thing proposed in the method.

I shall not compare our condition to that of Sodom, when ten righteous persons were not to be found in it; neither shall I compare it to the state of the Jews, when God said by the Prophet Jeremiah, “ Run ye

a to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; " and fee now, and know, and seek in the « broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, so if there be any that executeth judgement, " that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon " it.” Blessed be God, this is not precisely the case with us. There are not only fome, but, I trust, a goodly number throughout the land, who sincerely love God, and seek his glory: but this I dare venture to affirm, that they are few, very few, when compared with the wicked ; and, which is still more afflicting, their numbers are daily decreasing; while the opposite interest prevails, and visibly gains ground among all ranks and conditions of men.

It is too apparent to be denied, that the vices I mentioned under the former head, intemperance, lewdness, the most infolent abuse of the Christian Sabbath, lying, curfing, and even perjury itself, are more or Jess practised in every corner of the land. These, and many other enormities, are so frequent and undisguised, that no man who comes abroad into the world, can pretend to be ignorant that such abominations are

done

[ocr errors]

done in the midst of us. I am far from fupposing, that any of them were altogether unknown in former times; though I am verily persuaded, that all of them are now become more universal, and that some of them are carried to a much greater height than ever they were in the days of our fathers. However, as they cannot be strictly accounted the peculiar reproach of the prefent age, I shall remind you of fome other instances of departure from God, which, with greater and more evident propriety, may be termed the distinguishing chara&teristics of the times in which we live.

I begin with Infidelity, which of late hath fpread itself through all orders of men, the lowest not excepted. This article of charge needs no proof : for besides the multitude of professed infidels, who grasp at the character as a title of honour, and even struggle beyond the bounds of moderation to obtain it; besides these, I say, the growing disregard of the ordinances of religion, the total neglect and disufe of them by fome, and the hypocritical abuse, and formal ineffectual attendance upon them by others, are fatal

proofs proofs of the prevalence of infidelity; and plainly show, that the generality evin of those who retain the, Christian name, do either in their heart reject the gospel as false, or, which comes to the same purpose, reckon it a matter of small importance whether the gospel be true or not.

Again, is there not á visible contempt of the authority of God ?

If his laws contradict the huinours of men, they refuse to be controlled by them; and say by their practice, “ Who is the Lord that we should “ obey him?"_" As for the word which " thou hast spoken to us in the name of " the Lord, we will not hearken unto “ thee, but we will certainly do whatso

ever goeth forth out of our own mouth.” This is so notorious, that by many it is reputed a maxim of prudence, to give way to the prevailing humour of the times. Some fins, say they, have got such countenance, that it is dangerous to reprove them : they muit be winked at ; for were they to be roughly handled, they would either grow more headstrong and violent, or only be exchanged for other excesses,

upon God.

which might be fully as bad, or perhaps worse, than themselves. And though it betrays a disloyal, or at least a cowardly spirit, to be swayed by such crooked maxims; yet the currency they have got affords a pregnant proof, that contempt of dia vine authority is another unhappy characteristic which distinguisheth the present from former times.

Further, we feem, in a great measure, to have lost any proper sense of our dependence

" When his hand is lifted up, we do not fee." We forget him in prosperity; and in adversity we look no higher than the creature. We trust for deliverance to the arm of flesh, but never think of turning to the Lord who smiteth us. Nay, have there not been repeated attempts to prove, that a nation may prosper, not only independent of God, but even, as it were, in defiance of him? that the public interest is promoted by the vices of individuals ? that utility is the measure of virtue, the only standard for determining what is right or wrong? I do not mention those Ichemes from any apprehension that the

argu

« IndietroContinua »