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and hard labour, as it were, that they may exceed in wickednefs : « They weary them“ felves to commit iniquity ;” and “sin as " with a cart-rope.
It must no doubt appear an incredible abuse of the divine goodness, to pervert that patience which should lead men to repentance, into an encouragement to sin more presumptuously: yet so it hath been in times past; and there is too just cause to complain, that it continues to be so still. Indeed, “ when God's judgements are in the
earth," the inhabitants thereof do fometimes “ learn righteoufness ;” at least, so long as the rod lies heavy upon them, they may refrain from those fins which they imagine have subjected them to it; but no sooner is the rod laid afide, than they quickly relapse into their former course of living, agreeably to what the Prophet Isaiah observes, “ Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet “ will he not learn righteousness: in the “ land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, 66, and will not behold the majesty of the “ Lord.” What is written, Luke xii. 45. is too just a picture of the temper and practice
of the bulk of mankind: “ They say in their « heart, The Lord delayeth his coming; and
thereupon presume to beat their fellow“ fervants, and to eat, and drink, and to be * drunken:" yea, not the foolish virgins only, but even the wife, are in danger of flumbering, while the bridegroom tarrieth, as we read, Matth. xxv. 5.
There is an unhappy tendency in our nature to forget God. The best find enough ado to overcome it; but the wicked give full scope to it; and nothing but chastisement, severe and present chastisement, will bring them the length even of a feigned fubmiflion to God. Hence the observation is drawn, that times of adversity have always been most friendly to religion; and they must know little of the history of the world in general, and of their own country in particular, who do not agree in this remark. National prosperity is certainly most desirable ; we regard it as a blessing, we pray for the continuance of it; and it is our duty to do so : yet if we examine the annals of former times, and do not turn away our eyes from the real state of our
in their wickedness. You perhaps sufpect that I am going to address
with sharpness and severity; but you are really mistaken. God knows that I pity you, and have no other aim but to make you pity yourselves.—You have long been deaf to warnings and reproofs :-0 let the sweet voice of mercy at length prevail !
prevail! God hath sworn, that he taketh no pleasure in your death ; and this is his call to you after all your provocations, Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die? Nay, he hath paved the way for
your return to him with the blood of his own Son, “who suffered, the
just for the unjust, that he might bring “ the chief of finners to God.” It is impossible you can prevail against him, or disappoint him of his glory: the weapons of your
rebellion can only hurt yourselves ; and ere long, the proudest of his enemies Thall bow down before him, and lick the very duft. - Even you, my friends, must either bend to the sceptre of his grace, or be dashed in pieces with his rod of iron : those haughty looks shall shortly be humbled, either in mercy or in judgement;
and if once his wrath begin to burn, there is no power that shall be able to deliver you out of his hand.
Why then will you reject his gracious counsel? Why will you perish when mercy is in your offer ? Why will you break the hearts of all that fear God, when, by your conversion, and flight into the true city of refuge, you might afford cause of great joy both in heaven and on earth?_For the Lord's sake, consider your ways, and be wise; “ seek the Lord “ while he may be found, call upon him 66 while he is near.” The great enemy
of your souls will probably suggest to you, that if you comply with this exhortation, your old
companions will mock and ridi. cule you,
in proportion to your former excess in sin; and this fnare, I am afraid, is too fatally successful with many. But let not any suggestion of this kind deter you from doing what you plainly see to be your duty and
your interest. The godly, with whom you join yourselves, will be far from upbraiding you with past offences; they will freely forgive all the injuries you have done to them, and teach you to magnify the while we live, and shall at last, through the mercy of God in Christ, have an entrance ministered unto us into that better world, where
where all tears shall be wiped away from our eyes, where the inhabitants are altogether unstained, and the joys absolutely perfect; where, with one heart, and one voice, we shall celebrate the praises of Zion's King ;-ascribing glory and honour, dominion and power, to him that fitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever. Amen.