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condition are all mankind! We scarcely need look into the Bible to ascertain this, if we attend properly to what passes around and within us. What a strange aversion do we see in others, and feel in ourselves, to the worship and service of God, which, it is highly reasonable to conclude, constitute the felicity of heaven!-llow constantly, and almost universally, has the grossest idolatry, the most absurd superstition, or the wildest enthusiasm, obtained the preference to the holy character, worship, commandments, and doctrines of the one living and true God! How generally has irreligion, or antiscriptural religion, prevailed on earth! How powerful the propensity in mankind to idolize the the world and the things of the world; and to forget and neglect the God of heaven! “ The carnal “mind is enmity agiinst God; for it is not sub“ject to the law of Gon, nor indeed can be.” Who can help seeing, yea, feeling, that this is man's real character?
It is equally evident he is proud of his reasoning faculties, and of all the gifts which God hath bestowed on him; of his imagined virtues, nay, of liis evident vices, and of such things as should cover him with shame. He is manifestly self-willed and self-suflicient, unwilling to be taught or governed by his Creator. He is averse to submission and dependence, and backward to gratitude and adoration. In short, ungodliness is his undeniable character.
He is also most evidently selfish; and this either leads him to avarice, ambition, or inordinate animal indulgence, so that “ the lust of the flesh, “ the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,” the objects we all expressly renounce in baptism, are so universally and idolatrously coveted and pursued, even by nominal Christians, that an unconcerned spectator must suppose they had, by a solemn vow, devoted themselves to tliem!
The frauds, oppressions, cruelties, licentiousness, and bloody wars, which have, in every age and nation, plagued and desolated the earth, are such enornions and horrid evils; that, if not accustomed to the scene around us, and so, less susceptible of the impressions it would otherwise make, we should be ready to suppose that the actors in the dreadful tragedy were broken loose from the infernal regions! Human beings, in im-. mense multitudes, deliberately preparing to meet, and actually meeting, on purpose to destroy each other, by tens of thousands! Others, growing rich, and rioting in luxury, by trafficking in the groans and blood of their brethren! Others indulging their animal inclinations, not only by sacrificing the peace, comfort, lives, and souls of their fellow-creatures, but even their own also; though far from being insensible of the consequences of their licentiousness!
But does happiness consist in loving God, and enjoying his favour, and in loving one another
and rejoicing in the felicity of all around us? What then is the state of the world? Can the pursuits and dispositions, here described, be conducive to happiness? Can malice, envy, or any corrupt passion? What must be man's prospect after death, if he retain his present evil propensities? What can even the gospel do for him, if his nature be not changed? To render men happy, and blessings to each other, they must be made holy. The need of an atonement and a Redeemer, is not greater and more urgent, than that of a Sanctifier; one who can renovate depraved nature, restore and perfect spiritual life, and prepare fallen man for a holy felicity. In this light, brethren, contemplate the promise before us; and ask yourselves if it be not exactly answerable to our condition and our wants ?
Again, various plans have been formed, from age to age, in order to meliorate the state of society, and bring nations to amity and friendship; and some of these plans have done a measure of good, though vastly inadequate to the expectations previously conceived: but others have exceedingly enhanced the mischief they were intended to counteract. None, however, have yet been devised, which could effect the purpose, or reach the sources of the evil. None of them can bring men to love God supremely, and to love their neighbours as themselves: nor will any effectual remedy be found, “ until the Spirit shall be poured
“ upon us from on high.” This, and only this, will reduce the world to order, to peace, love, and happiness.
In the gospel of Christ “all things are ready" for the sinner's reconciliation to God, and for his complete salvation. The feast is prepared, and we are sent to invite the guests; the provision is most rich and abundant; the invitations most urgent, and again and again renewed: “ But all “ with one consent begin to make excuse:” One must go to his farm, his oxen, his commerce, or estate; another to his pleasures and gratifications; another is so eager in pursuing and courting the praise of men, or the honour of high stations and connexions, that he cannot find time to seek “ glory, and honour, and immortality” from God.
" Lord, who hath received our report?” This has been the complaint and the distressing enquiry, of the ministers of God, in every age; and may peculiarly be so at present. “A price is put “into men's hands to get wisdom; but, alas! “ they have no heart to it.”
Now what is the adequate remedy for this deplorable moral disease? the restorative from this death in sin, this love of the world, which is alienation from God? We answer, the life-giving regenerating Spirit of God, who is promised to all that ask the Father to bestow upon them this inestimable benefit.
As the ministers of God, we exhort and com
mand you in his name, to repent, to forsake sin, to renounce your worldly idols, to break off your evil habits, to separate from ungodly company, to believe in CHRIST, to join yourselves to the LORD, and to walk in newness of life. , “ Let the wicked “ forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his “ thoughts, and let him return unto the LORD, “ and he will have mercy on him.” But you find a strong, and what some of you perhaps think an insuperable, reluctancy to all these particulars.Now, you evidently want both will and power to do that, which yet your own consciences often suggest to you ought to be done. Ilow exactly suited then is the promise of the text to your case! It is by the Holy Spirit that “God works in us “ to will and to do of his good pleasure," and, depending on his powerful aid, we call on you to “ work out your own salvation with fear and trem“bling.” You can do nothing effectual of yourselves, but you may “do all things through CHRIST “thus strengthening you.”
You often find much difficulty and perplexity respecting several doctrines of Christianity, and the controversies which are carried on about them; and you are ready, if seriously enquiring after truth, to wish for an infallible guide. Behold then the Guide you wish for! even the Spirit of truth, whose oftice it is to guide you into all truth! And will our heavenly Father indeed give this Holy Spirit of truth and wisdom to any, to every one,