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If we reject this Saviour, to whom shall we go?If we refuse the corner stone which God has laid, on what foundation shall we build ?-Reason teaches us our obligations, and conscience owns that we have broken them. Our guilt and danger are undeniable. But where do we learn, that God will forgive, that he will accept of repentance, that on repentance he will pardon all sin, that his abound unto eternal life, that he will give his holy Spirit to them who ask him ?-These consoling truths, reason can never teach; we learn them only from the gospel. The man, therefore, who rejects this, walks in darkness. He has no light to guide him in the way of peace. He knows not whither
4. There is another view, which we are to take of the wicked. We will consider them as renouncing the great principles of natural religion, the existence and government of God, moral obligation, and a future retribution. There are some such infidels as these ; but their way is covered with dark. ness, more gloomy and dismal than that which involves the path of other transgressors.
A thinking man--and such men pretend to think with superior freedom-a thinking man can have no settled peace, on any principles but those of reli. gion ; because on no other can he possess any
kind of security. If we set aside the belief of a God, a providence, and a future existence, all before us is uncertainty and confusion, darkness, and horror.
Take an Atheist, and examine what source of light and comfort he can find.
He believes that when he dies there is an end of him ; that this spark of intellect is extinguished, and will be kindled no more. On this belief, he pursues the pleasures of the world, as the only ob. ject worthy of his attention. “Let us eat and drink,” says he, "for tomorrow we die.”
But will this sentiment, even admitting it were true, cheer and brighten his passage through life? No; it will cover his path with darkness. How gloomy the thought, that this rational nature, this conscious mind, must be blotted out of creation, and utterly extinguished forever !
Annihilation, indeed, is not so horrible an event, as positive and perpetual misery : But still it is horrible ; and no man will indulge the thought of it, unless it be, that he may thus relieve his mind from the fear of something worse.
Conscious of guilt, the sinner flies to this refuge for security : But perhaps this refuge will fail him.
Look around : Here is a mighty fabrick, a stu. pendous universe, which exhibits every mark of power, wisdom and design. This in some way or other, has come into existence. Certainly it does not look like the wanton sport of chance ; but like the regular operation of a wise, benevolent, almighty Creator. If there is a God who made the world and placed men upon it, undoubtedly he observes and distinguishes their different actions ; and it may justly be expected, that he will treat them accordingly.
The Atheist then, after all he can say, must view himself in a state of danger--after all his selfflat. tery, he must fear, that there is a day of reckoning at hand.
But even though he could be sure, that there is no God, or providence, and that the world, and all that belongs to it, are the effects of chance or fate, still
, What security has he, that he shall not be miserable ; yea, miserable in the extreme, and for. ever? If accident or necessity has thrown him into existence here, it may as well throw him into existence somewhere else ; and in what condition he shall find himself at the next change, he cannot conjecture. It is at least at, cqual chance that when
the body is dissolved, he still shall live a conscious being : And, if he has an existence, this may as well be miserable as happy. If chance has subjected him to some misery in this state, perhaps it will handle him more rudely in the next. There is no knowing, what contingence or necessity may do; and no provision can be made against the caprice of the one, or the tyranny of the other.
The man, then, who disbelieves the existence and providence of a God, and the difference between moral good and evil, must be in a most gloomy and dismal state, His way is darkness. He has no security in any line of conduct, and he cannot conjecture what is before him in the confusion of events. Every thing bodes danger and threatens misery. There is no being to whom he can repair for help-no sanctuary to which he can retreat for safety. Even virtue is confounded, and prudence is nonplussed. Do what he will, he lies at the mercy of wild and wanton chance, or of cruel and inexorable fate. His forethought is blind, caution is useless, and prayer is vain. There is no security of good, nor remedy for evil. All around him is darkness, and all before him is horror.
Say now, Is this a desirable state ?-A state for which a wise man would exchange the comforts of religion ?
What peace and satisfaction can a mortal feel without a persuasion, that there is a wise, just and good Being, who made and governs the world, and that this Being is his friend ?—That there is a way to obtain the protection and secure the favour of this Being, and that he has found and chosen the
With this persuasion he may possess a cheerful serenity amidst all the vicissitudes of life ; for to the virtuous, God is a present help in trouble, and all things will he turn to their advantage.
“ God is
our refuge and strength,” says the Psalmist; " therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though mountains be carried into the midst of the sea ; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, and though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof."
A wise and thinking man, as he regards his own peace and happiness, will endeavour fully to under. stand what religion is, and on what ground it stands ; what it requires him to be, and forbids him to do ; what hopes and what fears it proposes, as motives to duty. When he has learnt what religion is, it will be his next concern to comply with its design and secure its blessings. And next to this, it will be his care to know his own character and condition, and to judge whether he may safely appropriate the promises of religion, or is still exposed to its threatenings. Consider then, what beings you are.
You have a rank assigned you in the intelligent creation. Look around, and behold plain evidences of the exist. ence and government of a Deity. Realize your de. pendence on him and accountableness to him. Re. flect on your important situation. You are on trial for eternal happiness. How precious then is every hour! Think of your advantages. To you God has committed his sacred oracles. Here, under a consciousness of your guilt, you may find hope and comfort. Here you may learn, that God is merciful to forgive the penitent, and to support their virtuous resolutions -that his salvation is dispensed to sinners, through the righteousness of his son, and that it is unto all, and upon
all them who believe in this Saviour, and there is no difference. Here also you learn, that if you sin presumptuously, after you have received the knowledge of the truth; if you do despite to the Spirit of grace, and trample on the blood of the Redeemer, there remains no more sacrifice för sin.
Go now, fall down before God in the exercise of humble faith and deep repentance ; renounce every sin, and yield yourselves to him, to serve him in newness of life. Cultivate in your hearts the temper which the gospel requires. Repel with indignation every attack on your faith and virtue. Indulge no senti. ments which tend to corrupt the manners.-Make improvements in knowledge, and abound in every good work.
The zealous practice of religion, is the best guard against errour in doctrine, and defection from the truth. Maintain a good conscience, and you will not make shipwreck of the faith. Shun the way of the wicked; for this is as darkness; they know not at what they stumble. Walk in the path of the just ; for this is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.