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ceive the reward of their negligence ? Or if they wilfully or indolently suffer
you to stray or be lost, must they not give an account to the owner of the flock : and will not he severely punish them?
The ministers of the gospel are looked upon by all that believe the gospel, as persons delegated by the same authority as that from which the prophets of old received their commissions. And though they are not favoured with immediate inspira, tion, yet that defect is in some measure compensated by that divine revelation which they have received from Jesus Christ, from whence they learn what is displeasing and what is acceptable to God. They neither know, nor desire, nor pretend to know the particular crimes that any man is guilty of. Such knowledge is dangerous for man to be entrusted with; for which reason God hath wisely kept that prerogative to himself; though in the days of inspiration he imparted it, upon necessary occasions, to his prophets and apoftles : yet when they are acquainted with the transgressions of their people, it then becomes their duty to remonstrate with gentleness, to perfuade with meekness, or even to rebuke with severity. — And when the wickedness of a nation becomes notorious and flagrant; they then look upon the words of the text as directed to themselves, “ Cry aloud, spare
up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Ja
cob their fins.”—And so far ought ye to be from despising their earnest endeavours for a national reforma. tion, that ye should rather pray with and for them, that they may speak
boldly as they ought to speak.”
There may, possibly, be some gloomy, morose, peevish tempers, who, like certain animals that are constantly rooting in the mire, take a delight in scrutinizing into and reprehending the faults of their neighbours; and it is more than probable that their injudicious and too frequent reproofs, like guns overcharged, may miss their aim.
Yet surely every attempt of this nature, is not to be condemned! no more than medicines are to be en
tirely rejected; especially when they are sparingly and cautiously adminiflered, and at proper intervals, and when they apparently conduce to the health and preservation of the patient.
So much I have thought necessary to be said by way of apology for the task I am going to undertake; a task, which is never agreeable; but a task which the number and nature of the sins which I shall exhibit to your view, and the danger to which they expose both our nation and our souls, will shew to be highly necessary.
Without further preface therefore, I shall lay before you those crying fins of this nation, which are the most heinous in their nature, and have
the most evil tendency; whether they be such as are common to mankind, or such as are the peculiar growth of this age and climate. And that I may not seem partial in my charge, I shall first produce a fin which those who profess themselves of the established religion, are more particularly accused of; and that is
1. PROPHANENESS! It matters not whether this accusation may justly be laid against us, exclusive of all other sects and religions. But it is too notorious a truth, that we are scandalously guilty of “ taking God's " sacred name in vain,” of swearing and cursing, and too often of perjury: of prophaning his fabbaths, forsaking his fanctuary, and neglecting his ordinances. What would a fober