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nothing to fear from his principles, whether they be true or false.
He has no cause for those stinging reflections— What if I am mistaken ! What if my sentiments should prove false, when it comes to the decisive trial !'
And now, let us turn the tables; and consider the bitter fruits of your fatal mistake, if Christianity should at last prove true. You cannot but acknowledge, that there have been great numbers of the best moral qualifications, whose intellectual powers were no ways inferior to theirs on the other side of the question, who have professed the truth, and experienced the power, of that religion which you have despised. How many most excellent persons, of the greatest integrity, learning, and sagacity, have, at their peril, appeared' to stand by this cause; and have sacrificed their estates, their bonours, and their · lives, to the despised and persecuted doctrines of the Cross ! It is certain, that you cannot have a greater assurance of being in the right, than these men have had; and, consequently, there is at least a probability on their side, as much as on yours. You yourself, therefore, and all the unbelieving gentlemen of your acquaintance, who have any degree of modesty left, must necessarily own, that the cause possibly may turn out against them. And what if it should! I am even afraid to represent the consequences in a proper light; it will possibly be esteemed preachment or cant; or be voted harsh, uncivil, or unmaynerly treatment. But, Sir, I would pray you to consider this matter, without any resentment of
rustic method of address. Consider it only as it is represented in the Scriptures ;
and in that view it will appear, that the dreadful confusion, the amazing horror, and.the eternal misery, which will be the consequence of your infidelity, will be vastly beyond the utmost stretch of your most exalted apprehension or imagination. As soon as your soul is separated from your body, it will become the immediate object of the divine wrath; and how lightly soever you may think of these things at present, you will find that it is “ a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” When the great Judge of the world shall “ descend from heaven, to take vengeance on all those who do not obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” where will our unbelieving gentlemen appear ? Will not their mirth be quite spoiled, their sarcastic flouts and fleers be for ever over, when they must stand trembling at the left hand of their Judge, having no possible refuge to betake themselves to, no plea to make for their infidelity, no place of retreat in a dissolving world to hide their heads ! What comfort will it then afford them to say, “ Alas! how have we been deceived ! We never thought it would have come to this! Now we have found to our cost, that there is something more in the doctrines of a final retribution than fable or fiction, priestcraft or fanaticism, however we have, in the gaiety of our temper, rejected and despised them.' Will they then be possessed of a sufficient bravery and preseuce of mind, to outface their glorious Judge; and to hear with intrepidity the terrible sentence, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ?” Will they, with their usual frolic humour, endure the execution of this sentence;
and, with sport and pastime, welter in the eternal flames of that furnace of fire that is the destined abode of every final unbeliever ?
Now, Sir, does it not infinitely concern you, to
you cannot, from the nature of things, see any necessity of such a way of salvation as the Gospel proposes. The light of nature teaches us, that God is merciful; and, consequently, that he will pardon sinners, upon their repentance and amendment of life.” Let us then consider this case impartially.
I think there is no need of arguments to convince you that you are a sinner.
Do but consider the natural tendency of your affections, appetites, and passions; and review the past conduct of your life ; and a demonstration of this sad truth will unavoidably stare you in the face. Let
any man enter into himself, and seriously consider the natural operations of his own mind; and he must necessarily find, that, instead of a frequent and delightful contemplation of the perfections of the divine nature-instead of thankful acknowledgment of his obligations to the divine goodness and beneficence—and instead of that sublime pleasure and satisfaction that should flow from the remembrance of his Creator and Benefactor, his affections are naturally following mean,
low, and unreasonable, if not vile and wicked, entertainments and gratifications. He will find, that all communications with his glorious Creator are naturally painful and uneasy to him ; while every trifling amusement, and the vilest sensual object of his thoughts, find a more easy entrance, and a more peaceable rest in his soul. From hence it is most evident, that the heart is revolted from God; and that we have substituted the creature in his stead, as the object of our pursuit and delight. And besides this, who are there among the best of the children of men, whose consciences will not charge them with innumerable actual transgressions of the law of nature ? From this view of the case, you must therefore certainly find yourself in a state of moral pollution and guilt. And can you, in such a state as this, reflect
upon a God of infinite purity and justice with comfort and courage ?
Will not conscience fly in your face, and upbraid you with your guilt and danger? Does not your
you, that the great Creator and Governor of the world is too holy to approve, and too just to overlook, such a fixed aversion to him, and such numerous sins and provocations against him, as you cannot but charge to your own account?
But 6 God is merciful.” True; he is so, to all proper objects of mercy; and in a way agreeable to the laws of his immutable justice and holiness. But can you suppose, that God will give up his justice and holiness, as a sacrifice to his mercy, out of compassion to those who deserve no pity from him, ' to those who refuse the offers of his mercy in the Gospel, because disagreeable to their sinful desires and imaginations ?
But “ repentance will entitle the sinner to pardon, without
other atonement." Are you sure of this? Certain it is, that mankind have always, in all ages, thought otherwise.
What else was the meaning of those sacrifices that have every where obtained; and what the meaning of those superstitious austerities, and severe penances, that have been so commonly practised in the heathen world, if some atonement beside repentance was not thought necessary to pacify an offended Deity ? Consider, I entreat you, that as sin is contrary to the divine nature, it must be the object of God's displeasure. As it is contrary to the rules of his governing the world, it must deserve punishment. If God be the rector and governor of the world, he must have some laws to govern by.
If he has laws to govern by, they must have some penalties to enforce them. If his laws have penalties annexed to them, these must be executed; or else they would be but scarescrows, without truth or justice. I entreat
I entreat you also to consider, how the repentance of a guilty criminal can answer the demands of justice. What satisfaction will our sorrow for sin afford to the Divine Being? How will it repair the dishonour done to the perfections of his nature ? How will it rectify our depraved appetites and passions, and qualify us for the enjoyment of his favour? How will it vindicate his holiness, and discover to the rational world bis natural aversion to sin and sinners ? Or how will the fear of God's displeasure be a sufficient restraint to men's lusts and vicious appetites, if sinners may suppose, that when they have gratified their lusts, and taken their swing in sin, they can