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cessary work ?* Do we stand, shivering upon the bank of a river, when death pursues us behind, and one bold plunge speeds us over, out of the reach of danger, to perfect safety? If you expect the stream to run by, you are mistaken : the current of temptation-f- ever flows before you, to obstruct your passage. Away with those cowardly fears: one brave effort will break off your habits, and begin your salvation; call in religious offices to your aid; keep out of the way of such temptations, as have used to foil your resolution; and you will find the work os salvation every day more and more perfected in you.
* Ecce, fugæ medio summis Amasenus abundans Spumabat ripis; tantus fe nubibus imber Ruperat: ille, innare parans, insantis amore
Tardatur, caroq; oneri timet'
At Metabus, magna propius jam urgenti cr.tewa,
tRusncus expcctat, dum defluat amnis; at ille Labitur, et labetur in omne volubilis avum.
Hor. Epis. I, 2, 4?.
The truth is, the real difficulties of religion are so very small, that I must consider deliberate sinners as proceeding in general upon unbelief.
For what, in the name of God, is there of difficulty in true religion? Does it deny the craving appetites of hunger and thirst? No, the saint eats and drinks like other men; religion forbids only intemperance. Does it deny the social appetites? No, it forbids only vagrant lust, it consecrates chaste pleasures with its bleffiing. Does it deny a provision for ourselves and families? No, it allows, it commends, it enjoins honest industry as a virtue. Does it deny us the use of speech? It condemns only the shameless abuses of it. Does it deny the pleasures of recreation and amusement? No, in no case, but where they encroach upon the offices of useful life or endanger our virtue. Does it bring stiame and dishonour upon its votaries? CU No,
No, unaffected piety cannot want .its due honour and veneration.
Yes, religion allows every thing, that nature rationally can require. The libertine may freely drink waters of his own ciftern, and find a truer happiness than he ever knew before; the epicure may exchange his riot for 'the most exquisite luxury, the natural luxury of defires regulated and heightened by useful labour and sobriety; the oppressor may grow safely and comfortably great by that virtuous industry, which maketh rich and bringeth no sorrow with it. And the case is the fame in most other instances.
Nay, the change, one should think, is easy: nature points it out: the terrors of the Lord enforce it. If ye live, says the scripture, after the fiejh, yeJhalldie. Rom. viii. 13. Be not deceived; neither fornica-i tors, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards t norrevilers, nor extortioners, Jhall in
her it the kingdom of God. i. Cor. vi. 9, i0. The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, andidolators, and all liars, Jhall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. Rev. xxi. 8. These words are daily read in our ears: sinners hear them as well as others: they hear them without concern, and go on in their sins.
The power of habit, great as it is, is not sufficient to account for this, especially in the first stages. Surely there must be something more at the bottom; sinners must certainly think with themselves, that God never intends to deal with mankind as he has threatened; that a little cold phlegm, and caution, and reserve with regard to the good things of the world, and tasting them somewhat more freely and generously, cannot make so great a difference in human fate.
Let me seriously aslc you—were you
going to commit some great wickedness in the highest eagerness of kindled desire, were you, for instance, upon the point of grasping some vast heap of wealth to which you had no right, and some accident should suddenly wrap the house in flames about your ears; would you not instantly fly for your life, leave your crime unperpetrated, and, in the senseless torpor of fear, forget at once your paflion and the object of it? —Alas ! every deliberate sinner is in this state: the judgments of God are ready to arrest him; the judgments of him, who knows the nature of sin better than we, and has mercifully warned us of a misery, which his goodness probably cannot avert.
It is now in your power to escape this danger by an immediate repentance. Awake from your lethargy, and escape for your life. Say not with the stupid sluggard, a little more Jleep, a little more