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Sometimes these excesses, which offer violence to nature, are caused by a gratification of those which are agreeable to the corruption of nature. Ordináry sins become insipid by habit, and sinners are forced, having arrived at some periods of corruption, to endeavor to satisfy their execrable propensities by the commission of those crimes, which once made them shudder with horror.
To all these reasons add the judgment of divine Providence, for God giveth those up to uncleanness, Rom. i. 24. who have made no use of the means of instruction and piety, which he had afforded them.
I repeat my thanksgivings to God, the protector of these states, that among our youth, (though, alas ! so far from that piety which persons, dedicata ed to God by baptism, ought to possess) we have none of this character. Indeed had we such a monster among us, we should neither oppose him by private advice nor by public preaching : but we should think that the arm of the secular magistráte was a likelier mean of repulsing him than the decision of a casuist. Let none be offended at this. Our ministry is a ministry of compassion, I grant; and we are sent by a master who willeth not the death of a sinner : but if we thought that compassion obliged us on any occasions to implore your clemency,my lords, for some malefactors, whom your wise laws, and the safety of society, condemn to die, we would rather intercede for assassins and highway robbers, yea, for those miserable wretches whose execrable avarice tempts them to import infected commodities, which expose our own and our children's lives to the plague ; for these we would rather intercede, than for those whose dreadful examples arécapable of infecting the minds of ourchildren with infernal maxims, and of rendering these provinces like Sodom and Gommorrah, Admah and Zeboim, fiery punishment of those detestable cities.,
Where the sword of the magistrate doth not punish, that of divine vengeance will : but as it would be difficult for imagination to conceive the greatness of the punishments that await such sin. ners, it is needless to adduce the reasons of them. Our first notions of God are vindictive to such, and as soon as we are convinced that there is a just God, the day appears in which, falling upon these unworthy men, he will address them in this thundering language: Depart; depart into the source of your pleasures; depart into everlasting fire with all your associates, Matt. xxv. 41. do for ever and ever what you have been doing in your life-time; having exhausted my patience, experience the power of my anger; and as you have had the dispositions of devils, suffer for ever the punishments prepared for the devil and his angels.
II. A man may be in the disposition, of which the wise man speaks in the text, through stupidity and indolence, and this second state confounds the man with the beast. There is nothing hyperbolical in this proposition. What makes the difference between a man and a beast? The distinguishing characters of each are these : the one is confined to a short duration, and to a narrow circle of present objects; the other hath received of his Creator the power of going beyond time, and of penetrating by his meditation into remote futurity, yea even into an endless eternity. The one is actuated only by sensual appetites; the other hath the faculty of rectifying his senses by the ideas of his mind. The one is carried away by the heat of his temperament; the other hath the power of cooling temperament with reflection. The one knows no argument nor motive but sensation; the other hath
the power of making motives of sensation yield to the more noble and permanent motives of interest. To imitate the first kind of these creatures, is to live like a beast; to follow the second, is to live like a man.'
Let us apply this general truth to the particular subject in hand, and let us justify what we have ad. vanced, that there is nothing hyperbolical in this proposition. If there be a subject that merits the attention of an intelligent soul, it is the long-suffering of God: and if there be a case, in which an intelligent creature ought to use the faculty that his Creator hath given him, of going beyond the circle of present objects, of rectifying the actions of his senses by the ideas of his mind, and of correcting his temperament by reflection, it is certain
Miserable man! ought he to say to himself, I have committed, not only those sins which ordinarily belong to the frailty ånd depravity of mankind, but those also which are a shame to human nature, and which suppose that he who is guilty of them hath carried his corruption to the highest pitch ! ( miserable man! I have committed not only one of
commit them of inheriting the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. vi. 10. but I have lived many years in the practice of such sins; in the impurity of effeminacy and adultery, in the possession of unjust gain, in the gloomy revolutions of implacable hatred! Miserable man! I have abused, not only the ordinary means of conversion, but also those extraordinary means, which God grants only to a few, and which he seems to have displayed on purpose to shew how far a God of love can carry his mercy! · Miserable man! I was not only engaged as a man and a professor of christianity to give an example of piety, but I was also engaged to do it as a minister, as a magistrate, as a parent; yet in spite of all my unworthiness, God hath borne with me, and hath preserved me in this world, not only. while prosperity was universal, but while calamities were almost general, while the sword was glutting itself with blood, while the destroying angel was exterminating on every side, as if he intended to inake the whole world one vast grave! All this time God hath been showering his blessings upon me! upon me the chief of sinners! me his declared enemy ! blessings that he promised to bestow as privileges on his favorites only! I dwelt in the secret place of the most High, I abode under the shadow of the Almighty, Psal. xci. 1.
I ask, my brethren, whether, if there be a state in which an intelligent creature ought to meditate and reflect, it be not the state of this sinner? If I prove then, that there are men in this state, who neither think nor reflect, because they confine their attention to the circle of present objects, abandon themselves wholly to sensuality, and give themselves up entirely to their constitutional vices; shall I not have proved that there are men, who like beasts, are indifferent to the riches of the forbearance and long-suffering of God ? Rom. ii. 4. But where shall we find such people? Shall we search for them in fabulous history, or look for them in ancient chronicles ? Shall we quote the relations of those travellers, who seem to aim less at instructing us by publishing true accounts, than at astonishing us by reporting uncommon events? Alas! alas! my dear brethren, I fear I have been too confident, and had not sufficiently proportioned my strength to my courage, when I engaged at the. beginning of this discourse to confront certain por
traits with the countenances of some of my hearers ...... But no, the truth ought not to suffer through the frailty of him whose office it is to publish it.
Tell us then, what distinguisheth the man from the beast, in that worshipper of Mammon, who, having spent his life in amassing and hoarding up wealth, in taxing the widow, the orphan, and the ward, to satiate his avarice; having defrauded the state, deceived his correspondents, and betrayed his tenderest friends; having accumulated heaps upon heaps, and having only a few days respite, which Providence hath granted him for the repentance of his sins, and the restitution of his iniquitous gains; employs these last moments in offering incense to his idol, spends his last breath in enlarging his income, in lessening his expences, and in endeavoring to gratify that insatiable desire of getting which gnaws and devours him ?
Tell us what distinguisheth the man from the beast, in that old debauchee, who thinks of nothing but voluptuousness; who to sensuality sacrificeth his time, his fortune, his reputation, his healtli, his soul, his salvation, along with all bis pretensions to immortality; and who would willingly comprehend the whole of man in this definition, a being capable of wallowing in voluptuousness? .
Tell us what distinguisheth the man from the beast, in that man, who, not being able to bear the remorse of his own conscience, nor the idea of the vanity of this world, to which he is wholly devoted : drowns his reason in wine, gives himself up to all the excesses of drunkenness, exposeth himself to the danger of committing some bloody murder, or of perishing by some tragical death, of which we have too many melancholy examples; not only infits himself for repenting now, but even renders