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me if I conjure you to hear this article, not only with attention, but with that impartiality, which alone can enable you to know whether we utter. our own speculations, or preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Recollect here that general notion of religion which we have laid down : it contains truths of speculation, and truths of practice. Such sensual pleasure as we have just now mentioned, form invincible obstacles to the knowledge of both.
1. To the knowledge of speculative truths. How is it possible for a man to obtain a complete system of the doctrines of the gospel while he is a slave to sensual pleasures ? : 1. To obtain a complete system of the doctrines of the gospel, there must be a certain habit of thinking and meditating. In vain you turn over whole volumes, in vain you attend methodical sermons, in vain you make a parade with bodies of divinity, you can never comprehend the connexion of religious truths unless you acquire a habit of arranging ideas, of laying down principles, of dedueing consequences, in short of forming systems y ourselves. This habit cannot be acquired without exercise ; it is unattainable without serious attention, and profound application. But how can peo, ple devoted to pleasure acquire such a habit ? Sen, syal pleasure is an inexhaustible source of dissipation : it dissipates in preparing, it dissipates in stu: dying, it dissipates after the study is at an end.
2. To counterbalance the difficulty of medita. tion and study there must be a relish for it. Those who make study a duty or a trade, seldom maks great progress in knowledge : at least, a great dif, terence has always been observed between the pro. ficiency of those who study by inclination, and those who study by necessity. But nothing is more capable of disgusting us with the spiritual pleasures
of study and meditation than the love of sensual pleasures. We will not intrude into the closets of these persons; but is there not a remarkable difference between their application to study and their attention to pleasure? The one is a violence offered to themselves, the other a voluptuousness after which they sigh. The one is an intolerable burden eagerly shaken off as soon as the time appointed expires : the other is a delicious gratification, from which it is painful to part when nature exhausted can support it no longer, or troublesome duty demands a cessation. In the one, hours and moments are counted, and the happiest period is that which terminates the pursuit : but in the other, time glides away imperceptibly, and people wish for the power of prolonging the course of the day, and the duration of life. · 3. To acquire a complete knowledge of religious truths, it is not enough to study them in the closet, in retirement and silence; we must converse with others who study them too. But the love of sensual pleasure indisposes us for such conversations. Slaves to sensual pleasures have but little taste for those delicious societies, whose mutual bond is utility ; in which impartial inquirers propose their doubts, raise their objections, communicate their discoveries, and reciprocally assist each other's edification : for deprive those who love sensual pleasures, of gaming and diversions, conversation instantly languishes, and converse is at an end.
But, secondly, if the love of sensual pleasure raise such great obstacles to the knowledge of speculative truths, it raiseth incomparably greater still to the truths of practice. There are some scripture maxims, which are never thought of by the persons in question, except it be to enervate and destroy
them, at least, they make no part of their system of morality.
In your system of morality, what becomes of this scripture maxim, evil communications corrupt good manners ? 1 Cor. xv. 33. Nothing forms connections more intimate, and, at the same time, more extravagant, than an immoderate love of pleasure. Men, who differ in manners, age, religion, birth, principles, education, are all united by this bond. The passionate and the moderate, the generous and the avaricious, the young and the old agree to exercise a mutual condescension and patience towards each other, hecause the same spirit actuates, and the same necessities haunt them: and because the love of pleasure, which animates them all, can only be gratified by the concurrence of each individual.
In your system of morality, what become of those maxims of scripture, which say that we must confess Jesus Christ before men : that whosoever shall be ashamed of him before men, of him will he be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his father? Matt. x. 32, Mark, viii. 38. A man, who is engaged in the monstrous assembly which the love of pleasure forms, must hear religion disputed, the morality of the gospel attacked, good manner subverted, the name of God blasphemed: and he must hear all these without daring to discover the sentiments of his heart, because as I just now observed, patience and compliance animate that body to which he is attached by such necessary and intimate ties.
In your system of morality, what become of such scripture-maxims as threaten those with the greatest punishments who injure others? The love of sensual pleasure causeth offences of this, the most odious kind; I mean, it betrays your partners in pleasure into vice. You game without avarice; but do you not excite avarice in the minds of those
who play with you? You do not injure your families; but do you not occasion other men to injurë theirs? You are guilty of no fraud; but do you not tempt others to be fraudulent?
What become, in your moral system, of those maxims of scripture that require us to contribute to the excision of all wicked doers from the city of the Lord, Psal. ci. 8. to discountenance those who commit a crime as well as to renounce it ourselves? The love of sensual pleasure makes us countenance people of the most irregular conduct, whose snares are the most dangerous, whose examples are the most fatal, whose conversations are the most per: nicious to our children and to our families, to civil society and to the church of God.
In your system of morality what become of those maxims of scripture, which expostulate with us when the Lord chastiseth us, to be afflicted and mourn, James iv. 9. to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God; 1 Pet. v. 6. to enter into our chambers, and shut the doors about us, to hide our. selves until the indignation be overpast, Isai. xxvi. 20. to examine ourselves before the decree bring forth, Zeph.ii. 1, 2. to prepare ourselves to meet our God, Amos, iv. 12. to hear the rod and who hath uppointed it, Micah .vi. 9. to mourn in sackcloth and ashes; and, while we feel present miseries, to remember those that are past, tremble for those that are to come, and endeavor by extraordinary efforts to avert the anger of heaven? The love of sensual pleasure turns away people's attention from all these maxims, and represents those who preach them as wild visionaries, or dry declaimers. The people of whom we speak, these pious people, these people, who love their salvation, these people who pretend to the glory of being proposed for examples, .. can, in times of the deepest distress, when the church
is bathed in tears, while the arm of God is crushing our brethern and our allies, when the same terrible arm is lifted over us, when we are threatened with extreme miseries, when the scourges of God are at our gates, when there needs only the arrival of one ship, the blowing of one wind, the wafting of one blast, to convey pestilence and plague into our country; these people can . . . . . O God! open their eyes that they may see ! 2 Kings vi. 17.
In your system of morality what become of scripture exhortations to redeem the time, to know the time of our visitation, to do all that our hands find to do, because there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor ruisdom in the grave whither we go? The love of pleasure inclines mortals, who may die in a few days, people, who perhaps have only a few days to bid their last adieus, to embrace their families, to settle their temporal affairs, to examine the neglected parts of religion, to re-establish the injured reputation of a neighbor, in a word, to prepare themselves to appear before that terrible tribunal to which death cites them: the love of sensual pleasure inclines these poor creatures, who have so short a time to live and so great a task to perform ; the love of sensual pleasure inclines these people to waste a considerable part of this fleeting life in amusements, that obliterate both the shortness of life, and the necessity of death.. · How often have we seen old age as greedy of pleasure as youth! how often have we seen people bowing under the weight of age, how often have we seen them, even when their trembling hands could scarcely hold the cards, or the dice, make their feeble efforts to game ; and when their decayed eyes were incapable of distinguishing the spots, assist nature by art, their natural sight with artificial glasses, and thus consecrate the remains, those pre