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utterly to a close for ever; till that bright day dawns, when the Captain of our salvation will unfurl the standing of his triumphant cross, amidst the clouds of heaven, and proclaim, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and his Christ.
In the mean time, the battle is still fighting; and in no part of the habitable globe, perhaps, with fiercer onset than in this city, and in the matter of the very souls for whom I plead. Friendless, destitute, and hemmed in on every side, but two doors of escape are open; -the one, into the dark and slippery path which leads to ruin; the other, into the strait and narrow way which leads to God. Tossed upon a troublous sea, unable to buffet with its waves, or to outride the storm, some haven, friendly or unfriendly, they are compelled to seek. On the one hand, the world holds out its treacherous lights and signals, that these frail barks may strike upon the rocks, and go down for ever. On the other hand, the Dorset Institution erects her faithful beacons, and sends out her lifeboats, to rescue as many as she can. But she cannot rescue them all; she has not the means. Will you supply her? Will you aid her, in fitting out more life-boats of salvation? Nay, will you enable her to prepare an ark, capacious as her wishes?
and she will bring them all to land. And oh! if celestial sounds could reach our ears, what shouts of angels, what a salute from the batteries of heaven should we hear, while the vessel rode majestically through the waves, and, under the gale of the blessing of God, was calmly entering the haven!
It is my painful duty, in conclusion, to inform you, that this Institution has, within a short period, lost some of its best supporters. Three have lately been called to their reward: two, whose annual contributions were so large, as to form a considerable proportion of the whole funds; and one* whose tender offices and labours of love, can never be forgotten, and were above all praise. Many in this assembly can bear witness to this truth. Nay, do I not address some, who, when they call to mind her high endowments, her deep humility, the consistent piety of her life, and the triumphs of her death, would be inclined to say, that, "take" her "for all in all," they "shall not look upon" her "like again."
To this Institution, the object of her constant solicitude, and, which was of still more consequence, her ceaseless prayers, she was a loss, great, indeed, beyond calculation; but I will in
dulge the hope, not irreparable. For I trust I see around me visible and living proofs, that her supplications have not been unanswered. I trust the result of this important day, will send consolation to many a cheerless dwelling, and comfort to many a burthened heart. Such is the nature of this establishment, that its resources can always be turned to immediate account. And before many hours are over, there will be great joy amongst the poor of this city, if God puts it into your hearts to give abundantly. Mothers will clasp their children to their bosoms, and tell them how you have sent them bread to eat, and raiment to cover them from the cold. Daughters will hasten with the glad tidings to their aged parents, that you have at last compassionated them, and that God has not given them over in their grey hairs. And many a female will draw back from the precipice which was before her, and testify, in the face of Heaven, that it was you who delivered her soul from death, her eyes from tears, and her feet from falling. What can money purchase, equal to the consciousness of having ministered in such God-like acts as these? Give, then, from the abundance of your hearts; and may the blessing of those that were ready to perish, come upon you!
GALATIANS, vi. 15.
"FOR IN CHRIST JESUS, NEITHER CIRCUMCISION AVAILETH ANY THING, NOR UNCIRCUMCISION, BUT A NEW CREATURE."
IT has too generally been the wish of men, to find out a convenient religion, which would leave them in possession of what gratified their inclination here, and, at the same time, ensure some safe provision for the future state. And such a security they have always been willing to purchase, provided the terms be not too high. Hence the willingness with which the Israelites offered the most costly sacrifices; the zeal with which they drew near unto Jehovah, with their lips, when their heart was far from him. Hence the punctuality with which the Pharisees paid tithe, of mint, and anise, and cummin; their scrupulous anxiety, to cleanse the outside of the cup, and of the platter; to make broad their phylacteries, and to enlarge the hem of their garments; while their inward part was full of excess, extortion, and all
uncleanness. Hence, even among professing Christians, the wish to substitute, some, a zealous attachment to their own religious party; others, a constant attendance on outward ordinances; others, a painful endurance of periodical fastings, and rigid austerities. Hence, in a word, the general desire, and the various consequent contrivances, to find out some substitute for the religion of the heart; for the faith that works by love; for that kingdom of God formed within us, which is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
The words of my text require no long explanation. They merely lay down the doctrine which I shall now endeavour to enforce, that in Christ Jesus, that is, according to the Gospel of truth, no outward observance, or external profession of religion, "neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth any thing :" unless the mind be reconciled to God; unless the heart be purified in its inclinations; and the whole man transformed, as the Apostle here expresses it, into "a new creature."
I shall now proceed to consider some of those things which are frequently mistaken for religion, but in which, nevertheless, religion does not principally consist; and afterward investigate, to the best of my power, in what religion does consist, and what are its leading fruits.