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who exclude reason from all share in their religion; all find a centre of union, and principle of combination, in enmity to the truths of God. The danger is all around us. The clouds are gathering, and grow darker every day. There is a hurry in the times. Events are flying, on the wings of every passing breeze. There is a velocity in the motion, so rapid as to elude our vision, and to present the appearance, rather, of an awful pause. When that pause is ended, and when the overhanging clouds discharge, I do not ask what they will bring forth: but I do ask, whether you stand prepared for whatever may be coming on the earth? I do not ask, whether you believe, as many do, that the Lord is near at hand but I do put it, as the most important of all questions, whether, if he were to appear in the clouds of heaven, you would fly affrighted from his presence; or whether you would lift up your heads, knowing that your redemption was nigh at hand? No question, I repeat it, can be more important. On this depends the main point, namely, whether our hearts are right with God. For, assuredly, no true love, or loyalty, can dwell in the bosom of that man, who would consider his Saviour's appearance as a calamity and a misfortune.

But, my brethren, how near, at all events, may

that day be to you, when you must stand naked and disembodied, in the presence of your Judge! Oh! if you were now in the land of darkness, from which no traveller can return; if you were now beyond the possibilities of repentance, in a lost and miserable eternity; what an angel of mercy would one appear to you, who came with the offer of pardon and deliverance. But no such messenger could reach you there. "Behold, now is the accepted time: behold, now is the day of salvation." Will you, then, before it is too late; will you, while you have it still in your power, lay hold on the mercies which are freely offered you? Will you add another jewel to your Saviour's crown? Will you increase that joy which he set before him, when he endured the cross, despising the shame: when he counted not his life dear unto himself, so that he might save us from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us, and guide our feet into the way of peace?

VOL. II.

D

50

SERMON IV.

ST. MATTHEW, Xxiv. 12.

"AND BECAUSE INIQUITY SHALL ABOUND, THE LOVE OF MANY SHALL WAX COLD."

SUCH were the words of our blessed Saviour, when he foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, the general falling away of that apostate people, and the full measure of iniquity, which they were hastening to fill up. He foresaw the dangers to which his own followers would be exposed ;-that some would, in this flood of evils, make shipwreck of the faith; that others would so far catch the prevalent infection, as to slacken in their zeal, and cool in the ardour of their affections towards him.

Nor were these dangers peculiar to the season then approaching. Human nature is the same at all times. What has happened once, will happen again, if similar circumstances arise. It is, therefore, a standing rule, founded in the nature of things, and in the constitution of man, that where "iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." The words of my text then, apply, in their full force, to the times and circumstances in which we live.

That iniquity abounds amongst us, requires no laboured proof. Indeed, if any are disposed to deny this fact, that denial itself is an instance of the very thing in question: for to justify the wicked, or to call evil good, is a sin most solemnly denounced in Scripture. The iniquity which abounds, is not so much one vice or another, as that which is the root of all vices; the fountain from which all the issues of sin, and all the streams of evil, flow. It is, in a word, insensibility to God. This is the disease, though the symptoms be," as the sand which is by the sea-shore, innumerable." It is the heart which has departed from the living God; and out of the heart it is, that every sin proceeds—evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. This insensibility to God, this strange deadness to the awful interests of eternity, is, in substance, the fall of man—the death which passed upon his spirit, when cut off, by that apostasy, from the root of life, and from the centre of its being.

The air which surrounds us, vast as its weight is known to be, presses nowhere sensibly, because it presses every where. So it is, with the ungodliness of the world. The systematic exclusion of the Almighty from any admitted part or share, in the concerns of general society, is so completely

carried into effect, that men do not perceive it, simply because it is not more observable at one point than at another. It is the atmosphere they breathe; the element in which they live, and move, and have their being.

When things are uniform and constant, we seldom notice them, till some interruption of the ordinary course arrives. Thus, if we are sailing on a placid sea, we perceive that we have been in progress, only when some obstacle impedes the motion of the vessel. Thus, by long use, we grow insensible even to the loudest noise, except when occasional pauses awaken us to attention. And thus is the general current of society, so uninterruptedly devoid of any mixture of religion, that nothing, but some sudden interference with the common course of things, will remind men, that they are living without God in the world. But it is in the power of any of you, to put this matter to immediate proof. You may try the experiment, before an hour is over. Ask the first acquaintance you meet with, whether he is preparing for the day of judgment, and whether he has found peace with God, through Jesus Christ. Or, if you do not wish to be too personal, say to him, " Can we ever be thankful enough to the Author of all our mercies?" Now, supposing this acquaintance to be an ordinary average specimen of what pass for

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