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sentiments from early impressions not allogether effaced, the idea of God will even give him pain and displeasure. He will profane his name in oaths and execrations, and make a mock of things the most facred; a sure mark of a low, as well as of a depraved mind.
With the rejection of Christianity an attentive observer will always find the loss, or diminution, of these more sublime virtues. For they necessarily depend upon a regard to providence, and a future state ; and it is generally attended with an evident debasement of character, by finking into low vices, debauchery, and profaneness ; or if external virtue be preserved from habit, and some of the greater kinds, as public spirit, and generosity, be cherished, it is from such principles as cannot be depended upon with respect to the bulk of mankind, viz, an enlightened felishness, and a regard to posthumous fame; and these will operate more upon great occasions, than in the uniform tenor of peaceful life.
To the sublime consolations of religion, which are most wanted in the evening of life, unbelievers must neceffarily be strangers. And if there be a happy season for man in this life, it is that which is enjoyed towards the close of it; when the labours of life are nearly over, when the dangers of virtue are passed, and a calm retrospect can be taken of the course of divine providence respecto ing ourselves, our dearest interests, and the world; from an unshaken faith in a righteous and benevolent Governor of the universe; and when a joyful prospect of immortality can be indulged without allay. In this state of mind the prospect of death itself is pleasing. Having seen, and enjoyed, enough of this life, a good man looks forward with pleafing expectation towards another, singing the Christian's triumphant song, O Death where is thy fting, O Grave where is thy victory.
I shall now conclude with a few reflections.
1. As true dignity and comprehension of mind cannot be attained without a previous progressive state, beginning with the most limited views, so it may have been necessary, that the world itself, including
the human species, as a part of it, should go through a previous imperfect state before it arrive at that happy one, in which, from the prophecies of scripture, we are led to expect, that it will terminate it; and that, in a way which we may not be able distinctly to see at present, it may contribute, and be really necessary, to that glorious catastrophe.
The world has indeed continued in a comparatively low and wretched state, full of vice and misery, men having, by their ambition and other unigoverned passions, been the cause of much evil, instead of happiness, to each other, for many ages. But long as the period appears, it may be no more with respect to the duration of the world, than infancy, or childhood, is to the age of man. And hereafter the wisdom and goodness of God may be as easily vindicated with respect to the one, as it is with respect to the other. Let us apply the same observation to the corruptions of true religion. They may hereafter appear to have been equally necessary to the perfect understanding, to the firm establishment,
and consequently to the happy effects of it, in future time.
2. Let us all, sensible of the great importance of true religion, do every thing in our power to extend the knowledge and the influence of it wherever we have opportunity. To this end let us labour to get just views of it ourselves, in order that we may give a just representation of it to others. And the true doctrine of the scriptures concerning the unity of God, and the placability of his nature, are in themselves infinitely more agreeable to reason, than the doctrines of a multiplicity of Gods, or which comes to the same thing, of different persons in the godhead, and of his implacability to repenting finners, without an adequate satisfaction and atonement, and they have a much more pleasing and happy effect upon the mind that contemplates them.
If the pursuit of revenge imply a littleness in the mind of a man who gives way to it, it must give us a like low and degrading idea of God, and consequently tend to give the same turn to his worshippers, and imitators. And if the belief of a multipli
city of deities (all of whom are, of course, supposed neceffary to the work of creation and providence) imply imperfection in them all, it mat proportionably lefsen our reverence, and debaie our devotion.
Qa the contrary, nothing can be more fublime in itfelt, or tend more to elevate the mind that contemplates it, than the idea of one great Being, one all-comprehenfive mind, equal to the whole work of creation and providence. By the utmost efforts of our minds we cannot attain to more than a very imperfect idea of such a Being as this. But the very attempt to contemplate it fills the mind with the deepest reverence, and the most joyful confidence, and likewise tends to engage our obedience to his will. Also in the habitual endeavour to resemble the great cbject of our worship, we shall study to purify ourselves, even as be is pure,
Lastly, If we would derive real advantage from Christianity ourselves, and recommend it to others, we must give due and habitual attention to the great principles of it. We must, with the pfalmift,