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which are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus,” howev. er forgetful, we cannot be ignorant of the doctrines and laws of the new covenant, nor des. titute of motives, “ by patient continuance in well doing, to seek for glory, and honour, and immortality.” The most heedless and secure have general impressions of the excellence and utility of religion. In many cases, these im- : pressions so forcibly urge an investigation of their character and prospects, and inculcate the · necessity of a seasonable compliance with the terms of reconciliation, that unless they resist, the importunity of their own minds, as well as the suggestions of the word, providence, and spirit of God, they are led to look into the state and temper of their hearts with care, and to bring their life and conversation to the test of divine truth.
Behold then the man who imitates the laud. able example of the psalmist, and adopts a measure favourable to his recovery from guilt and misery, to virtue and glory. Roused from the visionary dream of lasting peace and comfort, independent of the approbation and favour of his God, he takes a comprehensive view of the nature, circumstances, and relatsonal of his being; and diligently inquiresatisfaction No. 3. D
end he was born, and for what purpose he came into the world ? He contemplates the heavens and the earth with increased attention, and is penetrated with a sense of the wisdom, power, and benevolence of their glorious author, which he has not been accustomed to feel. He turns his thoughts within ; and, in the curious structure of his body, and the wonderful properties of his soul, recognizes incontestible evidence of his derivation from an infinite intelligence, to whom he is indebted for existence and all its blessings. He recounts the numerous tokens of parental kindness, which he has received from his heavenly father, in the distinguished rank allotted him among the creatures of God; in the abundant provision made for his subsistence and accommodation ; and in the still more illustrious manifestations of grace and truth for his eternal redemption by Jesus Christ. Convinced by these beneficent arrangements and signal interpositions, that man is formed for more exalted dignity and durable enjoyment than earth can boast, it becomes a question of the first magnitude, whether he have not pursued the shadow to the neglect of the substance, and relied for .*lopsson possessions and gratifications inca
ing it? He therefore, thinks on his our childh
ways ;”, considers with himself, what fruit he has already had, and what he is yet to expect from the course he has taken. Past experience thus called to testify bears witness, that no sensual indulgence, or worldly acquisition has afforded the bliss it promised ; that forbidden pleasures are always empty in participation and disgusting in review ; and that the gains of ungodliness are invariably attended with remorse and foreboding fear. The more he reflects, the more sensibly does he feel, that nothing below the sun is adequate to the desires and capacities of an immortal mind; and the more clearly does he see, that “the wages of sin is death ;!) that beside the pain and sufferings, which it inflicts in this life, and which not unfrequently hasten the hour of dissolution, it entails the most insupportable evils on its deluded votaries beyond the grave.
Under these apprehensions he directs his meditations to the long neglected subject of religion ; and discovers, contrary to all his preconceived notions, that the gospel forbids nothing but what is undeniably injurious to himself, or others; and requires no sacrifice which is not visibly adapted to promote his personal tranquillity, and diffuse joy and satisfaction through the whole circle of his intercourse and.
connexions. That gloom and melancholy which he had erroneously associated with the offices of piety and devotion, vanish on a nearer inspection, and these offices appear in their native dignity and loveliness ; as reasonable, and, to the unsophisticated mind, delightful expressions of affection for the character, and trust in the mercy of a wise and bounteous creator. When he ponders the obligations which he owes to his fellow men, instead of militating, as he had hitherto imagined, with the advancement of his worldly prosperity and ease, to be just, charitable and generous is found the most effectual means of securing the friendship, esteem, and patronage of all around him. Even the duties of self denial, in the government of his inordinate lusts and passions, which he once believed totally inconsistent with the enjoyment of life, are seen to be eminently conducive to this purpose. He now remembers, and is surprized at his former blindness to the fact, that whenever he has abstained from excess, and approached nearest to the christian moderation and obedience, he has been most free from inquietude and vexation of spirit.
In addition to the numberless blessings, which flow from the practice of holiness and
virtue in this pilgrimage state, he traces its inseparable connexion with a future and eternal recompense of reward ; and realizes that “all the promises of God in Jesus Christ are yea, and amen.” Thus convinced, “ that the way of transgressors is hard,” and that “ godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” he renounces the absurd, yet prevalent delusion, that the divine commands are grievous; and admits the fitness, as well as the ad. vantage of allegiance to the lawgiver and judge of creation. Not the danger only, but the vile ingratitude of loving and serving the creature more than the creator, rise to his view, in all their deformity. At the same time the visible and humiliating contrast between his past deportment, and the righteous injunctions of inspiration, effectually convinces him that he has deviated widely from the way of peace; and not only exposed himself to misery ; but with inexcusable perverseness and insensibility, forgotten the God that made him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation. He, there. fore, deeply regrets his former course ; and whilst with unfeigned contrition he confesses and bewails his guilt; and in the name of him