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have attended to the matter, that the common prejudices against his religion are entirely groundless. What these are you have probably heard from the mouth of his enemies. Some pretend that his laws are cruel impositions, that his religion depresses the spirit of man, that it is calculated only for the weak, melancholy, or miserable, who are incapacitated, by the partieular frame of their minds, for the enjoyments of life. Others hardly allow that the precepts of christianity admit the possibility of uniform obedience. Some, however, entertain thoughts a little more favourable to christianity, and acknowledge the possibility of conforming to its general principles and duties; but they seem to think that the laws of Christ's kingdom are too arbitrary and oppressive; that obedience would be difficult and unreasonable, and hence satisfy themselves without attempting to keep his commandments.
But, be assured, my friends, that they, who entertain such unfavourable notions of religion, must form their opinions from false apprehensions of a matter, with which they are not acquainted. Is any precept of the gospel unreasonable, or impracticable? Is any thing impossible required? If not, the religion is in itself a
practicable system; its most difficult duties may be discharged. There are none, from which you need to shrink ; none that can excite just alarm.
Will it be said that the impossibility of obedience to Christ does not lie in any particular instance of duty; but that it arises from the whole collective sum of duty ? This is no objection at all, unless it can be proved that one command is in opposition to another, or that he requires us to perform one act or duty at the very time we are obliged to be engaged in ano ther of a different nature. This cannot be pretended. In a collective view, then, his laws are not grievous. They are restraints, it is true, upon the turbulent passions and licentious practices of men, so far as their authority is felt; but these restraints, like those imposed by. ev. ery wise and good government, are of the greatest utility.
If we limit our views to the present state, Christ's yoke is easy, or his government mild and beneficial. But, connect the present effect and the future consequences of submission to his laws, and it will appear that he requires no more than every wise person would, if he understood his best interest, perform for his own
sake. The reason is, because the precepts and prohibitions of his religion conspire to rectify the temper and improve the moral faculties, to draw forth the best affections and prompt to the most worthy course of behaviour, to procure respect and give mental pleasure. Christianity requires no painful austerity of manners; nor does it consist in unreasonable self-denial, in bloody rites, nor costly sacrifices; but in grate." ful love to God, lively faith in Christ, generous benevolence to men, and cheerful obedience to the divine will.
To suppose it will abridge present happiness, or that it is fit only for weak minds, or gloomy spirits, betrays extreme ignorance of its principles, design, and genuine effect. We need no further proof that the person, who cherishes such notions, has never taken Christ's yoke upon him, never entered into the spirit of his gospel, nor understood the laws of his kingdom. From such you are not to expect a fair and just representation of the doctrines and duties of chris-, tianity. Their judgment is, warped by their passions and prejudices. If it were not, they would perceive that religion is the glory of man, and the basis of human happiness; that it puri.
192 fies the heart, regulates the life, and refines tvery enjoyment.
My young friends, be persuaded to give the subject a fair and candid examination. Strip religion of every thing that does not properly belong to it, and it will appear as lovely, as it is important. Never listen to the suggestions of infidelity, nor to the objections made by the lovers of this world, and of its pleasures; but hearken to the voice of your own consciences. On the choice you make your hopes and eternal interest depend. If you deny Christ before men, he will deny you before his father and the holy angels; but if you receive him as the Lord your righteousness, submit to the laws of his kingdom, and imitate his example, he will give you rest, and raise you to the joys of heaven. May God, by his good spirit, incline you to the study and practice of pure and undefiled religion, and crown your life with his richest blessings. May you be “ in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and şanctification, and redemption;"> and may “ Christ be in you the hope of glory."