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of an obedience, which they not only do not perform, but do not attempt to perform. Then, secondly, if they are to hope in Christ for a forgiveness of their imperfections, for acceptance through him of broken and deficient services, the truth is, they have recourse to no such hope; beside, it is not imperfection, with which they are charged, but a total absence of principle. A man, who never strives to obey, never indeed bears that thought about him, must not talk of the imperfection of his obedience: neither the word, nor the idea pertains to him: nor can he speak of broken and deficient services, who, in no true sense of the term, hath ever served God at all. I own, therefore, I do not perceive what rational hopes religion can hold out to insensibility and unconcernedness, to those, who neither obey its rules, nor seek its aid; neither follow after its rewards, nor sue, I mean in spirit and sincerity sue, for its pardon. But how, it will be asked, can a man be of regular and reputable morals, with this religious insensibility : in other words, with the want of vital religion in his heart? I answer, that it can be. A general regard to character, knowing that it is an advantageous thing to possess a good character; or a regard generated by natural and early habit: a disposition to follow the usages of life, which are practised around us, and which constitute decency: calm passions, easy circumstances, orderly companions, may, in a multitude of instances, keep men within rules and bounds, without the operation of any religious principle whatever.

There is likewise another cause, which has a tendency to shut out religion from the mind, and yet hath at the same time a tendency to make men orderly and decent in their conduct: and that cause is business. A close attention to business is very apt to exclude all other attentions; especially those of a spiritual nature, which appear to men of business shadowy and unsubstantial, and to want that present reality and advantage, which they have been accustomed to look for, and to find in their temporal concerns: and yet it is undoubtedly true, that attention to business frequently and naturally produces regular manners. Here, therefore, is a case, in which decency of behaviour shall subsist along with religious insensibility, forasmuch as one cause produces both; an intent application to business.

attention

Decency, order, regularity, industry, application to our calling are all good things , but then they are accompanied with this great danger, viz. that they may subsist without any religious influence whatever; and that, when they do so, their tendency is to settle and confirm men in religious insensibility. For finding things go on very smoothly, finding themselves received and respected without any religious principle, they are kept asleep, as to their spiritual concerns, by the very quietness and prosperity of things around them. “ There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” It is possible to slumber in a fancied security, or rather in an unconsciousness of

danger, danger, a blindness to our true situation, a thoughtlesness or stupefaction concerning it, even at the time when we are in the utmost peril of salvation; when we are descending fast towards a state of perdition. It is not the judgment of an erroneous conscience: that is not the case I mean. It is rather a want of conscience, or a conscience, which is never exerted; in a word, it is an indifference and insensibility concerning religion, even in the midst of seeming aud external decency of behaviour, and soothed and lulled by this very circumstance. Now it is not only within the compass of possibility, but it frequently,' nay, I hope, it very frequently comes to pass, that open, , confessed, acknowledged sins, sting the sinner's conscience: that the upbraidings of mankind, the cry, the clamour, the indignation, which his wickedness has excited, may at length come home to his own soul; may compel him to reflect, may bring him, though by force and violence, to a sense of his guilt, and a knowledge of his situation. Now I say, that this sense of sin, by whatever cause it be produced, is better than religious insensibility. The sinner's penitence is more to be trusted to, than the seemingly righteous man's security. The one is roused; is roused from the deep forgetfulness of religion, in which he had hitherto lived. Good fruit, even fruit unto life everlasting, may spring from the motion, which is stirred in his heart. The other remains, as to religion, in a state of torpor. The thing wanted as the quickening principle, as the seed and germ of religion in the heart, is compunction, convincement of sin, of danger, of the necessity of flying to the Redeemer, and to his religion in good earnest.

than

They were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" This was thie state of mind of those, who first heard the gospel: and this is the state of mind still to be brought about, before the gospel be heard with effect; and sin will sometimes do it, when outward righteousness will not; I mean by outward righteousness, external decency of manners without any inward principle of religion whatever. The sinner may return and fly to

God,

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