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objection, which diminishes the force of religious impression, determines the balance against the side of virtue, and gives up the doubts to sensuality, to the world and to the flesh. Now of all ways which a man can take, this is the surest way to destruction. And it is completely irrational; for when we meditate upon the tremendous consequences which form the subject of religion, we cannot avoid this reflection, that any degree of possibility whatever, of religion being true, ought to determine a rational creature so to act as to secure himself from punishment in a future state; and the loss of that happiness which may be attained. Therefore he has no pretence for alledging uncertainty as an excuse for his conduct, because he does not act in conformity with that in which there is no uncertainty at all. In the next place, it is giving to apparent difficulties more weight than they are entitled to. I only request any man to consider, first, the necessary allowances to be made for the short-sightedness and the weakness of the human understanding; secondly, the nature of those subjects concerning which

religion religion treats, so remote from our senses, so different from our experience, so above and beyond the ordinary train and course of our ideas; and then say, whether difficulties, and great difficulties also, were not to be expected; nay further, whether they be not in some measure subservient to the very purpose of religion. The reward of everlasting life, and the punishment of misery of which we know no end, if they were present and immediate, could not be withstood; and would not leave any room for liberty or choice.

But this sort of force upon the will is not what God designed; nor is suitable indeed to the nature of free, moral, and accountable agents. The truth is, and it was most likely beforehand that it would be so, that amidst some points which are dark, some which are dubious, there are many which are clear and certain. Now, I apprehend, that, if we act faithfully up to those points concerning which there is no question, most especially, if we determine upon and chuse our rule and course of life according to those principles of choice, which all men whatever allow to be wise and

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safe principles, and the only principles which are 50; and conduct ourselves stedfastly according to the rule thus chosen, the difficulties which remain in religion will not move or disturb us much ; and will, as we proceed, become gradually less and fewer. Whereas, if we begin with objections; if all we consider about religion be its difficulties: but most especially, if we permit the suggestion of these difficulties to drive us into a practical rejection of religion itself, and to afford us, which is what we wanted, an excuse to ourselves for casting off its restraints ; then the event will be, that its difficulties will multiply upon us; its light grow more and more dim, and we shall settle in the worst and most hopeless of all conditions, the last condition, I will venture to say, in which any man living would wish his son, or any one whom he loved, and for whose happiness he was anxjous, to be placed, a life of confirmed vice and dissoluteness ; founded in a formal renunciation of religion,

He that has to preach christianity to persons

in this state has to preach to stones. He must not expect to be heard, either with complacency or seriousness, or patience, or even to escape contempt and derision.

Habits of thinking are fixed by habits of acting; and both too solidly fixed to be moved by human persuasion. God in his mercy, and by his providences, as well as by his spirit, can touch and soften the heart of stone. And it is seldom perhaps that

. without some strong, and, it may be, sudden impressions of this kind, and from this source, serious sentiments ever penetrate dispositions, hardened in the manner which we have here SERMON II.

described

THE LOVE OF GOD.

1. JOHN. IV. 19.

We love him, because he first loved us.

RELIGION

may, and it can hardly I think be questioned but that it sometimes does, spring from terror, from grief, from pain, from punishment, from the approach of death ; and provided it be sincere, that is, such as either actually produces, or as would produce a change of life, it is genuine religion, notwithstanding the bitterness, the violence, or if it must be so called, the baseness and unworthiness of the motive from which it proceeds. We are not to narrow the promises of God: and accept

ance

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