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ners in their treatment of mankind. Blessed is be who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of finners, nor fitteth in the seat of the fcornful. Blefled is the man who is guarded against the counsel of infidels—who shuns the company, avoids the crimes, and escapes the doom of the diffolute and the scoffer.
First, Beware of the counfel and society of those who admit not the principles of religion, revealed or natural.
The human mind has naturally an impression of a Deity and moral Governour, of accountableness and future retributions. All nations and ages have concurred in these general sentiments: They are the basis of all laws; the support of all authority, and of all confidence among men. Without the admission of them, human fociety could not exift. What then could ever have induced any mortal to doubt, to deny this original, universal sense of morality and religion? Not want of evidence ; but either a wish that it may be untrue; or the vanity of being thought wifer than the rest of mankind ?' Through this vanity, fome, to whom God hath given a superiour genius, have bent their whole attention to find arguments against religion. Through the pride of talents, puffed up with
vain imaginations, they will not seek after God. They seek deep to exclude his providence from the government of the world, and to explode his existence. Many a fpeculative man has been caught in his own subtility: Exercising himself in things too high for him, he has pursued a groundless theory much further than he contemplated at first; and at length fixed in total scepticism. No other result could be expected from the facrifice of practical principles to vain speculations. Confiding in his own wisdom, man difowns human liberty and agency, and resolves every thing into fatality or chance. Every avenue being closed, at which useful truth might enter the mind,
he co-operates with the grand deceiver and apoftate in the work of delusion. Men most resemble Lucifer, when they take deliberate counsel against the Almighty, and would bring him to their feet.
Are the disbelievers of revelation advocates for natural religion? This certainly obligeth them to call upon God, to set him before them, and study to approve themselves unto him. But they cast of fear, and restrain prayer : They despise God and his government; and say, by their neglect of his worship, Depart from us. Chriftianity has been confirmed by proofs as clear as the works of nature which proclaim the glory of God. Works of a like kind Thew that Jesus was sent of God. His resurrection supports the Christian fabric: It was proved to the conviction and confusion of his foes, who wanted not means or ability, and spared not endeavours, to prevent or detect fraud in a matter of such moment. It was a fact which might compare with the creation of the world-a fact as fully ascertained as any event attested by experience. The immediate witnesses of it could not have been deceived ; nor could they have testified it, had they not believed it. Their declaration of the fact is not, however, the whole proof upon which our faith refts : It was corroborated by the miraculous gifts with which they were endowed; to which gifts the promise, which Jesus addressed to them, refers : The works which I do, shall ye do ; and greater. The Holy Ghoft fent down from heaven, immediately imparting to unlearned men the knowledge of all languages, was a display of divinity, which the world had never before witnessed: On the day of its first exhibition, before a great afsembly of the foes of Christianity, collected from all parts, it made three thousand of them converts to a crucified Saviour ; even the Saviour whom they themselves had crucified not two months before their conversion.
If Christ rose from the dead, why should a general resurrection be thought incredible? The infidel denies
both because some circumstances are not explained, which no reflecting man, unperverted by system, would expect to have explained. He demands in particular, How are the dead raised? and with what body do they come ? If the manner in which this great event shall take place, if the form and properties of the refur. rection body, are not made known, he will not believe. Yet uniform experience, upon which much reliance is placed, exhibits what is equally inexplicable-the reviviscence of feed; grass and plants—the renovation of the face of the earth, after the deadness of winter. Why is not this difputed ? It is as inexplicable as the reftitution of the human body from the duft.
The counsel of the ungodly against religion is open or secret. It is open, when, in their conversation or writings, they directly attack the principles of religion-when they produce their cause, and bring forth their strong reasons against it-confident that they are the men, and that wisdom shall die with them. They find it easier to pull down than to build up. can destroy our faith, they are not concerned to subftitute any thing in its room; but content to set the human mind free from all principle. Instead of a fair and candid examination of the external and internal evidence for religion, they apply their whole mental strength to the statement of subtil and specious objections. Did they take comparable pains to consider the arguments for religion, as they do to argue ingeniously against it, they would believe. But they must offer incense to their own talents, at the expence of faith and a good conscience. If such philosophers as Newton and Locke, men who investigated every subject of their contemplation with profound attention and difcernment, were the friends and ornaments of Chriftianity, and wrote elaborately in its defence, no man need account it a dishonour to his understanding to believe and profess the gospel. To be sure we may
If they not take it for granted, that infidelity is a mark of fuperior understanding—that the counsel of the infidel is wise and safe.
But his counsel against religion is often secret, and giv. en under the guise of friendihip. Instead of directly affailing its authority, he aims to undermine and 'sap the foundation, by corrupting and perverting its doctrine: Its friends may be on their guard against the open foe; but not against the artful and insidious, who profess an esteem of the gospel with no other view than to gain advantage against it. A great part of the writers on infidelity are wolves in sheep's clothing. The false teachers in the apostolic age did more to obstruct the gospel than its open foes. They made divisions in the church, and perverted its members. They imitated their master in the deceivableness of unrighteousness. Beware left any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit. “ not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. “ Try the spirits whether they be of God. Walk not “ in the counsel of the ungodly," whether their counsel be an open or secret attack upon the principles of piety, the doctrine according to godliness. Boldly withstand the open foe, and watch against the lurking
In the next place, Shun the openly immoral. Stand not in the way of finners. These, if not speculative, are practical unbelievers. Though they may profess the gospel, they in works deny it. If it be true, they must either reform, or be miserable : “ For therein “ is the wrath of God revealed against all unrighteous“ ness and ungodliness of men, who hold the truth « in unrighteousness.”. The plea, GRACE, GRACE, cannot be admitted to save from wrath any who continue in fin. Eternal life is a reward promised only to those who have their fruit unto holiness. The grace which brings salvation, teaches to deny ungodliness and worldly lufts, and live a sober, righteous and godly life, looking for the blessed hope. The way of
finners is the broad way to destruction, however they may flatter themselves in their own eyes. They may indulge a false hope. They may build upon the sand. Comparing their own character and the terms of the gospel, they have nought to expect but indignation and wrath, unless repentance intervene. If then they will not be persuaded to forfake their sins, they must with the gofpel to be false ; and from wishing, they may be led to believe it false. Resolved to pursue the way which seemeth right in their own eyes, how can they know or believe the truth ? Having pleasure in unrighteousness, the light within becomes darkness. They call evil good, and good evil
. They are given over to delusions. Sensual affections naturally lead to infidelity; or, to what is equivalent, opinions destructive of faith and found doctrine. Fools say in their hearts, No God, no future punishment. The reason is, “ They are corrupt, and have done abominable in“iquity.” Bad morals corrupt men’s principles, and bad principles their morals. Through want of faith, they depart from the living God. And while they are far from him, and are wandering further, they preclude themselves from the means of faith. Those foon lose their morals, who become indifferent to, or give up religious principles.
Were the morals of our Saviour and his example followed, happy would it be for the world. Those who deny his mission, and cast opprobrium upon his character, do what they can to take away the restraints on the lusts and passions of men ; encour. age forgetfulness of God, of providence and a future life; and to sanction the Epicurean system, Let us eat and drink ; for to-morrow we die.
Sinners, resolved to walk in the way of their heart, will either be unmindful of, or indifferent to, or inclined to doubt, such moral principles as check their favourite pursuit. The profane, intemperate and unclean, the avaricious and unjust, did they verily admit