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ence and Scripture that taught us this lesson of humility, and convinced us we could not be reformed without hopes and fears in futurity. We found so great a weakness in our judgment, that we often took a thing for good, merely because it was pleasant; and a thing for evil, merely because it was disagreeable ; which we afterward found, to our cost, the very reverse. We also found, that when we judged best of things, it was often impossible to bring our affections and passions so to second our judgment, as to procure it the direction of our wills.

Whether we ever saw the beauty of virtue with such enamoured eyes, or the ugliness of vice with so deep a distaste, as the men we are speaking to did, we cannot tell : taking them by their professions, we believe we did not; for we often found vice pleasant, and virtue disagreeable : but if we are to judge by their actions, compared with our own, we cannot see reason to think there was originally any great difference between them and us. Of the difference, as it stands at present, there is but one who hath a right to judge. Having long smarted under the rod of experience, which, they say, is the tutoress of fools, we at length recovered sense enough to find out our own defects; which put us on applying to God for assistance.

But we no sooner opened his word with this view, than we saw, what our own experience had told us, that we are conceived and born in sin ;' that the thoughts of our hearts are only evil continually;' that our hearts are deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ;' and that we are unable of ourselves, to help ourselves' to better dispositions. We there saw this corruption of our nature accounted for, and a method of cure provided for it in the Christian covenant, which, laying hold of our affections and passions, those instruments of sin, in our present natural state of depravity, hath converted them into so many engines of reformation, by proposing the eternal joys of heaven, as a proper object of the first; and the endless miseries of hell, as a bridle to the last. The more these joys engaged our desires, and the more these terrors alarmed our fears, the less sensibly did we feel the force of temptation. Hence it was, that, although the effect of our fears, was very shocking, we did not wish it less; because we found, the more agreeable impressions made on our desires would not have been sufficient without it. We were so depraved and stupefied in sin, so thoroughly convinced of our own inability to subdue it in ourselves, and so much afraid of feeling its dreadful effects in our state of separation from, and enmity with God, that we were glad of peace and reformation on any terms; and therefore closed with the covenant, as well satisfied with its dreadful threatenings, which we saw necessary, as with its sweetest promises, which our corrupt nature forbade us to hope for, without a due attention to those threatenings. Bad as we still are, we are sensible we should have been much worse, had we wanted either the happiness of futurity, as an incitement to good, or the terrors of eternity, as a dissuasive from bad actions.

Thus you have our confession honestly laid before you. Do not despise us altogether for the judgment we have made of the covenant and ourselves; you, I mean, who own the Scriptures, and yet look on our motives as mercenary and slavish; till you have better considered, that those 'Scriptures have concluded all,' not excepting even you, under sin,' Gal. iii. 22; that they tell you,. The Lord looked down from heaven

the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek God;' but found reason to say, 'They are all gone aside; they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doth good, no, not one,' Psal. xiv. 2, 3; and that, in order to reclaim mankind, he hath promised us, on the dissolution of this earthly tabernacle, a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,' 2 Cor. v. 1; and threatened in case of disobedience, 'to cast us into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched,' Mark ix. 45. There is no honorary exception for you here. You may, in as high terms as you please, declare your disinterested love of virtue, and tell us you disdain to pursue it for the sake of heaven;- but you see the all-knowing God hath‘concluded you under sin,' as well as us; hath pronounced your hearts deceitful and desperately wicked,' as well as ours; perhaps not the less deceitful and wicked, for your high opinion of them; and hath proposed the joys of heaven, and the torments of hell, as the


means of reformation, even to you, with all your beauty of virtue, and deformity of vice. This I know must be very mortifying to men, who set up for such refinements in morality, as not only to object to God's threatenings against sin, but even to despise the promises he makes to righteousness, as unworthy of their attention. There must be an error somewhere here. Either your Maker is mistaken in offering you such motives, as you ought to disdain; or you must be mistaken in thinking you have no need of them. You are but men, and may possibly err. Pride is a most insinuating fatterer. If ever there is reason to suspect its influence, it is when men think highly of themselves, in opposition to the peremptory judgment pronounced on them by the Searcher of hearts; or when they treat with contempt such methods of reformation, as cost the blood of his only-begotten Son to purchase for them. Let me advise you, in the bowels of charity, to examine yourselves more closely on this subject; for, if you cannot return to an humbler way of thinking concerning yourselves, you must inevitably fall into a total apostacy from the word and covenant of God, which set forth sentiments of you directly contrary to your own.

Try yourself by facts. Can you resist the allurements of a wanton beauty, merely because virtue is more beautiful ? Or does the deformity of fornication or adultery, to which she invites you, give her face the aspect of a fiend in your eyes; however, this perhaps may be no fair trial of your principle. Try yourself in a case of less difficulty. Fraud or imposition is naturally a filthy, a despicable vice. Are you sure you never attempted the property of another by undue arts in trade, gaming, horse-racing, or the like? I ask this the rather, because the low pitiful vice under consideration often disguises itself in lace and jewels, at which time it hath so much the air of a gentleman, that possibly it might pass, on your principle, as a thing not altogether contemptible. I know few vices that make a more abominable figure than drunkenness, or to which a rational creature can have less temptation; yet it may be, for all that, you have been sometimes drunk. If you ever were, where was your passion then for the beauty of virtue, and your aversion to the foulness of vice? Or rather, where were they, when you, yet sober, yielded to the other bottle, or schemed the very carousal itself? Is pride no vice? Or, have you always so abhorred it for its deformity, as never once to have thought too' meanly of another, nor too highly of yourself, I mean particularly in point of understanding? Are you sure you never preferred your own opinion on a weak reason, purely because it was your own, to that of another man, founded on a stronger, merely because it was not yours? Have you never attempted, in dispute, or otherwise, to make even the Scriptures ply a little to your preconception ? Or, how often have you resigned your judgment to the dictates of the divine oracles ? Try yourself on the point at present under debate. You believe God requires, we should be virtuous. You believe also, there can be no virtue in doing good for the sake of reward; or in abstaining from bad actions for fear of punishment. Yet you know God hath in his word promised infinite rewards to the first, and threatened endless punishments to the last. You know there is nothing he inculcates oftener, nor in stronger terms, throughout his word. How can you, on your principle, clear him of an intention to destroy all virtue? Was it for nothing that he thought fit to bear so strongly on our hopes and fears ? Did he intend we should altogether neglect what he so emphatically urges on the reader? If, on this trial, you still continue to cherish your own opinion, I must tell you, there is one virtue you think very ugly, and that is, the love of truth; and one vice you think very beautiful, and that is, the conceit you have of your own judgment, which, in this instance, is the judgment of an egregious fool; because it judges the Scriptures to be the word of God, who cannot err; and yet holds to its own opinion as right, directly in opposition to the Scriptures.

But here you will retort, that we Christians, with all the force of our sanctions, can no more stand this examination than you. If this is true, you cannot say, the sanctions of our covenant deprive us of our freedom, or make us so slavishly regular in our lives, as you foreboded. But our vices do not render you virtuous. You say your sanctions are sufficient. That this is mere speculation, the trial recommended to you clearly proves; for, in fact, you find your love of virtue for its own sake, cannot make you virtuous; nor your hatred

of vice, op its own account, hinder you from being vicious. This being the real case, you have as much reason as we to look out for stronger inducements to a good life. We recommend ours as the best, not only because they are the strongest (and yet proved not too strong by the truth of your own retort), but because they are the choice of him who made you, who best knows what you want, who is too wise to err in the choice of means, and too good not to accept of your services on terms of his own proposing. If you are as virtuous as he desires you should be, and on the footing he requires, what else, or what more, can you wish for? But if, through a conceited supposition of your own excellence, and a chimerical attempt to be virtuous, on principles of your own contrivance, which have little or no force, you aim at an unaccountable and unattainable virtue, and fall short of the reality, while you catch at the shadow, will you not have reason in the end, to curse your own vanity and folly? What is the virtue and goodness of an accountable creature? Is it any thing else than duty, than the performance of that duty we owe to the Governor of the world, whom we ought infinitely to revere, because he is just, and will punish, if we sin ; whom we ought infinitely to love, because he is the most excellent and beneficent of all beings, and will if we obey, reward us beyond our merits? If you fear and love him, as reason requires you should, you will, to the uttermost of your power, discharge your duty to him; that is, you will be virtuous, you will be good, you will be what he intended you should be when he gave you being. If virtue is any thing distinct from God, will he be better pleased with your regulating your actions in regard to that, than in regard to his own majesty and goodness ? Take care you do not excite his jealousy by a preference of your own ideal virtue to his real prerogative, by setting up an idol of your own making in your heart, to intercept that duty and devotion, whereof he only ought to be the object. You cannot be guilty either of a greater absurdity, or a greater crime, than a resolution to be accountable to yourself only. You do not depend more on God as a physical being, than as a moral agent. He is the Governor, as well as the Creator, of the world. As your Creator, he knows what you are, infinitely better than you do yourself; and as your Governor, he

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