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shall continue to be to my last breath. In fact, if I except the tempter and the world, you have no enemies but yourselves. God, and Christ, and his servants, are your friends, or would be, if you would permit them; but, alas, you will not. Often would they have gathered you, but
ye would not. A deep rooted, unconquerable aversion to what you think the strictness of Christ's regulations, frustrates all the endeavors of your friends to save you. You know, that religion is important, you are convinced that it should be attended to ; but you have no heart to it, you have no love for it, and, therefore, as you sometimes confess, you cannot give your minds to it. My friends, what will be the end of this? You have seen its end in the Jews. You know how terribly they were destroyed for neglecting Christ; and if they escaped not, who refused him, when he spake on earth, much more shall not ye escape, if ye turn from him who addresses. you from heaven. Once more, then, we conjure you by every thing sacred and every thing dear, by every thing dreadful and every thing desirable, to renounce your unreasonable opposition, and yield yourselves the willing servants of Christ.
But there is also a third class of persons in this assembly, who must be addressed, though we hardly know in what manner to address them. It is composed of such as resemble the son in the parable, who, when his father said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard, immediately replied, I go, sir, but went not. When we speak to these persons in an affecting, mournful manner, and bring to their view the solemnities of death, judgment, and eternity, they seem ready to weep. And when we tell them of the goodness of God, the love of Christ, and the happiness of those, who come to his marriage feast, they are equally ready to rejoice, and seem to desire nothing so much as religion. But in a week, or perhaps in a day, they are the same as before. That there are many such among us, is evident from recent circumstances. We, a short time since, as you probably recollect, invited all, who considered religion as the one thing needful, and who meant to pursue it as such, to meet us at a certain place. We particularly requested, that none would attend, who had not made up their minds on the subject,
who were not fully determined to persevere.
In consequence of this invitation nearly one hundred persons assembled. I rejoiced at the sight, and immediately wrote to a society, that wished me to make a missionary tour, that, in consequence of the serious attention, that existed among my people, I could not leave them.-But where now are those, who thus pledged themselves to God, and to each other, and to me, that they would pursue religion ? Alas! I fear, that their goodness has been as the morning cloud and early dew, that soon pass away. That I should not know what to say to such persons, is not surprising, since, as I observed at the commencement of this discourse, God himself seems as if at a loss what to do with them. As an ancient writer observes, they are, by turns, a minister's comforters and tormentors. They excite his expectations to-day, but they disappoint him most painfully to-morrow. Let them however, that their temporary convictions will prevent them from being numbered among the characters described in our text. Let them not flatter themselves, that their conversion is rendered more probable by these transitory impressions. Every resistance of conviction renders such an event more hopeless.
PUBLISHED BY THE
AMERICAN DOCTRINAL TRACT SOCIETY.
PERKINS & MARVIN, AGENTS,
The spirit of that religion which the gospel inculcates, is a spirit of benevolence. In this consists the moral glory of the universe. It is this spirit that fulfils the law of God, and comprises, in its various operations, all that Moses and the prophets, Christ and the apostles have said, descriptive of the faith and practice of a Chris tian. Into this spirit, it is one great design of the gospel to form men. Hence, said the Saviour to one who asked him, “ Which is the great commandment in the law ? Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
To illustrate the latter of these commands is the object of this tract. In doing this, it is necessary to show,how we should love ourselves, and how we should love our neighbors.
1. How should we love ourselves ?
It is our duty to feel a regard for our own personal interest. Indeed, the love of happiness, and the dread of misery are inseparable from our nature. It is right that we should be influenced by the motive of personal enjoyment and suffering.
Happiness is a good in itself, and it is right that we should desire its enjoyment. We are nowhere required to feel a spirit of indifference with regard to our own interest. Does the command of God bind us to look with feelings of compassion upon our fellow men, and, by every practicable measure, to do them good ? It imposes on us the same obligation with respect to ourselves. Has the benevolent Parent of the human family placed, within
our attainment, a degree of good which has no end, and no limits but our capacities for enjoyment; then it is right that we should desire the possession of that good.
But, it will be asked, do not all mankind love themselves, and desire to secure their everlasting happiness? Yes. All men, as soon as they commence their moral existence, are supremely influenced by a regard to their own private interest. 6 Lovers of their own selves,” is a compendious description of the men of this world. There is no being in the universe that holds so high a place in their affections as self. There is no object in the universe they would not subordinate to the purposes of personal advancement. Give natural men the power, and place them in circumstances adapted to give full expression to the selfishness of their hearts, and they would put a final end to all the movements of the divine benevolence, to lay a foundation, on which to rear a kingdom for themselves. This is no fanciful description of human depravity. Multitudes have acknowledged it from their own painful experience. It is the very disposition that constitutes our common apostacy from God. It is the source of all the opposition, which, in this world of rebellion, is cherished and manifested towards the character, purposes, and sovereign agency of a God of infinite benevolence. Banish this spirit from the bosoms of men, and with one united voice, would they exclaim, “ The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice." This spirit of inordinate self-esteem, both the Bible, and conscience uniformly condemn. It is direct opposition to the law of God, and the prolific source of all those crimes, that have brought down the curse of God on this troubled earth. Such a regard for our own interest, we are not at liberty to cherish a single moment. It is unreasonable and criminal self-exaltation, and involves an utter renunciation of the authority of God. It will be inquired then, in what manner are we to regard our own happiness? I answer, with a truly impartial or benevolent affection. As the creatures of God, capable of conformity to him in holiness, and of endless happiness in his presence, and service; and also of forfeiting his favor, and of suffering his endless displeasure, we are to value our interest according to its apparent worth in the scale of being. As rational creatures, we are bound to seek our own good This immense, and everlasting interest is, in a sense, committed to us; and the awful event of rising to heaven or sinking to hell, will be just according to the disposition of our hearts. God cannot bestow on us the blessedness of his holy kingdom, in opposition to our choice, Equally impossible is it for us, with hearts filled with his love, to feel the sensations of those who are driven away from his presence.
But though our happiness is an object of so much importance, and is to be sought with so much solicitude, still it is not the only object of importance. Nor are we at liberty so to magnify our own interest, as to be ready to give up the general interests of the universe, and grasp at our own happiness as a matter of supreme value. Such self-regard is, in its very nature, malignity against the general good. Happiness is not the more important, because we are capable of enjoying it. Nor is evil the more to be deprecated, because we are capable of suffering it. The divine law does not allow us to seek our good merely because it is ours, but because it is a good in itself. It is suitable that we should feel self-respect in proportion to our worth. But, to love ourselves in a greater degree, is contrary to the great law of love. God has made no creatures simply on their own account. Nor does he permit us to have any interest, separate from the general interests of the universe. It is the dictate, as well of reason as of the Scriptures, that we should contemplate ourselves as creatures, capable of happiness and misery, and that, in subordination to the more important concerns of the universe, we should desire deliverance from sin, and from punishment; that we should rely upon the grace of God to make us holy as he is holy; to raise our bodies from the grave, to perfect our redemption; and, finally, to admit us to the everlasting joys of his kingdom. I say, we should desire these unspeakable blessings, in subordination to the more important concerns of the universe. Our good will towards ourselves should correspond with the divine benevolence towards us. God is not indifferent to our interest. The course of his providence, together with the declarations of his word, manifests a tender regard for the good of his