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in perfect darkness, if they take them not by this direction); tben, contiouing the same courte they now do, they are a lot generation.
All their lawful and faithful guides tell them, with one mouth, they are certainly in the broad way to damnation ; and that, how irksome and terrible soever the thoughts and apprehen Goas of hell are to them, yet thither they must certainly come, if they pursue this course. Their reason plainly tells them, he that chuseth the means, and engageth in the way leadiog to hell, must, and ought to make account, that hell is the place he is preparing for.
Conscience is as plain and positive with them, that they must either retura, or perish. The scripture confirms the testimooies of both, by telling them plainly, That the end of these things is death; Rom. vi. 21.
It is doworight folly and madness, by the vote of the whole rational and sober world, for any man to conclude, or hope he shall be happy in the world to come, whofe life is drawn through, and fioithed in all manner of obscenity, filthiness, and profaneness in the preseor world.
For let the case be brought iato the light of your own reason, as dim as it is, and let it freely judge, when you are belching out your black and horrid blasphemies against God, imprecating dampation from him upon your own souls, wallowing ia beastly lusts, vomiting and roaring in taveras and ale-houses : ask, I say, your own reason, coolcience, or the scripture, whether all, or either of them, will allow you to fay or think, . Now we are in the right way to eternal bleffedoefs ! This is
the very course that will bring us to happiness in the world to ? come: this pleafetb God better, and is a furer path to glory, • thao repentance or faith, mortification, prayer, or reforma• tion.' No, no, as blind as your reafop is, and as seared as your consciences are, you will never bring them to comprobate, or subscribe fuch absurd and horrid conclusions as these.
But, on the contrary, they will tell you, that if you will have the pleasure, you must have the pain and torment of fin. That it is madpefs to say, you are afraid to buro, but not afraid to fin; that you are loth to be damaed, and yet challenge the almighty God to his sace, to dama you: as much a folly, as to drink a baneful dose of kỹowo poison, and think to feel no painful gripes afterwards.
As for the fcriptures, they appeal to the reafon of men in this case, as a malt koowo and allowed thing, scarce imaginable to lie hid from any man. Cor. Vi. 9, 10. Know ye not, that
the unrighteous fhall not inherit the kingdom of God. Be not deceived ; ocither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adolrei
rers, por effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with man': “ kiod; nor thieves, oor covetous, oor drunkards, nor revilers, “nor extortioders, fhall inherit the kingdom of God."
I would make the bowels of a compaffionate Christiao to roll and yero within him, to behold multicudes of fouls of invaluable worth, running greedily on to their eternal ruin, wils fully stopping their ears all the way, to the voices of their own reason and conscience, as well as to the voice of God in his word; not once making a pause, till they fall into thať gulph of eterbal and intolerable mifery, iato which, with great preci. pitation, they are calling themselves.
10. And tben, for the community to which they belong : how dangerous, yea, how destructive such perfoos are to it, can dot possibly be hid from any wile and serious observer. For if one finner destroys much good ; if one Achan trouble the whole camp of Ifrael; how much more will whole fwarens and droves of drunkards, blafphemers, and adulterers, as dow fill every place, pull down the judgments of God upon thole ftates and kingdoms wherein they breath? If our fears zod dangers were greater that they are, yet reformation might fave us, Jer. v. “ Run ye to and fro through the streets of Je“ rutalem, and fee now, and know, and seek in the broad pla“ ces thereof, if you can find a man, fi.e. a public mao, a
mao in authority,) if there be any that executeth judgment, " that seekerh the truth, and I will pardod it.” And if our hopes and confidences were much higher than they are, yeć unrestrained fio would vodo us. Kingdoms dod common. wealths are not fo much endangered by the powers and policies of their enemies without them, as they are by the unreformedness of profligate wretches withia, and amongst them. Reformation quickly recovers the antient glory of kingdoms, and makes them the rerror of their enemies.
For though there will be fill too much fid privately cottimit. ted under the best laws, and the most vigorous and impartial execution of them; yet abundance of fin would thereby be prea vented, aod the fins that are committed would not become 02. tional, but perfonal only'; and these would not fo much concera and hazard the public weal and tranquillity of the state.
Moreover, states and kingdoms are in no small hazard by the public debauchery, aod common profadedess of their lub. jects; forasmuch as in this very fink and puddle of their lofts, the maply wisdom; sprightly coutage; and true gallantry of their
fübjects, are quenched and drowned, their spirits oftened and effeminated. It is hard to imagine those men will engage far in the caufe of reformation, when reformation itselt is the only thing they hate and fear.
Nor need we wonder to find men intimidated, and low-spirited, in times and places of imminent danger, who cot only carry about them so much guilt, (which is the fouo rain of fear) but are wholly addicted to fenfual pleasures, which they are loth to hazard upon public accounts and considerations, thefe being the only heaven they have; or hope for: “ Whoredom, " and wine, and new wine take away the heart,” Hof. iv. 11. It is in the very nature of these fios, to make meo lottish, and in the very bature of guilt to make them pufillanimous.
Seneca obferves, and his observation is true) # " That the • cooscience of a wicked man is a terrible scourge and torment
to him, perpetually lashing him with sollicitous thoughts and • fears; fo that he distrusts all securities, and koows not where < to be safe.' Heace it comes to pass, that many men of good extraction, liberal education, and excellent natural endowments, become lo useless, yea, fo pernicious as they are; who, could they be recovered but to temperance and fobriety, would become both excellently useful, and ornamental to the nation where they had their birth, and to the safety and honour where. of they owe their service.
gu. This molt desirable recovery and reformation of profane debauched perfons, is not simply and absolutely impossible: And if magistrates and ministers were every where exemplary themselves for sobriety and piety, zealous and impartial in the discharge of their respective duties, a general reformation would not be difficult. But when those, whose office it is to suppress wickedąels, shall associate themselves with lewd and profligate perfoos, and vie with them in their profane courses, or discourage more conscientious persons in the discharge of their duties; this makes reformation morally impossible.
If profaneness were once found the general odium of the people, and a bar to all preferments, it might be hoped, things would quickly alter for the better. It was an ancient custom a. mong the Heathens, (as learned and excellent Mr. Hale of Ea. ton, out of Chryfoftom obferves), That if a man offered himself to contead in the Olympic games, he was not permitted so to do, till proclamation had been first made, Whether any man knew him to be either a fervant, or a man of infamous life?
* Sexeca, epist. 97. Vol. VIII.
And if any such imputation were proved against him, it was fufficient to keep him back, let his skill be what it would.
What care was here taken, that their vanities should not be discredited ? And will neither reason nor religion convince us, that not only equal, but far greater care ought to be taken, to discourage profanccess among Christians, than the blind Heathens ever took, to preserve the reputation of their vaio exercises ? Let all subordinate ministers of state, and officers in the church, consider how great a part of this blessed refor; mation is demanded at their hands.
§ 12. Were kingdoms and commonwealths once purged from that spirit of profanepels and debauchery, which thus defiles and overflows them, and the people generally reduced but to civility, fobriety, and temperance ; experience would quickly shew them the comfortable effects, and happy fruits thereof.
For though this be much sort of what Christianity exacts from all its professors, and insufficient to obtain the happiness of the world to come; yet it is greatly conducent to the civil happiness and flourishing of the kingdoms of this world ; and, therefore richly worthy the studies and endeavours of all men, 10 promote and obtain it,
There is no kingdom or commonwealth in the Christian world, which would not by this means breed and send forth multitudes more than they do, with excellent abiliries and quaJifications, fitting them to fit at the helm of goverðment, aod Neer a more prosperous course than they do at prelent. A wise and steady direction of the arduous and importat affairs of kingdoms, can only be expected from those that are able to govern themselves, and their own affairs, with fobriety and discretion.
If the laws of nations take care for the preservation and growth of timber, fit for the building of houses and ships, and every one sees the usefulness and necessity of such acts; much more ought they to take care for such an education of men, as may reader them serviceable members to the fate, both in camp and council.
Magistrates are in a sense the foundation of kiogdoms; the strong shoulders, ihat bear the burden of government: And reason will tell, that so great a weight and stress, as the affairs and concerns of kingdoms, ought not to be laid on their soulders, whose legs, through debauchery, are too weak to bear their own reeling and staggering bodies.
Scamen and foldiers are the walls of kingdoms, and (under God) iheir prudence and courage are the peoples defence and safeguard. Plutarch tells us, there were two virtues in Hanni,
bal, which made him prosperous and successful : There was ia him, Plurimum audacia ad capienda pericula, et plurimum conKlii inter ipfa pericula : He was bold in attempting, and pru. deot in managing the most difficult services. The former had figoified little without the latter. Courage may throw men into the midst of difficulties; but counsel and wisdom helps them to emerge those difficulties ; and I am sure, that cannot be rationally expected from men, that daily dethrone their own reafon by debauchery.
But when men, not only fober, just, aod temperate, but re. ligiously good, are employed in public trusts and services; we cannot but think, the security and prosperity of such a state, are abundantly provided for. And our confidence hereof is not only founded upon the maxims of human reason, but of fcripture, wisdom, and authority also.
What a renowned, prosperous, and successful captain of the armies of Israel, was good Joshua ! No man was able to ttand before him all the days of his life, Josh. i. 5. But what bred those brave, gallant, and undaupted fpirits in the breast of this hero, and crowded his noble de figos with fuch admirable fuccels? If we look into ver. 8. we shall find it was religion, that gave both the edge and point to his datural courage ; “ This “ book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou " Thalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest ob“ serve to do all that is written therein : for then thou shalt make " thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."
Hezekiah, this way, became a popsuch among the kings of Judah ; for “ he'clave to the Lord, and the Lord was with him; " and he profpered whitherfoever he went forth,” 2 Kings xviii. 5, 6, 7. And dying David, from a whole life of experience, recommended this as the only inethod of prosperity, unto So. Jomon his fon; “ Keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to " walk in his ways; that thou mayest prosper in all that thou “ dost, and whither foever thou turoeft thyself," 1 Kings ii. 3, 4.
How great a lustre therefore doth this truth call about it: that the restraint and reformation of vice, and the due encou. ragement of virtue and piety, becomes the very civil interest of kingdoms and nations, by the joint votes and suffrages both of huimao and divine wisdom ? Let any kingdom or state make trial of this method, and from that very time they shall date their prosperity. This will make them become the terrors of their enemies round about them : Peace and prosperity hall Nourish in the midst of them; which is the true level and de fogo of this most necessary and seasonable attempt.