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Men unregenerate man! This you may read, as the inscription of every Grave-stone you survey; you may see it in the fall of every Leaf; bear it in the toll of every funereal Bell; va&feel'xX. in the Beat of every Pulse; catling upon you to be prepared in time to reffireftsber your Creator in the Days of your Youth, 'before the evil days come; before the corruptions of the world take hold of you, and rooted Habits of Vice arid Polly may have endangered your Happiness and Salvation.
Think how glorious it is to five to God, the first 'andbest of your days, when the heart yet remains a iioble sacrifice, worthy of being offered to Him! How honourable and praise-worthy it is, to exert yourselves in the early part of Life ih the attainment Of -Learning and Wisdom, and all those necessary Arts 'and Accomplishments, which will enable you to come-forth on the Theatre of action, with Virtue and Dignity; strivingto distinguish yourselves, in the sight of God and your Country, by every action that •is glorious and Praise-worthy—having the Precepts of Religion, and the happiness of mankind, as the Rule and Scope of all your conduct!
Tf yOu act thus, your Death will be honourable, even at the earliest period of Life; and if you live to old Age, such a Course of Righteousness, and the joyous Reflections whieh it will produce, will be your Crown of Glory!
And now, in the second place, as to us, whose
c£ray bdirs are giving Us Warning, that our Race is
nearly run; certainly much need not be said on this
occasion. Our long Experience in the world will, doubtless, lead us to improve this, and every such like Occasion of committing the Bodies of our Friends to the Dust, towards securing the one thing needful. . .
The irregularities of youth, are the chief cause of an infirm and painful old Age—and at that period, they will speak to us; " whether we willhear, or whether we will forbear"
Having at that stage of life, nothing in this world, to support us against the consciousness of former Guilt, our only comfort will be in our flying to Christ; in the stedfast Faith,—" That he purchased for us, a Redemption, not merely from temporal, but everlasting Evils; that, through Him, our God was not now*, such a God as under the Law, scarcely to be propitiated with Thousands of Rams; or ten thousand Rivers of Oil; but a reconciled God, drawn in the most amiable and adorable Light! That we are not left under the Sentence of our first Parents, to cry out, " O wretched men that we are, who shall deliver us from this Body of Death?" But, that we can ook up to our blessed Redeemer, who hath opened to us a new and living Way—a way in which we may be first justified in the Sight of God, then pardoned of our Sins; then sanctified, assisted, and invigorated, in the Discharge of our Duty.
This plan is matter of wonder and Joy, even to the holy Angels; as thereby the efficacy and Dignity of Grace are maintained, and yet the Will of Man left free; that, by it, also, our own Righteousness is
• Some thoughts in this Sermon necessarily occurred in the former, from the Text—" The Hoary Head it a Crown of Glory," tfc.
abased, and the -Righteousness of God exalted; that by it, Repentance and Acceptance must precede Pardon, or any Works that can be accounted to us as Righteousness; and that Grace must accompany these Works too, in order to procure us Favour and Allowance for their numerous imperfections.
There is no other way of being saved but this. We have no new Instructors or Teachers to look for from Heaven; no new Lights or Assistance to wait for; nor are we to dream of any other Covenant, any other Mediator, or any other Saviour to come into the world. Jesus Christ, on the Cross, pronounced the Work of Redemption finished; and that to Him •was put in Subjection the World that now is, as well as that which is to come; that He it was who had got the Victory over Death and the Grave; that to Him were committed the Keys of Hell and of Paradise; that He was become the sole Head of all Spiritual Things; and that there could be no Church on Earth, but under His absolute Subjection, and no entrance into the Church of God above, but through His adorable Name!
But our hopes in Christ must be carried farther than this World. For, says St. Paul, " if in this Life, we (whose Con sciences are thus wounded with a sense of Sin) have no Hopes in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."
In these words, the Apostle seems chiefly to have had in View, the Case of some Corinthians; who, though they embraced the Doctrines of Christ, and acknowledged their divine Authority, and glorious Tendency to reform the Lives, and better the state
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of mankind in this world; yet carried the matter no farther, and seem to have been corrupted by the strange Doctrine of the Sadducees, who maintained the Self-sufficiency of Virtue, and denied or doubted a future Resurrection of the Dead, or any state of Rewards or Punishments hereafter.
But the Apostle plainly tells them—that if their hopes in Christ, were limited only to this world; if they could be drawn aside by the gloomy and uncomfortable Doctrines of the Sadducees; if they did not bear their views forward to Eternity; if they did not believe that the same Christ, whom they acknowledged to have come once in the flesh, would also come again to judge the world in Righteousness; they were of all men most miserable. They might as well renounce their profession of Christianity at once; for to them, Christ had come in vain, and shed his Blood in vain. Nay, he implies farther, that if their views were limited in this manner, Christ's coming had put them in a worse condition than all other men. For, to profess the belief of his holy Name, in a bad world, is attended with many temporal Inconveniencies, to which Christ never would have subjected his Followers, if there were no state of Retribution and Reward afterwards. This powerful argument, reduced the Corinthians to this dilemma; either to acknowlegeChrist to have been an Impostor, contrary to their own avowed Belief and Profession; or else to renounce this most gloomy and destructive doctrine of the Sadducees.
Though the words were spoken as immediately applicable to Christians, in the first ages of the Church, who in their state were certainly of all men most miserable, if they renounced the comfortable hopes of Christ's second Coming, and their rising with him from the Grave to the Life immortal; yet they are also applicable to Christians, in all ages, and at all times: who, in many respects, would be in a worse Condition than other men, by acting up to their Profession, unsupported by the Hopes of future advantages.
This argument may be stated without denying that Virtue and Religion would be an eligible Course, even if there was no Happiness, nor Hopes of it, hereafter.
In this World a social Life is necessary, and the Christian is obliged to be connected with other men. The adhering, therefore, to the Gravity and Strictness of his Profession, exposes him to many temporal inconveniencies among the Vain and Wicked, which he cannot avoid.
The Christian is also called to mortify the Flesh'; to consult the interest of others, sometimes preferably to his own; to forgive injuries, to bear them patiently; and even repay them with kind offices. But if Futurity is out of the Question, the Wicked would take advantage of these kind actions, and return Evil for Good; so that Christians might be ready to cry out—why should we subject ourselves to these rigid precepts, which tend to our immediate hurt? Let us rather comply with the Current of the World. Let us make the most of this present life; and as the Apostle says, in allusion to this very argument— "Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die."