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principle. Should we have departed widely from the path of our duty, it will be high time for us to return to it, lest we go too far to retreat, and rush thoughtlessly forward into irretrievable destruction. If we have deviated but slightly, we shall prevent this deviation from growing insensibly wider, and regain the ground we have lost with little trouble or pain. In many things we offend all, even the very best of us; and it is far more wise and prudent to find out these offences by reflection, and to correct them by suitable resolutions, than to let them accumulate by neglect, till some fatal mischief awake us to a sense of our duty, or the stroke of death render it no longer practicable. This single consideration, the possibility of being called, even the healthiest and the youngest of us, suddenly and unexpectedly called to give an account of ourselves to God, before we have properly settled that account, is of itself enough to make us reflect on our condition, and to do it also without delay. We see almost every day of our lives the most striking and affecting instances of our precarious condition. We see our friends and neighbours suddenly snatched away

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from us, at a time when we (perhaps they too) least expected it. We see multitudes of others drop around us, one by one, till we are left almost alone in a wide world, deserted by all those whom we most intimately knew and esteemed. Yet all this seems to make little or no impression upon us. We follow our acquaintances to the grave; we drop, perhaps, a few parting, unavailing tears over them, and then return again to the cares, the pleasures, the follies, and the vices of the world, with as much eagerness and alacrity as if nothing at all had happened that in the least concerned ourselves ; as if there was not the least chance or possibility, that the danger which we see so near us, should at last come home to us. But, surely, these convincing, these alarming proofs of our mortality, ought to have a little more effect on our hearts. When we see thousands fall beside us, and ten thousands at our right hand, we ought to reflect, that our turn may, perhaps, be next; that, at the very best we have no time to lose, and that it highly behoves us to call our ways immediately to remembrance; to make haste, (for death will not wait for us) to make haste,


and prolong not the time, to keep God's commandments. When, in short, we consider the extreme uncertainty of life, and the absolute certainty of appearing before our Judge in the very same state in which that life is taken away from us, with all our sins and all our infirmities to answer for, we can never consent to trust our all on so precarious a bottom, nor to let our most important concerns lie at the mercy of every accident that may befal us. The loss of a year, the loss of a day, may be the loss of Heaven. “ Thou fool, this night shall thy “ soul be required of thee :” This was said for our admonition : and if, under this apprehension, we can calmly lay ourselves down to sleep, without reviewing our conduct or preparing ourselves to wake, as we may do, in another world, it is in vain to use any further exhortations. If an argument so plain, so simple, so forcible, has no influence upon our minds, Reason and Religion can do nothing more for us; our obstinacy is incurable, our danger inexpressible.

From that danger, may God of his infinite inercy preserve us all, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


1 SAMUEL xiii. 14.



*THERE is no need to inform you that

- the person spoken of in these words is David king of Israel. The appellation of THE MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART, is a wellknown distinction, which having never been expressly bestowed on any other, has, by long usage, been appropriated solely to

* This Sermon was originally written and preached before the University of Cambridge, in the year 1761, in answer to a profane and licentious pamphlet, which had its day of celebrity and applause among a certain class of readers ; but is now, as it deserved to be, and as is the usual fate of such productions, entirely forgot. Those parts of the sermon, therefore, which had a more immediate reference to that publication, are now omitted ; and the whole is rendered less polemical and more practical, and, of course, it is hoped, more generally useful.

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him.* The reason of his being so distinguished, is generally presumed to be the excellence of his moral conduct ; because a God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, can never be supposed to delight in it ; which it is thought must be the case, if the man after his own heart was in any degree an immoral man. On the strength of this supposition, some mistaken friends of Religion, in order to vindicate God's choice, have thought it necessary to prove David's private character perfectly unexceptionable ; and some inveterate enemies of Religion, in order to stigmatize that choice, have taken no less pains to make him appear completely detestable. But both the one and the other seem to me to have mistaken the case, and misapplied their labour. It was not, I conceive, for the unblemished sanctity of his life, but for reasons of a very different nature, that King David was distinguished by the honourable title assigned to him in the text.

* Yet appellations of nearly the same import have been applied to others. See below, pp. 102, 3, 4, &c.

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