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is the decree sealed, and the commandment gone forth to call us into another world?
This may suffice for the examination of this one great cause of the corruption of the world; - from whence I should proceed, as I purposed, to an enquiry after some other unhappy causes which have a share in this evil.—But I have taken so much more of your time in this than I first intended,—that I shall defer what I have to say to the next occasion, and put an end to this discourse, by an answer to a question often asked relatively to this argument, in prejudice of christianity, which cannot be more seasonably answered than in a discourse at this time; and that is,— Whether the christian religion has done the world any fervice in reforming the lives and morals of mankind,—which some who pretend to have considered the present state of vice, seem to doubt of ?-This objection I, in some measure, have anticipated in the beginning of this discourse; -and what I have to add to that argument is this,—that as it is impossible to decide the point by evidence of facts, which at so great a distance cannot be brought together and com
pared,—it must be decided by reason, and the probability of things; upon which issue, one might appeal to the most professed deist, and trust him to determine,—whether the lives of those who are fet loose from all obligations, but those of conveniency,-can be compared with those who have been blest with the extraordinary light of a religion ?--and whether so just and holy a religion as the christian, which sets restraints even upon our thoughts, -a religion which gives us the most engaging ideas of the perfections of God, at the same time that it impresses the most awful ones of his majesty and power ;-a Being rich in mercies, but if they are abused, terrible in his judgments ;-one constantly about our secret paths,—about our beds ;—who spieth out all our ways, noticeth all our actions, and is so pure in his nature, that he will punish even the wicked imaginations of his heart, and has appointed a day wherein he will enter into this enquiry, and execute judgment according as we have deserved.
If either the hopes or fears, the passions or reason of men are to be wrought upon at all, such principles must have an effect, though, I own, very far short of what a thinking man. should expect from such motives
No doubt, there is great room for amend. ment in the christian world, and the profeffors of our holy religion may in general be said to be a very corrupt and bad generation of men,-considering what reasons and obligations they have to be better.—Yet still I affirm, if those restraints were lessened,—the world would be infinitely worse;--and therefore we cannot sufficiently bless and adore the goodness of God, for these advantages brought by the coming of Christ,—which God grant that we may live to be more deserving of;-that, in the last day, when he fall come again to judge the world, we may rise to life immortal. Amen.