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toration to such a life is what is intended by the term, qickened. This language of scripture proves to us that without religion the soul of man is wholly dead in sin. It has no shade of likeness to the moral excellency of the Deity remaining. It is not only without moral beauty, but is degraded down to a positive resemblance of the arch-adversary of God. View a creature entirely divested of all conformity to the two great commandments which require love to God and our neighbour; at enmity with an infinite being whose nature is love, refusing to be reconciled to him; trampling on his authority; turning a deaf ear to his counsels, going forward with an unconquerable obstinacy in sinning against him; spurning his grace; combined with other enemies of God against his throne and glory; resisting the efforts of the pious, and strengthening the hands of those who hate them, and you certainly have in your minds a creaturè dead to all moral right. Deep stupidity and moral blindness are the ordinary concomitants of this spiritual death. The heart being totally vitiated, so vitiated as to love darkness rather than light, there is a proneness in man to error and deception. There is an indisposition even to attend with any teachable. ness to the things which belong to his everlasting peace. O,' said the Saviour when he wept over Je. rusalem, that thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes. And the pro phet Jeremiah asks, to whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, that they cannot harken. The word of the Lord is unto them a reproach, they have no delight in it.' If possible the picture which Paul draws, of the blindness of sinners, is still more frightful. "This I say therefore and testify, that ye walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, having the understanding darkened, being alienated
from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in thein, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling have given themselves over to work all uncleanness with greediness.' Religion is the resurrection of the creature from this death in sin. It is the putting off of this body of ignorance and deformi. ty; and putting on the new man, which after God is cre. ated in righteousness and true holiness. From the nature of religion, as it has been generally described in the forepart of this discourse, it must appear to be the proper restoration of the sinner, to all moral rectitude. This constitutes real, moral excellence. It harmon. izes the creature with the Creator, and disposes him to be active in his service: It rescues him from self imposition, blindness and error. He presents his body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God..... Under the influence of it, as the great spring of real improvement,'he employs his intellectual powers in diligent and successful search after truth. His
eye being single, his whole body is full of light. His exertions are directed to the best things.
Many have been the endeavors of mankind tó form excellence and usefulness of character without religion. Great has been the labor to make man a vir- . tuous and amiable being, on some other principle. External purifications have been resorted to. Acts of corporeal worship have been multiplied. Men have gone on pilgrimages, and sunk into cloisters. A heartless morality, shaped according to the superficial opinions of the world, has been cherished, as though it attached real moral worth to man. Thc principle of honor has been embraced. And the rebel against Jehovah, has approached to single combat in defence of his character, as though he had some worth of character which he might lose. These are miserable expedients to shift off religion, and confirm that darkness of mind in which unconverted men love to be bewildered. It is labor wholly in vain. Religion is the only thing which can constitute true worth of character, and give man a rank among morally living creatures.
5th. Religion is our life, as it brings with it inesti, mably precious personal comforts through the changes of this mortal state ; secures a peaceful departure out of the world, and gives at last an abundant entrance into the mansions of the blessed. Religion disinga. ges from those exertions which perpetually harrass worldly men. It calms down the anxieties of the mind, dissipates its fears, and reconciles it to adversity..... It leads the possessor of it to a sweet reliance upon an all sufficient. Saviour. It gladdens the soul with that aspiring hope which fastens upon the skies; which is its anchor, sure and steadfast, entering to that within the vail. It is its glory so to belittle the world as to detect its cheats, and despise its unholy acquisitions of honor, profit and pleasure. It is its glory to put the malice of earth and hell at defiance, and to vanquish the king of terrors. It is crowned with a part in the first resurrection, and brings its most happy, its highly honoured subject up to the blisful seats of paradise. And O, the unutterable tri. umphs, the unsatiating, ever expanding raptures it will then enkindle! Go, follow the irreligious man down to his dark and dreary prison below, witness his agonies, hear his moans, think of his being continued this spectacle of shame and misery through interminable ages ; and then follow the religious man up to the pearly gates of heaven. See them thrown wide open for his honorable admittance. Behold con. gratulating angels and saints welcoming him to a participation in their joys. Witness the transports of his soul when his eye is fastened upon his adored Saviour. Mark with what ecstacy he mingles his song
of victory with the acclamations of all the ransomed, and let this felicity be drawn out in your imaginations to an endiess eternity, and you will have some idea, but,
O, how inadequate, of the extent to which it is true, that religion is our life. Upon the whole it is impossible to name one real personal good, one attainment or enjoyment of real value, which is not religion, itself, or founded in it. · Without it the richer a man is in worldly possessions, the poorer he certainly is upon the whole. The more honorable he is in worldly distinctions, the more dishonor attaches to him upon the whole. The more unholy pleasure he enjoys, the more bitterness is he certainly laying up for himself in the latter end. The more he is flattered here, the more will his torments be increased by the revilings of his companions in hell at last. If possible it would be better to be a child of penury in the very lowest
. grade of human existence, and infinitely better to be a beast, driven by goads, and bearing a yoke, than be a man, even a man of eminence and figure, without religion. But I am constrained to observe once more,
6th. That religion is our life in social respects. What an unamiable and unpleasant, not to say wretched society, is an irreligious family? The term wretched, in the strict sense of it, applies to millions of families, for the mere want of religion. A perpetual infraction of each others rights, jealousies, crimina, tions and jars, make up the materials of their history. If there areany enjoyments resulting from fami. ly affinities without religion, they rise no higher in their nature, than those of all nimals who live in clusters; and they are counterbalanced by severe sorrows under adversities and bereavements, of which they are the spring. Religion gives to demestic society, all its real value, its innocence, its mutual confidence, its cheerfulness, its unity of interest, its harmony of sen. timent, and its aspiring hopes. The endearments in. dulged, neither satiate nor embitter on reflection. En. livening conversation on the best subjects, presents a minature of heaven. Trust in God, dispels anxiety and gloom. Anticipations of a happy meeting in hea
ven, remove the dreariness of that dessolution of their family state, which they know is hastening on. Praise ascends from the family altar, and the voice of an approving God supports and gladdens in the parting
It is religion only, which is the basis of Christian communion, and the life of that most desirable socie ty, called the Church. Here how friendly, how inviting it is! How tender are its sympathies, how abundant are its labors for the general edification, how free are its charities, how brotherly its spirit, how harmonious its songs, and how elevated its joys! Here none are strangers, none are partizans. All are brethren. The rich and the poor, the high and the low, the free and the bond are on a level. All are members of the same body. And though they have never seen each other, and live under different political governments, in a state of open war, they feel the uniting attractive influence of one common fection. If it were left to them, there would be no war, no ra pine, no oppression one of another. They can be inthe most perfect amity with each other, while the world is rent with national hatreds. This is a fact at
the present moment. When the nations of Europe are sending out their armies and fleets, and, exhausting their resources for each others destruction, while lands are covered, and oceans are stained with human gore, the remnant of the followers of Jesus dispersed over the respective countries, are pouring their affectionate condolance into each others bosoms, drawing tighter the cords of their mutual charities, contributing to each others relief, meeting before the same throne of grace, and combining their efforts to heal the moral disorders of mankind, and spread the gospel over the world. Ye amiable people! Ye are entitled to be called the elect of God. Ye are as a city set on an hill, which cannot be hid. Ye seem: feeble and forgotten. And many of you are perse