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suitable objects. A sufficient cause for constant torment ;-for those that it found there, would be so disproportioned, that they would rather vex and upbraid it, than satisfy its wants.
This, it is true, is mere speculation,-and what concerns us not to know;-it being enough for our purpose, that such an experiment is never likely to be tried,-that we stand upon different terms with GOD,—that a virtuous life is the foundation of all our happiness,that as GOD has no pleasure in wickedness, neither shall any evil dwell with him;-and that, if we expect our happiness to be in heaven, we must have our conversation in heaven, whilst upon earth,— make it the frequent subject of our thoughts and meditations, let every step we take tend that way, every action of our lives be conducted by that great mark of the prize of our high calling, forgetting those things which are behind;-forgetting this world, disengaging our thoughts and affections from it, and thereby transforming them to the likeness of what we hope to be hereafter. How can we expect the inheritance of the saints of light, upon other terms than what they themselves obtained it?.
Can that body expect to rise and shine in glory that is a slave to lust, or dies in the fiery pursuit of an impure desire? Can that heart ever become the lightsome seat of peace and joy, that burns hot as an oven with anger, rage, envy, lust and strife, full of wicked imaginations, set only to devise and entertain evil?
Can that flesh appear in the last day, and inherit the kingdom of heaven in the glorified strength of perpetual youth, that is now clearly consumed in intemperance,-sinks in the surfeit of continual drunkenness and gluttony, and then tumbles into the grave, and almost pollutes the ground that is under it?- -Can we reasonably
suppose, that head shall ever wear or become the crown of righteousness and peace, in which dwells nothing but craft, and avarice, deceit, and fraud, and treachery,-which is always plodding upon worldly designs,-racked with ambition,-rent asunder with discord,-ever delighting in mischief to others, and unjust advantages to itself?-Shall that tongue, which is the glory of a man when rightly directed-be ever set to God's heavenly praises, and warble forth the harmonies of the blessed, that is now full of cursing and bitterness, backbiting, and slander, under which is ungodliness and vanity, and the poison of asps?
Can it enter into our hearts even to hope, that those hands can ever receive the reward of righteousness, that are full of blood, laden with the wages of iniquity, of theft, rapine, violence, extortion, or other unlawful gain?-or that those feet shall ever be beautiful upon the mountains of light and joy, that were never shod for the preparation of the gospel,—that have run quite out of the way of God's word,—and made haste only to do evil?-No, surely.- -In this sense, he that is unjust, let him be unjust still,and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still.
So inconsistent is the whole body of sin with the glories of the celestial body that shall be revealed hereafter, that, in proportion as we fix the representation of these glories upon our minds, and in the more numerous particulars we do it, the stronger the necessity as well as persuasion to deny ourselves all ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, as the only way to entitle us to the blessedness spoken of in the Revelations- of those who did his commandments, and have a right to the tree of life, and shall enter into the gates of the city of the living GoD, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an
innumerable company of angels-to the general assembly and church of the first-born, that are written in heaven, and to GOD the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect -who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
May God give us grace to live under the perpetual influence of this expectation, that, by the habitual impression of these glories upon our imagination, and the frequent sending forth our thoughts and employing them on the other world, we may disentangle them from this,and by so having our conversation in heaven whilst we are here, we may be thought fit inhabitants for it hereafter;-that when GOD, at the last day shall come with thousands and ten thousands of his saints, to judge the world, we may enter with them into happiness, and, with angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven, we may praise and magnify his glorious name, and enjoy his presence for ever. Amen.
Description of the World.
2 PETER iii. 11.
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolvedwhat manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness? looking and hastening unto the coming of God.
HE subject upon which St. Peter is discoursing in this chapter, is the certainty of Christ's coming to judge the world;-and the words of the text are the moral application he draws from the representation he gives of it,-in which, in answer to the cavils of the scoffers in the latter days, concerning the delay of his coming, he tells them, that God is not slack concerning his promises, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward; that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat ;-the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up.
-Seeing then, says he, all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?-The inference is unavoidable, at least in theory, however it fails in practice;-how widely these two differ, I intend to make the subject of this discourse; and though it is a melancholy comparison, to consider," what manner of persons we really 66 are," with "what manner of persons we ought "to be," yet, as the knowledge of the one, is at least one step towards improvement in the other, the parallel will not be thought to want its use.
Give me leave, therefore, in the first place, to recal to your observations, what kind of world it is we live in, and what manner of persons we really are.
Secondly, and in opposition to this, I shall make use of the apostle's argument, and, from a brief representation of the Christian religion, and the obligations it lays upon us, show, what manner of persons we ought to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for, and hastening unto the coming of the day of God.
Whoever takes a view of the world, will, I fear, be able to discern but very faint marks of this character, either upon the looks or actions of its inhabitants. Of all the ends and pursuits we are looking for, and hastening unto, this would be the least suspected; for, without running into that old declaratory cant upon the wickedness of the age, we may say, within the bounds of truth, that there is as little influence from this principle which the apostle lays stress on, and as little sense of religion, as small a share of virtue (at least as little of the appearance of it) as can be supposed to exist at all, in a country where it is countenanced by the state. The degeneracy of the times has been the common complaint of many ages:How much we exceed our forefathers in this, is known alone to that GOD who trieth the heart. But this we may be allowed to urge in their favor, They studied at least to preserve the appearance of virtue; public vice was branded with public infamy, and obliged to hide its head in privacy and retirement. The service of GOD was regularly attended, and religion not exposed to the reproaches of the scorner.
How the case stands with us at present, in each of these particulars, it is grievous to report,-and, perhaps, unacceptable to religion herself; yet, as this is a season wherein it is fit we should be told of our faults, let us for a moment impartially consider the articles of this charge.
And, first, concerning the great article of religion, and the influence it has at present upon the