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God hath appointed in his word agreeably to the second commandment? Have we entertained a becoming reverence of his name and perfections, sanctifying him in our hearts, making him our fear and our dread, as he has required in the third commandment? Have we always thought of God and spoken of him with that solemnity of spirit which is due to a being infinitely great ?Have we sanctified his holy sabbath as he has solemnly required in the fourth commandment, ceasing from the ordinary employments of life, and stirring up our souls to a becoming contemplation of the divine perfections as displayed in creation and redemption? Have we not fallen infinitely short of those duties which we owe to each other in the various relations of life ; our obligations as parents to children, and children to parents ; as masters to servants, and servants to masters; as magistrates to citizens, and citizens to magistrates? Have we never indulged malignant thoughts against our neighbor, contrary to the sixth commandment ? Have we not been shamefully unchaste in our thoughts, and words, and actions, contrary to what God requires in the seventh commandment? Have we not upon some occasions injured the property of our neighbor,either by taking the advantage of his ignorance or necessity, in opposition to the eighth commandment? Have we not been guilty of slandering the name, of coveting the property, and envying the
prosperity of others, contrary to the duties required in the ninth and tenth commandments? Thus he who impartially examines his own heart, its secret motives and operations, must be conscious to himself of daily imperfections; he who compares his own life with the law of God, that unerring, eternal standard of righteousness, must be constrained to the humiliating confession, that “in many things we have all offended; we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God."
3. This doctrine is equally plain from observation on the conduct of others. Behold man in every period of life, from infancy to old age; view him in all his diversified relations, whether as a superior or inferior; contemplate him in every situation, whether prosperous or adverse, and you discern plain, undeniable proofs of imperfection; you may behold the corruption of all in their conduct and conversation. Do not the sighs and tears of the new born babe express, in such language as it is capable of using, its discontentment with its situation, and consequently the secret enmity of its heart against the Author of its existence?Do not children, gradually as they ripen to capacity for action, discover strong, incorrigible propensities to eyil ? Are they not incomparably more inclined to imitate the example of the vicious, than of the virtuous around them? With what ease can they retain an idle, trifling little tale, any wanton, impure conversation which they hear; but in whatever relates to God, to their souls and future concerns, “ line upon line, line upon line; precept upon precept, precept upon precept,” are found insufficient. The aged again are usually peevish, fretful, discontented; they are ready to ask, “wherefore hath God made all men in vain? They loathe life,” and become in some measure dissatisfied with themselves and all around them. Contemplate the conduct of man in the different grades and circumstances of life. Are not the poor usually envious ? do they not behold with a malignant eye the prosperity of others ? are they not disposed to challenge the wisdom, and justice, and goodness of God in the distribution of outward blessings ?-Are not the rich,on the other hand, proud, imperious, oppressive; glorying in their wealth as if their superior wisdom or excellence had acquired it? Is not civil authority, by those who are called to exercise it, frequently converted into an instrument of oppression; is it not rather employed for promoting the misery than the happiness of others; while those who ought to be subject are, in their turn, turbulent, envious, neither shewing a proper respect to the person nor authority of the civil magistrate ? Is not man evidently at war with man, although they are connected to each other by relations the most intimate and endearing ?-Have not all the laws which human wisdom could devise, or hu
man power execute, proved insufficient to restrain them from devouring the persons and property of each other? What contentions often disturb the peace, and almost destroy the existence of families, and settlements, and nations ? They must therefore be more than blind who cannot discern from observation, and more than obstinate who will not acknowledge the universal corruption of human nature; that the accursed leaven of sin has pervaded and contaminated the whole mass. The heathen,* entirely destitute of any supernatural revelation, were convinced of the mournful truth, and were constrained to confess and deplore it. Their poets and philosophers were almost as explicit on this subject as christians can be with the bible before their eyes.
4. This truth is undeniably established if we advert to those miseries to which all are indiscriminately exposed. It may be laid down as an unquestionable maxim, that as God cannot consistently pardon the guilty, neither can he, neither will he punish the innocent; that suffering upon a rational being can only be inflicted as a consequence of sin ; that when the subjects of a Prince who is perfection itself, who can have no pleasure in their death, but is rather delighted in promoting their happiness, when the subjects of such a Prince are invariably under his frown, experiencing his displeasure in one respect or another, there must be some fault in themselves; it must arise either from want of esteem to his
* To omit mentioning numerous proofs which might be ad. duced from historians and moralists among the heathen, I shall offer the following from a celebrated poet. Nam vitiis nemo sine nascitur ; optimus ille est qui minimus urgetur. “For no man is born without faults; he is most perfect who has the fewest.” Hor. Sat. b. 1. Sat. iii. v. 68, 9. Such a testimony from the pen of a heathen has, certainly, some weight towards the confirmation of this truth; especially when it is uttered by one the licentiousness of whose principles and practices forbade him to be very severe in criticising the conduct of others.
person or obedience to his laws. If this principle be acknowledged, and all who entertain becoming conceptions either of the mercy or justice of Jehovah will readily acknowledge it, then the conclusion is obvious, that all must have sinned. Is not misery coextensive with man in all periods and circumstances of life? Not to mention those more public and awful scourges of the Almighty by which nations perish in an hour ; not to mention the earthquake by which the lofty city is levelled with the ground; or the pestilence which walketh in darkness, wasting its ten thousands; or war which deluges a land in the blood of its inhabitants; does not misery in one form or another haunt the children of Adam while they continue upon earth ? « Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble."
As the period of human life is short, this short period is a succession of sorrows and contrition.“He cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down.” “He is born crying, lives complaining, and dies disappointed of his hope.” Does not misery assail the infant