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himself in it. In the illustration of this subject it is my design to bring to view some of those kinds of religion, that are founded not on a sure, but false foundation; and to show that they are essentially deficient, and ruinous to the soul. Amongst the different varieties and sects of religion in the world, there are strictly but two kinds, the true and false. The one will support a man in the solemn and trying hour of death, and lead to joys on high; but the other then forsakes the soul, when it is destroyed suddenly, and that without remedy. But to descend to particulars; I would observe in the first place, that infidelity is a religion which is essentially defective, and which will fail those who embrace it in the great day of trial and final decision. By infidelity, is meant deism; or a rejection of the Saviour, as the only Mediator between God and man, and as the only possible way of salvation. Persons of this description, glory in the light of nature as being sufficient to lead to a true belief and to exalted views of the being and perfections of God, and to teach all those ways which are necessary to glorify him. But through the depravity of the human heart, and the consequent blindness of the mind, where mankind have been left to nature's light, they have formed strange ideas concerning a God, and their worship has been a scene of folly and madness, of most degrading infatuation. Some have been content with a god of clay; others, of wood. Some have had a silver god; and others have had one formed of gold. Creatures have been worshipped as the Creator, and natural objects have been adored as Deity. But how essentially defective such views and service? How abominable in the sight of a holy God, and how degrading to man, considered as a rational and immortal being? Surely nature's light is become darkness in consequence of our apostacy. It leads none of the human race to know, to love, and serve the true God; but all pursue their own vain imaginations, and their foolish heart is most strangely darkened.
But let the deist have the light of divine revelation; let him have the Bible in his hand, and form consistent and exalted views of the character and designs of God. Is he not now built on a rock, and not on a sandy foundation? No; for when he knows there is a God, he glorifies him not as God. And as to the sins of his heart and life, reason is insufficient to lead him to true repentance; and the influence of the Holy Spirit he resists, and denies its necessity. To godly sorrow, and that repentance which is unto salvation, he is an entire stranger; and that he is a transgressor, not only the word of God, but his own conscience bears witness. And when stung with guilt, and alarmed at his condition, he denies the Lord Jesus; and there is none other name under heaven, given amongst men whereby we can be saved. When the law condemns, of the gospel he is ashamed. To what then can his hope be compared, except to that of the bypocrite's, which perisheth? Shall we say, he hopes for pardon on the account of repentance? But infidelity is opposed to a penitent life, and makes its boast and glory in a self-justifying spirit. Notwithstanding sin has entered the world, and death by sin; and death has passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. But the advocates for deism may reply, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement. Alas! how has the hour of death blasted the expec tations of thousands; and too late convinced them, that their hopes and confidence were a most delusive, and wretched dream. Reason is too short; in its greatest extent, it is far too narrow to point out to a world lying in wickedness, the road to heaven and way of salvation. Those who reject divine revelation as the only sure way of eternal life, do frequently have their minds distressed, and they have no efficient comforter. In vain do they attempt to make their beds smooth and easy; for they frequently lie down on their pillows with anguish in their souls. All the covering which they can frame to hide their
guilt, is no better than fig-leaves; for the eye of omniscience searches them through and through. And says the Saviour, Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. He adds, Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels. And whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny, before my Father which is in heaven. If the eyes of unbelievers were not shut against the word of God, how would such alarming declarations of the Redeemer make them shudder, and cause their hearts to quake for fear! Now they hear the voice of mercy, and yet refuse that salvation which was the purchase of a Saviour's death. But when they hear the voice of the Archangel, will not their religion appear essentially defective, and fail them as a false refuge in the great day of trial and final decision?
2d. Morality, considered as the essence and foundation of religion, is essentially defective, and will not be able to stand the test before the judgement seat of Christ. The moralist, perhaps, would divide his religion into external and internal. External
morality relates to the outward conduct of man towards man, and to the refraining from open impiety towards God. Thus we see some who are civil, cour teous, and upright in their daily deportment, and whose tongues are not ready to revile others; neither are they the instruments of profanity. They not only are free from injustice, intemperance, and irreligion, but they are amiable and engaging in their manners. Instead of wrangling, reproaches, and contentions, they lead peaceable and quiet lives. Perhaps they are hospitable and charitable, condescending and forbearing, and even ornaments to society. Moreover, they may turn their attention to what is internal; may guard against violent anger; against a spirit of hatred, envy, and jealousy; and
cultivate those dispositions which are generous, humane, and magnanimous. And O, that such virtues were more general, and that they might abound in all. They would appear the most interesting and their beauty shine in the most lively colours, if we should only contrast the deformities of immorality and ungodliness. But is not such a religion complete? Is it essentially defective, and insufficient to crown mortals with a glorious immortality? Hear the declaration of eternal truth: Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Now the one who takes morality as a substitute for the renovating influences of the Holy Spirit; and who trusts in it as the foundation of his hopes and salvation, is a stranger to the renewing grace and pardoning mercy of God; and like Nicodemus, wonders How can these things be. If a person see not the plague, the awful depravity of his own heart, and feel himself in a state of alienation and apostacy from God, he will seek to be justified by works and not by grace. But compared with the divine law, how is the religion of any man too short, too narrow, and essentially defective. How must uneasiness and distress seize the soul, when it considers the solemn denunciation, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. The moralist walks in his own light, and not according to the light of the gospel. He may have a lively imagination, but still he rejects Christ as the way, the truth, and the life. Hear the saying of the prophet, Isaiah: Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of my hand, ye shall lie down in sorrow. Then how will morality fail its votaries in the great day of trial and final decision. Perhaps the inquiry will be made, Has not the Saviour abundantly inculcated all the duties of morality; and have not the prophets
and apostles interwoven it in all their writings They certainly have, and every minister of the gospel ought to follow their example. And surely it is commendable for any people to be moral; but they should take heed and beware, that they do not neglect the other important and essential duties of Christianity. The deist or moralist may say, He has a full belief of the existence of a supreme Being. To such an one the reply of St. James is applicable: Thou believest there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble. Yes, they do more; they believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and the only possible medium of salvation for lost man. Morality is essential in order to a Christian walk; but a person may be very moral and not be a follower of Christ, and not obtain salvation. What will it avail to honour and serve men, if we do not honour and serve our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ? We should not only be moral, but godly; and our chief study should be to know and do the will of our Father, which is in heaven. Unless we become reconciled to him, and be his servants through the light of the gospel and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, our death-bed will be anguish to our souls; our entrance into the invisible world, terrour and dismay; and eternity will only serve to render our existence most wretched.
3d. Knowledge, or any natural attainments are entirely insufficient as a ground or means of obtaining the favour of God, and as a religion to secure the salvation of the soul. The acquisition of useful knowledge is both the privilege and duty of man. And so far as any have opportunities of acquiring worthy attainments, they cannot neglect them without contracting guilt. Activity and improvement should appear manifest in the lives of those who are come to the years of understanding; and should be a witness for them, to testify that they have improved their natural talents. Extensively varied are the