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feels himself totally unfit to unite in prayer with others, or to enter into his closet. Such men like Cain who was wroth, will rather like him go out from the presence of the Lord, than assemble with his people. All these sins must be sought out, and guarded against, if we would rightly improve time. And it is owing to the prevalence of these evils, that so many, (and doubtless the number in every place is great,) are wholly unprepared to enter on a new year, with any reasonable ground of expectation, that the blessing of God will attend them through all its changing scenes. This certainly should be our great concern ; and there. fore it is of the greatest consequence to every individ. ual, who finds himself unprepared to enter on a new year, with an heart reconciled to God, and his fellow. creatures, and with a fixed resolution to spend it in his service, to enquire this day, in what sins he is living;-in what evil habit he is indulging himself, and to lay them aside on the threshold of this new year.
How criminal, is it to carry old sins and vicious habits into a new portion of precious time, which should be devoted to him who gives it, and gives it for the most important purpose ! In what sin then do you live ? —What are the particular and prevailing sins of the past year? No question but upon faithful examination, the Achan may be found ;—the accursed thing which is in the midst of you may be discovered. Individuals
discover their secret sins-may bring them to remembrance and repent of them before God. Such must be referred to the conscience of the guilty subject. Should any still attempt to conceal them from his own view
and indulge them, remember that the curse of God will follow you into this year, and you may be cut down as a cumberer of his ground. Should you be continued, you will continue to "treasure up wrath against the day of wrath.”
: The state of religion in general, is in a melancholy situation at this day. It is a season of great declension, as to any concern for the honour of God, and the prosperity of his kingdom in the world.
An uncom. mon degree of stupidity and inattention seems to prevail in almost every place, particularly in this part
of our country. One season and year after another is passing away, “and we are not saved.” Scarcely can we hear with us, of one poor captive soul, who is enquiring with engagedness “ what he shall do to be saved." Irreligion, profanity and infidelity prevail more and more ; and there is no present prospect of the a. batement of these evils; but rather that the world will grow worse and worse. That this is true, is too evident to need proof. It is lamented by all sober, thoughtful people. And you need not be informed, that this is remarkably the case in this place. You are all sensible that the religious state of this people is such as to give just reason to fear, and even to conclude that without a reformation, and return to the doctrines and practices of our fathers, there will be no visible regard paid to God and the things of religion. I hope I may be mistaken, but from present appearances, I think God will send among you “a famine, not of bread, but of hearing the word of the Lord.” The religion of Jesus is the glory as well as happiness of a people ;
and is not this evidently on the decay in this and the neighbouring towns?
This has been in years past eminently the glory of New England. The time has been when New England was the most distinguished of all the christian world for a general, strict and zealous regard for the pure doctrines and duties of religion-for purity in principle, union in doctrine, in church discipline, worship and manners. The time has been when divine institutions were sacredly regarded, and he was considered as a monster of wickedness, who dared to speak lightly, or treat disrespectfully the word and ordinances of God. And should infidels of the present day, tell you, that all this was the effect of ignorance and religious bigotry, it would be sufficient to reply, that all serious regard for God and concern for the soul, is only bigotry and superstition in the view of such people. But can any reasonable person suppose, that a religious regard to God—to his institutions, which makes men just, sober, kind and friendly to all around them, and peaceable members of society, is only bigotry and superstition? If this be superstition, would to God it more abounded. The remark admits of no question, that truth, justice and friendship, in short, peace and good order have prevailed exactly in proportion as a regard to the doctrines and duties of christianity has prevailed. We may then be sure, that a careful conformity to the doctrines and duties of religion is not superstition, since they produce the best effects on social life. But this glory is departing from us, and it seems the prevailing language of the practice of men, at this day, “let it
go.” The glory of God is not the object of man. Their language is, “what profit is it that we have walked mournfully before the Word cf hosts.” This levil I have often contemplated with an aching heart, and I doubt not but it has been so with others. And at times, I almost despair of ever seeing a spirit of serious enquiry prevailing among us. i I have now entered on the twenty-first year of my ministry in this place. bam sensible, that I am not possessed of that easy address, and commanding eloquence with which many preachers of the gospel are furnished. And I am also sensible, that I have been greatly deficient in zeal and engagedness of spirit, considering the infinite importance of the cause which I am called to plead. I seldom attempt to preach without great mortification, before God, for my coldness and indifference. But I think I can say, in the presence of God, who searcheth my heart, that I have uniformly studied and preached with a view to your advantage, I have ever preached what I verily believed to be the “truth as it is in Jesus.” It has been my main design, in preaching, to unfold the great doctrines, and inculcate the important duties of christianity. And I have dwelt the most on those, which I believed the most important to you ; and which you and I must embrace, to meet the approbation of God. . I have preached that holy law of God as the rule and standard of duty ; and by which you and I must be judged. I have laboured to unfold the nature and benevolent design of the gospel of the grace of God. I entertain not the least doubt of the truth of those
doctrines which I have preached to you; and feel that I can safely die, resting my eternal all upon them. Considering my feeble constitution, and frequent infirmities, I have been supported longer, and enabled to preach more frequently, than I expected when I settled with you. And I desire to acknowledge with gratitude to God, and you, that I have enjoyed a de. gree of personal respect and friendship among you, in general, far exceeding my expectations. It has often been a matter of wonder, and what I could not sufficiently account for, that while many of my brethren in the ministry, more deserving than myself, have fallen into broils and difficulties with their people, that I should live in peace with mine. I can say, what I believe can be said with truth, but by few ministers, that for more than twenty years, the whole time of my acquaintance with this people, I have scarcely had occasion to complain of personal abuse, or designed ill treatment, from an individual, old or young. And I have often had substantial testimonials of your respect and friendship, in repeated instances of liberality, from individuals, for which I give you thanks.
But still, I have reason to complain. My complaint is of the heaviest and most discouraging nature. You cannot be at a loss to know what it is. I have had the mortification, which has often been distressing, of apparently labouring, almost, if not wholly, in vain. The gospel has had but little visible effect in this place for many years. If this be owing to my unfaithfulnes, I can say, here am I, “ let him do with me what seemeth to him good.” If I am a stumbling block—if I