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the Spirit pressing these motives-to feel these so strongly as to make a near approach to heaven's gate; and then after all to turn back; or to stand there till it be closed for ever-ah! this must prepare the soul for aggravated misery. To go, as it were, to the top of Calvary, ponder upon its divine wonders, contemplate the Lamb of God in his dying agonies, and feel the mind overawed at the sight, and the heart almost melted into penitence, and almost kindled into love,-and still to hesitate, and to reject the great salvation-ah! this is trampling under foot the blood of atonement, and incurring that sorer punishment due to such guilt. And if, in the dark world of wo, any forlorn wretch will be stung to the heart with a keener feeling of anguish than all others, will it not be the man, who on earth came nearest to the kingdom of heavenand then lost it, for want of one decisive step? As he calls to mind the unnumbered mercies here enjoyed-the oft-repeated proffers of salvation here slighted; and as he lifts his weeping eye to that world of glory above,-O, with what bitterness of spirit—with what sinking and dying of the heart within him, will he exclaim, Time was when I bid fair for a seat in yonder region-when I was well nigh an heir to that incorruptible inheritance; I did but just miss the path to those realms of light and life everlasting,-just fail of being one in that happy company around the throne of God; I had my hand almost upon a crown like one of theirs; a little more, and now, instead of wailing here among the lost, I had been singing there among the redeemed!' O, that little more!-it will bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder. Surely, to be sinking for ever in the bottomless pit, must be damnation enough without the everlasting recollection of having plunged from the threshold of heaven!
It is time then, my hearers, to have done for ever with merely supposing religion to be important, and coldly wishing that its spirit and its blessings were ours, and almost resolving to obtain them. It is no time to hesitate, when all is at stake; no time to delay our choice between life and death, when that day may come unawares which will take this question out of our hands, and decide it for us, and decide that we are undone for eternity. Let us then rise at once
to the high and holy resolution, of being, not only almost, but altogether Christians, and devoting ourselves, with our whole heart, to the service of our divine Lord and Redeemer. This life is so short and uncertain -the life to come is so long and so sure-the work assigned to this transient state is so momentous-so great is the hazard of delay—the consequence of failure is so woful-and so glorious the reward of success-that the wise man will tremble at one wasted hour. He will give himself no rest, till the great question of life and death is settled, as he would wish to have it settled for ever. Every wise man will make this his first business; and he that is wise, is wise for himself, while he that scorneth, he alone must bear it. Yes, he must bear it, and bear it alone for ever.
"While God invites, how bless'd the day!
"Soon, borne on time's most rapid wing,
"In that lone land of deep despair,
"No wonders to the dead are shown,
The wonders of Redeeming love;
No voice his glorious truth makes known,
PROVERBS, XXVII. 19.—As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of
man to man.
THIS text has received various interpretations; but there is among them one, more generally approved by the friends of truth than any other; and which it would seem to me, is its plain and obvious meaning :-As a man looking into the water, (used anciently as a mirror,) sees there an exact transcript of his own countenance, so every heart has by nature precisely the same moral character with every other unsanctified heart. However men may differ, as to the circumstances of their being-as to their age, country, habits, and education-still every child of Adam, till renewed by divine grace, has, in the view of Omniscience, the same moral aspect.
Many, who still wish to be considered believers in divine revelation, have asserted, that the parts of Scripture, which give unregenerate men a deformed and polluted character, are not applicable to men of the present day. When Paul says of the unregenerate world, and quotes the saying from another inspired author, "There is none righteous, no not one; there is none that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God; they are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one; their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes" ;-when he says all this, it is roundly denied that in civilized lands-lands enlightened and polished-there can be found beings of so barbarous a character. It may possibly suit the Turk, the Arab, and the Tartar; and may be adapted to some few outcasts in more favoured lands; but as a general description of unregenerate men, it is rejected with proud disdain.
In this style the Bible has of late been rudely mangled, till many feel themselves quite at liberty to deny the application to themselves of any text that would go to neutralize their creed, or wound their high sense of the dignity of human nature. It is hence considered important to show,
That men, in all countries and ages, and under every variety of customs and manners, have had, and continue still to have, naturally, the same moral character.
This doetrine it will be my object to illustrate. But I shall first notice some of the circumstances which have contributed to make men differ in their conduct, who have by nature the same moral character.
In the first place, grace has made a wide difference in men who were by nature alike. This has been the case in most countries, and in all ages, since God first set up his church in the family of Adam.
In the second place, the difference in the instinctive passions and affections has made men to differ in their conduct.
In the third place, some have not the talents for doing mischief that others have. This one cause may operate, when there is no other, to produce the greatest difference of conduct, where there is the same temper of heart. In the fourth place, some have not the opportunity to do mischief that others have. There may be the disposition, and the talents for gigantic iniquity, but opportunity may be wanting. Nero and Julian had the opportunity, while many a wretch during their reign, possessing perhaps equal talents, obtained no celebrity in the service of their infernal master. There are men base enough to burn a world, who will die after having done but little mischief.
I remark, finally, that one man may achieve less mischief than another, because more restrained. One man is held back from iniquity by his conscience. In another, pride prevents him from descending to the deeds of sin which he would love to do. In another, interest is the restraining principle. Hence the most decent among all the ungodly, may have a heart that will compare in its every feature, with that of the thief, the robber, and the assassin; though restrained from their deeds of death.
Having thus noticed some of the circumstances which have made men to differ in their conduct and appearance, who have by nature the same character of heart, I proceed to illustrate the doctrine, That men, in all ages, and under every variety of customs and manners, have had, and still continue to have, naturally, the same moral character.
1. We might infer the truth of this doctrine, prior to any argument, from the similarity of origin, aspect, and general habits, that belong to all ages and all nations of men. All men sprang from the same first parents; in their veins flows the same blood; they have the same general spirit; feed on the same food; and have all naturally the same general habits; and prior to any extraneous applications, have, as we analogically infer, the same temper of heart. For the same reason that we expect to find the lamb and the dove harmless, and the lion and tiger ferocious, through all their generations, and in all countries where they are found; we expect man to be, in the temper of his heart, the same in all ages and in all nations. When we have settled the point that the human family are all of one species, analogy so far decides the truth of our doctrine, as to cast the burden of proof on those who venture to deny it. But there is on this subject more direct and positive testimony. I would then remark,
2. That we can hardly fix our eye on any individual or community of antiquity, but we can find its exact resemblance, in some individual or community with whose character we are familiar. I shall make my selections chiefly
from scripture history, and shall notice those whose deportment made it manifest that they were not born of God, or if otherwise, were left to act out their native character. When I look back to the family of Adam, I see in Cain the prototype of many a man born sixty centuries after him. He saw that his brother's offering was more acceptable than his own, became envious, rose from envy to anger, and gave vent to his malice in a deed that rendered him a fugitive and a vagabond. Now who is so ignorant of human nature as not to see in society men of precisely the same description in the present day; men who covet another's distinctions, and from coveting become malicious, and would destroy, if human law did not interfere, the object of their spleen. Every generation and every country gives birth to just such men, and they are found amid every community from the highest to the lowest order of men. Witness the whole list of duelists, from the prince who settles his quarrel in style, to the poor kidknapped African who hews to pieces his antagonist with his hoe or his scythe. When their envy does not terminate in blood, it rises often to a horrid pitch of desperation.
In the family of Jacob there was seen all that variety of evil disposition witnessed in later families. There was parental partiality, and filial impiety; there was envy, and jealousy, and pride, and revenge, and vanity, and lust, and deceit, and, finally, all the unhallowed passions, that go to poison the harmony of domestic circles in every country.
In the character of Balaam the false prophet, who pretended a high regard to the divine authority, and a sacred respect to the decisions of conscience, while yet he loved the wages of unrighteousness, and would gladly have permission of Heaven to curse the Lord's people, we have the features of many an evil mind in the present day. Like him, when they cannot do wrong conscientiously, they lay conscience aside, and proceed by the meanest measures to gratify their envy of the Lord's people. Can they bribe Heaven, or force the Bible, or plead the example of the Lord's people, to justify them, they prefer to sin conscientiously, but finally their wrath is too malicious to be restrained by the laws of decency, humanity, or honour.
Look if you please at Shimei, who cursed David in the day of his adversity, and tell me if the present age, and all countries are not filled with men of precisely the same spirit. While their neighbour is prosperous, has wealth, and power, and influence, they are the merest sycophants; but when the scale is turned, and they have nothing either to fear or hope for, they can display the meanest spirit of malevolence. They have souls the most mercenary, and no opinion of their own, till they fall in with some current of public scorn, when, all at once, they seem the most decided of all men. Who has not witnessed, when public sentiment has set in upon some good man, of whom the world was not worthy, what a multitude will then for the first time discover that he is not fit to live. Witness that most noted of all cases;-when our Lord was arrested, the very multitude, whose blind he had made to see, and whose deaf to hear, whose sicknesses he had healed, whose lepers he had cleansed, and whose dead he had raised, could immediately cry out, Crucify him, crucify him. A few hours