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to the great concerns of eternity, has, by the blessing of God, been awakened in your souls. If this be so, allow me most earnestly to entreat you not to let this ardour'cool; not to let these pious sentiments die away; not to let these good seeds he choked by the returning cares and pleasures of the world. But go, retire into your closets, fall down upon your knees before your Maker, and fervently implore him to pour down upon you the overruling influences of his Holy Spirit; to enlighten your understandings, to sanctify your hearts, to subdue your passions, to confirm your good resolutions, and enable you to resist every enemy of your salvation.
The world will soon again display all its attractions before you, and endeavour to extinguish every good principle you have imbibed. But if the divine truths you have heard explained and enforced in these Lectures have taken any firm root in your minds; if you are seriously convinced that Christ and his religion came from heaven, and that he is able to make good whatever he has promised and whatever he has threatened, there is nothing surely in this world that can induce you to risque the loss of eternal happiness, or the infliction of never-ceasing punishment.
Least of all will you think that this is the precise moment for setting your affections on this world and its enjoyments; that these are the times for engaging in eager pursuits after the advantages, the honours, the pleasures, of the present life; for plunging into vice, for dissolving in gaiety and pleasure, for suffering every trivial, every insignificant object, to banish the remembrance of your Maker and Redeemer from your hearts, where they ought to reign unrivalled and supreme. Surely amidst the dark clouds that now hang over us *, these are not the things that will brighten up our prospects, that will lessen our danger, that will calm our apprehensions, and speak peace and comfort to our souls. No, it must be something of a very different nature; a deep sense of our own unworthiness, a sincere contrition for our past offences, a prostration of ourselves in all humility before the throne of grace, an earnest application for pardon and acceptance through the merits of him who died for us (whose death and sufferings for our sakes the approaching week will bring fresh before our view), an ardent desire to manifest our love and gratitude, our devotion and attachment to our Maker and our Redeemer, by giving them a decided priority and predominance in our affections and our hearts; by making their will the ruling principle of our conduct; the attainment of their favour, the advancement of their glory, the chief object of our wishes and desires. These are the sentiments we ought to cultivate and cherish if we wish for any solid comfort under calamity or affliction, any confidence in the favour and protection of Heaven; these alone can support and sustain our souls in the midst of danger and distress, at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment.
* la March 1798. 'and
And how then are these holy sentiments, these heavenly affections to be excited in our hearts? Most certainly not by giving up all our time and all our thoughts to the endless occupations, the never-ceasing gaieties and amusements of this dissipated metropolis; but by withdrawing ourselves frequently from this tumultuous scene, by retiring into our cham- Vol. I. M ber. her, by communing with our own hearts, by fervent prayer, by holding high converse with our Maker, and cultivating some acquaintance with that unseen world to which we are all hastening, and which, in one way or other, must be our portion for ever.
Many of those whom I now see before me have, from their high rank and situation in life, full leisure and ample opportunities for all these important purposes; and let them be assured, that a strict account will one day be demanded of them in what manner and with what effect they have employed the talents, the time, and the many other advantages with which their gracious Maker has indulged them.
And even those who are most engaged in the busy and laborious scenes of life, have at least one day in the week which they may, and which they ought to dedicate to the great concerns of religion. Let then that day be kept sacred to its original destination by all ranks of men, from the highest to the lowest. Let it not be profaned by needless journies, by splendid entertainments, by crowded assemblies, semhlies, by any thing in short which precludes either ourselves, our families, or our domestics, from the exercise of religious duties, or the improvement of those pious sentiments and affections which it was meant to inspire. Let me not, however, be misunderstood. I mean not that it should be either to the rich or the poor, or to any human being whatever, a day of gloom and melancholy, a day of superstitious rigour, and of absolute exclusion from all society and all innocent recreation. I know of nothing in Scripture that requires this; I know of no good effects that could result from it. On the contrary, it is a festival, a joyful festival; a day to which we ought always to look forward with delight, and enjoy with a thankful and a grateful heart. But let it be remembered at the same time, that it is a day which God claims as his own; that he has stamped upon it a peculiar mark of sanctity; and that it ought to be distinguished from every other day, in the first place, by resting from our usual occupations, and giving rest to our servants and our cattle; in the next, by attendance on the public worship of God; and in the remaining intervals, by relaxations and M 3 enjov*