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pointed the season of Lent, and more particularly the offices of the concluding week, which, from the sufferings of our Saviour at that time, we call Passion week. thought, and surely it was wisely thought, by our ancestors, that to fortify.ourselves against the attractions of the world, and the seductions of sin, it was necessary to withdraw ourselves sometimes from the tumultuous and intoxicating scenes of business and of pleasure, which, in the daily commerce of life, press só close on every side of us; and to strengthen and confirm our minds against their fatal influence, by retirement, by recollection, by self-conmunion, by self-examination, by meditating on the word of God, and, above all, by frequent and fervent prayer. To give us time for these sacred occupations, a small portion of every year has been judiciously set apart for them by our church: and what time could be so proper for those holy purposes, as that in which our blessed Lord was suffering so much for our sakes? I allude more particularly to that solemn week which is now approaching, and to which I must beg to call the most serious attention of every one here present.
In that week all public diversions are, as you well know, wisely prohibited by public authority; and in conformity to the spirit of such prohibition, we should, even in our own families and in our own private amusements, be temperate, modest, decorous, and discreet: Think not, however, that I am here recommending gloom and melancholy, and seclusion from all society; far from it. This could answer no other purpose but to sour your minds and to deaden your devotions. The cheerfulness of social converse and friendly intercourse is by no means inconsistent with the duties of the week; but all those tumultuous assemblies, which are too strongly marked with an air of levity, gaiety, and dissipation, and may in fact be ranked in the number of public diversions, are plainly repugnant to that seriousness and tenderness of mind, which the aweful and interesting events of that week must naturally inspire. Let me only request you to read over, when you return home, that plain, simple, unaffected, yet touching narrative of our Saviour's sufferings, which is selected from the Gospels, in the daily offices of the next week; and then ask your own
liearts whether, at the very time where your Redeemer is supposed to have passed through all those dreadful scenes for your sakes and for yoạr salvation, from his first agony in the garden, to his last expiring groan upon the cross, whether at this very time you can bring yourselves to pursue the pleasures, the vanities, and the follies of the world, with the same unqualified eagerness and unabated ardour as: if nothing had happened which had given him the slightest pain, or in which you had the smallest interest or conçern. Your hearts, I am sure, will revolt at the very idea, and your own feelings will preserve you from thus wantonly sporting with the cross of Christ. . And if to a prudent abstinence from these things you were to add a careful inquiry into your past conduct, and the present state of your souls, if you were to extend your views to another world, and consider what your condition there is likely to be; what reasonable grounds you have to hope for a favourable sentence from your Almighty Judge; how far you have conformed to the commands of your Maker, and what degree of affection and gra
titude you have manifested for the inexpressible kindness of your Redeemer; this surely would be an employment not inconsistent with your necessary occupations, and not 'unsuitable to the humble candidates for pardon, acceptance, and immortal happiness.
Is this. too great a burthen: to be imposed upon us for a few days; 'is it too great a sacrifice of our time, our thoughts, and our amusements, to an invisible world and a reversionary inheritance of inestimable value ? It certainly is, if the Gospel be all a fabricated tale. But if it contain the words of soberness and truth; if its divine authority is established by such an accumulation of evidence of various kinds as never before concurred to prove any other facts or events in the history of the world, by evidences springing from different sources, yet all centering in the same point, and converging' to the same conclusion; if even the few incidental proofs that have been offered to your consideration in the course of these Lectures have produced that conviction in your minds which they seem to have done; what then is the consequence? Is it not that truths of such infinite importance
well deserve all that consideration for which I am now contending; and that we ought to embrace with eagerness every appointed
opportunity that is thrown in our way, of demonstrating our attachment and our gratitude to a crucified Saviour, who died for our sins, and rose again for our justification, and will come once more in glory to judge the world in righteousness, and to distribute his rewards and punishments to all the nations of the earth assembled befor ehim? At that aweful tribunal may we all appear with a humble confidence in the merits of our Redeemer, and a trembling hope of that mercy which he has promised to every sincere believer, every truly contrite and penitent offender!