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ment to come, was, to have inftantly forfaken all those vices by which he was fo infamously diftinguished; to "have renounced the hidden
things of difhonefty; to have made reftitu"tion for the injuries, and wrongs, he had com"mitted;" to have subjected his licentious defires to the reins of continence; and, from having in his bofom a "heart of stone, to "have had a heart of flesh :" in other words, instead of "loving the world, and being a lover "of pleasure, to have fet his affections on things above, and have become a lover of
God." To a man of Felix's difpofition, this was a strange reverfe. And rather than a real conversion should be wrought in him, he puts off both the difcourfe, and his amendment, to fome other more convenient feafon.
Allow me to trespass a little longer on your patience, whilft I make an application from what has been faid.
The Gospel is ordained by God to be preached to make us better men. Does it produce this defirable effect, and, the more we hear it, do we improve in the practice of all virtue?— Or, does he that was unjust continue to be unjuft ftill? Preaching is an ordinance of God, N 2
and is inftituted for the exprefs purpose "converting finners from the error of their ways." The most abject wretch, who hath not where to lay his head, and the most defpotic monarch, that ever fwayed a fceptre, are, hereby, equally put in mind of the duties of their refpective ftations, and of the account all men must one day give to God. The word preached affures us, that we are to be tried, all, before a Tribunal where our every action, and the motives of it, will be known. The man, who has imbrued his hands in injuftice, whether under the cover of established cuftom, and the fanction of popular fashion; whether his acts of deceit have been fecretly committed, or his luft of rapine openly perpetrated, will then wish that his dealings had been always undisguised as the light, and clear as the noonday. To men who are conscious their tranfactions are not honeft, whofe hearts tell them they take advantage of the acknowleged ignorance, or unfufpecting innocence of their neighbor; to such men let me appeal, in the prefence of that God, "to whofe eye all things "are naked and open," and afk them, whether they do not, like Felix, tremble at the
thoughts of a future Judgment? Or, you congratulate yourselves, it may be, on the felicity of addrefs, and dexterity of cunning, by which you can over-reach the unfufpecting; on the exercise of authority, and command of influence, by which you can overpower the helplefs. Enjoy your triumph but you will not enjoy it long. The fcene will foon be closed; foon will it be faid, "how hath the
oppreffor ceafed! Leave off then from de"ceit, and let go oppreffion, and go, prepare "to meet thy God." The fame argument applies to the commiffion of every fin; whether the indulgence of irregular defires, the cuftom of intemperate fwearing, the profanation of the holy Sabbath" for all these things God will, one day, bring us into "Judgment." Whenever then we hear, by the preaching of the word, God speaking to us, as he spoke by the Prophet to David, faying, "thou art the man," let us instantly confider our danger; let us consider that we are obnoxious to the wrath of God-that "our fins have separated Him from us—and "that there is but a step between us, and eter"nal death." From that moment, let us amend
our life; let us not, like Felix, "defer it to a "more convenient season," perfuading ourfelves, that we will repent at fome future period. No: if whilft we are under the power of conviction, and the apprehenfion of danger, we do not "begin to learn the way of righteousness," it is to be feared, that we fhall never know it; if we put off our repentance, when our fins flash confufion in our face, there is but too much reafon to apprehend, that, as we have lived, fo fhall we die: we have lived wicked, we shall die impenitent.
It is a melancholy confideration, that many men attend the preaching of the Gospel all their life long, without being at all the better for it: they hear the denunciations of God Almighty against the fins they are continually committing, without thinking it worth their while to confider, that they are the very perfons on whom thefe awful threatenings will be executed. The minister of the Gofpel "stands between the living and the dead," fent, by God himself, to warn men of the danger to which they are liable by the commiffion of fin, and they hear him, with as much unconcern, as if they were certain, beyond all
poffibility of doubt, of their falvation. How can they reconcile fuch infolent, fuch rebellious conduct towards their Maker? Are they content to run the rifque of incurring His difpleasure? Or, do they think he threatens with a design never to inflict his punishments? Such a thought leads, I fear, to eternal condemnation. To prevent any mistake, where our immortal happiness is concerned, let us be perfuaded, immediately, to examine the state of our fouls, whether, according to the terms of the Gospel," we have hope towards God?" let us bring faithfully to our remembrance our paft fins, and let the Gospel fairly determine, whether we are the objects of God's mercy, or of his displeasure. If there be the leaft doubt-if the Gofpel does not pronounce, unequivocally, in our favor-if it does not remove every apprehenfion-let us not fay to our confcience, what Felix faid to the Apostle, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a "convenient feafon I will call for thee;" but let us this day," before our eyes fleep, or our eye-lids flumber, or the temples of our head "take any reft," let us devote ourselves to God; let our thoughts be exalted, our affections