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to imitate; and, at laft, to delight in the most vicious practices.
While I am giving you thefe directions, I cannot help obferving, that you may fee the great neceffity of wisdom and prudence in the religious education of children. Apply yourselves to it with diligence. It is an extensive and difficult, but, at the fame time, a noble, useful, delightful ftudy. "And if any man lack wisdom, let him afk of "God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth "not."
I fhall now clofe this difcourfe with a few words to profeffing Chriftians in general.
My brethren, when vice rears up its head, and appears with infolence and boldness, as it will certainly affect every good man with concerni, fo it is of great importance what treatment it meets with from the public. If it paffes without notice, we may conclude, that corruption hath deeply infected the whole mafs. If men are afraid or afhamed to exprefs their indignation at it, we may conclude the conspiracy is formidable; and that the interest of truth and piety is greatly on the decline. There are many, who in cafes of grofs fcandal, rather choose to keep themselves at eafe, by forbearance and indulgence to the guilty, than run the hazard of provoking their resentment by an honeft declaration of their real fentiments. Nor is it feldom to be obferved, that the very perfons who do leaft in their own sphere, for flemming the tide of profanity, are the first and loudeft in complaining of the negli gence of magiftrates or paflors, in inflicting public punishinents or cenfures.
Whilft, therefore, I am endeavoring, in fome measure, to difcharge my own duty, I muft alfo put you in mind of yours. It is evidently the duty of all who profefs to fear God, to abftain from the fociety of those who are grossly profane, without difcovering any fenfe of penitence or forrow. The truth is, I ought rather to make this a mark of true religion, and affirm, that all good men will do fo; than inform them that they fhould. There must be a likenefs of difpofition among familiar friends. Had you that abhorrence of impiety that you ought to have, you would 3 VOL. II. 3 S
count the fociety of impious perfons a ftain and reproach, to your own characters. Of this I am able to give a very ftrong, and, at the fame time, a plain and familiar proof. Were any perfon known to be guilty of theft and dif honefly, or any fault that is odious and difgraceful in the world, every one would reckon his intimate companions almoft, if not to the fame degree, abandoned as himself. The fame thing will certainly hold as to profanity or li centioufnefs; though indeed it carries in it a melancholy proof, that fins against piety or purity are far from being held in the fame abhorrence, as what endangers our fubftance or temporal intereft. I must however, here beg of you, to attend to a fingular and very strong paffage of the epiftle to the Romans. The apostle Paul clofes his defcription of the profane world in the following terms: Rom. ii, 32. "Who knowing the judgment of God,
(that they which commit fuch things are worthy of "death) not only do the fame, but have pleasure in them "that do them." I have looked into the original, and find the words jufily tranflated; and you fee, from the conftruction of the fentence, the apoftle reprefents having pleasure in fenfual and wicked men, as implying a depravity of character fuperior even to that of fenfuality itself.
But as affociating with the profane is a mark of profanity, fo every degree of countenance given to them, by per fons of entire character, is a fenfible injury to the public. It ferves to put honor upon vice, and in part to deliver it from that just reproach which ought to be the punishment of the guilty, and a warning to others not to tread in their fteps. I have, on feveral occafions, obferved that the prefent period or ftate of things, in this place and congregation, demands the greatest concern for the public intereft of religion. Growing in numbers, and growing, I hope, in wealth, as the effect of your own and your fathers induftry, you are in danger of the introduction of a worldly fpirit by the rifing generation. This every good man ought, with the utmost prudence and refolution, to oppose; particularly by doing all in his power to preferve the honor and refpect due to true religion, and treating with contempt every open enemy to that important interest.
I fincerely wish you improved, and poffeffed of every accomplishment that is truly valuable; but beware of that falfe politenefs, which confifts in little elfe than an oppofition to religion and fobriety. And, indeed I am afraid we fhall not foon attain to any other; at leaft, not by the help of thofe, who as they fet religion at defiance, fo are equally strangers to that elegance, and fenfe of decency which diftinguishes perfons of higher rank.
The late riotous meeting was without doubt the most audacious thing of the kind that ever was attempted in this place; and therefore calls for an open and vigorous teftimony against it, by every perfon in his fphere. Regard for the glory of God, love to the fouls of men, and fo. licitude for the rifing generation, confpire in requiring you to exert yourfelves in fuch a caufe: and fhall I not add, compaffion to the perfons themfelves? Their worst enemies are thofe who treat them with indulgence, fo long as they continue to juftify or to palliate their offence. Nothing ferves to harden finners more, than when no notice is taken of their crimes; and they find themselves just as generally, and as well received, as if they had done no evil. On the other hand, when they perceive the deep concern of others on their account, it is an excellent mean of bringing them to serious reflection, and inducing them to tremble at themfelves. Wherefore, my beloved hearers, let me befeech you to preferve your horror of fin, notwithstanding the boldnefs of finners. Do every thing in your power to reclaim the offenders. Be earneft in your fupplications to almighty GoD, that he would fnatch them as brands from the burning, and raife them up as trophies of his victorious grace. But while they continue in their enmity to God, forget not, on your own account, the apof tolic counfel;" have no fellowship with the unfruitful "works of darknefs, but rather reprove them."
MINISTERIAL FIDELITY IN DECLARING THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD.
A Farewell Difcourfe delivered at Paisley, May, 1768.
ACTS xx. 26, 27.
Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men: for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
HESE words are a part of the apoftle Paul's dif course to the elders of Ephefus, when taking leave of them, under a firm perfuafion, or rather a certain knowledge, that he would never again fee them in the body. My prefent fituation, of which none of you is ignorant, has determined me to the choice of this paffage, as a very proper fubject, from which I may conclude the exercife of my miniftry among you. I had once occafion, on leaving another charge, to have taken a formal farewell of a very affectionate people, but had not courage to attempt The circumflances attending the removal, which, if Providence prevent not, feems now to be at hand, are fuch as do not leffen, but greatly increase the difficulty of fpeaking from fuch a fubject. And yet, in another view, they