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as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household." But it is preposterous folly in Infidels to sneer at the children of light, as weak or disordered in their intellects, because they believe, and love, and prize that reasonable and glorious gospel, which the highest order of intelligences contemplate with admiration and extacy. The most eminent Christians, whether high or low, whether learned or unlearned, act the most reasonable and proper part, in regard to religion, of any men in the world. They are the wise who shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, when the impenitent and unbelieving shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt.
The resonableness of Christianity is a fruitful subject, and did the season and circumstances admit, I might easily enlarge upon it. But I will relieve the patience of my respected audience, after saying a few words by way of address to the pastor elect.
You have acted a reasonable part, in preferring the work of the ministry to any other calling. It is the most reasonable, the most useful and the most agreeable service, in which, God allows any of our fallen, guilty race to be employed. If you understand, and believe, and love the religion of Christ, you will find peculiar satisfaction, in leading your fellow creatures to the knowledge and love of those revealed truths, which are able to make them wise to salvation. Christianity is so perfectly and profoundly reasonable, that you will never have the least occasion to handle the word of God deceitfully, in order to es
tablish any doctrine, or to inculcate any duty, or to reprove any vice, or to refute any error, or to avoid any inconsistency in the sentiments you deliver. While you preach the great and interesting truths of the gospel in their harmony and connexion, you will approve yourself to every man's conscience in the sight of God. The reasonableness of Christianity affords you great encouragement, to preach it with the utmost plainness and fidelity. At first view, it appears surprising, that mankind, who are by nature enemies of the cross of Christ, should suffer ministers to preach the painful, mortifying doctrines of the gospel. But when we consider, that all men have reason and conscience, and that a reasonable religion will take hold of these inflexible powers of the mind, in spite of their hearts, it is not so strange, that sinners will hear what their reason and conscience constrain them to believe is strictly true, and infinitely important. The faithful preacher always has the reason and conscience of every man on his side, which is the firmest hold of the hu man mind. If you preach the gospel plainly and fully, you will make it appear reasonable; and if you make it appear reasonable, you will constrain your people, not only to believe it, but to feel their infinite obligations to obey it from the heart. If you yourself clearly see and sensibly feel the importance of divine truths, you can scarcely fail of arresting the attention, piercing the consciences, and impressing the hearts of your hearers. The gospel is a two-edged sword, which has slain its thousands and ten thousands. It is not a car. nal weapon, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds: casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Only be faithful
in pointing this weapon to your own breast, and to the breasts of your people, and you will certainly gain all that you have any reason to expect, or even to desire, and that is, to be a sweet savor of Christ in them that are saved and in them that perish. To this, may you and all the people in this place, say Amen.
Delivered November 3, 1790, at the particular request of a number of respectable men in Franklin, who were forming a Society, for the Reformation of Morals.
PROVERBS XIV, 34.
-But sin is a reproach to any people.
THE whole verse is this.
"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." As the mode of expression here requires a more full and pointed antithesis, so the spirit of the original allows us to read the verse with a small variation. "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is the poverty, depression, or sinking of any people." This last construction, instead of weakening, serves to corroborate the sense of the former; for reproach as naturally follows poverty and depression, as the shadow follows the body in motion. But without any critical remarks, the very face of the text carries this plain and obvious meaning, that sin naturally tends to involve a people in ruin and reproach. This therefore shall be the leading sentiment in the following dis
We have had great opportunity of discovering the nature of sin. For sin hath prevailed more or less, in every person and family, as well as in every community and society of men; and invariably displayed, by all its various operations and appearances, the same malignant nature and tendency. The history of particular persons, and of particular nations, and indeed of the whole world, is but the history of their vices, and of the natural and penal evils which have flowed from them. The Bible draws a shocking picture of the lusts and corruptions which ruined the old world; and of the enormous vices, which finally destroyed
Sodom, Egypt, Babylon, Ninevah, and many other great and ancient kingdoms. And, if we open the leaves of profane history, we find every leaf, like Ezekiel's roll, full "of lamentations, mourning and woe," the dire effects of sin. It wounds a tender mind, to read the history of Alexander, of Mohammed, of the Man of sin, and of those unhappy nations, who have fallen under their cruel and bloody hands; but it would be more than our hearts could endure, could we collect into one view, all the scenes of misery and horror, which sin has ever produced in our malevolent world. If therefore we may give the least regard to sacred and profane history, and to the observation and experience of all ages, we are constrained to believe, that sin has a malignant nature, and directly tends to involve a people in ruin and reproach. We know the nature of sin, better than the nature of any other object around us. For, we have heard, and read, and seen, and felt more of its evil and fatal ef fects, than of any other object in the whole circle of our knowledge, observation, or experience. We know thatsin is a corrupt tree, because it always bears corrupt fruit. We know therefore, according to the analogy of things, that fire has not a more natural tendency to consume wood, nor water to extinguish fire, than sin has to injure and destroy any people, among whom it s suffered to spread and prevail.
To illustrate and impress this idea, permit me to enter into particulars and observe,
1. It is the nature of sin to lessen and diminish a people. The most populous nations have been reduced to a handful, by the prevalence of vice. Though Israel, at certain seasons, were numerous as the stars of heaven, yet, by their lusts and corruptions they were minished and brought low. When they left the kingdom of Egypt, they amounted to about three