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to enter into the joy of our Father, or to go into the fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for all who have served him and not God; if these things do not make us serious, then it is most certain, either that we do not believe them, or that we have not yet thought of them at all, or that we have positively broken off thinking of them, have turned away from the subject, have refused to let it enter, have shut our minds against it, or, lastly, that such a levity of mind is our character, as nothing whatever can make any serious impression upon. In any of these cases our condition is deplorable 3 we cannot look for salvation from Christ's religion under any of them. Do we want seriousness concerning religion, because we do not believe in it? we cannot expect salvation from a religion which we reject. What the root of unbelief in us may be, how far voluntary and avoidable, how far involuntary and unavoidable, God knows, and God only knows; and, therefore, he will in his mercy treat us as he thinketh fit, but we have not the religion to rely
upon, to found our hopes upon ; we cannot, M m aS
as I say again, expect salvation from a religion
which we reject.
If the second case be ours, namely, that we have not yet thought of these things, and therefore it is, that we are not serious about them, it is high time with every one, that he do think of them. These great events are not at a distance from us; they approach to every one of us with the end of our lives; they are the same to all intents and purposes, as if they took place at our deaths: it is ordained for men once to die, and after that judgment. Wherefore it is folly in any man or woman whatever, in any thing above a child, to say they have not thought of religion; how know they that they will be permitted to think of it at all? it is worse than folly, it is high presumption. It is an answer one sometimes receives, but it is a foolish answer. Religion can do no good, till it sinks into the thoughts. Commune with thyself and be still. Can any health, or strength, or youth, any vivacity of spirits, any
crowd or hurry of business, much less any course of
of pleasures be an excuse for not thinking about religion ? Is it of importance only to
the old and infirm and dying to be saved 2 is it not of the same importance to the young and strong? can they be saved without religion? or can religion save them without thinking about it 2
If, thirdly, such a levity of mind be our character, as nothing can make an impression upon, this levity must be cured, before ever we can draw near unto God. Surely human life wants not materials and occasions for the remedying of this great infirmity. Have we met with no troubles to bring us to ourselves? no disasters in our affairs? no losses in our families 2 no strokes of misfortune or affliction ? no visitations in our health no warnings in our constitution ? If none of these things have befallen us, and it is for that reason that we continue to want seriousness and solidity of character, then it shews how necessary these things are for our real interest and for our real happiness; we are examples how little manM m 2 kind kind can do without them ; and that a state of unclouded pleasure and prosperity is of all others the most unfit for man. It generates the precise evil we complain of, a giddiness and levity of temper upon which religion cannot act. It indisposes a man for weighty and momentous concerns of any kind; but it most fatally disqualifies him for the concerns of religion. That is its worst consequence, though others may be bad. I believe, therefore, first, that there is such a thing as a levity of thought and character, upon which religion has no effect. I believe, secondly, that this is greatly cherished by health and pleasures and prosperity, and gay society. I believe, thirdly, that whenever this is the case, these things, which are accounted such blessings, which men covet and envy, are, in truth, deep and heavy calamities. For, lastly, I believe, that this levity must be changed into seriousness, before the mind infected with it, can come unto God; and most assuredly true it is, that we cannot come to happiness in the next world, unless we come to God in this.
H repeat again, therefore, that we must look to our hearts for our character; not simply or solely to our actions, which may be and will be of a mixed nature, but to the internal state of our disposition. That is the place in which religion dwells; in that it consists. And I also repeat, that one of these internal marks of a right disposition of an honest and good heart, as relative to religion, is seriousness. There can be no true religion without it; and further, a mark and test of a growing religion, is a growing seriousness; so that when, instead of seeing these things at a distance, we begin to look near upon them; when, from faint, they become distinct; when, instead of now and then perceiving a slight sense of these matters, a hasty passage of them, as it were, through the thoughts, they begin to rest and settle there; in a word, when we become serious about religion, then, and not till then, may we hope that things are going on right within us: that the soil is prepared: the seed sown. Its future growth and maturity and fruit may not yet be
known, but the seed is sown in the heart : and