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is the leading motive of all sincere and pure devotion. Confidence in the divine government, and in the divine promises, are the mainspring of prayer and praise. “Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion; and unto thee shall the vow be performed. 0 thou that hearest prayer 1 unto thee shall all flesh come.” “Rejoice evermore: Pray, without ceasing: In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, concerning you.”....AMEN.

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ESSAY XXV.
Duties of the Unregenerate, and the JMeans of Grace.

ON the practical part of the system of divine truth, we have briefly considered the duties of self-denial and true benevolence—of humility and submission to God; and of prayer and praise. While it is granted by all who profess to believe the holy scriptures, that these duties are highly incumbent on every christian; and are essential to the christian character; yet, with many, it is a very interesting enquiry, whether these, or any other religious duties, are incumbent also, on impenitent, and unconverted sinners ; On this point the scriptures speak a language, which, in the view of many, is awfully forbidding. The scriptures declare plainly, “that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, inasmuch as they bring it with a wicked mind.” This is said to be the correct translation. Again it is written, by way of contrast, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an on to the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is

his delight.” And again, “He that turneth away his

ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.” The meaning of all these declarations appears to be one and the same; that a wicked inan, or an impenitent sinner, does not, in any measure, offer to

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the Lord acceptable sacrifices. Proceeding from a self

ish heart, and being performed with no regard to the

glory of God, nor to the good of his kingdom, they are vain oblations; and the command of the Lord is, “Bring no more vain oblations.” . Your offering of incense, however precious, is an abomination. External devotions, without the concurrence of the heart, are mere hypocrisy, which is considered as one of the baser kinds of iniquity. The bible o to testify strongly against the external duties and religious services of impenitent sinners. Sinners, however, do not see fit to renounce all the external duties of religion. In many duties, they are constant and persevering. In external devotions, especially the devotions of the sanctuary; in the observance of the holy sabbath; in reading the scriptures, and attending to the gospel ministry, statedly and occasionally; j in attending the variety of meetings for prayer and religious improvement; sinners seem to go, almost hand in hand, with the saints. They embrace, and defend the doctrines of the bible; and “..Almost they are persuaded to be christians.” Many, who make no pro

fession of religion, statedly attend to the external per

formance of family worship, and the religious instruction of their children; well knowing, that these things are matters of infinite importance to their dear children, as well as to themselves. It would be extremely difficult to restrain the greater part of the people from attending, more or less, to the external duties of religion. Their consciences, their hopes, and their fears prompt them to many such duties. But from the word of God, we are assured, that all these external duties and sacrifices of the wicked, are an abomination to the Lord ; because they are performed with a wicked mind, or a selfish heart. “God looketh on the heart.” And the heart being corrupt, the motives of the gospel are perverted. ... Not onl

the religious sacrifices of the wicked, but all their moral actions, of every name and nature, are corrupted, and are an abomination to the Lord. All their deeds of justice, of mercy and charity, proceeding from a wicked mind, are perfectly odious in the sight of a holy God. For, it is written, and testified, of all the wicked, that “every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts is only evil continually.” The interesting question is now fairly introduced; Is it the duty of impenitent sinners to prog? or to attempt the performance of any religious duties: Previous to giving a direct answer to this question, it must be admitted fully and without any reserve, that the sacrifices, and all the religious duties of the wicked and impenitent, are, indeed, an abomination to the Lord. To attempt to construe away the plain sense of the scriptures, which have been introduced in confirmation of this truth, is a vain attempt. No reasonable and candid man will undertake this thing. It ought to be realized by all the impenitent and unregenerate, that, in their best duties, their hearts are totally corrupt, and their external services flowing from such fountains of corruption, are, according to the letter of God’s word, an abomination to the Lord. “With their mouths, they may shew much love;” and with their hands, they . perform many deeds of charity; “but their heart goet after their covetousness.” Sinners are not only covet. ous, but carnal : and “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” Solomon goes so far as to say, “The thoughts, or designs of the wicked are an abomination.” Truly, “ they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” To say, as some do, that sinners can perform the mat: ter of their duty acceptably, though the manner and spirit of it may be ever so defective, is grossly absurd, For the manner and spirit of duty constitute it what it is. In these consist the essence of duty. “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.” . All worship but this is an abomination. Sinners who have gone the whole circuit of external duties, during the longest life, ought not to imaine, that, in a single instance, from first to last, they ; ever performed one duty acceptably in the sight of God. But notwithstanding all this, the answer to the question before us must be in the affirmative. Unregenerate

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sinners ought to pray always, with all prayer and supplication. They ought to abound in secret prayer, and persevere therein. They ought to attend constantly to the religious devotions in the sanctuary, and to all other appointments for social prayer and praise. They ought to neglect no branch of religious worship, nor of religious instruction. They ought to keep God’s sabbaths, and to reverence his sanctuary. If they are heads of families, they ought to maintain the worship of God in their houses, according to the divine requirement, and the practice of the saints, in all past ages and generations. Those who neglect the morning and evening sacrifices, and prayer and thankgiving at their tables, give sad evidence of a reluctance of heart to the duty of prayer. But let sinners be ever so conscious to themselves, of a hard and wicked heart, yet this is no excuse; but, on the other hand, it should serve as a stimulus to religious sacrifices; especially to the sacrifices of a broken heart, and a contrite spirit. A hard and impenitent heart is no more excuse for the neglect of religious duty, than sloth and indolence are for the neglect of plowing and sowing.— And we read, that, “ the plowing of the wicked is sin.” But how is this sin to be avoided ? Shall a sinner be advised, on account of his indolence, or on any account, to cease from plowing P. We ought, indeed to inform the wicked, as we have opportunity, that their plowing and planting, and all their labors and occupations, are sin, and abomination; inasmuch as they perform them all, “with a wicked mind.” The divine requirement is this, “Whether therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” In all our selfish pursuits, therefore, we commit an abomination. But how shall we remedy the evil P And how is this command of God, to do all #: to his glory, most wickedly and perversely violated P is it by doing all o required of us with selfish views P or by stubbornly refusing to do them atall? Certainly, by o refusing to do them at all. The same is true, respecting prayer and religious sacrifices. No state of sin and guilt, however aggravated, affords the least excuse for the neglect of prayer, or any other religious duties. The same holy religion, which God requires of the best of saints, he also requires of the vilest of sinners. And their most invincible habits of wickedness afford not the least excuse. “God now commandeth all men every where to repent.” . But if the externals of religion are neglected, we may be assured, that the internals of it are equally neglected. He, therefore, who dissuades sinners from the external duties of religion, on the ground of their being an abomination to the Lord, does essential injury to the cause of truth and holiness. Every man, who has access to the word of God, be his state and character what they may, finds himself exhorted and commanded to pray without ceasing; and to attend, strictly and perseveringly, to every branch of religious duty. The sacrifices of no people, perhaps, were ever a greater abomination to the Lord, than those of the scribes and pharisees. But Christ did not condemn them for their external duties, when they were agreeable to the letter of the law; he condemned them only for the deprayity of their hearts. “Woe unto you, scribes and phari. sees, hypocrites. For ye pay tithes of mint, annise and cumming but have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith. These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Thus the matter appears to be clear, that we need not hesitate to enjoin on all men the external duties of religion ; be their past and their present character, ever $0 vile and abominable. Persuade sinners to pay a sober and constant attention to every duty of religion; and, to say the least, you do much to mend their morals, and the morals of the community. And you do more; you open to them a hopeful prospect of a saving conversion; not by any amendment of their hearts; but by their being brought more under the influence of God’s usual means

of conversion. Should all the serious people among us,

by their united exertions, persuade the wicked aroun them to attend strictly and soberly to the external duties of religion; who would regret the visible reformation f Who would go about to urge, as an objection, that the

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