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“thing if his ministers also be transformed " as the ministers of righteousness.”
I BESEECH you, also, to remember that the innocence of rejection of the Gospel, and of irreligious principles, is not to be inferred from the behaviour of infidels, in particular circumstances. Natural disposition, education, company, habits of life, independence, shame, and such like, may be restraints to them, and keep them within the bounds of decency, which are none to their disciples. To their disciples, the doctrine is, Do what ye will, and dread no bereafter. We are told an infidel's servant profited so by his master's conversations at table, that on being threatened with the gibbet for theft, he coolly answered, “ You have taught me not to be “ afraid of being hanged.”
LET not any consideration whatever lessen your attachment to the Gospel, or your abhorrence for its enemies : by the one or the other being diminished or lost, your love of excellence, your enjoyment of tranquillity, and high delight, is alto impaired and destroyed: you are sliding from the firm ground of
duty, duty, of safety, of happiness, of salvation. But your greatest danger arises from being frequently with the irreligious, and becoming their companions. Therefore, let me exhort you to dislike and shun the company of the enemies of the Gospel.
“ Come out from among them: cease to “ hear the instruction that causeth to err “ from the words of knowledge :--Blessed is “ the man that walketh not in the counsel of " the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of “ sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scorn“ ful.” How to reconcile frequency or forwardness of adulation, respect and deference, and cultivating friendship with the ungodly, the finner and the scornful, with faith in CHRIST, I know not : I ought rather to say, and I have endeavoured to convince you, they are absolutely incompatible and irreconcileable. To be morose, rigid and forbidding; to be any thing but gentle, kind, and obliging, is condemned; is unchristian, and antichristian : nevertheless, we ought to say “ Depart from us, ye enemies of our Lord.” So the faints have said, so the Scriptures command. You ought to testify against
them, and to separate yourselves : on your own account : “ least ye being led away by 5 the error of the wicked fall from your own “ stedfastness :" lest your seeming friendship for them prove a stumbling block to others, who may be in greater danger from equal intimacy: and left, by your imprudently allociating with them, ye encourage the irreligious themselves, in the belief that homage belongs to them ; or in their suspicions that, as you do not obey the Scriptures in having fellowship with them, you do not really obey them at all: and that your professed belief and respect for revelation is mere hypocrisy.
Let me exhort you, finally, to counteract the enemies of Christianity in your sphere, according to your ability, and as opportunities offer, and by every method in your power. This is the duty of all Christians: it is a duty to which your indignation against irreligion will dispose and constrain you: you are reproved by their zeal if you have been negligent and supine in this duty, to any degree, hitherto : their success you dread and deplore, and are compelled to exert yourselves, not to check irreligion only, but also
to to encourage and advance the interests of religion, and the spread and power of the Gospel.
And here, my friends, let each of us inquire what are the exertions to which we are called ? what are the most effectual methods of forwarding and securing these objects in the particular circumstances in which we are placed. According to the various conditions, abilities and relations of men, are the exertions exacted of them. It is for us to attend to them, and to employ those talents with which we are entrusted, and to avail ourselves of whatever Providence puts in our power, for turning the tide of irreligion, and contributing to the word of God having free course and being glorified. Knowing this to be your dury, and it is more than duty, it is the highest honour and most blissful employment of Christians, you will be quick fighted in discovering the time, the circumstances, and the manner of performing your duty.
That some classes of men are more especially called to the defence and furtherance
of the Gospel, is evident: Let the men of station, of influence, of wealth ; let parents and superiors, do whatever their hands find to do, and take the lead ;- but let not the most obscure say, “ I can do nothing :" there is one way in which all without exception may contribute to the defence and furtherance of the Gospel most effectually, and if this is neglected, we can expect little or no good from any other. I point to this by reading you the following Scriptures.
I BEGIN with the exhortation of our LORD in the Sermon on the Mount. “Let your “ light so shine before men, that they may “ see your good works, and glorify your Fa" ther which is in heaven.” The influence of good example, is at once strongly asserted and warmly recommended by the Apostle Peter in his first epistle. “ Dearly beloved, "' I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, “ abstain from fleshly lusts, that war against " the foul; that whereas they speak against " you as evil doers, they may by your “ good works which they shall behold, glo“rify God in the day of visitation :” and again. " If you suffer for righteousness Dd