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But your enemies, knowing the wildness and weakness of their arguments, and not daring to trust their cause to them, have another deep device to practise upon you; in which, I must no longer say they dream,, but shew how nearly they are related to the grand author of mischief, who never sleeps. If they cannot make you foolish all at once, they are persuaded they shall do it at last, if they begin with making you wicked. Therefore every art is tried to spread wickedness among you. You believe the word of God: that keeps you in the fear of God: and that fear will never suffer you to turn robbers and republicans. Therefore the bible, which stands in the way, must first be taken out of the way: Christianity must be ridiculed: argumsnt, mockery, and blasphemy, rise all at once, to perplex you and corrupt you. To overturn the world, by first overturning Christianity, has been the work of the party from the beginning. This was their employment at home till they had ruined their own monarchy: and no sooner did they get footing in Germany, than, in a military fortress, they began to print the works of that infidel, who drew people on with his wit, till he ruined their hearts, and made each of his disciples as much the child of hell as he was himself. All the world knows that the first Republicans were heathens: therefore if the foundation of heathenism can be laid, a broad and easy way is open to a Republic. See who - they are that incline to this party: they are either persons of a false religion, or of no religion at all: the avaricious, whom nothing will satisfy; the prodigal, whom nothing will maintain; the ambitious, who have no other way of distinguishing themselves; the vicious, who can bear with no regular authority. The eyes of such persons the God of this world hath blinded, that he may lead them blindfold to their own destruction, and that of their country.
My brethren, you see who they are that despise dominion, and how they argue. When you consider that they are in a dream, be thankful to God who hath called you to awake out of sleep, and be of the number of those who are not of the night nor of darkness, but are children of light and truth. If you wish to have the advantage against them, be Christians: they will hate you the more, but they will prevail the less; for God, we hope, will be on our side. Let us, in one word, escape their sin, and we shall have no reason to be afraid of their power.
EXCEPT YE REPENT, YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH. LUKE xiii. VERSE 8.
^LLL impenitent sinners will be punished; but not immediately. Some are distinguished, for an example to others: and if those others do not take warning, they will then be doubly guilty, and deserve a double punishment.
Some people of Judea had been killed at Siloam by the falling of a tower upon their heads; and others of Galilee had been cruelly slaughtered by Pilate. In such cases, it was the manner of the Jews to argue, that if any suffered punishment, it was a sure sign they were sinners; and if their punishment was great, that their sin must have been great also. But with this they had another dangerous opinion; viz. that if a man were not punished, then it would follow, that he was not a sinner; at any rate, not so great a sinner as those that were punished. This was one way they had of justifying themselves, by comparing themselves with other men. When they told our Saviour how the Galileans had suffered; partly with design to affront him as a supposed Galilean, and partly out of curiosity to hear what he would say, they put this question to him: "Master, what great sin had those Galileans committed, that they suffered such things?" He does not answer to their curiosity, (which signified nothing) but he answers to their mistake; letting them know, that those men had not been chosen for punishment because they were the greatest of sinners; but to give warning to other sinners, as great or greater than themselves, that without repentance they also would certainly perish at some time or other. A tower might not fall upon their heads, to kill them in the midst of their rioting, as was the case at Siloam; neither might the sword of a tyrant slay them; yet they might be assured, they should at length perish under the vengeance of God; and this vengeance had already fallen upon some as an earnest and example to all the rest.
If you consider with yourselves what it is to perish, that is, to be lost and miserable to eternity; and that you must either perish or repent; I think you will be ready to hear what I have to offer upon the subject; and if your minds should hitherto have been careless and dead upon it, you will awake, and hear what is to be said: for at some time or other you must awake; and how much better is it to be called out of your sleep by a friend, than to be awakened in the morning by the voice of an executioner, calling you to your death!
I shall have but little difficulty in making you understand what it is to repent, if you recollect the vow you made at your baptism, to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil. These are the three enemies, which draw men into sin, and by binding- them down in it with a chain, hinder their repentance. The devil tempts you to pride, envy, malice, ignorance, cruelty, falsehood, and disobedience ; by the last of which, I mean rebellious undutifulness. The world tempts you to covetousness, vanity, the pursuit of pleasure, the love of shew and appearance : and covetousness draws you into injustice, fraud, oppression, and extortion. The flesh tempts you to excess, self-indulgence, sloth, intemperance, greediness, drunkenness, and all such sins as turn man into a beast; the worst of beasts, and the most odious, which is the swine. The law of God in the ten commandments, as you have been taught in your catechism, is pointed against all these sins, and, the law of God being known, conscience will be sure to tell you how and when you depart from it; and it will so often set your offences before you, that it requires very little art and skill to try and examine yourselves according to the plain rule of God's commandments. Your heart, if you listen to it, will soon tell you how you stand, in respect to the law of God on the one hand, and to your three enemies and their works on the other. To repent, is to forsake them and their works, and turn to God and his law; not in your words only, but in your hearts : for so the catechism teaches; that by repentance we do not only confess sin, but forsake it. I am convinced, that very little teaching is wanting to shew people what it is to forsake sin, and turn to God. Our Saviour says nothing about it in the text, but supposes his meaning to be sufficiently understood; and that nothing is wanting in his hearers, but a due consideration of the motive, which should lead all men to repentance: that except they repent, they shall perish. What a terrible word is this, if we could understand it now, as it will be understood by sinners hereafter : But, as it is said of the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, that they are