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on earth can have an equal claim to the attention of mankind.

As I conceive the importance of religious investigation to be immediately evident, it were useless to dwell on a point so manifest and indisputable ; and this being acknowledged, it is equally clear, that it must be the interest of every one to enter upon the discussion at a time when he is most likely to arrive at truth. In the judgments that are formed of men and things, we may perceive without any uncommon share of discernment, or depth of research, how much depends upon preconceived notions and modes of life,-upon habits of thinking and habits of acting. Matters, therefore, of great and lasting concern, we cannot begin to weigh too early, after the understanding has attained sufficient maturity, and the first and most necessary inquiry in which mortal man can be engaged,necessary to his peace, security, and happiness, is to search and prove whether “the Lord or Baal be God;" whether the “preaching of the cross be foolishness,” or “the power of God unto salvation;" and whether it be the part of true wisdom to provide for “ things temporal, or for things eternal.” Let this, then, be the chief and


leading object of every one, in the prime of life, in the vigour of intellect; while the heart is open to the influence of truth, and the judgment unclouded by “the deceitfulness of sin.”

Thirdly, What are the opinions and motives, between which men halt and hesitate ? We, in this age and country, are not like those, whom Elijah assembled in days of yore, fluctuating between idolatry and the worship of Jehovah : we are not at one time listening to “the prophets of the groves,” supported by regal patronage, and at another to the solitary servant of the Lord, repairing the dilapidated and deserted altar: we know that “there is none other God but one,and have not the shadow of a doubt, that it was He, who,“ in the beginning,” at whatever period we may compute it, “ created the heavens and the earth.” What curiosity or scepticism has now to ask and decide, is this—whether the Creator superintends and preserves what He has made ? whether there be any divine lazo which we are commanded to observe? whether man be accountable for his actions, and what are to be the final consequences of negligence or disobedience? These questions, if with any of us they can yet be questions, may be at once resolved, by ascer

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taining whether Jesus Christ “came down from heaven," and whether the word He taught has been faithfully transmitted to us; for if He be, indeed, the Messenger and the Delegate of the Most High, and if the Gospel, now in our possession, contains what “ His Father and our Father, His God and our God," sent and commissioned Him to reveal, and to enjoin, the rest must follow of course; since in that Gospel it is expressly and repeatedly declared, beyond the possibility of dispute or cavil, that there is a Providence, a law of universal obligation, and a future state of retribution. Concerning tenets of less moment, believers of different sects may vary in opinion; but as to these fundamental truths, all Christians, whatever be their party, must be “ of one accord,-of one mind.” Every follower of Jesus knows, with a certainty almost amounting to demonstration, that not even “a sparrow falleth to the ground without his heavenly Father ;” that the “ grace of God,” the Gospel, that law of universal obligation, “ hath appeared unto all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world;" and that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that which he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

Now shall I ask? Nay, rather let every one ask himself; let him consult, not the priest or the confessor, not the presbyter or the prelate, but that inward counsellor, his own heart ; that best casuist, if it be sound and unprejudiced, his own understanding : let him ask himself, whether it be prudent, whether it be safe, to remain in a state of darkness and indecision, respecting questions and interests like these ? Can it be the part of a creature, endowed with reason, and amply supplied with the means of knowledge, to have before his eyes,-to hold daily in his hand, —the book of immortality,—that sacred volume, which at least professes to have the words of eternal life, yet neglect to open it, that he may read, and learn, and live? Shall a being, thus gifted, and exalted above every living thing, lay aside his noble nature, degrade himself into a mere associate of brutes, and continue “ eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage," :-anxious only to make “ provision for the flesh ?" With powers to think, compare, and judge, shall he be content, like the dumb tenants of the field, and the wild herd of the forest, to roam through a world where he sees “all things come to an end,” without ascertaining whether he has an immortal soul, and at length descend to the dark chambers of the grave, ignorant, almost indifferent, whether his sleep be eternal ? Will you call this fatuity, or frenzy ?—Language has no terms to express this depth of folly. Such palsied apathy, such brutality of intellect, were far, far beyond the “frowardness of fools.”—It were hopeless, desperate insanity. But, in fact, such mental deadness is

very rare: neither is it incredulity, or distrust, as to the great doctrines of natural and revealed religion, which cripples the sinews of action, and makes men halt: there is little deficiency of speculative faith ; there is belief enough in the head, we want belief in the heart. Steady, determined, persevering atheism scarcely exists; nor is deism by any means so prevalent as is often supposed; but, in every land, the majority of

professing Christians satisfy themselves with the chill assent of the understanding, or the passive reception of established creeds, and move on in the beaten track, without impressing the truth so

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