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faults, or involuntary passions, which we have enumerated, and for which evangelical abatements are reserved. This is a blow struck at legislative authority. What, then, ought a merchant to do, who is engaged in a commerce, which necessarily obligeth him to violate a law of the state concerning impost? He ought to give up this commerce, and to quit a way of living, which he knows, is iniquitous in itself. If he cannot prevail with himself to make this sacrifice, all his hopes of being saved are fallacious.
We every day hear military men affirm, that it is impossible to wear a sword with honor without professing to be always disposed to revenge, and to violate all laws human and divine, which forbid duelling. We do not inquire the truth of the assertion, we suppose it true. We do not examine, whether prudence could not in all cases suggest proper means to free men from a tyrannical point of honor, or whether there really be any case, in which gentlemen are indispensibly obliged either to quit the army, or to violate the precepts, that commands us to give up a spirit of resentment. We only affirm, that a military man, who constantly and deliberately harbors a design of always avenging himself in certain cases, is in this miserable list of sinners, who, by offending in one point are guilty of all. We do not affirm, that he would be in this guilty condition, if he could not promise to resist a disposition to revenge in every future moment of his life: we only affirm, that he is guilty of a violation of the whole law, if he do not sincerely and uprightly resolve to resist this inclination. You cannot be a christian without having a fixed resolution to seal the truths of the gospel with your blood, if it please providence to call you to martyrdom. You cannot, however, pro
mise, that the sight of racks and stakes shall never shake your resolution, nor ever induce you to violáte your sincere determination to die for religion, if it should please providence, to expose you to death on account of it. It is sufficient for the tranquillity of your conscience, that you have formed a resolution to suffer rather than deny the faith. In like manner, we do not affirm, that a military man is guilty of the offence, with which we have charged him, if he cannot engage never to be carried away with an excess of passion inclining him to revenge; we only say, if he coolly determine always to avenge himself in certain cases, he directly attacks the authority of the lawgiver. He off ndeth in one point, and he is guilty of all. If a man cannot profess to bear arms without harboring a fixed intention of violating all laws human and divine, that prohibit duelling, even to those, who receive the most cruel affronts, either the profession of arins, or the hope of salvation must be given up. No man in the army can assure himself that he is in a state of grace, unless his conscience attests, that he will avoid, with all possible circumspection, every case, in which a tyrannical point of honor renders revenge necessary; and that, if ever he be, in spite of all his precautions, in such a case, when he must either resign his military employments, or violate the laws, that forbid revenge, he will obey the law, and resign his military honors.
It is too often seen, that our relation to some offenders inspires us with indulgence for their offences. This kind of temptation is never more difficult to surmount than when we are called to bear a faithful testimony concerning the state of our brethren, who refuse to sacrifice their fortune and their country to religion, and a good conscience. But what relation is so near as to pre-occupy our
minds to such a degree as to prevent our considering the life of such a person, as it really is, bad in itself, or what pretext can be plausible enough to authorise it? We have sounded in their ears a thousand times these thundering words of the Son of God, Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels, Luke ix. 26. He that loveth father or mother, son or daughter, and, we may add, he, that loveth houses. or lands, ease, riches, or honors, more than me, is not worthy of me, Matt. x. 37. We have summoned them by the sacred promises and solemn engagements, which some of them have entered into at the table of the Lord, while they partook of the significant symbols of the body and blood of the Saviour, to devote themselves to the glory of God, and the edification of his church. We have unveiled their hearts, and shewn them how the artfulness of their ingenious passions exculpated their conduct by putting specious pretexts in the place of solid reasons. We have reproved them for pretending, that they dare not face the danger of attempting to flee, when the government forbad their quitting the kingdom, and now liberty is granted, for making that a reason for staying: We have described the numerous advantages of public worship; we have proved, that the preaching of the gospel is, if I may speak so, the food of christian virtues; and that, when people have accustomed themselves to live without the public exercises of religion, they insensibly lose that delicacy of conscience, without which they cannot either be good christians, or, what are called in the world, men of honor and probity; we have demonstrated this assertion by an unexceptionable
argument taken from experience; we have said, Observe that man, who was formerly so very scrupulous of retaining the property of his neighbor, see, he retains it now without any scruple: observe those parents, who were formerly so tender of their children, see now with what inhumanity they leave them to struggle with want. We have represented to them, that to reside where the spirit of persecution is only smothered, not extinguished, is to betray religion, by exposing the friends of it to the hazard of being martyred, without having any assurance of being possessed with a spirit of martyrdom; and we have endeavored to convince them, that he, who flatters himself, he shall be able to undergo martyrdom, and lives where he is liable to it, while providence opens a way of escape, is presumptuous in the highest degree, and exposeth himself to such misery as the son of Sirach denounces, when he says, He, that loveth danger, shall perish therein, Eccles. iii. 26. Not having been able to remove them by motives taken from their own interest, we have tried to effect them with the interest of their children. We have told them, that their posterity will live without any religion, that they will have too much knowledge to adhere to superstition, and too little to profess the true religion; and this sad prophecy has been already verified in their families. To all these demonstrations they are insensible; they wilfully shut their eyes against the light; they guard themselves against the force of these exhortations; they are forging new fetters for themselves, which will confine them to a place, of which God has said, Come out of her my people! that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues, Rev. xviii. 4. They build, they plant, they marry, they give in marriage, and thus they have abused the patience
of thirty five years, in which they have been invited to repent. I ask again, what relation can be so near as to prevail with us to put this kind of life among the frailties, for which evangelical abatemen's are reserved ?
Let us all, as far as providential circumstances will allow, follow a profession compatible with our duty. Let us do more, let us endeavor so to arrange our affairs that our professions may stimulate us to obedience, and that every thing around us may direct our attention to God. Alas! in spite of all our precautions, sin will too often carry us away; we shall too often forget our Creator, how loud soever every voice around us proclaims his beneficence to us, and his excellences in himself. But how great will our defection be, if our natural inclinations be strengthened by the engagements of our condition! A kind of life wicked of itself is the first sort of sin of which my text says, Whosoever offendeth in one point is guilty of all.
2. In the same class we put sinners, who cherish a darling passion. Few hearts are so depraved as to be inclined to all excesses. Few souls are so insensible to the grand interest of their salvation as to be unwilling to do any thing towards obtaining salvation. But, at the same time, where is the heart so renewed as to have no evil disposition? And how few christians are there, who love their salvation so as to sacrifice all to the obtaining of it? The offender, of whom we speak, pretends to compound with his law-giver. Is he inclined to avarice? he will say, Lord! allow me to gratify my love of money, and I am ready to give up my disposition to revenge. Is he inclined to revenge ? Lord! allow me to be vindictive, and I will sacrifice my avarice. Is he disposed to voluptuousness? Lord! suffer me to retain my Drusilla, and my