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was, "Your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you:" John xvi. 22. Was this promise fulfilled to them? Read Acts xiii. 52: They were filled with joy and the Holy Ghost." "The kingdom of God," saith Saint Paul, "is joy in the Holy Ghost:" Rom. xiv. 17. So that

virtues, it is also a quieting and consoling reflection for a different, and, in some degree, an opposite description of character, that is to say, for tender and timorous consciences. Such are sometimes troubled with doubts and scruples about even their good actions. Virtue was too easy for them, or too difficult; too easy and plea-St. Paul, you hear, takes his very description and sant to have any merit in it: or difficult by rea- definition of Christianity from the joy which is son of fleshy, selfish, or depraved propensities, diffused over the heart; and St. Paul, I am very still existing unsubdued, still struggling in their confident, described nothing but what he felt. unregenerated hearts. These are natural, and, as Yet St. Paul did not meditate upon his virtues: I have sometimes known them, very distressing nay, expressly renounced that sort of meditation. scruples. I think that observations might be of His meditations, on the contrary, were fixed upon fered to remove the ground of them altogether: his own unworthiness, and upon the exceeding, but what I have at present to suggest is, that the stupendous mercy of God towards him, through very act of reflection, which leads to them, is un-Jesus Christ his Saviour. At least, we have his necessary, provided you will proceed by our rule, own authority for saying, that, in his Christian viz. to leave your virtues, such as they are, to progress, he never looked back; he forgot that themselves; and to bend the whole force of your which was behind, whatever it might be, which thought towards your sins, towards the conquest he had already attained; he refused to remember it, he put it out of his thoughts. Yet, upon this topic of religious joy, hear him again: "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ:" Rom. v. 11; and once more, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace:" Gal. v. 22. These last are three memorable words, and they describe, not the effects of ruminating upon a man's own vir


I answer, that this can be done without medi-tues, but the fruit of the Spirit. tating upon our good actions. We need not seek But it is not in one apostle in whom we find the comforts of religion in this way. Much we this temper of mind, it is in them all. Speaking need not seek them at all; they will visit us of of the Lord Jesus Christ, St. Peter thus addresses their own accord, if we be serious and hearty in his converts: "Whom having not seen, ye love; our religion. A well-spent life will impart its sup-in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believ port to the spirits, without any endeavour, on our ing ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of part, to call up our merits to our view, or even al- glory:" 1 Peter i. 8. This joy covered even lowing the idea of merit to take possession of our their persecutions and sufferings: "Wherein ye minds. There will, in this respect, always be as greatly rejoice, though now, for a season if need much difference as there ought to be, between the be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptarighteous man and the sinner, (or, to speak more tions," 1 Peter i. 6, meaning persecutions. In properly, between sinners of different degrees,) like manner St. James saith, "Count it all joy without taking pains to draw forth in our recol- when ye fall into divers temptations, that is, perselection instances of our virtue, or to institute acutions;" and why? "knowing this, that the trycomparison between ourselves and others, or cer-ing of your faith worketh patience:" James i. 2, 3. tain others of our acquaintance. These are habits, Let no one, after these quotations, say, that it is which I hold to be unchristian and wrong; and necessary to fix our attention upon the virtues of that the true way of finding and feeling the con- our character in order to taste the comforts of resolations of religion, is by progressively conquer-ligion. No persons enjoyed these comforts in so ing our sins. Think of these; contend with great perfection as the Christians whom we read these, and, if you contend with sincerity, and of in Scripture, yet no persons thought so little with effect, which is the proof indeed of sincerity, of their own virtues. What they continually I will answer for the comforts of religion being thought upon was the abounding love of Christ your portion. What is it that disturbs our reli- towards them, "in that, whilst they were yet gious tranquillity? What is it that embitters or sinners, he died for them," and the tender and eximpairs our religious comfort, damps and checks ceeding mercies of God in the pardon of their sins, our religious hopes, hinders us from relishing through Christ. From this they drew their conand entertaining these ideas, from turning to solation; but the ground and origin of this train them, as a supply of consolation under all circum- of thought was, not the contemplation of virtue, stances? What is it but our sins? Depend upon but the conviction of sin. it, that it is sin, and nothing else, which spoils our religious comfort. Cleanse your heart from sin, and religion will enter in, with all her train of hopes and consolations. For proof of this, we may, as before, refer to the examples of Scripture Christians. They rejoiced in the Lord continually. "The joy of faith," Phil. i. 25. "Joy in the Holy Ghost," Rom. xiv. 17, was the word in their mouths, the sentiment of their hearts. They spake of their religion as of a strong consolation, as of the "refuge to which they had fled, as of the hope of which they had laid hold, of an anchor of the soul sure and steadfast:" Heb. vi. 18, 19. Their promise from the Lord Jesus Christ 4 A

of these.

But it will be said, are we not to taste the comforts of religion? Are we not to be permitted, or rather ought we not to be encouraged, to relish, to indulge, to enjoy these comforts? And can this be done without meditating upon our good

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But again: The custom of viewing our virtue, has a strong tendency to fill us with fallacious notions of our own state and condition. One almost constant deception is this, viz. that in whatever quality we have pretensions, or believe that we have pretensions to excel, that quality we place at the head of all other virtues. If we be charitable, then "charity covereth a multitude of sins." If we be strictly honest, then strict honesty is no less than the bond which keeps society together; and consequently, is that without which other virtues would have no worth, or rather no existence. If we be temperate and chaste, then self-government being the hardest of all duties, is


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to the words, sins and crimes; meaning thereby acts of gross and external wickedness. But think further; enlarge your views. Is your obedience to the law of God what it ought to be, or what it might be? The first commandment of that law is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." Is there, upon the subject of this commandment, no matter for thought, no room for amendment? The second commandment is, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Is all with us as it should be here? Again, there is a spirituality in the commands of Christ's reli

the surest test of obedience. Now every one of these propositions is true; but the misfortune is, that only one of them is thought of at the time, and that the one which favours our own particular case and character. The comparison of different virtues, as to their price and value, may give occasion to many nice questions; and some rules might be laid down upon the subject; but I contend that the practice itself is useless, and not only useless but delusive. Let us leave, as I have already said, our virtues to themselves, not engaging our minds in appreciating either their intrinsic or comparative value; being assured that they will be weighed in unerring scales. Our bu-gion, which will cause the man who obeys them siness is with our sins. truly, not only to govern his actions, but his words. Again: The habit of contemplating our spirit- not only his words, but his inclinations and his ual acquirements, our religious or moral excellen- dispositions, his internal habits, as well as his excies, has, very usually, and, I think, almost una-ternal life. "Ye have heard that it hath been voidably, an unfavourable effect upon our dispo- said of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: sition towards other men. A man who is con- But I say unto you, He that looketh on a woman tinually computing his riches, almost in spite of to lust after her," that is, he who voluntarily inhimself, grows proud of his wealth. A man who dulges and entertains in his mind an unlawful accustoms himself to read and inquire, and think desire, "hath committed adultery with her already a great deal about his family, becomes vain of his in his heart," is by the very entertainment of such extraction: he can hardly help becoming so. A ideas, instead of striving honestly and resolutely to man who has his titles sounding in his ears, or banish them from his mind, or to take his mind his state much before his eyes, is lifted up by his off from them, a sinner in the sight of God. rank. These are effects which every one observes; Much the same kind of exposition belongs to and no inconsiderable degree of the same effect the other commandments; not only is murder forsprings from the habit of meditating upon our bidden, but all unreasonable intemperate anger virtues. Now humble-mindedness is a Christian and passion; not only stealing, but all hard and duty, if there be one. It is more than a duty; it unfair conduct, either in transacting business with is a principle. It is a principle of the religion; those who are upon a level with us, or, where it and its influence is exceedingly great, not only is more to be feared, towards those who are in our upon our religious, but our social character. They power. And do not these points open to us a who are truly humble-minded, have no quarrels, field of inquiry, how far we are concerned in them? give no offence, contend with no one in wrath and There may not be what, strictly speaking, can be bitterness; still more impossible is it for them to in- called an act or deed, which is scandalously bad; sult any man under any circumstances. But the yet the current of our imaginations, the bent of way to be humble-minded is the way I am pointing our tempers, the stream of our affections, may out, viz. to think less of our virtues, and more of our all, or any of them, be wrong, and may be requir sins. In reading the parable of the Pharisee and ing, even at the peril of our salvation, stronger the publican, if we could suppose them to be real control, a better direction. characters, I should say of them, that the one had just come from ruminating upon his virtues, the other from meditating upon his sins. And mark the difference; first, in their behaviour; next, in their acceptance with God. The pharisee all loftiness, and contemptuousness, and recital, and comparison, full of ideas of merit, views the poor publican, although withdrawn to a distance from him, with eyes of scorn. The publican, on the contrary, enters not into competition with the pharisee, or with any one. So far from looking round, he durst not so much as lift up his eyes; but casts himself, hardly indeed presumes to cast himself, not upon the justice, but wholly and solely upon the mercies of his Maker: "God be merciful to me a sinner." We know the judgment which our Lord himself pronounced upon the case: "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other:" Luke xviii. 14. The more, therefore, we are like the publican, and the less we are like the pharisee, the more we come up to the genuine temper of Christ's religion.

Think, then, less of your virtues; more of your sins. Do I hear any one answer, I have no sins to think upon; I have no crimes which lie upon my conscience: I reply, that this may be true with respect to some, nay, with respect to many persons, according to the idea we commonly annex

Again: There may not be any action which, singly and separately taken, amounts to what would be reckoned a crime: yet there may be actions, which we give into, which even our own consciences cannot approve; and these may be so frequent with us, as to form a part of the course and fashion of our lives.

Again: It is possible, that some of the miscarriages in conduct, of which we have to accuse ourselves, may be imputable to inadvertency or surprise. But could these miscarriages happen so often as they do, if we exercised that vigilance in our Christian course, which not only forms a part of the Christian character, but is a sure effect of a sincere faith in religion, and a corresponding solicitude and concern about it? Lastly, uprofitableness itself is a sin. We need not do mischief in order to commit sin; uselessness, when we might be useful, is enough to make us sinners before God. The fig-tree in the Gospel was cut down, not because it bore sour fruit, but because it bore none. The parable of the talents (Matt xxv. 14.) is pointed expressly against the simple neglect of faculties and opportunities of doing good, as contradistinguished from the perpetration of positive crimes. Are not all these topics fit matters of meditation, in the review of our lives? Upon the whole, when I hear a person say he has no sins to think upon, I conclude that he

their imperfections, for acceptance through him, of broken and deficient services, the truth is, they Let our sins, then, be ever before us; if not our have recourse to no such hope; besides, it is not crimes, of which it is possible that, according to imperfection with which they are charged, but a the common acceptation of that word, we may not total absence of principle. A man who never have many to remember; let our omissions, defi- strives to obey, never indeed bears that thought ciencies, failures, our irregularities of heart and af- about him, must not talk of the imperfection of fection, our vices of temper and disposition, our his obedience: neither the word, nor the idea, course and habit of giving into smaller offences, pertains to him; nor can he speak of broken and meaning, as I do mean, by offences, all those deficient services, who in no true sense of the things which our consciences cannot really ap- terin hath ever served God at all. I own, thereprove; our slips, and inadvertencies and surprises, fore, I do not perceive what rational hopes religion much too frequent for a man in earnest about sal- can hold out to insensibility and unconcernedness; vation: let these things occupy our attention; let to those who neither obey its rules, nor seek its this be the bent and direction of our thoughts: for aid: neither follow after its rewards, nor sue, I they are the thoughts which will bring us to God mean, in spirit and sincerity, sue, for its pardon. evangelically; because they are the thoughts But how, it will be asked, can a man be of regular which will not only increase our vigilance, but and reputable morals, with this religious insensibiwhich must inspire us with that humility as to lity: in other words, with the want of vital reliourselves, with that deep, and abiding, and opera-gion in his heart? I answer, that it can be. A ting sense of God Almighty's love and kindness general regard to character, knowing that it is an and mercy towards us, in and through Jesus advantageous thing to possess a good character; Christ our Saviour, which it was one great aim or a regard generated by natural and early habit; and end of the Gospel, and of those who preached a disposition to follow the usages of life, which are it, to inculcate upon all who came to take hold of practised around us, and which constitute decenthe offer of grace. cy; calm passions, easy circumstances, orderly companions, may, in a multitude of instances, keep men within rules and bounds, without the operation of any religious principle whatever.

There is likewise another cause, which has a tendency to shut out religion from the mind, and yet hath at the same time a tendency to make men orderly and decent in their conduct: and that cause is business. A close attention to business is very apt to exclude all other attentions; especially those of a spiritual nature, which appear to men of business shadowy and unsubstantial, and to want that present reality and advantage which they have been accustomed to look for and to find in their temporal concerns; and yet it is undoubtedly true, that attention to business frequent

IT has been thought an extravagant doctrine, that the greatest sinners were sometimes nearer to the kingdom of heaven than they whose offences were less exorbitant, and less conspicuous: yet

I apprehend, the doctrine wants only to be ration-ly and naturally produces regular manners. Here, therefore, is a case, in which decency of behaviour shall subsist along with religious insensibility, forasmuch as one cause produces both-an intense application to business.

ally explained, to show that it has both a great deal of truth, and a great deal of use in it; that it may be an awakening religious proposition to some, whilst it cannot, without being wilfully misconstrued, delude or deceive any.

Of all conditions in the world, the most to be despaired of, is the condition of those who are altogether insensible and unconcerned about religion; and yet they may be, in the mean time, tolerably regular in their outward behaviour; there may be nothing in it to give great offence; their character may be fair; they may pass with the common stream, or they may even be well spoken of; nevertheless, I say, that, whilst this insensibility remains upon their minds, their condition is more to be despaired of than that of any other person. The religion of Christ does not in any way apply to them: they do not belong to it; for are they to be saved by performing God's will? God is not in their thoughts; his will is not before their eyes. They may do good things, but it is not from a principle of obedience to God that they do them. There may be many crimes which they are not guilty of; but it is not out of regard to the will of God that they do not commit them. It does not, therefore, appear, what just hopes they can entertain of heaven, upon the score of an obedience which they not only do not perform, but do not attempt to perform. Then, secondly, if they are to hope in Christ for a forgiveness of

has not thought seriously concerning religion at all.



Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much. Luke vii. 47.

Decency, order, regularity, industry, application to our calling, are all good things; but then they are accompanied with this great danger, viz. that they may subsist without any religious influence whatever; and that, when they do so, their tendency is to settle and confirm men in religious insensibility. For finding things go on very smoothly, finding themselves received and respected without any religious principle, they are kept asleep, as to their spiritual concerns, by the very quietness and prosperity of things around them. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." It is possible to slumber in a fancied security, or rather in an unconsciousness of danger, a blindness to our true situation, a thoughtlessness or stupefaction concerning it, even at the time when we are in the utmost peril of salvation; when we are descending fast towards a state of perdition. It is not the judgment of an erroneous conscience: that is not the case I mean. It is rather a want of conscience, or a conscience which is never exerted; in a word, it is an indifference and insensibility concerning religion, even in the midst of seeming and external decency of behaviour, and soothed and lulled by this very circumstance.


misconstruing it.

Now it is not only within the compass of possibi-1 God is turned into lasciviousness. At the time lity, but it frequently, nay, I hope, it very fre- this design is formed, the person forming it is in quently comes to pass, that open, confessed, the bond of iniquity, as St. Peter told Simon he acknowledged sins, sting the sinner's conscience: was; in a state of eminent perdition; and this that the upbraidings of mankind, the cry, the cla- design will not help him out of it. We say that mour, the indignation, which his wickedness has repentance is sometimes more likely to be brought excited, may at length come home to his own soul; about in a confessed, nay, notorious and convicted may compel him to reflect, may bring him, though sinner, than in a seemingly regular life: but it is by force and violence, to a sense of his guilt, and of true repentance that we speak, and no true a knowledge of his situation. Now I say, that repentance can proceed from a previous intention this sense of sin, by whatever cause it be produced, to repent, I mean an intention previous to the sin. is better than religious insensibility. The sinner's Therefore no advantage can be taken of this docpenitence is more to be trusted to than the seem-trine to the encouragement of sin, without wilfully ingly righteous man's security. The one is roused; is roused from the deep forgetfulness of religion in which he had hitherto lived. Good fruit, even fruit unto life everlasting, may spring from the motion which is stirred in his heart. The other remains, as to religion, in a state of torpor. The thing wanted, as the quickening principle, as the seed and germ of religion in the heart, is compunction, convincement of sin, of danger, of the necessity of flying to the Redeemer and to his religion in good earnest. "They were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" This was the state of mind of those who first heard the Gospel: and this is the state of mind still to be brought about before the Gospel be heard with effect. And sin will sometimes do it, when outward righteousness will not; I mean by outward righteousness, external decency of manners, without any inward principle of religion whatever. The sinner may return and fly to God, even because the world is against him. The visibly righteous man is friendship with the world and the "friendship of the world is enmity with God," whensoever, as I have before expressed it, it soothes and lulls men in religiously. insensibility.

But then you say, we place the sinner in a more hopeful condition than the righteous. But who, let us inquire, are the righteous we speak of? Not they, who are endeavouring, however imperfectly, to perform the will of God; not they, who are actuated by a principle of obedience to him; but men who are orderly and regular in their visible behaviour without an internal religion. To the eye of man they appear righteous. But if they do good, it is not from the love or fear of God, or out of regard to religion that they do it, but from other considerations. If they abstain from sin, they abstain from it out of different motives from what religion offers; and so long as they have the acquiescence and appro bation of the world, they are kept in a state of sleep; in a state, as to religion, of total negligence and unconcern. Of these righteous men there are many; and, when we compare their condition with that of the open sinner, it is to rouse them, if possible, to a sense of religion. A wounded conscience is better than a conscience which is torpid. When conscience begins to do its office, they will feel things changed within them mighti

It will no longer be their concern to keep fair with the world, to preserve appearances, to maintain a character, to uphold decency, order, and regularity in their behaviour; but it will be their concern to obey God, to think of him, to love him, to fear him; nay, to love him with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul, with all their strength; that is, to direct their cares and endeavours to one single point, his will; yet their visible conduct may not be much altered: but their internal motives and principle will be altered, altogether.

This alteration must take place in the heart, even of the seemingly righteous. It may take place also in the heart of the sinner; and, we say, (and this is, in truth, the whole which we say) that a conscience pricked by sin is sometimes, nay oftentimes, more susceptible of the impres sions of religion, of true and deep impressions, than a mind which has been accustomed to look only to the laws and customs of the world, to conform itself to those laws, and to find rest and satisfaction in that peace, which not God, but the world gives.

But how, it will be said, is this? Is it not to encourage sin? Is it not to put the sinner in a more hopeful condition than the righteous? Is it not, in some measure, giving the greatest sinner the greatest chance of being saved? This may be objected; and the objection brings me to support the assertion in the beginning of my discourse, that the doctrine proposed cannot, without being wilfully misconstrued, deceive or delude any. First, you ask, is not this to encourage sin? I answer, it is to encourage the sinner who repents; and, if the sinner repent, why should he not be encouraged? But some, you say, will take occasion, from this encouragement, to plunge into sin. I answer, that then they wilfully misapply it: for if they enter upon sin intending to repent afterwards, I take upon me to tell them, that no true repentance can come of such intention. The very intention is a fraud: instead of being the parent of true repentance, it is itself to be repented of bitterly. Whether such a man ever repent or not is another question, but no sincere repentance can issue or proceed from this intention. It must come altogether from another quarter. It will look back, when it does come, upon that previous intention with hatred and horror, as upon a plan, and scheme, and design to impose upon and abuse the mercy of God. The moment a plan is formed of sinning with an intention afterwards to repent, at that moment the whole doctrine of grace, of repentance, and of course this part of it amongst the rest, is wilfully misconstrued. The grace of



Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the father

upon the children unto the third and fourth | morality, or true virtue, where there is false religeneration of them that hate me.-Exodus xx. 5. gion, false worship, false gods; for which reason you find, that this great article (for such it then was) was not only made the subject of a command, but placed at the head of all the rest. Nay, more; from the whole strain and tenor of the Old Tes tament, there is good reason to believe, that the maintaining in the world the knowledge and worship of the one God, holy, just, and good, in contradiction to the idolatrous worship which prevailed, was the great and principal scheme and end of the Jewish polity and most singular constitution. As the Jewish nation, therefore, was to be the depository of, and the means of preserving in the world, the knowledge and worship of the one true God, when it was lost and darkened in other countries, it became of the last importance to the execution of this purpose, that this nation should be warned and deterred, by every moral Se-means, from sliding themselves into those practices, those errors, and that crime, against which it was the very design of their institution that they should strive and contend.

THESE words form part of the second commandment. It need not be denied, that there is an apparent harshness in this declaration, with which the minds even of good and pious men have been sometimes sensibly affected. To visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, even the third and fourth generation, is not, at first sight, at least, so reconcileable to our apprehensions of justice and equity, as that we should expect to find it in a solemn publication of the will of God. I think, however, that a fair and candid interpretation of the words before us will remove a great deal of the difficulty, and of the objection which lies against them. My exposition of the passage is contained in these four articles:-First, that the denunciation and sentence relate to the sin of idolatry in particular, if not to that alone. condly, That it relates to temporal, or, more properly speaking, to family prosperity and adversity. Thirdly, That it relates to the Jewish economy, in that particular administration of a visible pro- The form of expression used in the second comvidence, under which they lived. Fourthly, that mandment, and in this very part of it, much faat no rate does it affect, or was ever meant to af-vours the interpretation for which I argue, namefect, the acceptance or salvation of individuals in a ly, that the sentence or threatening was aimed future life. against the sin of idolatry alone. The words are, First, I say, that the denunciation and sentence "For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and relate to the sin of idolatry in particular, if not to visit the sins of the fathers upon the children." that alone. The prohibition of the commandment These two things, of being jealous, and of visiting is pointed against that particular offence, and no the sins of the fathers upon the children, are spoother. The first and second commandment may ken of God in conjunction; and in such a manner, be considered as one, inasmuch as they relate to as to show that they refer to one subject. Now one subject, or nearly so. For many ages, and jealousy implies a rival. God's being jealous by many churches, they were put together, and means, that he would not allow any other god to considered as one commandment. The subject to share with himself in the worship of his creatures: which they both relate, is false worship, or the that is what is imported in the word jealous; and, worship of false gods. This is the single subject, therefore, that is the subject to which the threat to which the prohibition of both commandments of visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children relates; the single class of sins which is guarded is applied. According to this interpretation, the folagainst. Although, therefore, the expression be, lowing expressions of the commandment, "Them "the sins of the fathers," without specifying in that hate me, and them that love me," signify that clause what sins, yet in fair construction, and them that forsake and desert my worship and reindeed in common construction, we may well sup-ligion for the worship and religion of other gods, pose it to be that kind and class of sins, for the and them who adhere firmly and faithfully to my restraint of which the command was given, and worship, in opposition to every other worship. against which its force was directed. The punishment, threatened by any law, must naturally be applied to the offence particularly forbidden by that law, and not to offences in general.

One reason why you may not probably perceive the full weight of what I am saying, is, that we do not at this day understand, or think much concerning the sin of idolatry, or the necessity, or importance of God's delivering a specific, a solemn, a terrifying sentence against it. The sin itself hath in a manner ceased from among us: other sins, God knows, have come in its place; but this, in a great measure, is withdrawn from our observation: whereas in the age of the world, and among those people, when and to whom the ten commandments were promulgated, false worship, or the worship of false gods, was the sin, which lay at the root and foundation of every other. The worship of the one true God, in opposition to the vain, and false, and wicked religions, which had then obtained amongst mankind, was the grand point to be inculcated. It was the contest then carried on; and the then world, as well as future ages, were deeply interested in it. History testifies, experience testifies, that there cannot be true

My second proposition is, that the threat relates to temporal, or, more properly speaking, to family prosperity and adversity. In the history of the Jews, most particularly of their kings, of whom, as was to be expected, we read and know the most, we meet with repeated instances of this same threat being both pronounced and executed against their family prosperity; and for this very same cause, their desertion of the true God, and going over, after the example of the nations around them to the worship of false gods. Amongst various other instances, one is very memorable and very direct to our present argument; and that is the instance of Ahab, who of all the idolatrous kings of Israel was the worst. The punishment threatened and denounced against his crime was this: "Behold I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha, the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger and made Israel to sin." The provocation, you will observe, was the introduction of false gods into his kingdom; and the prophet here not only threatens Ahab with the ruin and

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