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forgetting the nearness or the approach of that, which must bring with it the greatest evil or the greatest good we are capable of, our change at death. Though we cannot exactly offer any arguments to show that it is either certainly or probably at a distance, yet we have the means of regarding it in our minds as though it were at a distance; and this even in cases in which it cannot

possibly be so. Do we prepare for it?. no; why? because we regard it in our imaginations as at a distance; we cannot prove that it is at a distance; nay, the contrary may be proved against us: but still we regard it so in our imaginations, and regard it so practically; for imagination is with most men the practical principle. But, however strong and general this delusion be, has it any foundation in reason? Can that be thought at a distance which may come to-morrow, which must come in a few years? In a very few years to most of us, in a few years to all, it will be fixed and decided, whether we are to be in heaven or hell; yet we go on without thinking of it, without preparing for it: and it is exceedingly.observable, that it is only in religion we thus put

away the thought from us. In the settlement of our worldly affairs after our deaths, which exactly depend upon the same event, commence at the same time, are equally distant, if either were distant, equally liable to uncertainty, as to when the disposition will take place, in these, I say, men are not usually negligent, or think that by reason of its distance it can be neglected, or by reason of the uncertainty when it may happen, left unprovided for. This is a flagrant inconsistency, and proves decisively that religion possesses a small portion of our concern, in proportion with what it ought to do. For instead of giving to it that superiority which is due to immortal concerns, above those which are transitory, perishable, and perishing, it is not even put upon an equality with them; nor with those which, in respect to time, and the uncertainty of time, are under the same circumstances with itself.

Thirdly; the spiritual character of religion is another great impediment to its entering our thoughts. All religion, which is effectual, is and must be spiritual. Offices

and ordinances are the handmaids and instruments of the spiritual religion, calculated to generate, to promote, to maintain, to uphold it in the heart, but the thing itself is purely spiritual. Now the flesh weigheth down the spirit, as with a load and burden. It is difficult to rouse the human constitution to a sense and perception of what is purely spiritual.


who are addicted, not only to vice, but to gratifications and pleasures; they who know no other rule than to go with the crowd in the career of dissipation and amusement: they whose attentions are all fixed and engrossed by business, whose minds from morning to night are counting and computing; the weak, and foolish, and stupid; lastly, which comprehends a class of mankind deplorably numerous, the indolent and slothful; none of these can bring themselves to meditate upon religion. The last class slumber over its interests and concerns; perhaps they cannot be said to forget it absolutely, but they slumber over the subject, in which state nothing as to their salvation gets done, no decision, no practice. There are, therefore, we see,

various obstacles and infirmities in our constitutions, which obstruct the reception of religious ideas in our mind, still more such a voluntary entertainment of them as may bring forth fruit. It ought, therefore, to be our constant prayer to God, that he will open our hearts to the influence of his word, by which is meant that he will so quicken and actuate the sensibility and vigour of our minds, as to enable us to attend to the things which really and truly belong to our peace.

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So soon as religion gains that hold and that possession of the heart, which it must do to become the means of our salvation, things change within us, as in many other respects, so especially in this. We think a great deal more frequently about it, we think of it for a longer continuance, and our thoughts of it have much more of vivacity and impressiveness. First, we begin to think of religion more frequently than we did. Heretofore we never thought of it at all, except when some melancholy incident had sunk our spirits, or had terrified our apprehensions; it was either from

lowness or from fright that we thought of religion at all. Whilst things went smoothly and prosperously and gaily with us, whilst all was well and safe in our health and circumstances, religion was the last thing we wished to turn our minds to; we did not want to have our pleasure disturbed by it. But it is not so with us now: there is a change in our minds in this respect. It enters our thoughts very often, both by day and by night. "Have I not

remembered thee in my bed, and thought upon thee when I was waking?" This change is one of the prognostications of the religious principle forming within us. Secondly, these thoughts settle themselves upon our minds. They were formerly fleeting and transitory, as the cloud which passes along the sky; and they were so for two reasons; first, they found no congenial temper and disposition to rest upon, no seriousness, no posture of mind proper for their reception; and secondly, because we, of our own accord, by a positive exertion and endeavour of our will, put them away from us, we disliked their presence, we rejected and cast them out. But it is,


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