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Reason, Conscience and Religion, by a speedy return to the round of giddy revel; till at last health and fame, and the fair paternal inheritance are shipwrecked at their feet-I tremble to speak the rest-What can we behold then, but wretchedness complete?“ Ancestors disgraced, posterity ruined! behind, nothing but guilt and shame! and before, nothing but inextricable misery! What then remains—but that either driven by fatal necessity to 'rob and fall by the hand of the common executioner; or, unable to survive their shame, to plant the dagger in their own bosom; or else by disease to die the untimely martyrs of their own vices; or sink into a loathed old age, past even the small enjoyments of that feeble state, -the poor abject pensioners, perhaps, of that benevolence, which they never knew how to extend to others!
Gracious heaven! can this be the real substance, or legitimate issue, of pleasures, designed for rational and immortal beings? Oh! no—ye generations of youth—and why should I except any age or sex to whom these solemn truths are applicable?) The true pleasures “ the sacred substantial never-fading bliss of all who are born into this world-high and low, old and young, is to exert the first efforts of their reason, guided by religion and revelation, to consider for what end they were sent into it, and to discharge their part in this life faithfully; seeking to prepare, and not afraid to take their departure, for a better; always bearing in mind, that the short and transient now bears on its fleeting wing, an eternity of bliss or woe!
Let no age or condition of life, thrust these serious truths from the heart_Trust not to your youth or strength, ye whom I now more immediately address! Look but a few months back, and consider how many of your age, have in that short period been called to an eternal world; and what a mournful cry would have been heard, what earnest calls to repentance, and sorrow for time mispent, would have resounded through this city, had it pleased God then to withdraw the veil, and permit them to behold their sudden destiny.
Ye sons of Pleasure, ye who glory in your health and strength, who laugh at Sobriety, Temperance and Chastity, who count many days to come, and set Death not only at a distance, but even at defianceif any such can indeed remain among us, after the late awful warnings—think of these truths and suppose it possible, nay probable, that on some day, not far distant, you may be called upon with all your unrepented sins about you, laid gasping in the burning heat of a mortal fever, and make your shameful exit, a martyr to false pleasure, under the dreadful curse which heaven has entailed upon intemperance.
With the impression of these truths, leaving the devotees of pleasure and worldly joys among the young and gay, for the present; I shall proceed in my next discourse to estimate the bliss of those of higher ranks and ages, hoping the young also, if they hope for rank and age, will continue among the number of patient hearers Amen!
PREACHED, DECEMBER 12, 1793,
APPOINTED AS A
DAY OF GENERAL HUMILIATION, THANKSGIVING
OUR DELIVERANCE FROM THE RAGE OF THE
THE YELLOW FEVER.
PSALM Ixxvii. v. 34, passim to v. 50. When He slew them, then they sought Him; and they returned,
and inquired early after God: And they remembered that God was their Rock, and the High God their Redeemer, Nevertheless, they did but flatter Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongues : For their heart was not right with Him, neither were they stedfast in His Covenant.—They turned back and tempted God-they remembered not His hand, nor the day when He delivered
them from the enemyWherefore, He cast upon them the fierceness of His anger;
wrath and indignation and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. He made a way to his anger, and spared not their souls from Death; but gave their life over to the PESTILENCE.
ALL scripture, as saith the apostle Paul to his beloved Timothy,* “ is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, and thoroughly furnished unto all good works;” for the holy scriptures, (and they
2 Tim. chap. iii. 15, 16, 17,
only)are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
My two preceding sermons, have been employed on the subject of the late awful visITATION OF PROVIDENCE, and the dreadful calamities spread through, out our land, especially in our great cities and their neighbourhoods, by means of the contagious sick. ness, commonly called the Yellow Fever.
By the appointment and authority of government, this day has been set apart, as a day of general hu. miliation, thanksgiving and prayer, for the mercies of God, in putting an end to that grievous calamity, and yielding us the gladdening prospect of a speedy restoration to our former state of public health and happiness*.
My text, therefore, but not my subject, is only changed, for this day's solemnity; leading us to an
* The following is an abstract of the Governor's Proclamation on this great occasion.
• Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God to put an end to the grievous Calamity, that recently afflicted the City of Philadelphia; and it is the duty of all, who are truly sensible of the Divine Justice and Mercy, to employ the earliest moments of returning Health, in devout expressions of peni. tence, submission, and gratitude; I have therefore deemed it proper to appoint THURSDAY, the Twelfth day of December, to be holden throughout this commonwealth, as a Day of general HUMILIATION, THANKSGIVING, and PRAYER; earnestly exhorting and entreating my Fellow-Citizens, to abstain on that Day from all their worldly Avocations; and to unite in confessing with contrite hearts, our manifold Sins and Transgressions; and in acknowledging, with thankful Adoration, the Mercy and Goodness of the supreme Ruler and Preserver of the Universe, more especially manifested in our late deliverance; praying, with solemn zeal, that the same Mighty Power would be graciously pleased to instil into our minds the just principles of our duty to Him, and to our fellow-creatures; to regu. late and guide all our actions by his Holy Spirit; to avert from all man. kind the evils of war, PESTILENCE, and FAMINE ; and to bless and protect us in the enjoyment of civil and religious LIBERTY," &c.
approach to confess with the lips, “ that there is a God, who governs the affairs of his creatures in this world, and that the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament, were graciously given by his divine inspiration and authority, to guide us in the right way, through the intricate path of life, and the mazes of a mysterious Providence.”
The dealings of the Almighty, therefore, with a people who acknowledged (as we do) the sovereign and uncontroulable power of God's special as well as general Providence, in ordering the affairs of men, will be a fit subject of our present meditations; and the more to be chosen, as we shall have for our guide, a History authenticated on the Records of holy Scripture.
With such a guide before us, we need not recur to profane History, any farther than sometimes for the better proof of facts; because the light otherwise to be derived from that source, in the handling of our subject, would be but as the twinkling of a star, com'pared to the sun in his noon-tide brightness!
The history of the Jews, therefore, upon which our text yields a prominent and irrefragable commentary, as well as a striking similitude to our own history in many great and leading circumstances, will furnish ample materials for our improvement of what remains of this day's duty.
To this audience, it will be sufficient briefly to state, that the Jews had for many years been without a government of their own, and sojourn'd in a foreign land, reduced to a condition no better than that of the worst and most degraded slaves; until at last, the