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arrows of conviction to their consciences, at any time and in any place he pleases. Though they put far away the evil day and resolve to shut their eyes and their ears against divine truth and harden their hearts and consciences against all means of conviction ; yet God can open their eyes and ears and break their resolutions and fill their hearts and consciences with guilt and remorse. He can do this, though they have made a covenant with death, and with hell are at agreement. He can separate their hearts and hands, however linked together, and take one and leave another. This he has done ; and is continually doing. He can break their bands and fasten his own, which they cannot break. They have no ground to rejoice and exult in their power to resist convictions and maintain their peace and security ; for they have no such power only when God lets them alone. And they know not how long he will let them alone. It seems to be high time for him to rise in his awful majesty and make them see and feel, that they are in his hand, as the clay is in the hand of the potter ; and that he can crush them as a potter's vessel.
6. Since sinners endeavor to free themselves from all their obligations to God, we may see why they are so extremely averse from prayer. There is no duty they are so unwilling to perform. They are unwilling to be exhorted to this duty ; and much more unwilling to perform it. The reason is, they cannot pray, without acknowledging their obligations to God, which they hate and wish to break. The child feels this ; and neglects to pray. The youth feels this ; and neglects to pray. Those, that are pursuing vanit feel this ; and neglect to pray.
The sober moral sin.
ner feels this ; and neglects to pray.
All sinners wish to forget, or break their obligations to God; and cannot bear to strengthen them, by going to him in secret and acknowledging them. Let any sinner, who has cast off fear and restrained prayer, go to God in prayer this evening and he will feel that he has bound himself to pray to-morrow and from day to day, as long as he lives. But he hates his obligations to God; and will not begin to pray. Or if he does begin, he will neglect it as soon as his sense of his obligations to God is gone. This is true of every careless, stupid or merely awakened sinner. But the sinner under genuine convictions, has different feelings in respect to prayer. He is afraid to pray, because he feels he cannot sincerely acknowledge the justice of these bands and cords, which he wishes with all his heart to break and intends to break, if possible, as long as he exists. Many a convinced sinner has thus become speechless and found he could say nothing like prayer, which was consistent with his total enmity to God. Parents have no reason to wonder that they cannot persuade their children to pray; and ministers have no reason to wonder that they cannot persuade sinners to begin to pray, or after they have lost their awakenings and convictions, they cannot persuade them to begin to pray again. When any person prays, he acknowledges his obligations to God and pledges himself to do his whole duty. This the sinner is not willing to do; and therefore neglects to pray. This the person, who has lost his convictions, is not willing to do ; and therefore neglects to pray. And this the false or declining professor is not willing to do. It is the fear of men's acknowledging and confirming their obligations to God, that prevents their be
ginning to pray and disposes them to neglect it after they have once begun. Every prayerless person in this house knows whether this be true or not ; and whether he is one, who desires and endeavors to break all the bands and cords, by which he is bound to God. Every sinner either neglects to pray, or prays amiss, to his own self-condemnation and confusion. In what a wretched and guilty condition are all sinners.
7. If all sinners are under natural, moral and legal obligations to God; then they are all, without exception, bound to be religious, or to fulfil their obligations to their maker, who has made them rational, immortal and accountable creatures. These divine obligations lie with all their weight upon children, upon youth, upon all men, whether rich or poor, high or low, learned or un learned. No age, no condition, no secular concerns, can dissolve their obligations. But how many sinners practically deny their obligation to be religious and expect that they shall generally be allowed this privilege, without any censure or disapprobation of any, but a few bigoted religionists, or over-orthodox preachers ! How many would be ashamed to be found reading the bible seriously, or calling upon God devoutly, or attending public worship statedly? Do not such, by their speaking, reasoning and acting, plainly show, that they endeavor to break every religious obligation and desire to live without God in the world? Has God then misrepresented their character and conduct in his word ? If not, they are his perfect enemies and deserve to be treated as his enemies forev
This he will, sooner or later, make them see and feel.
Finally, if sinners are bound to God, by bands and cords, which they cannot break, nor cast away; then it is their immediate and imperious duty to cease from contending with their maker ; and to become cordially reconciled to the bands and cords, by which he has bound them to himself. David did this. He said to God sincerely, “ O how love I thy law ?” Paul felt and expressed the same spirit. “ I delight in the law of God after the inward man." If
become reconciled to your obligations to God, they will prove a source of perpetual blessedness. But if you persist in hating and opposing them, they will prove a source of self-condemnation and misery forever. I now ask, what you intend to do? And God may treat you, according to your present resolution. willing he should ? If you refuse to submit to God and to the bands and cords, by which you are bound to him as surely as you live and as God lives, he will be bound, by his own goodness, to punish you forever and
“ And what wilt thou say, when he shall punish thee.”
But are you SERMON XVII.
GIVING THE HEART TO GOD A REASONABLE
Proverbs, XXIII, 26.--My son, give me thine heart.
Mankind are reasonable creatures; and the religion, which God enjoins upon them, is a reasonable service. But yet it has always been found extremely difficult to reason with men upon religious subjects...Solomon was the wisest of men and understood religion, as well as any other art, or science. And in the latter part of his life, after he had thoroughly investigated the laws of nature and examined the principles and practices of mankind, he turned preacher ; and no mere man ever preached better upon the subjects which he handled. But though his observations were very weighty, though his illustrations were very striking, and though his words were wisely chosen and, like goads, extremely pointed; yet it does not appear, that they very often produced any genuine convictions and saving effects. There was the same difficulty then, that there is now, in reasoning upon that religion, which God requires, and which is altogether disagreeable to every natural heart. Were it not for the moral depravity of human nature, it would be as easy to convince men, that they ought to love God, as it is to convince them, that a child ought to love his parent, or that a servant ought to love his master. But so long as the carnal mind remains, which is enmity