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amendment of life.” Let us then consider this case impartially. I think there is no need of arguments to convince you that you are a sinner. Do but consider the natural tendency of your affections, appetites, and passions ; and review the past conduct of your life; and a demonstration of this sad truth will unavoidably stare you in the face. Let any man enter into himself, and seriously consider the natural operations of his own mind; and he must necessarily find, that, instead of a frequent and delightful contemplation of the perfections of the Divine nature—instead of a thankful acknowledgment of his obligations to the Divine goodness and beneficence—and instead of that sublime pleasure and satisfaction, which should flow from the remembrance of his Creator and Benefactor, his affections are naturally following mean, low, and unreasonable, if not vile and wicked entertainments and gratifications. He will find, that all communications with his glorious Creator are naturally painful and uneasy to him; while every trifling amusement, and the vilest sensual object of his thoughts, find a more easy entrance, and a more peaceable rest in his soul. From hence it is most evident, that the heart has revolted from God; and that we have substituted the creature in his stead, as the object of our pursuit and delight. And besides this, who are there among the best of the children of inen, whose consciences will not charge them with innumerable actual transgressions of the law of nature? From this view of the case, you must therefore certainly find yourself in a state of moral pollution and guilt. And can you, in such a state as this, reflect upon a God of infinite purity and justice with comfort and courage 2 Will not conscience fly in your face, and upbraid you with your guilt and danger ? Does not
your reason tell you, that the great Creator and Governor of the world is too holy to approve, and too just to overlook such a fixed aversion to him, and such numerous sins and provocations against him, as you cannot but charge to your own account. But “God is merciful.” True ; he is so, to all proper objects of mercy; and in a way agreeable to the laws of his immutable justice and holiness. But can you suppose, that God will give up his justice and holiness, as a sacrifice to his mercy, out of compassion to those who deserve no pity from him, to those who refuse the offers of his mercy in the gospel, because disagreeable to their sinful desires and imaginations f But “Repentance will entitle the sinner to pardon, without any other atonement.” Are you sure of this? Certain it is, that mankind have always, in all ages, thought otherwise. What else was the meaning of those sacrifices that have every where obtained; and what the meaning of those superstitious austerities, and severe penances, that have been so commonly practised in the heathen world, if some atonement beside repentance was not thought necessary to pacify an offended Deity? Consider, I entreat you, that as sin is contrary to the Divine nature, it must be the object of God's displeasure. As it is contrary to the rules of his governing the world, it must deserve punishment. If God be the Ruler and Governor of the world, he must have some laws to govern by. If he has laws to govern by, they must have some penalties to enforce them. If his laws have penalties annexed to them, these must be executed; or else they would be but scarecrows, without truth or justice. I entreat you also to consider, how the repentance of a guilty criminal can answer the demands of justice. What satisfaction will our sorrow for sin afford to the Divine Being P How will it repair the dishonour done to the perfections of his nature ? How will it rectify our depraved appetites and passions, and qualify us for the enjoyment of his favour P. How will it vindicate his holiness, and discover to the rational world his perfect hatred to sin and sinners ? Or how will the fear of God's displeasure be a sufficient restraint to men's lusts and vicious appetites, if sinners may suppose, that when they have gratified their lusts, and taken their swing in sin, they can repent when they please; and thereby have an easy access to the favour of God? In a word, what evidence can you possibly pretend to from the light of nature, that repentance only will satisfy the Divine justice, and reconcile you to God P But after all, were it even supposed that repentance would necessarily give us a claim to mercy without any other satisfaction to God's justice, it must then be another sort of repentance than you seem to suppose. You must then allow, that this repentance must be a thorough change of heart and life. For you can hardly suppose, that we can be admitted to God's favour, while all the powers of our souls are in direct opposition and aversion to him. And is this repentance in our power? Can we at pleasure renew our own souls, and give ourselves new affections, dispositions, desires, and delights? Can we change the bent and bias of our inclinations to the objects of sense, and bring ourselves to love God above all things; and to take our chief delight and complacency in him 2 This must be obtained, in order to enjoy the favour of God. And yet it is manifestly out of our reach. It must be the effect of an Almighty power. I hope you may now see the necessity of a Saviour, both to expiate your sin and guilt, which your repent
ance can never do, and to sanctify your depraved soul, and make you meet for the service and enjoyment of God. If these are obtained, you must be certainly and eternally safe; but if you dare venture into eternity without them, I must needs say you do not want courage 1 You see I have addressed you with an unreserved freedom and familiarity. I have overlooked the distance of your station, and treated you as if we were in the same state of equality now, as we shall quickly find ourselves before the tribunal of our glorious Judge. The cause requires this at my hands; and I should have been unfaithful, I had almost said unmerciful to you, if I had not failed of the decorum which would have been my duty to have observed in any other case. I shall therefore depend upon your candid interpretation of this unpolished address; and your kind acceptance of the faithful designs and desires of,
Your most obedient humble servant. LETTER II.
WHEREIN A BRIEF AND GENERAL VIEW IS GIVEN OF THE EVIDENCES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
You tell me, “my letter had almost thrown you into a fit of the spleen.” But I cannot but hope, from your “awful concern lest you meet with the confusion I have therein described,” that it will have a better effect. I acknowledge, that “a pathetic declamation cannot be received for argument;” and that “your faith must be built upon evidences that will reach the understanding, as well as the softer passions of the soul.” But what evidence do you desire or want, of the truth of christianity? Consider, sir. Consult your books and your friends. Make your demands as large as you or they can contrive; and whatever rational evidence you are pleased to ask for, shall be at your service. I have myself, with particular application, been considering what reasonable evidence can possibly be consulted or desired, which the glorious God has not already given us, in confirmation of the christian institution; and I find nothing wanting which we are capable of receiving. And I cannot but presume, that if you likewise would impartially and in earnest put yourself upon the same inquiry, you must meet with a full and complete. satisfaction. You will certainly acknowledge, that the great Creator is capable, some way or other, to communicate his will to intelligent beings, with sufficient evidence