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firmed by the experience of every age, and every country, that religion is the real interest of mankind not of the individual only, but of the body politic also. Solomon, who had rather more wisdom than any of our graceless wits, asserts that "righteousness exalteth a nation." It so mingles and unites our hearts and interests it tends so much, and so effectually and powerfully, to promote honesty, justice, temperance, peace, and charity, that, whenever it meets with due, or even tolerable encouragement, it never fails to make a people prosperous and happy. Public worship, therefore, must be so much the more valuable, as it is the best means for promoting religion among mankind. How much soever private worship many preserve a sense, and the life of religion, in particular persons, yet this will have no great influence upon the public mind. This can only be effected by an open, public, united profession of religion in public worship. No where else can our spiritual weaknesses be so greatly strengthened; no where else can all our spiritual wants be so abundantly supplied.
Besides, public worship tends to advance the interests of religion, as it is the proper, appointed means for edification, and growth in grace, piety, and virtue. Certainly, if vice and wickedness be increased by the numerous clubs and meetings of the impious and profane, we have good reason to think that virtue and piety may be improved and augmented by association and fellowship in the worship of God;-that, by our assembling together, and uniting our forces, as it were, in the companies and congregations of the faithful, we shall become more lively and vigorous, more active and strong, and our devotion shall rise to a more elevated height. We shall borrow heat and warmth from one another, and we shall naturally become more encouraged, more animated, and established in religion.
In public ordinances, God works such wonders of grace upon the souls and consciences of men as cannot but exceedingly recommend them, and add a great weight to our other obligations to observe them. It is only owing to their being common and spiritual, that the works of grace, wrought by public ordinances, do not more strongly excite our astonishment. But it fares with them, as it does with every mercy which is common. Though, perhaps, these mercies are, of all others, the most valuable in themselves, yet, because the majority of them are common, they are very little thought of by those who enjoy them in the greatest abundance; such as health, strength, food, raiment, the light of heaven, the use of our senses, the security of our persons, property, peace, and a thousand other blessings. We allow that regeneration and conversion are not called miracles, but certainly there is nothing which comes so near to them. They are astonishing wonders, and wonders of grace. Here the Lord speaks life into dry bones," and raises up souls from the grave of sin, in which they have been immersed and corrupted for many years. Here the dead are awaked by the voice of the Son of God, by his word, and ministers, and all who hear do live. Here Christ gives sight to those who were born blind; by the preaching of his Gospel their eyes are opened, and he turns them "from darkness to light." Here he cures all diseased souls; he sends forth his word and heals them-he speaks the word, and they are made whole. Here he dispossesseth the greatest enemy of souls, casts out unclean spirits, and subdues all those tyrannical lusts and passions, which have long enslaved and brutalized sensual minds. Here he overthrows "principalities and powers," vanquishes the "spirits of darkness," and makes Satan to fall before the Gospel, as lightning from heaven. Here he changes the whole course of nature,
in the souls of sinners, making OLD things pass away, and all things become NEW. Surely, these are amazing wonders, and so would they be accounted, were they not common and spiritual. Less would pass for miracles in the natural world, and who can deny that these ought to be accounted marvellous in the moral world, and in the kingdom of grace? God, indeed, hath not confined himself to work these "wonderful things only in public; yet all must confess, that the PUBLIC MINISTRY is the most ordinary way in which he performs them.
"EVIL communications corrupt good manners.” The reading of bad books has a natural tendency to corrupt good manners. This is a species of evil communications which is much more destructive than you generally suppose. By these, your principles are attacked with cool deliberation: sentiments are insinuated, which, at the same time that they secure admission into the depraved mind, inflame the passions, and draw the soul from the love of holiness. Were the heart indeed free from depravity, the worst books might be read without the least injury. But, alas, it is not so. A heart naturally prone to depart from the living and true God," needs every possible inducement to hold fast its allegiance to him, and but few to forsake him. That description of books of which I now speak, comprehends various shades of evil; some where the poison which they impart is hardly apparent; others where the lurking foe is more per
ceptible; and from these down to the most shocking sensuality.
That depravity which is effected by reading, most commonly begins at that class of books called NoVELS. It is the general object of these to dress vice in the garb of virtue, and introduce the reader to Satan in the appearance of an angel of light. These books fill the mind with fiction instead of reality, and produce a burning fever in the soul, and a thirst for sensual enjoyment, which something more gross only can allay. Now plays are sought after with ardour, and read with approbation. In these also there are various shades of delinquency; and the more harmless make way for the most profligate. The first writings of a Voltaire, a Hume, or the most daring debauchees will then be approved. What at first would have shocked the feelings, now produces unutterable delight in a mind whose principles are so insensibly, and completely poisoned. See the necessity of being choice in the books you read; and if you would avoid the destroying productions of the worthless rake, shun those of the infatuating Novelist, for evil communications with such, corrupt good manners.
Reading bad books leads to lascivious conversation, which is the next step in the awful degradation of the half-ruined youth. When the mind is filled with sinful ideas, and the depraved passions of the soul are inflamed by reading the books I condemn, it naturally waits an opportunity for venting itself by conversing with others. The iniquity thus pent up in the soul, will soon bear down every mound which has been raised by the hand of parental instruction. The youth is not long before he will meet with those who are in a similar condition. Shy of each other the first interview, and fearing lest the desolated state of their minds should be exposed, their impious thoughts will peep
through the hole of his prison, Les bout to escape, in see if no danger er looks render it evident that their e. Like kindred souls, they begin
forbodes mutual mischief. The on is now nut aside, and they pour ach her's woul, which, like oil auses the rage of depravity to be Whenever they meet, their whole thy conversation." which sets wrse if nature, and is itself set on fire ver former principies unawares start into 1-peak in favour or a life of religion, be ruters, they are banished as soon as eri communications corrupt good
reston generally conducts to depraved s completes the wretchedness and dehappy youth. Dissatisfied with the yan the sage counsel of his father's wise young Rehoboam went to vigatiess associates for advice, how he seif in the kingdom over which he
ze send of Solomon. These syco· ENGEVOLATIE EN Mgratiate himself into oung king, advised the most rigid ssion. He followed this advice; de overthrow of his kingdom. He muth who was ever ruined by wicked human nature remains the same, › nitence of bad company will ever be s not seen all at once: it is gradual. wested associates tends to the coml good principles. Being reared,
of a Gospel ministry,