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"of evil hereafter: especially, when revelation "comes in to the aid of my feeble reason, de"daring, in a tone of the most determined "and unalterable decision, that the wicked shall "be punished with everlasting destruction from "the presence of the Lord.* Can you explain "to me, how 1 am to reconcile these things '.' with your opinion? And do you not imagine "that there is great danger in entertaining "such unqualified notions of the Divine cha"racter—of complimenting God's goodness, "at the expence of God's truth?"
My neighbour waved the question—taking shelter under the general covering of a supposed inoffensiveness of conduct, and a well-intentioned frame of mind. "I do not (he replied) "trouble myself with matters of this nature. "Providence hath blessed me with ample cir"cumstances, and I do all the good I can in "my little sphere of usefulness. While there"fore I enjoy the present, I am thankful for "the past, and fearless of the future. My "opinion is formed on that excellent maxim of "the poet,
"For God is paid when man receives;
"These are my sentiments (added my neigh"bour), and in the discharge of moral duties, "I rest satisfied for the event."
"It would be very unbecoming in me (I re"plied) to controvert your opinion, having "called upon you for instruction, and not to
* 2 Thess, i. 9.
"instruct. But forgive me if I err in the ap-
f' Him, who, one should suppose, would form ". the first and principal character?"
'f Permit me to place the argument in a point "of view, which may in some measure tend to "decide it. If I mistake not, you have a large "family of children, all branched out. in life; "and you have already made for them a most "ample provision: and it is by your liberality, "that they are enabled to move in a sphere "suited to their rank and circumstances. Put "the case now, that these children of your's "live in the greatest love and harmony with "each other; and, not content with the bare "practice of moral honesty and justice, are "kind, affectionate, friendly, tender, even to "the anticipation of what one conceives may '' promote the other's happiness. But suppose "that, in the midst of all this attention to the 't mutual and general felicity of each other, "they are never heard to express an affection "towards the person of a father, from whom, "as the source, they have derived all their en". joyments; would not any man consider them "as deficient in the first and best of all possible "obligations? And is not this the very state "of those who, priding themselves in the dis"charge of moral duties to their neighbour, "pass by the reverence, the love, the gratitude, "and obedience they owe to Gon."
"Bear with me, I beseech you, Sir, and ?' correct me if I am wrong. I merely state "the objections to what you have advanced, as v they appear to me, in order that your bettep "judgment may remove them. But, indeed^ "it hath often struck my mind very forcibly, "that there must be some latent principle of "evil lurking under a fair form; when I have "beheld characters of the greatest respecta"bility, who appear to be every thing which is "amiable to their fellow^creatures—generous, "noble, affectionate; but at the same time "totally dead to devout sentiments. Often it f' hath been my lot, in times past, to have been ^ introduced to their tables; where the plenti"ful provision of all the bounties of God's "providence, seemed to be continually inviting "the conversation to some remarks on the "goodness of the Great Provider. But alas! "during the many hours which I have some*' times spent at one meal, not a word hath ''' dropped in honour of the Almighty Master "of the feast, The gifts have been enjoyed, "but the Giver totally forgotten. It hath been "frequently my reproach, I assure you, Sir, f' when returning from such tables, in the days "while I attended them, (for I have long since f' given them up) that there must be some "baleful principle in the human mind to "produce such effects. Will you help me to "account for it?"
My neighbour seemed a little hurt at the closeness of the question. "You will excuse
me, Sir, (he replied) it is not my province to f preach. I would recommend you rather to "the worthy vicar of our parish, who is al« lowed by all who attend his church, to be
"one of the most elegant preachers of the age. "Perhaps he may be able to satisfy your en"quiries; and I shall very much rejoice, if your "mind can be made easy."
Disappointed as I found myself in the information proposed from my visit, I could not but be thankful for my neighbour's candor: andiinding my anxiety increase rather than diminish, in desires after the attainment of something, which I knew not by what term to distinguish; I thought it might be right to follow up my neighbour's advice; and accordingly, on the next Sunday, I went to hear
THE MORAL PREACHER.
He took his text from the prophecy of Micah, chap. vi. verse 8. He hath shelved thee,
0 man, what is good. And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy GOD'.
1 felt much pleasure in the very idea of the subject proposed from this text of scripture, the moment it was mentioned; and therefore
, listened with the more attention, in order to discover some leading points, which might be brought forward to give me comfort. The substance of the preacher's sermon, when separated from the flowery ornaments of it, was directed to shew, that the path to happiness was set before every one; that God had shewn man what was good; and that it was man's own fault if- he did not follow it: that what