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"words and actions; that from henceforth we may think of thee, speak of thee, and act according to thy will. We beseech thee "to enlighten our understandings, to purify our bodies, and fanctify "our fouls. Enable us, O God, fincerely to repent of our past "offences, to conquer our future temptations, to reduce our paffions "which are too ftrong for us, and to practise the virtues that be"" come us. Fill our hearts with a tender remembrance of thy fa
vours an averfion to our infirmities, a love for our neighbours, "and a contempt of the world. Let us always remember to be "fubmiffive to our fuperiors, faithful to our friends, charitable to our enemies, and indulgent to our inferiors. Enable us, O God, "to overcome pleasure by mortification, covetoufness by alms, anger by meekness, and luke-warmness by devotion. Make us pru"dent, O God, in all our undertakings, patient under disappointments, and humble in fuccefs. Let us never forget to be fervent "in prayer, temperate in our food, and diligent in our employments. "Enable us, O God, to be modeft in our deportment, regular in our conduct, and exemplary in our lives and conversations.- Let us always apply our minds to refift nature, affift grace, keep thy "commandments, and labour to be faved, convince us of the vani"ty of all earthly enjoyments, the tranfports of thofe above, the "shortness of time, and the duration of eternity. Grant that we 66 may be ever prepared for the day of our diffolution,-that we 86 may dread thy judgments,-escape thy wrath, and be admitted at "laft into thy heavenly reft,-and this we humbly beg of thee, O holy Father! Almighty everlasting God!—not trufting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies"Wherefore thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour,. "and power; for thou haft created all things; and for thy pleasure
The Danger and Folly of Practical Atheism.
PSALM XIV. 1.
THE FOOL HATH SAID IN HIS HEART, THERE IS NO GOD: THEY ARE CORRUPT, THEY HAVE DONE ABOMINABLE WORKS, THERE IS NONE THAT DOETH GOOD.
HE Pfalmift having in the beginning of this verse afferted, that there were men fo blind and foolish, as to deny the
Being of a God, tells us, in the latter part, what fort of men those were:-" They are corrupt,-they have done abomin"able works, there is none that doeth good." Dr. Hammond's paraphrase of this verfe runs thus:-"This wicked nation, speak
ing of the Jews, is now made up of fuch as have cast off all "fear, and care, and even acknowledgment of God: Whatsoever "they do with their mouths, which, perhaps, are not let loose to "that boldness, their actions, as far as they are interpreters of their
thoughts, evidence an atheistical principle of belief within them, "that God hath not the governing and judging of the doings of men; for fuch are their dealings, fo falfe, fo deteftable, and fo univerfally fuch, that a man cannot judge more favourably of them, than they never expect to be accountable to God for what they do." Or, in more direct terms, that they perfuade themfelves, that there is no God to call them to account. "The fool "hath
"hath faid in his heart, there is no God: they are corrupt; they "have done abominable works; there is none that doeth good." Our last discourse was employed in proving, we hope to the conviction of our hearers, that there is a fupreme Being; it may not be an improper sequel therefore to shew, that all fuch as are corrupt, as indulge themselves in licentiousness, are at least equally bad, if not worse than thofe, who openly deny the existence of a God;, fince the actions of fuch men bring a reproach upon whatever religion they profess. If the fpeculative Atheist be a most despicable. creature; the practical one is, doubtlefs, worse. The former difhonours God with his mouth; the latter with all the powers and faculties of his foul.-But before we proceed, it may be neceffary to explain what we mean by the Practical Atheist; for it is poffible, fome may cavil at the term as not correfponding, with fufficient aptness, to the perfon, whose folly, or rather madness, we are about to expose.
The practical Atheist then is one, who, although he may poffibly profefs the belief of a God, and fome other general truths, which are the natural refult of fuch declaration; yet gives the lead to his paffions, and lives in the conftant breach of almost every command. ment In fhort, we may rank under this denomination, every one, who continues in a course of fin, and impiety; for fuch men could i never live as they do, did they in reality believe; and that they do. not believe, is principally owing to their want of reflection. These will oftentimes attend the public worship, it is true; but then they look upon it as a matter of form only, where they pray without ei ther hope or fear; and fhould they chance to hear their character,, and their deplorable state and condition described in the most pathetic terms; their danger made ever fo apparent; eternal happiness,, or eternal mifery proposed to them with the warmeft zeal; they will perhaps with a fmile vouchfafe to fay, "a mighty good difcourfe!" but, at the fame time, determine with themselves to reap no advan
tage from it. If we may pass any judgment from the conduct of mankind in general, but very few, I fear, will escape this cenfure. Let us look round us, and what does the gloomy profpect afford, but murders, adulteries, blafphemies, thefts, and such a black catalogue of crimes, as, when set in their proper light, would make any fober and serious Christian fhudder with horror, and almoft with to lead the life of an anchorite, rather than mingle with such an abandoned herd ?—I am not infenfible, that remonftrances of this kind are deemed things of courfe from the pulpit, and, as fuch, too little regarded; but every one who is not wilfully blind, must be convinced of the truth of them. And though we should allow, that the generality of mankind are not guilty of what we call enormous crimes; yet how few are there, who walk with delight in the paths of virtue !-Where fhall we find the man that is duly devoted to the service of his maker? One that is no ways addicted to the reigning vices of the age; that is truly just and honest in all his dealings; that abhors tyranny and oppreffion, and fcorns to take advantage of his neighbour's neceffity; who, in short, in every action of his life will do that to others, which he would be defirous they should do to him?—I am afraid there are very few such righteous persons to be found; and would to God, this were only a bare fufpicion !-But I am apt to believe that our own confciences would accuse the greater part of us; at least, each one in his heart would condemn his neighbour. Could this be the real state of thingsdid men fincerely believe the truth of their most holy religion? I think they could not; it is our indifpenfable duty, therefore, though experience fhews how little fuccefs we meet with in fuch attempts, to hold a glass to men's confciences, and fhew them the deformity of their fouls, and the danger of that everlasting perdition which lies before them. Had we no more to do, than to tell men what is their duty, the task would not be hard; for the facred scriptures are very clear and explicit in that particular; but to perfuade