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SERIOUSNESS IN BELIGION A MOST INDISPENSA
BLE DISPOSITION. Be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
1 Pet. iv. 7. THE first requisite in religion is seriousness. No impression can be made without it. An orderly life, so far as others are able to observe, is now and then produced by prudential motives or by dint of habit; but without seriousness there can be no religious principle at the bottom, no course of conduct flowing from religious motives; in a word, there can be no religion. This cannot exist without seriousness upon the subject. Perhaps a teacher of religion has more difficulty in producing seriousness amongst his hearers, than in any other part of his office. Until he succeed in this, he loses his labour : and when once, from any cause whatever, a spirit of levity has taken hold of a mind, it is next to impossible to plant serious considerations in that mind. It is seldom to be done, except by some great shock or alarm, sufficient to make a radical change in the disposition; and which is God's own way of bringing about the business.
One might have expected that events so awful and tremendous, as death and judgment; that a question so deeply interesting, as whether we shall go to heaven or to hell, could in no possible case and in no constitution of mind whatever, fail of exciting the most serious apprehension and concern. But this is not so. In a thoughtless, a careless, sensual world, many are always found, who can resist, and who do resist, the force and importance of all these reflections; that is to say, they suffer nothing of the kind to enter into th thoughts. There are gravemen and wom. even middle aged persons, who have t.
stions about religion an hour, nor a quarter of 31, but in the whole course of their lives. This Cet arcu o buruan solicitude affects not them HATT whsterer.
ALT vant its use to inquire into the
#kero tenper, which so effectually das esassion of every religious influ.
march I should almost call unnatural.
Lewer is a numerous class of mankind, *berrugit oa by nothing but what aphomme ay to their senses; by what they ***** *186 they teel; by pleasures or pains, ve ) the kar prospeet of pleasures and pains * the secualr experience or actually ob
But it is die eharacteristic of religion to wat 'ut to par consideration inquiries which we
revente at the time. That is its very ofdet ince. Therefore if men will restrict * Wolle il dei regrus and all their cares to
e der perceive with their outward e vleri vien up their understandings itust u vod a what these senses are fitted
havucuri, wa what they are not fitted 10 te cilaveti uberly iz possible for religion to
leit keres, oc tur them to entertain any a to visi vivery was the matter. But surely * a voulut ja vwpistely irrucioaal, and can lead w wihing buo ruil I preeee's upon the supNail with that there is nothing above us, about us,
Webs Who we can be affected, but the ad ang hina we sex with our eres or fee! by our things w God that this creation of the world are
* The invisible
clearly scette being understood by the things that are seeni eren his eternal power and Godhead;" which means, that the order, contrivance and design, dispa the creation, prove with certain.
ro in nature than what we realongst the invisible things ar
Being, the author and ori. nee and design, and, by constupendous power, and wis
dom and knowledge, incomparably exalted abore any wisdom or knowledge, which we see in man, and that he stands in the same relation to us as the Maker does to the thing made. The things which are seen are not made of the things which do appear. This is plain : and this argument is independent of scripture and revelation. What farther moral or religious consequences properly from it is another question, but the proposition itself shews that they who cannot, and they who will not, raise their minds above the mere information of their senses, are in a state of gross error as to the real truth of things, and are also in a state to which the faculties of man ought not to be degraded. A person of this sort may with respect to religion remain a child all his life. A child naturally has no concern but about the things which directly meet its senses; and the person we describe is in the same condition.
Again. There is a race of giddy thoughtless men and women, of young men and young women more especially, who look no farther than the next day, the next week, the next month ; seldom or ever so far as the next year.
Present pleasure is every thing with them. The sports of the day, the amusements of the evening, entertainments and diversions occupy all their concern ; and so long as these can be supplied in succession, so long as they go from one diversion to another, their minds remain in a state of perfeet indifference to every thing, except their pleasures. Now what chance has religion with such dispositions as these yet these dispositions begun in early life, and favoured by circumstances, that is by affluence and health, cleave to a man's character much beyond the period of life in which they might seem to be excusable. Excusable, did I say; I ought rather to have said that they are contrary to reason and duty in every condition and at every period of life. Even in youth they are built upon falsehood and Young persons, as well as old, find that
do actually come to pass. Evils and mischiefs, which they regard as distant, as out of their view, as beyond the line and reach of their preparations or their concerns, come they find to be actually felt. They find that nothing is done by slighting them beforehand ; for however neglected or despised, perhaps ridiculed and derided, they come not only to be things present, but the very things and the only things about which their anxiety is employed; become serious things indeed as being the things which now make them wretched and miserable. Therefore a man must learn to be affected by events which appear to lie at some distance, before he will be seriously affected by religion.
Again. The general course of education is much against religious seriousness, even without those who conduct education foreseeing or intending any such effect. Many of us are brought up with this world set before us and nothing else. Whatever promotes this world's prosperity is praised; whatever hurts and obstructs and pre
es this world's prosperity is blamed : and
all praise and censure end. We see manbout us in motion and action, but all these is and actions directed to worldly objects. ear their conversation, but it is all the same And this is what we see and hear from the The views, which are continually placed e our eyes, regard this life alone and its insts. Can it then be wondered at that an earworldly-mindedness is bred in our hearts, so rong as to shut out heavenly-mindedness entire.
? In the contest which is always carrying on between this world and the next, it is no difficult thing to see what advantage this world has. One
reatest of these advantages is that it occu-