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mote, and hands ever ready to distribute to the good of his fellow-creatures, fhould notwithstanding be doomed to be an associate for ever with accursed spirits, in a place where benevolence never fhed its kindly beams, but malice and anguifh, and blackness of darkness, reign for ever and ever. No, the riches which we have given away will abide with us for ever. The fame habit of love will accompany us to another world. The bud which hath opened here will blow into full expansion above, and beautify the paradife in the heavens.



Whofoever therefore fhall break one of thefe least commandments, and shall teach men fo, he shall be called the leaft in the kingdom of heaven.

THE Roman Catholics divide fins

into two claffes, the venial and the mortal. In the first class, they include thofe flight offences which, as they fay, are too inconfiderable to offend the Deity, and, in the fecond, thofe great and aggravated tranfgreffions which expofe men to the Divine vengeance in the world to come. Although this dif tinction, which overthrows the law of morality, is abjured by all Proteftants, yet fomething like it is ftill retained by great numbers of men. What the Papifts call venial fins, they call fins of infirmity, human failings, imperfections infeparable from men. And their own favourite vices, whatever they be, they call by these names. Cruel is the condition of the human kind, fay they, and rigorous the fpirit of the chriftian law, if we are to lie under fuch terrible restrictions; if breaking one of the least commandments fhall exclude us from the kingdom of God. Will the Great Creator be offended by a few trivial tranfgreffions; with little liberties, which ferve only for amusement? If others take a general toleration, fhall we not have an indulgence at particular times? If we are prohibited from turning back in the paths


of virtue, may we not make a random excurfion? If we are not allowed to taste the fruits, may we not at least crop the bloffoms of the forbidden tree? While the waters of pleasure flow fo near, and look fo tempting, fhall we not be permitted to taste and live? Will the Great Judge of the world condemn us to eternal punishment, for the indulgence of a wandering inclination, for the gratification of a fudden appetite, for a look, a word, or a thought?

As this is the apology of vice, which, at one time or another, all of you make to yourselves, I fhall now show you the dangerous nature and fatal tendency of those offences you call little fins. And in entering upon the fubject, Chriftians, I muft obferve to you, that the attempt to join together the joys of religion and the pleasures of fin, is altogether impracticable. The Divine law regulates the enjoyments as well as the business of life. You are nev er to forget one moment that you are chriftians. The joys which you are allowed to partake of, are in the train of virtue. While you are pilgrims in the wilderness, if you return to Egypt again, you forfeit your title to the promised land. You have left the dominions of fin, you have come into another kingdom; and if now you revolt to the foe, you are guilty of treason, and may expect to meet with the punishment which treafon deferves. How fhall we distinguish then, you fay, between the fins of infirmity, into which the best may fall, and the violation of thofe leaft commandments which exclude from the kingdom of God? I anfwer, The text makes the distinction. Sins of infirmity proceed from frailty and furprise. The temptation comes

upon men unexpected; the foe meets them unprepared; and, in fuch cafes, the most circumfpect may be off their guard, and the best natures may fall. But thofe fins which exclude from the kingdom of God, are from deliberation and full confent of the mind. The perfons who commit them, as the text fays, "teach men fo ;" that is, they justify themfelves in what they do, and fin upon a plan. Their evil intentions are not occafional and tranfient, but permanent and governing; they fleep and wake upon their bad defigns, and carry them along in their going out and coming in; and thus forming evil habits, make their lives a fyftem of iniquity. Who. ever does fo, though it be only in the violation of what he reckons the least commandment, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; that is, fhall be excluded altogether from it.

It is propofed, at this time, to fet before you the evil nature and dangerous tendency of the leaft tranfgreffions. And, in the first place, it may be obferved, That it is a feries of little actions that marks the characters of men. Human life is not compofed of great events, but of minute occurrences; and it is not from a man's extraordinary exertions, but from his ordinary conduct, that we form our judg ment of his character. When a great event is tranfacting, a man is on his guard, he is prepared to act his part well, and often, on fuch occafions, in the hour of exhibition, he appears to the world a different person from what he really is. But in the feries of little actions, in the detail of ordinary life, the turn of mind discovers itself, the temper unfolds, the character appears. It is then, when man is himself,

the mask falls off, and the true countenance is display: ed. Human life, then, being a circle of petty tranfactions, and the temper of men being known from their conduct in little affairs, our character for virtue will depend on our performance of what the world calls the leaft of the commandments. This is not peculiar to virtue. What is it that conftitutes the happiness of domeftic life? Not the fingular and uncommon fituations, but the familiar and the ordinary not the ftriking events that fly abroad in the mouths of the people, but the daily round of little things, which are never mentioned. A mifer may have a feast, and be a miser ftill; he only is a happy man who has his enjoyments every day. With very great talents, and without any remarkable vice, a man may become a most disagreeable member of society, by his neglect of the attentions and civilities, and decorum of life. In like manner, without being guilty of any enormous fin, by the habitual neglect of inferior duties, and by the practice of little offences, a man may fin unto death.

A good life is one of those pictures whofe perfection arifes from the nice and the minute strokes. It is not one blazing ftar, but the hoft of leffer lights, which forms the beauty of the heavens. In like manner, How does the Great Judge at the last day decide the fate, and determine the characters of men? You reckon fins of omiflion but little fins, yet, on account of these, the sentence of everlasting condemnation is paffed. Becaufe ye gave no bread to the hungry, no water to the thirsty, and no raiment to the naked, relieved not the oppreffed, and visited not the prifoner, therefore" depart into everlasting

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