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long after-stage of our being, as well as for the present time which is but its porch. These pleadings are to men who believe immortality, (we may hereafter plead with those otherwise minded ;) therefore justify your belief, and show your gratitude by taking thought and pains about the great concerns of that immortality which you believe.
If a man is fed on unwholesome foods, his health and strength decay, and if he be greedy after such, it proves his whole constitution to be diseased; therefore it troubleth our mind to see what shoals of literary works circulate through the minds of this people day by day, week by week, month by month, quarter by quarter, eagerly longed for and as greedily devoured, in which there is not one christian sentiment for a thousand that are unchristian. Such virulence of party feeling and violence of personal abuse, and cruel anatomy of men's faults and failings, such inventions of wit and humour, to disguise truth and season falsehood, issue forth from the press amongst the people; that if the contrary influences of religion do not counteract the poison, and build up the noble and generous parts of nature, the public character of the nation for truth and sincerity must fall away, and the people come under the leading of those who write for fame or spite, or hire themselves for pay. This is not meant to bring a railing accusation against the circulating literature, but to hold up to all interested
in religion, how they are called upon to labour in behalf of the oracles of God now more than ever, when the oracles of vanity and calumny and party rage are so borne abroad upon a thousand wings. The culture which these circulating works give to the faculty of thought, is all in our favour, for our religion stands by thought, and hath been always the mother of thought; but the culture given to bad passions and unholy feelings, is all against us, creating habits and likings which our religion must reverse in its progress over the mind. This, zeal alone will not effect; the character of the age calls for argument and deep feeling and eloquence. You may keep a few devotees together by the hereditary reverence of ecclesiastical canons, and influence of ecclesiastical persons; but the thinking and influential minds must be overcome by showing, that not only can we meet the adversary in the field by force of argument, but that the spirit of our system is ennobling and consoling to human nature-necessary to the right enjoyment of life, and conducive to every good and honourable work. Religion is not now to be propagated by rebuking the free scope of thought, and drafting as it were every
that will abase his powers of mind before the zeal and unction of a preacher, and by schooling the host to keep close and apart from the rest of the world. This both begins wrong and ends wrong. It begins wrong, by converting only a part of the mind to the Lord, and holding the rest in superstitious bonds. It ends wrong, in not sending your man forth to combat in his courses with the unconverted. The reason of both errors is one and the same. Not having thoroughly furnished him to render a reason of the hope that is in him, you dare not trust him in the enemy's camp, lest they should bring him over again, or laugh at him, for cleaving to a side which he cannot thoroughly defend. I mean not in this and the many other allusions which I have made to the degeneracy of our times, to argue that every Christian should be trained in schools of learning or human wisdom, but that the spirit of our procedure in making and keeping proselytes should be enlightened and liberal, and the character of our preaching strong and manly as well as sound. That we should rejoice in the illumination of the age, and the cultivation of the public mind, as giving us a higher tribunal than hath perhaps ever existed, before which to plead the oracles of God-before which to come in all the strength and loveliness of our cause, asking a verdict not from their toleration of us its advocates, but upon their conscience, and from the demonstration of its truth.
In such a manner we have endeavoured to conduct the discourse, which we now bring to a close. Whether it may gain the conviction of those to whom it is addressed, we leave in the hands of God, who giveth the increase, possessing within ourselves the satisfaction of having designed and endeavoured the best; adding to all, this our solemn conviction: That until advocates of religion do arise to make unhallowed poets, and undevout dealers in science, and intemperate advocates of policy, and all other pleaders before the public mind, give place, and know the inferiority of their various provinces to this of ours-till this most fatal error, that our subject is second-rate, be dissipated by a first-rate advocation of it-till we can shift these others into the background of the great theatre of thought, by clear superiority in the treatment of our subject, we shall never see the men of understanding in this nation brought back to the fountains of living water, from which their fathers drew the life of all their greatness.
Many will think it an unchristian thing to reason thus violently, and many will think it altogether unintelligible ;
and to ourselves it would feel unseemly, did we not reassure ourselves by looking around. They are ruling and they are ruled, but God's oracles rule them not. They are studying every record of antiquity in their seats of learning, but the record of God and of him whom he hath sent is almost unheeded. They enjoy every communion of society, of pleasure, of enterprise, this world affords; but little communion with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. They carry on commerce with all lands, the bustle and noise of their traffic fill the whole earth : they go to and fro and knowledge is increased, --but how few in the hasting crowd are hasting after the kingdom of God. Meanwhile death sweepeth on with his chilling blast, freezing up the life of generations, catching their spirits unblessed with any preparation of peace, quenching hope and binding destiny for evermore. Their graves are dressed, and their tombs are adorned. But their spirits, where are they? How oft hath this city, where I now write these lamentations over a thoughtless age, been filled and emptied of her people since first she reared her imperial head! How many generations of her revellers have gone to another kind of revelry; how many generations of her gay courtiers to a royal residence where courtier-arts are not; how many generations of her toilsome tradesmen to the place of silence, whither no gain can follow them! How time hath swept over her, age after age, with its consuming wave, swallowing every living thing, and bearing it away unto the shores of eternity! The sight and thought of all which is our assurance, that we have not in the heat of our feelings surpassed the merit of the case. The theme is fitter for an indignant prophet, than an uninspired sinful man.
But the increase is of the Lord. May He honour these thoughts to find a welcome in every breast which weighs
em-may He carry these warnings to the conscience of every one whose eye peruseth them. And may his oracles come forth to guide the proceedings of all mankind, that they may dwell together in love and unity, and come at length to the everlasting habitation of his holiness. Amen.
END OF THE ORATIONS.
OT JUDGMENT TO COME,
IN NINE PARTS.
ACTS, XVII. 30, 31, GOD COMMANDETA ALL MEN TO REPENT : BECAUSE HE
HATH APPOINTED A DAY, IN THE WHICH HE WILL JUDGE THE WORLD IN RIGHTEOUSNESS,
REV. ROBERT GORDON,
MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL, EDINBURGH,
MY WORTHY FRIEND,
The design of the following Argument, which with all affection and esteem I dedicate to you, is to recover the great subject of Judgment to Come, from poetical visionaries on the one hand, and from religious rhapsodists on the other; and to place it upon the foundation of divine revelation, of human understanding, and the common good. The revelation of God upon the subject is brought forward, and I endeavour to