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remedy against this general and formidable evil. Philosophers, Divines, Libertines, Worldly heroes, all have failed in this design. Jesus Christ alone has succeeded in it. Only Jesus Christ presents to us this true remedy so ardently desired, and so vainly sought; and we still refuse it, because our vices, fatal as they have been to us, are still the objects of our most eager desires.

But do you know what all these objects of our contemplation suppose? Conscience, if we listen to its voice, death and futurity, if we attend to them, the doctrine, the humbling doctrine of justification, that we have been preaching to you, all suppose that we are criminals, that the wrath of heaven is kindled against us, that the eternal books, in which our actions are registered, are opening, that our Judge is seated, our trial coming on, our final doom preparing, and that there remains no refuge from all these miseries but Jesus Christ, whose name is announced, that we may escape the wrath to come, and be saved. To him let us flee. To him let us resign our minds, our hearts, and our lives. God give us grace to do so. To him be honour and glory for ever, Amen.


2 CORINTHIANS vii. 10.

Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

THE words we have read, and with which we propose to cherish your devotion in this exercise, are connected, not only with the preceding verses, but also with a part of that epistle which St. Paul had written to Corinth before this. This connection is the properest comment on the sense of the text; with this therefore, we begin, and this part of our discourse will require your particular attention.

Our apostle had scarcely planted the gospel at Corinth, and formed the professors of it into a Christian church, before one of the most atrocious crimes was committed in the community. Ought we to be surprized that we, inferior disciples of the apostles, fail in attempting to prevent or to correct some excesses? Churches founded and edified by inspired men were not exempt from them. In the Church of Corinth we see impure, and even incestuous practices. How abominable soever the crime was, St.

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Paul was less chagrined at it than at the conduct of the Corinthian church towards the perpetrators of it. It is not astonishing to find some in a large congregation, who are the execration of nature. Of the twelve disciples whom Jesus Christ chose for apostles, one was a devil, John vi. 70. But that a whole congregation, a Christian congregation, should consider such a monster with patience, and, instead of punishing his crime, should form pretexts to palliate, veils to conceal it, is surely the height of depravity. Such, however, were the Corinthians. Our apostle says, ye are puffed up, 1 Cor. v. 2. With what pride does he reproach them? How could any men possibly derive a glory from an abomination, which naturally inspires mortification and shame? The pride with which he reproaches them, is a disposition too well known among Christians. It is the disposition of a man who pretends to free himself from the ordinary laws of moral rectitude, and to leave that path in which the gospel requires all Christians to walk, to the vulgar; who treats the just fear of a well regulated conscience, that trembles at the approach of sin, as meanness of soul, and pusillanimity; and who accommodates the laws of religion to the passions that govern him, and to the seasons in which he has or has not an opportunity of being wicked. These were the dispositions of the Corinthians in regard to the incestuous person. Perhaps they derived some exculpating maxims from the Jews. The Jews thought, that a man who became a proselyte to their religion, was thereby freed from those natural ties which before united him to his re

lations, so that a man might innocently espouse his sister, or his mother, and so on. The pagans reproached the Jewish nation with this; and this perhaps might furnish Tacitus with a part of the character, that he gave the Jews*. What is considered by us as sacred, says this celebrated historian, they treat as profane, and incestuous marriages, which shock us, they think lawful.

St. Paul rebukes the Corinthians for marking with a character of infamy, not only their own church: but in a manner the whole Christian world. Do you, as if he had said, consider a crime with indifference, which is unknown even among heathens? It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named amongst the Gentiles that one should have his father's wife, 1 Cor. v. 1. Indeed there are in pagan writings most severe laws against incest, and what is very remarkable, the apostle seems to allude in the words just now cited, to a passage in Cicero, who speaking of incest, calls it scelus inauditum, an unheard of crime. cordingly, we find in Tertullian, in Minutius Felix, and in other famous apologists for Christianity, that incest was one of the disorders with which the pagans reproached the primitive Christians; the heathens either did what has been too often done, charge a whole family, sometimes a whole city, sometimes a whole nation, with the fault of one member; or they thought nothing could blacken Christians more than taxing them with a vice, although falsely, which

* Hist. v. 4.


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