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vanities to engross your strongest affections, and to engage your pursuits, the more difficult will it be to fix them upon God and religion. Every hour's delay to comply with the requi. sition in the text must be a subject of future regret, and remorse. Let it, therefore, be your present determination and fixed resolution, that you will devote yourselves to God, that you will give him your hearts, observe his ways, and keep all his commandments. Attend to his word and povidence, strive to understand the wondrous things contained in his law, and the still more wondrous and glorious things revealed in the gospel of Christ. While you make him the object of your supreme love, and exert all your powers and faculties to observe his ways, pray to him for the enlightening and quickening influences of the holy spirit. He can furnish the means of instruction, open the ear to discipline, and incline the heart to wisdom. Wait, then, on the Lord, and commit your way unto him. And may he draw you with the chords of his love, guide you by his counsel, form you to his praise, and make you heirs of his heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ, whom he hath exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins.
CHRISTIANITY A MILD AND PRACTICA
BLE SYSTEM OF RELIGION.
MATTHEW xi. 30.
The most groundless prejudices are conceived against the religion of Jesus Christ. If we believe his enemies, we shall suppose it degrades the human character, and imposes on its votaries unreasonable duties and restraints. The youthful mind, in a peculiar manner, is suscept. ible of these prejudices, which the artful and designing wish to strengthen. But the danger of imbibing thein does not arise wholly from the misrepresentation of enemies. Young persons sometimes receive impressions unfavourable to religion from a defective education, and the indiscretion of parents and instructers. But, in what way soever the mind is prepossessed against christianity, nothing is more true, than that this religion is the most mild, rational and pure, that the world has ever known. It is.a 181
dispensation of grace, which breathes a spirit of benevolence, and forms the soul for heaven.
If, feeling that he must adopt some religion, man were at liberty to make his election out of all the systems that have been propagated, the christian religion rightly understood, would have his preference ; not only on account of its greater reasonableness and better hopes, but because it prescribes the wisest and best rules of life. None of its laws, none of its injunctions, are grievous. This is the sentiment advanced in the text. Christ assures us that “his yoke is easy, and his burden light.” The meaning is, that his religion is mild and reasonable in its principles and duties, that it does not impose painful rites, require costly sacrifices, nor enjoin any service inconsistent with our happiness. In the two preceding verses Christ invites "all that labour and are heavy laden” to accept him as their Saviour and Exemplar, and his religion as their rule of life. “Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest to your souls.” The invitation is to those that labour, and are heavy burdened, whether with the distresses of life, with
a sense of guilt, or with the load of ceremonial observances other religions impose. With this invitation to come to him, take his yoke, and Yearn of him, he connects a promise of rest to those who accept it ; and, lest any should imagine that the terms, on which the fulfilment of the promise is suspended, are not mild and equal, he assures us that his yoke is easy, and his burden light.
In this concluding discourse to young people, I shall endeavour to illustrate and enforce the general truth suggested in the text; which is, that christianity is a religion that imposes no hard and unreasonable duties, or restraints ; but requires an easy and rational service. The points, to which I shall call your attention, are these ; that Christ's disciples are subject to government ; that this government is mild and good ; and that the restraints it imposes con
tribute to the happiness of man in this lise. í 1. Christ's disciples are subject to govern. ment. Christians are “not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.”. They are to be in subjection to him, and make his gospel the rule of their life. His precepts and prohibitions. they are bound to observe. He has enjoined upon them moral and positive duties. In some 183
respects restraints are imposed ; and general laws are ordained for the regulation of their temper and conduct. These things constitute the yoke, and the burden, spoken of in the text; and they come into the general idea of the gov. ernment Christ has established in his kingdom. This government, we say,
II. Is mild and good.
It lays the subjects of it under none but salutary restraints. The wise and good man will choose to be under the direction of christian rules and maxims, because most congenial to his temper, and conducive of his happiness. Their observance, far from being painful, affords inward satisfaction. He is persuaded that the laws of Christ's kingdom are suited to the state of man, and that, so far as he is governed by them, he shall be free and happy. In his estimation they require nothing inconsistent with the dignity and improvement of human nature.
Christianity requires a strict government of heart and life. It therefore operates as a res. traint upon the passions ; but no further than reason perceives to be for our good. An unbounded indulgence of our passions would reduce us to degrading slavery, and make us rest. less and unhappy; It is the design of religion