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be expected, and death is certain. But can we look for them, or meet them, without amazement, if we have hope only in this life. Some run the hazard of ruining themselves in this world, for the sake of a few days gratification. Mankind agree to condemn their folly and rashness. Shall the like folly and rashness with reference to a much higher, an eternal intereft, be approved and applauded ? approved and applauded, I mean, by the conduct of men? Shall immortals, under hope of the heavenly Canaan, abide in Egypt, because a wilderness lies before them? or would they perish in the wilderness, despising the land of promise? You admit that we are now on trial for eternal retributions. The
The greater difficulties and temptations we now surmount, the greater will be our reward hereafter. Immortals should not be taken up with cares for a momentary state ; but lay up in store a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. Others pass before us to the world of spirits, as friendly monitors that we must soon follow after. Let us not think of a more convenient season, when the time is so very short and uncertain.
May high and low, rich and poor, old and young, be excited to an immediate, earnest pursuit of this object of universal concern, eternal life. It is equally attainable by all. None who seek it will fail of finding it: And all other things shall be added to them. Take up your cross, and follow Christ; for he will give you rest.
RELIGION OUR OWN CHOICE.
JOSHUA xxiv. 15.
CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY WHOM YE WILL SERVE.
OSHUA had conducted Israel into Canaan, and divided to the respective tribes their inheritance. Far advanced in years, he assembled them to receive the last, the best counsel, which a pious ruler and father of his people, in the view of approaching death, could give them. He begins with a recapitulation of distinguished mercies to them as a nation, from the call of Abraham to that time, many of which displayed the dominion of Jehovah over pagan fuperftition. He hence infers their obligations to fear and serve the living God in sincerity, and“ put away the gods their “ fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in
Egypt:" (v. 2; 14.) Nor less the gods of the Amorites, whose land Israel pofsefsed.
Every country'at that time had their appropriate deities. It seems to have been adopted as a rule in each nation, not to deride the gods of other countries, whom, in special exigencies, they invoked as well as their own. Ignorance, craft and state policy confecrated deities without number, at the expence of reason, morality and humanity.
The Mosaic institution was expressly founded in the unity of God. He chose the posterity of Abraham for his peculiar treasure. They acknowledged him as
the only God of the universe, and folemnly covenanted to cleave to him, but they apoftatized on every occasion.
Religion being grounded on personal persuasion, must proceed from choice. Joshua, in the words before us, recommends and enjoins, Choose you this day whom you will serve. He used the following arguments, among others, to persuade to an instant and wife choice. The proofs of true religion constantly before themobligations resulting from signal salvations-their explicit engagements--the promises to fidelity and stedfastness in the covenant of their God—the threatnings, if they revolted—the reproof contained in their being reminded of their inconstancy and duplicity.
In the words of the text, we remark, FIRST, It is taken for granted that men will make choice of some religion, either true or false. Choose whom you will serve. This was not giving a licence to cast off all religion : Nor was it a licence to fix on any superstition, as might seem right in their own eyes. Joshua does not intimate, that Ifrael would revolt to atheism.This would be to suppose what never has been the case with any nation. All nations will walk every one in the name of his god. The demand,
The demand, “ Hath a nation “ changed their gods, which yet are no gods ?". implies that the thing was unknown among the Heathen. The ancient and modern history of nations shews what hold fuperftition has of the mind. But the chosen people were ever prone to change the true religion for any form of idolatry. This versatility of character is expressed in the address to them : “ If it seem “ evil to you to serve the Lord, choose whom ye will “ serve, whether the gods which your fathers served, " that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods “ of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell.”
This enlightened age exceeds in irreligion the nations who in times past walked in their own ways. It has become fashionable to treat religion in general with
contempt-Whatever fanction the sentiments and example of modern philofophers have given to this impiety, it stands condemned by all the most eminent philosophers, legislators and moralists of antiquity. Is there no medium between perfecution for religious opinions, and an open disavowal and contempt of religious principle? We appeal to the conscience in every man s breast, whether we have not fome evidence of a superintending providence and moral government? yea, fome evidence of revealed religion? Whether, indeed, the idea of a God, a providence, moral agency and accountability does not force itself upon
the mind? If speculative difficulties tempt him to suspect the fallacy of such an idea, will the supposition of its fallacy' leffen, will it not rather increase the speculative difficulties? The sense and consent of all nations must be allowed to have some weight against scepticism. Can the sceptic be wise in renouncing what all mankind confess, the Being and providence of God ? in sacrificing this first principle to a vague and sophistical speculation ? a speculation which is immediately refuted by reflecting that man's knowledge is imperfect—that though he is not made acquainted with the essences of things, the reasons of events, yet the articles of his duty are plain. Some religion then is true. Shall
pre, tence that Christianity wants proof, suppose themselves warranted in renouncing all religion ? Such an opinion implies that they are unbelievers from choice, not in consequence of examination or attention. For suppose Jesus was an impostor ; yet there is a God who made and governs the world, with whom we have to do. If Israel, upon comparing the institution of Moses with the forms of idolatry in the world, did not find that the religion he taught was preferable, yea, the only true religion, Joshua did not fcruple to leave it with them to choose any other. He wished them deliberately to embrace, and abide in the profession of