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PERSONAL AND SOCIAL RELIGION.
In a series of Lectures recently brought to a conclusion, I obtained, my friends, your willing attention to a course of subjects in themselves inviting and attractive--the Pleasures of Religion. I now request your attention to another series of subjects which, on the first announcement, may appear less adapted to awaken the feeling of interest in their favour--the Essentials of Religion. I trust, however, that your minds are impressed with the conviction, that in religion “the useful is paramount in importance to the agreeable; or rather that the useful should become agreeable, by the very
circumstance of its utility.” If you value the ministrations of the Pulpit, not for the purpose of intellectual entertainment, nor for the
purpose of pleasurable excitement; but for the sake
of instruction from the word of revealed truth, you will attach no inferior degree of interest to the subjects entitled to be regarded as the Essentials of Religion. Under this comprehensive title, it is not my design to enter on a discussion of the doctrines which may be pronounced essential to christianity: my object is rather to exhibit and to enforce the Essentials of Personal and Social Religion. It is to ascertain and to develope the principles which must reign in the heart, and govern the life, of every human being, who would establish a valid title to the name of christian.
In entering on this momentous investigation, we may be conducted to a satisfactory result, either by ascertaining what it is which man chiefly needs, or what it is which the religion of Christ chiefly requires. Whether we adopt the one process of inquiry or the other, we shall be brought to these important conclusions :--that if man would return to God, against whom he has rebelled, repentance is indispensably requisite;that if man, involved in guilt, would obtain an interest in the gospel of salvation, faith is indispensably requisite ;-and that if man, polluted by sin, would attain real and endless felicity, holiness is indispensably requisite. Thus it appears,
that if we would express, in the fewest words, the things which are absolutely essential to personal religion, they may be comprised in this short