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calamitous event compels us to flee to the aid of the unhappy object of our esteem, to pluck him from the jaws of destruction by reclaiming him from his errors with the force of exhortation and the power of example. To combat these sentiments is to oppose the intention of God; to tear these from our hearts is to disrobe ourselves of that charity, without which there is no religion.
Accordingly, the more a mind becomes perfect in the exercise of this virtue, the more it has of this kind of sensibility. Hence it was that St. Paul so sharply reproved the Corinthians, because they had not mourned on account of that incestuous person, who had disgraced their church. Hence it was that Moses, when he discovered that gross idolatry of which we just now spoke, gave himself up to the deepest sorrow, and said to the Lord, "Oh, this people have sinned a great sin! Yet now, forgive their sin, and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book." Hence it was that Jeremiah said to the Jews of his time, who were going captives into a foreign land, where they would be destitute of the comfort of religion, "give glory to God before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains. But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eyes shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive." Hence this declaration of Paul to the Philippians, "Many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ." Hence it was that Jesus Christ, the chief model of charity, when he overlooked the unhappy Jerusalem, and saw the heavy judgments coming upon it, "wept over it," saying, "O that thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes."
But while we are in this world, God would have us affected with the misery that threatens
Here I venture to defy those of you, who glory in insensibility, to be insensible and void of feeling. No, nothing but the most confirmed inattention to futurity, nothing but the wretch
a sinner, that our own feelings may excite used habit we have formed of thinking of nothing
to prevent it. You have sometimes admired one of the most marvellous phenomena of nature; nature has united us together by invisible bonds, it has formed our fibres in perfect unison with the fibres of our neighbour; we cannot see him exposed to violent pain without receiving a counter blow, an unvaried tone that sounds relief to him, and forces us to assist him. This is the work of that Creator, whose infinite goodness is seen in all his productions. He intends that these sentiments of commiseration in us should be so many magazines to supply what the temporal miseries of our neighbours require. So in regard to eternity, there is a harmony, and, if you will allow the expression, there is a unison of spirits. While we are in this world, an idea of the eternal destruction of a person we esteem suspends the pleasure, which a hope of salvation promised to ourselves would other-truths of religion; a part of the men, whom I wise cause. It is the work of the Creator, thought I had subdued to Jesus Christ; a great whose goodness shines brighter in religion than number of these hearers, whom I often told, in the works of nature. That horror, which is that they would be my joy and crown in the caused by a bare appearance, that the man we day of the Lord (certainly you are our joy so tenderly love should be reserved for eternal and crown,") will perhaps be one day disowned torments, I say, the bare suspicion of such a by Jesus Christ in the face of heaven and earth.
but the present world can hinder our being affected with subjects which made the deepest impressions on the soul of the psalmist. Consider them as he did, and you will be affected as he was. You hardest hearts, try your insensibility, and see whether you can resist such reflections as these! This friend, who is my counsel in difficulty, my support in trouble, my comfort in adversity; this friend, who constitutes the pleasure of my life, will be perhaps for ever excluded from that happiness in heaven, to which all my hopes and wishes tend: when I shall be in the society of angels, he will be in the company of devils: when he shall knock at the door of the bridegroom who opened to me, he will receive this answer, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not." This catechumen, in whose mind I endeavoured to inculcate the
advantages and many others, without which the most brilliant condition, and the most delicious life, are only a splendid slavery, and a source of grief, all these advantages, I say, are inseparable from piety. A charitable man cannot see, without deep affliction, objects of his tenderest love renounce such inestimable advantages, poison the pleasure of their own life, open an inexhaustible source of remorse, and prepare for themselves racks and tortures.
But, my brethren, these are only the least subjects of our present contemplation. We have other bitter reflections to make, and other tears to shed, and there is an exposition of charity more just, and at the same time more lamentable, of the words of my text, "Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law."
I am thinking of the eternal misery in which sinners involve themselves. We are united to sinners by ties of nature, by bonds of society, and by obligations of religion, and who can help trembling to think that persons round whom so many tendrils of affectionate ligaments twine, should be threatened with everlasting torments! Some people are so much struck with this thought, that they think, when we shall be in heaven all ideas of people related to us on earth will be effaced from our memory, that we shall entirely lose the power of remembering, that we shall not even know such as share celestial happiness with us, lest the idea of such as are deprived of it should diminish our pleasure, and imbitter our happiness. It would be easy, in my opinion to remove this difficulty, if it were necessary now. In heaven order, and order alone will be the foundation of our happiness; and if order condemns the persons we shall have most esteemed, our happiness will not be affected by their misery. We shall love only in God; we shall feel no attachment to any, who do not love God as we do: their cries will not move us, nor will their torments excite our compassion.
This pastor, whom I considered as my guide in the way to heaven, this pastor will himself experience all the horrors of that state, of which he gave me such dreadful ideas. This husband to whom Providence united me, this husband whom I esteemed as part of myself, I shall perhaps one day consider as my most mortal foe, I shall acquiesce in his damnation, I shall praise God and say, "Hallelujah, power belongeth unto the Lord our God! True and righteous are his judgments! Hallelujah, the smoke of the torment" of him whose company once constituted my happiness, "shall rise up for ever and ever!" This child, in behalf of whom I feel I exhaust all that the power of love has of tenderness, this child whose least cry pierces my soul, and who feels no pain without my feeling a thousand times more for him, this child will be seized with horror, when he shall see coming in the clouds of heaven surrounded with holy angels that Jesus whose coming will overwhelm me with joy: this child will then seek refuge in dens, and caverns, and chasms, he will cry in agony of despair, "Mountains and rocks, fall on me and hide me from the wrath of the Lamb!" He will be loaded with chains of darkness, he will be a prey to the worm that never dies, and fuel for the fire that will never be quenched, and when Jesus Christ shall say to me in that great day, "Come, thou blessed of my Father," I shall hear this dreadful sentence denounced against this child, "depart, thou cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Too just a subject of grief! "Rivers of waters," tears of love and pity, "run down mine eyes: because they keep not thy law."
A good man, on the contrary, is happy in the company of another good man. What countrymen feel, when they meet in a foreign land where interests and customs, maxims and views, all different from those of the land of their nativity, resembles the pleasures believers experience when they associate in a world where they are only strangers and pilgrims. Accordingly, one of the most ardent wishes of our prophet was, to be always in company with people of this kind, "I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts," said he to God. In another place, "I will early destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord." And again, "All my delight is in the excellent saints that are in the earth."
But how few of these saints did he find! Most of his misfortunes were brought on him by the very sinners whose depravity he deplores. They were the poison of his life, and them he always saw standing ready to persecute him, and to discharge against his person the impotent malice they had against that God whose servant he considered it as his glory to be.
Does our age differ in this respect from that of David? Are saints more numerous now than they were then? May a good man promise himself among you more approbation, more countenance and support, than the psalmist found?
This is an odious question, and our doubts may seem to you illiberal. Well, we will not press it. But if the bulk of you be saints, this country must be the most delicious part of the whole universe. A good man must be as happy as it is possible to be in this world. In these III. So earnestly do I desire to have your provinces, free by constitution, opulent by attention fixed on the objects just now men- trade, invincible by alliances, and perfectly safe tioned, that I shall hardly venture to finish the by the nature of their government from tyrants plan proposed, and to proceed to a third part and tyranny, if the number of saints be greater of this discourse. I wish you were so alarmed in these provinces than that of the wicked, it with the eternal misery that threatens to over- must be the most delicious of all residences in whelm your fellow-citizens and friends, your this world for a good man: if he stumbles, you husbands and children, and so employed to pre- will charitably save him from falling, if he errs, vent it, that you were become as it were in- you will patiently bear with him, and gently sensible to the temporal ills to which the ene-reclaim him; if he be oppressed, you will assist mies of God expose you. However, we do not him with firmness and vigour; if he form pretend that love to our neighbours should schemes of piety, charity, and reformation, you make us forget what we owe ourselves. As will second him with eagerness and zeal; if he the excesses of the wicked made our prophet sacrifice his health, and ease, and fortune, for shed tears of charity, so they caused him to shed our good, you will reward him with gratitude, tears of self-interest. yea with profusion. May a good man promise himself all this among you? Alas! to be only willing to devote himself to truth and virtue, is often sufficient to cause him to be beset round with a company of contradictors and opposers.
But we will not engage too deeply in such gloomy reflections, we will finish the discourse, and can we finish it in a manner more suitable to the emotions of piety that assembled you in this solemn assembly, than by repeating the prayer with which we began? Almighty God! whose adorable judgments condemns us to wander in a valley of trouble, and to live, sometimes to be united by indissoluble ties, among men who insolently brave thy commands, Almighty God! grant we may be gathered to that holy society of blessed spirits, who place their happiness in a perfect conformity to thine august laws.
The occupation of the blessed in heaven,
The wicked are the scourges of society. One seditious person is often sufficient to disturb the state; one factious spirit is often enough to set a whole church in a flame; one profligate child is often enough to poison the pleasure of the most happy and harmonious family. Good people are generally the butts of the wicked. A wicked man hates a good man. He hates him, when he has not the power to hurt him, because he has not had the pleasure of hurting him; he hates him, after he has injured him, because he considers him as a man always ready to revenge the affront offered him; and if he thinks him superior to revenge, he hates him because he is incapable of vengeance, and because the patience of the offended and the rage of the offender form a contrast, which renders the latter abominable in the eyes of all equitable people.
(and this is one of the most beautiful images under which a man who loves his God, can represent the happiness of heaven,) the employment of the blessed in heaven is to serve God; their delight is to serve God; the design of all the plans, and all the actions, and the motions of the blessed in heaven, is to serve God. And as the most laudable grief of a believer in this unhappy world, which sin makes a theatre of bloody catastrophes, and a habitation of maledictions, is to see the unworthy inhabitants violate the laws of their Creator, so the purest joys of the blessed, is to see themselves in a society where all the members are always animated with a desire to please God, always ready to fly where his voice calls them, always collected in studying his holy laws.
This is the society to which you, my dear brethren, are appointed; you who, after the example of Lot, vex your righteous souls from day to day at seeing the depravity of the world; you, I mean, "who shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation." Into that society those happy persons are gone, whom death has taken from us, and a separation from whom has caused us so many sighs and tears. Behold, faithful friend! behold the company where now resides that friend to whom your soul was knit, as the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David! See, thou weeping Joseph! See that society where thy good father now is, that good Jacob whom thou didst convey to the grave with tears so bitter, that the inhabitants of Canaan called the place where thou didst deposit the body, "AbelMizraim, a grievous mourning to the Egyptians." Look, frail father! look at that society, there is thy son, at whose death thou didst exclaim, "O Absalom, my son, would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" And you, too, distressed Rachels! whose voices are heard lamenting, weeping, and mourning, refusing to be comforted, because your children are not; see, behold there in heaven your chil
dren, the dear objects of your grief and your love!
Oh! "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord! I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." Let us apply this thought of the prophet to ourselves, and may the application we make, serve for a balm to heal the wounds, which the loss of our friends has occasioned! "They shall not return to us," they shall never return to this society. What a society! A society in which our life is nothing but a miserable round of errors and sins; a society where the greatest saints are great sinners; a society in which we are often obliged to communicate with the enemies of God, with blasphemers of his holy name, violaters of his august laws! No, they shall not "return to us," and this is one consolation. But (and this is the other,) but we shall go to them." They have done nothing but set one step before us into eternity; the pleasures they enjoy are increased by the hope of our shortly enjoying the same with them. They, with the highest transports, behold the mansions which Jesus Christ has prepared for us in the house of his Father. "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God," said our divine Redeemer, to raise the drooping spirits of his apostles, stunned with the apprehension of his approaching death. This is the language we have heard spoken, this is the declaration we have heard made by each of those whom we have had the consolation of seeing die full of the peace of God, "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." O may we be shortly united in the bosom of this adorable Being with our departed friends, whose conversation was lately so delightful to us, and whose memory will always continue respected and dear! May we be united with the redeemed of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, in the presence of the blessed God! God grant us this grace! To him be honour and glory, for ever. Amen.
CONDUCT OF DAVID
COURT OF ACHISH, KING OF GATH,
LETTER OF MR. DUMONT
PASTOR OF THE FRENCH CHURCH AT ROTTERDAM, AND PROFESSOR OF THE ORIENTAL LANGUAGES, AND ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
MR. SAURIN, AT THE HAGUE.
TRANSLATED BY ROBERT ROBINSON.
GABRIEL DUMONг, author of the following essay, was born at Crest, in Dauphiny, August 19th, 1680, and died at Rotterdam, January 1st, 1748. He was a refugee for religion, pastor of the Waloon church at Rotterdam, and professor of Oriental languages and Ecclesiastical history. He published nothing himself during his life; but, after his decease, Mr. Superville, his colleague, published, with a short preface, one volume of his sermons, containing twelve discourses, the most plain, artless, and edifying that I have ever had the happiness of reading; not so disputatious as those of Amyraut, not so grave as those of Superville, not so stiff as those of Torne and Bourdaloue, not so far-fetched and studied as those of Massillon, nor so charged with colouring as those of Saurin: but placid, ingenious, gentle, natural, and full of evidence and pathos: just as "wisdom from above" should be, "pure, peaceable, mild-full of mercy and good fruits-sown in peace to make peace," James iii. 17, 18. The public owe this volume to Mademoiselle de Heuqueville, the pious patroness and friend of the author, who had, as it were, extorted them from him before his death.
Mr. Saurin, who published this essay in his dissertations on the Bible, says, "I follow our version, and the general sense of interpreters. A learned man (Mr. Dumont,) has investigated the subject at large, and, if he does not furnish us with demonstrations in favour of the system he proposes, yet his conjectures are so full of erudition, and so very probable, that we cannot help admiring them, while we feel an inclination to dispute them."
For my part, I own, if I may venture a conjecture, I think Mr. Dumont has placed his opinion in a light both beautiful, and, in a very high degree, probable. To sum up his meaning, he would read the passage thus:
1 SAMUEL, chap. xxi.
Ver. 10. And David fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish, the king of Gath.
11. And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?
12. And David was struck to the heart with these words, and was sore afraid of Achish, king of Gath.
13. And he changed countenance before them, and fell convulsed into their hands, and he hurt and marked himself against the posts of the gate, and he frothed on his beard.
14. Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, you see the man is epileptic: wherefore then have you brought him unto me?
15. Have I need of epileptics, that ye have brought this man to fall into convulsions in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?