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Broussons, those Marolles, and such a multitude of our martyrs, who have sealed the evangelical doctrine with their blood, who have ascended the scaffold, not only with resignation, but with joy, with transports, with songs of triumph, exclaiming, amid their sufferings, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," Phil. i. 13. "Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ," 2 Cor. ii. 14. "Blessed be the Lord, who teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight," Ps. cxliv. 1. Were not those venerable men naturally weak as you? And with the help of God, may not you become strong as they? Are you weak! It is still added, say rather, I am wicked, and blush for your impiety.
4. There are yet more plausible insinuations, and more subtle snares; and consequently, the more likely to entangle those who are defective in precautions of defence. The enemy of our salvation sometimes borrows weapons from conscience, in order to give it mortal wounds. The advice we give to the persecuted, is that of Jesus Christ; "If any man will come after me, let him take up his cross, and follow me," Matt. xvi. 24. "Come out of Babylon, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not her plagues," Rev. xviii. 4. To this duty, they oppose other duties; and family duties in particular. What would become of my father, should I leave him in his old age? What would become of my children should I forsake them in their infancy? They allege the duties of benevolence. What would become of so many poor people who procure bread in my employment? So many starving families, who subsist on my alms? So many people in perplexity, who are guided by my advice? What would become of these, if, neglecting their happiness, I should solely seek my own? They allege the duties of zeal. What would become of religion in this place, in which it was once so flourishing, if all those who know the truth should obey the command, "Come out of Babylon."
Let us, my brethren, unmask this snare of the devil. He places these last duties before your eyes, in order that you may neglect the first, without which all others are detestable in the sight of God our sovereign Judge; who whenever he places us in a situation in which we cannot practise a virtue without committing a crime, prohibits that virtue. God assumes to himself the government of the world, and he will not lay it on your shoulders; he still asserts the same language he once addressed to St. Paul, when that prince under the pretence of obedience to a precept, had violated an express prohibition. "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams," 1 Sam. xv. 22.
terior service? And though external worship be required, must it always be presented in the presence of a multitude? May not private devotion be a substitute for public worship? And may we not offer to God in the closet, the devotion which the calamity of the time does not allow us to offer in temples consecrated to his glory, and perform in our families the offices of piety which tyrants prevent our performing in numerous assemblies?
(1.) I answer; what are the private devotions performed in places in which the truth is persecuted! Ridiculous devotions; many of those who perform them being divided between Christ and Belial, between true and idolatrous adoration. In the morning, before the altar of false gods; in the evening, before the altar of the Supreme Jehovah. In the morning, denying Jesus Christ in public; in the evening confessing him in private. In the morning making a parade of error; in the evening, pretending to acknowledge the truth. Devotions in which they are in continual alarms; in which they are obliged to conceal themselves from their enemies, from many of their friends, and to say in secret, who sees me? who hears me? who suspects me? Devotions in which they are afraid of false brethren, afraid of the walls, or afraid of themselves!
(2.) The inward disposition, you say constitutes the essence of religion. I ask, what sort of inward disposition is that of the Christians whom we attack? Show us now, this religion which consists wholly of inward dispositions; this worship in spirit and in truth. What! this gross ignorance a necessary consequence of privation of the ministry, those absurd notions of our mysteries, those vague ideas of morality; is this the inward religion, is this "the worship in spirit and in truth?" What! this abhorrence they entertain of the communion of the persecutor, who they know scarcely possesses the first principles of the persecuted? Is this the inward religion, is this the "worship in spirit and in truth?" What! this kind of deism, and deism certainly of the worst kind, which we see maintained by the persons in question! Is this the inward religion, is this the "worship in spirit and in truth?" What! this tranquillity with which they enjoy not only the riches they have preserved at the expense of their soul; but the riches of these who have sacrificed the whole of their property for the sake of the gospel? Is this the inward religion, is this the "worship in spirit and in truth?" What! this participation in the pleasures of the age, at a period when they ought to weep: those frantic joys, if I may so speak, over the ruins of our temples, after renouncing the doctrines there professed? Is this the inward religion, is this the "worship in spirit and in truth?" What! those marriages they contract, in which it is stipulated, in case of issue, they shall be baptized by the ministers of error, and educated in their religion? Is this the inward religion, is this the "worship in spirit and in truth?""
5. But is it public worship; (and this is a fifth snare, a fifth insinuation; and a fifth class of those "sins which so easily beset us;")-is it public worship which constitutes the essence 6. I will add but one illusion more, and that of religion? Does not true devotion wholly is the illusion of security. If we offend, say consist in worshipping in Spirit, and in truth? the persons we attack; if we offend in subMay we not retain religion secretly in our mitting to the pressure of the times, we do it heart, though we apparently suspend the ex-through weakness, and weakness is an object
of divine clemency. It is not possible, that a merciful God, a God who "knows whereof we are made," a God who has formed us with the ttachment we have for our property, our relaLives, and our lives; it is not possible that this God should condemn us to eternal misery, because we have not had the fortitude to sacrifice the whole. A double shield, my brethren, shall cover you against this temptation, if you have prudence to use it; a double reflection shall defend you against this last illusion.
First, the positive declarations of our Scriptures. God is merciful, it is true; but he is an arbitrator of the terms on which his mercy is offered: or, as it is written, he extends mercy to whom he pleases; and God who extends mercy to whom he pleases, declares that he will show no mercy to those who refuse to honour his truth. He declares, that "he will deny those before his Father, who deny him before men," Matt. x. 33. He declares, that "he who loveth father or mother more than him, is not worthy of him," Matt. x. 37. He declares, that "they who receive the mark of the beast, or worship his image, shall be cast alive into the lake of fire, burning with brimstone," Rev. xix. 20. He declares, that he will class in the great day, "the fearful;" that is, those who have not had courage to confess their religion, with the "unbelieving," with "the abominable," with "the murderers," with "the whoremongers," with "the sorcerers," with "the idolaters," with "the liars." He declares, that "the fearful shall," in common with others, be cast into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death," Rev. xxi. 8.
with the brevity of my time. I shall proceed to give a portrait of the life common to persons who attain the utmost age God has assigned to man. I shall conduct him from infancy to the close of life, tracing to you, in each period it is presumed he shall pass, the various temptations which assail him; and by which it is impossible he should fall, if he keep in view the apostle's exhortation, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us." Let every one who hears this sermon with a view to profit, carefully apply to himself those traits which have the nearest resemblance to his state. Hence I would presume every one of you to be the man who shall attain the age of eighty years: these are the temptations he will find in his course.
1. Scarcely will you be liberated from the arms of the nurse, when you fall under the care of weak and indulgent people; who will, through a cruel complaisance, take as much pains to cherish the corrupt propensities of nature, as they ought to take for their subjugation. At this early period they will sow in your heart awful seeds, which will produce an increase of thirty, sixty, or an hundred-fold. They will make a jest of your faults, they will applaud your vices, and so avail themselves of your tender age, to give a thousand and a thousand wounds to your innocence, that all your application will scarcely heal, when you shall be capable of application. If you do not avail yourselves of the first sentiments of piety and reason, to resist so far as the weakness of childhood will permit, those dangerous snares, you will find yourselves very far advanced in the The second reflection, which should be a road of vice before your situation is perceived. shield for repelling this illusion of the devil, 2. Is infancy succeeded by youth? Fresh arises from the nature of the crime itself, ac- snares, new temptations, occur. On the comcounted a mere infirmity. Four characters con-mencement of reflection, you will discover ex tribute to the atrocity of a crime. 1. When it isting, in your constitution and temperature, is not committed in a moment of surprise, in principles grossly opposed to the law of God. which we are taken unawares. 2. When we Perhaps the evil may have its principal seat in persist in it not only for a few hours, or days, the soul, perhaps in the body. In the temperabut live in it for whole years. 3. When during ture of the soul, you will find principles of enthose years of criminality, we have all the op- vy, principles of vanity, or principles of avarice. portunities we could reasonably ask of emanci- In the temperature of the body, you will find pation. 4. When this crime not only captivates principles of anger, principles of impurity, or the solitary offender, but draws a great number principles of indolence. If you are not aware more into the same perdition. These four cha- of this class of temptations, you will readily racters all associate with the crime in question, suffer yourselves to be carried away by your the crime reckoned a weakness, and obstinately propensity, and you will obey it without reclassed among the infirmities of nature. But I morse; you will invest it with privilege to do have not resolution to enlarge upon this subject, with innocence, what the rest of the world canand to prove, that our unhappy brethren are in not do without a crime. You must expect to such imminent danger of destruction. And the find in your temperature principles which will expiration of my time is a subordinate induce- dispense with virtue, and to be captivated by ment to proceed to other subjects. maxims which too much predominate in the world, and which you will daily hear from the mouths of your companions in dissipation. These maxims are, that youth is the age of pleasure; that it is unbecoming a young man to be grave, serious, devout, and scrupulous; that now we ought to excuse not only games, pleasure, and the theatres, but even debauchery, drunkenness, luxury, and profaneness; that swearing gives a young man an air of chivalry becoming his age, and debauchery an air of gallantry which does him credit in the world. Caution yourselves against this class of temptations: reject the sin which so easily destroys you, if you should relax in one single instance. Ah!
II. Were it possible for the discourses introduced into this pulpit to be finished pieces, in which we were allowed to exhaust the subjects; were you capable of paying the same attention to exercises, which turn on spiritual subjects, you bestow on business or pleasure, I would present you with a new scheme of arguments; I would reduce, to different classes, the temptations which Satan employs to obstract you in the course. But we should never promise ourselves the completion of a subject in the scanty limits to which we are prescribed.
I shall take a shorter course, harmonizing the extent and importance of the remaining subject
think, my son, that you may never survive those years you devote to the world, think that the small-pox, a fever, a single quarrel, or one act of debauchery, may snatch away your life. Think, though you should run your full course, you will never have such flexible organs, so retentive a memory, so ready a conception, as you have to-day; and consequently, you will never have such a facility for forming habits of holiness. Think how you will one day lament to have lost so precious an opportunity. Consecrate your early life to duty, dispose heart, at this period, to ensure salvation. "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, in which thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them," Eccles. xii. 1.
3. After having considered the period of youth, we proceed to maturer age. A new stage, fresh snares, more temptations. What profession can you choose, which the spirit of the world has not infected with its venom; and which has not, so to speak, its peculiar morality? The peculiar morality of a soldier, whose duty is to defend society, to maintain religion, to repress licentiousness, to oppose rapine by force: and to deduce, from so many dangers, which open the way of death, motives to render the account which Heaven will require: but it is a profession in which a man thinks himself authorized to insult society, to despise religion, to foment licentiousness, to lend his arm, to sacrifice his life, to sell his person for the most ambitious designs, the most iniquitous conquests, and sanguinary enterprises of sovereigns.
The peculiar morality of the statesman and magistrate, whose profession is to preserve the oppressed, to weigh with calmness a long detail of causes and consequences, to avail himself of the dignity to which he is elevated to afford examples of virtue; but it is a profession in which he thinks himself entitled to become inaccessible to the injured, to weary them out with mortifying reserves, with insupportable delays, and to dispense with labour and application, abandoning himself to dissipation and vice.
The peculiar morality of the lawyer, whose duty is to restrict his ministry to truth and justice, never to plead for a cause which has not the appearance of equity, and to be the advocate of those who are inadequate to reward his services: but it is a profession in which a man thinks himself authorized to maintain both falsehood and truth, to support iniquity and falsehood, and to direct his efforts to the celebrity he may acquire, or the remuneration he may receive.
render him most useful? Is it not to determine on the choice of a text, not by the caprice of the people, which on this point is often weak, and mostly partial, but by the immediate wants of the flock? Is it not to pay the same attention to a dying man, born of an obscure family, stretched on a couch of grass, and unknown to the rest of the world, as to him who possesses a distinguished name, who abounds in wealth, who provides the most splendid coffin and magnificent funeral? Is it not to "cry aloud, to lift up his voice like a trumpet, to show the people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins; to know no man after the flesh;" and when he ascends this pulpit, to reprove vice with firmness, however exalted may be the situation of the offender? But what is the morality of a pastor? "Enter not into judgment with thy servants, O Lord; for we cannot answer thee one of a thousand." Caution yourselves against this class of temptations. The world is neither your legislator, nor your judge; Jesus Christ, and not the world, is the sovereign arbitrator. It is the morality of Jesus Christ, and not the maxims of men, which you should follow.
The peculiar morality of the merchant, whose duty is to detest short weights and false measures, to pay the revenue, and to be satisfied with a moderate profit: but a profession in which he thinks himself authorized to indulge those very vices he ought in particular to avoid.
The peculiar morality of the minister. What is the vocation of a minister? Is it not to devote himself entirely to virtue? Is it not to set a pattern to all the church? Is it not to visit the hospitals, and houses of affliction, and to alleviate, as far as he can, the pressure of their calamities? Is it not to direct his studies, not to subjects by which he may acquire celebrity for learning and eloquence, but to those which may
4. Having reviewed human life in infancy, youth, and manhood, I proceed to consider it in old age; in that old age, which seems so distant, but which is, in fact, within a few years; in that old age which seems, in some sort, at the distance of eternity, but which advances with astonishing rapidity. A new state, fresh snares, more temptations occur: infirmities, troubles, and cares, arrive with age. The less there remains on earth to defend, the more men are resolved not to let it go. The love of life having predominated for fifty or sixty years, sometimes unites and attaches itself, so to speak, yet more closely to the short period, which they think is still promised. It is so rooted and intrenched in the heart, as to be immoveable by all our sermons on eternity. They look on all who witness the calamities they suffer, as though they were the cause: it seems as though they were reproached for having lived so long, and they make them atone for this imaginary fault, as though they were really guilty. The thoughts of death they put away with the greater care, as it approaches nearer, it being impossible to avoid the idea, without these efforts to remove it. They call to their aid amusements, which would scarcely be excusable in the age of infancy: thus they lose the precious remains of life,-granted by the longsuffering of God,-as they have lost the long course of years, of which nothing now remains but the recollection.
Be on your guard, aged men, against this class of temptations, and against these illusions, which will easily beset you, unless the whole of your strength be collected for precaution and defence. Let prayer be joined to vigilance: let those hands, trembling and enfeebled with the weight of years, be raised to heaven: let that voice, scarcely capable of articulating accents, be addressed to God: entreat him, who succoured you in the weakness of infancy, in the vigour of youth, in the bustle of riper age, still to sustain you, when the hand of time is heavy upon your head.
Hitherto, my dear brethren, I have address
ed you, merely concerning the dangers peculiar What repose can you enjoy in a criminal into each age. What would you not say now, trigue, saying to yourself, perhaps God will if we should enter into a detail of those which pardon me after having brought this intrigue occur in every situation of life? We find, in to an issue: but perhaps, also, during the every age, temptations of adversity, tempta- course of the crime, he will pronounce the sentions of prosperity, temptations of health, temp-tence it deserves. What repose can you enjoy tations of sickness, temptations of company, in the night preceding a day destined to a comand temptations of solitude: and who is able plication of crimes, saying to yourself, perhaps fully to enumerate all the sins which so easily I shall see the day devoted to so dreadful a beset us in the various ages of life? How should purpose: but perhaps this very night "my soul one be rich without pride, and poor without shall be required:" what delight can you take complaint? How may one fill the middle rank in a tour of pleasure, when it actually engrosses of fortune, without the disgust naturally conse- the time you have devoted to search your conquent on a station, which has nothing emulous science, to examine your state, to prepare for and animating; which can be endured by those death, to make restitution for so many frauds, only, who discover the evils from which they so many extortions, so many dissipations? What are sheltered, and the dangers from which they satisfaction can you take, saying to yourself, are freed? How can one enjoy health without perhaps I shall see the day devoted to so great indulging in the dissipations of life, without a work, but perhaps it will never come? immersion into its cares, or indulging in its pleasures? How can one be sick, without admitting complaint against that gracious Providence, which distributes both good and evil? How can one be in solitude, without being tivated with reveries and corrupt propensities How can one be in company, without receiving the poison which is there respired, without receiving a conformity to every surrounding object? How see one's self obscure in the world, and unknown to our fellow-creatures, without indulging that anxiety, which is less exercised in the world for the love of virtue, than to avoid the odium consequent on an open violation of its laws? How can one enjoy reputation without ostentation, and blending some grains of incense with what we receive of others? Every where snares, every where dangers, beset us!
Ah! my brethren, have you any proper idea of the shortness of life: have you any proper idea of the eternity which follows, when you start the objection, What! always pray, always cap-fight, always watch? This life, the whole of which we exhort you to devote to your salvation; this life, of which you say; always-always; this is the life, on the shortness of which you make so many exaggerated declamations: I mistake, the shortness of which can scarcely be exaggerated. This life, of which you say, when we exhort you to devote it entirely to your salvation; this life of which you say, What! always-always; this life, which is but a vapour dissipated in the air; this life, which passes with the swiftness of a weaver's shuttle; this life, which like a flower blooms in the morning, and withers at night: this life, which like a dream amuses the fancy for a night, and of which not a vestige remains at the dawn of day:-this is the life which is but like a thought. And eternity, concerning which you regret to be always employed; that abyss, that gulf, are those mountainous heaps of years, of ages, of millions and oceans of ages, of which language the most expressive, images the most sublime, geniuses the most acute, orators the most eloquent, I have almost said, the most audacious, can give you but imperfect notions.
Ah! life of fourscore years! A long duration in the estimation of the heart, when employed in wrestling against the flesh; but a short period when compared with eternity. Ah! life of fourscore years, spent wholly in watchfulness, prayer, and warfare; but thou art well spent when we obtain the prize of a blissful immortality! My brethren, my dear brethren, who can live but fourscore years,What do I say? Who among us can expect to see the age of fourscore years? Christians, who are already arrived at thirty, others at forty, others at fifty, and another already at fourscore years. My dear brethren, some of you must die in thirty, some of you in twenty, some of you in ten years, and some in a single day. My dear brethren, let us consecrate to eternity the remnant of our days of vanity. Let us return to the testimonies of the Lord, if we have had the misfortune to deviate. Let us enter on the race of salvation, if we have had the presumption to defer our entrance into it to the present period. Let us run with patience the race, if we have already made a progress; and let the
From the truths we have delivered, there necessarily arises an objection, by which you are struck, and many of you, perhaps, already discouraged. What! are we always to be thinking about religion, being in constant danger of losing it, should we suffer it to escape our minds? What! must we always watch, always pray, always fight? Yes, my brethren, always, at all times. On seeing the temptations of youth, you should guard against those of riper age. On seeing the temptations of solitude, you should guard against those of company. On seeing the temptations of adversity, you should guard against those of prosperity. On seeing the temptations of health, you should guard against those of sickness. And on seeing the temptations of sickness, you should guard against those of death. Yes; always watching, always fighting, always praying.
I do not say, if you should happen to relax a moment from the work; I do not say, if you should happen to fall by some of the temptations to which you are exposed from the world, that you are lost without resource, that you should instantly go from sin to punishment, from the abuse of time to an unhappy eternity. Perhaps God will grant you a day, or a year, for repentance; but perhaps he will not. Perhaps you may repent; but perhaps you may not. Perhaps you may be saved; but perhaps not. Perhaps hell-perhaps heaven. What repose can you enjoy in so awful an alternative? What delight can you enjoy in certain vices, the perpetration of which requires time?
thought, the attracting, the ravishing thought of the prize, which terminates the race, dispel, from our mind, every idea of the difficulties which obstruct the way. Amen! May God give us grace so to do. To whom be honour and glory, dominion, and magnificence, now and for ever. Amen.
SAINT PAUL'S DISCOURSE BEFORE FELIX AND DRUSILLA.
ACTS xxiv. 24, 25.
And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered; Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
My brethren, though the kingdom of the righteous be not of this world, they present, however, amidst their meanness, marks of dignity and power. They resemble Jesus Christ. He humbled himself so far as to take the form of a servant, but frequently exercised the rights of a sovereign. From the abyss of humiliation to which he condescended, emanations of the godhead were seen to proceed. Lord of nature, he commanded the winds and seas. He bade the storms and tempests subside. He restored health to the sick, and life to the dead. He imposed silence on the Rabbins: he embarrassed Pilate on the throne; and disposed of paradise, at the moment he himself was pierced with the nails, and fixed on the cross. Behold the portrait of believers! "They are dead. Their life is hid with Christ in God," Col. iii. 3. "If they had hope only in this life, they were of all men most miserable," 1 Cor. xv. 19. Nevertheless, they discover I know not what superiority of birth. Their glory is not so concealed, but we sometimes perceive its lustre; just as the children of a king, when unknown and in a distant province, betray in their conversation and carriage indications of illustrious descent.
We might illustrate this truth by numerous instances. Let us attend to that in our text. There we shall discover that association of humility and grandeur, of reproach and glory, which constitutes the condition of the faithful while on earth. Behold St. Paul, a Christian, an apostle, a saint. See him hurried from tribunal to tribunal, from province to province; sometimes before the Romans, sometimes before the Jews, sometimes before the high-priest of the synagogue, and sometimes before the procurator of Cesar. See him conducted from Jerusalem to Cesarea, and summoned to appear before Felix. In all these traits, do you not recognise the Christian walking in the narrow way, the way of tribulation, marked by his Master's feet? But consider him nearer still. Examine his discourse, look at his countenance; there you will see a fortitude, a courage, and a dignity, which constrains you to acknowledge that there was something really grand in the
person of St. Paul. He preached Jesus Christ, at the very moment he was persecuted, for having preached him. He preached, even when in chains. He did more; he attacked his judge on the throne. He reasoned, he enforced, he thundered. He seemed already to exercise the function of judging the world, which God has reserved for the saints. He made Felix tremble. Felix felt himself borne away by a superior force. Unable to hear St. Paul any longer without appalling fears, he sent him away. "After certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ," &c.
We find here three considerations which claim attention. An enlightened preacher, who discovers a very peculiar discernment in the selection of his subjects. A conscience appalled, and confounded on the recollection of its crimes, and of that awful judgment where they must be weighed. We find, in fact, a sinner alarmed, but not converted; a sinner who desires to be saved, but delays his conversion; a case, alas! but of too common occurrence.
You perceive already, my brethren, the subject of this discourse; I. That St. Paul reasoned before Felix and Drusilla, of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come; II. That Felix trembled; III. That he sent the apostle away: three considerations which shall divide this discourse. May it produce on your hearts, on the hearts of Christians, the same effects St. Paul produced on the soul of this heathen; but may it have a happier influence on your lives. Amen.
Paul preached before Felix and Drusilla, on righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." This is the first object of discussion. Before, however, we proceed farther with our remarks, we must first sketch the character of this Felix, and this Drusilla, which will serve as a basis to the first proposition.
After the sceptre was departed from Judah, and the Jewish nation subjugated by Pompey, the Roman emperors governed the country by procurators. Claudius filled the imperial throne while St. Paul was at Cesarea. This emperor had received a servile education from his grandmother Lucia, and from his mother Antonia; and, having been brought up in obsequious meanness, evinced, on his elevation to the empire, marks of the inadequate care which had been bestowed on his infancy. He had neither courage nor dignity of mind. He who was raised to sway the Roman sceptre, and consequently to govern the civilized world, abandoned his judgment to his freed-men, and gave them a complete ascendancy over his mind. Felix was one of those freed-men. "He exercised," and these are the words of a Roman historian (Tacitus,) "he exercised in Judea, the imperial functions with a mercenary soul." Voluptuousness and avarice were the predominant vices of his heart. We have a proof of his avarice immediately after our text, where, it is said, he sent for Paul,-not to hear him concerning the truth of the gospel which this apostle had preached with so much power;-not to inquire whether this religion, against which the Jews had raised the standard, was contrary to the interest of the state;—