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he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us, in the third day he will raise us up;" and when he has "raised us up," and re-established us, we will follow our former course of life. When the tempest is over, we will again blaspheme the Creator of storms. Is not this the very summit of injustice!
3. There is, let us observe, a manifest contradiction between these two periods of life, between that of our devotion and that of our sin. What destroys one, necessarily subverts both; and a reasonable man acting consistently ought to choose, either to have no periods of devotion, or to perpetuate them. Yes, we should choose either a real inward piety to influence our practice, or none of the superficial sentiments that produce a profession of it. We should choose either to act openly like an unmoveable philosopher, or shall I rather say a brute beast, when we seem to be upon the verge of the grave, or that the piety excited then should continue as long as we live in case of recovery. There is a palpable contradiction in having both these dispositions. When the state is in danger, and a solemn fast is kept, what is supposed? That there is a just God governing the universe, dispensing good and evil, sooner or later destroying rebellious nations, and exercising a justice more or less severe according to the duration of his patience. If we believe all this, we should endeavour to regulate the state by these prin
yields to his own inclination to mercy and esteem, and thus becomes equally barbarous, whether he seems affected with the benevolence of his prince, or whether he seems to despise it. For, my brethren, it is much less difficult to separate one's self wholly from a faithless friend, than to conduct one's self properly to one who is faithless only by fits. These equivocal reformations, these appearances of esteem, are much more cruel than total ingratitude, and open avowed hatred. In an entire rupture the mind is presently at a point: but in such imperfect connexions as these a thousand opposite thoughts produce a violent conflict in the mind. Shall I countenance ingratitude, shall I discourage repentance? I repeat it again, though this image is infinitely beneath the majesty of God, yet it is that which he has thought proper to employ. "O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away." O Ephraim, O Judah, why do you rend my heart asunder by turns with your virtue and your vice? Why not allow me either to give myself entirely to you, or to detach myself entirely from you? Why do you not suffer me to give a free course either to my esteem or to my displeasure? Why do you not allow me to glorify myself by your repentance, or by your ruin? Your devotions hold my hand: your crimes inflame my anger. Shall I destroy a people ap-ciples, and if we do not believe it, we should pealing to my clemency? Shall I protect a people trampling upon my laws? "O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away." 2. Consider secondly, the injustice of these devotions. Though they are vain, yet people expect God to reward them. Hear these words, 'they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness:" but, "say they, wherefore have we fasted, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge," Isa. lviii. 2, 3. Though these complaints were unjust, yet, what is very remarkable, God sometimes paid attention to them; for though he sees the bottom of men's hearts, and distinguishes real from apparent piety, yet he has so much love, for repentance, that he sometimes rewards the bare appearance of it. See how he conducts himself in regard to Ahab. Ahab was a wicked king. God denounced judgments against him, and was about to inflict them. Ahab tore his garments, covered himself with sackcloth and ashes, and lay in the dust. What said God to Elijah?"Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil," 1 Kings xxi. 29. Not bring the evil! Why, has Ahab prohibited idolatry? Has he restored Naboth's vineyard? Has he renounced his treaties with the enemies of God? No. Yet "Ahab humbleth himself, and because he humbleth himself I will not bring the evil." So true it is, that God sometimes rewards a mere shadow of repentance.
The Jews knew this condescension of God, and they insulted it in the most odious manner. "Come, let us return unto the Lord, for he hath torn, and he will heal us, he hath smitten and
not humble ourselves, and fast, and "bow down our heads like a bulrush." What is supposed by the prayers, and tears, and protestations we bring to the table of Jesus Christ? That God loves us, that he has so loved us as to give us his Son, that a Christian ought to return Jesus Christ love for love, and life for life. If we believe this, we ought to be always faithful to God, and if we do not believe it, we ought not to communicate, to pray, to weep, to promise. What is supposed by all the appearance of devotion we have in sickness? That the soul is immortal, that there is a future state, that an eternity of happiness or misery awaits us. If we believe this, we ought to regulate our actions by these truths, and if we do not believe it, if the soul be not immortal, if heaven and hell be phantoms, we ought not to put on an appearance of religion in prospect of death. But such is our littleness, when we lose sight of a thing, we think it ceases to be. When we find the art of forgetting truth, it should seem truth is no more. When we cease thinking of our judge, it seems to us there is no judge. We resemble children who shut their eyes to hide themselves from the sight of their nurses.
4. Every part of devotion supposes some action of life, so that if there be no such action the whole value of devotion ceases. We hear a sermon, in this sermon we are taught some truth of religion which has a close and inseparable connexion with our moral conduct. We are told that a judge must be upright, a friend disinterested, a depository faithful. We do well to be attentive to this sermon: but after we have heard it, we violate all the rules, if we be corrupt judges, ungrateful friends, faithless depositaries; and if because we have heard our duty we think ourselves discharged from the necessity of doing it, do we not pervert the
order and destination of this discourse? We | man who has spent his life in sin is taken exreceive the Lord's Supper, there we go to con- tremely ill. His illness, a review of his life, firm our faith, to detach ourselves from the and a fear of death, rouse his conscience. world, to prepare ourselves for a future state. sends for a minister, he opens to him all his We do well to receive the Lord's Supper: but heart, he confesses his sins, he weeps, he groans, if after we have received it we become lax in he protests ten thousand times that he hates his believing, fastened to the world, and without past life, and that he is determined to reform. thought of a future state, and if we neglect He persuades himself, and all about him, that these duties, under pretence that we took steps he is really converted. The minister promises relative to these duties, do we not pervert the him peace, and displays before him all the comLord's Supper? This reasoning is so clear, that fortable declarations, which it has pleased God it seems needless to pretend to elucidate it. to bestow in the gospel. The sick man recovers Yet many people reason in this manner, I have his health, returns to the world, forgets all his been to a place of worship, I have heard a ser- designs of conversion and repentance, and purmon, I have received the communion, and now sues his former course of intrigue, and passion, I may give a loose to my passions: but it is be- and arrogance. He falls sick a second time, cause you have been to a place of worship, it is sends a second time for his minister, and again because you have heard a sermon, and received he opens his heart, accuses himself, sheds floods the communion, it is on account of this, that of tears, and once more vows amendment and you ought wholly to employ yourself about that conversion. work, to promote which all these devotions were appointed.
5. Transient devotions are inconsistent with the general design of religion. This design is to reform man, to renew him, to transform him into the likeness of glorified saints, to render him like God. But how does a rapid torrent of devotion attended with no moral rectitude contribute to this end? If while I fast I eradicate the world from my heart, if while I acknowledge the enormity of my past life I endeavour to reform it, if while I give mortal blows to the old man I form the new man in my heart, and if I thus build the edifice of grace, where once the temple of depravity stood, then I direct a fast day towards the great end of religion. But what says God of another kind of fasting? "Is it such a fast that I have chosen, that a man should afflict his soul for a day? Is it to bow down the head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Isa. lviii. 5. And what says God of exterior devotions in general? "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord. I am full of burnt-offerings and incense. Your new moons I cannot away with. Who hath required this at your hand? chap. i. 11. The answer seems ready. Didst not thou, Lord, establish this worship, order an elegant temple to be built, and command the Jews to go up to Jerusalem? Sabbaths, solemn assemblies, new moons, do they not owe their origin to thee? No: when they are destitute of love and obedience, "I hate new moons and Sabbaths, and solemn assemblies I cannot away with." In like manner, of all devotions of every kind, when they are not attended with uniform moral obedience, we say, and in particular of the Lord's Supper we say, "I am weary" of your preparations, "I am full" of momentary devotions, and your pretended holy resolutions "I cannot away with." Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.
6. Transient devotions must render promises of grace to you doubtful, even supposing you should ever, after a thousand revolutions of transient piety, be in possession of true and real religion. What think you of this question? A
The minister on the same principle as before encourages him to hope again. He recovers again, and perjures himself again, as he did the first time. A third time his illness returns, and he takes the same steps, and would embrace the same promises, if they could be addressed to him. Now we ask, how a minister ought to conduct himself to such a man? What think you of this question? You know our commission, it is to preach peace to such as return to God with sincerity and good faith. The marks of sincerity and good faith are good works, and where circumstances render good works impossible, protestations and promises are to be admitted as evidences of sincerity and good faith. These evidences have been deceitful in the man we speak of. His transition from promising to violating was as quick as that from violating to promising. Have we any right to suppose the penitent knows his heart better this third time than he did the first and second? How should we be able to determine his state, how can we address to him any other than doubtful promises, since God, in some sort, adopts such sentiments in the text? "O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud that goeth away."
7. Consider finally, the imprudence of a man who divides his life in this manner into periods of devotion and periods of sin. It seems at first to be the height of wisdom to find the unheard-of art of uniting the reward of virtue, with the pleasure of vice. On the one side, by devoting only a few moments to religion he spares himself the pains which they experience who make conscience of giving themselves entirely up to it: and by suspending only for a little while the exercise of his passions, he en joys the pleasure of hoping fully to gratify them. On the other side, he quiets the storms of divine justice that threaten his rebellion, and thus obtains by devotions of a moment a protection, which others devote a whole life to acquire Let us undeceive ourselves. A heart divided in this manner cannot be happy. The chief cause of the difficulties we meet with in the way of salvation is owing to our partial walking, and to the fluctuation of the soul between religion and the world. The world combats religion, religion combats the world. The divided heart is the field of battle where this
violent combat is fought. To desire to enjoy the | which nature and art seemed to have rendered pleasures of both virtue and sin is to enjoy nei- impregnable. They will describe both armies ther, and to partake of the inconveniences of animated with a fury unknown before, disputboth. To be at a point, to take a part, and to ing in carnage and blood with efforts unparaltake the wise part, is the source of true peace leled both for the greatness of the slaughter, and solid felicity. and the glory of the victory. They will represent the most fruitful kingdom of Europe under all the misery of scarcity, in this more cruel than famine, it inflicts a more slow and lingering death. They will speak of the labourers howling for bread in the public roads; and will tell of "a sudden ferocity next to madness possessing multitudes, men seizing public convoys, snatching the bread from one another's hands, decency, fidelity, and religion being dead."*
Besides, this state of suspension which God assumes in the text is violent, and cannot last long. Like motives of patience do not concur at all times: witness the kingdom of Judah mentioned in the text, which was at length given up to the fury of the Chaldeans; witness this Ephraim, I mean the kingdom of the ten tribes, concerning whose destiny the prophet seems in the text to waver; however, at length God determined their dispersion, and the tribes were confounded with those idolatrous and wicked people, whose immorality and idolatry they had too exactly copied. All the help of history, and all the penetration of historians are necessary to discover any trace of these people: if indeed the penetration of historians and travellers have discovered any thing about
But why go back to remote periods of the world to prove a truth which our own eyes now behold in abundance of bloody demonstrations? If there ever were a year from the foundation of the world, if there has ever been a year proper to prove these terrible truths, it is that which lately came to an end. The dreadful events that distinguished it, and of which we were if not the victims, at least the witnesses, are too recent and too well known, to need description. This year will be proposed to the most distant posterity as one of the most alarming periods of divine vengeance. Future preachers will quote it as St. Jude formerly did the subversion of Sodom, and the universal deluge. They will tell your posterity, that in the year one thousand seven hundred and nine the patience of God, weary with Europe, enveloped in one general sentence friend and foe, almost the whole of that beautiful part of the world. They will say that all the scourges of heaven in concert were let loose to destroy guilty nations. They will lead their auditors over the vast kingdoms of the north, and show them the Borysthenes stained with blood, contagion flying rapidly as on the wings of the winds, from city to city, from province to province, from kingdom to kingdom, ravaging in one week so many thousand persons, in the next so many thousand more. They will tell them of the kingdoms which were claimed by two princes, and by lively images of the cruel barbarities practised there, they will render it doubtful whether it were a desire of conquering or depopulating these kingdoms that directed the arms of these rivals. They will represent that theatre of blood in Flanders, and describe in glowing colours troops on both sides animated with equal fury, some to defend posts which seemed to need no defence but themselves, others to force intrenchments
* Our author refers to the battle of Malplaquet, fought September the 11th, 1709, between the French army consisting of one hundred and twenty thousand men commanded by Marshal Villars, and the confederate army consisting of nearly an equal number under the command of the Duke of Marlborough. The confederate army obtained the victory at the price of twenty thousand of their best troops.
So many victims sacrificed to divine vengeance, my brethren, so many plagues wasting Europe, so many shocks of the earth, above all, so great a share as our crimes had in kindling the anger of God, should seem to shake the foundations of this state, and to convulse and kill the greatest part of this auditory. Yet this state still subsists, thanks to thine infinite mercy my God, the state yet subsists, and though afflicted, distressed, and weary with a long and cruel war, it subsists as rich and as splendid as any country in the world. These hearers too, yet subsist, thanks to thy mercy my God, our eyes behold them, and by a kind of miracle they have been preserved to the beginning of another year. Preserved did I say? They have been crowned. And how does this year begin, this year which we never expected to see, after a year distinguished by the three great evils, pestilence, famine, and war, how does it begin with us? It begins with the smiles of heaven, with a participation of what is most august in religion, with the descent of the Holy Spirit into our hearts, with the renewing of our covenant with God, and, if I may be allowed to say so, it begins with an acknowledgment on God's part, that his love will not allow of our destruction, how much soever we deserve to be destroyed. "O Ephraim, how shall I give thee up? O Israel, how shall I deliver thee up? How shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together." Ah! why must a joy so pure be mixed with a just fear that you will abuse his goodness? Why, across such a multitude of benefits must we be constrained to look at vengeance behind? O republic! nourished by heaven, upon which the eyes of the Lord thy God are always fixed, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year," Deut. xi. 12; why must we be driven to-day to utter unpleasant omens, along with the most affectionate benedictions? And you believers who hear us, why, now that we wish you a happy new year, must we be obliged to foretell an unhappy one?
For what security have we that this year will be more holy than the last? have we any certainty that this communion will be more effectual than others? What security have we that the resolutions of this day will have more influence over our lives than all before? Can we be sure that the devotion of this day will
* Flechier's pastoral letter.
not be " as a morning cloud, and as the early of their parents? How many Marthas and dew that goeth away?" And consequently Marys, bedewing the grave of a brother with what security have we that this will not be the their tears, a brother dead four days, and by last year of this republic, the last communion, this time infectious? How many plaintive the last invitation of mercy that will ever be voices are heard in Rama? How many Ragiven to all this assembly? chels weeping and refusing to be comforted, because their "children are not?"
Ah, my brethren, my dear brethren, behold the God who heweth us by his prophets, behold nim who has slain men by the words of his mouth, behold him, who in the presence of his angels waiting in this assembly, behold him once more saying to you, "O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as the morning cloud, that goeth away!"
There are two great motives among many others, which chiefly urge your conversion today: your receiving the Lord's Supper this morning, and the uncertainty of living all this year.
Having considered the last year, turn your attention to this, which we are now beginning. If, instead of such vague discourses as we address to you, God should this moment give us light into futurity, a sight of his book of decrees, a foreknowledge of the destiny of all our hearers, and impel us to inform each of you how this new revolution would interest you, what cries would be heard in this auditory! There you would see that haughty man, full-blown with vanity, confounded in the same dust with the meanest of mankind. Here you would see this voluptuous woman who refuses nothing to her senses, lying on a sick-bed, expiring in agony between the pain of a mortal malady and the just fear of falling into the hands of an angry God. Yonder you would behold that officer now crowned with laurels, and about to reap a new harvest of glory in the next cam
his own blood, and finding a grave where his imagination appointed victory to meet him. In all parts of this auditory, on the right hand, on the left, before, behind, by your side, in your own pew, I should show you carcasses, and probably he who hears us with the most indifference, and who secretly despises such as tremble at our preaching, would himself serve to prove the truth we are delivering, and occupy the first place in this fatal list.
This morning you received the Lord's Supper, and with it peace of conscience, inward consolation, ineffable pleasure, "joy unspeakable and full of glory," if indeed you did feel this, and if these are not in regard to you sounds without meaning. What! shall four days, shall four days efface all these impres-paign, covered with tragical dust, weltering in sions? What! shall a worldly society, will a sensual temptation, can a profane raillery bring you to violate all your resolutions, and to be guilty of perjury towards God? Do not fall into the puerility mentioned a little while ago, do not think the great truths you have felt today will cease to be, because you cease to think of them. Jesus died for you, Jesus gave himself for you, Jesus demands your heart, Jesus promises you an eternity of happiness; this is true to-day, this will be true to-morrow and all next week, during all your temptations and pleasures; and what, pray, can the world offer you in lieu of the heaven that came into your conscience? what to supply the place of that Redeemer, who this morning gave himself to you in a manner so affectionate?
To this first motive add the other, the vanity of life, a vanity described by the renewing of the year. I am aware how feeble this motive is to many of us. The past insures us for the future, and because we have never died, it seems to us as if we never should die.
My brethren, you compel us to-day to set before you the most mournful images, which can possibly strike your eyes. You oblige us to open wounds beginning to heal, and to anticipate the sorrows of the present year; but what can be done? If we cannot detach men from the world, we must tear them away by force.
Did we deceive you last year when we told you, that many who were present in this place on new year's day, would not live through the year? Has not the event fully verified the sad prediction? Answer me, ye disconsolate widows, who saw your husbands, objects of the purest and tenderest love, expire in your arms. Answer me, ye children in mourning, who followed your parents to the grave. How many afflicted Jacobs are weeping for the loss of a mother? How many Davids are saying in the bitterness of their heart, "O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son. Would God I had died for thee!" How many " Benonis, sons of sorrow," born at the "departing of the soul"
My brethren, Providence has not honoured us with any new revelations, we have not a spirit of prophecy: but you have eyes, you have a memory, you have reason, and you are certain death will sacrifice many of you in the course of this year. On whom will the tempest fall? Who will first verify our predictions? You cannot tell; and on this ground you will brave death, on this you build castles of vanity, which attach you to the world.
My brethren, establish your tranquillity and happiness on foundations more firm and solid. If you be affected with the motives set before you this day, and now resolve to labour in the work of your salvation, only you fear the weakness of your resolutions, we will give you one more lesson easy and practicable, that is, that every day of this year you retire one quarter of an hour and think of death. There put on in thought your shroud, lie down in your coffin, light your funeral tapers. There, observe your family weeping, your physician aghast, your long and melancholy train. There consider your friends, your children, your titles, your treasures removed for ever. There strike your imagination with the salutary ideas of books opened, thrones prepared, actions weighed in just balances. There lose yourself in the dark economy of a future state.
Having heard our exhortations, receive our benedictions. First, I turn myself toward the walls of that palace, where laws of equity, the glory and felicity of these provinces, are made; where the important questions which influence religion and the state, and shake all Europe,
steps! While you subdue your enemies may you experience this maxim of the Wise Man, he that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city."
Young people, receive our blessing: may you ever be preserved from the contagion of the world you are entering! May you devote the inestimable days you enjoy to your salvation? Now may you "remember your Creator in the days of your youth!”
are agitated. Ye protectors of the church, our
Receive our good wishes, old people, who have already one foot in the grave, let us rather say, who have already "your heart in heaven where your treasure is:" May you find your "inward man renewed day by day, as your outward man perisheth!" May you feel your soul strengthened as your bodies decay, and when your house of clay falls may the gates of heaven open to you!
Desolate countries, to you also we extend our good wishes and prayers. You have been many years the unhappy theatre of the most bloody war that ever was. May the "sword of the Lord drunk with blood," retire into its "scabbard, rest and be still!" May the destroying angel who ravages your fields, cease to execute his commission! May your "swords be beaten into ploughshares, and your spears into pruning-hooks," and may the dew of heaven succeed the shower of blood that for so many years has been falling upon you.
I turn myself also to you, illustrious personages, who represent in these provinces the chief heads of the Christian world, and who in a manner exhibit in this assembly princes, electors, republics, and monarchs, may God open his richest treasures in favour of those sacred persons who are gods upon earth, and whose august characters you bear to enable them to support sovereign power with dignity! God grant they may always have such ministers as you, who understand how to make supreme authority both respected and feared! God grant a confederacy formed for the security of all nations and people may be continued! And that my wishes may be more worthy of the majesty of this place, and the holiness of my ministry, I pray God to unite you not only by the same temporal interest but by the same Are our benedictions exhausted? Alas! on religion; may you have the same God for your this joyful day can we forget our griefs? Ye Father, the same Jesus for your Redeemer, the happy inhabitants of these provinces, so often same spirit for your guide, the same glory for troubled with a recital of our afflictions, we your hope! I own at the sight of these lords rejoice in your prosperity, will you refuse of the universe, to whom I have the honour to to compassionate our misfortunes? And you, address myself, I feel my insignificance, and I" firebrands plucked out of the burning," sad had suppressed all these wishes in my heart, had I not known that I speak the sense of all this assembly, the benedictions of all the church, and the congratulations of the state.
You also we bless, Levites holy to the Lord, ambassadors of the King of kings, ministers of the new covenant, who have written on your foreheads "holiness to the Lord," and on your breasts "the names of the children of Israel;" and you, elders and deacons of this church, who are as it were associated with us in the work of the ministry, may God animate you with the zeal of his house! God grant you may always take for your model the "chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls!" God grant after you have "preached to others, you may not be cast away!" May you "turn many to righteousness," and afterward "shine as the stars for ever and ever!"
Receive our benediction, fathers and mothers of families, happy to see yourselves born again in the persons of your children, happier still to bring those into the "assembly of the firstborn," whom you have brought into this valley of trouble! God grant your houses may be sanctuaries, and your children offerings to the "Father of spirits," the "God of the spirits of all flesh!"
Accept our good wishes, officers and soldiers, you, who after so many battles are going to war again, you, who after escaping so many dangers are entering on a new march of perils: may the God of battles fight incessantly for you! May victory constantly follow your
and venerable ruins of our unhappy churches, my dear brethren, whom the misfortunes of the times have cast on this shore, can we forget the miserable remnants of ourselves? O ye groaning captives, ye weeping priests, ye sighing virgins, ye festivals profaned, ye ways of Zion mourning, ye untrodden paths, ye sad complaints, move, O move all this assembly. “0 Jerusalem, if I forget thee, let my right hand forget her cunning. Not remember thee! let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy! O Jerusalem, peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sake, I will now say peace be within thee!" May God be moved, if not with the ardour of our prayers, yet with the excess of our afflictions; if not with our misfortunes, yet with the desolation of his sanctuaries, if not with the bodies we carry all about the world, yet with the souls that are torn from us!
And thou dreadful prince, whom I once honoured as my king, and whom I yet respect as a scourge in the hand of Almighty God, thou also shall have a part in my good wishes. These provinces which thou threatenest, but which the arm of the Lord protects; this country which thou fillest with refugees, but fugitives animated with love; these walls which contain a thousand martyrs of thy making, but whom religion renders victorious, all these yet resound benedictions in thy favour. God grant the fatal bandage that hides the truth from thine eyes may fall off! May God forget the