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attempting to extenuate his crime, I can find | Nobody, not one person, I except none. I no colours dismal enough to describe it. No: leave to the Searcher of hearts to determine I tremble at the bare idea of this monster, and whether it be the vehemence of our piety, or involuntarily exclaim, “O execrable love of the impotence of our condition, that prevents money! to what wilt thou not impel the hearts our carrying avarice to this length; whether it of men!"*
be respect for the laws or dread of them, that But does this odious picture resemble none keeps us from violating them; whether we abbut Judas? Ah! When I imagine a Christian stain from oppressing mankind because we love, born in this age of knowledge, a Christian or because we fear them; whether sacrificing with the gospel in his hand, convinced of the our country to our love of wealth bo prevented truth and beauty of religion, a Christian com- by love to our country, or by a despair of sucmunicant at the table of Jesus Christ, who has cess. Yes, I leave the decision of this quesvowed a hundred times an eternal obedience tion to the Searcher of hearts. I would, as far to God, and has “tasted the good word of God, as I can without betraying my ministry, form and the powers of the world to come:” when the most favourable judgment of my hearers; I consider this Christian full of contrivances, therefore I affirm not one of us is avaricious in intriguing in certain circles, exposing to the this first sense. world a spectacle of immodesty, resisting the Avarice, however, must be considered in a ministry, exclaiming against such religious dis- second point of light. It not only consists in courses as his depravity forbids him to obey; committing bold crimes, but in entertaining or, to confine myself to the disposition of Ju- mean ideas, and practising low methods, indas, when I observe this Christian-like Judas compatible with such magnanimity as our conpossessed with the demon of avarice, harden- dition ought to inspire. It consists not only in ing his heart against the cries of the wretched, an entire renunciation of the "kingdom of pillaging the widow and the fatherless of their God and the righteousness thereof,” but in not daily bread, selling his own soul and the souls "seeking it first” in the manner proposed. It of his children rather than break through a pa- consists not only in always endeavouring to inpal interdict, rather than quit a country where crease our wealth, but in harbouring continual truth is hated and persecuted, where there is fears of losing it, and perplexing ourselves in no public worship during life, no consolations endless methods of preserving it. It consists at the hour of death: when I consider such not only in wholly withholding from the poor, Christians, I protest, I almost pity Judas, and but in giving through constraint, and in always turn all my indignation against them.
fearing to give too much. It consists not only My brethren, I said, and I repeat it again, in omitting to serve God, but in trying to assothe task is mortifying, the matter is offensive, ciate the service of God with that of mambut I must come to it, "if I seek to please men,
Which of us is free from avarice consiI shall not be the servant of Christ.” Let us dered in this second point of light Strictly lay aside vague ideas, and let us enter on some speaking, nobody, no, not one person. detail. Let us describe Judas, but let us not for- 2. But what right have we to pronounce get ourselves, too much resembling this ugly that no one is defiled with avarice considered
Let us examine, first, the passion that in the first point of light? Let us consider governed him-next, the crime to which it im- this passion in regard to the odious crimes pelled him--then, the circumstances in which which it impels us to commit. Let us review he committed it-fourthly, the pretexts with the articles just now mentioned. Are we guilty which he covered it and finally, the confes- of only trying to associate God and mammun? sion he was compelled to make.
And do we never lay aside the service of God 1. What passion governed Judas' Every wholly, when it clashes with that of mammon? one knows it was avarice. Which of us is Are we guilty of nothing more than giving given up to this passion Rather which of us through constraint do we not often avoid is free from it?
giving at all? do we not always omit chaAvarice may be considered in two different rity, when we can do so without being branded points of light. It may be considered in those with infamy? Are we to blame only for fearmen, or rather those public bloodsuckers, or, ing to lose our wealth, are we not also always as the officers of the Roman emperor Vespa- occupied about increasing it, so that this desire sian were called, those sponges of society, who follows us every where, through all the tumult infatuated with this passion seek after riches of the day and all the silence of the night, as the supreme good, determine to acquire it into every company, into private prayer and by any methods, and consider the ways that public devotion? Are we guilty of only not lead to wealth, legal or illegal, as the only road "seeking first the kingdom of God," are we for them to travel. Let the laws be violated, not also ready to renounce it, when we cannot let the people be oppressed, let equity be sub- enter it without losing some of our wealth? verted, let a kingdom be sacrificed to their ir- Are we guilty of violating only the laws of resistible passion for wealth, let it be across a charity, do we not also violate those of equity? thousand depopulated countries, a thousand By what unheard of secret then have some of ruined families, let it be over a thousand piles us so rapidly acquired large fortunes? What of mangled carcasses that they arrive at for- sudden revolution then has so quickly changed tune, provided they can but acquire it, no mat- the appearance of some families What reter what it costs.
markable Providence then has made such an This is our first notion of avarice. But in extreme difference between your ancestry and this point of light who of us has this passion! your posterity? What motive then retains so
many of our protestant brethren in their native Quid vou mortalia, &c. Virg. Æneid. L. 3. country, and why are there in this assembly so
f our piety
, co that prevents
despair of sac
ply consists i
entertaining methods, ity as our cam sts not only i
of," but in it
kingdom proposed Folining to s ring contra
BY JESUS CHRIST.
children with their parents, and parents with Christ is pouring out his blood, his life, his
to have their "lives for a prey?" Ah! my worldly pleasures, while nothing is treated of the whether it
brethren, what a scandalous history is that of among us but the sufferings of Jesus Christ, 5 of them, that
Judas! What a horrible crime did his avarice while he is represented as sweating great drops whether we abe
impel him to commit! And also what a sad of blood, contending with divine justice, fasnecause we bore,
resemblance is there between that wretch and tened to a cross, and uttering these lamentable ther sacrificing some Christians, who profess to abhor him!
complaints, “my soul is exceeding sorrowful, ah be prevented
3. As the avarice of Judas appears odious very heavy, sorrowful even unto death. O
considered in itself, and more so considered in my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass of this
regard to the crime he committed through it, from me! My God! my God! why hast thou I would, as far
so it will appear more offensive still, if you forsaken me!" At such a time, and in such cir
consider it in view of the circumstances in cumstances, to pursue worldly pleasures. of my heart
which he was when he gave himself up to it: My brethren, finish this article yourselves, and
from the practice of some virtues, there are 4. Consider the pretexts with which Judas onsidered in a
occasions on which they seem to turn their at- covered his avarice. One of the principal
to believe that other people palliate theirs.
betray his master to his enemies, and to give body suppose that he said to himself, "I am com the post
himself up to Satan? Jesus Christ was eating determined to violate the most solemn obligathe passover with his disciples, and telling tions for thirty pieces of silver; I am resolved them," with desire I have desired to eat this to betray the Saviour of the world for thirty passover with you before I suffer.” Jesus pieces of silver: I would rather see him cruciChrist was taking leave of his disciples at a fied than be deprived of this unworthy price love-feast, and going, as soon as the company of treason: this contemptible reward I prefer broke up, to substantiate the shadow exhibited before all the joys of heaven?” No, no, Judas in the paschal supper, by offering himself in did not reason thus. Judge what he did on their stead a sacrifice for sin. Judas partook this occasion by what he did on another. A of this paschal lamb, and sat at the table with woman poured a box of costly ointment on the Jesus Christ at this feast of love, yet in these feet of Jesus Christ; Judas was hurt to see this circumstances so proper to eradicate avarice, prey escape his avarice, he therefore covered at least to suspend the growth of it, it became the sordid disposition of his soul, with the more vigorous, and ripened in his unworthy goodly pretence of charity, “this ointment soul.
might have been sold for three hundred pence, My brethren, when we judge our own hearts, and given to the poor,” John xii. 4—6. Thus let us keep this principle in view. A passion in the present case, “perhaps Jesus Christ will hateful in itself, and hateful on account of the escape from his enemies, as he has often done crimes it makes us commit, may become more before. Perhaps his looks will deter them. so by circumstances. What is an innocent Perhaps he will fell them to the earth with his freedom in some circumstances may become power. Perhaps the angels of heaven will licentiousness in other circumstances, and as surround, protect, and defend him. Perhaps I circumstances alter, what is licentious may be myself shall contribute to save the world by come a great crime; and thus an innocent free- offering the sacrifice that is to procure salvadom, at most an act of licentiousness, at most tion. Perhaps too, I may have formed ideas a crime, may become an atrocious outrage, too high of this Jesus. Perhaps God does not and unpardonable on account of circumstances interest himself in his preservation, as I have in which it was committed. This maxim is hitherto supposed. Perhaps he has assumed a self-evident, it is an axiom of morality. character which does not belong to him, and is
O God, Judge of the whole earth, do not nothing but a phantom of Messiah. (Who pass sentence on this assembly according to the can tell what extravagant reasonings may be rigour of this maxim! This is passion week, formed by a mind given up to a passion, and and we are in circumstances, in which Jesus determined to justify it?) After all, should I Christ most powerfully attacks our vices. You add one more crime to what I have already need not be a saint to have emotions of piety committed, the number will not be so very in these circumstances, it is sufficient to be a great. The blood I am going to assist in shedman; but you must be a monster, a disciple of ding, will obtain my pardon for contributing to Judas, to have none. To hate in these circum- shed it. And I cannot persuade myself that a stances, to hate when Jesus Christ loves, and Saviour, who came into the world on purpose while he is saying of his executioners, "Fa- to publish a general pardon to all sinners, will ther, forgive them, for they know not what choose to make an exception against me, they do." To shut our hearts against the cries alone.”
und in almas sists not cal ving to aszat of me varice cose ht' Striedy
for fears alware is desint tumult e night
, er and nly thôi
Brethren, is this source of sophistry closed faith, and that the restitution proceeded more in regard to you? If I may venture to speak from despair than true repentance; however, so, did the logic of your passions expire when he did repent, he did say, “I have sinned," Judas died? Which of us is not, so to speak, and he did restore the thirty pieces of silver, two different, yea opposite men according to which he had so basely acquired. the agitation of our spirits, and the dominion But where are the Christians who repent of our passions. Let any one of us be consult of the extortions of which their avarice has ed concerning a crime which we have no in- caused them to be guilty? Where are Christians terest in committing or palliating, and we shall saying, “I have sinned?” Particularly, where talk of nothing but equity, rectitude, and re- are those Christians, who have made restituligion; but let us be questioned concerning the tion? It is said there are some.
I believe so, same crime when we have some interest in the because credible people affirm it. But I declare commission of it, and behold! another lan- solemnly, I have never seen one, and yet I guage, another morality, another religion, or have seen many people, whose hands were deto say all in one word, behold another man. filed with the accursed thing, whose magnifi
To come to the point, under what pretext cence and pomp were the fruit of the cursed does not avarice conceal itself? How many thing. Extortioners of this kind have I never forms does it take to disguise itself from the seen, I have never seen one of them repenting, man who is guilty of it, and who will be and saying, “indeed I have sinned, and thus drenched in the guilt of it till the day he dies! and thus have I done." I have never seen Sometimes it is prudence, which requires him one, who has not invented as many pretexts to to provide not only for his present wants, but keep his ill-gotten wealth as he had invented for such as he may have in future. Sometimes to get it. In one word, I never saw one who it is charity, which requires him not to give understood, or was willing to learn the elements society examples of prodigality and parade. of Christian morality on the doctrine of restiSometimes it is parental love, obliging him to tution. How rare soever the conversion of save something for his children. Sometimes it sinners of other kinds may be, thanks to divine is circumspection, which requires him not to mercy, we have sometimes seen edifying exsupply people who make an ill use of what amples of such conversions. We have seen they get. Sometimes it is necessity, which voluptuous people groan at the recollection of obliges him to repel artifice by artifice. Some-their former debaucheries, efface the dissipatimes it is good conscience, which convinces tions of their youth by the penitential grief, him, good man, that he has already exceeded and pious actions of their mature age, and affix in compassion and alms-giving, and done too that body in a mortal illness to the cross of much. Sometimes it is equity, for justice re- Christ, which, during health and strength they quires that every one should enjoy the fruit of had devoted to luxury. We have seen assashis own labours, and those of his ancestors. sins ready, if it were possible, to replace the Sometimes it is incompetence, perhaps indeed blood they had shed with their own. We have a little part of my wealth may be subject to seen vindictive people embrace inveterate enesome scruples, for who can assure himself that mies, and cover them with affectionate tears. every farthing of his fortune has been acquired But among that great number of dying people, with the most strict regard to evangelical rec- who, we know with the utmost certainty, bad titude, but then I cannot tell to whom this res- become rich by oblique means; among the titution should be made, and till that is made, great number of soldiers and officers, who had justice is not satisfied, there is no room for robbed, plundered, and sacked; among the generosity. Sometimes . what am I great number of merchants and tradesmen about who can make a complete list of all the who had been guilty of falsehood, deceit, pretences with which a miser disguises himself cheating, and perjury, and who by such means in his own eyes, and imagines he can disguise had acquired a splendid fortune; among all this himself in the eyes of others!
great number, we have never seen one who 5. Finally, let us consider the confession had the resolution to assemble his family round which the truth forced from Judas, in spite of his dying bed, and take his leave of them in his reigning passion, and in the same article, this manner: “My dear children, I have been let us observe the remorse inspired by his pas- a scandal to you through life, I will now edify sion, and the reparation his remorse compelled you by my death. I am determined in these him to make. Presently I see the unhappy last moments of my life to give glory to God Judas recover himself from his infatuation. by acknowledging my past transgressions. The Presently he sees through the pretexts, which greatest part of my fortune was acquired by for a while disguised his passion, and concealed artful and wicked means. These elegant apartthe horror of the crime he was going to com- ments are furnished with my oaths and perjumit. Presently I hear him say, "I have sinned ries. This strong and well-finished house is in that I have betrayed innocent blood,” Matt. founded on my treachery. My sumptuous and xxvii. 4. See, he hates the abominable thirty fashionable equipage is the produce of my expieces of silver, the charm of which had allured tortions. But I repent now of my sins. I him to commit the blackest crime, and to make restitution to church and state, to the plunge himself into the deepest wo; see, he public and individuals. I choose rather to becasts down the pieces of silver at the feet of queath poverty to you, than to leave you a those of whom he received them.
patrimony under a curse. You will gain more Christians, blush! Here the comparison of by the example I give you of repentance, than Judas with some Christians is greatly to the you will by all my unjust acquisitions.” An disadvantage of the latter. I am aware, that age, a whole century, does it furnish one such the confession of Judas was not sanctified by example?
Ser. LXVII.) THE CAUSE OF THE DESTRUCTION, &c.
Such is the face of mankind! Such the con-
OF IMPENITENT SINNERS.
HOSEA xiii. 9.
ought to be supplied to express the prophet's
lows, and in general with the chief design of I conclude, and I only add one word of Jesus our prophet. Christ. Our divine Saviour describes a man This chief design is very observable in most revolving in his mind great projects, thinking chapters of this prophecy. It is evident, the of nothing but pulling down and rebuilding, prophet intended to convince the Israelites, that dying the same night, void, destitute, miserable, God had discovered in all his dispensations, a and terrified at seeing all his fancied projects desire to fix them in his service, to lead them of felicity vanish; on which our Lord makes this to felicity by the path of virtue, and that they reflection," so is every one who layeth up trea- ought to blame none but themselves if judgsure for himself and is not rich towards God,"ments from heaven should overwhelm them, Luke xii. 21. My God! how poor is he, though giving them up to the Assyrians in this life, and among piles of gold and silver, amidst all riches to punishment after death. This design seems and plenty, who is not rich towards God! On to me most fully discovered in the latter part the contrary, how enviable is the condition of of this chapter, a few verses after the text, “I a man hungry, indigent, and wrapped in rags, will ransom them from the power of the grave; if he be rich towards God! Rich men! This is I will redeem them from death. O death, Í the only way to sanctify your riches. Be rich will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy detowards God. Ye poor people, this is all you struction." You know, my brethren, St. Paul want to support you under poverty, and to en- informs us that this promise will not be accomable you to triumph even in your indigence. plished till after the general resurrection; May we be all rich towards God! Let us all "Then shall be brought to pass the saying that accumulate a treasure of good works, it is the is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. most substantial wealth, and that only which O death where is thy sting? O grave, where will yield a bountiful harvest at last. "There is thy victory?" But, adds our prophet, “Sabe many that say, Who will show us any good? maria shall become desolate, for she hath reLord, líft thou up the light of thy countenance belled against her God.” The text is therefore upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, connected with the foregoing and following more than in the time that their corn and their words according to this translation, "OIsrael, wine increased,” Ps. iv. 6, 7. Amen. thou hast destroyed thyself.”
I class the text then among those passages to complaining and disputing, replied, because of Scripture in which God condescends to exo- my decree had determined otherwise. ** nerate his conduct in regard to sinners by de- Were I to follow my own inclination, I should claring, that they ought to take the whole imitate this cautious reserve; but as silence on blame of their own destruction on themselves: this subject is sometimes an occasion of imaand in this point of view l am going to consider ginary triumph to the enemies of religion, and it. The difficulties of this subject chietly pro- as it sometimes causes scruples in weak conceed from three causes, either from our notion sciences, I think it absolutely necessary to say of the nature of God—or the nature of religion something towards removing this objection; -or the nature of man. We will examine and to prove, at least, that though we are inthese difficulties, and endeavour to remove capable of fully satisfying ourselves on this them in the remaining part of this discourse. subject, yet there is nothing in this incompe
I. “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself." | tency favourable to the insults of infidels, or The first difficulties that seem to belong to this the doubts and fears of the scrupulous. truth, are taken from the nature of God, who, Now, my brethren, it seems to me, we cannot having created nothing of which he had not an possibly imagine any more than two ways to idea before, and having realized no idea, all the satisfy ourselves on this subject: the one is to consequences of which he had not foreseen, is obtain a complete idea of the decrees of God, the author not only of every being that exists, and to compare them so exactly with the disbut also of every thing that results from their position of sinners as to make it evident by this existence, and seems for this very reason the comparison, that sinners are not under a neonly cause of the miseries of his creatures. cessity of committing such crimes as cause their
It is much to be wished, my brethren, that eternal destruction. The second is, to refer the mankind were so apprised of the narrow limits subject to the determination of a being of the of their own understanding, as not to plunge most unsuspected knowledge and veracity, themselves into some deep subjects which they whose testimony we may persuade ourselves is are incapable of fathoming, and so as to attri- unexceptionable, and whose declaration is an bute to their natural incapacity, their incom- infallible oracle. petency to answer some objections against the The first of these ways is impracticable. To perfections of God. Some pagans have been be able to demonstrate, by an exact comparison more aware of this than many Christians; and of the decrees of God with the nature of man, the Persians, followers of Mohammed, have that sinners are not necessitated to commit such endeavoured to make their disciples compre- crimes as cause their eternal destruction, is, in hend it by an ingenious fable.
my opinion, a work more than human. Many “There were, say they, three brethren, who have attempted it, but though we cannot refuse all died at the same time; the two first were far the praise due to their piety, yet, it should advanced in age; the elder had always lived in seom, we owe this testimony to truth, that they a habit of obedience to God: the second, on the have not removed all the objections to which contrary, in a course of disobedience and sin; the subject is liable. and the third was an infant, incapable of dis- I say more, I venture to predict, without tinguishing good from evil. These three bro- pretending to be a prophet, that all future thers appeared before the tribunal of God; the efforts will be equally unsuccessful. The reafirst was received into paradise, the second was son is, because it is an attempt to infer consecondemned to hell, the third was sent to a mid- quences from principles unknown. Who can dle place, where there was neither pleasure nor boast of knowing the whole arrangement, all pain, because he had not done either good or the extent, and all the combinations of the deevil. When this youngest heard his sentence, crees of God? The depth of these decrees, the and the reasons on which the Supreme Judge obscure manner in which the Scripture expresgrounded it, sorry to be excluded from para- ses them, and if I may be allowed to say so, dise, he exclaimed, Ah, Lord! hadst thou pre- the darkness in which attempts to elucidate served my life as thou didst that of my good them have involved them, place them infinitely brother, how much better would it have been beyond our reach. As this method has been for me? I should have lived as he did, and then impracticable to this day, probably it will conI should have enjoyed as he does the happiness tinue so to the end of the world. of eternal glory! "My child, replied God to him, Let us try the second. The question is, I knew thee, and I knew hadst thou lived longer whether, allowing the decrees of God, God does thou wouldst have lived like thy wicked bro- any violence to sinners, compelling them to ther, and like him wouldst have rendered thy commit sin? Has not this question been fully sell deserving of the punishment of hell. The answered by a Being, whose decisions are in. condemned brother hearing this discourse of fallible oracles, and of whose testimony we God, exclaimed, Ah Lord! why didst thou not cannot possibly form any reasonable doubt? then confer the same favour upon me as upon Yes, my brethren, we know such a Being; we my younger brother, by depriving me of a life know á Being infinitely capable of deciding which I have so wickedly misspent as to bring this question, and who has actually decided it. myself under a sentence of condemnation This Being is God himself. preserved thy life, said God, to give thee an To explain our meaning, and to show the opportunity of saving thyself. The younger connexion of the answer with the question, I brother, hearing this reply, exclaimed again, will suppose you to put up this petition to God. Ah! why then, my God, didst thou not preserve --Does the eternal destination, which thou my life also, that I might have had an opportunity of saving myself? God, to put an end
* Voyag. de M. Chardin, tom. vii. p. 33.