صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

the religion of a lukewarm man. On the con- | like his, with flames of divine zeal? Then you trary, zeal is a fire animating all the emotions can finish the first part of my discourse, for of the piety of the man who has it, and giving you know by experience this disposition of them all the worth and weight of vehemence. mind, “my zeal hath consumed me, because

But as the most noble exercises of religion mine enemies have forgotten thy words. Riare such as have God for their object, and vers of waters run down mine eyes because as the virtue of virtues, or, as Jesus Christ ex- they keep not thy law." presses it, “ the first and great commandment” Sinners, I do not mean such as sin through is that of divine love, zeal is particularly taken infirmity and surprise, the text does not speak (and this is the precise meaning of the word,) of them, I mean such as sin openly, freely, and for loving God, not for a love limited and mo- deliberately, these sinners attack the perfecderate, such as that which we ought to have tions of God, either his attributes of magnifor creatures, even creatures the most worthy ficence, or those of holiness, or those of comof esteem, but a love boundless and beyond i munication, and sometimes all three together. moderation, so to speak, like that of glorified They endeavour to disconcert the beautiful spirits to the Supreine Intelligence, whose per- harmony of the divine perfections, and so to fections have no limits, whose beauties are rob us of all we adore, the only worthy object infinite.

of our esteem. The idea thus fixed, it is easy to compre- They attack the magnificence of God. Such hend, that a soul animated with zeal, cannot are those madmen who employ all the depths see without the deepest sorrow, the insults of of their erudition, all the acuteness of their fered by sinners to his God. What object is genius, and all the fire of their fancy to ob it that kindles flames of zeal in an ingenuous scure the eternity of the first cause, the infisoul? It is the union of three attributes: an at- nity of his power, the infallibility of his wistribute of magnificence, an attribute of holi- dom, and every other perfection that makes a ness, and an attribute of communication. This part of that complexure, or combination of union can be found only in God, and for this excellences, which we call magnificence reason God only is worthy of supreme love. Such, again, are those abominable characters, Every being in whom any one of these three who supply the want of genius with the de attributes is wanting, yea, any being in whora pravity of their hearts, and the blasphemies of any degree is wanting, is not, cannot be an ob- their mouths, and who, not being able to attack ject of supreme love.

him with specious reasons and plausible 80In vain would God possess attributes of cha- phisms, endeavour to stir up his subjects to ritable communication, if he did not possess rebel, defying his power, and trying whether it attributes of magnificence. His attributes of be possible to deprive him of the empire of the communication would indeed inspire me with world. sentiments of gratitude: but what benefit should Some sinners attack the attributes of holiI derive from his inclination to make me happy, ness in the perfect God. Such are those de if he had not power sufficient to do so, and if testable men, who presume to tax him with he were not himself the happy God, that is, falsehood and deceit, who deny the truth of the origin, the source of all felicity, or, as an his promises, who accuse his laws of injusinspired writer speaks," the parent of every tice, and his conduct of prevarication, who good and every perfect gift?” James i. 17. In would persuade us, that the reins of the unithis case he would reach a feeble hand to help verse would be held much more wisely by their me, he would shed unavailing tears over my impure hands than by those of the judge of all miseries, and I could not say to him, my su- the earth. preme “good is to draw near to thee; whom Some sinners attack the attributes of comhave I in heaven but thee? and there is none munication. Such, in the first instance, are upon earth that I desire beside thee,” Ps. Ixxiii. those ungrateful persons, who, while they 28. 25.

breathe only his air, and live only on his aliIn vain would God possess attributes of ho- ments, while only his earth bears, and only liness, if he did not possess attributes of com- his sun illuminates them, while they neither munication. In this case he would indeed be live, nor move, nor have a being, but what an object of my admiration, but he could not they derive from him, while he opens to them be the ground of my hope. I should be struck the path to supreme happiness, I mean the with the contemplation of a virtue always pure, road to faith and obedience, pretend that he is always firm, and always alike: but in regard to wanting in goodness, charge him with all the ine, it would be only an abstract and metaphy- miseries into which they have the madness to sical virtue, which could have no influence plunge themselves, dare to accuse him with over my happiness. Follow this reasoning in taking pleasure in tormenting his creatures, regard to the other attributes, and you will and in the sufferings of the unfortunate; who perceive that nothing but a union of these wish the goodness of the Supreme Being were three can render an object supremely lovely; regulated by their caprice, or rather by their and as this union can be found only in God, it madness, and will never consent to worship is God only who can be the object of zeal, or, him as good, except he allows them with imwhat is the same thing, expressed in other punity to gratify their most absurd and guilty words, God alone is worthy of supreme love. passions.

As we make a progress in our meditation, Observe too, people may be profane by acand in proportion as we acquire a just notion tion as well as by system and reasoning. If of true zeal, we shall enter into the spirit and sinners attack the attributes of God directly, meaning of the words of our psalmist. Do it is equally true, they make an indirect attack you love God as he did? Does your heart burn upon the same perfections.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Here I wish, my brethren, each of us had feast in honour of their idol, and he replies to accustomed himself to derive his morality from Joshua, who thought it was a war shoui, " Ah! evangelical sources, to hear the language of no, it is not the voice of them that shout for inspired writers, and to judge of his own ac- mastery, neither is it the voice of then that tions, not by such flattering portraits as his own cry for being overcome, but the noise of them prejudices produce, but by the essential pro- that sing do I hear,” Exod. xxxii. 18. Conperties of morality as it is described in the vinced by his own eyes, he trembles at the word of God.

sight, breaks the tables of the law, on which For example, what is a man who coolly puts God had engraven with his own adorable hand himself under the protection of another man the clauses of the covenant which this people without taking any thought about the guar- were now violating, he runs to the "gate of dianship of God? He is a profane wretch, who the camp,” and cries, “who is on the Lord's declares war against God, and attacks his at- side? Let him come unto me!" And when tributes of magnificence by attributing more "all the sons of Levi gathered themselves unto power to the patron, under whose wing he him, he said unto them, put every man his creeps and thinks himself secure, than to that sword by his side, and go in and out from gate God who takes the title of King of kings. — to gate, throughout the camp, and slay every What I say of confidence in a king, I affirm man his brother, and every man his companof confidence in all other creatures, whoever ion, and every man his neighbour,” ver. 26, 27. or whatever they be. On this principle the See Phinehas. He perceives Moses and Aaron psalmist grounded this exhortation, put not weeping at the door of the tabernacle," beyour trust in princes, nor in the son of man, cause the people had forsaken the worship of in whom there is no help. His breath goeth God, and gone over to that of Baal-peor; forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very touched with their grief he “rises up,” quits day his thoughts perish." On this principle is the congregation, “takes a javelin in his hand" this other declaration of a prophet founded, and stabs an Israelite (with the immodest Mi"cursed be the man that trusteth in man, i dianite,) who had enticed the people, into this and maketh flesh his arm.” And it is on | abominable idolatry. Behold Elijah. “I am this principle that sacred history imputes so very jealous,” says he," for the Lord God of great a crime to Asa, because when he fell hosts, for the children of Israel have forsaken sick, and saw himself reduced to extremity, 1 his covenant, thrown down his altars, and slain "he sought to the physicians, and not to the his prophets with the sword,” 1 Kings xix. 10. Lord.”

Remark St. Paul. “ His spirit was stirred in What is a man who gives up his heart to him, to see a nation, in other respects the most idolize any particular object? What is a man I learned and polite, rendering to " an unknown who follows certain sympathies, a certain se- God" such homage as was due to none but the cret influence, certain charms omnipotent to Most High, whose "glory the Heavens declare, him, because he chooses to yield to their om- and whose handy work the firmamentshoweth.?? nipotence? He is a profane wretch, who Behold the royal prophet, “Do not I hate them, declares war against God, and who attacks O Lord, that hate thee? And am I not grieved his attributes of communication; he is a man, with those that rise up against thee? I hate who attests by his conduct that there is more them with perfect hatred, I count them mine pleasure in his union to his idol than there enemies," Ps. cxxxix. 21, 22. “My zeal hath can be in communion with God; he is a consumed me, because mine enemies have forman, who maintains by his actions that this gotten thy words. Rivers of waters run down creature to whom he gives himself up without mine eyes, because they keep not thy law." reserve, merits more love, and knows how to “Rivers of tears,” tears of which my zeal for return love with more delicacy and constancy thy glory is the first cause. than that God, who is the only model of per- II. Although the sinner be hateful as a sinfect love; he is a man who resists this invita- ner, yet as an unhappy person he is an object tion of eternal wisdom, “my son, give me of pity, and it is possible he may preclude futhine heart,” and who disputes a truth, that ture ills by repentance. As to love God with ought to be considered as a first principle in a all the heart is the first and great commandsystem of love,“ in thy presence is fulness of ment, so "the second is like unto it, thou shalt joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for love thy neighbour as thyself.” Sin is a source evermore,” Ps. xvi. 11.

of misery to a sinner, and it is impossible for a Let us abridge this part of our discourse, good man to see, without shedding tears of and let us return to the chief end proposed. love and pity, the depths of wo into which peoA sinner, who sins openly, freely, of set pur- ple united to him by bonds of affection plunge pose, attacks the attributes of God, either his themselves by their obstinacy in sin. attributes of greatness, or his attributes of com- Every thing favours this subject. In regard munication, or his attributes of holiness, some to the present life, a man living according to times all the three together. A good man, laws of virtue is incomparably more happy who sincerely loves God, can he look with in- than he who gives himself up to vice. So the difference on such insults offered to the object Holy Spirit has declared, “ godliness hath proof his love And in which of the saints whom mise of the life that now is," i Tim. iv. 8. the inspired writers have proposed as exam- Though this general rule has some exceptions, ples to you, have you discovered this guilty in- yet they cannot regard the serenity of mind, difference?

the peace of conscience, the calm of the pasBehold Moses! He comes down from the sions, the confidence of good men, their steaholy mountain, he hears the acclamations of diness in the calamities of life, and their inthose madmen who were celebrating a foolish trepidity at the approach of death. All these

[ocr errors]

advantages and many others, without which calamitous event compels us to flee to the aid the most brilliant condition, and the most de- of the unhappy object of our esteem, to pluck licious life, are only a splendid slavery, and a him from the jaws of destruction by reclaiming source of grief, all these advantages, I say, are him from his errors with the force of exhortainseparable from piety. A charitable man can- tion and the power of example. To combat not see, without deep affliction, objects of his these sentiments is to oppose the intention of tenderest love renounce such inestimable ad- God; to tear these from our hearts is to disrobe vantages, poison the pleasure of their own life, ourselves of that charity, without which there open an inexhaustible source of remorse, and is no religion. prepare for themselves racks and tortures.

Accordingly, the more a mind becomes perBut, my brethren, these are only the least fect in the exercise of this virtue, the more it subjects of our present contemplation. We has of this kind of sensibility. Hence it was have other bitter reflections to make, and other that St. Paul so sharply reproved the Corintears to shed, and there is an exposition of thians, because they had not mourned on accharity more just, and at the same time more count of that incestuous person, who had dislamentable, of the words of my text, “Rivers graced their church. Hence it was that Moses, of waters run down mine eyes, because they when he discovered that gross idolatry of which keep not thy law.”

we just now spoke, gave himself up to the deepI'am thinking of the eternal misery in which est sorrow, and said to the Lord,“ Oh, this sinners involve themselves. We are united to people have sinned a great sin! Yet now, forsinners by ties of nature, by bonds of society, give their sin, and if not, blot me, I pray thee, and by obligations of religion, and who can help out of thy book.” Hence it was that Jeremiah trembling to think that persons round whom so said to the Jews of his time, who were going many tendrils of affectionate ligaments twine, captives into a foreign land, where they would should be threatened with everlasting torinents! be destitute of the comfort of religion, "give Some people are so much struck with this glory to God before he cause darkness, and thought, that they think, when we shall be in before your feet stumble upon the dark mounheaven all ideas of people related to us on earth tains. But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall will be effaced from our memory, that we shall weep in socret places for your pride, and mine entirely lose the power of remembering, that eyes shall weep sore, and run down with tears, we shall not even know such as share celestial because the Lord's flock is carried away capa happiness with us, lest the idea of such as are tive.” Hence this declaration of Paul to the deprived of it should diminish our pleasure, and Philippians, “Many walk, of whom I have told imbitter our happiness. It would be easy, in you often, and now tell you even weeping, that my opinion to remove this difficulty, if it were they are the enemies of the cross of Christ." necessary now. In heaven order, and order Hence it was that Jesus Christ, the chief model alone will be the foundation of our happiness; of charity, when he overlooked the unhappy and if order condemns the persons we shall have Jerusalem, and saw the heavy judgments most esteemed, our happiness will not be af- coming upon it, “wept over it," saying, “O fected by their misery. We shall love only in that thou hadst known, even thou, at least in God; we shall feel no attachment to any, who this thy day, the things which belong unto thy do not love God as we do their cries will not peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. move us, nor will their torments excite our Here I venture to defy those of you, who compassion.

glory in insensibility, to be insensible and void But while we are in this world, God would of feeling. No, nothing but the most confirmed have us affected with the misery that threatens inattention to futurity, nothing but the wretcha sinner, that our own feelings may excite us ed habit we have formed of thinking of nothing to prevent it. You have sometimes admired but the present world can hinder our being one of the most marvellous phenomena of na- affected with subjects which made the deepest ture; nature has united us together by invisible impressions on the soul of the psalmist. Conbonds, it has formed our fibres in perfect unison sider them as he did, and you will be affected with the fibres of our neighbour; we cannot see as he was. You hardest hearts, try your inhim exposed to violent pain without receiving sensibility, and see whether you can resist such a counter blow, an unvaried tone that sounds reflections as these! This friend, who is my relief to him, and forces us to assist him. This counsel in difficulty, my support in trouble, my is the work of that Creator, whose infinite good comfort in adversity; this friend, who constiniess is seen in all his productions. He intends tutes the pleasure of my life, will be perhaps for that these sentiments of commiseration in us ever excluded from that happiness in heaven, should be so many magazines to supply what to which all my hopes and wishes tend: when the temporal miseries of our neighbours require. I shall be in the society of angels, he will be in

So in regard to eternity, there is a harmony, the company of devils: when he shall knock at and, if you will allow the expression, there is a the door of the bridegroom who opened to me, unison of spirits. While we are in this world, he will receive this answer, “Verily, I say unto an idea of the eternal destruction of a person you, I know you not.” This catechumen, in we esteem suspends the pleasure, which a hope whose mind I endeavoured to inculcate the 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 10 tenderly love should be reserved for eternal and crown,") will perhaps be one day disowned torments, I say, the bare suspicion of such a l by Jesus Christ in the face of heaven and earth.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

This pastor, whom I considered as my guide in A good man, on the contrary, is happy in the the way to heaven, this pastor will himself ex- company of another good man. what counperience all the horrors of that state, of which trymen feel, when they meet in a foreign land he gave me such dreadful ideas. This husband where interests and customs, maxims and to whom Providence united me, this husband views, all different from those of the land of whom I esteemed as part of myself, I shall per- their nativity, resembles the pleasures believers haps one day consider as my most mortal foe, experience when they associate in a world I shall acquiesce in his damnation, I shall praise where they are only strangers and pilgrims. God and say, "Hallelujah, power belongeth | Accordingly, one of the most ardent wishes of unto the Lord our God! True and righteous our prophet was, to be always in company with are his judgments! Hallelujah, the smoke of people of this kind, “I am a companion of all the torment" of him whose company once con- them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy stituted my happiness, "shall rise up for ever precepts," said he to God. In another place, and ever!" This child, in behalf of whom I "I will early destroy all the wicked of the land, feel I exhaust all that the power of love has of that I may cut off all wicked doers from the tenderness, this child whose least cry pierces city of the Lord.” And again, “All my delight my soul, and who feels no pain without my is in the excellent saints that are in the earth.” feeling a thousand times more for him, this But how few of these saints did he find! child will be seized with horror, when he shall Most of bis misfortunes were brought on him see coming in the clouds of heaven surrounded by the very sinners whose depravity he deplores. with holy angels that Jesus whose coming will They were the poison of his life, and them he overwhelm me with joy: this child will then always saw standing ready to persecute him, seek refuge in dens, and caverns, and chasms, and to discharge against his person the impotent he will cry in agony of despair, “Mountains malice they had against that God whose servant and rocks, fall on me and hide me from the he considered it as his glory to be. wrath of the Lamb!” He will be loaded with Does our age differ in this respect from that chains of darkness, he will be a prey to the of David? Are saints more numerous now than worm that never dies, and fuel for the fire that they were then? May a good man promise will never be quenched, and when Jesus Christ himself among you more approbation, more shall say to me in that great day, “Come, thou countenance and support, than the psalmist blessed of my Father," I shall hear this dread-found? ful sentence denounced against this child, "de- This is an odious question, and our doubts part, thou cursed, into everlasting fire prepared may seem to you illiberal. Well, we will not for the devil and his angels.” Too just a subject press it. But if the bulk of you be saints, this of grief! “Rivers of waters,” tears of love and country must be the most delicious part of the pity," run down mine eyes: because they keep whole universe. A good man must be as hap not thy law.”

| py 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 i by the nature of their government from tyrants plan proposed, and to proceed to a third parts 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

1 make us forget what we owe ourselves. As will second him with eagerness and zoal; 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 The wicked are the scourges of society. himself all this among you? Alas! to be only One seditious person is often sufficient to dis- willing to devote himself to truth and virtue, is turb the state; one factious spirit is often enough often sufficient to cause him to be beset round to set a whole church in a flame; one profligate with a company of contradictors and opposers. child is often enough to poison the pleasure of But we will not engage too deeply in such the most happy and harmonious family. Good gloomy reflections, we will finish the discourse, people are generally the butts of the wicked. and can we finish it in a manner more suitable A wicked man hates a good man. He hates to the emotions of piety that assembled you in him, when he has not the power to hurt him, this solemn assembly, than by repeating the because he has not had the pleasure of hurting prayer with which we began Almighty God! him; he hates him, after he has injured him, whose adorable judgments condemns us to wanbecause he considers him as a man always ready der in a valley of trouble, and to live, sometimes to revenge the affront offered him; and if he to be united by indissoluble ties, among men thinks him superior to revenge, he hates him who insolently brave thy commands, Almighty because he is incapable of vengeance, and be God! grant we may be gathered to that holy cause the patience of the offended and the rage society of blessed spirits, who place their hapof the offender form a contrast, which renders piness in a perfect conformity to thine august the latter abominable in the eyes of all equitable laws. people.

The occupation of the blessed in heaven,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


(and this is one of the most beautiful images dren, the dear objects of your grief and your under which a man who loves his God, can love! represent the happiness of heaven,) the em- Oh! “Blessed are the dead that die in the ployment of the blessed in heaven is to serve Lord! I shall go to him, but he shall not retum God; their delight is to serve God; the design to me.” Let us apply this thought of the proof all the plans, and all the actions, and the phet to ourselves, and may the application we motions of the blessed in heaven, is to serve make, serve for a balm to heal the wounds, God. And as the most laudable grief of a be- which the loss of our friends has occasioned! liever in this unhappy world, which sin makes “They shall not return to us,” they shall never a theatre of bloody catastrophes, and a habita- return to this society. What a society! A sotion of maledictions, is to see the unworthy ciety in which our life is nothing but a miseinhabitants violate the laws of their Creator, so rable round of errors and sins; a society where the purest joys of the blessed, is to see them the greatest saints are great sinners; á society selves in a society where all the members are in which we are often obliged to communicate always animated with a desire to please God, with the enemies of God, with blasphemers of always ready to fly where his voice calls them, his holy name, violaters of his august laws! always collected in studying his holy laws. No, they shall not "return to us,” and this is

This is the society to which you, my dear one consolation. But (and this is the other,) brethren, are appointed; you who, after the but“ we shall go to them.” They have done example of Lot, vex your righteous souls from nothing but set one step before us into eternity; day to day at seeing the depravity of the world; the pleasures they enjoy are increased by the you, I mean, “who shine as lights in the midst hope of our shortly enjoying the same with of a crooked and perverse nation.” Into that them. They, with the highest transports, besociety those happy persons are gone, whom hold the mansions which Jesus Christ has predeath has taken from us, and a separation from pared for us in the house of his Father. “I whom has caused us so many sighs and tears. ascend unto my Father and your Father, and Behold, faithful friend! behold the company to my God and your God," said our divine where now resides that friend to whom your Redeemer, to raise the drooping spirits of his soul was knit, as the soul of Jonathan was knit apostles, stunned with

the apprehension of his with the soul of David! See, thou weeping approaching death. This is the language we Joseph! See that society where thy good fa- have heard spoken, this is the declaration we ther now is, that good Jacob whom thou didst have heard made by each of those whom we convey to the grave with tears so bitter, that have had the consolation of seeing die full of the inhabitants of Canaan called the place the peace of God, “I ascend unto my Father where thou didst deposit the body, “Abel- and your Father, and to my God and your Mizraim, a grievous mourning to the Egyp- God.” O may we be shortly united in the tians.” Look, frail father! look at that society, bosom of this adorable Being with our departed there is thy son, at whose death thou didst ex- friends, whose conversation was lately so declaim, “O Absalom, my son, would God I had lightful to us, and whose memory will always died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" continue respected and dear! May we be And you, too, distressed Rachels! whose voices united with the redeemed of all nations, and are heard lamenting, weeping, and mourning, kindreds, and people, and tongues, in the prerefusing to be comforted, because your children sence of the blessed God! God grant us this are not; see, behold there in heaven your chil- grace! To him be honour and glory, for ever.


« السابقةمتابعة »