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degree of piety, is an error; it is a heresy, which deserves as many anathemas, and eccle. siastical thunders, as all the others which have been unanimously denounced by all Christians. My brethren, let us rectify our ideas, in or
tianity; be it that you resemble St. Paul in all his excellencies after conversion, and in none of the crimes which he committed before that happy period; the only conclusion which you have a right to draw is, that you have performed a part of your task, but not that there re-der to rectify our conduct. "Let us run with mains nothing more for you to do. You are nearer the end than they who have not run so fast in the race as you have, but you have not yet obtained the prize. You have discharged the duties of youth, and the duties of manhood, now the duties of old age remain to be discharged. You have discharged all the duties of health, now the duties of sickness and dying remain to be discharged. This world is a place of exercise; while you are in it your exercise is not finished; life is a time of trial; as long as you live your trial remains.
Let us conclude. Were we to act rationally, we should always fix our minds on these truths; we should never end a day without putting this question to ourselves. What progress have I made in virtue? Have I this day approached the end of my creation? And as the time of my abode here diminishes, do I advance in proportion to the time that remains? We should require of ourselves an exact account of every day, every hour, every instant of our duration; but this is not the gospel of most Christians. What we have been proposing, seem to most hearers mere maxims of the preacher, more proper to adorn a public discourse, than to compose a system of religion. Why are not ecclesiastical bodies as rigid and severe against heresies of practice, as they are against heresies of speculation? Certainly there are heresies in morality, as well as in theology. Councils and synods reduce the doctrines of faith to certain propositional points, and thunder anathemas against all who refuse to subscribe them. They say, Cursed be he who does not believe the divinity of Christ: cursed be he who does not belieye hypostatical union, and the mystery of the cross; cursed be he who denies the inward operations of grace, and the irresistible efficacy of the Holy Spirit. I wish they would make a few canons against moral heresies! How many are there of this kind among our people? Among our people we may put many who are in another class. Let me make canons. In the first I would put a heresy too common, that is, that the calling of a Christian consists less in the practice of virtue, than in abstaining from gross vices; and I would say, if any man think that he sufficiently answers the obligations of Christianity, by not being avaricious, oppressive, and intemperate, if he do not allow that he ought to be zealous, fervent, and detached from the world, let him be accursed. In a second canon, I would put another heresy, equally general, and equally dangerous, and which regards the delay of conversion; and I would say, If any one imagine that, after a life spent in sin, a few regrets, proceeding more from a fear of death and hell, than from a principle of love to God, are sufficient to open the gates of heaven, let him be accursed. In a third canon I would put .... fill up the list yourselves, my brethren, and let us return to our subject. To confine one's self to a certain circle of virtues, to stop at a fixed point, to be satisfied with a given VOL. II.-3
patience the race set before us," let us go on till we can say with St. Paul, "I have finished my course." Be not terrified at this idea of progressive religion. Some great efforts must have been made by all holy men in this place to arrive at that degree of virtue which they have obtained; but the hardest part of the work is done; henceforward what remains is easy. The way to heaven is narrow at the entrance, but it widens as we go on. The yoke of Christ is heavy at first, but it weighs little when it has been long worn.
After all there is a way of softening all the pains to which we are exposed, by continuing our efforts. St. Paul practised this art with great success; it consists in fixing the eye on the end of the race. At the end of the race, he saw two objects:-The first the prize. How easy to brave the enemies of salvation, when the eye is full of the prospect of it! How tolerable appear the pains of the present state, when the "sufferings of the present time are compared with, and weighed against, the glory that follows." Next, St. Paul saw Jesus Christ at the end of the race, another object which animated him. He was animated by the example of Christ, to finish his course with joy; he was animated by the assistances which supported him; he was animated by the promise of Christ telling him, "He that overcometh shall sit down in my throne;" he was animated by the mercy, which he knew, how weak soever his efforts might be, would be approved at the tribunal of Jesus Christ, provided they were sincere; for Jesus himself conquered for him, and himself acquired that prize for the apostle at which he aspired; in a word, he was animated by his love; Jesus Christ is at the end of the race, and Paul loved Jesus Christ, and longed to be with him. I said, he saw two objects, the prize of victory, and Jesus Christ; but these make only one object. St. Paul's prize is Jesus Christ Jesus Christ is Paul's paradise. According to him, Christ is the most desirable part of celestial felicity: "Whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; we are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord," 2 Cor. v. 6. 8. "I desire to depart, and to be with Christ," Phil. i. 23, "I press toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," chap. iii. 14. This thought, that every step he took brought him nearer to Jesus Christ, this thought rendered him insensible to all the fatigue of the race, and enabled him to redouble his efforts to arrive at the end.
O flames of divine love! Shall we never know you except by the examples of the primitive Christians! O flames of divine love, which we have so often described, shall we never feel you in our own souls? Fire us, inflame us with your ardour, and make us understand that all things are easy to the man who sincerely loves God! God grant us this grace! To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
THE MORAL MARTYR.
PSALM CXIX. 46.
by them; and it would have been difficult to profess to fear him and avoid contempt.
It is not easy to determine the persons intended by the psalmist, nor is it necessary to confine the words to either of the senses given; they may be taken in a more extensive sense. The word king in the eastern languages, as well as in those of the western world, is not
I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, confined to kings properly so called; it is
and will not be ashamed.
sometimes given to superiors of any rank. Ask not the reason of this, every language has its own genius, and custom is a tyrant who seldom consults reason before he issues orders; and who generally knows no law but self-will and caprice. If you insist on a direct answer to your inquiry concerning the reason of the general use of the term, I reply, the same pas sion for despotism which animates kings on the throne, usually inspire such individuals as are a little elevated above people around them; they consider themselves as sovereigns, and pretend to regal homage. Authority over in
finishes it. Moreover, such as are called petty gentry, in the world, are generally more proud and absolute than real kings; the last frequently propose nothing but to exercise dominion, but the first aim both to exercise dominion and to make a parade of the exercise, lest their imaginary grandeur should pass unnoticed.
It is not only under the reign of a tyrant, that religion involves its disciples in persecution, it is in times of the greatest tranquillity, and even when virtue seems to sit on a throne. A Christian is often subject to punishments different from wheels, and racks. People united to him by the same profession of religion, having received the same baptism, and called with him to aspire at the same glory, not unfrequently press him to deny Jesus Christ, and prepare punishments for him, if he have cour-feriors begins this imaginary royalty, and vanity age to confess him. Religion is proposed to us in two different points of view, a point of speculation, and a point of practice. Accordingly, there are two sorts of martyrdom; a martyrdom for doctrine, and a martyrdom for morality. It is for the last that the prophet prepares us in the words of the text, and to the same end I dedicate the sermon which I I understand, then, by the vague term kings, am going to address to you to-day. I come all who have any pre-eminence over the lowinto the place that affords a happy asylum for est orders of men; and these are they who exconfessors and martyrs, to utter in your hear-ercise tyranny, and inflict the martyrdom for ing these words of Jesus Christ, "Whosoever which the prophet in the text prepares us. shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in order to comprehend this more fully, contrast this adulterous and sinful generation, of him two conditions in the life of David. Remark also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when first the state of mediocrity, or rather happy he cometh in the glory of his Father with the obscurity, in which this holy man was born. holy angels," Mark viii. 38. Educated by a father, not rich, but pious, he was religious from his childhood. As he led a country life, he met with none of those snares among his cattle which the great world sets for our innocence. He gave full scope without constraint to his love for God, and could affirm, without hazarding any thing, that God was supremely lovely. What a contrast! This shepherd was suddenly called to quit his sheep and his fields, and to live with courtiers in the palace of a prince. What a society for a man accustomed to regulate his conversation by the laws of
In order to animate you with a proper zeal for morality, and to engage you, if necessary, to become martyrs for it, we will treat of the subject in five different views.
I. We will show you the authors, or, as they may be justly denominated, the executioners, who punish men with martyrdom for morality.
II. The magnaninity of such as expose themselves to it.
III. The horrors that accompany it.
IV. The obligation which engages men to truth, and his conduct by those of virtue! What submit to it.
V. The glory that crowns it.
We will explain these five ideas contained in the words of the psalmist, "I will speak of thy testimonies before kings, and will not be ashamed;" and we will proportion these articles, not to that extent to which they naturally go, but to the bounds prescribed to these exercises.
I. The authors, or as we just now called them, the executioners, who inflict this punishment, are to be considered. The text calls them kings; "I will speak of thy testimonies before kings." What king does the psalmist mean? Saul to whom piety was become odious? or any particular heathen prince, to whom the persecution of Saul sometimes drove our prophet for refuge? The name of the God of the Hebrews was blasphemed among these barbarians; his worship was called superstition
a place was this for him to propose those just and beautiful principles which the Holy Spirit teaches in the Scriptures, and which are many of them to be found in the writings of the psalmist! "I have seen the wicked in power, and spreading himself like a green bay-tree; yet he has passed away, and lo, he was not; I sought him, and he could not be found. Surely men of high degree are a lie, to be laid in a balance they are altogether lighter than vanity. I said, ye are gods, and all of you are the children of the Most High; but ye shall die like men. Put not your trust in a prince, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish. He that ruleth his spirit, is better than he that taketh a city. My son, the son of my womb, the son of my vows, give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings. It is not for
kings, O Lemuel, to drink wine, nor for princes | a dagger into their bosoms; that to be so abstrong drink, lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted." How would these maxims be received at some of your courts? They were not very pleasing at that of Saul; David was, therefore, censured by him and his courtiers for proposing them. Hear how he expressed himself in this psalm. "O Lord! remove from me reproach and contempt. Princes did sit and speak against me, because thy servant did meditate in thy statutes. The proud have had me greatly in derision; yet have I not declined from thy law," Psa. cxix. 22, 23. 51.
II. Let us pass to the second article, and consider the magnanimity of such as expose themselves to this martyrdom. This is naturally included in the former remark, concerning the executioners who inflict the punishment. My brethren it is impossible to speak of the testimonies of God before the tyrants in question, without being accused either of a spirit of rebellion, aversion to social pleasures, or rusticity and pedantry; three dispositions which the great seldom forgive.
The martyr for morality is sometimes taxed with a spirit of rebellion. Perhaps you might have thought I spoke extravagantly, when I affirmed, that most men consider themselves as kings in regard to their inferiors. I venture, however, to affirm a greater paradox still; that is, they consider themselves as gods, and demand such homage to be paid to their fancied divinity as is due to none but to the true God. I grant great men do not all assume the place of God with equal arrogance. There are not many Pharaohs who adopt this brutal language, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice" Exod. v. 2. There are but few Sennacheribs, who are so extravagant as to say to the people of God, "Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim?" Isa. xxxvi. 18, 19.
But, though the great men of the world do not always assume the place of God with so much brutal insolence, yet they do assume it. Though they do not say to their inferiors in so many words, Obey us rather than God, yet do they not say it in effect? Is it possible to oppose their fancy with impunity? Is it safe to establish the rights of God in their presence? What success had Elijah at the court of Ahab? Micaiah at that of Jehosaphat? John the Baptist at that of Herod?
We need not go back to remote times. What success have we had among you, when we have undertaken to allege the rights of God in some circumstances? For example, when we have endeavoured to convince you, that to aspire at the office of a judge, without talents essential to the discharge of it, is to incur the guilt of all the unjust sentences that may be pronounced; that to stupify the understanding by debauchery, to drown reason in intemperance, to dissipate the spirits by sensual pleasures, when going to determine questions which regard the lives and fortunes of mankind, is to rob men of their property, and to plunge
sorbed in forming public treatises, and in the prosperity of the states, as to lose sight of the interests of religion, equal to placing hope in the present life, and renouncing all expectation of a life to come; that to render one's self inaccessible to the solicitations of widows and orphans, while we fill offices created for their service, is to usurp honours for the sake of emoluments; that to suffer the publication of scandalous books, and the practice of public debauchery, under pretence of toleration and liberty, is to arm God against a state, though states subsist only by his protection. Let us not repeat forgotten grievances, let us not, by multiplying these objects, run the hazard of increasing the number of arguments which justify our proposition. "To speak of the testimonies of God before kings," is to expose one's self to a charge of rebellion, and to such punishments as ought to be reserved for real incendiaries and rebels.
2. As the great men of the world would have us respect their rank, so they are equally jealous of their pleasures; and most men forming maxims of pleasure more or less lax, according as their rank is more or less eminent, licentiousness grows along with credit and fortune. A man who made a scruple of being absent from an exercise of religion, when he could hardly provide bread for the day, has not even attended the Lord's supper since he became master of a thousand a year. A man whose conscience would not suffer him to frequent some companies, when he walked afoot, is become a subscriber to public gaming houses now he keeps a carriage. A man who would have blushed at immodest language in private life, keeps, without scruple, a prostitute, now he is become a public man. Lift your eyes a little higher, lift them above metaphorical kings, and look at kings properly so called. Adultery, incest, and other abominations, more fit for beasts than men? what am I saying? abominations to which beasts never abandon themselves, and of which men only are capable, are not these abominations considered as sports in the palaces of some princes? This is what I said, licentiousness increases with credit and fortune. The maxims which men form concerning pleasures, are more or less loose according as their rank is more or less eminent. In general, that detachment from the world which religion proposes to produce in our hearts, that spirit of repentance with which it aims to inspire us, those images of death which it perpetually sets before us, those plans of felicity disengaged from matter, to which it invites us; all these ideas are tasteless to the great; we cannot propose them amidst their intoxicating pleasures without being considered as enemies of pleasure, as scourges to society.
3. When we speak of the testimonies of God before the great, we are taxed with rusticity and pedantry. There is, among men, a misnamed science, without which we cannot appear great in the world; it is called politeness, or good-breeding. This science consists in adopting, at least in feigning to adopt, all the passions and prejudices of the great, in taking such forms as they like, in regulating ideas of right and wrong by their caprice, in condemn
ing what they condemn, and in approving what they approve. In one word, politeness, in the style of the great, is that suppleness which keeps a man always prepared to change his system of morality and religion according to their fancies. Not to have this disposition, to have invariable ideas, and invariable objects of pursuit, to be inconvertible in religion, to have the laws of God always before our eyes, or, as the Scripture speaks, to "walk before him," is in the style of people of the world, to have no breeding, to be a bad courtier, to be possessed with that kind of folly which renders it proper for us, though not to be confined with lunatics, yet to be banished from the company of people of birth and quality, as they call themselves, and to be stationed in closets and cells.
III. Thus we have seen both the executioners who punish morality with martyrdom, and the magnanimity which exposes a man to the punishment: and these are sufficient to expose our third article, the horrors, that accompany it. I have no ideas sufficiently great of the bulk of my auditors, to engage me to be very exact in expounding this third article. I fear, were I to enlarge on this part of my subject, I should raise insurmountable obstacles to the end which I should propose in opening the subject. Forgive an opinion so inglorious to your piety, but too well adjusted to the imperfections of it. We dare not form such a plan for you as Jesus Christ formed for St. Paul, when speaking of this new proselyte to Ananias, he told him, "I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake," Acts ix. 16. Martyrdom for doctrines, I grant, seems at first more shocking than martyrdom for morality; but, taken altogether, it is perhaps less insupportable. To die for religion is not always the worst thing in the calling of a Christian. Virtue wakes up into vigour in these circumstances, and renders itself invincible by its efforts. Even worldly honours sometimes come to embolden. That kind of heroism which is attributed to a man making such a splendid sacrifice, supports under exquisite torments.
this duty. You have heard, that it consists in urging the rights of God before great men; and, though it be at the hazard of all the comforts and pleasures of life, in professing to respect the moral part of religion. We do not mean an unseasonable and indiscreet manner of doing so. The duty of confessing Jesus Christ before tyrants, in regard to his doctrines, has its bounds; and so has that of confessing his morality. There was more enthusiasm than true zeal in such ancient confessors as voluntarily presented themselves before persecutors, and intrigued for the glory of martyrdom. So, in regard to the present subject, in our opinion, it is not requisite we should intrude into the company of the great to reprove them, when we have reason to believe our rebukes would be injurious to ourselves, and contribute nothing to the glory of religion. All the actions of a Christian should be directed by prudence. We only expect you should never blush for the precepts of your great Lawgiver, never contribute, by mean adulation, or profound silence, to the violation of them; in short, that you would openly profess to fear God always when your profession is likely to convince a sinner, or to convert a saint.
This duty carries its own evidence along with it. Let us here compare the doctrines of religion with the precepts of it. The precepts of religion are as essential as the doctrines; and religion will as certainly sink if the morality be subverted, as if the theology be undermined. Moreover, doctrines are absolutely useless without morality, and the doctrines of religion are only proposed to us as grounds of the duties of it. The first doctrine of religion, the foundation of all the rest, is, that there is only one God; but why does God require us to admit the doctrine of his unity? It is that we may not divide supreme love, the character of supreme adoration, between the Supreme Being and creatures; for on this subject it is said, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart." Now, were I to deny this second proposition, we ought not to divide between God and any creature that love which is the essence of supreme adoration, should I be a less odious apostate than if I denied the first? One of the most essential points of our divinity is, that there is a future state. But why does God require us to believe a future state? It is that we should regard the present life as the least considerable period of our duration. If then I deny this practical proposition, the present life is the least considerable part of our duration, am I an apostate less odious than if I deny this proposition of speculation, there is a future state? We say the same of all other doctrines.
There is another kind of suffering, longer and more fatiguing, and therefore more difficult. It is a profession, a detail, a trade of suffering, if I may express myself so. To see one's self called to live among men whom we are always obliged to contradict upon subjects for which they discover the greatest sensibility; to be excluded from all their pleasures; never to be admitted into their company, except when they are under afflictions and restraints; to hear one's looks and habits turned into ridicule, as they said of the prophet Elisha, "He is a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather If it be the duty of a Christian to confess the about his loins," 2 Kings i. 8: What a punish- doctrines of religion, and if a simple genuflexment! Men who have withstood all the terrors ion, and the offering of one grain of incense, of racks and dungeons, have yielded to the vio-be acts of denial of these truths of speculation, lence of this kind of persecution and martyrdom. We will not be insensible of the frailty of our auditors, and therefore, we will omit a discussion of the acute and horrid pains of this kind of martyrdom.
IV. We are to treat, fourthly, of the obligation of speaking of the testimonies of God before kings. We ground this on the nature of
I ask, are not one act of adulation, one smile of approbation, one gesture of acquiescence, also acts of denial in regard to practical truths? Most certainly. In times of persecution it was necessary to lift up the standard of Jesus Christ, to confess him before Herod and Pilate, and before all who took these persecutors of the church for their examples. In like manner,
while the church enjoys the most profound peace, if innocence be oppressed, if we see modesty attacked, if we hear the sophisms of sin, we must learn to say, each in his proper sphere, I am a Christian, I hate calumny, I abhor oppression, I detest profaneness and licentiousness, and so on.
speak of thy testimonies before kings, and will not be ashamed," finds a rich reward, first in the ideas which a sound reason gives him of shame and glory; secondly, in the testimony of his own conscience; thirdly, in the approbation of good people; and lastly, in the prerogatives of martyrdom. These, if I may so express myself, are four jewels of his crown.
1. Notions of shame and glory are not arbitrary, they are founded on the essence of those things to which they are related; on these relations they depend, and not on the caprice of different understandings. My first relation is that which I have to God, it is the relation of a creature to his Creator. The duty of this relation is that of the most profound submission. My glory is to discharge this duty, and it is my shame to violate it. My second relation is that which I have to men, a relation between beings formed in the same image, subject to the same God, and exposed to the same miseries. The duty of this relation is that of treating men as I wish they would treat me; or, to use the words of Jesus Christ, "of doing to them whatsoever I would they should do to me," Matt. vii. 12. It is my glory to discharge this duty, and my shame to violate it; and so of the rest. These ideas are not arbitrary, they are founded in the nature of things. No mortal, no potentate has a right to change them. If, then, the great regard me with disdain, when I answer to my relations, and discharge the duties of them, I will not be ashamed. The contempt which this conduct brings upon me, falls back upon my despiser, because shame is a necessary consequence of violating these duties, and because glory is a necessary consequence of practising them.
The further you carry this comparison of martyrdom for doctrines with martyrdom for duties, the more fully will you perceive, that the same reasons which establish the necessity of the first, confirm that of the last, and that apostates from morality are no less odious than those from divinity. Let us for a moment examine what makes the first martyrdom necessary, I mean that for doctrines. Some reasons regard the believers themselves. Our attachment to the religion of Jesus Christ may be doubtful to ourselves, before we suffer for it. Martyrdom is a trial of this attachment. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you," I Pet. iv. 12. Some regard the spectators, in whose presence God calls his children to suffer for religion. Christians have made more disciples to the true religion, by suffering persecution, than tyrants have taken from it by persecuting. This second view of martyrdom. A martyr may say, with his divine Master, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me," John xii. 32. Some of these reasons regard the honour of religion, for which God calls us to suffer. What can be more glorious for it than that peace, and joy, and firmness, with which it inspires its martyrs? How ravishing is this religion, when it supports its disciples under the most cruel persecutions! How truly great does it appear, when it indemnifies them for the loss 2. The martyrdom of morality is rewarded of fortune, rank, and life; when it makes them by the testimony of conscience, and by the inefsee, through a shower of stones, the object of fable joys with which the heart is overwhelmtheir hope, and impels them to exclaim with ed. While the tribunals of the great condemn St. Stephen, "Behold, I see the heavens open- the Christian, an inward judge absolves him; ed, and the Son of Man standing on the right and the decrees of the former are reversed by hand of God!" Acts vii. 56. This is a third the latter. "Our rejoicing is this, the testimoview of martyrdom, and it would be as easy tony of our conscience. I suffer; nevertheless I increase the list as it is to make the application. Let us apply to martyrdom for duties, what we have said concerning martyrdom for doctrines, and we shall be obliged to conclude, that the same reasons establish the necessity of both.
Let us not pass lightly over this article. If there be a martyrdom of morality, how many apostles have we among us? How often have we denied our holy religion? How often, when it has been jeeringly said to us, "Thou also wast with Jesus," have we sneakingly replied, "I know not what thou sayest?"
V. We come to our last article, the crown of moral martyrdom. Here a new order of objects present themselves to our meditation. Pardon me, if I cannot help deploring the loss or the suspension of that voice with which for three and twenty years I have announced the testimonies of God, so as to be clearly heard at the remotest parts of this numerous auditory. However, I will try to present to you at least a few of the truths which I dare not undertake to speak of in their utmost extent.
The martyrdom of morality! A man who can say to God, as our prophet said, "I will
am not ashamed, for I know on whom I have believed," 2 Cor. i. 12; 2 Tim. i. 12.
3. The moral martyr is rewarded by the approbation of good people. Indeed, suffrages will never be unanimous. There will always be in the world two opposite systems, one of virtue, another of sin. The partisans of a system of sin will always condemn the friends of virtue as the friends of virtue will always condemn the partisans of sin. You cannot be considered in the same light by two such different classes of judges. What the first account infamous, the last call glory; and the last will cover you with glory for what the first call your shame. If you be obliged to choose one of the two parties to judge you, can you possibly hesitate a moment on which to fix your choice? The prophet indemnified himself by an intercourse with the people of God, for the injury done him by the great. "I am," said he, "a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts," Ps. cxix. 33. Suffer me to sanctify here the profane praise which Lucan gave Pompey;* "The gods are
* Victrex Causa Deis Placuit; sed Victa Catoni.