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even thou, at least in this thy day, the things I give of your objections; this is really the time which belong unto thy peace! but now they are in which the Lord will not be found.” For, hid from thine eyes,” Luke xix. 42. Do you since your calamities, what efforts have been feel all the force of these last words," now used to terminate them, and to soften the venthey are hid from thine eyes?" Jerusalem was geance which pursues you! How many humilinot, however, yet destroyed; the temple still ations! How many fasts! How many interces. stood; the Romans offered them peace; the sions! How many tears! Ilow many protestasiege was not commenced; more than forty tions! How many disconsolate mothers, satisyears elapsed between the threatening and the fied with the ruin of their families, have asked stroke. But, ah! from that time, from that no spoil, but the souls of their children! How time, these things were hid from their eyes; from many Moseses, how many Samuels have stood that time their destruction was determined; before God, and implored the liberation of his from that time their day of grace was expired, church! But all in vain. The time was past, and their ruin finally fixed. So true it is, that the Lord would be found no more, and perthe long-suffering of God is limited, and that haps,-perhaps,-no more for ever.-Jer. xv.5. mercy cannot always be obtained at the ex- Happy in the extreme of our misery, if we pected period, and precise moment on which may yet hope, that they will be salutary to we had fondly relied.
those who have reached the shore on the broBut, my brethren, to whom do I preach? ken boards of the shipwreck? For, my brethren, To whom do I this day prove these melancholy we consent that you should turn away your truths of whom is this audience composed eyes from whatever is glorious in our exile, to Who are those“ brands plucked from the look solely at that which is deplorable. What burning," and "come up out of great tribu- do those groups of fugitives, and dismembered lation?" By what stroke of Providence is families say to you? We are sent by the God the mass I now see convened from so many of vengeance. In banishing us from our counprovincesi* Whence are you? In what coun- try, he said, go,-go, unhappy people;—go, try were you born? Ah! my brethren, you are and tell the world the consequences of falling but too well instructed in the truths I now into the hands of an angry God. Teach the preach! The time of long-suffering is limited; Christian world your bloody, but salutary lesneed we prove it? Can you be ignorant of it: sons; say to my children, in whatsoever part Are you not witnesses of it by experience of the earth you may be cast; except ye reAre not our proofs sufficiently evident Do pent, ye shall all likewise perish,” Luke xiii. 3. you ask for arguments more conclusive? Come, But you yet stand, ye walls of this temple; you see; let us go to the ruins of our temples: let yet flourish, 0 happy provinces; though the us survey the rubbish of our sanctuaries; let long-suffering of God has its limits. But I us see our galley-slaves chained to the oar, check myself on the verge of this awful preand our confessors in irons; let us see “the diction. land which has vomited us on the face of the II. Merely enumerating the remaining subearth;" and the name of refugee, venerable shall jects, I would say, that experience, in the case I call it, or the horrors of the whole world of hardened sinners, supplies us with a second And to present you with objects still more af- example. It is a received opinion, and not fecting; let us see our brethren at the foot of without some foundation, that the period allotan altar which they believe idolatrous, mothers ted for repentance extends to the whole of life, preserving the fortune of their families at the and that God has no design in sparing us, but cxpense of their children's souls, whom they to promote our conversion. This is the sense devote to idolatry; and by a sad reverse, pre- of the Chaldee paraphrase; for so it renders the serving that same fortune to their children at text; “ Seek ye the Lord while you have life, the expense of their own souls.f Yield, yield call ye upon him while you are spared upon to our calamities, ye catastrophes of ages past! the earth.” We will not oppose the thought; Ye mothers whose tragic memory appals pos- meanwhile we confidently affirm, that we daily terity, because you were compelled by the see among our hearers sinners whom grace horrors of the famine to eat the flesh of your seems to have forsaken, and who appear to be sons, preserving your own life by snatching it lost without resource. from those who had received it of you! How- How often do we see people among us so haever bloody your situation may be, you de- bituated to offend against the dictates of conprived them after all but of a momentary life, science, that they now sin without remorse, thereby saving both them and yourselves from and without repentance! If the things we the horrors of famine. But here both are pre-preach to you were problematical;—if they cipitated into the same abyss. The mother, were things which so far excited doubt and unby a prodigy unheard of, if I may so speak certainty in the inind, that we could not be asnourishes herself with the substance of her sured of their reality;—if they were merely alson's soul, and the son in his turn nourishes lowed, or forbidden, we should not be surprised himself with the substance of his mother's at this insensibility. But do we not see persons soul.
in cold blood committing the most atrocious Ah! my brethren, these are our proofs; these crimes, carrying on infamous intrigues, nourare our arguments; these are the solutions we ishing inveterate prejudices, handing them
down from father to son, and making them the * France was then formed into twenty-four provinces, heritage of the family? Do we not see them now it is divided into about eighty-three departments. committing those things in cold blood, and less
+ An edict was published by the king of France, com shocked now at the enormity of their crimes, manding his officers to confiscate the goods of those who did not perform the acts of a good Catholic in their
last than they formerly were at the mere thought
of them, and who are as insensible of all we
say to affect them, as if we were repeating fa- , acquiring some knowledge of the human heart, bles, or reciting frivolous tales? Whence does we fully perceive that there is nothing in it but this proceed, my brethren? From the same what is extorted; that it is the fear of punishcause we have endeavoured to prove in our ment, not the sentiments of religion and equity; preceding discourses, that habits, if not correct- that it is the approach of death, not an abhored, become confirmed: that the Holy Spirit rence of sin; that it is the terrors of hell, not withdraws himself; that he ceases to knock at the effusions of true zeal, which animate the the door of our hearts, and leaves us to our heart. The sailor, while enjoying a favourable selves when we resist his grace. These are breeze, braves the Deity, uttering his blaspheseared consciences; they are fascinated minds; I mies against Heaven, and apparently acknowthese are men given up to a spirit of delusion, ledging no Providence but his profession and Rom. i. 21; "Their hearts are waxed gross; industry. The clouds become black; the sluices they have eyes, and they see not, they have of heaven open; the lightnings flash in the air; hearts, and they do not understand,” Ísa. vi. the thunder becomes tremendous; the winds 10. If the arguments advanced in the preceding roar; the surge foams, the waves of the ocean discourses, have been incapable of producing seem to ascend to heaven; and heaven in turn conviction, do not, at least, dispute with us seems to descend into the abyss. Conscience, what you see every day, and what passes before alarmed by these terrific objects, and more so your eyes. Preachers, be not astonished after by the image of hell, and the expectation of this, if your arguments, if your proofs, if your immediate and inevitable death, endeavours to usmonstrations, if your exhortations, if your conceal herself from the pursuing vengeance of most tender and pathetic entreaties have so lit- God. Blasphemy is changed to blessing, pretle effect. God himself fights against you. sumption to prayer, security to terror. This You demonstrate, and God blinds their eyes: wicked man all at once, becomes a saint of the you exhort, and God hardens the heart; and first class: and as though he would deceive the ihat Spirit, -that Spirit, who by his victorious Deity, after having first deceived himself, he power endeavours to illuminate the simple, and arrogates, as the right of this false reform, admake them that fear him to understand his se- mission into heaven, and claims the whole recret;—that Spirit, by the power of vengeance, wards of true repentance. hardens the others in their wilful insensibility. What! conversions of this kind dazzle Chris
This awful period often comes with greater tians! What! sailors, whose tears and cries rapidity than we think. When we speak of owe their origin to the presence of immediate sinners who are become incorrigible, we under-danger, from which they would be saved! But stand not only the aged, who have run a course it is not in the agitation produced by peril, that of fifty or sixty years in crimes, and in whom we may know whether we have sincere resin is become natural. We speak also of those course to God. It is in tranquil and recollectless advanced in age; who have refused to de- ed moments that the soul can best examine and vote to God the early years of youth; who have investigate its real condition. It is not when assumed the flourishing titles of infidelity, and the world has quitted us, that we should begin atheism; who are in effect, become Atheists, like true Christians to quit the world; it is when and have imbibed prejudices, from which it is the world smiles, and invites us to taste its now impossible to move them. At first, this charms. was simply a want of zoal; then it became in- But what finally decides on those hasty resodifference, then followed coldness and indo- lutions are the consequences. Of all the saints lence, afterward contempt of religion, and in that have been made in haste, you find scarcely the issue, the most obstinate and outrageous one, on deliverance from danger, who fulfils profaneness. I select cases for you who are yet the vows he has made. There is scarcely one susceptible of good impressions. They are pro- who does not relapse into vice with the same videntially placed in open view to inspire you rapidity with which he seemed to abandon it; with holy fear; God has exposed them in his a most conclusive argument, that such converchurch as buoys and beacons, erected on the sions are not sincere. Had it been true zeal, coast to warn the inariners; they say, keep your and divine love which dictated all those profesdistance in passing here, fly this dreadful place, sions, and kindled that fire which seemed to let the remains of this shipwreck induce you to burn, you would, no doubt, havo retained the seek deep waters and a safer course.
effects; but finding no fruit of your fervent reIII. Let this produce a third example, and solutions, we ought to be convinced that they would to God that we had less authority for were extorted. Could your heart thus pass in producing it, and were less instructed on the one moment from one extreme to the other? subject! This is dying men;—an example which could it pass in one moment from repentance you may adduce, to harden yourselves in vice; to obduracy, and from obduracy to repentance? but which if properly understood, is much more Could it correct in one moment habits of vice, calculated to excite alarm. We see in general, and assume habits of piety, and renounce with that every dying man, however wicked he may equal ease habits of piety, to resume habits of have been during life, seems to be converted on vice? The case of those whom God has rethe approach of death; and we readily persuade stored to life, ought to correct your judgment, ourselves that it is so in effect: and consequent concerning those whom he takes away. ly, that there is no great difficulty in becoming To all these proofs, my brethren, which I am regenerate in our last moments. But two things not permitted to state in all their lustre, I fear have always prejudiced me against a late re- lest another should soon be added;-I fear lest pentance;-lhe nature of those sorrows, and es- a fourth example should convince the world pecially the consequences.
how dangerous it is to delay conversion. This First, The nature of those sorrows. After proof, this example, is no other than the major
part of this congregation. On considering the zeal, this fervour; these indispensable duties of
true, that the Holy Spirit, in extending his as
sistance, requires that we should ask his aids, The first thing we require of you is to enter yield to his entreaties, and pay deference to an into your own heart, to do justice to yourselves, evangelical ministry? Is it not true, that he to confess that most of you are in the awful abandons to themselves those who resist his situation we have attacked; that you are nearly work; that it is thence concluded in the Scripall guilty of delaying conversion. I know that ture that we need his grace for our sanctificathe human heart has its evasions, and that con- tion; and that we ought to work out our salvascience has its depths. But, after all, you are tion with so much the more diligence! Is it not not so far blind as to believe that, while carried true, that mercy has restrictions and bounds, away as some of you are with avarice, others that it is promised to those only who conform with ambition; some with voluptuousness, others to the covenant of grace, that those conditions with slander; and some with a haughtiness are not a momentary repentance, a slight rewhich nothing can bend; living, as most of you course to mercy, a superficial desire to particido, resident in a city where you find all the pate in the merits of Christ's death; they imply temptations of vice in high life, and all the fa- such a total change, renovation of heart, and cility in the haunts of infamy, you are not so transformation of the soul, and in such sort, far blinded as to think that you are in a state that when one is not in a state to conform to of regeneration, while persisting in this course. the conditions, we are no longer within the And, as I supposed before, that no one of you sphere of evangelical promises. Is it not true, is so far infatuated as to say, I have made my in short, that those truths are not founded choice, I am resolved to cast myself headlong merely on arguments, on a chain of conseinto the pit of destruction, and to be a victim quences, and remote principles? But they are of eternal vengeance; as no one of you has car- demonstrated by sound and incontestable exried infatuation to this extreme, I am right in perience. Hence we ask you once more to adconcluding, that nearly all of you rely on a fu- mit the force of our arguments, and to do justure conversion. Begin here, begin by doing tice to the evidence we have adduced. justice to yourselves on this point. This is the Thirdly, what we also require is, that you first thing we require you to do.
should acknowledge the inefficacy of sermons The second is, to recollect the arguments we with regard to you, the little effect they comhave urged in our preceding discourses, against monly have, and consequently the little influthe delay of conversion, and confess their force. ence which ours (and especially those last In the first, we addressed you as well-informed delivered) have produced on your conduct. and rational beings; we proved from the human There is not a week, but some vice is atconstitution, that conversion becomes either tacked;—not a week, but some one ought to difficult or impracticable in proportion as it is be corrected;—not a week, but some evident deferred. In the second, we addressed you as change ought to be produced in civil and reliChristians, who acknowledge a revelation re- gious society. And what do we see? I apceived from heaven; and we endeavoured to peal to your consciences; you regard us as prove these truths by that revelation;-by the declaimers, called to entertain you for an hour, character of the economy of the Holy Spirit;— to diversify your pleasure, or to pass away the by the nature and conditions of the new cove- first day of the week; diverting your attention nant;-capital points of faith, fundamental ar- from secular concerns. It seems that we asticles of religion, which you cannot evade, if cend our pulpits to afford you amusement, to you have the smallest shadow of Christianity. delineate characters, implicitly submitting to Today we have directed all our efforts to ena- your judgment, academic compositions; to say, ble you to comprehend the same things by clear, "Come, come and see whether we have a fercertain, and indisputable experience. Over- tile imagination, a fine voice, a graceful geslooking, therefore, every thing which concerns ture, an action agreeable to your taste.” With us in particular, and our weakness, which we these detestable notions, most of you establish acknowledge and feel, do justice to our proofs; your tribunal, judging of the object of our seracknowledge their force; and inquire, whether mons: which you sometimes find too long, someyou have yet any thing further to object. times too short, sometimes too cold, and someSeek, examine, investigate. Is it not true, times too pathetic. Scarcely one among you that bad habits become confirmed with age turns them to their true design, purity of heart, Predominate in the heart? Take possession of and amendment of life. This is the success of all the intellectual powers, and transform them- the sermons you have heard. Should we think selves, so to speak, into our nature? Is it not our discourses more happy? We should be too true, that habits of piety are not acquired in- credulous did we expect it. It must be acstantaneously, in a moment, by a sudden wish, knowledged, my brethren, that all we have and a simple emotion of the soul? Is it not said on the delay of conversion, has been of true, that this detachment from sensible objects, little avail with regard to most of you. Phithis giving up the world, this self-denial, this losophy, religion, experience,--all leave you
following the impulse of nature, before he has
and in all the virtues for which God has given I know the part you are going to take; that, me birth? Have not a thousand various page unable to think of them without horror, you sions divided the empire of my heart Have are going to banish them from your mind, and they not all tended to enslave me? O miseraefface them from your memory. You are go- ble man! perhaps my day of grace is past: pering, on leaving this place, to fortify yourselves haps in future I may knock in vain at the door against this holy alarm, which has now, per- of mercy: perhaps I may be numbered with haps, been excited; you are going to talk of those of whom Christ says, “Many shall seek any subject but those important truths which to enter in and shall not be able:” perhaps the have been preached, and to repose in indo- insensibility I feel, and the resistance which lence; to cause fear and trembling to subside, my unhappy heart still makes, are the effects by banishing every idea which have excited of divine vengeance: perhaps my time of visithem; like a man in a fatal sleep, while his tation is past: perhaps God spares me only in house is on fire; we alarm him, we cry,“Rouse life to make me a fearful example of the misfrom your stupor, your house is on fire.” He ery of those who delay conversion: perhaps it opens his eyes, he wishes to fly for safety; but is to me he addresses that sentence, “Let him falling again into his former lethargy, he be- that is unjust be unjust still, and let him that comes fuel to the flames.
is unholy be unholy still.” But, perhaps I My brethren, my very dear brethren, think, have yet a little time: perhaps God has sparO think that the situation of your minds does ed me in life to afford me occasion to repair not alter these grand truths. You may forget my past faults: perhaps he has brought me tothem, but you cannot change them. Whether day into this church to pluck and save me you may think of them or not, they still sub- from my misery: perhaps these emotions of my sist in all their force. You may indeed shut heart, these tears which run down mine eyes, your eyes against the abyss which is under are the effects of grace: perhaps these softenyour feet; but you cannot remove it, you can- ings, this compunction, and these fears, are not avoid it, so long as you disregard our warn- the voice which says, from God, " Seek ye my ings, and resist our entreaties.
face:” perhaps this is the year of good-will; If
your salvation is dear to you, if you have the accepted time; the day of salvation: peryet the least sensibility, the smallest spark of haps, if I delay no longer, if I promote my love to God—if you have not resolved on your salvation without delay, I may succeed in own ruin, and sworn to your own destruction, the work, and see my endeavours gloriously enter into your hearts from this moment. Let crowned. each, from this moment, take salutary mea- O love of my Saviour, bowels of mercy, sures to subdue his predominant propensity. abyss of divine compassion! “O length, breadth, Withdraw not from this temple, without be- height, depth, of the love of God, which passing firmly resolved on a change of life. eth knowledge!" resolve this weighty inquiry;
Consider that you were not sent into the calm the agitation of my mind; assure my flutworld, to aggrandize and enrich yourselves; to tering soul. Yes, O my God, seeing thou hast form attachments which serve as unhappy ties spared me in life, I trust it is for salvation. to hold you on the earth; much less to scanda- Seeing thou seekest me still, I flatter myself lize the church, to be high-spirited, proud, im- it is for my conversion. Hence I assume new perious, unjust, voluptuous, avaricious. God engagements, I ratify anew the covenant I has placed you here in a state of probation, have so often violated; I pledge to thee anew that you might become prepared for a better the vows I have so often broken. world. Consider, that, though the distractions If you act in this manner, your labour shall of life may frequently call a considerate man not be in vain in the Lord. For what is it to be engaged in the world, in defiance of his that God requires of you? Why has he created wishes; yet there is nothing so unworthy as to you out of nothing? Why has he given you his be, like most of you, always dissipated, always Son? Why has he communicated to you his deyoted to pleasure. Consider, that though | Holy Spirit? Is it to destroy you? Is it to
damn you? Are you so little acquainted with selves in some sort as saints, when they can althe Father of mercies, with the God of love? lege some one who surpasses them in wickedDoes he take pleasure in the death of the sin- ness. In short, we are going to prescribe the ner? Would he not rather that he should re- best precautions to people, who expose both pent and live?
their flanks to the enemy of their salvation; and These are the consolations which follow the who in the midst of beings, leagued for our exhortations of the prophet, and the words of everlasting ruin, live in the same security as if my text. For after having said, “Seek ye the the profoundest peace prevailed, and as if they Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him were walking in the only way which leads to while he is near;" he draws this conclusion, to eternal felicity. which I would lead you, which has been the Again, if it were only with regard to people design of these three discourses, and by which of this character, for whom we have so just a I would close the subject. “Let the wicked cause to fear miscarrying, we ought to enrol forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his ourselves in the little number, that associating thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, ourselves among the disciples of wisdom, acand he will have mercy upon bim; and to our cording to the example of Jesus Christ, we God, for he will abundantly pardon.” And, might hope to say to God as he did, “Behold lest the penitent sinner should be overburdened me, and the children which God hath given with the weight of his sins,-lest, estimating me,” Heb. ii. 13; Isa. viii. 18. But when I conthe extent of divine mercy by his own con- sider the limits in which the greatest saints tracted views, he should despair of salvation, among us include their virtues, the scanty I will add this declaration from God himself, bounds which comprise their duties, I am afraid a declaration which admirably expresses the they will revolt against the doctrine of my text. grandeur of his compassion: My thoughts And you, who carry piety to the highest degree, are not your thoughts, neither are your ways are you fully prepared to enter into the spirit my ways; for, as the heavens are higher than of the exhortation which St. Paul addresses you the earth, so are my thoughts above your to-day? You, who on the pressing entreaties thoughts.” Now to God the Father, Son, and of Eternal Wisdom, which says, "give me thy Holy Spirit, be honour and glory for ever.— heart," feel hard conflicts with yourselves not Amen.
to bestow on an only son sentiments which you owe solely to the giver, you have not yet car
ried divine love to the most eminent degree: it SERMON LXXXII. is not enough that you inspire your son with
the fear and love of God, you must acquire the
disposition of the father of the faithful, who ON PERSEVERANCE.
obeyed this command; “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt-offering,” Gen. xxii
. 2. HEBREWS xii. 1.
You who, rather than abjure the truth, have Wherefore, seeing we are also compassed about with sacrificed one part of your fortune, you have
80 great a cloud of wilnesses, let us lay aside not carried divine love to the highest degree; every weight, and the sin which doth so easily you must acquire the disposition of those extrabeset ws; and let us run with patience the race ordinary men, some of whom were stoned for that is set before us.
religion, others were sawn asunder, others were My brethren, the Holy Spirit proposes to us killed with the sword, others wandered about in in the words we have read, distinguished duties, sheep-skins, and in goat-skins, others were afexcellent models, and wise precautions. “Let flicted and tormented. These are the grand us run with patience the race that is set before models, on which St. Paul wished to form the us." These are the distinguished duties. “We piety of the Hebrews, when he addressed them are compassed about with so great a cloud of in the words of my text: it is on the same mowitnesses.” These are the excellent models. dels we would wish to-day to form your piety. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed which doth so easily beset us." These are the about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us wise precautions.
lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth I frankly acknowledge, my brethren, that on so easily beset us: and let us run with patience comparing the design of my text with the cha- the race that is set before us.” racter of some among my hearers, I am in doubt These words may be considered in two difwhether I ought not to suspend the thread of ferent points of view; the one respects the Hemy discourse; and whether the difficulty of suc- brews, to whom they were addressed, the other cess should not deter me from attempting the respects the whole Christian community. execution. We come to preach perseverance 1. They have peculiar references to the Heto men, of whom so great a number live in su- brews, to whom they were addressed. These pineness, and to whom it is much more proper Hebrews had embraced the Christian religion, to say, Return unto the testimonies of the Lord, at a time of general exclamation against the than Continue to follow them. We come to pro- Christians. They were very sincere in the propose the most excellent models, the example of fession of Christianity; but there is a difference the Abrahams, the Moseses, the Davids, of between sincerity, and the constancy to which whom so great a number hitherto propose to the disciples of Jesus Christ are called, particuthemselves, if I may so express myself, only larly when the church seems abandoned to the negative models; I would say, who make it all fury of its persecutors. The grand design of their glory in not being altogether so bad as the the apostle in this epistle, was to inspire them worst of the human kind; they consider them- I with this constancy, and to prevent the fear of