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aside? Is not the law equal? Are not you called to be holy as they were holy? Is it not said to you, as well as to them, "Be ye perfect, as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," Matt. v. 48. The abridgement of the law, and the prophets,-is it not of the same force with
Paul in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, that there is, between them and us, a similarity of nature." They had principles of depravity in common with us. The sole difference between them and us is, that they counteracted, and endeavoured to eradicate those principles; whereas we suffer them to pre-regard to you, as to them, "Thou shalt love dominate and superadd the force of habit to the infirmity of nature.
1. That those distinguished men were born with an understanding circumscribed as ours, requires no proof. Seeing they have resisted the temptations into which our limited understanding has permitted us to fall; it evidently follows, that the difference between them and us is, that when the objects of temptation were presented, they endeavoured to turn, and fix their thoughts on the motives which enabled them to triumph; but we suffer those objects entirely to engross the capacity of our souls.
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind?" Matt. xxii. 37.
I am fully aware, that there is a difference between the effects of the love which God requires of you, and which he required of them: but that diversity of effects does not suppose any change in the efficient cause. The efficient cause must be the same, how diversified soever the effects may be: and if you are not called to make similar sacrifices, you are called to be ready to do so, should they be required. You are not called, like Abraham, to immolate in sacrifice to God your only son; but you are called to have the same radical attachment and preference, which induced him to sacrifice his son, if required by your maker. And if you have not this profound attachment, or at least, if you do not daily endeavour to obtain it, deceive not yourselves, my brethren, you can have no hope of salvation. You are not call
but you are called to have the same preference and esteem for God which he had, provided a crown were offered. If you have not this preference of affection; at least, if you do not endeavour to obtain it, deceive not yourselves, my brethren, you can have no hopes of salvation. The difference between those illustrious
3. Those distinguished men were born, as we are, with certain propensities to some particular vices. There were in the disposition of their bodies, and in the essence of their souls, as in ours, certain seeds, which prompted some to one vice, and some to another. The history of those saints is too concise to state this truth in all its lustre; but it is so far known as to be evi-ed, like Moses, to sacrifice a crown for religion, dent to a certain degree. Moses was naturally of an uncouth and warm temper; witness his remonstrances with God when commanded to speak to Pharaoh: witness his indignation when he broke both the tables of the law; and when he struck the rock twice. David was born with a lascivious disposition: witness his intercourse with Bathsheba. He was born with a vindic-saints and us, is not in the variety of vocation tive temper: witness the hasty resolution he formed against Nabal, and accompanied with an oath so unbecoming a saint. "So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertaineth unto him by the morning light, either man or beast," 1 Sam. What we have said of David, and of Moses, we might confirm by other saints. Hence, if the love of God was predominant, in the soul of those illustrious saints, over concu- III. Human depravity has not only innumepiscence, while concupiscence in us so fre-rable subtleties, but we even urge them. Somequently predominates over the love of God:if they "ran with patience the race set before them;" whilst we are so frequently interrupted in the course:--it was not because those saints were not born with the same principles of depravity which prompt us to particular sins, but because we abandon ourselves to those principles, and make no efforts to oppose them! whereas they struggled hard lest they should commit the crimes, to which they were inclined by nature.
II. There is between those illustrious saints and us a similarity of vocation. Does this article require proof? Can you be so little acquainted with religion, as to suppose that they were called to make a constant progress in holiness, but that you are called only to a certain degree of virtue? That they were called to give victorious effect to the love of God over depravity, and that you are called to permit depravity to predominate over the love of God? That they were called to a habit, and a constant habit of piety, but that God merely requires you to do a few virtuous actions, to acquire a temporary habit of holiness, and then allows you to lay it
in which Providence has called us, but in the manner of our obedience. They understood their vocation, and were obedient; but we, we overlook it, or take as much pains to disguise it, as they did to know it; and when we are constrained to know it, and our conscience is constrained to discover its duty, we violate in practice those very maxims we have been obliged to acknowledge in theory.
times, in order to excuse our deviations from those illustrious saints, we allege the superiority of their temptations over those, to which Providence has exposed us; and sometimes, on the contrary, the superiority of their temptations over those, to which Heaven exposes us, over those to which it exposed them. Be it so; but after you have proved that they did not resist any temptation which we would not have resisted had we been in their situation; I will prove that we are not exposed to any such violent temptations over which they have not obtained the same victories which are required of us. What are the violent temptations with which you are captivated, and whose violence you are accustomed to allege, in order to excuse your falls?
Are they temptations of poverty?-How difficult is it, when we want means to supply the pressing calls of nature not to be exercised with anxiety! How difficult is it, when we expect to perish with hunger, to believe ourselves the favourites of that Providence which "feeds the fowls of heaven, and clothes the lilies of the fields," Matt. vi. 26. 28. And when we
are stripped of every comfort, an ordinary con- | for forty tedious years in the wilderness, having sequence of poverty, to find in communion to war with nature and the elements, with with God a compensation for those base friends hunger and with thirst, with his enemies, and who suffer us to starve! The saints magnified with his own people; and, what was harder as models by St. Paul, have vanquished this still, having sometimes to contend with God temptation. See Job, that holy man, and once himself, who was frequently on the point of the richest man of all the East, possessing exterminating the Israelites, committed to the seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, care of this afflicted leader. But Moses trifive hundred yoke of oxen, and servants with- umphed over a vast course of difficulties; ever out number:-see him stripped of all his wealth, returning to duty, when the force of temptaand saying in that deplorable situation, "Shall tion, for the moment, had induced him to deviwe receive good at the hand of the Lord and ate; ever full of affection for that people, and shall we not receive evil?" Job ii. 10. "The ever employing in their behalf, the influence he Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, had over the bowels of a compassionate God. blessed be the name of the Lord," Job i. 21. See David wandering from wilderness to wilderness, and saying, "When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up," Ps. xxvii. 10.
Are there temptations arising from persecution?-Nature shrinks not only at the idea of suffering, but also at the ingenious means which executioners have invented to extort abnegations. The saints, whom St. Paul adduces as models, have vanquished this class of temptations. Look only at the conduct of those noble martyrs, to whom he is desirous of calling the attention of the Hebrews. Look at the tragic but instructive history of that family, mention
Are they temptations of prosperity? The temptations of prosperity are incomparably more dangerous than those of adversity; at least, the objects of adversity remind us of our indigence and inability; and removing the means of gratification, the passions become either sub-ed in the seventh chapter of the second Book dued, or restrained and mortified. But prosperity ever presents us with a flattering portrait of ourselves; it prompts us to aspire at independence, and strengthens all our corrupt propensities by the facility of gratification. The saints, proposed as models by the Holy Spirit, have vanquished those temptations.ger, commanded the iron-pans, and brazen See Abraham surrounded with riches; behold him ever mindful of that divine injunction, "Walk before me, and be thou perfect," Gen. xvii. 1. See Job,-see him ever employing his wealth for him from whom he received it! See him preventing the abuse his children might have made of his opulence, rising early in the morning after their feasts, and offering sacrifice on their account; "It may be," said my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts," Job i. 5. See David on the throne,-see him making a sacred use of his power. "Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. I will early destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all the wicked doers from the city of the Lord," Ps. ci. 6-8. See him laudably employed in resuming those pleasures of piety retarded by the affairs of state. What he could not do in the vicissitudes of the day, he reserved for the shades of night. He contemplated the marvels of his Maker, displayed by the night. Thus he expressed his sentiments, "When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars, which thou hast ordained, what is man, that thou art mindful of him; and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" Ps. viii. 3, 4.
Are they temptations arising from the length of the course, which seems to have no end, and which always requires fresh exercise of piety? It is incomparably more easy to make a hasty sacrifice for religion, than to do it daily by degrees. Virtue is animated on great occasions, and collects the whole of its resources and strength; but how few have the resolution to sustain a long career. The saints, whom St. Paul adduces as models, have vanquished this kind of temptation. See Moses,-behold him
of Maccabees. The barbarous Antioch, says the historian, seized on a mother and her seven sons, and resolved, by whips and scourges, to force them to eat swine's flesh. The eldest of the seven boldly asserted his readiness to die for his religion. The king, enraged with anchaldrons, to be heated, and him who first spake to be flayed alive; his tongue cut out; the extremities of his limbs to be cut off, in presence of his mother and brethren; and his body to be roasted while yet alive, in one of the burning pans. O my God! what a sight for the persons so tenderly united to this martyr! But this scene, very far from shaking their constaney, contributed to its support. They animated one another to an heroic death; affirming that God would sustain their minds, and assuage their anguish. The second of those brothers, the third, the fourth, the fifth, and sixth, sustained the same sufferings, and with the same support, in presence of their mother. What idea do you form of this woman, you timorous mothers, who hear me to-day? In what language, think you, did she address her sons? Do you think that nature triumphed over grace; that, after having offered to God six of her sons, she made efforts, at least to save the seventh, that he might afford her consolation for the loss sustained in the other six? No, says the historian, she exhorted him to die like a martyr: Antioch compelled her to present the seventh that she might prevent his death. But she said, "O my son, have pity upon me, that bare thee nine months in my womb, and gave thee suck three years, and nourished thee, and brought thee up unto this age, and endured the troubles of education. I beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, and know the author of thy being. Fear not this tormentor; but, being worthy of thy brethren, take thy death, that I may receive thee again in mercy with thy brethren."
Perhaps the historian has embellished his heroes; perhaps he has been more ambitious to astonish than to instruct; and to flatter the por
ON THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS.
trait, than to paint the original. The history | did not know the doctrine of a future state? of our own age confirms the past age; the his-St. Paul affirms quite the contrary. What is [SER. LXXXIII. tory of our own tyrants, substantiates all that meant by their "not being made perfect withis said of the Jewish tyrants: and the constancy out us?" Is it as some of the primitive faof our modern Maccabees, is a sure test of thers, and as some of our modern divines have what is said concerning the constancy of the thought, that the Old Testament saints were ancient Maccabees. What has been the seed not received into heaven till the ascension of of the reformed church? It is the blood of the Jesus Christ? This is contrary to other pasreformers, and of the first reformed. What sages of our Scriptures. But "they received was the rise of this republic? It was the light not the promise," that is to say, with the same of fagots kindled to consume it. Inhabitants clearness as Christians. "They without us of these provinces, what were your ancestors? were not made perfect;" the perfect knowledge Confessors and martyrs. And you, my dear of immortality and life being the peculiar prefellow-countrymen, whence are you come? rogative of the Christian church. Whatever "Out of great tribulation." Brands plucked from the burning." Fathers, will show, that this doctrine of immortality and What are you? be the sense of those words of St. Paul, we who have seen their children die for religion; life is no longer covered with a veil, as it was children who have seen their fathers die for re- previously to the introduction of the gospel; ligion. O that God may forbear hearkening but it is demonstrated by a multitude of arguto the voice of so much blood, which cries to ments which sound reason, though less imHeaven for vengeance on those who shed it! proved than that of the ancients, enables us to May God, in placing the crown of righteous- adduce for conviction; and they are placed in ness on the heads of those who suffered, pardon evidence by Jesus Christ. Let us introduce those who caused their death! May we be, at this Jesus to you; let us cause you to hear this least, permitted to recount the history of our Jesus animating you by doctrine and example brethren, who have conquered in the fight; to in the course; encourage those who have yet to combat, but he, "will I grant to sit down with me on who so disgracefully draw back. Ah! genera- my throne, even as I also overcame, and am Him that overcometh," says tion of confessors and martyrs, would you de- set down with my Father on his throne," grade the nobility of your descent? Your fa- Rev. iii. 21. thers have confessed their religion amid the severest tortures: and would you deny in these happy provinces, enlightened by the truth? Have they sacrificed their lives for religion, and will you refuse to sacrifice a portion of your riches? Ah, my brethren, " also are compassed about with so great a cloud Seeing we of witnesses, let us run with patience the race that is set before us."
IV. I have said that there is, between us and those illustrious saints, proposed as models by the Holy Spirit, a similarity of motives. It implies a contradiction, to suppose that they had more powerful motives to animate them in their course, than those we have proposed to you. Yes, it implies a contradiction, that the Abrahams, quitting their country, the land of their nativity, and wandering they knew not where, in obedience to the divine call:-it implies a contradiction, that the Moseses preferred "affliction with the people of God, to the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season:"-it implies a contradiction, that this multitude of martyrs, some of whom were tormented, others were stoned, others were sawn asunder, others were killed by the sword:-it implies a contradiction, that those illustrious saints have beheld, at the close of their course, a more valuable prize than that extended to you. This prize is a blissful immortality. Here the whole advantage is on your side. This prize is placed more distinctly in your sight, than it was in the view of those illustrious characters. This, I really think, was St. Paul's view at the close of the chapter, in which he enumerates the saints, whose virtues have formed the leading subject of this discourse. "These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better things for us, that they, without us, should not be made perfect." What is implied in their "not having received the promise?" Does it mean that they
silence those who avail themselves of the distinguished virtues of those saints for not acV. The last article,-happily adapted to cepting them as models; or, to conclude in a manner more correspondent to our ministry, race God has set before all his saints-is, that an article well calculated to support us in the between us and those who have finished it with they were like us, incapable of running the race; and by the assistance of grace we become joy, there is a similarity of assistance. By nature capable of running like them. Let us not imagine that we honour the deity by making a certain sort of absurd complaints concerning our weakness; let us not ascribe to him what proceeds solely from our corruption: it is incompatible with his perfections to expose a frail creature to the force of temptation, and exhort him to conquer it without affording the aid requisite to obtain the victory. Be not discouraged, Christian champion, at the inequality God has made in the proportion of aids afforded to them, and to thee; be not discouraged ture, while nature was inverted for them; while they walked in the depth of the sea; while they on seeing thyself led by the plain paths of na"threw down the walls of Jericho by the sound of rams'-horns, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of the fire, escaped the edge of the sword, waxing valiant in fight, and turning to fight the armies of the aliens." We might perform all those prodigies, and not obtain salvation. Yes, we might put to flight the armies of the aliens, display invincible valour in the warfare, escape the edge of the sword, quench the violence of the fire, stop the mouths of lions, overturn walls, force a passage through the sea, and yet be numbered with those to whom Christ will say, "I know you not." And dost thou fear, Christian combatant, dost thou fear to attain salvation without those miraculous aids? The requisite assistance
of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and
for thy salvation is promised. "The fountain is open to the whole house of David," Zech. xiii. 1. "Seek, and ye shall find; ask, and you shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened. If you, being evil, know how to give good things unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven, give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him? If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not."
O! if we knew the value of wisdom! If we knew what miracles of virtue can be wrought by a soul actuated by the Holy Spirit! If we know how to avail ourselves of this promise! Let us, my dear brethren, avail ourselves of it. Let us ask of God those aids, not to flatter our indolence and vice, but to strengthen us in all our conflicts. Let us say, "Lord, teach my hands to war, and my fingers to fight," Ps. cxliv. Seeing so many enemies combine to detach us from his favour, let us thus invite him to our aid. "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered, let them also that hate him, flee before him." Let us pour into his bosom all those anxieties, which enfeeble the mind. Then he will reply, "My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength shall be made perfect in thy weakness." Then shall all the enemies of our salvation fly, and be confounded before us. Then shall all the difficulties, which discourage us by the way, disappear. Then shall we exclaim in the midst of conflicts, "Blessed be God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ." Amen. To him be honour and glory for ever. Amen.
Enter, my brethren, on the consideration of this subject with that sacred diffidence, with which frail creatures should be actuated on contemplating the difficulties with which our course is strewed; but enter with all the magnanimity with which an idea of the powerful and promised aids should inspire the mind of a Christian. Be impressed with this thought, and we conjure you to keep it constantly in view during this discourse: that there is no way of running the race like those illustrious characters adduced as models, but by endeavouring to equal them in holiness; and that there is no way of equalling them in holiness, but by adopting the precautions of which they availed themselves to attain perfection. Happy those of you, my brethren, infinitely more happy than the tongue of mortals can express, happy those whom this consideration shall save from that wretched state of indolence into which the greatest part of men are plunged, and whom it shall excite to that vigilance and energy of life, which is the great design of Christianity, and the grand characteristic of a christian! Amen.
We shall now illustrate the expressions in our text by a few remarks.
The first is, that they are figurative. St. Paul represents our Christian vocation by the idea of those races, so ancient and celebrated among the heathen: and pursuing the same thought, he represents the precautions used by athletics to obtain the prize, as those which we must use in order to be crowned. The weights of flowing robes, such as were once, and such.
ON THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS. as are still worn by oriental nations, would
HEBREWS xii. 1.
Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
very much encumber those who ran in the
WE proceed this day, my brethren, to show you the way which leads to the end proposed in our two preceding discourses. The words we have now read for the third time, placed three things before your view,-distinguished duties, excellent models,-and wise precautions. The distinguished duties are illustrated in the perseverance we pressed in our first discourse. The excellent models are the saints of the highest order, and, in particular, the "cloud of witnesses with which we are surrounded." Of these, St. Paul has made an enumeration and eulogium in the chapter preceding that from which our text is read; and whose virtues we have traced in our last discourse. But, by what means may we attain an end so noble? By what means may we discharge duties so distinguished, and form our- On the other hand, we often deceive ourselves on models so excellent? This shall be selves with regard to what is called in the the inquiry in our present discourse. It is by world-business! Take an example of a man "laying aside every weight, and the sin which born with all the uprightness of mind compatidoth so easily beset us.-Wherefore, seeing weble with the loss of primitive innocence. While also are compassed about with so great a cloud left to the reflection of his own mind in early
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life, he followed the dictates of reason, and the | to the games of the heathen: not indeed to the sentiments of virtue. His mind, undisturbed sports of the course, as in the words of my [SER. LXXXIII. with the anxieties inseparable from the man- text, but to the cest,* in which the wrestlers agement of a large fortune, applied almost sometimes received a mortal blow. And this wholly to the study of truth, and the practice idea necessarily includes that of martyrdom. of virtue. But some officious friends, a proud But, O! how evasive is the flesh, when placed and avaricious family, the roots of vanity, and in those critical circumstances! What excuses love of exterior grandeur, scarcely ever eradi- will it not make rather than acquiesce in the cated, have induced him to push his fortune, proposition! Must I die for religion? Must I and distinguish himself in the world. He as- be stretched on the rack? Must I be hung in pires to civil employment. The solicitations chains on a gibbet? Must I mount a pile of to which he must descend, the intrigues he fagots? St. Paul has therefore doubled the idea must manage, the friends with whom he must in my text. He was desirous to strengthen the temporize to obtain it, have suspended his first Hebrews with a twofold class of arguments: viz. habits of life. He accomplishes the object of those required against the temptations common his wishes. The office with which he vested, requires application. Distraction be- flictive circumstances in which they were placed in- to all Christians; and those peculiar to the afcomes an indispensable duty. The corruption by Providence. It was proper to press this of his heart, but slightly extinguished, rekindles double idea. This is our second remark for the by so much dissipation. After having been illustration of our text. some time without the study of truths, once his favourite concern, he becomes habituated not to think of them at all. He loses his recollection of them. He becomes exhausted in the professional duties he has acquired with so much solicitude. He must have a temporary recess from business. The study of truth, and the practice of virtue, should now be resumed. But he must have a little recreation, a little company, a little wine. Meanwhile age approaches, and death is far advanced. But, when is he to enter on the work of salvation? Happy he, my brethren, who seeks no relations in life, than those to which he is called by duty! Happy he, who in retirement, and if you please, in the obscurity of mediocrity, far from grandeur and from courts, makes salvation if not his sole, at least his principal conExcessive cares, as much as criminal pursuits, are weights which retard exceedingly the Christian in his course. every weight and the sin that doth so easily "Let us lay aside beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." "9 in the words of my text: and it is the first reThis is St. Paul's idea mark requisite for its illustration.
The second devolves on the peculiar situation in which the Hebrews were placed, to whom the advice is given. These Hebrews, like ourselves, were Christians. They were called, as we are called, to run the race of virtue, without which no man can obtain the prize promised by the gospel. In this view, they required the same instructions which are requisite with regard to ourselves.
But the Christians, to whom this epistle was addressed, lived, as was observed in our first discourse, in an age of persecution. were daily on the eve of martyrdom. It was They for this that the apostle prepares them throughout the whole of this epistle. To this he especially disposes them in the words which immediately follow those I have discussed. sider diligently," says he, adducing the author "Conand finisher of our faith, who so nobly ran the career of martyrdom; "Consider diligently him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin," Heb. xii. 3, 4. What does he mean by their not having yet resisted unto blood? Here is still a reference
had already made in the Christian religion.
ball of lead sewed in leather. See Virgil's Enciads,