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guise the nature of his engagements, and the thing awfully solemn. The oath, the oath of high characters of the gospel. Because, on execration which God tenders, is, I farther althe solemn festival-day, when we appear in the low, very intimidating. But what constitutes presence of the Lord our God;—when we en- the fear, constitutes also the delight and consoter into covenant with him; and after the en- lation. For what end does God require these gagement, when we come to ratify it in the engagements? For what end does he require holy sacrament;-we not only enter, but we this oath? Because it is his good pleasure, that also pass into covenant, according to the idea we should unite ourselves to him in the same attached to the term: we pass between the close, constant, and indissoluble manner as he parts of the victim divided in sacrifice; we unites himself to us. pass between the body and blood of Christ, di- Let us be sincere, and he will give us power vided from each other to represent the Sa- to be faithful. Let us ask his aid, and he will viour's death. We then say, “Lord! I consent, not withhold the grace destined to lead us to if I should violate the stipulations of thy cove- this noble end. Let us say to him, “Lord, I nant, and if aster the violation, I do not re- do enter into this oath of execration; but I do cover by repentance, I consent, that thou it with trembling. Establish my wavering soul; shouldst treat me as thou hast treated thy own confirm my feeble knees; give me the victory; Son, in the garden of Gethsemane, and on make me more than conqueror in all the conCalvary. Lord! I consent that thou shouldst | Alicts, by which the enemy of my salvation shoot at me all the thunderbolts and arrows comes to separate me from thee. Pardon all which were shot against him. I agree, that the faults into which I may be drawn by huthou shouldst unite against me all the calami- man frailty. Grant, if they should suspend ties which were united against him. And, as the sentiments of fidelity I'vow to thee, that it implies a contradiction, that so weak a mor- they may never be able to eradicate them.” tal as I should sustain so tremendous a punish- These are the prayers which God loves, these ment, I agree, that the duration of my pun- are the prayers which he hears. May he grant ishment should compensate for the defects of us to experience them! Amen. its degree; that I should suffer eternally in the abyss of hell, the punishments I could not have borne in the limited duration of time.”
SERMON LXXXVI. Do not take this proposition for a hyberbole, or a rhetorical figure. To enter into covenant
THE SEAL OF THE COVENANT. with God, is to accept the gospel precisely as it was delivered by Jesus Christ, and to submit
(For the day of Pentecost.) to all its stipulations. This gospel expressly declares, that “fornicators, that liars, that
2 Cor. i. 21, 22. drunkards, and the covetous, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” On accepting the gos- He which establisheth us with you in Christ, and pel, we accept this clause. Therefore, on ac
hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed cepting the gospel, we submit to be excluded us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in the kingdom of God, if we are either drunk
our hearts. ards, or liars, or covetous, or fornicators; and How distinguished soever this sabbath may if after the commission of any of these crimes, be, it affords a humiliating consideration to us. we do not recover by repentance. And what How glorious soever the event might be to the is submission to this clause, if it is not to enter chureh, whose anniversary we now celebrate, into the execration oath, which God requires it cannot be recollected, without deploring the of us, on the ratification of this covenant? difference between what God once achieved
Ah! my brethren, wo unto us should we for his saints, and what he is doing at the prepronounce against ourselves 60 dreadful an sent period. In the first Pentecost, the heavens oath, without taking the precautions suggest- visibly opened to the brethren; but we, we alas! ed by the gospel to avert these awful conse- are unable to pierce the vaults of this church. quences. Ah! my brethren, if we are not sin- The Holy Spirit then miraculously descended cerely resolved to be faithful to God, let us with inspiration on those holy men, who were make a solemn vow before we leave this tem- designated to carry the light of the gospel ple, never to communicate, never to approach throughout the world; but now, it is solely by the Lord's table.
the efforts of meditation and study, that your What! never approach his table! never com- preachers communicate knowledge and exhormunicate! Disdain not to enter into the cove- tation. The earth shook; the most abstruse nant which God does not disdain to make with mysteries were explained; languages the least sinners! What a decision! Great God, what intelligible became instantaneously familiar; an awful decision! And should this be the ef- the sick were healed; the dead were raised to fect of my discourse! Alas! my brethren, with life; Ananias and Sapphira expired at the out this covenant, without this table, without apostles' feet; and such a multitude of prodithis cath, we are utterly lost! It is true, we gies were then achieved, in order to give weight shall not be punished as violators of vows we to the ministry of the first preachers of the gosnever made: but we shall be punished as mad- pel, that no one among us can be unacquainted men; who, being actually in the abyss of per- with those extraordinary events.
But good dition, reject the Redeemer, whose hand is ex- wishes, prayers, entreaties, are all we can now tended to draw us thence. Let us seek that exert to insinuate into your hearts, and conhand, let us enter into this covenant with God. ciliate your attention.
The engagements, without which the cove- What then! is the Holy Spirit, who once de nant cannot be confirmed, have, I grant, some- scended with so much lustre on the primitive
Christians, refused to us? What then! shall we dowments for the adequate discharge of their have no participation in the glory of that day duty. Under this idea, St. John represents the shall we talk of the prodigies seen by the in- gift of the Holy Spirit, granted to the whole fant church, solely to excite regret at the dark-church: “Ye have an unction from the Holy ness of the dispensation, in which it has pleas-One, and ye know all things,” 1 John, ii. 20. ed God to give us birth? Away with the By the seal, of which the apostle here says, thought! The cbange only in the exterior “God hath sealed us,” the sacraments may be aspect, not in the basis and substance of Chris- understood. The metaphor is derived from tianity; whatever essential endowments the the usages of society in affixing seals to coveholy spirit once communicated to the primitive nants and treaties. Under this design are the Christians, he now communicates to us. Hear sacraments represented in the Scriptures. The the words we have read, “He which stablish- term is found applied to those exterior institueth you with us, in Christ, and hath anointed tions in the fourth chapter of St. Paul's epis us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given tle to the Romans. It is there said that us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” On “ Abraham received the sign of circumcision, these operations of the Holy Spirit in the as a seal of the righteousness of faith. By the heart, we now purpose to treat, and on which institution of this sign, to Abraham and his we shall make three kinds of observations. posterity, God distinguished the Jews from
I. It is designed to develope the manner in every nation of the earth; marked them as his which this operation is expressed in the words own, and blessed them with the fruits of evanof my text.
gelical justification. This is the true import, II. To explain its nature, and prove its provided the interior grace be associated with reality
the exterior sign; I would say, sanctification, III. To trace the disposition of the man or the image of God; purity being inculcated who retards, and the man who farthers the ope- on us in the Scriptures by the symbol of a seal. rations of the Holy Spirit.
This, in our opinion, is the import of that fine This comprises the outlines of our discourse. passage, so distorted by the schoolmen; “The
I. We shall easily comprehend the manner foundation of God standeth sure, having this in which St. Paul expresses the operation of seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his: let the Holy Spirit, if we follow the subsequent every one that nameth,” (or invoketh) "the rules.
name of Christ depart from iniquity," 2 Tim. 1. Let us reduce the metaphor to its genu- ii. 19. What is God's seal? How does God ine import. St. Paul wishes to prove the truth know his own? Is it by the exterior badges and certainty of the promises, God had given of sacraments? Is it by “the circumcision the church by his ministry; "All the promises which is in the flesh?" "No, it is by this more of God in him are yea, and in him amen," 2 hallowed test, “Let every one that nameth Cor. i. 20. These are Hebrew modes of speech. the name of Christ depart from iniquity." The Jews, in order to designate deceitful In fine, by the EARNESTS of the Spirit, we speeches, say, that there are men with whom understand those foretastes of heaven which yea is nay, and nay is yea; on the contrary, the God communicates to some of those he has yea of a good man is yea, and nay, is nay. designated to celestial happiness. An earnest Hence the maxim of a celebrated Rabbi, “Let (or earnests as in the Greek,) is a deposit of
' the disciples of the wise, give and receive part of the purchase money for a bargain. St. in fidelity and truth, saying, yea, yea; nay, Paul says, and in the sense attached to the nay." And it was in allusion to this mode of term, “We that are in this tabernacle do speech, that our Saviour said to his disciples, groan, being burthened: not that we would be "Let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay; unclothed, but clothed, that mortality might whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil,” be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath Matt. v. 37.
wrought us for the self-same thing is God; who St. Paul, to prove that the promises God also hath given unto us the earnest of the has given us in his word, are yea and amen; Spirit,” 2 Cor. v. 4, 5. that is, sure and certain, says, he has estab- Whether, therefore, each of these terms, lished them in a threefold manner: by the unction, seal, earnest, express the same thing; anointing, the seal, and the earnests. These as I think could be proved, by several texts several terms express the same idea, and mark of Scripture, in which they are promiscuously the diversified operations of the Holy Spirit, used; or whether they convey three distinct for the confirmation of the Evangelical pro- ideas;—they all indicate that God confirms to mises. However, if another will assert, that us the evangelical promises in the way we have we are to understand different operations by described. these three terms, I will not controvert his This is the idea, my brethren, one should opinion. By the unction, we may here under-attach to the metaphors in our text. In order stand, the miraculous endowments afforded to to comprehend the Scriptures, you should althe apostles, and to a vast number of the pri- ways recollect that they abound with these mitive Christians, and the inferences enlight-forms of speech. The sacred writers lived in a ened men would consequently draw in favour warm climate; whose inhabitants had a natural of Christianity. It is a metaphor taken from vivacity of imagination, very different from us the oil poured by the special command of God, who reside in a colder region, and under a on the head of persons selected for grand cloudy sky; who have consequently a peculiar achievements, and particularly on the head of gravity, and dulness of temperature. Seldom, kingo and priests. It implied that God had therefore, did the men of whom we have been designated those men for distinguished offices, speaking, employ the simple style. They borand communicated to them the necessary en- Irowed bold figures; they magnified objects;
they delighted in amplitude and hyperbole. obstruct the perception of three persons in the The Holy Spirit, employing the pen of the words we have read? Can they obstruct our sacred authors, did not change, but sanctify perceiving the Father, to whom all things betheir temperature. It was bis pleasure that long; the Son, who participates in all things they should speak in the language used in their which belong to the Father: the Holy Spirit, own time; and avail themselves of those forms who receives and reveals those things to the of speech, without which they would neither church? I ask again, whether by this propriehave been heard nor understood.
ty of thought, and precision of argument, we 2. Let us reduce the metaphor to precision, can understand an action of Providence, from and the figure to truth. But under a notion what is ascribed to the Holy Spirit And wheof reducing it to truth, let us not enfeeble its ther, without offering violence to the laws of force; and wishful to reject imaginary inys- language, one may substitute for the term teries, let us not destroy those which are real. spirit, the words action and Providence, and This second caution is requisite in order to thus paraphrase the whole passage; “I have supersede the false glosses which have been yet many things to say unto you, but ye canattached to the text. Two of these we ought not bear them now. Howbeit, when this acparticularly to reject;-lhe one on the word tion of Providence is come, even this action: Spirit;-the other on the words, seal, unction of Providence, it will guide you into all the and earnest, which we have endeavoured to truth; for it shall not speak of itself; but explain.
whatsoever it shall hear, that shall it speak; Some divines have asserted, that the word for it shall receive of mine, and shall show Spirit, ought to be arranged in the class of them unto you.” We frankly confess, my metaphors designed to express, not a person brethren, nothing but the reluctance we have of the Godhead, but an action of Providence; to submit our notions to the decision of Suand that we should attach this sense to the preme Wisdom can excite an apprehension, term, not only in this text, but also in all those that a distinct person is not designated in the we adduce to prove, that there is a divine per- words we have cited. And, when it is once son distinct from the Father and the Son, call- admitted, that the Holy Spirit sent to the ed the Holy Spirit.
church is a divine person, can one, on comparWe have frequently, in this pulpit, avowed ing the words of our text with those we have our ignorance concerning the nature of the quoted, resist the conviction, that the same divine essence, if I may be allowed the expres- Spirit is intended in both these passages? sion. We have often declared, that we can In the class of those, who, under a pretext determine nothing concerning God, except of not admitting imaginary mysteries, reject what we are obliged to know from the works such as are real, we arrange those divines, he has created, and from the truths he has re- who deny the agency of this adorable person vealed. We have more than once acknow- on the heart, in what the apostle calls, unction, ledged, that even those trutlıs, which we trace seal, and earnest: those supralapsarian teachfrom reason and revelation, are as yet very ers, who suppose, that all the operation of the imperfect; and that the design of the Scrip- Holy Spirit on the regenerate, consists in entures, when speaking of God, is less to reveal abling him to preach; that he does not afford what he is, than the relation in which he them the slightest interior aid, to surmount stands to us. Hence I conceive, that the ut- those difficulties which naturally obstruct a most moderation, and deference of judgment; compliance with the grand design of preachand, if I may so speak, the utmost pyrrhon- ing. The Scriptures assert, in so many places, ism, on this subject, is all that reasonable the inefficacy of preaching without those aids, men can expect, from the philosopher and the that no doubt can, in my opinion, be admissidivine.
ble upon the subject. But, if some divines When we find in the Scriptures, certain have degraded this branch of Christian the ideas of the Divinity;—ideas, which have not ology, by an incautious defence, to them the the slightest dissonance to those afforded by blame attaches, and not to those who have his works; ideas, moreover, clearly expressed established it upon solid proof. Those divines, and repeated in a variety of places, we admit who, by a mode of teaching much more calthem without hesitation, and condemn those, culated to confound, than defend, orthodox who, by a false notion concerning propriety opinions, have spoken of the unction of the of thought, and precision of argument, refuse Spirit, as though it annihilated the powers of their assent. Now, it seems to me, that they nature, and as though they made a jest;-yes, fall into this mistake who refuse to acknow- a jest, of the exhortations, promises, and threatledge, in the texts we adduce, a declaration of enings addressed to us in the Scriptures:a Divine Person.
Those divines, if there are such, shall give an I shall cite one single passage only from the account to God for the discord they have ocsixteenth chapter of the gospel by St. John; casioned in the church, and even for the here “When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he sies to which their mode of expounding the will guide you into all truth; for he shall not Scriptures has given birth. speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall You, however, brethren, embrace no dochear, that shall he speak: and he will show trines but those explicitly revealed in the you things to come. He shall glorify me; for Scriptures;—you, who admit the agency of the he shall receive of mine, and show it unto Holy Spirit on the heart, unsolicitous to define you.". I challenge here, this propriety of its nature. You, who say with Jesus Christ, thought, and precision of argument, of which the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou the persons we attack make a profession, I had hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell almost said a parade, to say whether these can I whence it cometh, and whither it gooth,” John
iii. 8. You, who especially admit, that the me to brevity? We shall, therefore, speak of more conscious we are of the want of grace, the nature and reality of the Spirit's agency the more we should exert our natural gifts; on the heart, so far only as is necessary to that, the more need we have of interior aids, furnish matter for our third head, on which we the more we should profit by exterior assist- are now entering; and which is designed to anco, by the books we have at hand, by the trace the dispositions that favour, and such as favourable circumstances in which we may be retard, the operations of the Spirit: a most providentially placed, by the ministry which important discussion, which will develop the God has graciously established among us! causes of the anniversary of Pentecost being Fear not to follow those faithful guides, and unavailing in the church, and point out the to adopt precautions so wise; under a pretext dispositions for its worthy celebration. of reducing metaphors to precision, never en- What we shall advance on this subject, is feeble their force; and, under a plea of not ad-founded on a maxim, to which I solicit your mitting imaginary mysteries, never reject the peculiar attention; namely, that every motion real. This was our second rule.
of the Spirit on the heart of good inen, requires And here is the third. In addresses to so- correspondent co-operation; without which his ciety in general, what belongs to each should agency would be unavailing. The refusal to be distinguished. St. Paul here addressed the co-operate is called in Scripture, “quenchingwhole church: but the whole of its numerous grieving-resisting—and doing despite to the members could not have been in the same Spirit.” Now, according to the style of St. situation. Hence, one of the greatest faults Paul, this quenching-grieving---resistingwe commit in expounding the Scriptures, and and doing despite to the Holy Spirit, is to renespecially in expounding texts which treat of der his operation unavailing. the agency of the Spirit, is, the neglecting to Adequately to comprehend this maxim, and distinguish what we had designed. This is one at the same time to avoid a mistaken theology, cause of the little fruit produced by sermons. and a corrupt morality, concerning the agency We address a church, whose religious attain of the Spirit, make the following reflection: ments are very unequal. Some are scarcely that the Holy Spirit may perhaps be considerinitiated into knowledge and virtue; others ap- ed in one of these three respects; either as the proach perfection; and some hold a middle omnipotent God; or as a wise lawgiver: or as rank between the two. We address to this a wise lawgiver and the omnipotent God, in congregation certain general discourses, which the same character. Hence the man on whom cannot apply with equal force to all; it belongs he works, may perhaps be considered, either, to each of our hearers, to examine how far as a physical, or a moral being; or as a being each argument has reference to his own case. in whom both these qualities associate. To
Apply now to the words of our text the consider the Holy Spirit in the work of regengeneral maxim we have laid down; you will eration as the omnipotent God, and the man recollect the ideas we have attached to the for whose conversion he exerts his agency, as terms used by the apostle, to express the a being purely physical: and to affirm that the agency of the Holy Spirit on the heart. We Holy Spirit acts solely by irresistible influence, have said that these terms, unction, seal, ear- man being simply passive, is, in our opinion, a nest, excite three ideas. And we can never morality extremely corrupt. To consider the understand those Scriptures, which speak of Holy Spirit simply as a lawgiver, and man the operations of the Holy Spirit, unless those merely as a moral being, capable of vice and three effects of the divine agency are distin- virtue; and to affirm, that the Holy Spirit only guished. Every Christian has not been confirm- proposes his precepts, and that man obeys ed by the Spirit of God in all those various them, unassisted by the divine energy attendways. All have not received the threefold ant on their promulgation, is to propagate a unction, the threefold seal, the threefold ear- theology equally erroneous. But, to consider nest. To some the Holy Spirit has confirmed the Holy Spirit as the omnipotent God, and the first, availing himself of their ministry for legislator in the same character, and man as the achievement of miracles, or by causing a being both moral and physical, is to harmonthem to feel that a religion, in favour of which ize the laws moral and divine, and to avoid, on 80 many prodigies have been achieved, could a subject so exceedingly controverted, the two not be false. To others, the second confirma- equally dangerous rocks, against which so tion was added to the first; at the moment he many divines have cast themselves away. carried conviction to the mind, he sanctified The adoption of this last system (which is the heart. With regard to others, he com- here tbe wisest choice,) implies an acknowmunicated more; not only persuading them ledgment, that there are dispositions in man that a religion, which promises celestial feli- which retard, and dispositions which cherish, city, is true; not only enabling them to conform the successful agency of God on the heart. to the conditions on which this felicity is pro- What are these? They regard the three ways, mised, but he also gives them foretastes here in which we said the Holy Spirit confirms to below.
the soul the promises of " immortality and II. and III. I could better explain my sen- life.” These he confirins, first, by the persuatiments, did I dare engage, in discussing the sion he affords, concerning the truth of the second part of my subject, to illustrate the na- gospel; causing it to spring up in the heart on ture, and prove the reality of the Spirit's review of the miracles performed by the first agency on the heart. But how can I attempt Christians. Secondly, he confirms them by the discussion of so vast a subject in one dis- the inward work of sanctification. Thirdly, course, when so many considerations restrict he confirms them by foretastes of celestial de
light, communicated to some Christians, even stances of the miracles: whether it be true that here below. Each of these points we shall those miracles were performed in the most resume in its order.
public places, amid the greatest concourses of First, the gift of miracles was a seal, which people, in presence of Persians, of Medes, of God affixed to the ministry of the first heralds Parthians, of Elamites, of dwellers in Mesopoof the gospel. Miracles are called seals: such tamia, in Judea, in Cappadocia, in Lybia; is the iinport of those distinguished words of among Cretes, Arabs, and Jews. Christ; “Labour not for the meat that perish- “I wish to know, in what way these miraeth; but for that meat which endureth unto cles were foretold; whether it be true, that eternal life, which the Son of man shall give these were the characteristics of evangelical unto you, for him hath the Father sealed,” preachers, which the prophets bad traced so John vi. 27. The seal which distinguished Je- many ages before the evangelical period; and sus Christ, was the gift of miracles he had re- whether we may not give another interpretaceived of God, to demonstrate the divine au- tion to these distinguished predictions: Yet thority of his mission: so he himself affirmed once, it is a little while, and I will shake the to the multitudes; “The works which the Fa- heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the ther hath given me to finish, the same works dry land. And I will shake all nations, and that I do, bear witness that the Father hath the desire of all nations shall come,' Hag. ii. Bent me," John v. 36.
5, 6. I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; The inference, with regard to the Lord, is and your sons and your daughters shall proof equal force with regard to the disciples. phecy. Your old men shall dream dreams, The miraculous endowments, granted to them, your young men shall see visions. And I will sanctioned their mission; as the mission of the show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, Master was sanctioned by the miraculous pow- blood, fire, and pillars of smoke,” Joel ii. ers with which it was accompanied. What 28–30. seal more august could have been affixed to it? “I wish to know, how these miracles were What demonstrations more conclusive can we received; whether it be true, that the multiask of a religion which announces them to us, tudes, the myriads of proselytes, who had it than all these miracles which God performed in their power to investigate the authenticity for its confirmation? Could the Deity have of the facts, sacrificed their ease, their reputacommunicated his omnipotence to impostors? tion, their fortune, their life, and every comCould he even have wished to lead mankind fort which martyrs and confessors have been into mistake? Could he have allowed heaven accustomed to sacrifice: I wish to know, wheand earth, the sea and land to be shaken for ther the primitive Christians made these sacrithe sanction of lies
fices on embracing a religion chiefly founded As there are dispositions which retard the on a belief of miracles. agency of the Spirit, who comes to impress “I wish to know, in what way these mirathe heart with truth, so there are others which cles were opposed; whether it be true, that favour and cherish his work. With regard to there is this distinguished difference between those which retard, I would not only include the way in which these facts were attacked in infidelity of heart, whose principle is malice; the first centuries, and in the present. Whe I would not only include here those eccentric ther it be true, that instead of saying, as our men, who resist the most palpable proofs, and infidels assert, that these facts were fabulous, evident demonstrations, and think they have the Celsuses, the Porphyrys, the Zosimuses, answered every argument by saying, “ It is who lived in the ages in which these facts were not true. I doubt, I deny.”—Men that seem recent, took other methods to evade their to have made a model of the Pharisees, who, force; attributing them to the powers of magic, when unable to deny the miracles of Christ, or confounding them with other pretended miand to elude their force, ascribed them to the racles.” devil. This is a fault so notorious, as to su, This is the study to which we should propersede the necessity of argument. But Iceed; wo be to us if we regard it as a tedious would also convince you Christians, that the task, and excuse ourselves on inconsiderable neglect of studying the history of the miracles pretexts! Is there any thing on earth which we celebrate to-day, is an awful source of sub- should interest us more than those important version to the agency we are discussing. Cor- truths, announced by the apostles; and esperespond, by serious attention and profound re- cially those magnificent promises they have decollection, to the efforts of the Holy Spirit in livered in the name of God? Mortal as we all demonstrating the truth of your religion. On are, merely appearing on the stage of life, festivals of this kind, a Christian should recol- most of us having already run the greater part lect and digest, if I may so speak, the distin- of our course, called every moment to enter guished proofs which God gave of the truth into the invisible world, destined there to deof Christianity on the day whose anniversary struction, or eternal existence, is there a queswe now celebrate. He should say to himself: tion more interesting than this? “Is it for “I wish to know, whether advantage be taken destruction, or eternal existence, I am designaof my simplicity, or whether I am addressed ted by my Maker? Are the notions I entertain as a rational being; when I am told, that the of immortality; of pleasures for evermore at first heralds of the gospel performed the mi-God's right hand; fulness of joy around his racles, attributed to their agency.'
throne; of intimate intercourse with the ado“I wish to know, whether the miracles of rable Being; of society with angels, with archthe apostles have been narrated, (Acts ii.) and angels, with cherubim and seraphim; for ages, inquire whether those holy men have named millions of ages, an eternity with the blessed the place, the time, the witnesses, and circum- God, are the notions I entertain, realities, or