صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
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this tender, zealous, generous friend. I expect actions appear to us mere creatures of imagi-
to find such an original as I have seen describ- nation. O how little does the multitude de-
ed in books, though I have never met with serve consideration in regard to manners!
such a one in society. I hope at least to see IV. No more ought they to be imitated in
one example of a friend saying to a dying man, regard to the manner, in which they quit the
appoint me your executor, and leave me your world. Here I foresee, my brethren, you will
children to bring up, and your widow to pro- all side with one another against our doctrine,
vide for. But no; I find nothing but the friend- and that we shall be obliged to blame both per-
ship of a man, who by improving the fortune sons and things about dying people; such as
of another, attracts the chief advantage to him- are dying, such as surround thein, such as visit
self. I hear the world exclaiming in certain them; in short, all are in disorder in the case
circumstances, What virtue! What purity! before us. Almost every person that dies is
What a mother of a family! Again I look for canonized. If the light of Christianity had
the object of these encomiums. I hope to see not abolished deification, we should have filled
such a woman as Solomon imagined, a mother heaven with saints, and heroes, and deified
of a family, who makes her house a house of souls. Each house of mourning echoes with
God, and her children patterns of piety. But the praises of the dead, none of his looks to-
no; I meet with a woman, who indeed does wards heaven are forgotten, not a sigh, not an
not defile the nuptial bed, who only does not ejaculation has escaped notice. The funeral
outlive her income, and teaches her children convoys of persons the most worldly, whose
only the little course of domestic economy. hearts had been the most hardened in sin, are
All these actions are praiseworthy. All these all uttering orations in praise of the dead. For
examples ought to be imitated. But is there our parts, my brethren, we, who have seen a
any ground for exclaiming as if virtue had great number of sick people, and attended
been carried to its highest pitch? Are these many in their dying hours, we freely grant,
then such great efforts of religion? Alas! my that the salvation of many of them is probable.
brethren, complete characters must needs be We have hardly seen one, of whose salvation
very scarce in the world, since the world is in we quite despair; but how seldom have we
raptures on account of these imperfect virtues; been inclined to say, while we saw such people
there must needs be a great dearth of wise expire uttering the language of the most emi-
men in the world, since there is so much boast- nent saints in Scripture, " Let us die the death
ing of one man, who takes only one step in of these righteous' people, and “let our last
the path of wisdom.

end be like theirs!” Numb. xxiii. 10. I will
5. Consider mankind in regard to certain give you a short list of general mistakes on this
decisive occasions, which, like touchstones, dis- subject.
cover their hearts. We do not know ourselves, The first mistake is this. Most sick people
we form false ideas of ourselves, when our vir- are ingenuous to disguise the danger of their
tues have not been brought to the test. We illness. Be not conformed to this world.-
imagine we incline to be patient, clement, and Whenever a dangerous illness attacks you, be
charitable, in cases where we are not tried, aware of your condition, and let each say to
where neither our fortune, nor our reputation; himself, I have not long to live, at least this
nor our honour are affected: but the moment may be my last illness. My brethren, this sup-
a stroke is aimed at any of these, the counte- position is never unseasonable, we are in little
nance changes, the brain ferments, the mouth danger of being deceived by thinking death at
foams, and we breathe nothing but hatred and hand, for the numberless accidents to which
vengeance. Nothing is more common among we are exposed justify the thought. Is there
us than to talk highly of justice, to detest and any thing extravagant, pray, in affirming that
censure iniquity, and to engage ourselves in- sickness added to all these accidents, renders
violably to follow such rules of equity as are the near approach of death highly probable?
marked out in the divine law. Let any man The second mistake is this. Most dying
bring an action against us, with reason or people put off the regulation of their temporal
without, and all these ideas vanish, we in- affairs too long. Be not conformed to this
stantly become familiar with the very vices to world. You should take patterns from better
which we thought we had an invincible aver-models, both for reasons of affection, and rea-
sion. We disguise our cause, we suppress un- sons of prudence. True affection to a family
favourable circumstances, we impose on our engages a man to preclude in favour of his
counsel, we try to take even the judges by sur heirs such troubles and divisions as are the in-
prise, we pretend to make great matters of the separable consequences of an undivided or por-
importance of our rank, the worth of our plexed estate. Prudence, too, will foresee,
namos, the credit of our families, the tone of that while our minds are all occupied about
our voices, and all this we wish to incorporate temporal affairs, a thousand ideas will intrude
in our cause. A disinterested spirit is always to disturb our devotion. Do not wait till the
the subject of our utmost admiration and last moment to settle your affairs, to make your
praise. A generous man is the admiration of will, to dispose of your family, and be not so
all mankind, his noble actions unite all hearts, weak as to imagine that the discharge of these
and every man is eager to give such actions necessary duties will hasten your death. Em-
their dignity and praise; but no sooner have ploy yourselves wholly about the state of your
we a lutle business to do, in which we have no souls, and let each say to himself, since I have
kind of interest, but disinterestedness appears been in the world I have hardly devoted one
odious to us, and magnanimity seems to us whole day to devotion: since I have been a
more proper for a hero of a romance than for a member of the church I have been exercised
man living and acting in society, and generous about affairs which interest the whole society;

but now that I am come to the end of my life, | abyss of eternal misery, respect our conduct, now that I am passing out of this world, now and condescend to submit to our instruction. that I am going where I shall have no more To these I add one mistake more. Most dyportion for ever in any thing done under the ing people trust too much to their ministers, and sun, disturb me no more, ye worldly ideas; thou take too little pains themselves to form such fashion of this world passing away, appear no dispositions as a dying bed requires. “Be not more in my ht: ye wild fowls, interrupt my conformed to this world.” It is not enough to sacrifice no more.

have external help to die well, we ourselves The third mistake is this. Most dying peo- must concur in this great work, we must, by ple delay sending for their ministers till the profound meditation, by frequent reflections, last moment. They would have us do violence and by fervent prayers, support ourselves under to the laws of nature, they set us to exhort this last attack, and thus put the last hand to trunks, to instruct carcasses, to prepare skin the work of our salvation. It is true, the inand bones for eternity. “Be not confornied to firmities of your bodies will affect your minds, this world.” Why should ye delay? Is there and will often interrupt your religious exercises: any thing odious in our ministry? We do not but no matter, God does not require of a dying bring death along with us, we do not hasten its person connected meditations, accurate reflecapproach: if we denounce the judgments of God tions, precise and formal prayers, for one sigh, against you, it is not with a design to terrify one tear, one ejaculation of your soul to God, you, but to free you from them, and to “pull one serious wish rising from the bottom of your you out of the fire,” Jude 23.

heart will be highly esteemed by the Lord, and To these I add a fourth mistake. Most dy- will draw down new favours upon you. ing people think it a duty to tell their pastors To conclude. The multitude is a bad guide of excellent sentiments, which indeed they have in regard to faith, in regard to manners, and in not, and they are afraid to discover their defects. regard to departing out of this life. A man When death makes his formidable appearance who desires to be saved, should be always upon before them, they think religion requires them his guard lest he should be rolled down the torto say, they are quite willing to die. We de- rent: he ought to compile in his closet, or rather sire, say they, to depart, when alas! all their in his conscience, a religion apart, such as is, desires are to make a tabernacle in the world, not that of the children of the world, but that for it is good, they think, to be there. They of the disciples of wisdom. “Be not conformed tremble at the coming of Christ, and yet they to this world.” cry, “ Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” Ah! I finish with two reflections. I address the “Be not conformed to this world,” open thy first to those who derive from this discourse no heart that it may be known, discover the mala- consequences to direct their actions: and the dies of thy soul, that we may apply such reme- second to such as refer it to its true design. dies as are proper. Do not imagine you will First. I address myself to you who do not acquire such sentiments and emotions as saints draw any consequences from this discourse to of the first order had by talking their language; regulate your actions. You have seen a porbut imbibe their principles in your mind, and trait of the multitude. I suppose you acknowtheir tempers in your heart, before you make ledge the likeness, and acquiesce in the judguse of their language.

ment we have made. It seems, too many proofs The fifth mistake is this. Most dying people and demonstrations establish this proposition, speak to their ministers only in the presence of the multitude is a bad guide. Now you may a great number of attendants, and most attend- follow which example you please. You may ants interfere in what ministers say on those make your choice between the maxims of Jesus occasions. “Be not conformed to this world.” Christ and the maxims of the world. But we Two reasons may convince you of the necessity have a right to require one thing of you, which of being alone. The first regards the pastor. you cannot refuse us, without injustice; that is, Surrounding attendants divert his attention that granting the genius of the multitude, when from the sick person. The second regards the you are told you are destroying yourselves, you sick person himself

. Would it be just or kind do not pretend to have refuted us by replying, to give him directions in public? What! would we conduct ourselves as the world does, and you have us in the presence of a husband lay every body does what you condemn in us. open the intrigues of an immodest wife, and Thanks be to God your proposition is not endeavour to bring her to repent of her lasci. strictly true! Thanks be to God, the rule has viousness by convicting her of her crimes some exceptions! There are many regenerate Would you have us reprove the head of a fa- souls, hidden perhaps from the eyes of men, but mily for the iniquity that has disgraced his long visible to God. There are even some saints, life, in the presence of his son? Would you have who shine in the sight of the whole world, and us exhort a dying man to make restitution of who, to use the expression of Jesus Christ, are his ill-gotten wealth in the presence of a hun- a "city set on a hill,” Matt. v. 14. What then, gry heir, who already gluts his eyes, and sa- you never cast your eyes on the most illustrious tiates his soul with hopes of succession? Were objects in this world! Do you reckon for nowe casuists after the Roman fashion, did we thing what alone merits observation in society, compel consciences to reveal secrets to us, and what constitutes the true glory of it? Have which ought to be confessed to God alone, did you no value for men for whose sake the world we interfere with your families and properties, subsists, and society is preserved? there would be some ground for your scruples: However, your proposition is indisputable in but while we desire nothing but to exonerate a general sense, and we are obliged to allow it, your consciences, and to awake your souls to a for our whole discourse tends to elucidate and sense of danger before they be plunged into an establish the point. Allege this proposition, but

VOL. II.-5


do not allege it for the purpose of opposing the than for the diminutiveness of his body? Would censures you have heard, or of getting rid of you not look with disdain on an ant, that had our reproofs. By answering in this manner no other ambition than that of taking for a moyou give us an advantage over you, you lay a del other insects about him, and preferring their foundation which you mean to destroy, you do approbation before that of mankind, who hold not furnish yourselves with a shield against a rank so high in the scale of the world? My your ministers, but you yourselves supply them brethren, give what colours you will to this with arms to wound and destroy you. Why imagination, it is however certain, that you do we declaim against your conduct? What will form unjust ideas of this insect. An emdo we mean when we reprove your way of liv- met has no relation to those beings, which you ing, except to convince you that it is not an- propose to him for models. Such ideas of hapswerable to the Christian character which you piness as you trace to him have no proportion bear? What do we mean except that you break to his faculties. Is an emmet capable of science the vows made for you in your baptism, and to be allured by the company of the learned? which you yourselves have often ratified at the Can an ant form plans of sieges and battles to Lord's table? What, in one word, except that render himself sensible of that glory, which exyou do not obey the laws of the gospel? But ploits of war acquire, and for which the heroes what can you advance more proper to strength of the world sacrifice their repose and their en the testimony which we bear against you lives? than that which you advance to weaken it, that It is you, who have that meanness of soul, is, that you live as the world live?

which you just now pitied in an ant. You inAll the world, say you, conduct themselves habit cities and provinces, which, compared as we do, and every body does what you cen- with the rest of the world, resemble the size of sure us for doing. But all the world conduct molehills; the whole globe itself is nothing, in themselves badly, all the world violate the spi- comparison of the immense spaces, in which rit of religion, all the world attack the maxims other works of the Creator are lodged. You of Jesus Christ, all the world run in the broad creep on earth with a handful of men much less road of perdition, all the world are destroying in comparison with the thousand thousands of themselves, and the apostle exhorts us not to other intelligences than an ant hill is in comtake the world for an example.

parison of mankind. You have intimate relaSecondly, I address myself to you who sin- tions to these intelligences; you, like them, are cerely desire to apply this discourse to its true capable of great and noble functions; like them design. I grant, the road opened to you is dif you are capable of knowledge; like them you ficult. To resist the torrent, to brave the mul- are able to know the Supreme Being; you can titude, to see one's self, like Elijah, alone on love like them; you can form tender and delithe Lord's side, and, in this general apostacy, cate connexions as they can; and like them you in which a Christian so often finds himself, are destined to eternal duration and felicity. when he desires to sacrifice all his duty, to re- Do not say then, I shall be alone, nobody collect motives of attachment to it, this is one lives as you would have me live. They are of the noblest efforts of Christian heroism. the men, who surround you, that are nobody in

However, after all, it would argue great pue comparison of the intelligences, whom I propose rility to magnify our ideas of the crowd, the to you for examples. It ill suits insignificant many, the multitude; it would be childish to be men to consider themselves alone as in the centoo inuch struck with these ideas, every body tre of divine benevolence, and as the only subthinks in this manner, all the world act thus. jects of a monarch, who reigns over all existI affirm, that truth and virtue have more parti. ence. “He sitteth upon the circle of the earth, sans than error and vice, and God has more whence the inhabitants appear to him as grassdisciples than Satan. What do you call the hoppers. He bringeth princes to nothing, he crowd, the many, the multitude? What do you considereth the judges of the earth as vanity. mean by all the world? What! You and your He shall blow upon them, and they shall wicompanions, your family, your acquaintances, ther, and the whirlwind shall take them away your fellow-citizens, the inhabitants of this like stubble,” Isa. x]. 22. globe, to which the Creator has confined you; But ye, celestial intelligences, ye seraphim is this what you call all the world? What lit- burning with love, ye angels mighty in strength, tleness of ideas! Cast your eyes on that little messengers of the divine will, spirits rapid as molehill, occupied by a few thousand ants, lend the wind, and penetrating as fire, ye “redeemed them intelligence, propose to one of these in- of all nations, all kindred, all people, all sects other maxims than those of his fellows, tongues," Rev. v. 9; ye make the crowd, ye exhort him to have a little more ambition than fill the court of the sovereign of the world; and, to occupy a tiny imperceptible space upon that when we refuse to conform ourselves to this molehill, animate him to form projects more world, we imitate you; and when the slaves of noble than that of collecting a few grains of the world shall be loaded with chains of darkcorn, and then put into the mouth of this little ness, we shall share with you the “river of emmet the same pretext that you make use of pleasures” at the right hand of that God whom to us; I shall be alone, all the world conduct you serve, and to whose service, we, like you, themselves in another manner. Would you not devote ourselves. God grant us this grace! pity this insect Would not he appear more con- To him be honour and glory for ever. temptible to you for his mean and spiritless ideas Amen.

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truly godly, they complained that the true reSERMON LVII.

ligion had been to them a source of misery.

Were they the Jews of the prophet's time?

Are they only Jews who make such a criminal THE ADVANTAGES OF PIETY.

complaint? Are they the only persons, who, placing religion in certain exterior perform

ances, and mutilated virtues, complain that 1 TIMOTHY iv. 8.

they do not feel that peace of conscience, those

ineffable transports, that anticipated heaven, Godliness is profitable unto all things, having which are foretastes and earnests of eternal

promise of the life that nor is, and of that joy? We are going to-day, my brethren, to which is to come.

set before you the treasures, which God opens THERE never was a disposition more odi- to us in communion with him: but we are ous, or more unjust than that of the profane going at the same time to trace out the chaJews, of whom Jeremiah speaks in the forty- racter of those, on whom they are bestowed. fourth chapter of his prophecies. He had ad- This is the design of this discourse, and for dressed to them the most pressing and patheti- this purpose we will divide it into two parts: cal exhortations to dissuade them from wor- First, we will examine what the apostle means shipping the goddess Isis, and to divert them by “godliness,” in the words of the text: and from the infamous debaucheries, with which secondly, Point out the advantages affixed the Egyptians accompanied it. Their reply to it. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, was in these words, “ As for the word that thou having promise of the life that now is, and of hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, that which is to come.” we will not hearken unto thee: but we will I. What is godliness or piety? It is difficertainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out cult to include an idea of it in the bounds of of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the what is called a definition. Piety is a habit of queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offer- knowledge in the mind—rectitude in the conings unto her, as we have done, we and our science--sacrifice in the life and zeal in the fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities heart. By the knowledge, that guides it, it is of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, for distinguished from the visions of the superstithen had we plenty of victuals, and were well tious: by the rectitude, from whence it proand saw no evil: but since we left off to burn ceeds, it is distinguished from hypocrisy; by incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour the sacrifice, which justifies it, it is distinguishout drink-offerings unto her, we have wanted ed from the unmeaning obedience of him, who all things, and have been consumed by the goes as a happy constitution leads him; in fine, sword, and by the famine,” ver. 16–18. No- by the fervour that animates it, it is distinthing can equal the sacrifices which religion guished from the languishing emotions of the requires of us; therefore nothing ought to lukewarm. equal the recompense which it sets before us. 1. Piety supposes knowledge in the mind. Sometimes it requires us, like the father of the When God reveals a doctrine of religion to us, faithful, to quit our country and our relations, he treats us as reasonable beings, capable of and to go out, not knowing whither we go, ac- examination and reflection. · He does not recording to the expression of St. Paul, Heb. xi. quire us to admit any truth without evidence. 8. Sometimes it requires us to tread in the If he would have us believe the existence of a bloody steps of those who “had trial of cruel first cause, he engraves it on every particle of mockings and scourgings, yea, of bonds and the universe. If he would have us believe imprisonment. Some were stoned, others were the divinity of revelation, he would make sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with some character of that divinity shine in every the sword, wandered about in sheep skins, and part of it. Would he have us believe the goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, torment- immortality of the soul, he attests it in every ed,” ver. 36, 37. Always it calls us to triumph page of the sacred book. Accordingly, withover our passions, to renounce our own senses, out previous knowledge, piety can neither to mortify the flesh with its desires, and to support us under temptations, nor enable us to bring all the thoughts of our minds, and all render to God such homage as is worthy of the emotions of our hearts into obedience to him. Jesus Christ. To animate us to sacrifices so It cannot support us in temptation. When great, it is necessary we should find in religion Satan endeavours to seduce us he offers us a superiority of happiness and reward, and it the allurements of present and sensible good, would be to rob it of all its disciples, to repre- and exposes in our sight the kingdoms of the sent it as fatal to the interests of such as pur- world and the glory of them. If we have nosue it.

thing to oppose against him but superficial As this disposition is odious, so it is unjust. opinions of a precarious and ignorant system, The miserable Jews, of whom the prophet we shall not find ourselves in a condition to Jeremiah speaks, did indeed consult the pro- withstand him. phets of God, but they would not obey their Nor can piety destitute of knowledge enavoice; they would sometimes suspend their ble us to render to God such worship as is idolatrous rites, but they would never entirely worthy of him: for when do we render to renounce them: they discovered some zeal God worship suitable to his majesty? Is it for the exterior of religion, but they paid no when submitting to the church, and saying to attention to the spirit and substance of it, and a man, in the language of Scripture, Rabbi, as God refused to grant to this outside of picty Rabbi, we place him on a sovereign throne, such advantages as he had promised to the land make our reason fall prostrate before his

wo, wo?"

intelligence? No, certainly; it is when, sub-| ter, and when they had made one, they never mitting ourselves to the decisions of God, we failed to instruct him thoroughly to hate all regard him as the source of truth and know- such as were not of their opinion on particular ledge, and believe, on his testimony, doctrines questions. All this was show, all this prothe most abstruse, and mysteries the most sub ceeded from a deep, hypocrisy: by all this lime.

they had no other design than to acquire repuTrue piety is wise; it rises out of those pro- tation for holiness, and to make themselves found reflections which the godly man makes masters of the people, who are more easily on the excellence of religion. Open thou taken with exterior appearances than with mine eyes," said the prophet formerly," that I solid virtue. may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Such is the character of hypocrisy, a chaI have more understanding than all my teach-racter that God detests. How often does Jesus ers, for thy testimonios are my meditation. Christ denounce anathemas against people of Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light this character? How often does he cry conunto my path. Mine eyes prevent the night cerning them, “

Sincerity is one watches, that I might moditate in thy word," character of true piety, “O Lord, thou hast Ps. cxix. 18. 99. 105. 148.

proved my heart, thou hast visited me in the This is the first character of godliness, and night, thou hast tried me, and shall find nothis character distinguishes it from supersti- thing; I am purposed that my mouth shall tion.. A superstitious man does not derive his not transgress. Lord, thou knowest all things, principles from the source of knowledge. A thou knowest that I love thee,” Ps. xvii. 3; family tradition, a tale, a legend, a monkish John xxi. 17. This character makes our love fable, the reverie of a confessor, the design of a to God resemble his to us. When God gives council, this is his law, this is his light, this is himself to us in religion, it is not in mere ape huis gospel.

pearances and protestations: but it is with %. Piety must be sincere, and this distin- real sentiments, emanations of heart. guishes it from hypocrisy. A hypocrite puts 3. Piety supposes sacrifice, and by this we on all the appearance of religion, and adorns distinguish it from a devotion of humour and himself with the most sacred part of it. Ob- constitution, with which it has been too often serve his deportment, it is an affected gravity, confounded. There is a devotee of temper which nothing can alter. Hear his conversa- and habit, who, really, has a happy disposition, he talks with a studied industry on the tion, but which may be attended with dangermost solemn subjects, he is full of sententious ous consequencos. Such a man consulls less sayings, and pious maxims, and so severe, that the law of God to regulate his conduct lan he is ready to take offence at the most innocent his own inclinations, and the nature of his conactions. Mind his dress, it is precise and sin- stitution. As, by a singular favour of heaven, gular, and a sort of sanctity is affected in all he has not received one of those irregular conhis furniture, and in all his equipage. Follow stitutions, which most men have, but a happy him to a place of worship, there particularly natural disposition, improved too by a good eduhis hypocrisy erects its tribunal, and there he cation, he finds in himself but little indispodisplays his religion in all its pomp. There sition to the general maxims of Christianity. he seems more assiduous than the most wise Being naturally melancholy, he does not break and zealons Christians. There he lists up his out into unbridled mirth, and excessive pleaeyes to heaven. There he sighs. There he sures. As he is naturally collected in himself, bedews the earth with his tears. In one word, and not communicative, he does not follow the whatever seems venerable in the church he crowd through the turbulence and tumult of takes pains to practise, and pleasure to dis- the world. As he is naturally inactive, and play.

soon disgusted with labour and pains-taking, Jesus Christ has given us the original of we never see him animated with the madness this portrait in the persons of the pharisees of of gadding about every where, weighing himhis time; and the only inconvenience we find self down with a multitude of business, not perin describing such characters is, that, speak mitting any thing to happen in society without where we will, it seems as if we intended to being himself the first mover, and putting to it depict such individuals of the present age as the last hand. These are all happy incidents; seem to have taken these ancient hypocrites not to run into excessive pleasure, not to folfor their model. Never was the art of coun- low the crowd in the noise and tumult of the terfeiting piety carried to such perfection by any world, not to run mad with hurry, and weary. men as by the old Pharisees. "They separated himself with an infinity of business, to give up themselves from a commerce with mankind, the mind to recollection, all this is worthy of whom they called in contempt “people of the praise; but what is a devotion of this kind, world."* They made long prayers. They that owes its birth only to incidents of this fasted every Monday and Friday. They lay sort I compare it to the faith of the man on planks and stones. They put thorns on the who belioves the truths of the gospel only bottom of their gowns to tear their flesh. through a headstrong prejudice, only because, They wore strait girdles about their bodies. by a lucky chance, he had a father or a tutor They paid tithes, not only according to law, who believed them. As such a man cannot but beyond what the law required. Above all, have a faith acceptable to God, so neither can they were great makers of proselytes, and this he who obeys the laws of God, because, by a was in some sort their distinguishing charac- sort of chance of this kind, they are conforma

ble to his natural temper, offer to him the sa* See Godwin's Moses and Aaron. Book 1. Chap. x. crifice of true obedience. Had you been na

turally inclined to dissipation, you would have

Sect. 7.

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