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for angels, but for men; and, however holy men may be, their virtues always participate of the infirmities inseparable from human nature. Those disciples, towards whom Jesus Christ extended his hand, committed, during the early period of their piety, faults, and great faults too. They sometimes misconceived the object of their mission; sometimes distrusted his promises; they were sometimes slow of heart to believe the facts announced by the prophets; they once slept when they ought to have sustained their Master in his agony; they abandoned him to his executioners; and one denied knowing him, even with an oath, and that he was his disciple.vious in the words of my text. Virtue, even the most sincere and perfect, is liable to wide deviations, to total eclipses, and great faults:-hence, on this subject, you should avoid too severe a standard.
of virtue, checked in its growth; it requires you to carry, or endeavour to carry, every virtue to the highest degree; to have perfection for your end, and Jesus Christ for your pattern.
But you should equally avoid forming of it notions too relaxed. Do you claim kindred with the spiritual family of Jesus Christ? Do you claim the same intimacy with the Saviour which a man has with his brother, his sister, and his mother? Tremble then, while you hear these words of St. Paul, "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? what communion hath light with darkness; and what concord hath Christ with Belial?" 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15. Tremble while you hear these words of Christ, "No man can serve two masters," Matt. vi. 24. Or, to unfold to you a more detailed field of reflection, do you not exceedingly mistake concerning obedience to the will of God?
and consequently the excellency of this con2. and 3. After having reviewed the nature, nexion, let us next consider its strength. What we shall say on this head, naturally turns our thoughts towards its prodigies and effects. The power of this connexion is so strong, that the members of this spiritual family are incomparably more closely united to one another, than the members of a carnal family. This is obOur Saviour
has borrowed figures from whatever was most endearing in civil society, and even from connexions of the most opposite nature, in order to between him and the members of his family; elevate our ideas of the union which subsists and of the union they have one with another: which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father sister, and mother. In this idea there is no exaggeration. Associate whatever is most endearing between a brother and brother; between parent; associate the whole of these different a brother and a sister; between a child and a parts in one body, and imagine, if it be possible to conceive an object still more closely united, than the different parts of this body; and your views will still be imperfect of the ties which subsist between the members of Jesus Christ's spiritual family.
The will of God not only requires negative virtues, which consist in abstaining from evil; sign. In all their actions they individually have They have in common, first a union of debut positive virtues also, which consist not in a in view nothing but the glory of that Sovereign mere refraining from slander, but in reprehend-whom they serve with emulation; and to whom ing the slanderer-not in a mere refusal to re- they are all unanimously devoted. ceive your neighbour's goods, but in a communication of your own;-not only in abstaining from blasphemy against God, but also in blessing him at all times, and in having your mouth full of his praise.
The will of God not only requires of you popular virtues, as sincerity, fidelity, courage, and submission to the laws, are generally accounted; it also requires those very virtues which are degraded by the world, and considered as a weakness; such as forgiveness of injuries, and contempt of worldly pomp.
God is the centre of their love; and being thus They have, secondly, a union of inclination. united to him, as the third (if I may borrow an idea from the schoolmen,) they are united one to another.
are all equally interested to see the government Thirdly, they have a union of interest. They of the universe in the hands of their Sovereign. His happiness constitutes their felicity, and each equally aspires after communion with the blessed God.
The will of God not only requires virtues cor- existence. They have, fourthly, a union coeval in its respondent to your temperature, as retirement, world, and you will see the members of this Go back to the ages preceding the if you are naturally sullen and reserved; absti- spiritual family united in the bosom of divine nence from pleasure, if you are naturally pen- mercy;-even from the moment they were dissive and dull; patience, if you are naturally tinguished as the objects of his tenderest love, phlegmatic, heavy and indolent: it likewise re- and most distinguished grace; even from the quires virtues the most opposite to your tem- moment the victim was appointed to be immoperature; as purity, if you are inclined to con-lated in sacrifice for their sins. Descend to the cupiscence; moderation, if you are of an angry disposition.
present period of the world: let us say more;-
The will of God requires, not mutilated virtues, but a constellation of virtues, approaching to perfection. It requires "whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely; if there any virtue, and if there be any praise, that you should think on these," Phil. iv. 8. It re-done for those who are united in devotion to his quires you to add, "to faith, virtue; to virtue, Father's will. His incarnation, his passion, his knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and cross, his Spirit, his grace, his intercession, his to temperance, patience; and to patience, god- kingdom,—nothing is accounted too precious liness; and to godliness, brotherly-kindness; and for men, joined to him by those tender and ento brotherly-kindness, charity," 2 Pet. i. 5-7. dearing ties. The will of God requires not an immaturity
You see likewise, what the men united to
Jesus Christ are qualified to do one for another: | become your enemy when we tell you the they are all of one heart and one soul, and are ever ready to make the mutual sacrifices of benevolence and love.
4. The ties which connect the members of Jesus Christ's family are not less happy than strong. Connexions merely human, however endearing, however delightful, are invariably accompanied with anguish. What anguish must attend a connexion cemented with vice! What painful sensations, even in the midst of a criminal course! What remorse on reflection and thought: What horror on viewing the consequences of unlawful pleasures! On saying to one's self, the recollection of this intercourse will pierce me in a dying hour; this unhappy person, with whom I am now so closely connected, will be my tormentor for ever!
What anguish is attended even on friendship the most innocent, when extended too far! Delightful connexions, formed on earth by congenial souls, cemented by the intercourse of mutual love, and crowned with prosperity: delightful bonds which connect a father with a son, and a son with a father; a wife with a husband, and a husband with a wife; what regret you produce, when death, the allotted period, or end of man, and of all human comforts,-what regret you cost,-when death compels us to dissolve these ties! Witness so many Josephs attending their fathers to the tomb, who had been the glory of their families. Witness so many Rachels "refusing to be comforted because their children are not," Matt. xi. 18. Witness so many Davids, who exclaim with excess of grief, "O, my son Absalom-my son, my son Absalom-would to God I had died for thee-O Absalom, my son, my son!!!" 2 Sam. xviii. 33.
But in the ties which connect the family of Jesus Christ, there is no mixture of anguish. This you may infer from what we have advanced; and your own reflections may supply the scanty limits in which we are obliged to comprise this point.
truth, when we combat your prejudices, when we attack your errors, when we endeavour to irradiate your minds, and to take the lamp of revelation from beneath the bushel; if this is your characteristic, recognise in yourselves this trait of your father, which is lying, for he is "the father of a lie;" and take to yourselves this awful declaration, "Ye are of your father the devil."
2. He is a murderer; and to hate our neighbour is, according to the language of Scripture, to kill him; for "he that hateth his brother," as St. John has decided, "is a murderer," John iii. 15. Yes, if you obstruct your neighbour's happiness; if you are envious at his prosperity: if you are irritated by his virtues; if mortified by his reputation; if you take delight in aggravating his real faults, and in the imputation of imaginary defects, recognise another trait of your father; apply to yourselves this awful assertion, which so many may apply with propriety, "Ye are of your father the devil."
It is nevertheless true, that how numerous soever the children of the devil may be on the earth, Jesus Christ has a family among men: and it is composed of those who believe, those whom a sincere faith has invested with the privilege of considering themselves, according to St. John, as members of the family of God: "To as many as received him, to them gave he power," which I would render right, prerogative, privilege," to become the sons of God."
The branches of God's spiritual family are not always visible to the eyes of the flesh, but they are to the eyes of the spirit; they are not always objects of sense, but they are objects of faith, which assures us of the continued existence of a holy church. Sometimes the fury of persecution, which prevents us from perceiving them, drives them into deserts, and causes them to take refuge in dens and caves of the earth. Sometimes the prevalence of calumny paints their character in shades dark 5. We shall lastly consider the persons con- as hell, calls their moderation indolence, their nected by the bonds of obedience to the will of meekness cowardice, their modesty meanness God. of mind, their firmness obstinacy, their hope The family of Jesus Christ consist of a selec-a chimera, their zeal illusion and enthusiasm. tion of all the excellent in heaven and in earth. So St. Paul has expressed himself, "Of whom the whole parentage," or as the text may be read, "Of whom the whole family in heaven and in earth is named," Eph. iii. 15. On earth, the family of Jesus is not distinguished by the greatness of its number: and to the shame of the human kind, there is a father whose family is far more numerous than the Saviour's: this father is the devil. And who are the children of the devil? To this question Jesus Christ has given us a key. He said, when speaking to the Pharisees, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do; he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth; he is a liar, and the father of it," John viii. 44. These are the two characteristics of his children; lying and murder.
1. Lying. If you betray the truth, if you employ your genius, your wit, your knowledge, to embarrass the truth, instead of employing them for the acquisition of self-knowledge, and a communication of the truth to others; if we
Sometimes it is the veil of humility by which they conceal their virtues, and which causes them to be confounded with persons who have no virtue, and to be less esteemed than persons whose virtues are affected. "Their kingdom" invariably "is not of this world: Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be. We are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God," John xviii. 36; 1 John iii. 2; Col. iii. 3.
But though the members of this spiritual family are not always visible, the reality of their existence is not diminished. On their account the world exists. Their prayers stay the avenging arm of an angry God, and save the guilty world from being crushed beneath the stroke: for their sakes he sometimes mitigates the calamities, with which human crimes oblige him to visit the nations. It is their entreaties which cause their God and Redeemer speedily to descend, and which hasten the happy day that is the object of their wishes, and subject of their prayers, "Come, Lord Jesus-come quickly."
This idea of death, and of the felicity which follows, is extremely delightful; and I do most sincerely believe it; at least I have never yet met with a thought, which could dissuade me from thinking that the glorified saints shall enjoy, in heaven, the society of those with whom they have been so intimately connected
And if the family of Jesus Christ is "named on earth,” it is more especially named in heaThere it exists, there it shines in all its lustre. But who are the members of this family of Jesus Christ? They are "the redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." They are the ambassadors of the gospel, who have "turned many unto righteous-on earth. But how real and pleasing soever ness; they shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as stars" of the first magnitude. They are martyrs, come up out of great tribulation, they are" clothed in white robes, which they have washed in the blood of the Lamb." They are all saints, who having fought under his banner, participate the laurels of his victory. They are angels who excel in strength, and obey his voice. They are winged cherubim, who fly at his command. They are seraphim burning with his love. They are the thousand millions which serve him, and ten thousand millions which stand before him. They are the "great multitude, whose voice is in the sound of many waters," and whose obedience to God is crowned with glory; but they cast their crowns before the throne, and cry continually, "Hallelujah-let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory unto him."
Such is the spiritual family of Jesus Christ, and such is the Christian family. Many of its members lie scattered in different parts of the earth, but the part which is most numerous, excellent, and consummate in virtue, is in heaven. What a consolation! But language is too weak! What a consolation to the believer, against whom old age, infirmities, and sickness have pronounced the sentence of death! What a consolation to say "My family is in heaven; a gulf separates me, but it is not like the gulf which separates the damned from the glorified spirits, of which Abraham said to the rich man, "between us and you there is a great gulf fixed." It is a gulf whose darkness is enlightened by faith, whose horrors are assuaged by hope; it is a gulf through which we are cheered and animated by the voice of Christ; a gulf from which one final struggle shall instantly make us free.
Death is sometimes represented to me under an idea happily calculated to assuage its anguish. There is not one of you, who has attained maturity of age, but has frequently seen those persons snatched away by death, who constituted the greatest happiness of your life. This is inevitably the lot of those to whom God accords, the precious shall I say? or the sad privilege of running the race of life. They live, but they see those daily taken away, whose company attached them to life. I look on death as reuniting me to those persons, whose loss had occasioned me so many tears during my pilgrimage. I represent myself as arriving in heaven and seeing this friend running to meet me, to whom my soul was united as the soul of David to Jonathan. I imagine myself as presented to those ancestors, whose memory is so revered, and whose example is so worthy of imitation. I represent those children as coming before me, whose death affected me with a bitter anguish which continued all my days: with those innocent creatures I see my self surrounded; whom God, to promote their happiness, resumed by an early death.
this thought may be, it is, my dear brethren, far too contracted. Let us form more exalted notions of the happiness God has prepared for us. Our family is in heaven, but not exclusively composed of the small circle of friends of whom we have been deprived by death. Recollect what we have just said. Our family is composed of the redeemed "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation:"of the ambassadors of the gospel, "who have turned many to righteousness, who shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever:"-of martyrs, "who came up out of great tribulation, who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Our family is composed of those illustrious saints, who have fought under the banner of Christ, and they now sit down on his throne. Farther, our family is composed of those "angels that excel in strength, and obey the voice of God:"-of those cherubim which fly at his command. Our family is composed of those thousand, thousand millions, and ten thousand millions which stand before him, and cast their crowns before the throne of Him who conferred the dignity upon them, crying continually, “Hallelujah, let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory unto him!" Jesus Christ is the first-born of this household; God, who is all and in all, is head of the whole: these are the beings to whom we are about to be united by death.
What a powerful consolation against the fear of death! What an abundant remuneration of delight, for the privation of persons, whose memory is so dear! O my friends, my children, and all of you, who have during my abode on earth, been the objects of my tenderest and most ardent attachment;-you, who after having contributed to my happiness during life, come again and surround my dying bed, receive the final tests of an attachment, which should never be less suspected than in these last moments;-collect the tears, which the pain of parting induces me to shed;-see, in the anguish of my last farewell, all that my heart has felt for you.
But do not detain me any longer upon earth; suffer me at the moment when I feel my loss, to estimate my gain; allow me to fix my regards on those ever-during connexions I am about to form;-on the angels who are going to convey my soul to the bosom of God;-on the innumerable multitudes of the blessed, among whom I am going to reside, and with whose voices I am going to join in everlasting praises to my God and Saviour.
Among the transports excited by objects so elating, if any wish yet remain, it is to see you speedily associated with me, in the same society, and participating the same felicity. May heaven hear my prayer! To God be honour and glory for ever. Amen.
tation. We shall see, secondly, Jesus Christ vanquishing the enemy of our salvation, and depriving him of his prey, by a single glance of his eyes. We shall see, lastly, a penitent re
ST. PETER'S DENIAL OF HIS MASTER. covering from his fall: and replying, by his
tears, to the expressive looks of Jesus Christ:three inexhaustible sources of reflection.
We shall consider, first, the fall of St. Peter; and it will appear deplorable, if we pay attention to the object which excited his fear, and to the circumstances with which it was connected.
MATT. XXVI. 69, &c. LUKE xxii. 61, &c. Now Peter sat without in the palace; and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another The object which excited his fear, was marmaid saw him, and said unto them that were tyrdom. Let us not magnify the standard of there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Na- moral ideas. The fear of martyrdom is insezareth. And again he denied with an oath, I parable from human weakness. The most desdo not know the man. And after a while came perate diseases afford some fluctuating hopes unto him them that stood by, and said to Peter, of recovery; which diminish the fears of death. surely thou also art one of them, for thy speech It is an awful thing for a man to see the period betrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to of his death precisely fixed, and within the disswear, saying, I know not the man. And im-tance of a day, an hour, a moment. And if mediately while he yet spake, the cock crew. it is awful to approach a death, obvious (so to And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter; speak) to our view, how much more awful, and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, when that death is surrounded with tortures, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, with racks, with pincers, with caldrons of boilthou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went ing oil, and all those instruments invented by out, and wept billerly. superstitious zeal and ingenious malice. I, however, there ever were occasions to deplore the weakness of man, it is on account of the fears excited by the idea of martyrdom. Follow us then while we illustrate this assertion.
Ir is laudable, my brethren, to form noble designs, to be immovable at the presence of danger, and to cherish dignity of sentiment and thought. This virtue distinguishes the heroes of our age; it equally distinguishes the heroes of religion and piety. They defy the whole universe to shake their faith; amid the greatest dangers, they adopt this language of triumph: "What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that hath loved us," Rom. viii. 34, 35.
That men must die, is one of the most certain and evident propositions ever advanced. Neither vice nor virtue, neither religion nor infidelity, nor any consideration, can dispense with this common lot of man. Were a system introduced teaching us the art of living for ever on the earth, we should undoubtedly become our own enemies, by immolating the hope of future felicity, for a life of such inquietude as that we should enjoy on the earth. And if there had been such a life, perhaps we should have been base enough to give it the
failed in securing the approbation of the mind, it would, at least, have interested the concupiscence of the heart. But whatever is our opinion, die we must; this is an indisputable fact, which no one dares to dispute.
But how laudable soever this disposition may be, it ought to be restricted; it degenerates into presumption when carried to ex-preference of our religious hope. If it had tremes. Many, by not knowing how to proportion their strength to their courage, have fallen in the day of trial, and realized the very maxim, "They that love the danger, shall perish by the danger." This is exemplified in the person of St. Peter. His heart, glowing with Prudence, unable to avert the execution of attachment to his Master, every thing was the sentence, should be employed in disarming promised from his zeal. Seeing Jesus on the its terrors: destitute of all hope of escaping waters, he solicited permission to walk like death, we ought to employ all our prudence in the Saviour; but feeling his feet sink beneath the choice of that kind of death, which is most the surface of the unstable element, he dis- supportable. And what is there in the severest trusted either the power or the fidelity of his sufferings of martyrs, which is not preferable to Master; and unless he had been supported by the death we expect from nature? If I consider his compassionate arms, he had made ship-death as an abdication of all I enjoy, and as an wreck, to express myself with St. Paul, both of his faith and his life together. Seeing Jesus led away to the high-priest's house, he followed without hesitation, and resolved to follow even to the cross. Here, likewise, on seeing the Jews irritated, the soldiers armed, and a thousand terrific appearances of death, he saved his life by a base denial; and, unless his wavering faith had been restored by a look from his Lord, the bonds of union had been totally dissolved.
impenetrable veil, which conceals the objects of sense, I see nothing in the death of the martyr, that is not common to every other kind of death. To die on a bed, to die on a scaffold, is equally to leave the world; and the sole difference is, that the martyr finding nothing but troubles, gibbets, and crosses, in this life, detaches himself with less difficulty than the other, who dies surrounded by inviting objects.
If I consider death, with regard to the pains which precede and attend its approach, I conIn the examination of this history, we shall fess it requires courage more than human, to see first, the cowardice of an apostle, who be unmoved at the terrific apparatus exposed yielded, for the moment, to the force of temp-to the eyes of a martyr. But, if we except
some peculiar cases, in which the tyrants have had the barbarity to prolong the lives of the sufferers, in order to extend their torments, there are few sudden deaths, which are not attended with less pain than natural death. There are few death-beds, which do not exhibit scenes more tragic than the scaffold. Pain is not more supportable, because it has symptoms less striking; nor are afflictions the less severe, because they are interior.
If I consider death, with regard to the just fear of fainting in the conflicts, in which I am about to be vanquished by the king of terrors, there are superabundant aids reserved for those who sacrifice their lives for religion. The greatest miracles have been achieved in favour of confessors and martyrs. St. Peter received some instances of the kind; but I will venture to affirm, that we have had more than he. It was on the verge of martyrdom, that an angel opened the doors of his prison. It was on the eve of martyrdom, that Paul and Silas felt the prison shake, and saw their chains broken asunder. It was in the midst of martyrdom, that Stephen saw the heavens open, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God. It was also in the midst of martyrdom, that Barlaam sung this psalm, "Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight."
eyes;-you would have said, that the magnitude of the danger striking his senses, had confounded his reason. But none of these objects were, in reality, presented. The judges, solely engaged in gratifying their fury against the Master, did not so much as think upon the servant. A maid spake, and her voice recalled the idea of the council, the death, and the cross, and filled his soul with horror at the thought. Secondly, St. Peter was warned. Jesus Christ had declared to him, in general, that "Satan had desired to sift him as wheat;" and, in particular, that he would three times deny him that very night. A caution so salutary, ought to have induced him to redouble his vigilance; to fortify the place, the weakness of which had been pointed out; and to avoid a danger, of the magnitude of which he had been apprised. When a man is surprised by an unforeseen temptation; when he falls from a precipice, of which he was not aware, he is worthy of more compassion than blame. But here is a crime, known, revealed, and predicted.
ings of Christ were connected with the scheme of redemption.
The third circumstance is derived from the abundant knowledge communicated to our apostle. Against the offence of our Saviour's humiliation, he had been peculiarly fortified; he had heard a voice from the excellent glory on the holy mountain; he had been apprised, If I consider death, with regard to the aw-more than any other disciple, that the sufferful tribunal before which it cites me to appear, and with regard to the eternal books about to be opened, in which are registered so many vain thoughts, so many idle words, so many criminal courses, the weight of which is heavy on my conscience; I see nothing still in the death of a martyr, that is not to be preferred to a natural death. It is allowed that the exercise of repentance, in dying circumstances, the prayers, the repeated vows, the submission to the will of God, who leads us through the valley of the shadow of death, are tests of our reconciliation to him. But these tests are of ten deceitful. Experience but too frequently realizes what we have often said, that the dying take that for willing obedience, which is but constraint. A martyr has purer tests of his sincerity. A martyr might preserve his life, by the commission of a crime; but rather than sin, he devotes it in sacrifice.
Lastly, if I consider death, with regard to the futurity into which it will cause us to enter, I see nothing but what should excite in the martyr transports of joy. He has not only the promise of celestial happiness, but celestial happiness of the highest degree. It is to the martyr, that Jesus Christ calls from the highest abodes of heaven; "To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne," Rev. iii. 21.
But the fall of St. Peter, though deplorable in itself, becomes still more so, by its concomitant circumstances. Let us review them.
It was first, the simple charge of a servant maid, and of a few spectators standing by, which shook his courage. Had the apostle been cited before the sanhedrim;-had he been legally called upon to give an account of his faith; had the cross, to which he promised to follow his Master, been prepared before his VOL. II.-41
The fourth circumstance is derived from the high office with which St. Peter was invested; from the commission he had received from his Master, in common with the other members of the apostolic college, "to go and preach the kingdom of heaven;" and from this declaration, "Thou art Peter, upon this rock will I build my church." This man, called to build up the church, gave it one of the greatest shocks it could possibly have received. This man, called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, declared he knew him not. This man, constituted an established minister of his religion, became an apostate, and risked the drawing with him into the same gulf, the souls with whose salvation he had been entrusted. Some faults affect none but the offenders, but others have a general influence on all the church. And such, ministers of the living God, are our faults! Our example is contagious, it diffuses a baneful poison on all those, over whom Providence has appointed us to watch.
The oaths he used to confirm his denial are a fifth circumstance. Not content with dissimulation, he denied. Not content with a threefold denial, he denied with an oath; a circumstance not in the text, but noted by the other evangelists.
My brethren, do you understand in these provinces, all that is execrable in the crime of perjury! I doubt it. A perjured man is one who takes the God who bears the motto of "Faithful and true Witness," to attest an assertion, of the falsehood of which he cannot be ignorant. A perjured person is one who defies the power of Almighty God: who says, in order to deceive, "Great God! thou holdest thunderbolts in thy hand, launch them this moment at my head, if I do not speak as 1