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which promise salvation to those who use en- | time we knock, he opens the third. Suffer not deavours; to those who take up the cross;" to thyself thien, O my soul, to be depressed and those "who deny themselves;” to those who discouraged, because thou dost not yet particicrucify the flesh with its lusts;" to those “who pate in the piety of taste and sentiment. Be strive, or agonize to enter in at the strait gate," determined to pierce the cloud with which God Matt. xvi. 24; vii. 13; Gal. v. 24. But the conceals himself from thy sight. Though he Scriptures no where exclude from salvation say to thee as to Jacob, “Let me go for the those who do not find in the exercise of piety, day dawneth," answer like the patriarch, the joy, the transports, and the delights of Lord, I will not let thee go, except thou bless which we have spoken.
me.” Though he affect to leave thee, as he 4. Experience sometimes discovers to us cha- feigned to leave the two disciples, constrain racters whose whole life has been a continual | hiin as they did; and say with them, “Lord exercise of piety and devotion; characters who stay with me; it is toward evening: the sun is have forsaken all for Christ, and who have not on the decline," Gen. xxxii. 26; Luke xxiv. 29. as yet attained to the blessed state after which These are the principal sources of consolathey breathe, and continually aspire.
tion to those who have a sincere and vehement 5. The greatest of saints, and those whom desire to please God, and who have not yet atthe Scriptures set before us as models, and tained the piety of taste and sentiment. But those even who have known the highest de- though the privation of those comforts should lights of piety, have not always been in this not dispirit us, yet the defect is ever a most happy state. We have seen them, not only humiliating and deplorable consideration. So after great falls, but under certain conflicts, de- you may conclude from what you have just prived of those sweet regards which had once heard. "Yes, it is very humiliating and deploshed such abundant joy into their soul. One rable, though we should even prefer our duty may, therefore, be in a state of grace without to our pleasure, when those duties abound with a full experience of the consolations of grace. difficulties, and afford no consolations; and
6. In short, the hope of one day finding the when we are merely enabled to repel attacks piety of taste and sentiment should assuage the from the pleasures of the age with reason and anguish which the privation excites in the soul. argument, which persuade, it is true, but they God often confers piety of taste and sentiment stop in the tender part of the soul, if I may so as a recompense for the piety of sacrifice and speak, and neither warm the imagination nor preference. We have no need to go and seek captivate the heart. Yes, it is very humiliatthose comforts in the miraculous lives, whose ing and deplorable to know by description only, memory is preserved by the Holy Ghost, nor that “ peace of God; that joy unspeakable and in the supernatural endowments conferred on full of glory; that white stone; that satisfacothers. If you except certain miracles which tion; that seal of redemption;" and those everGod once performed for the confirmation of re- ravishing pleasures, of which our Scriptures ligion, and religion being established, they are give us so grand a view. Yes, it is very hunow no longer necessary; God still holds the miliating and deplorable that we should resemsame conduct with regard to his saints which ble the Scripture characters, only in the drought he formerly held. We have seen saints who and languor they sometimes felt, and always · have long, and with ineffectual sighs, breathed aspiring after a happier frame which we never after the comforts of the Holy Ghost; and who, attain. in the issue, have experienced all their sweet- Farther still: the privation of divine comness. We have seen the sick, who having been fort should not only humble us, but there are alarmed at the idea of dying, who having sigh-occasions in which it should induce us to pass ed at the simple idea of its pains, its anguish, severe strictures on our destiny. There are its separation, its obscurity, and all the appall- especially two such cases of this nature. ing presages excited by the king of terrors: we 1. When the privation is general; when a have seen them; previous to his approach, quite conviction of duty, and the motives of hope inundated with consolation and joy. I know and fear, are ever requisite to enforce the exerwe must always suspect the reveries of the ima- cises of religion; when we have to force ourgination, but it seems to us, that the more selves to read God's word, to pray, to study calm we were in our investigation, precaution, his perfections, and to participate of the pledges and even distrust, in the scrutiny of this phe- of his love in the holy sacrament. It is not nomenon, the more we were convinced it ought very likely that a regenerate soul should be to be wholly ascribed to the Spirit of God. always abandoned to the difficulties and duties Those transformations were not the effect of imposed by religion, that it should never exany novel effort we had caused to be excited in perience those comforts conferred by the Holy the souls of the sick. They sometimes follow- Spirit, which make them a delight. ed a profound stupor, a total lethargy, which 2. The privation of divine comforts should could not be the effect of any pleasure arising induce us to pass severe strictures on ourselves, from some new sacrifice made for God, or from when we do not make the required efforts to some recent victory over themselves. The be delivered from so sad a state. To possess a sick, of whom we speak, seem to have pre- virtue, or not to possess it, to have a defect, viously cherished all imaginable deference for or not to have it, is not always the criterion of our ministry. Nothing human, nothing ter- distinction between the regenerate man, and restrial was apparent in those surprising trans- him who has but the name and appearance of formations. It was the work of God. Let us regeneration. To make serious efforts to acask that we may receive. If he do not answer quire the virtues we have not yet attained, the first time we pray, he answers the second: and to use endeavours to correct the faults to if he do not open the door of mercy the second which we are still liable, is a true character of
regeneration. But to see those faults with in their ease, their sensuality, their effeminacy, difference; and under a plea of constitutional to high notions, to ambition, and the love of weakness, not to subdue them, is a distinguish- glory. And how often have the heroes theming mark of an unregenerate state. Thus it is selves sacrificed all their laurels, their reputaapparent, that though the privation of the tion and their trophies, to the charm of some piety of taste and sentiment be not always sensible pleasure? How often have the charms criminal, it is always an imperfection; and that of a Delilah stopped the victories of a Samson; alone should prompt us to reform it. I will and a Cleopatra those of a Cesar and a Mark suggest to you the remedies of this evil, after Antony? having in the third place traced the causes Proposition second. The imagination captiwhich produce it.
vates both the senses and the understanding. III. To accomplish my purpose, and to ex- A good which is not sensible; a good even hibit the true causes which deprive us of the which has no existence, is contemplated as a piety of taste and sentiment, we shall make a reality, provided it have the decorations proshort digression on the nature of taste and sen- per to strike the imagination. The features timent in general; we shall trace to the source and complexion of a person do not prove that certain sympathies and antipathies which ty- a connexion formed with her would be agreerannize over us without our having apparently able and happy. Meanwhile, how often have contributed to the domination.
those features and tints produced a prejudice The task we here impose on ourselves, is a of that kind? Nothing is often more insipid difficult one. We proceed under a conscious than the pleasure found in conversation with need of indulgence in what we propose. The the great. At the same time, nothing comcauses of our inclinations and aversions are, monly appears so enviable. And why? Beapparently, one of the most intricate studies cause the splendour attendant on this interof nature. There is something it would seem, course strikes the imagination. The retinues in the essence of our souls, which inclines us which follow them; the splendour of their carto certain objects, and which revolts us against riages; the mansions in which they live; the others, when we are unconscious of the cause, multitude of people who flatter and adore and sometimes even against the most obvious them; all these are strikingly qualified to make reasons. The Creator has obviously given a an impression on the imagination, which supercertain impulse to our propensities, which it is sedes the operations of sense, and the convicnot in our power to divert. Scarcely do the tions of the mind. dawnings of genius appear in children, before Proposition third. A present, or at least, an we see them biassed by peculiar propensities. approximate good, excites, for the most part, Hence the diversity, and the singularity of more vehement desires, than a good which is taste apparent in mankind. One has a taste absent, or whose enjoyment is deferred to a for navigation, another for trades of the most remote period. The point where the edge of grovelling kind. Virtue and vice have also the passions is blunted, almost without exceptheir scale in the objects of our choice. One tion, is, when they have to seek their object in is impelled to this vice; another to a vice of distant epochs, and in future years. the opposite kind. One is impelled to a cer- Proposilion fourth. Recollection is a subtain virtue, another to a different virtue. And stitute for presence: I would say, that a good who can explain the cause of this variety, or in the possession of which we have found deprescribe a remedy for the evil, after having light, produces in the heart, though absent, developed the cause?
much the same desires, as that which is acBut how impenetrable. soever this subject tually present. may appear, it is not altogether impossible, at Proposition fifth. A good, ascertained and least in a partial way, to develop it. The fully known by experience, is much more caseries of propositions we proceed to establish, pable of inflaming our desires, than a good of shall be directed to that end. But we ask be- which we have but an imperfect notion, and forehand your indulgence, that in case we which is known only by the report of others. throw not on the subject all the light you A person endowed with good accomplishments, would wish, do not attribute the defect to this and whose conversation we have enjoyed, is discourse, which may probably proceed from more endeared to us than one known only by the difficulty of the subject, and probably from character; though the virtues of the latter the slight attention our hearers pay to truths have been represented as far surpassing the which have the greatest influence on life and virtues of the other. happiness.
A sixth proposition is, that all things being Proposition first. We have already intimat- equal, we prefer a good of easy acquisition, to ed, that a sensible object naturally makes a one which requires care and fatigue. Difficulty deeper impression on men, than an object sometimes, grant, inflames desire, and sewhich is abstract, spiritual, and remote. This duces the imagination. When we have a high is but too much realized by our irregular pas- opinion of a good, which we believe is in our sions. A passion which controls the senses is power to acquire by incessant endeavours, our commonly more powerful than those which ardours become invigorated, and we redouble are seated in the mind; ambition and the love our efforts in proportion as the difficulty augof glory are chiefly resident in the mind; ments. It is, however, an indisputable axiom, whereas, effeminacy and sensuality have their and founded on the nature of the human mind, principal seat in the senses. Passions of the that things being equal, we prefer a good of latter kind do more violence to the society than easy acquisition, to one that requires anxiety others. With the exception of those called and fatigue. heroes in the world, mankind seldom sacrifice A seventh proposition is, that a good beyond
our reach, a good that we do not possess, and calculated to enfeeble the influence of his
imagination; it is because the objects of piety
IV. These propositions may lead us to an which it disguises the truth. He will pierce
sentiment? It is because that a present, or,
those dissipations against which we have so whether it be the part of religion, or the part often declaimed with so much strength in this of the world, this life is invariably a life of laholy place: be obstinate to maintain that bour, we should prefer the labours attended preachers and critics decry them from miscon- with a solid peace, to those which involve us ceptions of their innocence. It is certain, how- in anguish and inquietude. ever, that the recollection of pleasure attracts 7. The affairs of life engross the capacity of the heart to pleasure. The man who would the soul. A mind which is empty, at leisure, become more sensible of the pleasures of devo- and unoccupied with ideas and sentiments, is tion, should apply himself to devotion; and the much more liable to be animated and filled man who would become less attracted by the with a passion, than one that is already conpleasures of the age, should absent himself from centrated on certain objects, which have no the circles of pleasure.
connexion with that passion. This is the last 5. Are we destitute of the piety of taste and reason assigned for our non-attainment of the sentiment? It is because that a good, known consolations of religion. Let us keep to the and experienced, is much more capable of in- point. Casting our eye on the crimes of men, flaming our desires, than that which is imper- we regard, at first view, the greater part of fectly conceived, and known merely by the re- them as monsters. It would seem that most port of others. Why do we believe that a soul men love evil for the sake of evil. I believe, profoundly composed in meditation on the glo- however, that the portrait is distorted. Manries of grace, is "satisfied as with marrow and kind are perhaps not so wicked as we commonly fatness. We believe it on the positive testi- suppose. But to speak the truth, there is one mony of the prophet. We believe it on the duty, my brethren, concerning which their notestimony of illustrious saints, who assert the tions are quite inadequate; that is, recollection. same thing. But let us endeavour to be con- There is likewise a vice whose awful consevinced of the fact in a better way. “Lord, quences are by no means sufficiently perceived; show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." So that vice, is dissipation. Whence is it, that a was the prayer of Philip to Jesus Christ, John man, who is appalled by the mere idea of xiv. 8. This request proceeded from the igno- death and of hell, should, nevertheless, brave rance of the apostles, prior to the day of pente- them both? It is because he is dissipated; it is cost. The request was, however, founded both because his soul, wholly engrossed by the cares on reason and truth. Philip was fully persuad- of life, is unable to pay the requisite attention ed, if he could once see with his own eyes the to the idea of death and hell, and to the interGod, whose perfections were so gloriously dis- ests of this life. Whence is it, that a man dis-. played, that he should be ravished with his tinguished for arity and delicacy, shall act in beauty; and that he should, without reluctance, a manner so directly opposite to delicacy! It make the greatest sacrifices to please him. Let is because the dissipations inseparable from the us retain what is rational in the request of Phi- office he fills, and still more so, those he ingelip, rejecting what is less enlightened. Let us niously procures for himself, obstruct attention say to Jesus, but in a sense more exalted than to his own principles. To sum up all in one this disciple, "Lord, show us the Father, and word, whence is it, that we have such exalted it sufficeth us.” Lord, give me to know by views of piety, and so little taste for piety. The experience the joy that results from the union evil proceeds from the same source our dissiof a soul reconciled to its God, and I shall ask pations. Let us not devote ourselves to the no other pleasure; it shall blunt the point of world more than is requisite for the discharge all others.
of duty. Let our affections be composed; and 6. Are we destitute of the piety of taste and let us keep within just bounds the faculty of sentiment? It is because all things being equal, reflection and of love. we prefer a good, easy of acquisition, to one If we adopt these maxims, we shall be able that requires labour and fatigue. And would to reform our taste; and I may add, to reform to God, that we were always disposed to con- our sentiment. We shall both think and love tract our motives with our fatigues; the esti- as rational beings. And when we think and mate would invert our whole system of life. love as rational beings, we shall perceive that We should find few objects in this world to nothing is worthy of man but God, and what merit the efforts bestowed in their acquisition; directly leads to God. Fixing our eyes and or, to speak as the Supreme Wisdom, we our hearts on the Supreme object, we shall should find that “.
we spend money for that ever feel a fertile source of pure delight. In which is not bread, and labour for that which solitude, in deserts, overtaken by the catastrosatisfieth not,” Isa. lv. 2. Would to God, that phes of life, or surrounded with the shadows the difficulties of acquiring a piety of taste and and terrors of death, we shall exult with our sentiment, were but properly contrasted with prophet, “My soul is satisfied as with marrow the joy it procures those who surmount them. and fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee In this view, we should realize the estimate, with joyful lips, when I remember thee in the “ that the sufferings of this present life, are not night-watches;"' and when I make thy adora. worthy to be compared with the glory that ble perfections the subject of my ihought. shall be revealed in us," Rom. viii. 18. See- May God enable us so to do: to whom be hoing then, that whatever part we espouse, I nour and glory for ever. Amen.
is by nature a child of wrath. His father is an SERMON XCVIII. Amorite, and his mother a Hittite; yet he is
called out of darkness into marvellous light:”
He is called to be a prince and a priest. But ON REGENERATION.
in vain would he be honoured with a vocation PART I.
so high, if the change in his soul did not cor
respond with that of his condition. Who is John iii. 1-8.
sufficient for so great a work? How shall men
whose ideas are low, and whose sentiments are There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nico- grovelling, attain to a magnanimity assortable
demus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to with the rank to which they are called of God? Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we The grace which elevates, changes the man know that thou art a teacher come from God; / who is called unto it. The Spirit of God for no man can do those miracles that thou doest, comes upon him; it gives him a new heart, except God be with him. Jesus answered and and he becomes another man. said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
These are the great truths which Jesus except a man be born again, he cannot see the Christ taught Nicodemus in the celebrated kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, conversation we have partly read, and which how can a man be born when he is old? Can we propose to make the subject of several dishe enter the second time into his mother's womb courses, if God shall preserve our life, and our and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, ministry. Here we shall discover the nature, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water the necessity, and the Author, of the regeneraand of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingtion which Christianity requires of us. dom of God. That which is born of the flesh
I. The nature of this change shall be the is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is subject of a first discourse. Here in giving spirit.' Marvel not that I said unto thee, you a portrait of a regenerate man, and in deye must be born again. The wind bloweth scribing the characters of regeneration, we where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound there, shall explain to you the words of Jesus Christ, of, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and “Except a man be born of water and of the whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of Spirit.” the Spirit.
II. The necessity of this change shall be the The transition which happened in the con- subject of a second discourse. Here, endeadition of Saul was very remarkable. Born of vouring to dissipate the illusions we are fond an obscure family, actually employed in seek- of making on the obligations of Christianity, ing strayed asses, and having recourse on this we shall press the proposition which Jesus inconsiderable subject to the divine light of a Christ collects and asserts with so much force, prophet, Saul instantly found himself anointed “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man 'with a mystic oil, and declared king, by the be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot prophet, who added, “ It is because the Lord see the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I hath anointed thee to be captain over his heri- said unto thee, ye must be born again. Art tage." 1 Sam. x. 1.
thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these To correspond with a rank so exalted, it was things?” requisite that there should be as great a change II. The author of the change shall be the in the person, as there was about to be in the subject of a third discourse. There using our condition, of Saul. The art of government best efforts to penetrate the vast chaos with has as many amplifications as there are wants which ignorance, shall I call it, or corruption, and humours in those that are governed. A has enveloped this branch of our theology, we king must associate in some sort in his own shall endeavour to illustrate and to justify the person, every science and every art. He must comparison of Jesus Christ; “the wind bloweth be, so to speak, at the same juncture, artificer, where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound statesman, soldier, philosopher. Those who thereof; but canst not tell whence it cometh, are become gray-headed in this art find daily and whither it goeth." new difficulties in its execution. How then I. In giving a portrait of the regenerate, and could Saul expect to acquire it in an instant in tracing the characters of regeneration (which The same prophet that notified the high honour is the duty of the present day,) we must exto which God had called him, discovered the plain the expressions of the Lord, "to be born source whence he might derive the supports of again;—to be born of the Spirit,” though it be which he had need. "Behold (said he,) when not on grammatical remarks we would fix your thou shalt come to the hill of God, where attention, we would, however, observe, that there is a garrison of the Philistines, thou shalt the phrase, to be born of water and of the meet a company of prophets. Then the spirit Spirit, is a Hebraical phraseology, importing of the Lord shall come upon thee, and thou to be born of spiritual water. By a similar exshalt prophesy, and thou shalt be changed to pression, it is said in the third chapter of St. another man,'' 1 Sam. x. 5, 6. The Spirit of Matthew, “I indeed (says John Baptist) bapthe Lord shall come upon thee: here is support tize you with water unto repentance, but there for the regal splendour; here is grace for the cometh after me one mightier than I; he shall adequate discharge of the royal functions. baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with
Does it not seem, my brethren, that the sa- fire;” that is, with spiritual life. When Jesus cred historian, in reciting these circumstances, Christ says, that we cannot see the kingdom was wishful to give us a portrait of the change of God, except we are born of water and of which grace makes in the soul of a Christian. the Spirit, he wishes to apprise us, that it is “Conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity, he not sufficient to be a member of his church, to