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much on terrific truths? Perhaps you will ask from this discourse, which so naturally occur for whom these discourses are intended which to my mind as those that a prophet declared can but directly interest such characters as are to a queen of Israel; I would say, as Ahijah to out of the reach of our voice? For whom are the wife of Jeroboam, “I am sent to thee with these discourses, do you yet ask? For some of heavy tidings," Kings xiv. 6. And all those those who hear us, whom God has saved from tidings are not less true than heavy. I confess these calamities, but who hesitate, perhaps, my inability to comprehend the facility with about å relapse. For whom? For this father which some people apply to themselves the of a family, who has left his country, but un- evangelical promises, and arrogate the first able to induce his children to follow, he has es- place in the kingdom, into which Jesus Christ tablished them there; and they will curse him, says, none shall enter without a new birth. perhaps, to all eternity, for having procured Each of the articles in which we have made them worldly wealth at the expense of their the nature of this change to consist, supplies immortal souls. It is for this father, that he us with arguments against this class of people. may feel the horror of a crime which cannot To become a Christian, we must have other be repaired by too many regrets, by too many desires, other hopes, other sentiments, and sighs, by too many tears. For whom? For a other pursuits, than those of tha world: unless very considerable number of ourselves, who you are born again, you can neither become a have intercourse with those base Christians, member of the church, nor apply to yourselves to use unremitting efforts, that they may feel the promises made to the church. Šo long as their situation, and be delivered from it. For you persist in conserving this conformity to the whom? For you, our bigh and mighty lords, world, though against the better feelings of defenders of the faith, nursing fathers of the your heart, from the sole desire of not renderchurch, so often importuned by our solicita- ing the world implacable, or as the gospel says tions, that you still deign to bear them; and of some, “for fear of the Jews,” you are not that the protection you have extended to those Christians; and thus the proposition of Jesus who take refuge in your country, having but Christ is just as much demonstrated with retheir souls for a prey, may encourage those to gard to you, as with regard to Nicodemus; come hither, who yet remain in an idolatrous* Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man country. For whom? For the whole, how be born again, he cannot enter into the kingmany soever we be, that impressed with the dom of God." greatest of our calamities, we may endeavour This last article is worthy of our attention. to move by ardent prayers the bowels of a There are some men, who, if they should folcompassionate God, and prevail on him to re- low their inclination, would wholly devote build the ruins of our Jerusalem, and the dust themselves to God, but are deterred from doof our sanctuaries, and to restore to us the ing so, by I know not what shame, the world great number of souls which the persecution, is pleased to attach to those who openly deand more so, the love of the world, have rent clare for virtue. For it must be remarked, that away.
O God! “ God of vengeance, a con- our age is come to that pitch of depravity suming fire, a jealous God: how long wilt thou which attaches a note of infamy on those who be angry with the prayers of thy people? Ye openly declare for religion, and thereby exthat make mention of the Lord, keep not si- poses them to a kind of persecution. This conlence; give him no rest till he establish, and sideration induces Nicodemus to come to Jesus make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” O by night, " for fear of the Jews.” Here also God, though we can indeed resolve to aban- is what hinders a vast number of men from don our country for ever, yet we cannot re- glorifying the truth. Why does this young solve to abandon the soul of our brethren. Oman affect outwardly to adopt certain airs of God, so long as access to the throne of thy gallantry and profaneness, which he detests in merey shall be open, we will thither approach his heart? It is " for fear of the Jews.” Beto ask for the souls of our brethren; and so cause it has pleased men of fashion to account long as a single moment of life and strength those vices in youth a sort of courtly graces: shall remain, we will raise our suppliant cries, it is because they attach a badge of infamy on
“Behold, O Lord, and consider to a young man, who is chaste and pious, and whom thou hast done this! Return, O Lord, expose him to a kind of persecution. Why is return to the many thousands of Israel.” Shut it in politics that one dares not openly avow, the pit of the abyss which is ready to swallow that religion is the best policy, and that the up the souls of our brethren. Lam. ii. 20; most consummate statesman cannot save his Numb. x. 36.
country when pursued by the vengeance of But does the proposition of Jesus Christ heaven? It is “ for fear of the Jews;" it is besolely regard the Nicodemites properly so call-cause we attach a note of infamy, and expose ed? Are all those Christians who belong to to a kind of persecution, the statesman who Christian communions Among all our hear- does not make every thing depend on the iners, among those who adhere to our worship, terested maxims of carnal men. Why does who believe our mysteries, and who partake this pastor fail to magnify in his sermons the of our sacraments, is there no one to whom high morality of the gospel? It is “for fear of we may justly apply the words of the Saviour, the Jews:" it is because the world accounted “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man us visionaries, in fact, and persecuted us as be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of disturbers of the public peace, when we confiheaven" Oh! my brethren, what is the mi- dently enforced the truth. Do you, alas! fear nistry we are commissioned to exercise to-day? the Jews, like Nicodemus? Then you have What is the gospel which God has this day need like him to be born again. Do you come put into our mouth: I can draw no conclusions I to Jesus only by night, like this Rabbi? Then
the proposition of Jesus Christ is as much de- / will also support us. If in this economy of monstrated with regard to you, as with regard confusion we are born from above, we shall reto him: “Verily, I say unto thee, except a ceive the reward in the great day of universal man be born again, he cannot enter the king- regeneration; and wo shall apply to ourselves dom of God."
the answer of Jesus Christ to St. Peter, when Let us, my dear brethren, laying aside world that apostle had asked, “ Behold, we have left ly prudence, seriously apply this doctrine; more all, and followed thee, what shall we have especially if we are happy enough to know therefore?” Jesus said unto them, “Verily, I the glory of the gospel, let us never be asham- say unto you, that ye who have followed me ed to avow it; let us never blush to say, I am in the regeneration, when the Son of man a Christian. It costs us much, in some situa- shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also tions, I fully agree, to make the avowal: but shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the what matter? He who supported the martyrs twelve tribes of Israel," Matt. xix. 27, 28. on the fagots and piles; he who enabled St. To sit on thrones with Jesus Christ when Stephen to say, when the stones were falling he shall come in his glory; 0! what a motive, on him, “Behold, I see heaven open, and the my dear brethren! Here is our support conSon of man standing at the right hand of stantly to endure the cross, as he endured it. God;" he who made the apostles exult in the Here is our support to despise reproach, as he midst of the greatest tribulations, saying, despised it. God grant us grace so to do. To “ Thanks be to God who hath always caused him be honour and glory now and for ever. us to triumph in Jesus Christ:” the same God | Amen.
his discipline is moderated by the wisest reguSERMON XCIX.
lations. “ All souls are mine,” he says in the fourth verse of this chapter,“ as the soul of
the father, so also the soul of the son is mine, THE CONDUCT OF GOD TO MEN, AND and I will judge them, not only according to OF MEN TO GOD.
the Sovereign power which I possess over them, but also according to their mode of life. “The
soul that sinneth it shall die.” “ But if a man be Ezek. xviii. 29–32..
just, and do that which is lawful and right, and Yet saith the house of Israel; the way of the Lord have not eaten upon the mountains," that is,
is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my if he has not partaken of the sacrifices, made ways equal? are not your ways unequal? There by the idolatrous nations in the high places; fore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every nor eaten of the flesh of the victims sacrificed one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. to their gods. “Neither hath defiled his neighRepent and turn yourselves from all your trans- bour's wife, and hath not oppressed any, but gressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath Cast away from you all your transgressions spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a to the hungry, and hath covered the naked new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye with a garment,” in a word, “ He who hath die, 0 house of Israel! For I have no plea- walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judg. sure in the death of him that dieth, saith the ments to deal truly, he is just; he shall surely Lord God, wherefore turn yourselves, and live, saith the Lord.”
But as the strict administration of justice, RIGHTEOUS art thou, O Lord, when I plead in a lawgiver, far from encouraging virtue, with thee; yet let me talk with thee of thy serves sometimes for a pretext to palliate vice, judgments,” Jer. xii. I. Thus did the prophet and as no mortal can attain to such a standard Jeremiah formerly reconcile the desire, which of holiness, as to bear a rigorous examination, is naturally formed by an intelligent being, to God declares to sinners that he will pardon inquire into the ways of Providence, with the them on their sincere repentance, " But if the submission due even to its most obscure dis-wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath pensations. We ought to possess a strong committed, and keep all my statutes, and do conviction of the infallibility of God, whose that which is lawful and right, he shall surely judgments are the rule of reason and of truth. live, he shall not die; all his transgressions that This reflection should always be present in our he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned minds, that his wisdom is able to resolve any unto him: in his righteousness that he hath difficulties which our finite understandings may done, he shall live. Have I any pleasure at suggest; and that the doubts which seem to all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord obscure the glory which surrounds him, only God, and not that he should return from his serve to augment its splendour; “Righteous ways and live?” This is what we are to unart thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee.” derstand by the conduct of God, mentioned in
Nevertheless, we are permitted to pour our the text, “ Are not my ways equal, O house cares into the bosom of God, and to seek in of Israel?" Let us now attend to the conduct the riches of his knowledge for direction, and of the children of Israel. of his grace for help, to triumph over our cor- We must again refer to the same source for ruptions. We may say, “why hast thou formed information on this subject, the chapter from me thus," not to place our reason on a level which the text is taken. We shall there find with the Supreme Being, who governs the that the Israelites, during the time when God universe, but to obtain some rays of his light, governed them as a father and legislator, as if he deign to communicate them, or to ac- well as a sovereign, were bold enough to acquiesce with humility, in the dispensations he cuse him of forgetting his characters of father is pleased to order. Righteous art thou, O and lawgiver, and only exercising his power as Lord, when I plead with thee, yet let me talk sovereign. They charged him with violating with thee of thy judgments!" In the temper that principle of equity, which is the foundaof mind bere expressed, we have meditated on tion of all his laws, and which he himself had the words read to you; and in this temper you dictated, contained in Deut. xxiv. 6, and nomust listen to the explanation of them. They ticed by Amaziah, 2 Kings xiv. 6, in which the present to us an inquiry, and a conclusion. judges were forbidden to punish their fathers An inquiry, "O house of Israel, is not my way for the sins of the children, or the children for equal? are not your ways unequal". A con- the sins of the fathers. They pretended that clusion, contained in these words, which is the they were the victims of the violation of this substance of the two preceding verses, “turn law, and expressed this dreadful idea by the yourselves, and live!”
proverb, " The fathers have eaten sour grapes, Before we enter upon this subject, it will be and the children's teeth are set on edge.” necessary to define the expression, conduct, or These blasphemous thoughts of the conduct in the language of the text, “the ways of God, of God towards them, intluenced not merely and the ways of the children of Israel.” These their understanding, but regulated the whole terms must be limited to the subject treated ; course of their lives. They dared to assert of in the chapter from which they are taken that when God thus violated the laws of justice God there declares the line of conduct which and charity, there was no obligation on them he intends to pursue, both with regard to the to observe them, and no necessity for repentIsraelites and sinners in general. He will in- ance when they had broken them.
"O house deed act as a Sovereign, but the strictness of l of Israel! are not my ways equal? Therefore