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great difference between this and other sub- , other enemies! Enable us to triumph over jects of discussion. When we treat of a point our passions as thou hast enabled us to succeed of doctrine, it is sufficient that you hear it, and in levelling the walls of a city! Stretch out remember the consequences drawn from it. thy holy arm in our favour, in this church, When we explain a difficult text, it is enough as in the field of battle! So be the protector that you understand it and recollect it. When both of the state and the church, crown our we press home a particular duty of morality, it efforts with such success, that we may offer is sufficient that you apply it to the particular the most noble songs of praise to thy glory. circumstance to which it belongs.
Amen. But what regards the passions is of universal and perpetual use. We always carry the principles of these passions within us, and we
SERMON LXIII. should always have assistance at hand to subdue them. Always surrounded with objects of our passions, we should always be guarded TRANSIENT DEVOTIONS. against them. We should remember these things, when we see the benefits of fortune, to
HOSEA vi. 4. free ourselves from an immoderate attachment to them; before human grandeur to despise o Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, it; before sensual objects to subdue them; be
what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness fore our enemy, to forgive him; before friends, is as a morning cloud, and as the carly dew it children, and families, to hold ourselves disen
goeth away. gaged from them. We should always exam
The church has seldom seen happier days ine in what part of ourselves the passions hold than those described in the nineteenth chapter their throne, whether in the mind, the senses, of Exodus. God had never diffused his beneor the imagination, or the heart. We should dictions on a people in a richer abundance. always examine whether they have depraved Never had a people gratitude more lively, the heart, defiled the imagination, perverted piety more fervent. The Red Sea had been the senses, or blinded the mind. We should passed, Pharaoh and his insolent court were ever remember, that we are strangers upon buried in the waves, access to the land of proearth, that to this our condition calls us, our mise was opened, Moses had been admitted religion invites us, and our nature compels us. on the holy mountain to derive felicity from
But alas! It is this, it is this general influ- God the source, and sent to distribute it ence, which these exhortations ought to have amongst his countrymen; to these choice faover our lives, that makes us fear we have ad-vours promises of new and greater blessings dressed them to you in vain. When we treat were yet added, and God said, “ye have seen of a point of doctrine, we may persuade our what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare selves it has been understood. When we ex- you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto plain a difficult text, we flatter ourselves we myself
. Now therefore, if ye will obey my have thrown some light upon it. When we voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye urge a moral duty, we hope the next occasion shall be a peculiar treasure unto me, above will bring it to your memory: and yet how all people, although the earth be mine,” ver. often have we deceived ourselves on these arti- 4, 5. The people were deeply affected with cles! How often have our hopes been vain! this collection of miracles. Each individual How often have you sent us empty away, even entered into the same views, and seemed anithough we demanded so little! What will mated with the same passion, all hearts were be done to-day! Who that knows a little of united, and one voice expressed the sense of mankind, can flatter himself that a discourse all the tribes of Israel, “ All that the Lord intended, in regard to a great number, to hath spoken we will do,” ver. 8. But this change all, to reform all, to renew all, will be devotion had ono great defect, it lasted only directed to its true design!
forty days. In forty days the deliverance out But, O God, there yet remains one resource, of Egypt, the catastrophe of Pharoah, the pasit is thy grace, it is thine aid, grace that we sage through the sea, the articles of the covehave a thousand times turned into lascivious- nant; in forty days vows, proinises, oaths, all ness, and which we have a thousand times re- were effaced from the heart and forgotten. jected; yet after all assisting grace, which we Moses was absent, the lightning did not glitter, most humbly venture to implore. When we the thunder claps did not roar, and the Jews approach the enemy, we earnestly beseech made a calf in Horeb, worshipped that molthee,“ teach our hands to war, and our fingers ten image, and changed their glorious God into to fight!” When we attack a town, we the similitude of an ox that eateth grass,” Ps. fervently besought thee to render it accessible cxi. 19, 20. It was this that drew upon Moses to us! Our prayers entered heaven, our ene- this cutting reproof from God, Go, said he to mies fled before us, thou didst bring us into the Moses, to that Moses always fervent for the strong city, and didst lead us into Edom, Ps. salvation of his people, always ready to plead 1x. 9. The walls of many a Jericho fell at for them, “go, get thee down, for thy people, the sound of our trumpets, at the sight of thine which thou broughtest out of the land of ark, and the approach of thy priest: but the Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have old man is an enemy far more formidable than quickly turned aside out of the way which I the best disciplined armies, and it is harder to commanded them,” Exod. xxxii. 7, S. They conquer the passions than to beat down the walls of a city! O help us to subdue this old
* Preached the first Lord's day of the year 1710. The man, as thou hast assisted us to overcome | Lord's Supper day.
TRANSIENT DEVOTIONS. have quickly turned aside, this is the great de- ferings to thee may be without repentance! 0 fect of their devotion, this is that which ren- that we may be able to reply, “the mountains ders all devotion incomplete.
shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my Do you know this portrait, my brethren? fidelity shall never depart from thee, neither Has this history nothing in it like yours? Are shall the dedication which I have made of myself any days more solemn than such as we observe to thee, ever be removed! I have sworn, and I in our present circumstances? Did God ever will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous draw near to us with more favours than he has judgments." Amen. this day? Did we ever approach him with "O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O more fervour. On the one hand, the beginning Judah, what shall I do unto thee!" Ephraim, of another year recalls to mind the serious and Judah, are terms of the text that have very alarming discourses, which the ministers of Je- little need of explication. You know that the sus Christ addressed to us on the last anniver- people of God were united in one state till the sary, the many strokes given, to whom? To the time of Jeroboam, when he rent apart from enemies of God? Alas! To the state and the Rehoboam the son of Solomon, thus two kingchurch! Many cut off in the field of battle, doms were constituted, that of Judah and that many others carried away in the ordinary and of Israel. Jerusalem was the capital city of inevitable course of things, many perils, in one Judah, and of Israel Samaria was the metropoword, with which we were threatened, but which lis, and it is sometimes called Ephraim in thy mercy, O God, has freed us from! On the Scripture. By Judah and Ephraim the prophet other hand this sacred table, these august sym- then means both these kingdoms. This wants bols, these earnests of our eternal felicity, all no proof, and if there be any thing worth rethese objects, do they not render this day one marking on this occasion, it is that most interof the most singular in our lives?
preters, who are often the echoes of one anIf heaven has thus heard the earth (we are other, describe the ministry of Hosea as directhappy to acknowledge it, my brethren, and we ed only to the kingdom of Israel, whereas it is eagerly embrace this opportunity of publishing clear by the text, and by several other pasyour praise) the earth has heard the heaven. sages, that it was addressed both to Israel and To judge by appearance, you have answered Judah. our wishes, and exceeded our hopes. You But of all unlucky conjectures, I question were exhorted to prepare for the Lord's supper, whether there be one more so than that of you did prepare for it. You were called to some divines, who think our text prophetical. public worship, you came. You were exhort-In their opinion the goodness mentioned in the ed to attend to the word of God, you did at- text is the mercy of God displayed in the tend to it. You were required to form resolu- gospel. The dew signifies Jesus Christ. The tions of a holy life, you made these resolutions. morning, “thy goodness is like the morning It seemed, while we saw you come with united dew,” intends the covenant of grace. As every ardour this morning to the table of Jesus Christ, one proposes his opinion under some appearit seemed as if we heard you say, with the Is- ance of evidence, it is said in favour of this, raelites of old, “ All that the Lord hath spo- that the expression, thy goodness, does not sigken we will do.
nify the goodness of the people, but that which But we declare, my brethren, a cloud comes is manifested to the people, and in proof of over the bright scene of this solemnity. I fear, this the idiom of the Hebrew tongue is allegshall I say the forty? alas, I fear the four suced, with divers passages that justify this tour ceeding days! These doors will be shut, this of expression, as this,“ my people are bent to table will be removed, the voice of the servants their backsliding,” that is to backsliding from of God will cease to sound in your ears, and I me. The dew, say they, signifies the Messiah, fear the Lord will say of you, " they have for he is promised under that emblem in many quickly turned aside out of the way which I passages of Scripture. They add farther, the commanded them."
morning signifies the new dispensation of the Let us not content ourselves with foreseeing gospel, which is often announced under this this gvil, let us endeavour to prevent it. This idea by the prophets, and all this text, “thy is the design of the present discourse, in which goodness is as the early dew which goeth we will treat of transient devotions. To you, away,” opens a wonderful contrast between in the name of God, we address the words, the the law and the gospel. The law was like a tender words, which will occasion more reflec- storm of hail destroying the fruits of the earth, tions than they may seem at first to do, but but the gospel is a dew that makes every thing which no reflections can exhaust,“O Ephraim, fruitful. The law was a dark night, but the what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what gospel was a fine day; "thy goodness is like shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a the morning dew which goeth away," that is morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth to say, which cometh. Here are many good away."
truths out of place. Thy goodness may signify, O Almighty God! We humbly beseech thee, for any thing we know, goodness exercised toenable us in the offerings we make to thee to wards thee; the Messiah is represented as a resemble thee in the favours which thou be- deu; the gospel economy is promised under the stowest upon us! Thy gifls to us are without emblem of the morning; all this is true, but all repentance, thy covenant with us contains this this is not the sense of the text. The word clause, the mountains shall depart, and the goodness, which is the first mistake of the exhills be removed, but my kindness shall not position just now given, may be understood of depart from thee, neither shall the covenant piety in general. It has that meaning in many of my peace be removed. I have sworn that passages of Scripture. The substantive derived 1 will not be wroth with thee!" O that our of- from it is usually put for pious persons, and
go beyond the first. It is sincere, in that it is I. Let us first inquire the nature of the piety superior to hypocrisy; but it is unfruitful, and in question. What is this goodness or piety, in that respect it is inferior to the piety of the that "is as a morning cloud, and goeth away weak and revolting Christian. It is sufficient as the early dew?” We do not understand by to discover sin, but not to correct it; sufficient this piety either those deceitful appearances of to produce sincere resolutions, but not to keep hypocrites, who conceal their profane and irre- them: it softens the heart, but it does not religious hearts under the cover of ardour and new it; it excites grief, but it does not eradireligion, or the disposition of those Christians, cate evil dispositions. It is a piety of times, who fall through their own frailty from high opportunities, and circumstances, diversified degrees of pious zeal, and experience emotions a thousand ways, the effect of innumerable of sin after they have felt exercises of grace. causes, and, to be more particular, it usually The devotion we mean to describe goes farther ows its origin to public calamities, or to solemn than the first: but it does not go so far as the festivals, or to the approach of death: but it last.
expires as soon as the causes are removed. The transient devotion, of which we speak, 1. By piety," like the early dew that goeth is not hypocrisy. Hypocrisy cannot suspend away,” we mean that which is usually excited the strokes of divine justice one single moment, by public calamities. When a state prospers, and it is more likely to inflame than to extin- when its commerce flourishes, when its armies guish the righteous indignation of God. It is are victorious, it acquires weight and consenot to hypocrites that God addresses this ten- quence in the world. Prosperity is usually der language, “O Ephraim, what shall I do productive of crimes. Conscience falls asleep unto thee! Judah, what shall I do unto during a tumult of passions, as depravity thee?” Their sentence is declared, their pun- continues security increases, the patience of ishment is ready. "Ye hypocrites, well did God becomes weary, and he punishes either by Esaias prophecy of you, saying, this people taking away prosperity, or by threatening to draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and take it away. The terrible messengers of dihonoureth me with their lips, but their heart is vine justice open their commission. The winds far from me. Wo unto you, scribes and Phari- which he makes his angels, begin to utter their sees, hypocrites. The portion of hypocrites voices: flames of fire, constituted his ministers, shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” Matt. display their frightful light. Pestilence, war, xy. 7; xxiii. 31, and xxiv. 51.
famine, executioners of the decrees of heaven, Nor is the piety we mean to describe that prepare to discharge their dreadful office. One of the weak and revolting believer. How im- messenger called death, and another called hell, perfect soever this piety may be, yet it is real. receive their bloody commission, " to kill with It is certainly a very mortifying consideration sword, and with hunger, and with death, the to a believer that he should be at any time fourth part of the earth,” Rev. vi. 8. Each hemmed in, confined, and clogged, in his de- individual sees his own doom in the public votional exercises. In some golden days of his decree. “Capernaum exalted to heaven is life, forgetting the world, and wholly employ- going to be thrust down to hell,” Luke x. 15. ed about heavenly things, how happy was he, Jonah walks about Nineveh, and makes the how delicious his enjoyments, when he sur-walks echo with this alarming proclamation, mounted sense and sin, ascended to God like “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overMoses formerly on the holy mount, and there thrown. Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be conversed with his heavenly Father concern- overthrown," chap. iii. 4. Or, to lay aside ing religion, salvation, and eternity! O how borrowed names, and to make our portrait like richly did he then think himself indemnified the original, your ministers free from their for the loss of time in worldly pursuits by pour- natural timidity or indolence, despising those ing his complaints into the bosom of God, by petty tyrants, or shall I rather say those diminuopening all bis heart, by saying to him with tive insects, who amidst a free people would inspired men, "Lord, thou knowest that I love have us the only slaves; who while all kinds thee! it is good for me to draw near to God! of vices have free course would have the word My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, of God bound, and would reduce the exercise and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful of the reform ministry to a state more mean lips!" "I say, it is a very mortifying thing to and pusillanimous than that of court bishops, him, after such elevations in the enjoyment of or the chaplains of kings; I say, your ministers such magnificent objects, to be obliged through have made you hear their voice, they have
gone back to your origin, and laid before you | vigorate and bring it to maturity, thus proporthe cruel edicts, the sanguinary proscriptions, tioning itself to our frailty. How considerable the barbarous executions, the heaps of mangled soever the truths of religion are, it is certain carcasses, which were, if I may so speak, the they lose their importance by our hearing first foundations of this republic. From what them always proposed in the same circumyou were then they have proceeded to what stances, and the same points of light. There you are now; they have represented to you the are some days which put on I know not what end proposed by the Supreme Being in distin- of the extraordinary, and put in motion, so to guishing you by so many merciful advantages; speak, the first great powers of religion. To they have told you it was to engage you to in- this our festivals are directed, and this is one form idolatrous nations of the truth, to nourish of the principal uses of the Lord's Supper. and favour it in cruel and persecuting countries, Were this ordinance not appointed with this to support it at home, and so to cast out pro- view as some affirm, had not God annexed faneness, infidelity, and atheism. They have some peculiar benediction to it, yet it would repeatedly urged you to come to a settlement be a weak pretence to keep from the Lord's of accounts on these subjects, and they have table, and the use generally granted would delivered in against you such an interrogatory always be a sufficient reason to induce those to as this; are the “hands which hang down, and frequent it who have their salvation at heart. the feeble knees lifted up?" Does superstition But however this may be, it is certain that such cover the truth in any places of your govern- days occasion the sort of devotion we are dement: Is the affliction of Joseph neglected? scribing, and usually produce a piety“ like the Does irreligion insolently lift its head among morning cloud, and the early dew that goeth you, and is it protected by such as are bound away." to suppress it? They have shown you the We do not intend here to describe a kind of Deity ready to punish an obstinate perseverance Christians too odious to be put even into this in sin, and, if you will forgive the expression, vicious class. For, my brethren, we have a they have preached, illuminated by lightning, very singular sort of people among us, who, and their exhortations have been enforced by though they live in the practice of all worldly thunder. Then every one was struck, all hearts licentiousness, will frequent the Lord's table, were united, every one ran to the breach, to in spite of all the pains we take to show their turn away the wrath of God, lest he should unworthiness, and to keep them away. They destroy us all,” Ps. cvi. 23. The magistrate will pass through a kind of preparation, and came down from bis tribunal, the merchant for this purpose they retrench a little portion quitted his commerce, the mechanic laid aside of time from their course of licentiousness, set his work, yea the very libertine suspended his out, however, with so much accurate calculapleasures; vows, prayers, solemn protestations, tion that it is easy to see they consider devotion tears, relentings, promises, sincere promises, more in the light of a disagreeable task than in nothing was wanting to your devotions. Then that of a holy enjoyment. They suspend their the angels rejoiced, a compassionate God habits of sin the whole day before, and all the smiled, the corn revived, war was hushed, and live long day after the communion. In this was dying away; but along with the first tide interval they receive the Lord's Supper, all of prosperity came rolling back the former de- the while determining to return to their old pravity, the same indifference to truth, the course of life. What devotion! in which the same negligence of religion, the same infidelity, soul burns with love to worldly pleasure, while the same profanity. This is the first kind of it affects to play off the treacherous part of love that piety, which is “as the early dew that to religion and God! A devotion that disputes goeth away." Let us study ourselves in the with Jesus Christ a right to three days, gives image of the Jews described in the context. them up with regret and constraint, and keeps “Come,” say they, when the prophet had pre- all along murmuring at the genius of a relidicted the Babylonish captivity to Judah, and gion, which puts the poor insulted soul on the the carrying away into Assyria to the ten tribes, rack, and forces it to live three whole days
come, and let us return unto the Lord, for without gaming and debauchery! A devotion he hath torn, and he will heal us, be hath deep in the plot of Judas to betray the Saviour smitten, and he will bind us up. After two or at his own table! These people need not be three days he will revive us, and we shall live characterized. We never administer the Lord's in his sight," ver. 12. “After they had rest, Supper without protesting against them; we they did evil again before thee” (these are the never say any thing to them but "Wo, wo be words of Nehemiah,) "therefore thou didst to you;” and though, through a discipline of leave them in the hand of their enemies. When too much lenity, they escape excommunication, they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heard- yet never can they escape the anathemas, which est them from heaven, and many times didst God in his word denounces against unworthy thou deliver them, according to thy mercies. communicants. O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Ju- We mean here people of another character. dah, what shall I do unto thee? for your good- It is he among Christians who does not live in ness is as the morning cloud, and as the early the practice of all sins, but who does reserve dew it goeth away," chap. ix. 28.
some, and some of those which, says the gospel, 2. In a second class of transient devotions they who commit “shall not inherit the kingwe place that which religious solemnities pro- dom of God," 1 Cor. vi. 10. This man does duce. Providence always watching for our not with a brutal madness commit such crimes salvation, has established in the church not as harden him beyond reflection and remorse, only an ordinary ministry to cultivate our piety, but he has a sincere desire to a certain degree but some extraordinary periods proper to in- | to correct himself. He takes time enough to
prepare himself for the Lord's Supper, and spectfully attended to every thing we took the then he examines his conscience, meditates on liberty to say, we entered on the mortifying the great truths of religion, the justice of its subject, you submitted to the most humbling laws, the holiness of every part, and the rich and circumstantial detail, you yourself filled present which God bestowed on the church in up the list with articles unknown to us. Rethe person of his own Son. He is affected collect the sighs you uttered, the tears you shed, with these objects, he applies these truths to the reproofs you gave yourself, yea, the odious himself, he promises God to reform: but, in a names by which you described yourself. Refew days after the communion, he not only member the vows, the resolutions, the promises falls into one or two vicious actions, but he you made. What are become of all these fine gives himself up to a vicious habit, and per- projects of conversion and repentance, which sists in it till the next communion, when he should have had an influence over all your life? goes over again the same excesses of devotion, The degree of your piety was regulated by the which end again in the same vices, and so his degree of your malady. Devotion rose and whole life is a continual round of sin and re- fell with your pulse. Your zeal kept time pentance, repentance and sin. This is a second with your fever, and as the one decreased the sort of people whose devotions are transient. other died away, and the recovery of your
3. But, of all devotions of this kind, that health was the resurrection of sin. This man, which needs describing the most, because it this praying man, this holy soul, then full of comes nearest to true piety, and is most likely pious ejaculations and meditations, is now brimto be confounded with it, is that which is ex ful of the world. You are the original of the cited by the “fear of death,” and which van portrait in the text, and your piety is “ ishes as soon as the fear subsides.
morning cloud, and as the early dew that goeth The most emphatical, the most urgent, and away.” the most pathetical of all preachers is death. II. We have seen the nature, now let us alWhat can be said in this pulpit which death tend to the insufficiency of this kind of devotion. does not say with tenfold force? What truth Let us endeavour in this second part of our discan we explain, which death does not explain course to feel the energy of this reproof, “O with more evidence? Do we treat of the vanity Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, of the world? So does death; but with much what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is more power. The impenetrable veils which it as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it throws over all terrestrial objects, the midnight goeth away." darkness in which it involves them, the irrevo- 1. On a day like this, in which we have parcable orders it gives us to depart, the insur- taken of what is most tender in religion, and in mountable power it employs to tear us away, which we ought to yield to the soft feelings represent the vanity of the world better than which religion is so fit to excite, let us advert the most pathetical sermons. Do we speak of to a singular kind of argument proposed in the the horrors of sin? Death treats of this sub- text against transient devotions, that is, an arject more fully and forcibly than we; the pains gument of sentiment and love. it brings, the marks it makes upon us while Certainly all the images which it pleases God we are dying, the grave, to which it turns our to use in Scripture to make himself known to eyes as our habitation after death, represent us, those taken from our infirmities, our pasthe horror of sin more than the most affecting sions, our hatred, or our love, all are too imdiscourses. Do we speak of the value of di- perfect to represent a God, whose elevation vine mercy? Death excels in setting this forth above man renders it impossible to describe him too; hell opening under us, executioners of di- by any thing human. However, all these vine vengeance ranging themselves round our images have a bottom of truth, a real meaning bed, the sharp instruments held over us, repre- agreeable to the nature of God, and proporsent the mercy of God more fully than the tioned to his eminent and infinite excellence. most touching discourses. No sermons like God represents himself here under the image these! When then a sickness supposed to be of a prince who had formed an intimate conmortal attacks a man, who has knowledge and nexion with one of his subjects. The subject sentiment enough to render him accessible to seems deeply sensible of the honour done him. motives and reflections, but who has not either The prince signifies his esteem by a profusion respect enough for holiness, or love enough for of favours. The subject abuses them. The God thoroughly to attach himself to virtue, prince reprehends him. The subject is insenthen rises this morning cloud, this early dew sible and hard. To reproofs threatenings are that goeth away."
added, and threatenings are succeeded by a susI appeal to many of you. Recall, each of pension of favours. The subject seems moved, you, that memorable day of your life, in which affected, changed. The prince receives the sudden fear, dangerous symptoms, exquisite penitent with open arms, and crowns his repain, a pale physician, and, more than all that, formation with a double effusion of bountiful a universal faintness and imbecility of your donations. The ungrateful subject abuses them faculties seemed to condemn you to a hasty again. The prince reproves him again, threatdeath. Remember the prudence you have had, ons him again, and again suspends his liberality. at least appeared to have, to make salvation To avert the same evil the selfish ingrate makes your only care, banishing all company, forbid use of the former method, avails himself of the ding, your own children to approach, and con- intluence which the esteem of the prince gives versing with your pastor alone. Remember him, and again he obtains forgiveness. The the docility with which, renouncing all reluc- prince loves this violence: but the perfidious tance to speak of your own faults, and all subject knowing his goodness returns to his undesire to hear of those of other people, you re- grateful behaviour as often as his bountiful lord