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ON THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS. [SER. LXXXIII. Paul in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to aside? Is not the law equal? Are not you the Hebrews,-that there is, between them and called to be holy as they were holy? Is it not us, "a similarity of nature.” They had prin- said to you, as well as to them, “Be ye perfect, ciples of depravity in common with us. The as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," sole difference between them and us is, that they Matt. v. 48. The abridgement of the law, and counteracted, and endeavoured to eradicate the prophets,-is it not of the same force with those principles; whereas we suffer them to pre-regard to you, as to them, “Thou shalt love dominate and superadd the force of habit to the the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all infirmity of nature.
thy soul, and with all thy mind” Matt. xxii. 37. 1. That those distinguished men were born I am fully aware, that there is a difference with an understanding circumscribed as ours, between the effects of the love which God rerequires no proof. Seeing they have resisted quires of you, and which he required of them: the temptations into which our limited under- but that diversity of effects does not suppose standing has permitted us to fall; it evidently any change in the efficient cause. The efficient follows, that the difference between them and cause must be the same, how diversified soever us is, that when the objects of temptation were the effects may be: and if you are not called to presented, they endeavoured to turn, and fix make similar sacrifices, you are called to be their thoughts on the motives which enabled ready to do so, should they be required. You them to triumph; but we suffer those objects are not called, like Abraham, to immolate in entirely to engross the capacity of our souls. sacrifice to God your only son; but you are
3. Those distinguished men were born, as we called to have the same radical attachment and are, with certain propensities to some particular preference, which induced him to sacrifice his vices. There were in the disposition of their son, if required by your maker. And if you bodies, and in the essence of their souls, as in have not this profound attachment, or at least, ours, certain seeds, which prompted some to if you do not daily endeavour to obtain it, deone vice, and some to another. The history of ceive not yourselves, my brethren, you can those saints is too concise to state this truth in have no hope of salvation. You are not callall its lustre; but it is so far known as to be evi-ed, like Moses, to sacrifice a crown for religion, dent to a certain degree. Moses was naturally but you are called to have the same preference of an uncouth and warm temper; witness his and esteer for God which he had, provided a remonstrances with God when commanded to crown were offered. If you have not this prespeak to Pharaoh: witness his indignation when ference of affection; at least, if you do not enhe broke both the tables of the law; and when deavour to obtain it, deceive not yourselves, he struck the rock twice. David was born with my brethren, you can have no hopes of salvaa lascivious disposition: witness his intercourse tion. The difference between those illustrious with Bathsheba. He was born with a vindic- , saints and us, is not in the variety of vocation tive temper: witness the hasty resolution he in which Providence has called us, but in the formed against Nabal, and accompanied with manner of our obedience. They understood an oath so unbecoming a saint. “ So and more their vocation, and were obedient; but we, we also do God unto the enemies of David, if I overlook it, or take as much pains to disguise leave of all that pertaineth unto him by the it, as they did to know it; and when we are morning light, either man or beast," 1 Sam. constrained to know it, and our conscience is xxy. 22. What we have said of David, and of constrained to discover its duty, we violate in Moses, we might confirm by other saints. practice those very maxims we have been Hence, if the love of God was predominant, in obliged to acknowledge in theory. the soul of those illustrious saints, over concu- II. Human depravity has not only innumepiscence, while concupiscence in us so fre- rable subtleties, but we even urge them. Somequently predominates over the love of God: times, in order to excuse our deviations from if they ran with patience the race set before those illustrious saints, we allege the superiority them;" whilst we are so frequently interrupted of their temptations over those, to which Proin the course:--it was not because those saints vidence has exposed us; and sometimes, on the were not born with the same principles of de- contrary, the superiority of their temptations pravity which prompt us to particular sins, but over those, to which Heaven exposes us, over because we abandon ourselves to those princi- those to which it exposed them. Be it so; but ples, and make no efforts to oppose them! after you have proved that they did not resist whereas they struggled hard lest they should any temptation which we would not have commit the crimes, to which they were inclined resisted had we been in their situation; I will by nature.
prove that we are not exposed to any such vioII. There is between those illustrious saints lent temptations over which they have not oband us a similarity of vocation. Does this article tained the same victories which are required of require proof? Can you be so little acquainted us. What are the violent temptations with with religion, as to suppose that they were which you are captivated, and whose violence called to make a constant progress in holiness, you are accustomed to allege, in order to exbut that you are called only to a certain degree cuse your falls? of virtue? That they were called to give vic- Are they temptations of poverty-How dif torious effect to the love of God over depravity, ficult is it, when we want means to supply the and that you are called to permit depravity to pressing calls of nature not to be exercised predominate over the love of God? That they with anxiety! How difficult is it, when we exwere called to a habit, and a constant habit of pect to perish with hunger, to believe ourselves piety, but that God merely requires you to do the favourites of that Providence which " feeds a few virtuous actions, to acquire a temporary the fowls of heaven, and clothes the lilies of habit of holiness, and then allows you to lay it the fields,” Matt. vi. 26. 28. And when we
Sen. LXXXIII.) ON THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS.
, who was frequently on the point of
tions. The saints, whom St. Paul adduces as Are they temptations of prosperity? The models, liave vanquished this class of temptatemptations of prosperity are incomparably tions. Look only at the conduct of those noble more dangerous than those of adversity; at martyrs, to whom he is desirous of calling the least, the objects of adversity remind us of our attention of the Hebrews. Look at the tragie indigence and inability; and removing the means but instructive history of that family, mentionof gratification, the passions become either sub-ed in the seventh chapter of the second Book dued, or restrained and mortified. But pros- of Maccabees. The barbarous Antioch, says perity ever presents us with a flattering por- the historian, seized on a mother and her seven trait of ourselves; it prompts us to aspire at sons, and resolved, by whips and scourges, to independence, and strengthens all our corrupt foree them to eat swine's flesh. The eldest of propensities by the facility of gratification.- the seven boldly asserted his readiness to die 'The saints, proposed as models by the Holy for his religion. The king, enraged with anSpirit, have vanquished those temptations. -ger, commanded the iron-pans, and brazen See Abraham surrounded with riches; behold chaldrons, to be heated, and him who first him ever mindful of that divine injunction, spake to be flayed alive; his tongue cut out; “Walk before me, and be thou perfect," Gen. the extremities of his limbs to be cut off, in xvii. 1. See Job, see him over employing presence of his mother and brethren; and his his wealth for him from whom he received it! body to be roasted while yet alive, in one of See him preventing the abuse his children the burning pans. O my God! what a sight might have made of his opulence, rising early for the persons so tenderly united to this marin the morning after their feasts, and offering tyr! But this scene, very far from shaking their sacrifiee on their account; “It may be,” said constaney, contributed to its support. They he, “my sons have sinned, and cursed God in animated one another to an heroic death; aftheir hearts,” Job i. 5. Seo David on the firming that God would sustain their minds, and throne,-see him making a sacred use of his assuage their anguish. The second of those power. “Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful brothers, the third, the fourth, the fifth, and in the land, that they may dwell with me; he sixth, sustained the same sufferings, and with that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve the same support, in presence of their mother. me. I will early destroy all the wicked of the What idea do you form of this woman, you land, that I may cut off all the wicked doers timorous mothers, who hear me to-day? In from the city of the Lord,” Ps. ci. 6-8. See what language, think you, did she address her him laudably employed in resuming those plea- sons? Do you think that nature triumphed sures of piety retarded by the affairs of state. over grace; that, after having offered to God What he could not do in the vicissitudes of the six of her sons, she made efforts, at least to day, he reserved for the shades of night. He save the seventh, that he might afford her concontemplated the marvels of his Maker, dis- solation for the loss sustained in the other six? played by the night. Thus he expressed his No, says the historian, she exhorted him to die sentiments, “When I consider the heavens, the like a martyr: Antioch compelled her to prework of thy fingers, the moon and stars, which sent the seventh that she might prevent his thou hast ordained, what is man, that thou art death. But she said, “O my son, have pity mindful of him; and the son of man, that thou upon me, that bare thee nine months in my visitest him?” Ps. viii. 3, 4.
womb, and gave thee suck three years, and Are they temptations arising from the length nourished thee, and brought thee up unto this of the course, which seems to have no end, and age, and endured the troubles of education. I which always requires fresh exercise of piety? beseech thee, my son, look upon the heaven It is incomparably more easy to make a basty and the earth, and all that is therein, and know sacrifice for religion, than to do it daily by de- the author of thy being. Fear not this torgrees. Virtue is animated on great occasions, mentor; but, being worthy of thy brethren, and collects the whole of its resources and take thy death, that I may receive thee again strength; but how few have the resolution to in mercy with thy brethren.” sustain a long career. The saints, whom St. Perhaps the historian has embellished his Paul adduces as models, have vanquished this heroes; perhaps he has been more ambitious to kind of temptation. See Moses,-behold him astonish than to instruct; and to flatter the por
trait, than to paint the original. The history | did not know the doctrine of a future state? of our own age confirms the past age; the his- St. Paul affirms quite the contrary. What is tory of our own tyrants, substantiales all that meant by their “not being made perfect withis said of the Jewish tyrants: and the constancy out us?” Is it as some of the primitive faof our modern Maccabees, is a sure test of thers, and as some of our modern divines have what is said concerning the constancy of the thought, that the Old Testament saints were ancient Maccabees. What has been the seed not received into heaven till the ascension of of the reformed church? It is the blood of the Jesus Christ. This is contrary to other pasreformers, and of the first reformed. What sages of our Scriptures. But “they received was the rise of this republic? It was the light not the promise," that is to say, with the same of fagots kindled to consume it. Inhabitants clearness as Christians. “They without us of these provinces, what were your ancestors were not made perfect;" the perfect knowledge Confessors and martyrs. And you, my dear of immortality and life being the peculiar prefellow-countrymen, whence are you come? rogative of the Christian church. Whatever “Out of great tribulation.” What are you? be the sense of those words of St. Paul, we “Brands plucked from the burning.” Fathers, will show, that this doctrine of immortality and who have seen their children die for religion; life is no longer covered with a veil, as it was children who have seen their fathers die for re- previously to the introduction of the gospel; ligion. O that God may forbear hearkening but it is demonstrated by a multitude of arguto the voice of so much blood, which cries to ments which sound reason, though less imHeaven for vengeance on those who shed it! proved than that of the ancients, enables us to May God, in placing the crown of righteous- adduce for conviction; and they are placed in ness on the heads of those who suffered, pardon evidence by Jesus Christ. Let us introduce those who caused their death! May we be, at this Jesus to you; let us cause you to hear this least, permitted to recount the history of our Jesus animating you by doctrine and example brethren, who have conquered in the fight; to in the course; "'Him that overcometh,” says encourage those who have yet to combat, but he, “will I grant to sit down with me on who so disgracefully draw back. Ah! genera- my throne, even as I also overcame, and am tion of confessors and martyrs, would you de- set down with my Father on his throne,” grade the nobility of your descent Your fa- Rev. iii. 21. thers have confessed their religion amid the se- V. The last article, -happily adapted to verest tortures: and would you deny in these silence those who avail themselves of the dishappy provinces, enlightened by the truth? tinguished virtues of those saints for not acHave they sacrificed their lives for religion, cepting them as models; or, to conclude in a and will you refuse to sacrifice a portion of manner more correspondent to our ministry, your riches Ah, my brethren, Seeing we an article well calculated to support us in the also are compassed about with so great a cloud race God has set before all his saints—is, that of witnesses, let us run with patience the race between us and those who have finished it with that is set before us."
joy, there is a similarity of assistance. By nature IV. I have said that there is, between us they were like us, incapable of running the and those illustrious saints, proposed as models race; and by the assistance of grace we become by the Holy Spirit, a similarity of motives. It capable of running like them. Let us not imimplies a contradiction, to suppose that they had agine that we honour the deity by making a more powerful motives to animate them in their certain sort of absurd complaints concerning course, than those we have proposed to you. our weakness; let us not ascribe to him what Yes, it implies a contradiction, that the Abra- proceeds solely from our corruption: it is inhams, quitting their country, the land of their compatible with his perfections to expose a frail nativity, and wandering they knew not where, creature to the force of temptation, and exhort in obedience to the divine call:—it implies a him to conquer it without affording the aid contradiction, that the Moseses preferred “af- requisite to obtain the victory. Be not disfliction with the people of God, to the pleasures couraged, Christian champion, at the inequality of sin, which are but for a season:”-it implies God has made in the proportion of aids afforda contradiction, that this multitude of martyrs, ed to them, and to thee; be not discouraged some of whom were tormented, others were on seeing thyself led by the plain paths of nastonod, others were sawn asunder, others were ture, while nature was inverted for them; while killed by the sword:—it implies a contradiction, they walked in the depth of the sea; while they that those illustrious saints have beheld, at the "threw down the walls of Jericho by the sound close of their course, a more valuable prize than of rams'-horns, shut the mouths of lions, that extended to you. This prize is a blissful quenched the violence of the fire, escaped the immortality. Here the whole advantage is on edge of the sword, waxing valiant in fight, your side. This prize is placed more distinctly and turning to fight the armies of the aliens.” in your sight, than it was in the view of those we might perform all those prodigies, and not illustrious characters. This, I really think, obtain salvation. Yes, we might put to flight was St. Paul's view at the close of the chapter, the armies of the aliens, display invincible in which he enumerates the saints, whose vir- valour in the warfare, escape the edge of the tues have formed the leading subject of this sword, quench the violence of the fire, stop the discourse. “These all, having obtained a good mouths of lions, overturn walls, force a passage report through faith, received not the promise; through the sea, and yet be numbered with God having provided some better things for us, those to whom Christ will say, “I know you that they, without us, should not be made per- not.” And dost thou fear, Christian combatfect.” What is implied in their “not having ant, dost thou fear to attain salvation without received the promise?" Does it mean that they I those miraculous aids. The requisite assistance
for thy salvation is promised. “The fountain of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and
0! if we knew the value of wisdom! If we and promised aids should inspire the mind of a
among the heathen: and pursuing the same thought, he represents the precautions used by
athletics to obtain the prize, as those which we SERMON LXXXIII.
must use in order to be crowned. The weights
of flowing robes, such as were once, and such ON THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS. as are still worn by oriental nations, would PART II.
very much encumber those who ran in the
Just so, inordinate cares, I would say, HEBREWS xii. I.
cares concerning temporal things, and criminal
purposes, exceedingly encumber those who Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about enter on the course of salvation. I not only
with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay allude to criminal purposes (for who can be so aside every weight, and the sin which doth so ignorant of religion as to deny it,) but also to easily besei us, and let us run wilh patience the excessive cares. St. Paul, in my opinion, race that is set before us.
had this double view. He requires us not only We proceed this day, my brethren, to show to lay sin aside, but every weight; that is, all you the way which leads to the end proposed those secular affairs unconnected with
our proin our two preceding discourses. The words fession. In St. Paul's view, these affairs are we have now read for the third time, placed to the Christian, what the flowing robes would three things before your view,- distinguished have been to the athletics of whom we spake. duties, excellent models, -and wise precau- How instructive is this idea! How admirably tions. The distinguished duties are illustrated calculated, if seriously considered, to rectify our in the perseverance we pressed in our first dis- notions of morality! I do not wish to make course. The excellent models are the saints the Christian to become an anchoret. I do not of the highest order, and, in particular, the wish to degrade those useful men, whom God " cloud of witnesses with which we are sur- seems to have formed to be the soul of society; rounded.” Of these, St. Paul has made an and of whom we may say in the political world, enumeration and eulogium in the chapter pre- as St. Paul has said in the ecclesiastical, “I am ceding that from which our text is read; and debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbariwhose virtues we have traced in our last dis- ans,” Rom. i. 14. “Besides those things that course. But, by what means may we attain are without, that which cometh upon mo daily, an end so noble? By what means may we the care of all the churches,” 2 Cor. xi. 28. discharge duties so distinguished, and form our- On the other hand, we often deceive our. selves on models so excellent. This shall be selves with regard to what is called in the the inquiry in our present discourse. It is by world—business! Take an example of a man "laying aside every weight, and the sin which born with all the uprightness of mind compatidoth so easily beset us.-Wherefore, seeing we ble with the loss of primitive innocence. While also are compassed about with so great a cloud | left to the reflection of his own mind in early
ON THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS. [Ser. LXXXIII. life, he followed the dictates of reason, and the to the games of the heathen: not indeed to the sentiments of virtue. His mind, undisturbed sports of the course, as in the words of my with the anxieties inseparable from the man- text, but to the cest,* in which the wrestlers agement of a large fortune, applied almost sometimes received a mortal blow. And this wholly to the study of truth, and the practice idea necessarily includes that of martyrdom. of virtue. But some officious friends, a proud But, O! how evasive is the flesh, when placed and avaricious family, the roots of vanity, and in those critical circumstances! What excuses love of exterior grandeur, scarcely ever eradi- will it not make rather than acquiesce in the cated, have induced him to push his fortune, proposition! Must I die for religion? Must I and distinguish himself in the world. He as- be stretched on the rack? Must I be hung in pires to civil employment. The solicitations chains on a gibbet? Must I mount a pile of to which he must descend, the intrigues he fagots? St. Paul has therefore doubled the idea must manage, the friends with whom he must in my text. He was desirous to strengthen the temporize to obtain it, have suspended his first Hebrews with a twofold class of arguments: viz. habits of life. He accomplishes the object of those required against the temptations common his wishes. The office with which he is in- to all Christians; and those peculiar to the afvested, requires application. Distraction be- flictive circumstances in which they were placed comes an indispensable duty. The corruption by Providence. It was proper to press this of his heart, but slightly extinguished, rekindles double idea. This is our second remark for the by so much dissipation. After having been illustration of our text. some time without the study of truths, once The third turns on the progress the Hebrews his favourite concern, he becomes habituated had already made in the Christian religion. not to think of them at all. He loses his re- The nature of this progress determines farther collection of them. He becomes exhausted in the very character of the advice required, and the professional duties he has acquired with so the precise meaning of those expressions, much solicitude. He must have a temporary “Laying aside every weight, and the sin that recess from business. The study of truth, and doth so easily beset us.” We never give to a the practice of virtue, should now be resumed. man who has already made a proficiency in an But he must have a little recreation, a little art or science, the instructions we would give company, a little wine. Meanwhile age ap- to a pupil. We never warn a mariner, who proaches, and death
far advanced. But, has traversed the seas for many years, not to when he to enter on the work of salvation strike against a rock which lifts its summit to Happy he, my brethren, who seeks no rela- the clouds, and is perceived by all who have tions in life, than those to which he is called eyes. We never caution a soldier, blanched by duty! Happy he, who in retirement, and in the service, not to be surprised by maif you please, in the obscurity of mediocrity, næuvres of an enemy, which might deceive far from grandeur and from courts, makes sal- those who are entering on the first campaign. vation if not his sole, at least his principal con- There were men among the Hebrews to whom cern. Excessive cares, as much as criminal the apostle wrote, who, according to his own pursuits, are weights which retard exceedingly remark, had need to be taught again "the the Christian in his course. “Let us lay aside principles of the doctrine of Christ:” that is, every weight and the sin that doth so easily the first elements of Christianity. We find beset us, and let us run with patience the race many among the catechumens, who, according that is set before us." This is St. Paul's idea to an expression he uses, had need of milk, and in the words of my text: and it is the first re- were unable to digest strong meat, Heb. v. 12. mark requisite for its illustration.
But we ought not to conceive the same idea The second devolves on the peculiar situa- of all the Hebrews. The progress many of tion in which the Hebrews were placed, to them had made in religion, superseded, with whom the advice is given. These Hebrews, regard to them, the instructions we might give like ourselves, were Christians. They were to those entering on the course. I cannot called, as we are called, to run the race of vir- think, that those Hebrews, who in former days tue, without which no man can obtain the had been enlightened;—those Hebrews, who prize promised by the gospel. In this view, had “endured a great fight of afflictions;"'they required the same instructions which are those Hebrews, who, according to the force of requisite with regard to ourselves.
the Greek term, used in the tenth chapter of But the Christians, to whom this epistle was this epistle," had been exposed on the theatre addressed, lived, as was observed in our first of the world, by affliction and by becoming a discourse, in an age of persecution. They gazing-stock;—those Hebrews, "who had tawere daily on the eve of martyrdom. It was ken joyfully the spoiling of their goods,” Heb. for this that the apostle prepares them through- xi. 33, 34;-I cannot think that they had need out the whole of this epistle. To this he espe- of precautions against the gross temptations, cially disposes them in the words which imme- by which Satan seduces those who have only diately follow those I have discussed. “ Con- an external acquaintance with Christianity. sider diligently,” says he, adducing the author The principal design of the apostle, in the and finisher of our faith, who so nobly ran the words of my text, is, to fortify them against career of martyrdom; “Consider diligently him those subtle snares, and plausible pretences, that endured such contradiction of sinners which sometimes induced Christians to relapse, against himself, lest ye be weary and faint in who seemed the most established. These are your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin," Heb. xii. 3, 4. * The Cestus was a severe mode of fighting, in which What does he mean by their not having yet ball of lead sewed in leather. See Virgil's Enciad.,
pugilists were armed either with a cudgel, or with a resisted unto blood? Here is still a reference Book v.