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that the soul of Felix was created for the government of Judea; and that the grand doctrines of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come, ought to serve at most but to pass away the time, or merely to engross one's leisure? "When I have a convenient
Ah! unhappy Felix, what hast thou to do of such vast importance? Is it to execute the imperial commission? But art thou not a subject of the King of kings, in whose presence Cesar himself is but a worm of earth?" Has not God given thee a soul to improve, virtues to acquire, and an eternal kingdom to conquer? Was it to immerse thyself in sensual pleasures? But how canst thou taste those pleasures, after the terrific portrait of a future judgment, which has been exhibited to thy view? Does not the voice of St. Paul perpetually resound in thy ears; and, like a fury obstinately attending thy steps, does it not disturb thy indolence and voluptuous delight.
We suspend here the course of our meditation, to close with a few reflections on the truths we have delivered. We have affirmed in the body of this discourse, and with the greatest propriety, that we should commence the application with regard to ourselves. St. Paul here communicates an important lesson to all ministers of the gospel. His sincerity, his courage, his constancy, are perfect models; on which every faithful pastor should form himself. Let us follow, my most honoured brethren, this illustrious model. "Let us be followers of him, even as he was of Christ." Like him, let us never temporize with the sinner. Like him, let us speak of righteousness to the covetous; of temperance to the voluptuous; of a future judgment to the great of this world, and to all those whom objects less terrific are incapable to alarm. Let us never say, "peace, peace, when there is no peace." Let us thunder, let us expostulate, let us shoot against them the arrows of the Almighty's wrath; not fearing the Felixes and Drusillas of our age. Here is our vocation. Here is the charge which God now delivers to every one who has the honour of succeeding Paul in the order of the ministry.
But how shall we discharge the duty? What murmuring would not a similar liberty excite among our hearers? If we should address you as St. Paul addressed Felix; if we should declare war against you individually; if we should unmask the many mysteries of iniquity in which you are involved; if we should rend the veil which covers so many dishonourable practices; you would interrupt us; you would retaliate on our weakness and infirmities; you would say, "Go thy way for this time;" carry elsewhere a ministry so disgustful and revolting. Well! we will accomodate ourselves to your taste. We will pay all deference to your arguments, and respect even a false delicacy. But if we exercise this indulgence towards you, permit us to expect the same in return, and to make for the moment this chimerical supposition. You know the character of St. Paul; at least you ought to know it. If you are unacquainted with it, the discourse he delivered in the presence of Felix is sufficient to delineate its excellence. Suppose, instead of
the sermon you have heard, that St. Paul had addressed this assembly. Suppose, instead of what we have now advanced, this apostle had preached, and filled the place in which we now stand. Suppose that St. Paul, that sincere preacher, that man, who, before Felix and Drusilla, "reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." Suppose he had preached to-day before the multitude now present: let us speak ingenuously. What sort of application would he have made? What subject would he have discussed? What vices would he have reproved? What estimate would he have formed of most of your lives? What judgment would he have entertained concerning this worldly spirit, which captivates so great a multitude? What would he have said of that insatiable avarice in the acquisition of wealth, which actuates the general mass; which makes us like the grave, incessantly crying, Give, give, and never says, It is enough? What would he have said concerning the indifference about religion said to be found among many of us, as though the sacrifices, formerly made for our reformation, had been the last efforts of expiring religion, which no longer leaves the slightest trace upon the mind? What would he have said of those infamous debaucheries apparently sanctified by a frantic custom, and which ought not to be named among Christians Extend the supposition. It is St. Paul who delivers those admonitions. It is Paul himself who expands to your view the hell he opened before Felix and Drusilla: who conjures you by the awful glory of the God, who will judge the living and the dead, to reform your lives, and assume a conduct correspondent to the Christian name you have the honour to bear.
To the ministry of the apostle, we will join exhortations, entreaties, and fervent prayers. We conjure you by the mercies of that God who took his Son from his own bosom and gave him for you, and by the value of your salvation, to yield a ministry so pathetic.
Be mindful of "righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come." Observe this equity in your dealings; never indulge the propensity to unlawful gain. "Render to Cesar the things that are Cesar's," Mark_xii. 17. Respect the rights of the sovereign. Pay "tribute to whom tribute is due," Rom. xiii. 7. Let the indigence and obscurity of your labourers and lowest artists be respectable in your sight; recollecting that the "little that a righteous man hath, is better than the riches of many wicked," Ps. xxxvii. 16. Do not narrow the rules of rectitude; keep in view, that God did not send you into the world to live for yourselves. To live solely for ourselves is a maxim altogether unbecoming a Christian; and to intrench ourselves in hoards of gold and silver, placed above the vicissitudes of human life, is a conduct the most incompatible with that religion whose sole characteristic is compassion and benevolence.
Observe also this temperance. Exclude luxury from every avenue of your heart. Renounce
* In Pratt's Gleanings, we have an account of dancing rooms in Holland, where ruined girls dance under the lash of a superior. To these, and other shameful establishments, Saurin seems to refer in several of his sermons.
all unlawful pleasures, and every criminal intrigue. Caution your conduct, especially in this licentious place, in which the facility of vice is a continual temptation to its charms. Let your chastity be apparent in your dress, in your furniture, in your conversation. "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt," Col. iv. 6. According to St. Peter's advice, "Let not the adorning of women be that outward adorning, of plaiting the hair, and of wearing gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price," 1 Pet. iii. 3, 4. Recollect, that the law of God is spiritual; that there is an impurity of the mind, an adultery of the heart; that certain desires to please, certain disguised emotions, certain lascivious airs, and certain attempts to wound the virtue of others (though we may apparently observe the most rigid rules of decorum,) may be as heinous before God as the most glaring faults into which a man may have been reluctantly precipitated by his passions, and in which the will may have had the less concern.
Jews converted, the elements dissolved, the heavens folded up as a garment, the foundations of the earth shaken, and its fashion passed away.
Enter seriously into these reflections. And, since each of the duties we have just prescribed requires time and labour, avoid dissipation and excess of business. My brethren, it is here that we would redouble our zeal, and would yet find the way to your hearts. We will not enter the detail of your engagements; we will not turn over the pages of your account. We will not visit your counting-houses. We will not even put the question, whether your business is always lawful; whether the rights of the sovereign and the individual are punctually discharged: We will suppose that all is fair on these points. But consider only that the most innocent engagements become criminal, when pursued with excessive application, and preferred to the work of salvation.
This maxim belongs to you, merchants, dealers, tradesmen. You see, at this period, the poverty and wretchedness which assail an infinite number of families. The soldier languishes in the midst of war without employto|ment, and he is in some sort obliged to beg his bread. The nobleman, far from his means
Keep constantly in view, "the judgment come." Think, Ŏ think, that an invisible eye watches over all your actions. Think that they are all registered in a faithful journal which shall be produced before the universe, in the great day, when Jesus Christ shall descend in glory from heaven.
My dear brethren, be not ingenious to enfeeble conviction by accounting the object remote. The trumpet is ready to sound, the books are about to be opened, and the throne is already prepared. The views of the soul are circumscribed, like the sight of the body. The narrow circle of surrounding objects engrosses nearly the whole of our attention; and retards the extension of thought to superior concerns. The reality of a judgment comprises so many amazing revolutions in the universe, that we cannot regard the design as ready for execution. We cannot conceive the face of nature to change with such rapidity; and that those awful revolutions which must precede the advent of the Son of God, may occur in a few ages. But let us not be deceived. I grant you are right in the principle, but you err in the consequence. There is nothing in the most distant occurrence of this period which can flatter security. If the judgment be remote with regard to the world, it is near with respect to you. It is not necessary, with regard to you, for the face of nature to be changed, the Jews to be called into the covenant, the sound of the gospel to go to the end of the earth, the moon to be turned to darkness, the stars to fall from heaven, the clements to melt with fervent heat, the heavens to pass away with a great noise, and the earth to be dissolved. There is only wanting a deficiency of humours in your body; only a little blood out of its place; only some fibre disorganized; only an inflammation in the head, a little diminution or augmentation of heat or cold in the brain;-and behold your sentence is pronounced. Behold, with regard to you, the world overturned, the sun darkened, the moon become bloody, the gospel preached, the i
a thousand times more unhappy than the peasant-has no industry to procure his bread. The learned man is even a burden; and the productions of the greatest geniuses, so far from receiving remuneration, are not even noticed.
Amidst such a series of calamities, you alone have means for the acquisition of riches. A government mild and lenient, a commerce vast and productive, opens, if I may so speak, all the avenues of fortune. The eastern and western world seem to concur in the augmentation of your wealth. You live not only with ease, but elegance. Your houses are sumptuously furnished, your tables deliciously served: and after the enjoyment of these advantages, you transmit them to posterity; even after death you still taste and enjoy them in the persons of your children. But it would have been a thousand times better that you should have lived to augment the number of the wretched; if you permit these favours of Heaven to frustrate your salvation; and put off the apostle, saying, as to unhappy Felix, "When I have seen a convenient season, I will recall thee. Go thy way for this time." I have payments to meet, I have orders to write.
Let us seclude ourselves from bustle and tumult. Let us seek retirement, recollection and silence. And may the death which is at hand, expressing myself with a prophet, induce us to "make haste and not delay returning to the testimonies of the Lord," Ps. exix. 59, 60.
My brethren, you are not sufficiently impressed with this thought. But we,-we, to whom God has committed the superintendance of a great people;-we, if I may so speak, who are called to exercise our ministry in a world of dead and dying men, who see lopped off in succession every member of a numerous flock; we are alarmed, when we consider the delays which predominate in the conduct of
most Christians. We never ascend the pulpit, but it seems that we address you for the last time. It seems that we should exhaust the whole of religion, to pluck our heroes from the world, and never let them go till we have intrusted them in the arms of Jesus Christ. It seems that we should bid you an eternal farewell; that we are stretched on our bed of death, and that you are in a similar situation.
Yes, Christians, this is the only moment on which we can reckon. It is, perhaps, the only acceptable time. It is, perhaps, the last day of our visitation. Let us improve a period so precious. Let us no longer say,-by and by
at another time; but let us-to-day-this moment-even now. Let the pastor say, I have been insipid in my sermons, and remiss in my conduct; having been more solicitous, during the exercise of my ministry, to advance my family, than to build up the Lord's house. I will preach hereafter with fervour and with zeal. I will be vigilant, sober, rigorous, and disinterested. Let the miser say, I have riches ill acquired. I will purge my house with illicit wealth. I will overturn the altar of Mammon, and erect another to the Supreme Jehovah. Let the prodigal say, I will extinguish the unhappy fires by which I am consumed, and kindle in my bosom the flame of divine love. Ah, unhappy passions, which war against my soul; sordid attachments; irregular propensities; emotions of concupiscence; law in the members; I will know you no more. I will make with you an eternal divorce, I will from this moment open my heart to the Eternal Wisdom, who condescends to ask it.
If we are in this happy disposition, if we thus become regenerate, we shall enjoy from this moment foretastes of the glory, which God has prepared. From this moment, the truths of religion, so far from casting discouragement and terror on the soul, shall heighten its consolation and joy; from this moment, heaven shall open on this audience, paradise shall descend into your heart, and the Holy Spirit shall come and dwell there. He will bring that peace, and those joys, which pass all understanding. And, commencing our felicity on earth, he will give us the earnest of his consummation. God grant us the grace! To him, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and ever. Amen.
thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to
This being understood, we cannot observe without astonishment the slight attention, most men pay to an institution, of which they seem to entertain such exalted notions. The tendency would not be happy in conciliating your attention to the discourse, were I to commence by a humiliating portrait of the manners of the age; in which some of you would have occasion to recognise your own character. But the fact is certain, and I appeal to your consciences. Do we take the same precaution in contracting a covenant with God in the eucharist, which is exercised in a treaty on which the prosperity of the state, or domestic happiness depends? When the latter is in question, we confer with experienced men, we weigh the terms, and investigate with all possible sagacity, what is stipulated to us, and what we stipulate in return. But when we come to renew the high covenant, in which the immortal God condescends to be our God, in which we devote ourselves to him, we deem the slightest examination every way sufficient. We frequently even repel with indignation a judicious man, who would venture, by way of caution, to ask, "What are you going to do? What engage
ON THE COVENANT OF GOD WITH ments are you about to form? What calamities are you about to bring on yourselves?"
One grand cause of this defect, proceeds, it is presumed, from our having for the most part, inadequate notions of what is called contracting, or renewing, our covenant with God. We commonly confound the terms, by vague or confused notions: hence one of the best remedies we can apply to an evil so general, is to explain their import with precision. Having searched from Genesis to Revelation, for the happiest text affording a system complete and clear on the subject, I have fixed on the words you have heard. They are part of the discourse Moses addressed to the Israelites, when he arrived on the frontiers of the promised
DEUT. xxix. 10-19.
Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from thy hewer of wood, unto the drawer of thy water: that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day: that he may establish thee to-day, for a people unto himself: and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath been unto
My brethren, this sabbath is a covenant-day between God and us. This is the design of our sacraments; and the particular design of the holy supper we have celebrated in the morning service. So our catechists teach; so our children understand; and among the less instructed of this assembly there is scarcely one, if we should ask him what is a sacrament, but would answer, "it is a symbol of the covenant between God and Christians."
land, and was about to give an account of the most important ministry God had ever entrusted to any mortal.
I enter now upon the subject. And after having again implored the aid of Heaven; after having conjured you, by the compassion of Farther still: whatever superiority our con God, who this day pours upon us such an abun- dition may have over the Jews; in whatever dance of favours, to give so important a subject more attracting manner he may have now rethe consideration it deserves; I lay down at vealed himself to us; whatever more tender once a principle generally received among bands, and gracious cords of love God may Christians. The legal, and the evangelical have employed, to use an expression of a procovenant. The covenant God contracted with phet, will serve only to augment our misery, if the Israelites by the ministry of Moses, and we prove unfaithful. "For if the word spoken the covenant he has contracted this morning by angels was steadfast, and every transgression with you, differ only in circumstances, being and disobedience received a just recompense of in substance the same. Properly speaking, reward, how shall we escape, if we neglect so God has contracted but one covenant with great salvation?" Heb. ii. 2, 3. "For ye are man since the fall, the covenant of grace upon not come unto the mountain that might be Mount Sinai; whose terrific glory induced the touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto Israelites to say, "Let not God speak with us, blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the lest we die," Exod. xx. 19. Amid so much sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, lightnings and thunders, devouring fire, dark-which voice they that heard, entreated that the ness and tempest; and notwithstanding this pro-word should not be spoken to them any more. hibition, which apparently precluded all inter- But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto course between God and sinful man, "Take the city of the living God, the heavenly Jeruheed-go not up into the mount, or touch the salem, and to an innumerable company of anborder of it: there shall not a hand touch it, gels, to the general assembly and church of the but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through;" first-born, which are written in heaven, and to upon this mountain, I say, in this barren wil- God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just derness, were instituted the tenderest ties God men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator ever formed with his creature: amid the awful of the new covenant, and to the blood of punishments which we see so frequently fall sprinkling, that speaketh better things than upon those rebellious men; amid fiery serpents that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that which exhaled against them a pestilential breath, speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused God shed upon them the same grace he so him that spake on earth, much more shall not abundantly pours on our assemblies. The Is- we escape, if we turn away from him that raelites, to whom Moses addresses the words speaketh from heaven," Heb. xii. 18-25. of my text, had the same sacraments: they were all baptized in the cloud; they did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ," 1 Cor. x. 2, 3. The same appellations; it was said to them as to you, "If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine," Exod. xix. 5. The same promises; for "they saw the promises afar off, and embraced them," Heb. xi. 13.
Hence the principle respecting the legal, and evangelical covenant is indisputable. The covenant God formerly contracted with the Israelites by the ministry of Moses, and the covenant he has made with us this morning in the sacrament of the holy supper are but one covenant. And what the legislator said of the first, in the words of my text, we may say of the second, in the explication we shall give. Now, my brethren, this faithful servant of God required the Israelites to consider five things in the covenant they contracted with their Maker.
I. The sanctity of the place: "Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord; that is, before his ark, the most august symbol of his presence."
Christ as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer," 1 Cor. x 5-10. You know the language of St. Paul.
On the other hand, amid the consolatory objects which God displays before us at this period, in distinguished lustre; and notwithstanding these gracious words which resound in this church, "Grace, grace unto it." Notwithstanding this engaging voice, "Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden;" and amid the abundant mercy we have seen displayed this morning at the Lord's table; if we should violate the covenant he has established with us, you have the same cause of fear as the Jews. We have the same Judge, equally awful now, as at that period; "for our God is a consuming fire," Heb. xii. 29. We have the same judgments to apprehend. "With many of them, God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were for our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as some of them. Neither let us commit fornication as some of them committed, and fell in one day twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt
II. The universality of the contract: "Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord, the captains of your tribes, your elders, your of ficers, and all the men of Israel: your little ones, your wives, and the stranger who is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of wood to the drawer of water."
Lord your God, to go and serve the gods of | in its clearness;" an emblem which God chose these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood."
V. The oath of the covenant;"Thou enter est into the covenant and the execration by an oath."
1. Moses required the Israelites to consider the sanctity of the place in which the covenant was contracted with God. It was consecrated by the divine presence. "Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord." Not only in the vague sense in which we say of all our words and actions, "God sees me; God hears me; all things are naked and open to him in whose presence I stand;" but in a sense more confined. The Most High dwells not in human temples. "What is the house ye build to me, and where is the place of my rest? Behold the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee, much less the house that I have built." He chose, however, the Tabernacle for his habitation, and the Ark for his throne. There he delivered his oracles; there he issued his supreme commands. Moses assembled the Israelites, it is presumed, near to this majestic pavilion of the Deity, when he addressed to them the words of my text; at least I think I can prove, from correspondent passages of Scripture, that this is the true acceptation of the expression, "Before the Lord."
The Christians having more enlightened notions of the Divinity than the Jews, have the less need to be apprized that God is an omnipresent Being, and unconfined by local residences. We have been taught by Jesus Christ, that the true worshippers restrict not their devotion to Mount Zion, nor Mount Gerizim; they worship God in spirit and in truth. But let us be cautious, lest, under a pretence of removing some superstitious notions, we refine too far. God presides in a peculiar manner in our temples, and in a peculiar manner even "where two or three are met together in his name:" more especially in a house consecrated to his glory; more especially in places in which a whole nation come to pay their devotion. The more august and solemn our worship, the more is God intimately near. And what part of the worship we render to God, can be more august than that we have celebrated this morning? In what situation can the thought, "I am seen and heard of God;" in what situation can it impress our hearts if it have not impressed them this morning?
perhaps, because sapphire was among the Egyptians an emblem of royalty; as is apparent in the writings of those who have preserved the hieroglyphics of that nation.
The eyes of your understanding, were not they also enlightened this morning? God was present at this house; he was seated here on a throne, more luminous than the brightest sapphire, and amid the myriads of his host. It was before the presence of the Lord descended in this temple as on Sinai in holiness, that we appeared this morning; when, by the august symbols of the body and blood of the Redeemer of mankind, we came again to take the oath of fidelity we have so often uttered, and so often broken. It was in the presence of God that thou didst appear, contrite heart! Penitent sinner! he discerned thy sorrows, he collected thy tears, he attested thy repentance. It was in the presence of the Lord thy God that thou didst appear, hypocrite! He unmasked thy countenance, he pierced the specious veils which covered thy wretched heart. It was in the presence of the Lord thy God that thou didst appear, wicked man! Thou, who in the very act of seeming to celebrate this sacrament of love, which should have united thee to thy brother as the soul of Jonathan was knit to David, wouldst have crushed him under thy feet. What a motive to attention, to recollection! What a motive to banish all vain thoughts, which so frequently interrupt our most sacred exercises! What a motive to exclaim, as the patriarch Jacob, "How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."
II. Moses required the Israelites in renewing their covenant with God, to consider the universality of the contract. "Ye stand all of you before the Lord." The Hebrew by descent, and the strangers; that is, the proselytes, the heads of houses, and the hewers of wood, and drawers of water; those who filled the most distinguished offices, and those who performed the meanest services in the commonwealth of Israel; the women and the children; in a word, the whole without exception of those who belonged to the people of God. It is worthy of remark, my brethren, that God, on prescribing the principal ceremonies of the law, required every soul who refused submission to be cut off, that is, to sustain an awful anathema. He hereby signified, that no one should claim the privileges of an Israelite, without conformity to all the institutions he had prescribed. So persuaded were the people of this truth, that they would have regarded as a monster, and punished as a delinquent, any man, whether an Israelite by choice, or descent, who had refused conformity to the passions, and attendance on the solemn festivals.
God, in contracting this covenant with the Israelites on Sinai, which Moses induced them to renew in the words of my text, apprized them that he would be found upon that holy hill. He said to Moses, "Lo I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. Go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day, and to-morrow, and let them wash their clothes, Would to God that Christians entertained the and be ready against the third day: for the third same sentiments! Would to God, that your day the Lord will come down in the sight of all preachers could say, on sacramental occasions, the people, upon Mount Sinai," Exod. xix. 9. as Moses said to the Jews in the memorable disIt is said expressly, that Nadab and Abihu, and course we apply to you: "Ye stand all of you the seventy elders, should ascend the hill, and this day before the Lord your God; the captains contract the covenant with God in the name of of your tribes, your elders, your officers, your the whole congregation; they saw evident marks wives, your little ones, from the hewer of wood of the Divine presence, 66 a paved work of sap-| to the drawer of water." But alas! how dephire-stone, and as it were the body of heaven fective are our assemblies on those solemn oc