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you have consulted, or the maxims of policy? | this is a subject already decided rather than a whether it is a barrier you have pretended to question of investigation. put to the war, to the pestilence, and famine; 4. Not wishful to multiply remarks, but to or whether you have put one to injustice, to comprise the whole in a single thought, one hatred, to fornication, and to fraud, the causes plague is the forerunner of greater plagues of those calamities!
when it fails in producing the reformation of 2. One calamity is the forerunner of great those manners it was sent to chastise. Weigh er calamities, when instead of humiliation on those awful words in the twenty-sixth chapter the reception of the warnings God sends by of Leviticus. “If ye will not hearken unto his servants, we turn those warnings into con- me, but walk contrary unto me; then I will tempt. By this sign, the author of the second walk contrary also unto you in fury; and I, Book of Chronicles wished the Jews to under- even I, will chastise you seven times for your stand that their impiety had attained its height. sins." The force of these words depends on “The Lord God of their fathers sent unto those which proceed. We there find a gradathem by his messengers, rising up betimes and tion of calamities whose highest period extends sending; because he had compassion on his to the total destruction of the people against people: but they mocked the messengers of whom they were denounced. "If you will God; they despised his word, and misused his not hearken,” Moses had said in behalf of prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose God, verse 14, "I will even appoint over you against his people, so that there was no re- terror, the consumption, and the burning ague, medy,” xxxvii. 15, 16.
that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow My brethren, it is your duty to inquire how of heart. And I will set my face against you, far you are affected by this doctrine. It is and ye shall be slain before your enemies: your duty to examine whether your present they that hate you shall reign over you, and desolating calamities are characterized as har- ye shall flee when none pursueth you.” Imbingers of greater evils. Do you discover a mediately he adds, “ If ye will not for all this teachable disposition towards the messengers hearken,” and these words occur at the eighof God who would open your eyes to see the teenth verse, “ If ye will not yet for all this effects of his indignation; or, do you revolt hearken unto me, then will I punish you seven against their word? Do you love to be re- times more for your sins. And I will break proved and corrected, or do you resemble the the pride of your power; and I will make your incorrigible man of whom the prophet says, heaven as iron, and your earth as brass. And “ thou hatest instruction,” Ps. I. 17. What a if ye walk contrary to me, I will bring seven humiliating subject, my brethren, what an aw- times more plagues upon you according to ful touchstone of our misery!
And I will send the wild beast 3. One calamity is the forerunner of great against you, and they shall rob you of your er calamities, when the anguish it excites pro- children, and make you few in number, and ceeds more from the loss of our perishable your highways shall be desolate.” Then he riches than from sentiments of the insults of denounces a new train of calamities, after fered to God. This sign, the prophet Hosea which the words I have cited immediately folgave to the inhabitants of Samaria, “Though low. “ If ye will not be reformed by all these I have redeemed them,” says he, speaking for things, but will walk contrary unto me, then God, " they have not cried unto me with their will I also walk contrary unto you in fury, and heart, when they howled upon their beds.” will punish you yet seven times for your sins. It was for corn and wine, that they cut them- And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and selves when they assembled together; or as the flesh of your daughters. And I will demight be better rendered, when they assem- stroy your high places, and cut down your bled for devotion.* Examine again, or rather images, and cast your carcase upon the carcacensure a subject which presents the mind with ses of your idols. And I will make your cities a question less for inquiry than for the admis- waste, and bring your sanctuary unto desolasion of a fact already decided. We would in- tion." terrupt our business; we would suspend our Make, my brethren, the most serious reflecpleasures; we would shed our tears; we would tions on these words of God to his ancient celebrate fasts on the recollection of our people. If in the strictest sense, they are incrimes, provided we could be assured that applicable to you, it is because your present caGod would remit the punishment We“cut lamities require less than sevenfold more to efourselves; we assemble to-day for wine and fectuate your total extermination. Do I exagwheat;” because commerce is obstructed; be- gerate the subject? Are your sea-banks able cause our repose is interrupted in defiance of to sustain sevenfold greater shocks than they precaution; because the thunderbolts fallen on have already received? Are your cattle able the heads of our neighbours threaten us, and to sustain sevenfold heavier strokes? Is your our friends, our brethren, and our children; or commerce able to sustain a sevenfold greater is it because that those paternal regards of depression: Is there then so wide a distance God are obscured, which should constitute our between your present calamities, and your highest felicity, and all our joys? I say again, total ruin?
IV. Let us proceed to other subjects. Hibles, Ps. Ivi. 7; lix. 4. The French version, in regard to ed to open your eyes, and fix them steadfastly
* The original word is so translated in the French bi- therto, my dear brethren, we have endeavourthe former phrase, They cut themselres, seems to harmonize better with the scope of the passage than the English, on dark and afflictive objects; we have soliciThey rebel, because it follows, Though I had bound anited your attention but for bitter reproaches, strengthened their arms, mcaning their wounded arms. and terrific menaces. We have sought the way
to your hearts, but to excite terror and alarm. | ter's house; see him mar, and form his vessels The close of this day's devotion shall be more anew, giving them a form according to his conformable to prayers we offer for you, to the pleasure." Behold, as the clay is in the potgoodness of the God we worship, and to the ter's hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of character of our ministry. We will no longer Israel. At what instant I shall speak concernopen your eyes but to fix them on objects of ing a nation, and concerning a kingdom to consolation; we will no longer solicit your at- pluck up, and pull down, and to destroy it; if tention to hear predictions of misery: we will that nation against whom I have pronounced, seek access to your hearts solely to angment turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil your peace and consolation. “Hear the rod, that I thought to do unto them.” The founand who hath appointed it;" and amid the dation of these hopes is stronger than all that whole of your calamities, know what are your we can ask. resources, and what are your hopes. This is In particular, we found our hope on the love our fourth part.
which God has uniformly cherished for this One of the most notorious crimes of which republic. Has not God established it by a sea nation can be guilty when Heaven calls ries of miracles, and has he not preserved it them to repentance, is that charged on the by a series of miracles still greater? Has he Jews in Jeremiah's time. The circumstance not at all times surrounded it as with a wall of is remarkable. It occurs in the sixteenth / fire, and been himself the buckler on the most chapter of this prophet's revelations. His pressing occasions? Has he not inverted the mission was on the eve of their approaching laws of nature, and of the elements for its ruin: its object was to save by fear the men defence? whom a long course of prosperity could not We found our hopes on the abundant merinstruct. He discharged those high duties cies with which God has loaded us during the with the firmness and magnanimity which the time of visitation. With the one hand he grandeur of God was calculated to inspire, abases, with the other he exalts. With the one whose minister he had the glory to be. "Be- hand he brings the pestilence to our gates, and cause your fathers have forsaken me,” he said with the other he obstructs it from entering; in the name of the Lord, “and have walked from desolating our cities, and attacking our after other gods, and have served them, and persons. have worshipped before them; and because ye We found our hope on the resources he has have done worse than your fathers, therefore still left the state to recover, and to re-estabwill I cast you out of this land, into a land lish itself in all the extent of its glory and which neither ye, nor your fathers know," prosperity. We found our hopes also on the ver. 11-13.
solemnities of this day; on the abundance of Lest the apprehension of ruin without re- tears which will be shed in the presence of source should drive them to despair, God God, on the many prayers which will be offermade to Jeremiah a farther communication; heed to heaven, and on the numerous purposes honoured him with a vision saying, “ Arise, of conversion, which will be formed. Frusand go down to the potter's house, and there trate not these hopes by a superficial devotion, I will cause thee to hear my words." The by forgetfulness of promises, and violation of prophet obeyed; he went to the potter's house; vows. Your happiness is in your own hands. the workman was busy at the wheel. He “Return ye now every one from his evil way, formed a vase, which was marred in his hand; and amend your doings.” Here is the law, he made it anew, and gave it a form according here is the condition. This law is general; this to his pleasure. This emblem God explained condition concerns you all. to the prophet, saying, Go, and speak these Yes, this law concerns you; this condition is words to the house of Israel. “O house of imposed on all. High and mighty lords: it is Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? required of you this day to lay a new foundasaith the Lord. Behold as the clay is in the tion for the security of this people: Return yo potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, 0 house then, my lords, from your evil ways and be of Israel. At what instant I shall speak con-, converted. In vain shall you have proclaimed cerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom a fast, if you set not the fairest example of deto pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy cency in its celebration. In vain shall you it: if that nation against whom I have pro- have commanded pastors to preach against the nounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of corruption which predominates among us, if the evil that I thought to do unto them. Re- you lend not an arm to suppress it; if you sufturn ye now every one from his evil way, and fer profaneness and infidelity to lift their head amend your ways." What effects might not with impunity; if you suffer the laws of chasthis mission have produced? But the incorri- tity to be violated in the face of the sun, and gible depravity of the people was proof against houses of infamy to be open as those of temthis additional overture of grace; those abomi- ples consecrated to the glory of God; if you nable men, deriving arguments of obduracy suffer public routs and sports to subsist in all even from the desperate situation of their na- their fury; if you abandon the reins to mamtion, replied to the prophet, “There is no hope, mon, to establish its maxims, and communiwe will walk after our own devices, and we cate its poison, if possible, to all our towns and will every one do the imagination of his evil provinces. Have compassion, then, on the caneart,” xviii. 1-12.
lamities of our country. Be impressed with Revolting at those awful dispositions, we its sighs. Place her under the immediate proare, my brethren, invested with the same comtection of Almighty God. May he deign, in mission as Jeremiah. God has said to us as clothing you with his grandeur and power, to well as to this prophet,“ Go down to the pot- I clothe you also with holiness and equity. May
he deign to give you the Spirit of Esdras, of a Moses, who knows how to stay the arm of Nehemiah, of Josiah, of Hezekiah, princes God, and to say, O Lord, pardon this people; distinguished in the sacred Scriptures, who " and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy brought their nation back to reformation and book," Exod. xxxii. 32. O how glorious to be piety, and thereby to happiness and glory. in a republic, if I may venture so to speak, the
This law concerns you, this condition, pas- stay of the state, and the cause of its existtors, is imposed on you. “Return from your ence! May he who has chosen you to those evil ways and amend.” The ministry with exalted duties, assist you to discharge them which God has invested you; this ministry, at with fidelity. May he purify all your yet reall times weighty and difficult
, is particularly maining defects and imperfections! May he so in this age of contradiction and universal make you the salt of the earth, and enable depravity. You are appointed to censure the you to shine as liglits in the midst of this vices of the people, and every one is enraged crooked and perverse generation, and cause against you, the moment you cast an eye on you to find in the delights which piety shall his particular crimes. They will treat you as afford, the first rewards of all the advantages enemies when you tell them the truth. No it procures. matter. Force your hearers to respect you. This law concerns us all, this condition is
Testify to them by your generosity and disin- | imposed on each. “Let us return from our terestedness, that you are ready to make every evil ways, and amend." Why would we delay sacrifice to sustain the glory of your ministry. conversion? Why would we delay disarming Give them as many examples as precepts; and the wrath of heaven till overwhelined with then ascend the pulpit with a mind confident its vengeance? Why should we delay our supand firm. You have the same right over the plications till God shall “cover himself with people, as the Isaiahs, as the Micahs, and as a cloud, that our prayers cannot pass through?" the Jeremiahs, had over Israel and Judah. Lam. iii. 44. Why should we delay till wholly You can say like them, the Lord has spoken. enveloped in the threatened calamities. To And may the God who has invested you with say all in a single word, why should we delay the sacred office you fill, may he grant you the till Holland becomes as Provence, and the talents requisite for its faithful discharge; may Hague as Marseilles? he assist you by the most intimate communi- Ah! what word is that we have just procations in the closet, to bear the crosses laid nounced? what horrors does it not oblige us to upon you by the public; may lie deign to ac- retrace? O consuming fire, God of vengeance, cept the purity of your intentions, to have animate our souls; and may the piercing and compassion on your weakness, and enable you awful ideas of thy judgments, induce as to to redouble your efforts by the blessings he shall avert the blow. Odreadful times, where death shed on your work!
enters our houses with the air we breathe, and This law concerns you, this condition is im- with the food we eat; every one shuns himself posed on you, rebellious men: on you sinners, as death; the father fears the breath of his son, who have excelled in the most awful courses and the son the breath of his father. O dreadof vice, in fighting, in hatred, in brutality, in ful times, already come on so many victims, profaneness, in insolence, and every other and perhaps ready to come on us, exhibit the crime which confounds the human kind with calamities in all their horrors! I look on mydemons. It is you, chiefly you who have up- self as stretched on my dying bed, and abanlifted the arm of vengeance which pursues us; doned by my dearest friends; I look on my it is you who have dug those pits which are children as entreating me to help them; I am under our feet. But "return from your evil terrified by their approach, I am appalled by ways, and amend.” Let your reformation have their embraces, and receive the contagion by some proportion to your profligacy, and your their last adieu! repentance to your crimes. And may the God My brethren, the throne of mercy is yet acwho can of these stones raise up children unto cessible. The devotion of so many saints who Abraham, and make to rush from the hardest have besieged it to-day, have opened it to us. rocks fountains of living water, may he deign Let us approach it with broken and contrite to display on you the invincible power he has hearts. Let us approach it with promises of over the heart: may he penetrate the abyss of conversion, and oaths of fidelity. Let us apyour souls, and strike them in places the most proach it with ardent prayers for the salvation tender and susceptible of anguish, of shame, of this republic; for the prosperity of the and of repentance!
church; for the peace of Europe; and for the This law concerns you, it is imposed on you salvation of those victims, which the divine believers; and believers even of the first class. justice is ready to sacrifice. Let us prostrate How pure soever your virtues may be, they are before God as David at the sight of the destill mixed with imperfections: how firm soever stroying angel, and may we like that prince the fabric of your piety may be, it still requires succeed in staying the awful executions. May support; and how sincere soever your endea- this year, hitherto filled with alarms, with horvours may be, they must still be repeated. It ror, and carnage, close with hope and consolais on you that the salvation of the nation de- tion. May this day, which has been a day of volves. It is your piety, your fervour, and fasting, humiliation, and repentance, produce your zeal, which must for the future sustain the solemnities of joy and thanksgiving. God this tottering republic. May there be ten grant us the grace. "To whom be honour and righteous persons in our Sodom, lest it be con- glory for ever. Amen. sumed by fire from heaven: may there still be
prehensible absurdities, and of difficulties which SERMON XCIII.
cannot be resolved.
The whole of these propositions, my bre
thren, claim the most careful investigation. If DIFFICULTIES OF THE CHRISTIAN Heaven shall succeed our efforts, we shall RELIGION.
have a new class of arguments for the support
of our faith. We shall have a new motive to 1 Cor. xii. 9.
console ourselves within the limits God has
prescribed to our knowledge, and await with We know in part.
ardour and patience, the happy period, till The systems of pagan theology have, in gen- “that which is perfect shall come;" till that eral, affected an air of mystery; they have “which is in part shall be done away;" till evaded the light of fair investigation; and, fa- " we shall behold the Lord with open face, voured by I know not what charm of sancti- and be changed into glory by his Spirit.” So fied obscurity, they have given full effect to er- be it. Amen. ror and immorality. On this subject, the ene- 1. Mysteries should render a religion doubtmies of Christianity have had the presumption ful, when we cannot examine whether that reto confound it with the pagan superstition. ligion proceed from the spirit of truth, or from They have said, that it has, according to our the spirit of error. Mankind neither can, nor own confession, impenetrable mysteries; that ought to receive any religion as divine, unless it is wishful to evade investigation and re- it bear the marks of divine authority, and prosearch; and that they have but to remove the duce its documents of credibility. veil to discover its weakness. It is our design For example, if you should require Mahoto expose the injustice of this reproach by in- met to produce the proofs of his mission, he vestigating all the cases, in which mysteries would say* that it had a peculiar character, can excite any doubts concerning the doctrines and a singular sort of privilege; that till his they contain, and to demonstrate on this head, call, all the sent of God were obliged to prove as on every other, that the religion of Jesus the divinity of their mission; and the prophets Christ is superior to every other religion in the gave signs by which they might be known: world. It is solely in this point of view, that that Jesus Christ gave sight to the blind, hearwe proceed to contemplate this avowal of our ing to the deaf, health to the sick, and life to apostle, and in all its principal bearings. “We the dead: but on his part, he had received auknow in part."
thority to consign over to eternal torments, There are chiefly four cases in which mys- every one who shall dare to doubt the truth of teries render a religion doubtful.
his doctrine; and anticipating the punishment, I. When they so conceal the origin of a re- he put every one to the sword who presumed ligion, that we cannot examine whether it has to question the divine authority of his religion. proceeded from the spirit of error, or from the But if you require of Jesus Christ the proofs spirit of truth. For example, Mahomet seclud- of his mission, he will give you evidence the ed himself from his followers; he affected to most obvious and satisfactory. “Though ye hold conversations with God, concealed from believe not me, believe the works. If I had the public, and he has refused to adduce the not come and spoken unto them; if I had not evidence. In this view, there is nothing mys- done among them the works which no other terious in the Christian religion; it permits you man did, they had not had sín. But now are to trace its origin, and to weigh the authen they without excuse. The works that I do in ticity of its proofs.
my Father's name, they bear witness of me,” II. Mysteries should render a religion doubt. John X. 25. 38; xv. 22. 24. ful, when they imply an absurdity. For ex- If you ask the followers of Mahomet, how ample, the Roman Catholic religion establishes they know that the Alcoran was really transone doctrine which avowedly revolts common mitted by the prophet, they will confess that sense, and annihilates every motive of credi- he knew neither how to read nor write; and bility. But the mysteries of our faith have no- that the name of prophet is often assumed by thing which originated in the human mind, men ignorant of letters: but they will add, and which our frail reason can in equity reject. that he conversed for twenty years with the
III. Mysteries should render a religion doubt- angel Gabriel; that this celestial spirit revealful, when they tend to promote a practice con- ed to him, from time to time, certain passages trary to virtue, and to purity of morals. For of the Alcoran; that Mahomet dictated to his example, the pagan theology had mysteries of disciplest the subjects of his revelation; that iniquity; and under the sanction of religious they carefully collected whatever dropped from concealment, it favoured practices the most his lips; and that the collection so made conenormous, and the foulest of vices. But the stitutes the subject of the Alcoran. But, if mysteries of the gospel, are “mysteries of god- you wish to penetrate farther, and to trace the liness," I Tim. iii. 15.
book to its source, you will find that after the IV. In a word, mysteries should render a re- death of Mahomet, his pretended revelations, ligion doubtful, when we find a system less en- were preserved merely on fugitive scrolls, or in cumbered with difficulties than the one we at the recollection of those who had heard him; tack: but when the difficulties of the system that his successor, wishful to associate the scatwe propose, surpass those of our religion, then it ought still to have the preference. For ex- * See the Alcoran, chap. on the lin. of Joach; chap. on ample, the system of infidelity and of atheism, gratifications; chap. on Jonah; chap. on thunder; chap. tered limbs in one body, made the collection | whose good and evil are equal; in what he says more with presumption than precision; that concerning Jesus Christ's escape from crucifixe this collection was a subject of long debate ion, having so far deceived the Jews that they among the Mahometans, some contending that crucified another in his place, who very much the prince had omitted many revelations of the resembled him.* prophet; and others, that he had adopted some You will find a book replete with fabulous which were doubtful and spurious: 'You will tales. Witness what he says of God having find, that those disputes were appeased solely raised a mountain, which covered the Israelby the authority of the prince under whom they ites with its shadow.t Witness the dialogue originated, and by the permanent injunctions he imagined between God and Abraham. Witof those who succeeded him on the throne. nens the puerile proofs he adduces of the innoConsequently, it is very doubtful, whether the cence of Joseph. Witness the history of the inpostures of Mahomet really proceeded from seven sleepers. Witness what he asserts that himself
on the nocturnal journey; chap. on the Creator; chap. is exempt from the difficulties of Christianity;
on the spider. but, its whole mass is a fertile source of incom- See Maraccio on the Alcoran, page 36.
, or were imputed to him by his fol- all the devils were subject to Solomon. WitJowers.
ness the ridiculous fable of the ant that comSome even of Mahomet's disciples affirm, manded an army of ants, and addressed them that of the three parts which compose the Al., with an articulate voice. Witness the notions coran, but one is the genuine production of he gives us of paradise and hell.l! Whereas, the prophet. Hence, when you show them if you require of Christians the characteristic any 'absurdity in the book, they will reply, authorities of their books, they adduce subthat it ought to be classed among the two lime doctrines, a pure morality, prophecies spurious parts which they reject.*
punctually accomplished, and at the predicted But if you ask us how we know that the period, a scheme of happiness the most poble books, containing the fundamentals of our and the most assortable with the wants of man faith, were composed by the holy men to whom that ever entered the mind of the most celethey are ascribed, we readily offer to submit brated philosophers. them to the severest tests of criticism. Let If you ask the sectarians of Mahomet what them produce a book whose antiquity is the signs God has wrought in favour of their reJeast disputed, and the most unanimously ac- ligion, they will tell you, that his mother bore knowledged to be the production of the author him without pain; that the idols fell at his whose name it bears; let them adduce the evi- birth; that the sacred fires of Persia were exdences of its authenticity; and we will adduce tinguished; that the waters in lake Sava dithe same evidences in favour of the canon of minished; that the palace of Chosroes fell to our gospels.
the ground. They will tell you, that Mahomet If you ask the followers of Mahomet to himself performed a great number of miracles, show you in the Alcoran, some characteristics that he made water proceed from his fingers, of its divine authenticity, they will extol it to that he cut the moon, and made a part of it the skies, and tell you
" that it is an un- fall into his lap. I They will tell you, that the created work; the truth by way of excellence; stones, and the trees saluted him, saying, the miracle of miracles; superior to the resur- Peace, peace be to the ambassador of God. ** rection of the dead; promised by Moses and They will tell you, that the sheep obeyed his the apostles; intelligible to God alone; worthy voice; that an angel having assumed the figure to be received of all intelligent beings, and of a dragon, became his guardian. They will constituted their rule of conduct." But when tell you, that two men of enormous stature you come to investigate the work of which grasped him in their hands, and placed him on they have spoken in such extravagant terms, the top of a high mountain, opened his bowels, you will find a book destitute of instruction, and took from his heart a black drop, the only except what its author had borrowed from the evil Satan possessed in his heart: having after books of the Old and New Testament; con- ward restored him to his place, they affixed cerning the unity of God; the reality of future their seal to the fact.ft Fabulous tales, adducjudgment; the certainty of the life to come; ed without proofs, and deservedly rejected by and those various maxims, that " we must not the more enlightened followers of Mahomet. give alms in ostentation; that God loveth a But, if you require of the Christians miracheerful giver, that all things are possible to cles in favour of their religion, they will prohim;" and that “he searches the heart.” You duce them without number. Miracles wrought will find a book in many places directly oppos- in the most public places, and in presence of ed to the maxims of the sacred authors, even the people; miracles, the power of which was when it extols the Deity, as in the laws it pre- communicated to many of those who embraced scribes respecting divorce; in the permission of Christianity; miracles admitted by Zosimen, a new marriage granted to repudiated women; by Porphyry, by Julian, and by the greatest in the liberty of having as many wives as we enemies of the gospel; miracles which demonplease, a liberty of which Mahomet availed strate to us the truth by every test of which himself; in what he recounts of Pharaoh's remote facts are susceptible; miracles sealed conversion; of Jesus Christ's speaking in the by the blood of innumerable martyrs, and rencradle with the same facility as a man of dered in some sort still visible to us by the conthirty or of fifty years of age; in what he advances concerning a middle place between
* Chap. on women. + Preface, page 14. beaven and hell, where those must dwell who
Chap. on Ruth,
1 Chap. of orders have done neither good nor evil, and those See Maraccio's Life of Mahomet, page 10.
Simon's Hist. Crit. of the Faith of the Nations of * See Joseph of St. Maria on the expedition to the the Levant.
** Maraccio, preface, page 14. col. 2. | Maraccio on the Alcoran, chap. vi.
If Ibid. page 13.