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he deign to give you the Spirit of Esdras, of Nehemiah, of Josiah, of Hezekiah, princes distinguished in the sacred Scriptures, who brought their nation back to reformation and piety, and thereby to happiness and glory.
This law concerns you, this condition, pastors, is imposed on you. "Return from your evil ways and amend." The ministry with which God has invested you; this ministry, at all times weighty and difficult, is particularly so in this age of contradiction and universal depravity. You are appointed to censure the vices of the people, and every one is enraged against you, the moment you cast an eye on his particular crimes. They will treat you as enemies when you tell them the truth. No matter. Force your hearers to respect you. Testify to them by your generosity and disinterestedness, that you are ready to make every sacrifice to sustain the glory of your ministry. Give them as many examples as precepts; and then ascend the pulpit with a mind confident and firm. You have the same right over the people, as the Isaiahs, as the Micahs, and as the Jeremiahs, had over Israel and Judah. You can say like them, the Lord has spoken. And may the God who has invested you with the sacred office you fill, may he grant you the talents requisite for its faithful discharge; may he assist you by the most intimate communications in the closet, to bear the crosses laid upon you by the public; may he deign to accept the purity of your intentions, to have compassion on your weakness, and enable you to redouble your efforts by the blessings he shall shed on your work!
a Moses, who knows how to stay the arm of God, and to say, O Lord, pardon this people; "and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book,” Exod. xxxii. 32. O how glorious to be in a republic, if I may venture so to speak, the stay of the state, and the cause of its existence! May he who has chosen you to those exalted duties, assist you to discharge them with fidelity. May he purify all your yet remaining defects and imperfections! May he make you the salt of the earth, and enable you to shine as lights in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation, and cause you to find in the delights which piety shall afford, the first rewards of all the advantages it procures.
This law concerns us all, this condition is imposed on each. "Let us return from our evil ways, and amend." Why would we delay conversion? Why would we delay disarming the wrath of heaven till overwhelmed with its vengeance? Why should we delay our supplications till God shall "cover himself with a cloud, that our prayers cannot pass through?" Lam. iii. 44. Why should we delay till wholly enveloped in the threatened calamities? To say all in a single word, why should we delay till Holland becomes as Provence, and the Hague as Marseilles?
Ah! what word is that we have just pronounced? what horrors does it not oblige us to retrace? O consuming fire, God of vengeance, animate our souls; and may the piercing and awful ideas of thy judgments, induce us to avert the blow. O dreadful times, where death 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 who can of these stones raise up children unto Abraham, and make to rush from the hardest rocks fountains of living water, may he deign to display on you the invincible power he has over the heart: may he penetrate the abyss of your souls, and strike them in places the most tender and susceptible of anguish, of shame, and of repentance!
This law concerns you, it is imposed on you believers; and believers even of the first class. How pure soever your virtues may be, they are still mixed with imperfections: how firm soever the fabric of your piety may be, it still requires support; and how sincere soever your endeavours may be, they must still be repeated. It is on you that the salvation of the nation devolves. It is your piety, your fervour, and your zeal, which must for the future sustain this tottering republic. May there be ten righteous persons in our Sodom, lest it be consumed by fire from heaven: may there still be
My brethren, the throne of mercy is yet accessible. The devotion of so many saints who have besieged it to-day, have opened it to us. Let us approach it with broken and contrite hearts. Let us approach it with promises of conversion, and oaths of fidelity. Let us approach it with ardent prayers for the salvation of this republic; for the prosperity of the Ichurch; for the peace of Europe; and for the salvation of those victims, which the divine justice is ready to sacrifice. Let us prostrate before God as David at the sight of the destroying angel, and may we like that prince succeed in staying the awful executions. May this year, hitherto filled with alarms, with hor ror, and carnage, close with hope and consolation. May this day, which has been a day of fasting, humiliation, and repentance, produce the solemnities of joy and thanksgiving. God grant us the grace. To whom be honour and glory for ever. Amen.
DIFFICULTIES OF THE CHRISTIAN
prehensible absurdities, and of difficulties which cannot be resolved.
The whole of these propositions, my brethren, claim the most careful investigation. If Heaven shall succeed our efforts, we shall have a new class of arguments for the support of our faith. We shall have a new motive to console ourselves within the limits God has prescribed to our knowledge, and await with ardour and patience, the happy period, till "that which is perfect shall come;" till that "which is in part shall be done away;" till " we shall behold the Lord with open face, and be changed into glory by his Spirit." So be it. Amen.
1 COR. xii. 9. We know in part.
THE systems of pagan theology have, in general, affected an air of mystery; they have evaded the light of fair investigation; and, favoured by I know not what charm of sanctified obscurity, they have given full effect to error 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 the spirit of error. Mankind neither can, nor ought to receive any religion as divine, unless it bear the marks of divine authority, and produce its documents of credibility.
For example, if you should require Mahomet to produce the proofs of his mission, he would say that it had a peculiar character, and a singular sort of privilege; that till his call, all the sent of God were obliged to prove the divinity of their mission; and the prophets gave signs by which they might be known: that Jesus Christ gave sight to the blind, her ing to the deaf, health to the sick, and lie to the dead: but on his part, he had received authority to consign over to eternal toments, every one who shall dare to doubt the ruth of his doctrine; and anticipating the punishment, he put every one to the sword why presumed to question the divine authority ofhis religion. But if you require of Jesus Chist the proofs of his mission, he will give ya evidence the most obvious and satisfacto. "Though ye believe not me, believe th works. If I had not come and spoken unt them; if I had not done among them the orks which no other man did, they had not ad sin. But now are they without excuse. The works that I do in ney bear witness of me," Father's name, John x. 25. 38; x 22. 24. If you ask th followers of Mahomet, how they know that the Alcoran was really transmitted by the prophet, they will confess that he knew neher how to read nor write; and that the nne of prophet is often assumed by men ignant of letters: but they will add, that he conversed for twenty years with the angel Gabriel; that this celestial spirit revealed to him from time to time, certain passages of the Acoran; that Mahomet dictated to his chsciples the subjects of his revelation; that they carefully collected whatever dropped from his lip; and that the collection so made constituts the subject of the Alcoran. But, if
They have said, that it has, according to our own confession, impenetrable mysteries; that it is wishful to evade investigation and research; and that they have but to remove the veil to discover its weakness. It is our design to expose the injustice of this reproach by investigating all the cases, in which mysteries can excite any doubts concerning the doctrines they contain, and to demonstrate on this head, as on every other, that the religion of Jesus Christ is superior to every other religion in the world. It is solely in this point of view, that we proceed to contemplate this avowal of our apostle, and in all its principal bearings. "We know in part."
There are chiefly four cases in which mysteries render a religion doubtful.
I. When they so conceal the origin of a religion, that we cannot examine whether it has proceeded from the spirit of error, or from the spirit of truth. For example, Mahomet secluded himself from his followers; he affected to hold conversations with God, concealed from the public, and he has refused to adduce the evidence. In this view, there is nothing mysterious in the Christian religion; it permits you to trace its origin, and to weigh the authenticity of its proofs.
II. Mysteries should render a religion doubtful, when they imply an absurdity. For example, the Roman Catholic religion establishes one doctrine which avowedly revolts common sense, and annihilates every motive of credibility. But the mysteries of our faith have nothing which originated in the human mind, and which our frail reason can in equity reject. III. Mysteries should render a religion doubtful, when they tend to promote a practice contrary to virtue, and to purity of morals. For example, the pagan theology had mysteries of iniquity; and under the sanction of religious concealment, it favoured practices the most enormous, and the foulest of vices. But the mysteries of the gospel, are "mysteries of god-you wish to penetrate farther, and to trace the liness," 1 Tim. iii. 15. boo' to its source, you will find that after the IV. In a word, mysteries should render a re- deth of Mahomet, his pretended revelations, ligion doubtful, when we find a system less en-wre preserved merely on fugitive scrolls, or in cumbered with difficulties than the one we at- ne 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 ample, the system of infidelity and of atheism is exempt from the difficulties of Christiani; but, its whole mass is a fertile source of incm
* See the Alcoran, chap. on the lin. of Joach; chap. on gratifications; chap. on Jonah; chap. on thunder; chap. on the nocturnal journey; chap. on the Creator; chap. on the spider.
+ See Maraccio on the Alcoran, page 36.
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 crucifixthis 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 which were doubtful and spurious. You will find, that those disputes were appeased solely by the authority of the prince under whom they originated, and by the permanent injunctions of those who succeeded him on the throne. Consequently, it is very doubtful, whether the impostures of Mahomet really proceeded from himself, or were imputed to him by his followers.
You will find a book replete with fabulous tales. Witness what he says of God having raised a mountain, which covered the Israelites with its shadow. Witness the dialogue he imagined between God and Abraham. Witness the puerile proofs he adduces of the innocence of Joseph. Witness the history of the seven sleepers. Witness what he asserts that all the devils were subject to Solomon. Witness the ridiculous fable of the ant that commanded an army of ants, and addressed them with an articulate voice. Witness the notions he gives us of paradise and hell. Whereas, if you require of Christians the characteristic authorities of their books, they adduce sublime doctrines, a pure morality, prophecies punctually accomplished, and at the predicted period, a scheme of happiness the most noble and the most assortable with the wants of man that ever entered the mind of the most celebrated philosophers.
Some even of Mahomet's disciples affirm, that of the three parts which compose the Alcoran, but one is the genuine production of the prophet. Hence, when you show them any absurdity in the book, they will reply, that it ought to be classed among the two spurious parts which they reject.*
But if you ask us how we know that the books, containing the fundamentals of our faith, were composed by the holy men to whom they are ascribed, we readily offer to submit them to the severest tests of criticism. them produce a book whose antiquity is the least disputed, and the most unanimously acknowledged to be the production of the author Wlose name it bears; let them adduce the evidenes of its authenticity; and we will adduce the same evidences in favour of the canon of our gonels.
If you ask the followers of Mahomet to show you'n the Alcoran, some characteristics of its divin authenticity, they will extol it to the skies, ad tell you "that it is an uncreated work; the truth by way of excellence; the miracle of iracles; superior to the resurrection of the dad; promised by Moses and the apostles; inteliible to God alone; worthy to be received of a intelligent beings, and constituted their rule f conduct." But when you come to investigte the work of which they have spoken in su extravagant terms, you will find a book desute of instruction, except what its author had orrowed from the books of the Old and New Testament; concerning the unity of God; the ality of future judgment; the certainty of the ife to come; and those various maxims, that ve must not give alms in ostentation; that Go loveth a cheerful giver, that all things are posible to him;" and that "he searches the heart. You will find a book in many places directly opposed to the maxims of the sacred authors, even when it extols the Deity, as in the lavs it prescribes respecting divorce; in the permision of a new marriage granted to repudiated vomen; in the liberty of having as many wives as we please, a liberty of which Mahomet a ailed himself; in what he recounts of Pharoh's conversion; of Jesus Christ's speaking in the cradle with the same facility as a man f thirty or of fifty years of age; in what he a vances concerning a middle place between. heaven and hell, where those must dwell who' have done neither good nor evil, and those
* See Joseph of St. Maria on the expedition to the East Indies.
† Maraccio on the Alcoran, chap. vi.
If you ask the sectarians of Mahomet what signs God has wrought in favour of their religion, they will tell you, that his mother bore him without pain; that the idols fell at his birth; that the sacred fires of Persia were extinguished; that the waters in lake Sava diminished; that the palace of Chosroes fell to the ground. They will tell you, that Mahomet himself performed a great number of miracles, that he made water proceed from his fingers; that he cut the moon, and made a part of it fall into his lap. They will tell you, that the stones, and the trees saluted him, saying, Peace, peace be to the ambassador of God.** They will tell you, that the sheep obeyed his voice; that an angel having assumed the figure of a dragon, became his guardian. They will tell you, that two men of enormous stature grasped him in their hands, and placed him on the top of a high mountain, opened his bowels, and took from his heart a black drop, the only evil Satan possessed in his heart: having afterward restored him to his place, they affixed their seal to the fact.ff Fabulous tales, adduced without proofs, and deservedly rejected by the more enlightened followers of Mahomet.
But, if you require of the Christians miracles in favour of their religion, they will produce them without number. Miracles wrought in the most public places, and in presence of the people; miracles, the power of which was communicated to many of those who embraced Christianity; miracles admitted by Zosimen, by Porphyry, by Julian, and by the greatest enemies of the gospel; miracles which demonstrate to us the truth by every test of which remote facts are susceptible; miracles sealed by the blood of innumerable martyrs, and rendered in some sort still visible to us by the con
version of the pagan world, and by the progress of the gospel, and which can find no parallel in the religion of Mahomet, propagated with the sword, as is confessed by his followers, who say, that he fought sixty battles, and called himself the military prophet. Whereas Christianity was established by the prodigies of the Spirit, and by force of argument. The mysteries of the gospel are not therefore in the first class, which render a religion suspected. They do not conceal its origin. This is what we proposed to prove.
Spirit, do not proceed in this manner. Are not
If we should say, that God has but one es-
II. Mysteries should expose a religion to suspicion, when they imply an absurdity. Yes, and if Christianity notwithstanding the luminous proofs of its divine authority; notwith- If we should say, that God in the sense we standing the miracles of its founder; notwith-have called Essence, is become incarnate, and standing the sublimity of its doctrines; notwith- at the same time this notion is not incarnate, standing the sanctity of its moral code, the we should advance a contradiction. But this completion of its prophecies, the magnificence is not our thesis. We believe on the faith of of its promises; notwithstanding the convinc- a divine book, that what is called the person ing facts which prove that the books contain- of the Son in the Godhead, and of which we ing this religion were written by men divinely confess that we have not a distinct idea, is inspired; notwithstanding the number and the united to the humanity in a manner we cannot grandeur of its miracles; notwithstanding the determine, because it has not pleased God to confession of its adversaries, and its public reveal it. This surpasses reason, but does not monuments; if it was possible, notwithstand- revolt it. ing all this, should the Christian religion include absurdities, it ought to be rejected. Be
If we should advance, that God (the Spirit) in the sense we have called Essence, proceeds from the Father and the Son, while the Father and the Son do not proceed, we should advance
contradiction. But this is not our thesis. We believe on the credit of a divine book, that what is called the Holy Spirit in the Godhead, and of which we confess we have no distinct idea, because it has not pleased God to give it, has procession ineffable, while what is called the Father and the Son, differing from the Holy Spirit in that respect, do not proceed. This surpasses reason, but does not revolt it.
Every character of the divinity here adduced, is founded on argument. Whatever is de-a monstrated to a due degree of evidence ought to be admitted without dispute. The proofs of the divine authority of religion are demonstrated to that degree; therefore the Christian religion ought to be received without dispute. But were it possible that a contradiction should exist; were it possible that a proposition, appearing to us evidently false, should be true, evidence would no longer then be the character of truth, and if evidence should no longer be the character of truth, you would have no farther marks by which you could know that a religion is divine. Consequently, you could not be assured, that the gospel is divine. To me, nothing is more true than this proposition, a whole is greater than a part. I would reject a religion how true soever it might appear, if it contradicted this fact; because, how evident soever the proofs might be alleged in favour of its divinity, they could never be more evident than the rejected proposition, that a whole is greater than a part. Our proposition is therefore confirmed, that mysteries ought to render a religion suspected when they imply absurdities. We wish you to judge of the Christian religion according to this rule.
Now if there be in our gospels a doctrine concerning which a good logician has apparent cause to exclaim, it is this; a Goo who has but one essence, and who nevertheless has three persons; the Son, and the Holy Spirit who is God; and these three are but one. The Father, who is with the Son, does not become incarnate, when the Son becomes incarnate. The Son, who is with the Father, no longer maintains the rights of justice in Gethsemane, when the Father maintains them. The Holy Spirit, who is with the Father and the Son, proceeds from both in a manner ineffable: and the Father and the Son, who is with the Holy
We go even farther. We maintain not only that there is no contradiction in those doctrines, but that a contradiction is impossible. What is a contradiction in regard to us? It is an evident opposition between two known ideas. For instance, I have an idea of this pulpit, and of this wall. I see an essential difference between the two. Consequently, I find a contradiction in the proposition, that this wall, and this pulpit are the same being.
Such being the nature of a contradiction, 1 say, it is impossible that any should be found in this proposition, that there is one divine essence in three persons: to find a contradiction, it is requisite to have a distinct idea of what ĺ call essence, and of what I call person: and, as I profess to be perfectly ignorant of the one, and the other, it is impossible I should find an absurdity. When, therefore, I affirm, that there is a divine essence in three persons, I do not pretend to explain either the nature of the unity, or the nature of the Trinity. I pretend to advance only that there is something in God which surpasses me, and which is the basis of this proposition; viz. there is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit.
But though the Christian religion be fully exculpated for teaching doctrines which destroy themselves, the Church of Rome cannot be justified, whatever efforts her greatest geniuses may make, in placing the doctrine of the Trini
ty, on the parallel with the doctrine of transubstantiation, and in defending it against us with the same argument with which we defend the other against unbelievers.
Were we, I allow, to seek the faith of the church of Rome in the writings of some indi-ple, that evidence is the character of truth. vidual doctors, this doctrine would be less lia- But if the doctrine of transubstantiation be ble to objections. Some of them have express- true, palpable absurdities ought to be believed ed themselves, on this subject, in an undeter by the Roman Catholic; evidence, in regard to mined way; and have avoided detail. They him, being no longer the character of truth. say in general, that the body of Christ is in the If evidence in regard to him be no longer the sacrament of the eucharist, and that they do character of truth, proofs the most evident in not presume to define the manner. favour of Christianity, can carry no conviction to him, and he is justified in not believing then.
But we must seek the faith (and it is the method which all should follow who have a controversy to maintain against those of that I go farther still; I maintain to the most communion;) we must, I say, seek the faith of zealous defender of the doctrine of transubstanthe church of Rome in the decisions of her ge- tiation, that properly speaking, he does not beneral councils, and not in the works of a few lieve the doctrine of transubstantiation. He individuals. And as the doctors of the council may indeed verbally assert his faith, but he can of Trent lived in a dark age, in which philoso- never satisfy his conscience: he may indeed bephy had not purified the errors of the schools, cloud his mind by a confusion of ideas, but he they had the indiscretion, not only to deter- can never induce it to harmonize contradictory mine, but also to detail this doctrine; and there- ideas: he may indeed inadvertently adhere to by committed themselves by a manifest contra- this proposition, a body having but a limited cirdiction. Hear the third canon of the third ses-cumference, is at the same time in heaven, and at sion of the council of Trent. "If any one the same time on earth, with the same circumfedeny, that in the venerable sacrament of the rence. But no man can believe this doctrine, eucharist, the body of Christ is really present if by believing, you mean the connecting of in both kinds, and in such sort that the body distinct ideas; for no man whatever can connect of Christ is wholly present in every separate together both distinct and contradictory. part of the host, let him be anathematized."
III. We have said in the third place, that mysteries should render a religion suspected, when they hide certain practices contrary to virtue and good manners. This was a characteristic of paganism. The pagans for the most part affected a great air of mystery in their religious exercises. They said, that mystery conciliated respect for the gods. Hence, dividing their mysteries into two classes, they had their major and their minor mysteries But all these were a covert for impurity! Who can read without horror the mysteries of the god Apis, even as they are recorded in pagan authors? What infamous ceremonies did they not practise in honour of Venus, when initiated into the secrets of the Goddess? What mysterious precautions did they not adopt concerning the mysteries of Ceres in the city of Eleusis? No man was admitted without mature experience, and a long probation. It was so established, that those who were not initiated, could not participate of the secrets. Nero did not dare to gratify his curiosity on this head;* and the wish to know secrets allowed to be disclosed only by gradual approach, was regarded as a presumption. It was forbidden under the penalty of death to disclose those mysteries, and solely, if we may believe Theodoret, and Tertullian, to hide the abominable ceremonies, whose detail would defile the majesty of this place. And if the recital would so deeply defile, what must the practice be?
The mysteries of Christianity are infinitely distant from all those infamous practices. The gospel not only exhibits a most hallowing morality, but whatever mysteries it may teach, it requires that we should draw from their very obscurity motives to sanctity of life. If we say, that there are three persons who participate in
Life of Nero by Suetonius, chap. 34.
Can one fall into a more manifest contradiction? If you should say, that the bread is destroyed, and that the body of Christ intervenes by an effort of divine omnipotence, you might perhaps shelter yourself from the reproach of absurdity; you might escape under the plea of mystery, and the limits of the human mind. But to affirm that the substance of the bread is destroyed, while the kinds of bread, which are still but the same bread, modified in such a manner, subsist, is not to advance a mystery, but an absurdity. It is not to prescribe bounds to the human mind, but to revolt its convictions, and extinguish its knowledge.
If you should say, that the body of Christ, which is in heaven, passes in an instant from heaven to earth, you might perhaps shelter yourself from the reproach of absurdity, and escape under the plea of mystery, and of the limits of the human mind. But to affirm, that the body of Christ, while it is wholly in heaven, is wholly on earth, is not to advance a mystery, but to maintain a contradiction. It is to revolt all its convictions, and to extinguish all its knowledge.
from what we said at the commencement of this article. A Roman Catholic, consonant to his principles, has no right to believe the divine authority of the Christian religion, for the evidences of Christianity terminate on this princi
If you should say, that some parts of the body of Jesus Christ are detached, and mixed with the symbols of the holy sacrament, you might perhaps avert the charge of contradiction, and escape under the plea of mystery, and the limits of the human mind. But to affirm, that the body of Christ is but one in number, and meanwhile, that it is perfect and entire in all the parts of the host, which are without number, is not to advance a mystery, it is to maintain a contradiction. It is not to prescribe bounds to the human mind, but to revolt all its convictions, and to extinguish all its knowledge.
So you may indeed conclude, my brethren,