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been excessively dissipated, for the very same / unwelcome messenger, who came to inform reason that you are now excessively fond of him of the defeat of his army: the messenger retirement. Had you been naturally indus- replied, " Israel is filed before the Philistines, trious, you would have exceeded in labouring and there bath also been a great slaughter on the very principle which now inclines you among the people, and thy two sons Hophni to be too fond of ease and stillness. Had you and Phinehas are dead.” thus far he supported been naturally inclined to mirth, you would himself; but the man went on to say, “the ark have shown excessive levity, on the very prin- of God is taken;" instantly on hearing that the ciple that now turns your gravity into gloom ark was gone, he "fell backward,” he could and melancholy. Would you know your not survive the loss of that august symbol of selves? See, examine yourselves. You say, the divine presence, but died with grief. Ob your piety inclines you to surmount all temp- serve Nehemiah, to whom his royal master tations to dissipation; but does it enable you to put the question, "Why is thy countenance resist those of retirement it makes you firm sad?” said he, “Why should not my counteagainst temptations to pleasure, but does it nance be sad, when the city, the place of my free you from sullenness? It enables you to fathers' sepulchres lieth waste, and the gates surmount temptations to violent exertions, but thereof are consumed with fire?" chap. ji. 2, does it raise you above littleness? The same &c. Consider St. Paul, “We glory in tribumay be said of the rest. Happy he, who ar-lations, because the love of God is shed abroad ranges bis actions with a special regard to his in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is own heart, inquiring what he can find there given unto us,” Rom. v. 3. 5. opposite to the law of God, attacking the strong Do you imagine you truly love God, while holds of Satan within himself, and directing you have only languid emotions towards him, all his fire and force to that point. They and while you reserve all your activity and fire that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with for the world? There is between God and a the affections and lusts. I beseech you, there believer a tender and affectionate intercourse. fore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye Godliness has its festivals and exuberances. present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, “Flesh and blood!” Ye that “cannot inherit acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable the kingdom of God," 1 Cor. xv. 50, ye imservice. Sacrifice and offering thou dost not pure ideas of concupiscence, depart, be gone desire, mine ears hast thou opened. Lo, Ifar away from our imaginations! There is a
I delight to do thy will, O my God, time, in which the mystical spouse faints, and yea, thy law is within my heart,” Gal. v. 24; utters such exclamations as these, “I sleep, Rom. xii. 1; Ps. xl. 7, &c.
but my heart waketh. Set me as a seal upon 4. Zeal and fervour are the last characters thy heart, as a seal upon thine arm, for love of piety. By this we know the godly man from is strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the such lukewarm Christians as practise the duties grave, the coals thereof are coals of fire, which of religion in substance, but do so with a hath a most vehement fame. Many waters coldness, that sinks the value of the service. cannot quench love, neither can floods drown They can hear the afflictions of the church it,” Cant. v. 2. narrated without emotion, and see a confused These are some characters of piety. Let us heap of stones, sad remains of houses conse- go on to examine the advantages of it. crated to our God, without “favouring the II. Our apostle says, "godliness is profitable dust thereof,” according to the expression of unto all things, having promise of the life that Scripture. They can see the dimensions of now is, and of that which is to come.” There the " love” of God measured, the “ breadth is an enormous difference between these two and length, and depth and height,” without sorts of blessings. The blessings of the life to feeling the least warmth from the ardour and come are so far superior to the blessings of the flame of so vehement a love. They can be present life, that when we can assure ourselves present at the offering of one of those lively, of the first, we ought to give ourselves very tender, fervent prayers, which God Almighty little concern about the last. To add a drop himself condescends to hear and answer, and of water to the boundless ocean; to add a temfor the sake of which he forgives crimes and poral blessing to the immense felicities, which averts judgment, without entering at all into happy spirits enjoy in the other life, is almost the spirit of these subjects. Such men as these the same thing. St. Paul tells us, that the require persuasion, compulsion, and power, to idea of life to come so absorbs the idea of the force them.
present life, that to consider these two objects A man, who truly loves God, has sentiments in this point of view, his eyes could hardly get of zeal and fervour. Observe David, see his sight of the one, it was so very diminutivo, and joy before the ark; neither the royal grandeur, his mind reckoned the whole as nothing: “Our nor the prophetical gravity, nor the gazing of light affliction, which is but for a moment, the populace, nor the reproaches of an inter-worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal ested wife, could cool his zeal. Observe Elijah, weight of glory, while we look not at the things “I have been,” said he, “very jealous for the which are seen, which are temporal, but at the Lord God of Hosts; for the children of Israel things which are not seen, which are eternal,” have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the Few imitate this apostle. The present, besword, and I, even I only am left, and they cause it is present; and in spite of its rapidity, seek my life to take it away,” i Kings xix. fixes our eyes, becomes a wall between us and 10. Behold good Eli, the frost of fourscore eternity, and prevents our perceiving it. We could not cbill the ardour that inflamed him. should make many more converts to virtue, " What is there done, my son?” said he to the I could we prove that it would render mankind
happy here below, but we cannot change the mournfully before the Lord of hosts?” Mal. order of things. Jesus Christ and his apostles ii. 14. We ought to say with St. Paul, “What have told us, that “in the world we shall have fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye tribulation," and that "all that will live godly are now ashamedi For the end of those things in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution,” John is death,” Rom. vi. 21. xvi. 33; 2 Tim. iii. 12. However, it is true, 2. Consider next how piety influences our that even here piety procures pleasures, which reputation. I am aware, that worldly men by usually surpass all those of worldly people: at decrying piety, endeavour to avenge themselves least, which are sufficient to support us in a for the want of courage to practise it. road leading to eternal happiness.
aware, too, that practise wickedness as much, 1. Consider first, how piety influences our as often, and as far as ever we can, we shall health. Our bodies decay, I allow, by number- always find ourselves in a circle of companions less means.
Death enters them by the air we like ourselves. But after all, it is however breathe, and by the elements that support them, indisputable, that good people usually acquire and whatever contributes to make them live, the respect of such as have not the laudable contributes at the same time to make them die. ambition of imitating them. I appeal only to Let us allow, my brethren, that most maladies your own conscience. Is it not true, that, take their rise in such excesses as the law of even while you are gratifying your own pasGod condemns. How can a man, devoured sions, you cannot help admiring such as subdue with ambition, avarice and vengeance, a man theirs? Is it not true, that, except on some whose passions keep him in perpetual agitations, occasions, in which you want, and therefo depriving him of peace, and robbing him of seek, accomplices in sin, you would rather sleep; how can he, who passes whole nights choose to form connexions, to make bargains, and days in gaming, animated with the desire and to deal with such as obey the laws of God, of gaining his neighbour's money, tortured by than with those who violate them? And amidst turns with the hope of a fortune, and the fear all the hatred and envy, which your irregulaof a bankruptcy; how can he, who drowns rities excite against good people, is it not true, himself in wine, or overcharges himself with that your heart feels more veneration for wise, gluttony; how can he, who abandons himself upright, and pious people, than for others, who without a curb to excessive lewdness, and who have opposite qualities. As these are your dismakes every thing serve his voluptuousness; positions towards others, know of a truth, they how is it possible for people of these kinds to are also dispositions of others towards you. Here expect a firm and lasting health? Godliness is it is, that most men are objects of great pity.
bar to all these disorders; "the fear of the The irregularities, wbich seem to conduct us to Lord prolongeth days: it is a fountain of life the end we propose, are often the very causes to guard us from the snares of death,” Prov. of our disappointment. May I not address one X. 27; and xii. 27. If then it be true that of you thus? You trample upon all laws health is an invaluable treasure, if it be that, human and divine; you build up a fortunate which ought to hold the first rank among the house with the substance of widows, and orblessings of life, if without it all others are of no phans, and oppressed people, and you cement value, it is as certain that without love to the law it with their blood; you sell your votes; you of God we cannot enjoy much pleasure in life. defraud the state; you deceive your friends;
The force of this reflection is certainly very you betray your correspondents, and after you little felt in the days of youth and vigour, for have enriched yourself by such ways, you set then we usually consider these as eternal ad-forth in a most pompous manner your riches, vantages, which nothing can alter: but when your elegant furniture, your magnificent paold age comes, when by continual languors, laces, your superb equipages, and you think and by exquisite pains, men expiate the disor- the public take you for a person of great considers of an irregular life, then that fear of God deration, and that every one is erecting in his is respected, which teaches us to prevent them. heart an altar to your fortune. No such thing. Ye martyrs of concupiscence, ye victims of You deceive yourself. Every one says in privoluptuousness, you, who formerly tasted the vate, and some blunt people say to your face, pleasures of sin, and are now thoroughly feeling you are a knave, you are a public blood-sucker, the horrors of it, and who, in consequence of and all your magnificence displays nothing but your excesses, are already given up to an an- your crimes. May I not say to another, You ticipated hell, do you serve us for demonstra- affect to mount above your station by arrogant tion and example?" You are become knowing language, and mighty assumptions. You deck by experience, now teach our youth how bene- yourself with titles, and adorn yourself with ficial it is to lead a regular life in their first names unknown to your ancestors. You put years, and as your intemperance has offended on a supercilous deportment, that ill assorts the church, let the pains you endure serve to with the dust which covered you the other day, restrain such as are weak enough to imitate and you think by these means to efface the reyour bad examples. Those trembling hands, membrance of your origin. No such thing. that shaking head, those disjointed knees, that You deceive yourself. Every one takes pleaextinguished resolution, that feeble memory, sure in showing you some of your former rags that worn out brain, that body all infection and to mortify your pride, and they say to one anputrefaction, these are the dreadful rewards other, he is a mean genius, he is a fool, he rewhich the devil bestows on those on whom he sembles distracted men, who having persuaded is preparing himself shortly to exercise all his themselves that they are princes, kings, empefury and rage. On this article, then, instead rors, call their cottage a palace, their stick a of saying with the profane, “what profit is it sceptre, and their domestics courtiers.
May I to keep the ordinances of God, and to walk not speak thus to a third, You are intoxicated
with your own splendour, and fascinated with | brethren, the heart of a man is sometimes the seat your own charms, you aspire at nothing less of two opposite tyrants, each of whom has views than to make all mankind your worshippers, and interests different from the other. Avarice offering incense to the idol you yourself adore; says keep, ambition says give, avarice says with this view you break through the bounds hold fast, ambition says give up. Avarice of law, and the decency of your sex; your says retire, ambition says go abroad. Ambidress is vain and immodest, your conversation tion combats avarice, avarice combats ambiis loose, your deportment is indecent, and you tion, each by turns distresses the heart, and if it think the world take you for a sort of goddess. groans under tyranny, whether avarice or amNo such thing. You deceive yourself. Peo- bition be the tyrant is indifferent. The pleaple say you have put off Christian modesty, sure of seeing one passion reign is always poiand laid aside even worldly decency, and as soned by the pain of seeing the other subdued. they judge of your private life by your public They resemble that woman, whose twin “childeportment, how can they think otherwise? dren struggled together within her,” and who Fathers forbid their sons to keep your compa- said during the painful sensations, If it must be ny, and mothers exhort their daughters to so, why was I a mother? avoid your bad example.
Piety prevents these fatal effects, it makes us 3. Observe how godliness influences our for- content with the condition in which Providence tune, by procuring us the confidence of other has placed us: it does more, it teaches us to be men, and above all by acquiring the blessing happy in any condition, how mean soever it of God on our designs and undertakings. may be. “I have learned in whatsoever state You are sometimes astonished at the alarming I am, therewith to be content: I know both changes that happen in society, you are sur- how to be abased, and I know how to abound. prised to see some families decay, and others Every where and in all things I am instructed, fall into absolute ruin. You cannot compre- both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound hend why some people, who held the other and to suffer need,” Phil. iv. 11, 12. day the highest places in society, are now fal- 5. Consider the peace which piety diffuses len from that pinnacle of grandeur, and involve in the conscience. The prosperity of those ed in the deepest distress. Why this atonish- who desire to free themselves from conscience, ment? There is a Providence, and though is such as to make them miserable in the midst God often hides himself, though the ways of of their greatest success. What pleasure can bis providence are usually impenetrable, though a man enjoy, who cannot bear to be one moit would be an unjust way of reasoning to say, ment alone; a man, who needs perpetual dissuch a person is wealthy, therefore he is holy, sipation to hide from himself his real condition; such a one is indigent, therefore he is wicked; a man, who cannot reflect on the past without yet the Lord sometimes comes out of that dark- remorse, think on the present without confu. ness in which he usually conceals himself, and sion, or the future without despair; a man, raises a saint out of obscurity into a state of who carries within himself that obstinate rewealth and honour.
prover, on whom he cannot impose silence, 4. Consider what an influence godliness has a man, who already feels the “. worm that dieth in our happiness by calming our passions, and not” gnawing him; a man, who sees in the by setting bounds to our desires. Our faculties midst of his most jovial festivals the writing are finite: but our desires are boundless. From“ of a man's hand," which he cannot read, but this disproportion between our desires and our which his conscience most faithfully and terrifaculties a thousand conflicts arise, which dis- bly interprets; I ask what pleasure can such a tress and destroy the soul. Observe the la- man enjoy? bour of an ambitious man, he is obliged to Godliness not only frees us from these torsacrifice to his prince his ease, his liberty, and ments, but it communicates joy into every part his life; he must appear to applaud what he of the pious man's life. If the believer be in inwardly condemns; and he must adjust all prosperity, he considers it as an effect of the his opinions and sentiments by the ideas of his goodness of God, the governor of this universe, master. See what toils worldly honour im- and as a pledge of blessings reserved for him in poses on its votaries; a man of honour must another world. If he be in adversity, indeed revenge an affront after he has pardoned it, and he considers it as a chastisement coming from to that he must expose his establishment and the hand of a wise and tender parent: and the his fortune, he must run the risk of being same may be said of every other condition, obliged either to quit his country, or to suffer 6. In fine, consider how piety influences the such punishment as the law inflicts on those, happiness of life, by the assurance it gives us of who take that sword into their own hands, a safe, if not a comfortable death. There is which God has put into the hand of the magis- not a single moment in life, in which it is not trate, he must stab the person he loves, the possible we should die; consequently there is person who loves him, and who offended him not one instant, that may not be unhappy, if . more through inadvertence than animosity; he we be not in a condition to die well. While must stifle all the suggestions which conscience we are destitute of this assurance, we live in urges against a man who ventures his salvation perpetual trouble and agitation; we see the on the precarious success of a duel, and who sick, we meet funeral processions, we attend by so doing braves all the horrors of hell. the dying, and all these different objects become Above all, what is the condition of a heart, motives of horror and pain. It is only when with what cruel alternatives is it racked and we are prepared to die well, that we bid detorn, when it is occupied by two passions, fiance to winds and waves, fires and shipwhich oppose and counteract each other. Take wrecks, and that, by opposing to all these ambition and avarice for an example; for, my perilous casualties the hope of a happy death,
we every where experience the joy with which the human heart. There, ye earthly thoughts, it inspires such as wait for it
ye worldly cares, ye troublesome birds of prey, Collect all these articles, and unite all these that so often perplex us in life, there you have advantages in one. I ask now, is it an impro no access! There, revolving in his mind the bable. proposition, that virtue has a reward in divers objects presented to him in religion, he itself, sufficient to indemnify us for all we suf- feels the various emotions that are proper to fer on account of it, so that though there were each. Sometimes the rich gifts of God in nothing to expect from this yet it would nature, and the insignificance of man the rebe a problem, whether it would not be better, ceiver, are objects of his contemplation, and all things considered, to practise godliness than then he exclaims, “O Lord, my Lord, how to live in sin.
excellent is thy name in all the earth! When I But this is not the consequence we mean to consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, draw from our principles. We do not intend the moon and the stars which thou hast ordainto make this use of our observations. We will ed,” Ps. viii. 1. 3. I cannot help crying, “ What not dispute with the sinner whether he finds is man that thou art mindful of him! and the pleasure in the practice of sin, but as he as- son of man that thou visitest him!” ver. 4. sures us, that it gives him more pleasure to Sometimes the brightness of the divine perfecgratify his passions than to subdue them, we tions shining in Jesus Christ fixes his attention, will neither deny the fact, nor find fault with and then he exclaims, “ Thou art fairer than his taste, but allow that he must know better the children of men, grace is poured into thy than any body what gives himself most plea- lips, therefore God hath blessed thee for ever!"
We only derive this consequence from Ps. xlv. 2. Sometimes his mind contemplates all we have been hearing, that the advantages that train of favours, with which God has en which accompany godliness, are sufficient to riched every believer in his church, and then support us in a course of action, that leads to he cries, “Many, O Lord my God, are thy won eternal felicity.
derful works which thou hast done, and thy This eternal felicity the apostle had chiefly thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be in view, and on this we would fix your atten- reckoned up in order before thee! Would I tion in the close of this discourse. "Godliness declare and speak of them, they are more than hath promise of the life that now is,” is a pro- can be numbered!" Ps. xl. 5. Sometimes it is position, we think, plain and clear: but how- the sacrifice of the cross, and then he says, ever, it is disputable you say, subject to many “Without controversy great is the mystery of exceptions, and liable to a great number of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh!" difficulties: but “godliness hath promise of the i Tim. iii. 16. Sometimes it is the joy of life that is to come,” is a proposition which possessing God, and then his language is, “ My cannot be disputed, it is free from all difficulty, soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness!" and can admit of no exception.
Ps. lxiii. 5. Sometimes iP is the desire of enHaving taken up nearly all the time allotted joying God in a greater measure, and in a to this exercise, I will finish with one reflection. richer abundance, and then he says with Asaph, “ Promise of the life to come,” annexed to god- * My supreme good is to draw near to God. liness, is not a mere promise, it puts even in When shall I come, O when shall I come and this life the pious man in possession of one part appear before God!" Ps. Ixxiii. 28, and xlii. 2. of the benefits, the perfect possession of which Follow this man in the participation of holy he lives in hope of enjoying. Follow him ordinances. Represent to yourselves a man, in four periods-First in society-Next in the who after preparing himself some days, or closet-Then in a participation of holy ordi- some weeks for the holy communion, bringing nances—And lastly, at the approach of death: thither a heart proportioned to the labour, you will find him participating the eternal feli- which he has taken to dispose it properly: imacity, which is the object of his hope.
gine such a man sitting at this table along with In society. What is the life of a man, who the ambitious, the impure, the revengeful, the never goes into the company of his fellow crea- vain, all the members of this community; suptures without doing them good; of a man who pose this man saying to himself, they are not after the example of Jesus Christ “goes about only men who see and consider me, they are doing good;" à man, who every where shows angels, who encamp around such as love God; the light of a good example, who endeavours it is Jesus Christ, who sits amidst his disciples to win all hearts to God, who never ceases to assembled in his name; it is God himself who publish his perfections, and to celebrate his sees all, and examines all the dispositions I praise, what, I ask, is the life of such a man' It bring to his table. It is not only an invitation is an angelical life, it is a heavenly life, it is an to this table given by ministers, it is “wisdom anticipation of that life which happy spirits who hath furnished her table, mingled her live in heaven, it is a foretaste and prelibation wine,” Prov. ix. 1, 2, and who cries, “Ho, of those pleasures which are at the "right hand every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," of God," and of that “fulness of joy,” which Isaiah lv. It is my Saviour, who says to me, is found in contemplating his majesty.
“ With desire I have desired to eat with you,” Follow the pious man into the silent closet. (Luke xxii. 15. It is not only material bread There he recollects, concentres himself, and that I am receiving, it is a symbol of the body loses himself in God. There, in the rich and blood of Christ, it is his fesh and blood source of religion, he quenches the thirst of under the elements of bread and wine. It will knowing, elevating, perpetuating, and extend- be not only a little tranquillity of conscience, ing himself, which burns within him, and there which I shall receive at this table, if I enter he feels how God, the author of his nature, into the spirit of the mystery set before me: proportions himself to the boundless capacity of but I shall have consolations on my death-bed,
triumphs after death, and oceans of felicity and dregs of which he must drink; he tries, though glory for ever. God has not preserved me till in vain, to put off the end by bis too late now merely to give me an opportunity of sit- prayer, and he cries at its approach “ Mounting here: but to open to me the treasures of tains fall on me, hills cover me!" As for the his patience and long-suffering; to enable me believer, he sees and desires nothing but that to repent of my former negligence of breaking dispensation of happiness, which he has already the sabbath, profaning the communion, com- embraced by faith, possessed by hope, and mitting iniquity, forgetting my promises, and tasted by the comforts of the Holy Spirit in his offending my Creator.
soul; and hence comes that active servour, I ask, my brethren, what is the man who ap- which makes his countenance luminous like proaches the Lord's table with such dispositions that of departing Stephen. I cannot better Is he a common man? Verily with eyes of express such sentiments than in the words of flesh, I see nothing to distinguish him from the the primitive saints, who so happily expericrowd. I see this man confounded with all enced them. others, whom a lax discipline suffers to partake “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord! I of this ordinance, and to receive with unclean know that my Redeemer liveth, and though hands and a profane mouth, the most holy after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in symbol of our religion; at most, I see only an my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for agitation of his senses, a spark shining in his myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not aneye, a look cast towards heaven, emotions other. Though thou slayest me, yet will I which the veil of humility that covers him trust in thee, o God! Though I walk through cannot entirely conceal: but with the eyes of the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear my mind I behold a man of a superior order, no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy a man in paradise, a man nourished with plea- staff they comfort me. I know whom I have sure at the right hand of God, a man at whose believed, and I am persuaded, that he is able conversion the angels of God rejoice, a man to keep that which I have committed unto him fastened to the triumphal car of Jesus Christ, against that day. Neither count I my life dear and who makes the glory of the triumph, a so that I might finish my course with joy, and the man who has the happy art of making heaven ministry which I have received of the Lord. descend into his soul; I behold amidst the mi- I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is series and vanities of the world, a man already far better. Lord Jesus receive my spirit. I “justified,” already " raised,” already “glo- have fought a good fight, I have finished iny rified,” already “sitting in heavenly places course, I have kept the faith, henceforth there with Jesus Christ,” Rom. viii. 30; Eph. ii. 6. is laid up for me a crown of righteousness. O I see a man ascending to heaven along with death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is Jesus Christ, amids the shouting of the hea- thy victory? In these things we are more than venly choir, " Lift up your heads, O ye gates, conquerors, through him that loved us. As and be ye lifted up, yo everlasting doors, and the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so let the King of glory in,” Ps. xxiv. 7. I see a panteth my soul after thee, O God! my soul man“ with uncovered face beholding the glory thirsteth for God, for the living God! When of the Lord,” and changing "from glory to shall I come and appear before God? How glory by the Spirit of the Lord,” 2 Cor. ii. 18. amjable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!
But it is particularly in a dying bed that the My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the pious man enjoys foretastes of the life to come. courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry A worldling is confounded at the approach of out for the living God. Blessed are they that that dismal night, which hides futurity from dwell in thy house, they will be still praising him; or rather, despair seizes his soul at the thee! Thino altars, even thine altars, O Lord rising of that dreadful light, which discovers of hosts, my King and my God.” to him a dispensation of punishment, in spite May you all, my brethren, may every one of of his obstinate denial of it. Then he sees you, know these truths by experience. God fire, ilames, devils, "a lake of fire, the smoke grant you the grace. To him be honour and of which ascendeth up for ever and ever.' glory for ever. Then he shrinks back from the bitter cup, the