« AnteriorContinuar »
pleased God to connect us by the bonds of society, and of nature. May it penetrate our hearts ; and for ever banish the sorrow which confounds us with those who have no hope. Let us be compassionate citizens, faithful friends, tender fathers, loving all those with whom it has pleased God to unite us, and not regarding this love as a defect; but let us love our Maker with supreme affection. Let us be always ready to sacrifice to him whatever we have most dear on earth. May a glorious resurrection be the ultimatum of our requests. · May the hope of obtaining it assuage all our sufferings And may God Almighty, who has educated us in a religion so admirably adapted to support in temptation, give success to our efforts, and be the crown of our hopes ; Amen. To whom be honour and glory, henceforth and for
On the Wisdom of Solomon*
1 KINGS, iii. 5–14.
In Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream
by night: and God said, ask what I shall give.-And Solomon said, Thou hast showed unto thy servant David, my father, great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee, and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David, my father; and I am but a little child ; I know not how to go out and come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people which cannot be numbered, nor counted for multitude. Give, therefore, thy servant an understanding heart, to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: For who is able to judge this thy so great a
* SAURIN placed at the Hague, as Arst minister of the persecuted Protestants ; and often attended by illustrious characters, saw it his duty to apprise them of the moral sentiments essential for an entrance on high office and extensive authority, The Abbe MAURY, in his treatise on eloquence ; though hostile to SAURIN, allows this Sermon on the wisdom of SOLOMON, to be one of the best specimens of his eloquence.
people ? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast thou asked riches for thyself ; nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment : behold I have done according to thy words. Lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart, so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honour : so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee, all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then will I lengthen thy days.”
“ Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child !” In this way has the sage expressed the calamities of states conducted by men destitute of experience. But this general maxim is not without exceptions. As we sometimes see the levities of youth in mature age, so we sometimes perceive in the youth the gravity of sober years. There are some geniuses premature, with whom reason anticipates on years; and who, if I may so speak, on leaving the cradle, discover worthy of the throne. A profusion of supernatural endowments, coming to the aid of nature, exemplifies in their character, the happy experience of the prophet ; " I have more understanding than all my teachers. I understand more than the ancients." Psa, cxix. 99, 100.
Here we have an illustrious proof. Solomon, in the early periods of life, formed the correctest idea of government which had ever entered the mind of the profoundest philosophers, or the most consummate statesmen. Awed by the sceptre, he acknowledged the impoteney of his arm to sway it. Of the high privilege granted of God, to ask whatever he would, he availed himself solely to ask wisdom. · What an admirable choice! How many aged men have we seen less enlightened than this youth ? On the other hand, God honoured a petition so wise, by superadding to the petitioner every other endowment; he gave to Solomon wisdom, and, with wisdom, glory and riches; he elevated him to a scale of grandeur, which no prince ever did, or ever shall be allowed to equal. It is to this petition so judicious, and to this reply so magnificent, that we shall call your attention, after having bestowed a moment on three important circumstances, connected with the occasion.
It occurs in the leading words of our text. In this divine communication, the place, the manner, and the subject claim particular attention. · 1. The place ; it was in Gibeon ; not the city from which those Gibeonites derived their name, who, by having recourse to singular artifice, saved their lives, which they thought themselves unable to defend by force, or to preserve by compassion. That, I would say, that city of those Gibeonites, was a considerable place, and called in the book of Joshua, a royal city. The other was situate on the highest mountains of Judea, distant, according to Eusebius, and St. Jerome, about eight miles from Jerusalem.
We shall not enter into geographical discussions. What claims attention is, a circumstance of the place where Solomon was, which naturally recals to view one of the weaknesses of this prince. It is remarked at the commencement of the chapter, from which we have taken our text, that “the people sacrificed in high places.” The choice was, probably, not exempt from superstition: it is certain, at least, that idolaters usually selected the highest mountains for exercise of their religious ceremonies. Tacitus assigns as a reason, that in those places being nearer the gods, they were the more likely to be heard. Lucian reasons much in the same way, and, without a doubt, less to vindicate the custom than to expose it to contempt. God himself has forbidden it in his law.
We have, however, classed this circumstance in Solomon's life among his frailties, rather than his faults. Prevention for high places was much less culpable in the reign of this prince, than in the ages which followed. In those ages, the Israelites violated, by sacrificing on high places, the law which forbade any sacrifice to be offered, except in the temple of Jerusalem: whereas, in the age of which we now speak, the temple did not exist. The people sacrificed on the brazen altar, constructed by the divine command. This altar was then in Gibeon, where it had been escorted with the tabernacle, as we read in the book of Chronicles.
2. The manner in which the revelation to Solomon was made, supplies a second source of reflections. It was, says the historian, in a dream. We have