Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

thou mayest live without restraint in negligence and pleasure ? Brave the strongest temptations ; I will obstruct thy falling? Open thy heart to the most seductive objects ; I will interpose my buckler for thy preservation and defence ?

On this subject, my brethren, some ministers have need of a total reform in their creed, and to abjure a system of theology, if I may so dare to speak, inconceivably absurd. Some men have formed notions of I know not what

grace, which takes wholly on itself the work of our salvation, which suffers us to sleep as much as we choose in the arms of concupiscence and pleasure, and which redoubles its aids in proportion as the sinner redoubles resistance. Undeceive yourselves. God never yet bestowed a talent without requiring its cultivation. The higher are our endowments, the more are our difficulties augmented. The greater efforts grace makes to save us, the more should we labour at our salvation. The more it watches for our good, the more we are called to the exercise of vigilance. You—you

You—you who surpass your neighbour, , in knowledge, tremble; an account will be required of that superior light. You-you who have more of genius than the most of men, tremble; an account will be required of that genius. You-you who have most advanced in the grace of sanctification, tremble; an account will be required of that grace. Do you call this truth in question? Go-go see it exemplified in the person of Solomon. Go, and see the abyss into which he fell by burying his talents. Go, and see this man endowed with talents superior to all

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

the world. Go, and see him enslaved hy seven hundred wives, and prostituted to three hundred concubines. Go, see bim prostrated before the idol of the Sidonians, and before the abomination of the Ammonites; and by the awful abyss into which he was plunged by the neglect of his talents, learn to improve yours with sanctifying fear. .

Our second solution of the difficulty proposed, and the second caution we would derive from the fall of Solomon, is the danger of bad company; and a caution rendered the more essential by the inattention of the

age. The contagious disease which extends its ravages for a thousand miles around us, excites in our mind terror and alarm. We use the greatest precaution against the danger. We guard the avenues of the state, and lay vessels on their arrival in port under the strictest quarantine : we do not suffer ourselves to be approached by any suspected person. But the contagion of bad company gives us not the smallest alarm. We respire without fear an air the most impure and fatal to the soul.

We form connections, enter into engagements, and contract marriages with profane, sceptical, and worldly people, and regard all those as declaimers and enthusiasts who declare, that “evil communications corrupt good manuers. But see ;-see indeed, by the sad experience of Solomon, whether we are declaimers and enthusiasts when we talk in this way. See into what a wretched situation we are plunged by contracting marriages with persons whose religion is idolatrous, and whose morals are corrupt. Nothing is more contagious than bad example. The sight, the presence,


the voice, the breath of the wicked is infected and fatal.

The danger of human grandeur is a new solution of the difficulty proposed, and a third caution we derive from the fall of Solomon. Mankind, for the most part, have a brain too weak to bear a high scale of elevation. Dazzled at once with the


of rounding lustre, they can no longer support the sight. You are astonished that Solomon, this prince, who reigned from the river even to the land of the Philistines; this prince, who made gold in his kingdom as plentiful as stones ; this prince, who was surrounded with flatterers and courtisans; this prince, who heard nothing but eulogy, acclamation, and applause : you are astonished that he should be thus intoxicated with the high endowments God had granted him for the discharge of duty, and that he should so far forget himself as to fall into the enormities just described. Seek in your own heart, and in your life the true solution of this difficulty. We are blinded by the smallest prosperity, and our head is turned by the least elevation of rank. A name, a title, added to our dignity; an acre of land added to our estate, an augmentation of equipage, a little information added to our knowledge, a wing to our mansion, or an inch to our stature, and here is more than enough to give us high notions of our own consequence, to make us assume a decisive tone, and wish to be considered as oracles : here is more than enough to make us forget our ignorance, our weakness, our corruption, the disease, which consumes us, the tomb which awaits us, the death which pursues us, treading on our heels, the sentence already preparing, and the account which God is about to require. Let us distrust ourselves in prosperity: let us never forget what we are : let us have people about us to recall its recollection : let us request our friends constantly to cry in our ears, remember that you are loaded with crimes ; that

you are but dust and ashes ; and in the midst of your grandeur, and your rank, remember that you are poor, frail, wretched, and abject.

4. In short, the beguiling charms of pleasure are the first solution of the difficulty proposed, and the last instruction we derive from the fall of Solomon. The sacred historian has not overlooked the cause of the fall of this prince. “Solomon loved many strange women, and they turned away his heart from the Lord.” 1 Kings xi. 1. 3.

I am here reminded of the wretched mission of Balaam. Commanded by powerful princes, allured by magnificent rewards, his eyes and heart already devoured the presents which awaited his services. He ascended a mountain, he surveyed the camp of the Israelites, he invoked by turns the power of God's Spirit, and the power of the devil. Finding that prophecy afforded him no resource, he had recourse to divination and enchantment. Just on the point of giving full effect to his detestable art, he felt himself fettered by the force of truth, and exclaimed, “there is no enchantment against Jacob, there is no divination against Israel.” Numb. xxxiij. 23. He temporised : yes, he found a way to supersede all the prodigies which God had done and accomplished for his people. This way was pleasure. It was, that they should no more attack the Israelites with open force, but with voluptuous delights ; that they should no more send among them wizards and enchanters, but the women of Midian, to allure them to their sacrifices, then this people, before invincible, I will deliver into your hands ! ! !

Of the success of this advice, my brethren, you cannot be ignorant. But why fell not every Balaam by the sword of Israelites ! Numb. xxxi. 8. Why were the awful consequences of this counsel restricted to the unhappy culprits, whom the holy hands of Phinehas and Eleazar, sacrificed to the wrath of Heaven! David, Solomon, Samson, and you, my brethren ; you who may yet preserve, at least, a part of your

innocence. Let us arm then against voluptuousness. Let us distrust enchanting pleasure. Let us fear it, not only when it presents its horrors ; not only when it discovers the frightful objects which follow in its train, adultery, incest, treason, apostacy, with murder and assassination : but let us fear it, when clothed in the garb of innocency, when authorized by decent freedoms, and assuming the pretext of religious sacrifices. Let us exclude it from every avenue of the heart. Let us restrict our senses. Let us mortify our members which are on the earth. Let us crucify the flesh with its concupiscence. And by the way prescribed in the gospel ; the way of retirement, of silence, of austerity, of the cross, and of mortification, let us attain happiness, and immortal bliss. May God grant us the grace. To him be honour, and glory, for ever. Amen.

« AnteriorContinuar »