« AnteriorContinuar »
we just now observed, have some relation to our passions: But, after all, can the world satisfy them? My paissions are infinite, every finite object is inadequate to them. My ambition, my voluptuousness, my avarice, are only irritated, they are not satisfied, by all the objects which the present world exhibits to my view. Christians, we no longer preach to you to limit your desires. Expand them, be ambitious, be covetous, be greedy of pleasure: but be so in a supreme degree. Jerusalem, enlarge the place of thy tent, stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations, spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes, Isa. liv. 2. The throne of thy sovereign, the pleasures that are at his right hand, the inexhaustible mines of his happiness, will quench the utmost thirst of thy heart. From what hath been said, I infer only two consequences, and them, my brethren, I would use, to convince you of the grandeur of a christian, and of the grandeur of an intelligent soul. 1. Let us learn to form grand ideas of a christian. The pious man is often disdained in society by men of the world. He is often taxed with narrowness of genius, and meanness of soul. He is often dismissed to keep company with those, whom the world calls good folks. But what unjust appraisers of things are mankind How little doth it become them to pretend to distribute glory ! Christian is a grand character. A christian man unites in himself what is most grand, both in the mind of a philosopher, and in the heart of a hero. The unshaken steadiness of his soul, elevates him above whatever is most grand in the mind of a philosopher. The philosopher flatters himself, that he is arrived at this grandeur; but he only imagines so ; it is the christian who possesseth it. He alone knows how to distinguish the true from the false. The christian is the man, who knoweth how to ascend to heaven, to procure wisdom there, and to bring it down, and to diffuse it on earth. It is the christian, who, having learnt, by the accurate exercise of his reason, the imperfection of his knowledge, and having supplied the want of perfection in himself, by submitting to the decisions of an infallible Being, steadily resisteth all the illusions, and all the sophisms, of error and falshood. And, as he possesseth, as he surpasseth, whatever is most grand in the mind of a philosopher, so he possesseth whatever is most grand in the heart of a hero. That grandeur, of which the worldly hero vainly imagines himself in possession, the christian alone really enjoys. It is the christian, who first forms the heroical design of taking the perfections of God for his model, and then surmounteth every obstacle that opposeth his laudable career. It is the christian, who hath the courage, not to rout an army, neither to cut away through a squadron, nor to scale a wall; but to stem an immortal torrent, to free himself from the maxims of the world, to bear pain, and to despise shame, and, what perhaps may be yet more magnanimous, and more rare, to be impregnable against whole armies of voluptuous attacks. It is the christian, then, who is the only true philosopher, the only real hero. Let us be well persuaded of this truth; if the world despise us, let us, in our turn, despise the world; let us be highly satisfied with that degree of elevation, to which grace hath raised us. This is the first consequence. 2. We infer from this subject the excellence of 3your souls. Two mighty powers dispute the sovereignty over them, God and Satan. Satan employs his subtility to subdue you to him: he terrifies you with threatenings, he enchants you with promises,
he endeavors to produce errors in your minds, and passions in your hearts. On the other hand, God, having redeemed you with the purest and most precious blood, having shaken in your favor, the heavens, and the earth, the sea, and the dryland, Hag. ii. 6. still continues to resist Satan for you, to take away, his prey from him, and from the highest heavens, to animate you with those grand motives, which we have this day been proposing to your meditation. Today God would attract you, by the most affecting means, to himself. While heaven and earth, God and the world, endeavor to gain your souls, do you alone continue indolent? Are you alone ignorant of your own worth? Ah learn to know your own excellence, triumph over flesh and blood, trample the world beneath your feet, go from conquering to conquer. Listen to the voice, that crieth to you, To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. Rev. iii. 21. Continue in the faith, hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown, ver, 11. Having fought through life, redouble your believing vigor at the approach of death. All the wars, which the world makes on your faith, should prepare you for the most great, the most formidable attack of all. The last enemy, that shall be destroyed, is death, 1 Cor. xv. 26. The circumstances of death are called an agony, that is, a wrestling. In effect, it is the mightiest effort of Satan, and therefore our faith should redouble its vigorous acts. Then, Satan will attack you with cutting griefs, and doubts, and fears; then will he present to you a deplorable family, whose cries and tears will WOL. II. H pierce your hearts, and who, by straitening the ties. that bind you to the earth, will raise obstacles to prevent the ascent of your souls to God. He wisp alarm you with the idea of divine justice, and will terrify you with that of consuming fire, which must devour the adversaries of God. He will paint, in the most dismal colors, all the sad train of your sunerals, the mournfully nodding hearse, the torch, the shroud, the coffin, and the pall, the frightful solitude of the tomb, or the odious putrefaction of the grave. At the sight of these sad objects, flesh complains, nature murmurs, religion itself seems to totter and shake: But, fear not; your faith, your faith will support you. Faith will discover those eternal relations into which you are going to enter; the celestial armies that will soon be your companions; the blessed angels, who wait to receive your souls, and to be your convoy home. Faith will shew you that in the tomb of Jesus Christ, which will sanctify yours; it will remind you of that blessed death, which renders yours precious in the sight of God; it will assist your souls to glance into eternity; it will open the gates of heaven to you; it will enable you to beloki, without murmuring, the earth sinking away from your feet; it will change your death-beds into triumphal chariots, and it will make you exclaim, amidst all the mournful objects, that surround you, O grave, where is thy victory ! O death where is thy sting ! I Cor. XV. 55. My brethren, our most vehement desires, our private studies, our public labors, our vows, our wishes, and our prayers, we consecrate to prepare you for that great day. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his
Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church of Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Eph. iii. 14. 16. 21.