Imágenes de páginas

crimes to them, injustice accuses them for pub- depend on the world, that is, on the dignities lic calamities ....... we will not enlarge, which ambitious men idolize. Avarice sup

Let an inviolable fidelity to the state, an poses our riches depend on this world, on gold, i unsuspected love to government, an unre silver, and estates.

served conformity to religion, silence accusa These are not the ideas of a Christian. His tion, and compel, so to speak, an esteem that honour is not of this world, it depends on the is not natural and free. Moreover, religious ideas of God, who is a just dispenser of glory. exiles have given up a great deal for con- | His elevation is not of this world, it depends on science, and they must choose either to lose thrones and crowns which God prepares. His the reward of their former labours, or to per riches are not of this world, they depend on severe. A man who has only taken a few easy treasures in heaven, where thieves do not steps in religion, if he let loose his passions, break through and steal,' Matt. vi. 20. It is may be supposed rational in this, his life is all allowable for a man educated in these great of a piece. He considers present interest as principles, but whose infirmity prevents his althe supreme good, and he employs himself ways thinking on them; it is indeed allowablo wholly in advancing his present interest, he for a man, who cannot always bend his mind lays down a principle, he infers a consequence, to reflection, meditation, and elevation above and he makes sin produce all possible advan the world; it is indeed allowable for such a tage. An abominable principle certainly, but man sometimes to unbend his mind, to amuse a uniform train of principle and consequence; himself with cultivating a tulip, or embellisha fatal advantage in a future state, but a real ing his head with a crown: but that this tulip. advantage in the present: but such a stranger that this crown, should seriously occupy such as we have described, a man banished his coun a man; that they should take up the principal try for religion, if he continues to gratify flesh attention of a Christian, who has such refined ly passions, is a contradictory creature, a sort ideas and such glorious hopes, this, this is erof idiot, who is at one and the same time a | tirely incompatible, martyr to vice and a martyr to virtue. He has 1 3. In fine, we are strangers and pilgrims by the fatal secret of rendering both time and necessity of nature as mortal men. "If this life eternity wretched, and arming against himself were eternal, it would be a question whether heaven and earth, God and Satan, paradise and it were more advantageous for man to gratify hell. On the one hand, for the sake of religion his passions than to subdue them ; whether he quits every thing dear, and renounces the the tranquillity, the equanimity, the calm of a pleasure of his native soil, the society of his man perfectly free, and entirely master of himfriends, family connexions, and every prospect self, would not be preferable to the troubles, of preferment and fortune; thus he is a martyr conflicts, and turbulence, of a man in bondage for virtue, by this he renders the present life | to his passions. Passing this question, we will inconvenient, and arms against himself the grant, that were this life eternal, prudence and world, Satan, and hell., On the other hand, he self-love, well understood, would require some stabs the practical part of religion, violates all indulgence of passion. In this case there the sacred laws of austerity, retirement, humi- would be an immense distance between the lity, patience, and love, all which religion most | rich and the poor, and riches should be acearnestly recommends ; by so doing he be. | quired; there would be an immense distance comes a martyr for sin, renders futurity mise between the high and the low, and elevation rable, and arms against himself God, heaven, | should be sought; there would be an immense and eternity. The same God who forbade su | distance between him who mortified his senses, perstition and idolatry, enjoined all the virtues and him who gratified them, and sensual plea. we have enumerated, and prohibited every sures would be requisite. opposite vice, If men be determined to be But death, death renders all these things damned, better go the broad than the narrow alike ; at least, it makes so little difference bc. way. Who but a madman would attempt to tween the one and the other, that it is hardly go to hell by encountering the difficulties that discernible. The most sensible motive there. lie in the way to heaven!

fore to abate the passions, is death. The tomb 2. The believers to whom Peter wrote were is the best course of morality. Study avarice strangers as Christians, and therefore stran- | in the coffin of a miser; this is the man who gers because believers. What is the funda- | accumulated heap upon heap, riches upon mental maxim of the Christian religion? Jesus riches, see a few boards enclose him, and a few Christ told Pilate, My kingdom is not of this square inches of earth contain him. Study world, John xviii. 36. This is the maxim of ambition in the grave of that enterprising a Christian, the first great leading principle, | man; see his noble designs, his extensive pro

his kingdom is not of this world;' his happi- jects, his boundless expedients are all shatterness and misery, his elevation and depression, ed and sunk in this fatal gulf of human prodepend on nothing in this world.

jects, Approach the tomb of the proud man, The first principle is the ground of the apos- | and there investigate pride ; see the mouth tle's exhortation. The passions destroy this that pronounced lofty expressions, condemned maxim by supposing the world capable of to eternal silence, the piercing eyes that conmaking us happy or miserable. Revenge sup-| vulsed the world with fear, covered with a poses our honour so depend on the world, on midnight gloom, the formidable arm, that disthe opinion of those idiots who have determin- | tributed the destinies of mankind, without moed that a man of honour ought to revenge an tion and life. Go to the tomb of the nobleaffront. Ambition supposeg our elevation to l man, and there study quality ; behold his magnificent titles, his royal ancestors, his flat- dressed them to you in vain. When we tering inscriptions, his learned genealogies, are treat of a point of doctrine, we may persuade all gone, or going to be lost with himself in the ourselves it has been understood. When we same dust. Study voluptuousness at the grave explain a difficult text, we flatter ourselves we of the voluptuous; see, his senses are destroy- have thrown some light upon it. When we ed, his organs broken to pieces, his bones urge a moral duty, we hope the next occasion scattered at the grave's mouth, and the whole will bring it to your memory: and yet how temple of sensual pleasure subverted from its | often have we deceived ourselves on these ar foundations.

ticles! How often have our hopes been vain! Here we finish this discourse. There is a How often have you sent us empty away, even great difference between this and other sub though we demanded so little! What will jects of discussion. When we treat of a point be done to-day? Who that knows a little of of doctrine, it is sufficient that you hear it, and mankind, can flatter himself that a discourse remember the consequences drawn from it. intended, in regard to a great number, to change When we explain a difficult text, it is enough all, to reform all, to renew all, will be directed that you understand it and recollect it. When to its true design! we press home a particular duty of morality, it But, O God, there yet remains one resource, is sufficient that you apply it to the particular it is thy grace, it is thine aid, grace that we

have a thousand times turned into lasciviousBut what regards the passions is of univer ness, and which we have a thousand times resal and perpetual use. We always carry the | jected; yet after all assisting grace, which we principles of these passions within us, and we most humbly venture to implore. When we should always have assistance at hand to sub approach the enemy, we earnestly beseech due them. Always surrounded with objects thee,' teach our hands to war, and our fingers of our passions, we should always be guarded to fight! When we did attack a town, we against them. We should remember these fervently besought thee to render it accessible things, when we see the benefits of fortune, to to us! Our prayers entered heaven, our enefree ourselves from an immoderate attachment mies fleil before us, thon didst bring us into the to them; before human grandeur to despise strong city, and didst lead us into Edom, Ps. it; before sensual objects, to subdue them; be lx. 9. The walls of many a Jericho fell at fore our enemy, to forgive him; before friends, the sound of our trumpets, at the sight of thine children, and families, to hold ourselves disen- ark, and the approach of thy priest: but the gaged from them. We should always exa old man is an enemy far more formidable than mine in what part of ourselves the passions hold the best disciplined armies, and it is harder to their throne, whether in the mind, the senses, conquer the passions than to beat down the or the imagination, or the heart. We should walls of a city! O help us to subdue this old always examine whether they hare depraved man, as thou hast assisted us to overcome other the heart, defiled the imagination, perverted enemies ! Enable us to triumph over our the senses, or blinded the mind. We should passions as thou hast enabled us to succeed in ever remember, that we are strangers upon levelling the walls of a city! Stretch out earth, that to this our condition calls us, our thy holy arm in our favour, in this church, religion invites us, and our nature compels as in the field of battle! So be the protector us.

both of the state and the church, crown our But alas ! It is this, it is this general influ efforts with such suceess, that we may offer ence, which these exhortations ought to have the most noble songs of praise to thy glory. over our lives, that makes us fear we have ad. Amen.

[ocr errors]



Hosea vi. 4.

0 Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee ? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee?

For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.

The church has seldom seen happier days | Never had a people gratitude more lively, pi. than those described in the nineteenth chapter ety more fervent. The Red Sea had been of Exodus. God had never diffused his bene- passed, Pharaoh and his insolent court were dictions on a people in a richer abundance. buried in the waves, access to the land of pro

mise was opened, Moses had been admitted * Preached the first Lord's day of the year 1710. The

on the holy mountain to derive felicity from

God the source, and sent to distribute it called to public worship, you came. You amongst his countrymen; to these choice fa. were exhorted to attend to the word of God, vours promises of new and greater blessings you did attend to it. You were required to were yet added, and God said, 'ye have seen | form resolutions of a holy life, you made these what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare resolutions. It seemed, while we saw you you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto come with united ardour this morning to the myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my table of Jesus Christ, it seemed as if we heard voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye you say, with the Israelites of old, All that shall be a peculiar treasure unto me, above the Lord hath spoken we will do.' all people, alterugh the earth be mine,' ver. But we declare, my brethren, a cloud comes 4, 5. The people were deeply affected with over the bright scene of this solemnity. I fear, this collection of miracles. Each individual shall I say the forty? alas, I fear the four suco entered into the same views, and seemed ani ceeding days! These doors will be shut, this mated with the same passion, all hearts were table will be removed, the voice of the serunited, and one voice expressed the sense of vants of God will cease to sound in your ears, all the tribes of Israel, All that the Lord hath and I fear the Lord will sayof you, they have spoken we will do,' ver. 8. But this devotion | quickly turned aside out of the way which I had one great defect, it lasted only forty days. commanded them.' In forty days the deliverance out of Egypt, the Let us not content ourselves with foreseeing catastrophe of Pharaoh, the passage through this evil, let us endeavour to prevent it. This the sea, the articles of the covenant; in forty is the design of the present discourse, in which days vows, promises, oaths, all were effaced we will treat of transient devotions. To you, from the heart and forgotten. Moses was ab | in the name of God, we address the words, the sent, the lightning did not glitter, the thunder tender words, which will occasion more reflecclaps did not roar, and the Jews made a calf | tions than they may seem at first to do, but in Horeb, worshipped that molten image, and which no reflections can exhaust,O Ephraim, changed their glorious God into the similitude what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what of an ox that eateth grass,' Ps. cxi. 19, 20. shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as It was this that drew upon Moses this cutting a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goreproof from God, Go, said he to Moses, to eth away. that Moses always fervent for the salvation of 0 Almighty God! We humbly beseech his people, always ready to plead for them, thee, enable us in the offerings we make to 'go, get thee down, for thy people, which thou thee to resemble thee in the favours which broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have cor thou bestowest upon us! Thy gifts to us are rupted themselves. They have quickly turn without repentance, thy covenant with us coned aside out of the way which I commanded tains this clause, the mountains shall depart, them,' Exod. xxxii. 7, 8. They have quickly and the hills be removed, but my kindness turned aside, this is the great defect of their de shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covotion, this is that which renders all devotion venant of my peace be removed. I have sworn incomplete.

that I will not be wroth with thee! O that Do you know this portrait, my brethren? our offerings to thee may be without repentHas this history nothing in it like yours? ance! O that we may be able to reply, the Are any days more solemn than such as we mountains shall depart, and the hills be removobserve in our present circumstances? Did ed, but my fidelity shall never depart from God ever draw near to us with more favours thee, neither shall the dedication which I have than he has this day? Did we ever approach made of myself to thee, ever be removed! I him with more fervour? On the one hand, have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will the beginning of another year recalls to mind keep thy righteous judgments. Amen. the serious and alarming discourses, which the "O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O ministers of Jesus Christ addressed to us on Judah, what shall I do unto thee? Ephraim, the last anniversary, the many strokes given, | Judah, are terms of the text that have very to whom? To the enemies of God? Alas! little need of explication. You know that the To the state and the church! Many cut off people of God were united in one state till the in the field of battle, many others carried away time of Jeroboam, when he rent a part from in the ordinary and inevitable course of things, Rehoboam the son of Solomon, thus two king. many perils, in one word, with which we were doms were constituted, that of Judah and that threatened, but which thy mercy, O God, has of Israel. Jerusalem was the capital city of

Judah, and of Israel Samaria was the metrocred table, these august symbols, these ear- | polis, and it is sometimes called Ephraim in nests of our eternal felicity, all these objects, do Scripture. By Judah and Ephraim the prothey not render this day one of the most sin phet then means both these kingdoms. This gular in our lives?

wants no proof, and if there be any thing worth If heaven has thus heard the earth (we are | remarking on this occasion, it is that most inhappy to acknowledge it, my brethren, and terpreters, who are often the echoes of one we eagerly embrace this opportunity of pub another, describe the ministry of Hosea as dilishing your praise) the earth has heard the rected only to the kingdom of Israel, whereas heaven. To judge by appearance, you have I it is clear by the text, and by several other pas. answered our wishes, and exceeded our hopes. sages, that it was addressed both to Isruel and You were exhorted to prepare for the Lord's Judah. supper, you did prepare for it. You were ! But of all unlucky conjectures, I question

whether there be one more so than that of farther than the first: but it does not go so far some divines, who think our text prophetical. as the last. In their opinion the goodness mentioned in the The transient devotion, of which we speak, text is the mercy of God displayed in the gos is not hypocrisy. Hypocrisy cannot suspend pel. The dew signifies Jesus Christ. The the strokes of divine justice one single moment, morning, “thy goodness is like the morning and it is more likely to inflame than to extindew,' intends the covenant of grace. As eve guish the righteous indignation of God. It is not ry one proposes his opinion under some appear. to hypocrites that God addresses this tender lanance of evidence, it is said in favour of this, guage, 0 Ephraim, what shall I do unto that the expression, thy goodness, does not sig thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee?" nify the goodness of the people, but that which Their sentence is declared, their punishment is manifested to the people, and in proof of is ready. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prothis the idiom of the Hebrew tongue is alleg phecy of you, saying, this people draweth ed, with divers passages that justify this tour nigh unto me with their mouth, and honour. of expression, as this, my people are bent to eth me with their lips, but their heart is far their backsliding,' that is to backsliding from from me. Wo unto you, scribes and Pharime. The dew, say they, signifies the Messiah, sees, hypocrites. The portion of hypocrites for he is promised under that emblem in ma- | shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth,' Matt. ny passages of Scripture. They add farther, xv.7 ; xxiii. 31, and xxiv. 51. the morning signifies the new dispensation of Nor is the piety we mean to describe that the gospel, which is often announced under of the weak and revolting believer. How imthis idea by the prophets, and all this text, thy perfect soever this piety may be, yet it is real. goodness is as the early dew which goeth It is certainly a very mortifying consideration away,' opens a wonderful contrast between to a believer that he should be at any time the law and the gospel. The law was like a hemmed in, confined, and clogged, in his destorm of hail destroying the fruits of the earth, votional exercises. In some golden days of but the gospel is a dew that makes every thing his life, forgetting the world, and wholly emfruitful. The law was a dark night, but the ployed about heavenly things, how happy was gospel was a fine day; thy goodness is like he, how delicious his enjoyments, when he surthe morning dew which goeth away,' that is mounted sense and sin, ascended to God liko to say, which cometh. Here are many good Moses formerly on the holy mount, and there truths out of place. Thy goodness may signi- conversed with his heavenly Father concern. fy, for any thing we know, goodness exercised ing religion, salvation, and eternity! O how towards thee; the Messiah is represented as a richly did he then think himself indemnified dew; the gospel economy is promised under for the loss of time in worldly pursuits by the emblem of the morning ; all this is true, pouring his complaints into the bosom of God, but all this is not the sense of the text. The by opening all his heart, by saying to him with word goodness, which is the first mistake of inspired men, • Lord, thou knowest that I love the exposition just now given, may be under thee! it is good for me to draw near to God! stood of piety in general. It has that meaning My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatin many passages of Scripture. The substan- ness, and my mouth shall praise thee with joytive derived from it is usually put for pious ful lips!' I say, it is a very mortifying thing to persons, and according to a celebrated critic, him, after such elevations in the enjoyment of it is from the word hasidim, the pious, that such magnificent objects, to be obliged through the word Essenes is derived, a name given to the frailty of his nature to go down again into the whole sect among the Jews, because they the world, and to employ himself about what? professed a more eminent piety than others. A suit of clothes, a menial servant, a nothing! A goodness like the morning dew' is a seem- | Above all, it is very mortifying to him, after ing piety, which goeth away,' that is of a he has tasted pleasure so pure, to feel himself short duration, and all these words, 'O Ephraim, disposed to sin! But after all, this piety, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what though very imperfect, is genuine and true. shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as | It should humble us, but it should not destroy a morning cloud, and as the early dew it go us, and we should be animated with a spirit eth away,' are a reproof from God to his peo too rigid, were we to confound this piety with ple for the unsteadiness of their devotions," In that, which is as the morning cloud, and as this light we will consider the text, and show the early dew that goeth away.' you first the nature-and secondly the unpro The piety we speak of lies between these fitableness of transient devotions.

two dispositions. As I said before, it does not I. Let us first inquire the nature of the pie go so far in religion as the second, but it does ty in question. What is this goodness or pie go beyond the first. It is sincere, in that it is ty, that is as a morning cloud, and goeth away superior to hypocrisy; but it is unfruitful, and as the early dew? We do not understand by | in that respect it is inferior to the piety of the this piety either those deceitful appearances of weak and revolting Christian. It is sufficient hypocrites, who conceal their profane and ir- | to discover sin, but not to correct it; sufficient religious hearts under the cover of ardour and to pruduce sincere resolutions, but not to keep religion, or the disposition of those Christians, them: it softens the heart, but it does not rewho fall through their own frailty from high new it; it excites grief, but it does not eradidegrees of pious zeal, and experience emo- cate evil dispositions. It is a piety of times, tions of sin after they have felt exercises of opportunities, and circumstances, diversified a grace. The devotion we mean to describe goes I thousand ways, the effect of innumerable causes, and, to be more particular, it usually owes protected by such as are bound to suppress it? its origin to public calamities, or to solemn They have shown you the Deity ready to punfestivals, or to the approach of death: but it ish an obstinate perseverance in sin, and, if you expires as soon us the causes are removed. will forgive the expression, they have preach

i. By piety, like the early dew that goeth ed, illuminated by lightning, and their exhoraway,' we mean that which is usually excited tations have been enforced by thunder. Then by public calamities. When a state prospers, every one was struck, all hearts were united, when its commerce flourishes, when its armies every one ran to the breach, to turn away the are victorious, it acquires weight and conse wrath of God, lest he should destroy us all;' quence in the world. Prosperity is usually | Ps. cvi. 23. The magistrate came down from productive of crimes. Conscience falls asleep his tribunal, the merchant quitted his comduring a tumult of passions, as depravity con merce, the mechanic laid aside his work, yea tinues security increases, the patience of God the very libertine suspended his pleasures ; becomes weary, and he punishes either by vows, prayers, solemn protestations, tears, re. taking away prosperity, or by threatening to lentings, promiscs, sincere promises, nothing take it away. The terrible messengers of di. was wanting to your devotions. Then the vine justice open their commission. The angels rejoiced, a compassionate God smiled, winds which he makes his angels, begin to ut the corn revived, war was hushed, and was ter their voices: flames of fire, constituted his dying away; but along with the first tide of ministers, display their frightful light. Pesti prosperity came rolling back the former de. lence, war, famine, executioners of the decrees pravity, the same indifference to truth, the of heaven, prepare to discharge their dreadful | same negligence of religion, the same infidelioffice. One messenger called death, and ano ty, the same profanity. This is the first kind ther called hell, receive their bloody commis of that piety, which is as the early dew that sion, 'to kill with sword, and with hunger, goeth away. Let us study ourselves in the and with death, the fourth part of the earth, image of the Jews described in the context. Rev. vi. 8. Each individual sees his own ‘Come,' say they, when the prophet had predoom in the public decree. •Capernaum ex- | dicted the Babylonish captivity to Judah, and alted to heaven is going to be thrust down to the carrying away into Assyria to the ten tribes, hell,' Luke x. 15. Jonah walks about Nine. come, and let us return unto the Lord, for he veh, and makes the walls echo with this alarm hath torn, and he will heal us, he hath smitten, ing proclamation, . Yet forty days and Nineveh and he will bind us up. After two or three shall be overthrown. Yet forty days and Nin days he will revive us, and we shall live in his eveh shall be overthrown,'chap. iii. 4. Or, sight,' ver. 12. •After they had rest, they did to lay aside borrowed names, and to make our evil again before thee' (these are the words of portrait like the original, your ministers free Nehemiah), 'therefore thou didst leave them from their natural timidity or indolence, de in the hand of their enemies. When they respising those petty tyrants, or shall I rather turned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest may those diminutive insects, who amidst a free | them from heaven, and many times didst thou people would have us the only slaves; who deliver them, according to thy mercies. O while all kinds of vices have free course would | Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Juhave the word of God bound, and would reduce | dah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodthe excercise of the reformed ministry to a ness is as the morning cloud, and as the early state more mean and pusillanimous than that dew it goeth away,'chap.ix. 28. of court bishops, or the chaplains of kings; I 2. In a second class of transient devotions we say, your ministers have made you hear their | place that which religious solemnitres produce. voice, they have gone back to your origin, and Providence always watching for our salvation, laid before you the cruel edicts, the sanguinary has established in the church not only an ordi. proscriptions, the barbarous executions, the nary ministry to cultivate our piety, but some heaps of mangled carcasses, which were, if I extraordinary periods proper to invigorate and may so speak, the first foundations of this re bring it to maturity, thus proportioning itself public. From what you were then they have to our frailty. How considerable soever the proceeded to what you are now; they have truths of religion are, it is certain they lose represented to you the end proposed by the | their importance by our hearing them always Supreme Being in distinguishing you by so proposed in the same circumstances, and the many merciful advantages; they have told same points of light. There are some days you it was to engage you to inform idolatrous which put on I know not what of the extraornations of the truth, to nourish and favour it | dinary, and put in motion, so to speak, the first in cruel and persecuting countries, to support | great powers of religion. To this our festivals it at home, and so to cast out profaneness, icfi. are directed, and this is one of the principal delity, and atheism. They have repeatedly uses of the Lord's supper. Were this ordi. urged you to come to a settlement of accounts | nance not appointed with this view as some on these subjects, and they have delivered in affirm, had not God annexed some peculiar against you such an interrogatory as this ; are benediction to it, yet it would be a weak prethe hands which hang down, and the feeble tence to keep from the Lord's table, and the knees lifted up? Does superstition cover the use generally granted would always be a suftruth in any places of your government? Is the ficient reason to induce those to frequent it affliction of Joseph neglected? Does irreligion who have their salvation at heart. But howinsolently lift iis head among you, and is it | ever this may be, it is certain that such days


« AnteriorContinuar »