Page images

not think it beneath him, not unworthy of his glorious majesty, yet to entreat us to return to him and be happy. O mercy, that reacheth to the heavens ! O faithfulness reaching unto the clouds ! What consolations flow from you to a soul afraid of having exhausted you!

Above all, think, think, my brethren, that the truth we have been preaching, will become one of the most cruel torments to the damned. Devouring flame, kindled by the divine vengeance in hell, I have no need of your light; smoke ascending up. for ever and ever, I have no need to be struck with your blackness; chains of darkness, that weigh down the damned, I have no need to know your weight, to enable me to form lamentable ideas of the punishments of the reprobate, the truth in my text is sufficient to make me conceive your horror. Being lost, it will be remembered that there was a time when destruction might have been prevented. One of you will recollect the education God gave you, another the sermon he addressed to you, a third the sickness he sent to reform you: conscience will be obliged to do homage to an avenging God, it will be forced to allow, that the aid of the spirit of God was mighty, the motives of the gospel powerful, and the duties of it practicable. It will be compelled to acquiesce in this terrible truth, thou hast destroyed thyself. A condemned soul will incessantly be its own tormentor, and will continually' say, I am the author of my own punishment, I might have been saved, I opened and entered this horrible gulf of myself.

Inculcate all these great truths, christians, let them affect you, let them persuade you, let them compel you. God grant you the grace! To bim be honor and glory for ever. Amen.




[ocr errors]

Rivers of waters run down mine eyes : because they keep not thy law.

TEW people are such novices in religion, as not T to know, that sinners ought to be troubled for their own sins : but it is but here and there a man, who enters so much into the spirit of religion, as to understand how far the sins of others ought to trouble us. David was a model of both these kinds of penitential grief.

Repentance for his own sins is immortalized in his penitential psalms: and would to God, instead of that fatal security, and that unmeaning levity, which most of us discover, even after we have grossly offended God, would to God we had the sentiments of this penitent! His sin was always before him, and embittered all the pleasures of life. You know the language of his grief: Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak, my bones are vexed. Mine iniquities are gone over mine head : as an heavy burder, they are too heavy for me. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. I ac

knowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me. Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, that the bones which thou hast" broken, may rejoice.. .

But as David gives us such proper models of penitential expressions of grief for our own sins, so he furnisheth us with others as just for lamenting the sins of others. You have heard the text, rie vers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law. Read the psalm from which the text is taken, and you will find that our prophet shed three sorts of tears for the sins of others. The first were tears of zeal, the second flowed from love, the third from self-interest. This is the kind of penitence which I propose to day to your emu:


In the first place, I will describe the insults, which a sinner offers to God, and will endeavor to shew you, that it is impossible for a good man to see his God affronted in this manner, without being extremely grieved, and shedding tears of zeal.

In the second place, I will enumerate the miseries into which a sinner plunges himself, by his obstinate perseverance in sin, and I will endeavor to convince you, that it is impossible for a good man to see this without shedding tears of pity and love.

In the third place, I shall shew you, if I perceive your attention continue, the disorders, which sinners cause in society, in our cities, and families; and you will perceive, that it is impossible for a good man to see the prosperity of society every day endangered and damaged by its enemies, without shedding tears of self-interest.

Almighty God, whose tender mercies are over all thy works, but whose adorable providence condemns us to wander in a valley of tears, O condescend, to put our tears into thy bottle, and to gather us in due time to that happy society, in which conformity to thy laws is the highest happiness and glory! Amen.

I. David shed over sinners of his time tears of zeal. Thus he expressed himself in the psalm, from which we have taken the text, My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words. But what is zeal? How many people to exculpate themselves for not feeling this sacred flame, ridicule it as a phantom, the mark of an enthusiast? However, there is no disposition more real and sensible. The word zeal, is vague and metaphorical; it signifies fire, heat, warmth, and, applied to intelligent beings, it means the activity and vehemence of their desires, hence in common style it is attributed to all the passions indifferently, good and bad : but it is most commonly applied to religion, and there it hath two meanings, the one vague, the other precise. - In a vague sense, zeal is put less for a particular virtue, than for a general vigor and vivacity pervading all the powers of the soul of a zealous man. Zeal is opposed to lukewarmness, and lukewarmness is not a particular vice, but a dulness, an indolence, that accompanies and enfeebles all the exercises of the religion of a lukewarm man. On the contrary, zeal is a fire animating all the emotions of the piety of the man who hath it, and giving them all the worth and weight of vehemence. · But as the most noble exercises of religion are such as bave God for their object, and as the virtue of virtues, or, as Jesus Christ expresseth it, the first and great commandment is that of divine love, zeal is particularly taken (and this is the precise meaning of the word) for loving God, not for a VOL. V..


« PreviousContinue »