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is allowable to palliate our sentiments, and, if confess Jesus Christ; 'whosoever shall deny the heart be right with God, there is no harm him before men, him will he deny before his in a conformity to the world. The God of Father who is in heaven; he who loveth fareligion is the God of nature, and it is not ther or mother more than him, is not worthy conceivable, that religion should condemn the of him,' chap. x. 32, 33, 37. Would Satan infeelings of nature; or, that the ideas of fire spire us with revenge? It is written, Dearand brimstone, with which the Scriptures are ly beloved, avenge not yourselves,' Rom. xii. filled, should have any other aim, than to pre- 19. Does Satan require us to devote our vent men from carrying vice to extremes: youthful days to sin? It is written,' Rememthey cannot mean to restrain every act of sin. ber thy Creator in the days of thy youth,' EcThe time of youth is a season of pleasure. cles. xii. 1. Does Satan tell us that we must We ought not to aspire at saintship. We not aspire to be saints? It is written, Be ye must do as other people do. It is beneath a holy, for I am holy,' 1 Pet.i 16; Would Saman of honour to put up with an affront; a tan teach us to dissipate time? It is written, gentleman ought to require satisfaction. Nowe must redeem time,' Eph. v. 16; we must reproof is due to him who hurts nobody but number our days,' in order to apply our himself. Time must be killed. Detraction hearts unto wisdom,' Ps. xc. 12. Would Sais the salt of conversation. Impurity, indeed, tan encourage us to slander our neighbour? is intolerable in a woman; but it is very par- It is written, 'Revilers shall not inherit the donable in men. Human frailty excuses the kingdom of God,' 1 Cor. vi. 10. Does Satan greatest excesses. To pretend to be perfect tell us we deserve no reproof when we do no in virtue, is to subvert the order of things, harm? It is written, we are to practise and to metamorphose man into a pure disem-whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever conbodied intelligence. My brethren, how easy stitutes virtue, whatsoever things are worthy it is to make proselytes to a religion so ex- of praise,' Phil. iv. 8. Would Satan tempt us actly fitted to the depraved propensities of the to indulge impurity? It is written, our boIdies are the members of Christ,' and it is a crime to make them the members of a harlot,' 1 Cor. vi. 15. Would Satan unite hea ven and earth? It is written, There is no concord between Christ and Belial, no communion between light and darkness,' 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15; no man can serve two masters,' Matt. vi. 24. Does Satan urge the impossibility of perfection? It is written, Be yo perfect, as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect,' chap. v. 48.
These maxims have a singular character, they seem to unite that which is most irregular with that which is most regular in the heart; and they are the more likely to subvert our faith, because they seem to be consistent with it. However, all that they aim at is, to unite heaven and hell, and, by a monstrous assemblage of heterogeneous objects, they propose to make us enjoy the pleasures of sin and the joys of heaven. If Satan were openly to declare to us, that we must proclaim war with God; that we must make an alliance with him against the divine power; that we must oppose his majesty: reason and conscience would reject propositions so detestable and gross. But, when he attacks us by such motives as we have related; when he tells us, not that we must renounce the hopes of heaven, but that a few steps in an easy path will conduct us thither. When he invites us, not to deny religion, but to content ourselves with observing a few articles of it. When he does not strive to render us insensible to the necessities of a poor neighbour, but to convince us that we should first take care of ourselves, for charity, as they say, begins at home-do you not conceive, my Each order of men, each condition of life. brethren, that there is in this morality a se- each society, has some peculiar vice, and cret poison, which slides insensibly into the each of these is so established by custom, heart, and corrodes all the powers of the soul? that we cannot resist it, without being acThe Christian is not vulnerable by any of counted, according to the usual phrase, men these maxims. He derives help from the re- of another world. Vicious men are someligion, which he professes, against all the ef- times respectable persons. They are parents, forts that are employed to divert him from it; they are ministers, they are magistrates. We and he conquers by resisting Satan as Jesus bring into the world with us a turn to imitaChrist resisted him, and, like him, opposes tion. Our brain is so formed as to receive maxim against maxim, the maxims of Christ impressions from all exterior objects, and if against the maxims of the world. Would I may be allowed to speak so, to take the form Satan persuade us, that we follow a morality of every thing that affects it. How difficult too rigid? It is written, we must enter in at is it, my brethren, to avoid contagion, when a strait gate,' Matt. vii. 13, pluck out the we breathe an air so infected! The desire of right eye, cut off the right hand,' chap. v. 29, pleasing often prompts us to that which our 30: deny ourselves, take up our cross, and inclinations abhor, and very few people can follow Christ,' chap. xvi. 24. Docs Satan say bear this reproach; you are unfashionable and it is allowable to conceal our religion in a unpolite! How much harder is it to resist a time of persecution? It is written, we must torrent, when it falls in with the dispositions
2. There is a difference between those who preach the maxims of Jesus Christ; and those who preach the maxims of the world. The former, alas' are as frail as the rest of mankind, and they themselves are apt to violate the laws which they prescribe to others; so that it must be sometimes said of them, What they bid you observe, observe and do; but do not ye after their works,' Matt. xxiii. 3. They who preach the maxims of the world, on the contrary, never fail to confirm the pernicious maxims, which they advance by their own examples: and hence a second quiver of those darts, with which Satan attempts to destroy the virtues of Christianity; I mean the examples of bad men.
of our own hearts! The Christian, however,, threatenings of the world, and with the perresolutely resists this attack, and opposes secutions of those who are in power. Vir model to model, the patterns of Jesus Christ, tue, I own, has a venerable aspect, which atand of his associates, to the examples of an tracts respect from those who hate it: but, apostate world. after all, it is hated. A beneficent man is a troublesome object to a miser: the patience of a believer throws a shade over the character of a passionate man: and the men of the world will always persecute those virtues, which they cannot resolve to practice.
The first, the great model, the exemplar of all others, is Jesus Christ. Faith, which always fixes the eyes of a Christian on his Saviour, incessantly contemplates his virtues, and also inclines him to holiness by stirring up his natural propensity to imitation. Jesus Christ reduced every virtue, which he preached, to practice. Did he preach a detachment from the world? And could it be carried farther than the divine Saviour carried it? He was exposed to hunger, and to thirst; to the inclemency of seasons, and to the contempt of mankind: he had no fortune to recommend him to the world, no great office to render him conspicuous there. Did he preach zeal? He passed the day in the instructing of men, and, as the saving of souls filled up the day, the night he spent in praying to God. Did he preach patience? When he was reviled, he reviled not again,' 1 Pet. ii. 23. Did he preach love? Greater love than he had no man, for he laid down his life for his friends, John xv. 13. His incarnation, his birth, his life, his cross, his death, are so many voices, each of which cries to us, Behold how he loved you,' chap. xi. 35.
Moreover, there is a kind of persecution, which approaches to madness, when, to the hatred, which our enemies naturally have against us, they add sentiments of superstition; when, under pretence of religion, they avenge their own cause; and, according to the language of Scripture, think that to kill the saints is to render service to God,' John x. 2. Hence so many edicts against primitive Christianity, and so many cruel laws against Christians themselves. Hence the filling of a thousand deserts with exiles, and a thousand prisons with confessors. Hence the letting loose of bears, and bulls, and lions, on the saints, to divert the inhabitants of Rome. Hence the applying of redhot plates of iron to their flesh. Hence iron pincers to prolong their pain by pulling them in piecemeal. Hence caldrons of boiling oil, in which, by the industrious cruelty of their persecutors, they died by fire and by water too. Hence burning brazen bulls, and seats of fire and flame. Hence the skins of wild beasts in which they were wrapped, in order to be torn and devoured by dogs. And hence those strange and nameless punishments, which would seem to have rather the air of fables than of historical facts, had not Christian persecutors, (good God! must these two titles go together!) had not Christian persecutors Let us pass this article, my brethren, let us cover these bloody objects with a veil of patience and love.
Had Jesus Christ alone practised the virtues which he prescribed to us, it might be objected, that a man must be conceived of the Holy Ghost,' Matt. i. 20, to resist the force of custom. But we have seen many Christians, who have walked in the steps of their master. The primitive church was 'compassed about with a happy society, a great cloud of witnesses,' Heb. xii. 1. Even now in spite of the power of corruption, we have many illustrious examples; we can show magistrates, who are accessible: generals, who are patient; merchants, who are disinterested; learned men, who are teachable; and devotees, who are lowly and meek.
Ah! how violent is this combat! Shall I open the wounds again, which the mercy of God has closed? Shall I recall to your meIf the believer could find no exemplary mories the falls of some of you? Give glocharacters on earth, he could not fail of meet-ry to God,' Josh. vii. 19. Cast your eyes ing with such in heaven. On earth, it is for a moment on that fatal day, in which the true, haughtiness, sensuality, and pride, are violence of persecution wrenched from you a in fashion. But the believer is not on earth. denial of the Saviour of the world, whom in He is reproached for being a man of another your souls you adored; made you sign with world. He glories in it, he is a man of ano- a trembling hand, and utter with a faultering ther world, he is a heavenly man, he is a tongue, those base words against Jesus citizen of heaven,' Phil. iii. 20. His heart Christ, 'I do not know the man,' Matt. xxvi. is with his treasure, and his soul, transport- 72. Let us own, then, that Satan is infiniteing itself by faith into the heavenly regions, ly formidable, when he strikes us with the beholds customs there different from those thunderbolts of persecution. which prevail in this world. In heaven it is the fashion to bless God, to sing his praise, to cry, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, Isa. vi. 3, to animate one another in celebrating the glory of the great Supreme, who reigns and fills the place. On earth, fashion proceeds from the courts of kings, and the provinces are polite when they imitate them. The believer is a heavenly courtier; he practises, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, the customs of the court whence he came, and to which he hopes
A new combat brings on a new victory, and the constancy of the Christian is displayed in many a triumphant banner. Turn over the annals of the church, and behold how a fervid faith has operated in fiery tri als. It has inspired many Stephens with mercy, who, while they sank under their persecutors, said 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge,' Acts vii. 60. Many with St. Paul have abounded in patience, and have said, 'Being reviled, we bless, being defamed, we entreat,' 1 Cor. iv. 12, 13. It has filled a Barlaam with praise, who while his hand
3. Satan assaults the Christian with the was held over the fire to scatter that incense
which in spite of him, his persecutors had roll in voluptuousness. I fear, I fear, my determined he should offer, sang, as well as brethren, very few of us would say to such a he could, Blessed be the Lord, who teach-dangerous enemy, Satan get thee hence,' eth my hands to war, and my fingers to ver. 10. fight,' Ps. cxliv. 2. It transported that holy woman with joy, who said, as she was going to suffer, crowns are distributed to-day, and I am going to receive one. It inspired Mark, bishop of Arethusa, with magnanimity, who, according to Theodoret, after he had been mangled and slashed, bathed in a liquid, of which insects are fond, and hung up in the sun to be devoured by them, said to the spectators, I pity you, ye people of the world, I am ascending to heaven, while ye are crawling on earth. And how many Marks of Arethusa, how many Barlaams, how many Stephens, and Pauls, have we known in our age, whose memories history will transmit to the most distant times!
This is the fourth assault, which the demon of cupidity makes on the Christian; this is the last triumph of Christian constancy and resolution. In these assaults the Christian is firm. The grand ideas, which he forms of God, makes him fear to irritate the Deity, and to raise up such a formidable foe. They fill him with a just apprehension of the folly of that man, who will be happy in spite of God. For self-gratification, at the expense of duty, is nothing else but a determination to be happy in opposition to God. This is the utmost degree of extravagance: 'Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? 1 Cor. x. 22.
Over all, the Christian fixes his eye on the 4. But how formidable soever Satan may immense rewards, which God reserves for be, when he shoots the fiery darts of perse-him in another world. The good things of cution at us, it must be granted, my bre- this world, we just now observed, have some thren, he discharges others far more danger- relation to our passions: but, after all, can ous to us, when, having studied our passions, the world satisfy them? My passions are he presents those objects to our hearts which infinite, every finite object is inadequate to they idolize, and gives us the possession, or them. My ambition, my voluptuousness, the hope of possessing them. The first ages my avarice, are only irritated, they are not of Christianity, in which religion felt all the satisfied, by all the objects which the present rage of tyrants, were not the most fatal to the world exhibits to my view. Christians, we church. Great tribulations produced great no longer preach to you to limit your desires. virtues, and the blood of the martyrs was the Expand them, be ambitious, be covetous, be seed of the church. But when under Chris- greedy of pleasure: but be so in a supreme tian emperors, believers enjoyed the privi- degree. Jerusalem, enlarge the place of leges of the world, and the profession of the thy tent, stretch forth the curtains of thine faith was no obstacle to worldly grandeur, habitations, spare not, lengthen thy cords, the church became corrupt, and, by sharing and strengthen thy stakes, Isa. liv. 2. The the advantages, partook of the vices of the throne of thy sovereign, the pleasures that world. are at his right hand, the inexhaustible mines of his happiness, will quench the utmost thirst of thy heart.
From what has 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 does 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.
Among the many different objects, which the world offers to our view, there is always one, there are often more, which the heart approves. The heart, which does not glow at the sight of riches, may sigh after honours. The soul that is insensible to glory, may be enchanted with pleasure. The demon of concupiscence, revolving for ever around us, will not fail to present to each of us that enticement, which of all others is the most agreeable to us. See his conduct to David. He could not entice him by the idea of a throne to become a parricide, and to stain his hands with the blood of the anointed of the Lord: but, as he was inaccessible one way, another art must be tried. He exhibited to his view an object fatal to his innocence: the prophet saw, admired, was dazzled, and inBlamed with a criminal passion, and to gratify it, began in adultery, and murder closed the scene.
My brethren, you do not feel these passions now, your souls are attentive to these great truths, and, while you hear of the snares of concupiscence, you discover the vanity of them. But if, instead of our voice, Satan were to utter his; if, instead of being confined within these walls, you were transported to the pinnacle of an eminent edifice; were he there to show you all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,' Matt. It is the Christian who having learned, by the iv. 8, and to say to each of you, There, accurate exercise of his reason, the imperfecyou shall content your pride: here, you shall tion of his knowledge, and having supplied satiate your vengeance: yonder, you shall the want of perfection in himself, by sub
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 possesses it. He alone knows how to distinguish the true from the false. The Christian is the man who knows how to ascend to heaven, to procure wisdom there, and to bring it down and to diffuse on earth.
mitting to the decisions of an infallible Being, great, the most formidable attack of all, steadily resists all the illusions, and all theThe last enemy that shall be destroyed, is sophisms of error and falsehood. 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.
And, as he possesses, as he surpasses, whatever is most grand in the mind of a philosopher, so he possesses 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 surmounts every obstacle that opposes his laudable career. It is the Christian who has the courage, not to rout an army, neither to cut a way through a squadron, nor to scale a wall; but to stem an immoral 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 satified with that degree of elevation, to which grace has raised us. This is the first consequence.
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 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 will 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 colours, all the sad train of your funerals, 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 objects, the 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 show 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 behold, 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? 1 Cor. xv. 55.
2. We infer from this subject the excellence of your souls. Two mighty_powers dispute the sovereignty over them, God and Satan. Satan employs his subtilty to subdue you to him: he terrifies you with threatenings, he enchants you with promises, he endeavours 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 favour, the heavens and the earth, the sea, and the dry land, Hag. ii. 6, still continues to resist Satan for you, to take away his prey from him; and from the highest heaven, to animate you with these grand motives, which we have this day been proposing to your meditation. To-day God would attract you, by the most affecting means, to himself.
While heaven and earth, God and the world, endeavours 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 cries 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 vigour at the approach of death.
My brethren, our most vehement desires, our private studies, our public labours, 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 fulness 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 by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end.' Amen. Eph. i. 14. 16. 21.
All the wars which the world makes on your faith, should prepare you for the most
THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST.
ISAIAH, ix. 6, 7.
Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth, even for ever.
I ANTICIPATE the festival which the goodness, or rather the magnificence, of God invites you to celebrate on Wednesday next. All nature seems to take part in the memorable event, which on that day we shall commemorate, I mean the birth of the Saviour of the world. Herod turns pale on his throne; the devils tremble in hell; the wise men of the East suspend all their speculations, and observe no sign in the firmament, except that which conducts them to the place where lies the incarnate Word, God manifest in the flesh,' 1 Tim. iii. 16; an angel from heaven is the herald of the astonishing event, and tells the shepherds, Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,' Luke ii. 10, 11, the multitude of the heavenly host' eagerly descend to congratulate men on the Word's assumption of mortal flesh, on his dwelling among men,' in order to enable them to behold his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,' John i. 14; they make the air resound with these acclamations, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men,' Luke ii. 14.
What think ye? Does this festival require no preparation of you? Do you imagine, that you shall celebrate it as you ought, if you content yourselves with attending on a few discourses, during which, perhaps, while you are present in body, you may be absent in spirit; or with laying aside your temporal cares, and your most turbulent passions, at the church-gates, in order to take them up again as soon as divine service ends? The king Messiah is about to make his triumphant entry among you. pomp do the children of this world, who are With what wise, and, we may add, magnificent, in their generation, Luke xvi. 8, celebrate the entries of their princes? They strew the roads with flowers, they raise triumphal arches, they express their joy in shouts of victory, and in songs of praise. Come, then, my brethren, let us to-day prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight,' Matt. iii. 3; 'let us be joyful together before the Lord, let us make a joyful noise before the Lord the King, for he cometh to judge the earth,' Ps. xcviii. 6. 9; or, to speak in a more intelligi
ble, and in a more evangelical manner, Come ye miserable sinners, laden with the insupportable burdens of your sins; come ye trou bled consciences, uneasy at the remembrance of your many idle words, many criminal thoughts, many abominable actions; come ye poor mortals, tossed with tempests and not comforted, Isa. liv. 11, condemned first to bear the infirmities of nature, the caprices of society, the vicissitudes of age, the turns of fortune, and then the horrors of death, and the frightful night of the tomb; come behold The Wonderful, the Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace: take him into your arms, learn to to desire nothing more, when you possess him. May God enable each of you, to say, 'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. Amen.
our meditations in this discourse are to turn. You have heard the prophecy on which Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of there shall be no end, upon the throne of Dathe increase of his government and peace vid, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice, from henceforth, even for ever.' These words are more dazzling than clear: let us fix their true meaning; and, in order to ascertain that, let us divide this discourse into two parts. I. Let us explain the prediction. II. Let us show its accomplishment. prophet had the Messiah in view; and, in In the first part, we will prove, that the the design of the prophet, and has accomplishthe second, that our Jesus has fully answered ed, in the most just and sublime of all senses, the whole prediction: 'Unto us a child is born,' and so on.
and let us fix on the extraordinary child, to I. Let us explain the prophet's prediction, whom he gives the magnificent titles in the text. Indeed, the grandeur of the titles sufficiently determines the meaning of the prophet; for to whom, except to the Messiah, can these appellations belong, The Wonderful, The Counsellor, The mighty God, The Prince of Peace, The everlasting Father?'