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since that fatal period, is, alas! nothing but a theatre, and, if I may express myself so, a universal scaffold, on which he exercises the most terrible vengeance, and exhibits his most dreadful executions. We must enter, moreover, into the genius of religion; know the power of that arm which he exerts to deliver us from bondage; the power of those succours which he affords to enable us to triumph over our depravity; the excellence of revealed mysteries; the value of the pardon set before us; the pleasure peace poured into our souls; and the magnificence of such objects as the gospel proposes to our hopes. All this requires vigilance, action, and motion. Nothing of this can be acquired under the influence of effeminacy, idleness, and ease. Nothing of this can be done in the circles of pleasure, at gamingtables, or in places of public diversion.
What is faith? It is that disposition of our souls which brings into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,' 2 Cor. x. 5, and subjects them all to his decisions. In order to this, we must be convinced that God has not left men to their natural darkness, but bestowed on them the light of divine revelation. We must examine this revelation, and understand the proofs of its divinity. We must collect into one body the fundamental truths included in it. We must remove or invalidate those glosses which false teachers have applied to perplex the meaning of it. We must understand how to be deaf to every voice except that of eternal truth; and to say from the bottom of a soul filled with the love of this truth, Speak, Lord, for thy servants hear,' I Sam. iii. 9. All this requires vigilance, action, and motion. Nothing of this can be acquired under the influence of effeminacy, idleness, and ease. Nothing of this can be done in circles of pleasure, at gaming-tables, or places of public diversion.
What is benevolence? It is that disposition of soul which engages us to consider our neighbour as ourselves, and to study his interest as our own. In order to this, we must examine both his temporal and spiritual wants. If he be in a state of indigence, we must provide for him, either at our expense, or by exciting in his favour the compassion of others. When he is ignorant we must inform him, when in an error undeceive him, when he strays we must recall him, when his spirits are overwhelmed, comfort him; we must visit him when he is confined, edify him by our conduct, and encourage him by our example. All this demands vigilance, action, and motion. No thing of this can be acquired under the influence o effeminacy, idleness, and ease. Nothing of this can be done in circles of pleasure, at gaming-tables, or at places of public diver
sins, the remembrance of which is so grievous to us. Above all, this virtue supposes recom→ penses in great number. If we have propagated any maxims injurious to religion, reparation must be made; for how can we be said to repent of having advanced such maxims, except we abjure them, and exert all our influence to remove such fatal effects as they have produced? If we have injured the reputation of a neighbour, recompense must be made; for how can we repent of having injuranded the reputation of a neighbour, unless we endeavour to establish it, and to restore as much credit to him as we have taken away? Repentance also includes restitution of property, if we have taken any thing from any man,' Luke xix. 8. All the exercises of this virtue require vigilance, action, and motion. None of these are acquired under the influence of indolence, idleness, and ease. None of these are practised in circles of pleasure, at gamingtables, or at places of public diversion.
2. Even the nature of those vices which the gospel forbids, demonstrates that a life wasted in idleness is incompatible with salvation. He who has well studied the human heart, and carefully examined the causes of so many resolutions broken by the greatest saints, so many promises forgotten, so many vows violated, so many solemn engagements falsified, will acknowledge, that these disorders seldom proceed from malice, yea, seldom from a want of sincerity and good faith. You often fall into temptations which you mean to resist. Your misfortune is, that you are not sufficiently prepared for resistance. How, for instance, can we resist temptations to pride, unless we close every avenue by which it enters into the heart; unless we make serious reflections on the meanness of our original, the uncertainty of our knowledge, the imperfection of our virtue, the enormity of our crimes, and the vanity of our riches, tities, dignity, and life? Again, how can we resist the sophisms of error, if we have only a superficial knowledge of religion, if we do not build our faith on foundations immovable and firm? In fine, how can we resist sensual temptations, unless we endeavour to dethrone our passions, unless we frequently and boldly attack and subdue them, assuage their fury, and force them, at it were, to bow to the dominion of reason?
What is repentance? It is that disposition of our soul, which makes the remembrance of our sing a source of the bitterest grief. This supposes many self-examinations and self-condemnations, much remorse of conscience, many tears shed into the bosom of God, many methods tried to preclude falling again into
a prejudice secretly revolved in the mind, and
the temptations of health, those of sickness, and those of death. He that overcometh shall inherit all things.'
I am well aware that to preach this gospel is, in the opinion of some, to teach a severe morality, to mark out a discouraging course, to invite to unequal combats. This morality, however, will seem severe only to lukewarm Christians. This course will appear discour aging only to soft and indolent souls. These combats will seem unequal only to such as have no true courage, listless and dastardly souls. A real Christian will be so inflamed with the love of his God, he will be attracted by so many powerful and comfortable motives, above all, he will be animated with a desire so strong to obtain a victory, which infallibly follows the combat, that nothing will appear severe, nothing discouraging, nothing unequal in the course of obtaining it. What dominion over his heart will not that voice obtain, which, proceeding from the mouth of the author and finisher of his faith,' addresses him, and says, He that overcometh shall inherit all things,' Heb. xii. 2.
Christian soul dost thou complain of the battle? But in order to conquer you must fight. The glorified saints were once warriors, and are now conquerors. Flesh and blood, earth and hell, were their enemies. Faith and love, and all other Christian virtues, were their armour. The clouds were their triumphal chariots. Angels, thousands of angels, 'ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,' Rev. v. 21, who wait continually before God, were their witnesses. The approbation of the Son of God, this rapturous declaration, Well done, good and faithful servant,' Matt. xxv. 23, well done, faithful confessor, thou hast nobly endured the cross; well done, martyr for morality, thou hast caused conenpiscence to yield to the commandments of God; these ecstatical declarations were their crown. Jesus Christ is their rewarder, and joys unspeakable and full of glory, peace of soul, tranquillity of conscience, rivers of pleasure, fulness of joy at God's right hand for evermore, the city that bath foundations, Jerusalem which is above, the heavenly country, new heavens and a new earth,' the society of angels, perfect knowledge, refined virtues, ineffable sensations, sacred flames, God himself; Lo! these are the recompense, these their great reward. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; I will be his God, and he shall be my son.'
My brethren, let us not deceive ourselves: there is something of consequence to do in every moment of a Christian life. There are always in a Christian life temptations to be resisted, and consequently in every moment of a Christian life we must overcome these temptations. All ages require action. In every stage of life we have temptations to surmount, and in every stage of life we must overcome them. We must overcome the temptations of childhood, the temptations of youth, the temptations of old age. All conditions require action. We must surmount some temptations in all conditions, and in all conditions we must overcome them. We must overcome the temptations of poverty, those of prosperity, those of elevated posts, and those which belong to a state of obscurity, a sort of death, a kind of grave. All professions require action. There are in all professions temptations to be surmounted, and in all professions we must overcome them. The statesman must subdue the temptations of his profession, the soldier must vanquish the temptation of his, the merchant of his, and so of the rest. All situations require action. In all situations there are temptations to be conquered, and in all situations we must overcome them. We must get above
II. The second prejudice which we are endeavouring to remove is that, A just God cannot impute to his creatures sins of infirmity and constitution, though his creatures should be subject to them during the whole course of their lives. Against this we oppose these words of the apostle, the fearful and the unclean.* The most frequent excuse for impurity is constitution. A certain constitutional turn is generally considered as a ground of justification; and
⚫ Пlogvore. Our translation renders it wheremongers the old French bibles paillards-Mr. Saurin more accurately impurs―i, e. uncican.
it is eagerly maintained, lest we should be, obliged to be holy for want of excuses to sin, and lest the deceitful pleasures of sin should be imbitterred by remorse. Yet, the unclean shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.' As to the fearfulness, or timidity, what is there in us, that can be more properly called human frailty than this? Let us hear St. John. Whom does he mean by the fearful? I fear we shall find several classes of these in religion. There are many sorts of the fearful, who shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.'
ven forbid, we should have to reproach any of you with forming the act into a habit!
St. John speaks then, in this place, of those only who live in a habit of these vices. But, I repeat it again, although this evil habit may originate in human frailty, yet it is certainly that sort of fearfulness which we have been explaining; it is the fearfulness with which tyrants inspire such as ought to confess the truth. Ask those of our brethren, for whom we utter the deepest sighs, and shed the bitterest tears, what prevents their giving glory to God, by yielding to the exhortations which we have so long addressed to them, and which For example, a man who hears the name of we continue to address to them. They tell God blasphemed, religion opposed, good man- you it is human frailty. Ask that head of a ners attacked, but who has not the courage to family why he does not flee to some place confess Jesus Christ, to say, I am a Christian, where he might enjoy such a public worship and to manifest his indignation against such as he approves, and partake of the sacraments odious discourses, such a man is fearful, he for which he pines. Human frailty makes shall have no part in the inheritance of the him fear he cannot live without his dear chilchildren of God. A man who sees his neigh-dren. Ask that lady, who is in some sort misbour wounded by calumny and slander, but tress of her destiny, having neither family nor who has not courage to reprove the slanderer, connexion, and being loaded with silver and though in his soul he detests him, such a man gold; ask her why she does not avail herself is one of the fearful, who shall have no part of her independence to render homage to her in the inheritance of the children of God. A religion. Human frailty makes her fear she magistrate who has received from God the cannot undergo the fatigue of a journey, or sword for the protection of oppressed widows bear the air of a foreign climate, or share the and orphans, but who, terrified with the rank contempt generally cast on other refugees who of the oppressor sacrifices to him the rights of carry along with them reputation, riches, and widows and orphans, such a man is fearful, he honours. Ask that apostate, what obliges shall have no part in the inheritance of the him to receive the mark of the image of the children of God. beast on his forehead,' Rev. xiii. 16. Human frailty makes him fear prisons, dungeons, and galleys. Yet what says St. John of this fearfulness inseparable from human frailty? He says, it excludes people from the inheritance of the children of God. The life of a Christian is a continual warfare. Fearfulness is the most indefensible disposition in a soldier. Fearfulness in war is one of the vices that nobody dares to avow; worldly honour either entirely eradicates it, or animates soldiers to subdue it. Want of courage is equally odious in religion. A timid Christian is no more fit to fight under the standard of the lion of the tribe of Judah,' Rev. v. 5, than a boaster under that of an earthly hero. The fearful shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.'
But, though these notions of fearfulness are just, and though the proposition in the text is true in all these senses, it is clear, I think, by the circumstances in which St. John wrote the revelation, by the persecutions he foretold, by the exhortations he addressed to believers to surmount them, and by many other considerations, that the holy man had particularly, and perhaps only, that fearfulness in view, which induces some to deny that truth for fear of persecution, of which they were thoroughly persuaded. Of this sort of fearful persons he affirms, they shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.'
There is, I acknowledge, an ambiguity in the terms, or rather in the proposition, which may render this article obscure, and those After this, my brethren, shall we plead our which follow more so. When it is said, that frailty? Shall we draw arguments for luke'the fearful, the unbelieving, and the abomi- warmness from what ought to invigorate us? nable, the murderers and poisoners, shall have Shall we cherish our indifference by such pastheir part in the lake which burneth with fire sages as these? The spirit indeed is willing, and brimstone,' we are not to understand either but the flesh is weak,' Matt. xxvi. 41. The such as have once committed any of these flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit crimes, or such as have lived some time in the against the flesh,' Gal. v. 17. The Lord practice of any one of them, but have after-knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we ward repented. Were we to condemn to are but dust!' Ps. ciii. 14. Shall we attempt eternal flames all such persons as these, alas! to frustrate all the kind intentions of the Holy who could escape? Not Moses; he was some- Spirit, who makes us feel our frailty only for times unbelieving. Not St. Peter; he was the sake of engaging us to watch and fortify sometimes fearful. Not David; he commit-ourselves against it? Believe me, the sentence ted murder, was guilty of lying, abomination pronounced by St. John will never be revokand impurity. Not any of you, my brethren; ed by such frivolous excuses; but it will be there is not one of you whose conscience does always true that 'the fearful shall have their not reproach him with having done some act part in the lake which burneth with fire and of fearfulness, unbelief, and impurity. Hea- brimstone.'
III. Let us attend to the third prejudice. | belong to subjects the most interesting. To Speculative errors cannot be attended with any examine them carelessly, to offer them only, fatal consequences, provided we live uprightly. if I may venture to speak so, to the surface of as it is called, and discharge our social duties. his mind, is a full proof of the depravity of Nothing can be more specious than this pre- his heart. tence. Of all tyrannies, that which is exercised over the mind is the most opposite to natural right. Fires and gibbets, racks and tortures, may indeed force a man to disguise his ideas, but they can never change them. The violence of torments may indeed make hypocrites, but it never yet made good proselytes.
2. We require an unbeliever to enter upon the discussion of these truths with a determination to sacrifice to them not only his strongest prejudices, but also his most violent passions and his dearest interests. If there be a God in heaven, if the Christian religion be divine, all the plans of our love and hatred, sorrow and joy, ought to be regulated by these great truths. Every man who is not conscious of having examined them in such a disposition, and who has obtained by his examination only doubts and uncertainties, bas reason to fear that the emotions of his senses, and the suggestions of his passions, have shackled, yea, imprisoned, the faculties of his mind.
3. We require an unbeliever, who, notwithstanding all these conditions, pretends to be convinced that the ideas of believers are
We not only affirm, that no human power can oblige us to consider a proposition as true which we know to be false, but we add, we ourselves have no such power over our own minds. It does not depend on us to see, or not to see, a connexion between two ideas; to assent to a truth, or not to assent to it. Evidence forces, demonstration carries us away. Moreover, although God justly requires us to employ all the portion of genius which he has given us, in searching after truth, yet his equity will not allow that we should not re-imaginary, to show at least some mortificagard as evident what the genius which he has tion on account of this affected discovery. given us makes appear evident; and that we Mankind have the highest reason to wish should not regard as false what the genius that the hopes excited by religion may be wellwhich he has given us makes appear false. If grounded; that we may be formed for eterit should happen, then, that a man, having ex- nity; that we may enjoy an endless felicity ercised all the attention, and all the rectitude after death. If these be chimeras, bebold of which he is capable, in examining the most man stripped of his most glorious privileges! important questions of religion, cannot obtain A person educated with other Christians in evidence enough to determine his judgment; if the noble hope of immortality, and obtaining what appears evident to others seem doubtful afterward proof that this hope is founded only to him; if what seems demonstrative to them in the fancies of enthusiasts; a man rejoicing appears only probable to him, he cannot be at this discovery; a man congratulating himjustly condemned for unbelief Consequently, self on having lost a treasure so rich; a perwhat we have called a prejudice looks like the son unaffected with the vanishing of such inesvery essence of reason and truth; and this timable advantages;-such a man, I say, disproposition, Speculative errors cannot be at- covers an enormous depravity of heart. tended with any fatal consequences, ought to be admitted as a first principle.
4. We require an unbeliever to acknowledge, that religion has at least some probability. A man who can maintain that the system of infidelity is demonstrative, that this proposition, There is no God, is evident; that this other is incontestable, Religion has not one character of divinity; a man who can maintain that a cou philosopher ought not to retain in his mind the least doubt or uncertainty on these articles, that for his own part he has arrived at mathematical demonstration;-such a man, if he be not the most extravagant of mankind, is, however, one of the most corrupt.
My brethren, were it necessary to give our opinion of this article, we should boldly affirm, that the case just now proposed is impossible. We are fully persuaded, that it is not possible for a man who has a common share of sense, and who employs it all in examining whether there be a God in heaven, or whether the Scripture be a divine revelation, to continne in suspense on these important subjects. But our conviction affords no proof to others. There are some truths which cannot be demonstrated; and equity requires us to allege in a dispute only what is capable of demon- 5. In fine, we require an unbeliever, on stration. We confine ourselves to that class of supposition that his system were probable, unbelievers whose infidelity of mind proceeds that the plan of religion were only probable, from depravity of heart; and affirm, tha that had his a hundred degrees of probability, they are included in the sentence denounced and ours only one degree, I say, we require by our apostle, and deserve to suffer it in all this unbeliever to act as if our system was its rigour. Now we have reason to form this evidently true, and as if his was demonstrajudgment of an unbeliever, unless he observes tively false. If our system of faith be true, all the following conditions, which we have all is hazarded when the life is directed by a seen associated in any one person of this char-system of infidelity; whereas nothing is hazarded if the life be regulated by religion, even supposing the system of religion groundless. An unbeliever who is not ready to sacrifice his dearest passions even to a mere probability of the truth of the doctrine of
1. He ought to have studied the grea. questions of religion with all the application that the capacity of his mind, and the number of his talents, could admit. These questions
a future life, gives full proof of the depravity of his heart.
RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED.
Whether there be any one in the world, who, in spite of these dispositions, can persuade himself that religion has no character of truth, we leave to the judgment of God: but as for those who sin against any of the rules just now mentioned (and how many reasons have we to conclude that there are numbers of this character!) they are included in the sentence of our apostle, and they deserve to feel its utmost rigour. The unbelieving shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.'
IV. Let us advert to the fourth prejudice. Religions are indifferent. We will not go through the various sects of Christianity, and decide these litigious questions, Which of these religions are compatible with salvation? Which of these religions are destructive of it? We will affirm only with our apostle, that • idolaters shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.' We intend particularly to wipe off that imputation which the church of Rome constantly casts on our doctrine. Under pretence that we have never been willing to denounce a sentence of eternal damnation against members of the most impure sects, they affirm, that, in our opinion, people may be saved in their community, and this, they say, is one of the articles of our faith.
This is a sophism which you have often heard attributed to a prince, who had united, as far as two such different things could be united, the qualities of a great king with those of a bad Christian. Having a long time hesitated between the peaceable possession of an earthly crown, and the steadfast hope of a heavenly crown, his historians tell us, he assembled some doctors of the Roman communion, and some of ours. Whether it were possible to be saved in the He asked the first, Protestant communion? They answered, No. He then asked the second, Whether it were possible to be saved in the Roman communion? They replied, They durst not decide the question.* On this, the prince reasoned in this manner. • The Roman Catholic doctors assure me there is no salvation in the Protestant communion. The Protestants dare not affirm that there is no salvation in the communion of Rome. Prudence, therefore, requires me to abandon the Protestant religion, and to embrace the Roman; because in the opinion of the Protestants, it is at most only probable that I should perish in the church of Rome, whereas, in the opinion of the Roman Catholics, it is demonstrative that I should be damned in the Protestant community. We will not attempt to investigate this point of history, by examining whether these Protestant ministers betrayed our religion by advancing a proposition contrary to it, or whether these historians betrayed the truth by altering the answer attributed to our
This artifice of Henry the Fourth is differently told by the Catholics: they say that the Protestant doctors answered,-A Catholic may be saved.
ministers. Whatever we think of this historiters shall have their part in the lake which cal fact, we affirm with St. John, that Idolaburneth with fire and brimstone.'
tinction concerning doctrines, as we do conHowever, we ought to make a cautious discerning precepts, a distinction between questions of fact and questions of right. There is a question of right in regard to precepts; as for example-Is a course of life opposite to the precepts of the gospel a damnable state? To this we reply, Undoubtedly it is. There is also a question of fact, as for example-Shall fer all the rigour of damnation? A wise man all those who follow such a course of life sufought to pause before he answers this question; because he does not know whether a man who has spent one part of his life in a course of vice, may not employ the remaining part in repentance, and so pass into a state to which the privileges of repentance are annexed. In like manner, there are questions of fact and questions of right in regard to doctrines. The question of right in regard to the present doctrine is this: Can we be saved in an idolatrous community? Certainly we can
member of an idolatrous community be The question of fact is this: Will every damned? A wise man ought to suspend his judgment on this question, because he who had spent one part of his life in an idolatrous in repenting, and consequently may share the community, may employ the remaining part privileges of repentance. Except in this case according to our principles, Idolaters shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.' church is guilty of idolatry; consequently, But, according our principles, the Roman Catholic according to our principles, the members of the church of Rome, if they do not forsake their part in the lake which burneth with fire that community, are among such as shall have and brimstone.'
If it be necessary to prove, that, according
specious but groundless argument.
*Mr. Saurin of Paris.