Page images
PDF
EPUB

their conversation, commit their peace, their lives, and their salvations, to the disposal of his providence. Only let us take care, my dear brethren, (and with this single exhortation we conclude) let us take care, we do not flatter ourselves into an opinion that we possess this wisdom while we are destitute of it: and let iis take care, while we exclaim against the extravagance of those madmen, of whom I just now spoke, that we do not imitatė their dangerous examples.

But what! Is it possible to find, among beings who have the least spark of reason, an individual mad enough to suppose himself wiser than that God, who is great in counsel, or, is there one who dare resist a God mighty in working? My brethren, one of the most difficult questions, that we meet with in the study of human nature, is, whether some actions in men's lives proceed from intentions in their minds. To affirm, or to deny, is equally difficult. One the one hand, we can hardly believe that an intelligent creature can revolve intentions in his mind directly opposite to intelligence, and the extravagance of which the least ray of intelligence seems sufficient to discover. On the other, we can hardly think it possible, that 'this creature should follow a course of life altogether founded on such an intention, if 'inděèd he have it not in his mind. The truth is, a question of this kind may be either affirmed or denied according to the different lights in which it is considered. Put these questions to the most irregular of mankind : Dost thou pretend to opposé God? Hast thou the presumption to attempt to prevail over him by the superiority of knowledge and power? Put these questions simply, apart from the conduct, and you will hardly meet with one, who will not answer No. But examine the conduct, not only

of the most irregular men, but even of those, who imagine their behavior is the most prudent? penetrate those secret thoughts, which they involve in darkness in order to conceal the horror of them from themselves; and you will soon discover that they, who answered so pertinently to your questions when you proposed them simply, will actually take the opposite side when you propose the same questions relatively. But who then, you will ask me, who are those men, who presumptuously think of overcoming God by their superior knowledge and power?

Who? It is that soldier, who, with a brutal courage, defies danger, dares death, resolutely marches amidst fires and flames, even though he hath taken no care to have an interest in the Lord of hosts, or to commit his soul to his trust.

Who? It is that statesman, who, despising the suggestions of evangelical prudence, pursues stratagems altogether worldly; who makes no scruple of committing what are called state-crimes; who, with a disdainful air, affects to pity us, when we affirm, that the most advantageous service a wise legislator can perform for society, is to render the Deity propitious to it; that the happiest nations are those whose God is the Lord, Psa. xxxiii. 12.

Who? It is that philosopher, who makes a parade of I know not what stoical firmness; who conceits himself superior to all the vicissitudes of life; who boasts of his tranquil expectation of death, yea, who affects to desire its approach, for the sake of enjoying the pleasure of insulting his casuist, who hath ventured to foretel that he will be terrified at it.

Who? It is that voluptuary, who opposeth to all our exhortations and threatenings, to the most affecting denunciations of calamities from God in

this life, and to the most awful descriptions of judgment to come in the next, to all our representations of hell, of an eternity spent in the most execrable company, and in the most excruciating pain ; who opposeth to all these the buzz of amusements, the hurry of company, gaming at home, or diversions abroad.

Study all these characters, my brethren, lay aside the specious appearances that men use to conceal their turpitude from themselves, and you will find that, to dare the Deity, to pretend by superior knowledge and strength to resist the wisdom and omnipotence of God, is not so rare a disposition as you may at first have supposed.

Let us abhor this disposition of mind, my brethren ; let us entertain right notions of sin ; let us consider him who commits it as a madman, who hath taken it into his head that he hath more knowledge than God the fountain of intelligence, more strength than he beneath whose power all the creatures of the universe are compelled to bow. When we are tempted to sin, let us remember what sin is : Let each of us ask himself, What can I, a miserable man, mean? Do I mean to provoke the Lord to jealousy ? 1 Cor. x. 22. Do I pretend to be stronger than he ? Can I resist his will ? Rom. ix. 19. Shall I set briars and thorns against him in battle? He will go through them, he wilt burn them together, Isa. xxvii. 5. Let us seek those benefits in a communion with the great God, of which our fanciful passions can only offer the shadows. Let us not pretend to deceive him by the subtilty of our stratagems; but let us endeavor to please him by acknowledging our doubts, our darkness, and our ignorance; the fluctuations of our minds about the government of the state, the management of our families, and, above all, the sal

vation of our souls. Let us not appear in his presence boasting of our natural power: but let us present ourselves before him weak, trembling, and undone. By the greatness of his compassion let us plead with him to pity our meanness and misery. Let our supplies be drawn from the fountains of his wisdom and power ; this is real wisdom, may God inspire us with it! This is substantial happiness ; may God impart it to us! Amen. To him be glory and honor for ever.

SERMON VI.

The Holiness of God.

Leviticus xix. 1, 2.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the "congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy : for I the Lord your God am holy.

[ocr errors]

I

ADDRESS to all the faithful, whom the devo

tion of this day hath assembled in this sacred place, the command, which Moses, by the authority of God, addressed to all the congregation of Israel. However venerable this assembly may be, to which I am this day called by Providence to preach, it cannot be more august than that to which the Jewish legislator formerly spoke. That was composed of more than eighteen hundred thousand persons. There were magistrates, appointed to: exercise justice, and to represent God upon earth.. There were priests and levites, consecrated to the worship of God, and chosen by him to signify his will to the church. There were various ranks and degrees of men proportional to so great a multitude of people. God had given particular laws before, which were adapted to their different ranks, and to their various circumstances. But this is a general law: a law which equally belongs to magistrates, priests and levites: a law which must be observed at all times, and in all places. This is the law of holiness; Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy : for I the Lord your God am holy.

1

« PreviousContinue »