« EdellinenJatka »
cious remains, of life to gaming, which God had granted for repentance !
All these causes, of the infancy and noviciate of christians in regard to religion, unite in one, which, in finishing this discourse, we cannot but lament, nor can we fament it too much. We do not understand our own religion : we are most of us incapable of perceiving the admirable order, the beautiful symmetry of its component parts. Why? It is because we have so little zeal for our salvation; it is because we form such languid desires to be saved. Indeed I know, that, except some few unnatural creatures, except some monsters, to whom this discourse, is not addressed, every body professes to desire to be saved, yea, to prefer salvation before whatever is most pompous in the universe, and most pleasant in this life. But when the attainment of it in God's way is in question, in the only way that agrees with the holiness of his nature to direct, and with our happiness to obey, what a number of people do we meet with whose desires vanish? I desire to saved, says each to himself, I desire to be saved, but not by such a religion as the gospel prescribes, such, as Jesus Christ preached, such as the apostles and ministers of the gospel preach after him: but I desire to be saved by such a religion as I have conceived, such an one as gratifies my passions and caprices. I desire to be saved, but it is on condition, that, while I obey some of the precepts of Jesus Christ, he will dispense with my obedience of others. I desire to be saved: not on condition of my correcting my prejudices, and submitting them to the precepts of Jesus Christ, but on condition that the precepts of Jesus Christ yield to my prejudices. I desire to be saved: but on condition of retaining my prepossessions, the system I have arranged, the way of life I pursue, and intend
to pursue till I die. To desire salvation in this manner is too common a disposition among christians But to desire salvation in saying to God, with a sincere intention to obey his voice, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Acts ix. 6. Lord, what wilt thou have me to believe? Lord, what wilt thou have me to love ? Lord, what inclinations wilt thou have me to oppose, to mortify, to sacrifice? To be willing to be saved in receiving, without exception, all the practical truths, which compose an essential part of that religion, which God hath given us : Ah! my brethren, how rare is this disposition among christians! .
Without this disposition, however, (and let us not be ingenious to deceive ourselves) without this disposition there is no salvation. It implies a contradiction to say God will save us in any other way: for as it is contradictory to say that he will give to an equal number the qualities of an unequal number, or to bodies the properties of spirits, or to spirits the properties of bodies; so also is it a contradiction to say that vice shall reap the rewards of virtue, that the highway to hell is the path to paradise.
So that nothing remains in concluding this discourse but to ask you, What are your intentions ? What designs have you formed? What projects do you resolve to pursue? What are your aims? Have you any thing more precious than your souls? Can you conceive a nobler hope than that of being saved ? Can you propose a more advantageous end than your own salvation? Can you persuade yourselves that there is a greater felicity than the fruition of God? Will you destroy yourselves ? Do you renounce those delightful hopes that are set before you in the gospel? And shall all the fruit of our ministry be to accuse and confound you before God?
· Young man, thou mayest live fifty or sixty years: but at the expiraiion of those fifty or sixty years, time finishes and eternity begins. People of mature age, your race is partly run ; ten, fifteen, or twenty years more, through the dissipations and employments inseparable from your lives, will vanish with an inconceivable rapidity; and then time finishes and eternity begins with you. And ye old people, a few years, a few months, a few days inore, and behold your race is at an end; behold your time finishes and your eternity begins. And can we resist this idea! Alas! what heart! what christians! what a church!
Grant Almighty God that our prayers may supply the defect of our exhortations; may we derive from thy bosom of infinite mercies what we despair of obtaining from the insensibility of our hearers ! O thou author of religion, thou divine Spirit, from whom alone could proceed this beautiful system, which thou hast condescended to reveal to us, impress it in all its parts on our minds! Pluck up every plant which thy good hand hath not planted! Triumph over all the obstacles that our sins oppose against thine empire ! Shut the gulfs of hell ! Open the gates of heaven ! Save us even in the spite of ourselves ! Amen!
To the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, dominion and power for ever. Amen.
• The Etzrnity of God. PREACHED IN THE FRENCA CHURCH AT ROTTERDAM ON THE FIRST LORD'S DAY OF THE YEAR 1724.
2 Peter iii. 8. Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as
one day. W E could not meditate on the words you have
VV heard, my brethren, without recollecting that miraculous cloud which conducted the Israelites through the desart. It was all luminous on one side, and all opaque on the other. * The Jews say it was the throne, or the triumphal chariot of that Angel who marched at the head of the camp of Israel; of that Angel whom they call the Prince' of the world, the Shekinah, the presence of the divine Majesty, the Deity itself. It is not needful to examine this opinion. I do not know whether the pillar of a cloud were a throne of God, but it was a beautiful symbol of the Deity. What is the Deity in regard to us? If it be the most radiant of all light, it is at the same time the most covered with darkness. Let the greatest philosophers, let the most extraordinary geniusses elevate their meditations, and take the loftiest flights of which they are capable, in order to penetrate into the nature of the divine essence, the stronger efforts they make to understand this fearful subject, the more will they be absorbed in it: the nigher they approach the rays of this sun, the more will they be dazzled with its lustre. But yet, let the fee
• See Rabbi Menachem in Parash. Beschales, Exod. xiv. 19. fol. 63. edit, de Venise 5283. S..
blest and most confined genius seek instructions, in meditating on the divine grandeurs, to direct his faith, to regulate his conduct, and to sweeten the miseries that imbitter this valley of tears; he shall happily experience what the prophet did: Does he look dowon to him ? he shall be lightened, Psal. xxxiv. 5.
God presents himself to your eyes to-day, as he once presented himself to the Israelites in that marvellous phænomenon. Light on one side, darkness on the other. A thousand years are with the Lord as one day, and one day as a thousand years. Let the greatest philosophers, let those extraordinary beings in whose formation God seems to have united an angelical intelligence to a human body, let them preach in our stead, let them fully explain the words of my text. From what abysses of existence does the perfect Being derive that duration, which, alike overspreads the present, the future, and the past? how conceive a continuation of existence without conceiving a succession of time? how conceive a succession of time trithout conceiving that he who is subject to it, acquires what he had not before ? how affirm that he, who acquires what he had not before, considers a thousand years as one day, and one day as a thousand years? So many questions, so many abysses, obscurities, darknesses for poor mortals.
But if you confine yourselves to a conviction of the truth of the words of my text; particularly, if you desire to consider them in regard to that influence, which they ought to have on your conduct, you will behold light issuing from every part, nor is there any one in this assembly who may not approach it with confidence. This has encouraged us to turn our attention to a subject, which, at first sight, scems more likely to confound, than to edify us.