« EdellinenJatka »
the chariot ca the fath."
in the sides of the north, I will be like the most high, Isa. xxxvi. 18. 20. and chap. xiv. 12-14.
Is it a Nero, who could hear without trembling those blasphemous elogies, “ If the fates had no other methods of placing Nero on the throne than those civil wars, which deluged Rome with blood, ye gods, we are content; the most atrocious crimes, the most sanguinary executions are agreeable at this price. Lift up your eyes, Cæsar, and choose your place among the immortal gods, take the thunder of Jupiter, and succeed the father of gods and men. Mount the chariot of the sun, and give the world light, all the gods will count it felicity and glory to submit to thy laws, and to give up their place and their power to thee.”
But nature produces few such monsters. Our age hath too much knowledge, and our manners are too refined to suffer such plain and open declarations. Yet how often is grandeur even now in our times a patent for insolence against God ? What, for example, is that perpetual parade of the great, and that vain ostentation, with which they dazzle the eyes of their dependents, and of which they avail themselves to rob God of the hearts of men? What is that haughty confidence, which they place in their forces, after they have guarded their cities, built forts, and filled their treasures, they live in security, even though they have provoked God by acts of the most crying injustice, by the most barbarous executions, and by the most execrable blasphemies? Whence that immoderate avidity of praise, which makes them nourish themselves with the incense of a vile flatterer, and live on the titles of immortals, invincibles, arbiters of peace and war? Whence that contempt of religion, and that spirit of impiety and prophaneness, which usually reigns in the hearts of
ition of mind sou see the sleur, his naxy
princes? Whence that dominion, which some of them exercise over conscience, an those laws, which they dare to give mankind to serve God against their own convictions, to form ideas of him, which they think injurious to his majesty, to perform a worship, which they think contrary to his express commands, and to profess a religion directly opposite to what they themselves believe to be the true religion of Jesus Christ? Whence are all these dispositions, and what are all these actions? My brethren, open the folds of the human heart, take off the coverings under which the turpitude is concealed, penetrate into the principles of mens actions, and you will find that to oppose God, to pretend to control him by a superior power is not a disposition of mind so rare as you might at first sight have imagined. You see the great worldling makes his opulence, his titles, his grandeur, his navy, his army a force to set against Almighty God, But what is such a man? An idiot. What are his titles and grandeurs, his navies and armies, and all his opulence? What is all this? A little chaff, a little dust, a nothing in the presence of the oninipotent God.
I recollect here a piece of instruction which a king one day gave his courtiers. They were calling him lord of earth and sea. The monarch put on his robes, and caused himself to be carried to the sea shore. There he sat on the beach, and said to the waves, “ the land on which I sit is mine, and you, sea, you are under my dominion, I command you to respect your king, and to come no further.” The waves deaf to his voice came rolling forward, the first wetted his feet, the second seemed to threaten to carry him away. There, said the king to his courtiers, see what a lord I am of earth and sea. Great lesson to all worldly potentates ! Insignificant man, put on thy crown, dazzle thyself first with the glitter of it, and then try to beguile the eyes of others, deck thyself in thy royal robes, try thy strength, shew us the extent of thy power, say to winds and waves, to fortune, and sickness, and death, I command you to stop, and to respect your king.
O think of the glorious attributes, the sublime ideas, the deep counsels, and the abundant power of that God, whom thou opposest. He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds. The pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at his reproof. He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud. He meteth out heaven with a span, and comprehendeth the dust of the earth in a measure. He weigheth the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance. He sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. Behold
all nations, are as a drop of a bucket and are, · counted as the small dust of the balance. All be
fore him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. He bringeth princes to nothing, he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity, Job xxvi. 7, 8, 11, 12, and Isa. xl. 12, 22, 15, 17, 23.
Think of thy soul, thou wilt find nothing there but infirmity and ignorance. Thou art confined as a man, and more confined still as a great man, for grandeur usually contracts the limits of knowledge and improvement.
Think of the author of those advantages, which swell thee with pride. Thou art indebted for them to that very being, whom thou pretendest to resist. It is his breath that animates thee, his arm upholds
thee, his earth supports thee, his food nourishes thee, and it is his air, which thou borrowest to breathe.
Think what mortal blows of just vengeance God hath given to some insolent creatures, who presumptuously opposed his majesty. So perished Antiochus, who, in the language of the book of Maccabees, a little afore thought he might command the waves of the sea, and weigh the high mountains in a balance, was now cast on the ground, so that the worms rose up out of his body, his flesh fell away, and the filthiness of his smell was noisome to all his army, 2 Mac. ix. 810. So perished Herod; “ His bowels were consumed with an inward fire. His entrails were full of ulcers. The stench of his breath infected his room and drove away all his family.” So perished Maximinus, of whom Lactantius gives this frightful account; “ The wound gained his vitals, there vermin ingendered, the palace and the city were infected, his body putrified, the more his sores were cleansed the more innumerable were the swarms of vermin that proceeded from them, of which his entrails were an inexhaustible source.”
Think of thine end. Look through the deceitful splendor that covers thee. See the weakness of thine organs, behold thy hands already shaking, thy knees already trembling, thy head, all crowned and glittering as it is, bending toward that earth from which it was taken, and to which it will presently return. Imagine thyself dying, cold, pale, groaning, and vainly calling to thine assistance thy courtiers, thy sceptre and thy crown. Is this the immortal man? This the arm, that ruled the fate of whole nations? Is this the potentate, whose looks made the world tremble? Oh! how eloquent his humility, my brethren, to him who
is willing to hear it! Oh! how sufficient in motives is the school of humility to him who is willing to be taught there! How, how can a creature so mean, so vile, so limited, so frail, so momentary as man, how can he possibly oppose Almighty God ? How can he resist his power? Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? But thou shalt be a man and no god in the hand of him that slayeth thee, Ezek. xxviii. 9.
II. Worldly policy is a second obstacle, which some men set against the laws of heaven, and by which they discover a disposition to resist God, and to compel him by superior force. Had the man, of whom I speak, other ideas, he would lay down as first principles and grounds of action—that the wisest maxims of state are those of religion—that the best we can do for society is to render God propitious—and that the happiest people are they whose God is the Lord. When counsels were held to deliberate on peace or war, such a man would do from religious principle what was anciently done at Rome from the mere dictates of natural justice. It would be examined not only whether it would be advantageous to make war in the present conjuncture, but whether it were just ; whether it proceeded from an insatiable desire of dominion and wealth, or from the right, which all mankind have to guard and defend themselves. When the question was whether any one should be invested with magistratical authority, such a man would examine with as much care the religious principles as the political virtues of the candidate for power; he would not consider whether he were able to practise crimes of state, which have been long successful, but whether he inviolably respected the laws of religion, the exercise of which soon or late must necessarily