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the term of human life, haranguing his patient, telling him that his days are numbered, and that a hair of his head could not fall without the will of God. Unseasonable orator, leave talking, and go to work; consult the symptoms of my illness, call art and nature to my assistance; leave God to execute his own decrees, prescribe the remedies I must take, and the regimen I must follow, endeavor to strengthen this tottering body, and to retain my breath just ready to evaporate. Let us apply this image. Let us think of the account we must give to the master who sent us. Let us take care that he doth not say to us in the great day of judgment, get ye behind me ye refractory servants ! I sent you to make the church holy, and not render it disputations, to confirm my elect, and not to engage them in attempts to penetrate the mysteries of election, to announce my laws, and not to fathom my decrees.
But, not to confine ourselves to these general remarks, let us observe, that obscurity in regard to God, affords powerful arguments against the rash divine, the indiscreet zealot, the timorous christian, and the worldly man attached to sensible objects.
This subject addresseth itself to you, rash divine, you who perplex your mind by trying to comprehend incomprehensible truths, to you whose audacious disposition obliges you to run into one of these two extremes, either to embrace error or to render truth doubtful by the manner of explaining it. For understand, my brethren, the man who rejects a truth because he cannot comprehend it, and he who would fully comprehend it before he receives it, both sin from the same principle, neither understands the limits of the human mind. These two extremes are alike dangerous. Certainly, on the one hand, we must be very rash, we must entertain very diminutive ideas of an infinite God, we must be very little versed in science, to admit only principles which have no difficulty, and to regard the depth of a subject as a character of falsehood. What! A miserable creature, an ignorant creature, a creature that doth not know itself, would know the decrees of God, and reject them if they be unfathomable! But, on the other hand, we must have very narrow views, we must have a very weak mind, we must know very little of the designs of God, not to feel any difficulty, to find every thing clear, not to suspend our judgment upon any thing, to pretend not only to perceive the truth of a mystery, but to go to the bottom of it. Insignificant man! Feel thy diminutiveness. Cover thyself with dust, and learn of the greatest of divines to stop where you ought to stop, and to cry on the brink of the ocean, O the depth !
The deep things of God ought to confound the indiscreet zealot, who decries and reviles allopinions different from his own, though on matters in themselves dark and obscure. Here we pour our tears into the bosoms of our brethren of Augsburgh, some of whose teachers describe us in the most odious colors, dip their pen in gall when they write against us, tax us with making of the deity a God cruel and barbarous, a God who is the author of sin, and who by his decrees countenances the depravity and immorality of mankind. You see, whether this be our doctrine. You see we join our voices with those of Seraphims, and make our as. semblies resound with Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts. You see, we exhort our people to enter in at the strait gate, and to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. But, say you, do not the consequences we impute to you follow
from your principles ? To grant for a moment that they do follow, is it not sufficient that we disown and condemn them? Doth not such an answer from you concerning another doctrine satisfy us? Accuse us of being bad reasoners, but do not accuse us of being wicked men. Accuse us of reasoning inconclusively, but do not accuse us of exercising a faithless ministry. But, say you, you have divines among you, who poison controversy, who refute with bitterness, who excoinmunicate such as are not of their sentiments on predestination, and who, had they power equal to their will, would es tablish every opinion with fire and blood. Have we such divines? Ah! may God deliver us from them! They follow their own spirit, and not the spirit of our churches. Our churches never separate any person from their communion for not believing predestination. You know this by experience. Do we not open our arms to you? Do we not receive you into our communion ? Have we not a sincere and ardent desire to be in union with you? O that God would hear our prayers ! Spouse of Jesus Christ ! O that God would put an end to the intestine war that tear thee assunder! Children of the reformation ! O that you had but the wisdom to unite all your efforts against the real enemy of the reformation and the reformed ! This is our wish, and these shall incessantly be our prayers.
The depth' of the ways of God may serve to reprove the timid and revolting christian ; a character too common among us. Our faith forsakes us in our necessities; we lose the sure anchor of hope in a storm; we usually dash against rocks of adversity; we are confounded when we see those projects vanish, on the success of which we rested our happiness, and the prosperity of the church. Mly brethren, let us be more firm in our princi. ples. Christian prudence indeed will oblige us to put our hand to every good work. We must be vigilant, assiduous, exact in our own affairs. In like manner in public dangers, we must assemble wise men, raise armies, and every one must endeavor to do what is in his power, and carry a stone toward the building of the temple : but when our designs fail, let us be steady, immoveable, unchangeable. Let us remember that we are only little children in comparison with the intelligence at the helm of the world: that God often allows us to use just and rational means, and at length frustrates all our designs, in order to deliver us by unexpected methods, and to save us with more conspicuous power and glory.
When I am to penetrate this truth, I fix my eyes on the great enemy of religion. I see him at first equally, yea, surpassing the most superb potentates, risen to a point of elevation astonishing to the whole world. His family numerous, his armies victorious, his territories extended far and wide at home and abroad. I see places conquered, battles won, and every blow aimed at his throne serving only to establish it. I see a servile idolatrous court elevating him above men, above heroes, and likening him to God himself. I see all parts of the world overwhelmed with his troops, your frontiers threatened, religion trembling, and the protestant world at the brink of ruin. At the sight of this tempest, I expect every moment to see the church expire, and I exclaim, Othou little boat, driven with the wind, and battered in the storm! Are the waves going to swallow thee up? O church of Jesus Christ ! against which the gates of hell were never to prevail, are all thy hopes come to this ! Behold Almighty God makes bare his holy arm, discovers himself amidst all this chaos, and overwhelms us with miracles of love, after having humbled us by the darkness of his providence. Behold! in two campaigns more than an hundred thousand enemies are either buried in the waves, or killed by our troops, or trodden to death by our horse, or taken prisoners. Behold! whole provinces yield to our arms. Behold! our noble army covered with more laurels than we had ever seen before. Behold the fatal power, that was just now exalted to heaven, shaking, falling, and about to be cast down to hell. My brethren, let these events make us wise. Let us not judge of the conduct of God by our own ideas, but let us learn to respect the depths of his providence.
But what ! Shall we always live in shades and darkness! Will there always be a veil between the porch and the sanctuary? Will God always lead us among chasms and gulfs ? Ah! my brethren, these are precisely the ejaculations, these are the desires with which we would inspire you; and this we af
firm, that the deep things of God expose the folly , of a worldly man, who immoderately loves the present life. Presently this night, this dark night, shall be at an end; presently we shall enter into that temple, where there is no need of the sun, because the Lamb is the light thereof, Rev. xxi. 23. Presently we shall arrive at that blessed period, when that which is in part shall be done awuy. In heaven we shall know all things. In heaven we shall understand nature, providence, grace, and glory. In heaven Jesus Christ will solve all our difficulties and objections. In heaven we shall see God face to face. O how will this knowledge fill us with joy! O how delightful will it be to derive knowledge and truth from their source! My soul, quit thy dust! Anticipate these