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opel him by suney resist God. a right to
crown its adherents with prosperity and victory. Never would he assist in placing at the head of a political body a blasphemer or an atheist.
But when we see men pursue a conduct directly opposite to this, when we see men always forget that they are christians, when they deliberate on the public good, and lay aside, if I may be allowed to speak so, faith, conscience and the gospel at the door of the council room; when we see a certain disdainful air, a look of affected piety put on at the proposals of such as wish to direct the public good by the principles of religion ; when we see people of this character pretend by their prudence to avert public calamities; have we not a right to say of such men, that they resist God, and pretend to compel him by superior power?
But what are such men ? Idiots. With your pernicious maxims you banish religion and piety, and by so doing deprive yourselves of all the advantages, which you might have derived from the inclinations of a people well disposed to be religious and good. Should the people live by the rules of religion, they would pay taxes with fidelity, obey their governors with respect, generously perfer the public good before private interest, and so establish such a correspondence between subject and sovereign as can alone render states prosperous and happy : but while they see, that their masters wander out of this right road, they act toward you, as you do towards God, they employ their power to resist your authority, and their knowledge and address to illude your laws.
With these pernicious maxims you render social interest a chimera. You consider a public body as a being permanent and in a manner eternal, which ought to employ itself about what concerns it as a public body: but you never recollect that
this public body is composed of only individuals, one of whom has only a few years, and another only a few months to live in this world, so that the real interest of such as compose this body hath no relation to the duration of the body, a duration which individuals cannot expect, and which regards them only to the end of their own days. You labor to promote a general interest, in which individuals have only a very small share, and you act against the true interest of each, which consists not in consolidating a world, that he is just quitting, but in learning to pass through it with dignity, and to leave it with ease.
With these pernicious maxims you keep memorable catastrophes out of sight, those terrible subversions of wicked societies; as the history of the old world, that of Sodom and Gomorrah, that of the kingdom of Judah, that of the ten tribes, that of Babylon, that of the seven eastern churches, and that of many others, whose sad but edifying ruins should always be before our eyes.
With these pernicious maxims, for the sake of a few trifling directions which you give society for maxims of state, you deprive us of the powerful protection of a God, who would himself sit at the helm ; you raise his justice against us, you put into his hands thunder and lightning to destroy us, and, instead of being our parents and guides, you are disturbers of the state, and the most implacable en: emies of sound civil polity.
O pillar of a cloud ! O wisdom that is from above ! Animate, for ever animate the conductors of this people, preside in their councils, march at the head of their armies, sanctify their reflections, and engrave for ever on their souls this maxim of my text, that there is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor council against the Lord, Jam, iii. 17.
III. Our third article concerns the voluptuous. One of the most inviolable laws of God is, that felicity should be the reward of virtue, and misery the punishment of vice. What does a voluptuous man oppose against the execution of this law ? Noise, company, diversions, refinements of lasciviousness. In these he intrenches himself, and defies us to force him thence. While the catechumen is studiously employing himself to clear away the difficulties, and to determine the important questions, on which all his future hopes depend; while the believer is striving against the stream, and endeavoring to subdue his own passions; while the penitent feels and bows under the weighty remembrance of his sins; while the martyr falls a victim to the rage of his persecutors; the voluptuary feels a joy, which he thinks unalterable, and creates a kind of fool's paradise, in which he pretends to brave God, and to be happy in spite of him, whose sovereign command condemns him to misery. Absurd tranquillity! Senseless security! I appeal to reason, I appeal to conscience, I appeal to old age, I appeal to death, I appeal to judgment.
What a system is that of the voluptuary, when it is examined at the bar of reason! There he is taught, that he owes his existence to a Supreme Being, and that he is under infinite obligations to him ; there he is made to feel that he hath no assurance of living four days, that within fifteen, twenty, or thirty years he will be taken out of this world, and that at the end of this term there will be before him nothing but death, eternity, and hell. He knows nothing against this, he agrees to all this, he inwardly feels demonstrations of all this : but, instead of trying to avoid the evil day, he tries to forget it; and, as if the existence of beings depended on the attention we paid to them, he
imagines he hath annihilated these dreadful objects, because he hath found the art of obliterating them from his memory.
What a system is that of the voluptuary, when it is examined at the tribunal of conscience ! For, in fact, whatever efforts may be employed to drown the voice of conscience, it sometimes roars and will be heard. Even a depraved conscience hath a kind of periodical power, it cannot always be intoxicated with worldly pleasure. Belshazar on a certain festal day, was sitting at table with his , court. In order to insult the God of Israel, he ordered the sacred vessels,' which his father had brought away from the temple of Jerusalem, to be brought into company, that he and his princes, his wives and his concubines might drink therein, and praise the gods of gold and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. All on a sudden his countenance changes, and his thoughts trouble him so that the joints of his loins are loosed, and his knees smite one against another, Dan. v. 2, 4, 6. thus proving the truth of what the wise man observes, that the wicked flee when no man pursueth, Prov. xxviii. 1. Unhappy king! What is the occasion of all this terror and fear? Dost thou see a sword hanging over thee by a single thread, and ready to fall on thee and cut thee asun, der? Have thine enemies who are besieging the capital, found a way into it? Does the earth reel under thy feet? Is hell opening to thine eyes? Do the infernal furies surround thee, and cause tbe serpents on their heads to hiss in thine ears? No: but a hand is writing over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall, ver. 5. And what, have you to fear from that hand? You are not acquainted with the characters. Perhaps the writing is an encomium on thee. Perhaps it is an oracle
foretelling thee some new acquisition of splendor and glory. Why, of two senses, of which the writing is capable, dost thou imagine the worst? My brethren, behold the solution of this difficulty. These finger's of a man's hand are not alone : the finger of God accompanies them. The subject is not only written on the wall of the royal palace: but it is also inscribed on the heart of the king. His eyes could not read the characters, but his conscience knew how to explain them. Ah! Miserable hypocrites ! 'cease calling for astrologers; leave off consulting magicians and chaldeans. Listen to your own heart. The expositor is within thee, and thy conscience will tell thee more than all the wise men in thy kingdom. • What a system is that of a voluptuary consider
ed in the decline of life ! A voluptuous man, when his organs are become feeble, and his faculties worn out, finds he hath outlived his felicity, yet he looks after the gods, of which time hath despoiled him, and in vain expects that voluptuousness can rid him of the painful reflections, which torment and excruciate him. · What a system is that of a voluptuary considered in regard to death and future punishment ! These, certainly, ought to alarm all that expect them : but they ought above all to terrify a voluptuous man. What will be the sensibility of such a man? What will be his despair, when he shall pass from a bed of down to all pervading pain, from pleasure to eternal fire, from excessive lasciviousness to chains of darkness, from the company of those, who ministered to his voluptuousness to that of the executioners of divine vengeance,
IV. In fine, a stoical obstinacy is the fourth obstacle, which some place against the purposes of