« EdellinenJatka »
The third are such as build on the same foundation gold, silver, and precious stones.
Thanks be to God we have no other concern with the first of these articles except that, which compassion obliges us to take for the wickedness of such teachers, and the blindness of their hearers !
What a strange condition is that of a man, who employs his study, his reading, bis meditation, his labors, his public and private discourses to subvert the foundations of that edifice, which Jesus Christ came to erect among mankind, and which he hath cemented with his blood! What a doctrine is that of a man, who presumes to call himself a guide of conscience, a pastor of a flock, an interpreter of scripture, and who gives only false directions, who poisons the souls committed to his care, and darkens and tortures the word of God ! Jesus Christ, to confound the glosses of the false teachers of his time, said, ye have heard, that it was said by them of old time so and so: but I say unto you otherwise. The teachers, of whom I speak, use another language, and they say, you have heard, that it was said by Jesus Christ, so and so: but I say to you otherwise. You have heard, that it was said by Jesus Christ, search the scriptures : but I say to you, that the scriptures are dangerous, and that only one order of men ought to see them. You have heard, that it hath been said in the inspired writings, prove all things : but I say unto you, it is not for you to examine, but to submit. You have heard that it hath been said by Jesus Christ, that the rulers over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, but it shall not be so among you. But I say unto you, that the pontiff hath a right to domineer not only over the Gentiles, but even over those who rule them. You have heard, that it hath been said blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, that the soul of Lazarus was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom : but I, I say unto you, that the dead pass from the miseries of this life only into incomparably greater miseries in the flames of purgatory.
If this disposition be deplorable considered in itself, it becomes much more so by attending to the motives that produce it. Sometimes it is ignorance, which makes people sincerely crawl in the thickest darkness amidst the finest opportunities of obtaining light. Sometimes it is obstinacy, which impels people to maintain, for ever to maintain, what they have once affirmed. Sometimes it is pride, that will not acknowledge a mistake. Sometimes it is interest, which fixes them in a communion, that opens a path to riches and grandeurs, benefices and mitres, an archiepiscopal throne and a triple crown. Always, it is negligence of the great salvation, which deserves all our pains, vigilance the most exact, and sacrifices the most difficult. i
My brethren, let us acknowledge the favor conferred on us by providence in delivering us from these errors. Let us bless the happy days of the reformation, in which our societies were built on the foundation, laid by Jesus Christ and his apostles. Let us never dishonor it by an irregular life. Let us never regret the sacrifices we have made to it. . Let us be always ready to make more. We have already, many of us, given up our establishments, our fortunes, and our country ; let us give up our passions, and if it be requisite our lives. Let us endeavor to perpetuate and extend it, let us defend it by our prayers, as well as by our labor and vigilance. Let us pray to God for this poor people, from whose eyes a fatal bandage hides the light of truth. Let us pray for such of our brethren
as know it, but have not courage to profess it. Let us pray for those poor children, who seem as if they must receive it with their first nourishment, because their parents know it : but who do not yet know it, and who perhaps, alas ! will never know it. If our incessant prayers for them continue to be rejected ; if our future efforts to move in their favor the compassion of a merciful God be without success, as our former efforts have been ; if our future tears, like our former sorrows be in vain, yet we will exclaim, O Lord, how long ! O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night, give thyself no rest, let not the apple of thine eye cease! 0 ye, that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth, Rev. vi. 10. Lament. ii. 18, and Isa, lvij. 6, 7.
It is not the limit prescribed to this sermon, that forbids my detailing the two remaining articles : but a reason of another kind. I fear, should I characterize the two kinds of doctrines, which are both built on the foundation, but which however are not of equal value, I myself should lay another foundation. The religion of Jesus Christ is founded on love. Jesus Christ is love. The virtue, which he most of all recommended to his disciples, is love.
I appeal here to those, who have some idea of remnants of divisions yet amongst us.' How can I, without rekindling a fire hid under embers, and which we have done all in our power entirely to extinguish, shew the vanity of different classes of divers doctrines of wood, hay, and stubble ?
In a first class it would be necessary to expose a ministry spent in questions of mere curiosity, and to contrast it with that which is employed only to give that clear knowledge, and full demonstration of the great truths of religion, of which they are capable.
In a second class, it would be necessary to contrast discourses of simple speculation tending only to exercise the mind with such practical discourses, as tend to sanctify the heart, regulate the life, to render the child obedient to his parent, and the parent kind and equitable to his child, the subject submissive to the laws of his rulers, aud the ruler at. tentive to the happiness of the subjects, the rich charitable, and the poor humble and patient.
In a third class, I should be obliged to consider some productions of disordered minds, fancies attributed to the Spirit of God, charging religion with the tinsel of the marvellous, more proper to divert children than to satisfy inquisitive minds, and to contrast these with the productions of men, who never set a step without the light of the gospel in their hands, and infallible truth for their guide.
In a fourth class, we ought to contrast those miserable sophisms, which pretend to support truth with the arms of error, and include without scruple whatever favors, and whatever seems to favor the cause to be maintained, with clear ideas, close reasonings and natural conclusions, such as a preacher brings, who knows how to weigh in a just balance truth and falsehood, probability and proof, conjecture and demonstration. '
In a fifth class, I should have to lay open the superficial ideas, sometimes low and vulgar, of a man without either elevation or penetration, and to contrast them with the discourses of such happy geniuses as soar up to God, even to the inaccessible God.
All these dissimilitudes it would be my duty to shew : but I will not proceed, and I make a sacrifice to charity of all the details, which the subject would bear. I will not even describe the miseries, which are denounced against such as build hay and stubble on the foundation of the gospel, nor the unhappiness of those, who shall be found at last to have preferred such doctrines before the gold, silver, and precious stones, of which the apostle speaks. Let them weigh this expression of the holy man, he shall be saved, yet so, as by fire. Let the first think of the account they must give of their ministry, and the second of the use they have made of their time, and of their superstitious docility.
I would rather offer you objects more attracting, and urge motives more tender. We told you at the beginning of this discourse that your duties, christian people, have a close connection with ours, and we may add, our destination is closely connected with yours.
What will be the destiny of such as shall have built on the foundations of christianity gold, silver, and precious stones ? What will be the destiny of those, who shall have exercised such a ministry? What will be the destiny of such as have incorporated themselves with it? Ah! my brethren, I place my happiness and glory in not being able fully to answer this question. I congratulate myself for not being able to find images lively enough to represent the pomp, with which I hope, my most beloved auditors, you will one day be adorned. Yet I love to contemplate that great day, in which the rvork of faithful ministers, and faithful christians will be made manifest by fire. I love to fill my mind with the day, in which God will come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe, 2 Thess. i. 10. when he shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people, Psal. 1. 4. saying, Gather my saints together unto me, those that have