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poor, but in giving through restraint, and in always fearing to give too much. It consists not only. in omitting to serve God, but in trying to associate the service of God with that of mammon. Which of us is free from avarice considered in this second point of light ? Strictly speaking, nobody, no not one person.
2. But what right have we to pronounce that no one is defiled with avarice considered in the first point of light ? Let us consider this passion in regard to the odious crimes which it impels us to commit. Let us review the articles just now mentioned. Are we guilty of only trying to associate God and mammon? And do we never lay aside the service of God wholly when it clashes with that of mammon? Are we guilty of nothing more than giving through restraint? Do we not often avoid giving at all? Do we not always omit charity when we can do so without being branded with infamy? Are we to blame only for fearing to lose our wealth? Are we not also, always occupied about in. creasing it, so that this desire follows us every where, through all the tumults of the day, and all the silence of the night, into every company, into private prayer and public devotion? Are we guilty of only not seeking first the kingdom of God? Are we not also ready to renounce it, when we cannot enter it without losing some of our wealth? Are we guilty of violating only the laws of charity, do we not also violate those of equity? By what unheard of secret then have some of us so rapidly acquired large fortunes ? What sudden revolution then hath so quickly changed the appearance of some families What remarkable providence then hath made such an extreme difference between your ancestry and your posterity? What motive then retains so many of our protestant brethren
in their native country, and why are there in this assembly so many dismembered families? Why are not children with their parents, and parents with their children, in this free country, both content to have their lives for a prey ? Ah! my brethren, what a scandalous history is that of Judas! What a horrible crime did his avarice impel him to commit! And also what a sad resemblance is there between that wretch and some christians, who profess to abhor him!
3. As the avarice of Judas appears odious considered in itself, and more so considered in regard to the crime he committed through it, so it will appear more offensive still, if you consider it in view of the circumstances in which he was when he
gave himself up to it: for how far soever the wickedest of men be from the practice of some virtues, there are occasions on which they seem to turn their attention to them. The most barbarous souls cannot help relenting, when they see the objects of their hatred reduced to extreme misery. Hearts the most lukewarm towards religion, feel I know not what emotions of piety, when religion is exhibited in some eminent points of light, and when the love of God to his creatures, and his compassion for sinners, are described in lively colors.
On this principle, what opinion must we form of Judas ? What a time did he choose to betray his master to his enemies, and to give himself up to satan Jesus Christ was eating the passover with his disciples, and telling them, with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. Jesus Christ was taking leave of his disciples at a love feast, and going as soon as the company broke up, to substantiate the shadow exhibited in the paschal supper, by offering himself in their stead a sacrifice for sin. Judas partook of this
paschal lamb, and sat at the table with Jesus Christ at this feast of love; yet in these circumstances so proper to eradicate avarice, at least to suspend the growth of it, it became more vigorous, and ripened in his unworthy soul.
My brethren, when we judge our own hearts, let us keep this principle in view. A passion hateful in itself, and hateful on account of the crimes it makes us commit, may become more so by circumstances. What is an innocent freedom in some circumstances, may become licentiousness in other circumstances, and as circumstances alter, what is licentious may become a great crime; and thus an innocent freedom, at most an act of licentiousness, at most a crime, may become an atrocious outrage, and unpardonable on account of circumstances in which it was committed. This maxim is self-evident, it is an axiom of morality.
O God, judge of the whole earth, do not pass sentence on this assembly according to the rigor of this maxim! This is passion week, and we are in circumstances, in which Jesus Christ most powerfully attacks our vices. You need not be a saint to have emotions of piety in these circumstances; it is sufficient to be a man: but you must be a monster, a disciple of Judas, to have none. Το hate in these circumstances, to hate when Jesus Christ loves, and while he is saying of his executioners, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. To shut our hearts against the cries of our wretched fellow creatures, while Jesus Christ is pouring out his blood, his life, his soul, for poor mortals; to give ourselves up to worldly pleasure, while nothing is treated of among us but the sufferings of Jesus Christ, while he is represented as sweating great drops of blood, contending with divine justice, fastening to a cross, and uttering these
lamentable complaints, my soul is exceeding sorrowful, very heavy, sorrowful even unto death. O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me! My God, my God, why hast thou fora saken me? At such a time, and in such circumstances, to pursue wordly pleasures. ......:-My brethren, finish this article yourselves, and pronounce your own sentences.
4. Consider the pretexts, with which Judas covered his avarice. One of the principal causes of our indignation at irregularities of our neighbors, and our indulgence for our own, is, that we see the first without the colorings, which they who commit them make use of to conceal their turpitude from themselves, whereas we always consider our own through such mediums as decorate and disguise them. Now, as we palliate our own passions, we ought to believe that other people palliate theirs.
Who can imagine that Judas considered his crime in its own real horrid colors ? Can any body suppose he said to himself, “ I am determined to violate the most solemn obligations for thirty pieces of silver :. I am resolved to betray the Saviour of the world for thirty pieces of silver: I would rather see him crucified than be deprived of this unworthy price of treason: this contemptible reward I prefer before all the joys of heaven?" No, no, Judas did not reason thus. Judge what he did on this occasion by what he did on another: A woman poured a box of costly ointment on the feet of Jesus Christ; Judas was hurt to see this prey escape his avarice: he therefore covered the sordid disposition of his soul with the goodly pretext of charity; this ointment might have been sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor, John xii. 4, 6. Thus in the present case, “ perhaps Jesus Christ will escape from his enemies, as he has often
done before. Perhaps his looks will deter them. Perhaps he will fell them to the earth with his power. Perhaps the angels of heaven will surround, protect, and defend him. Perhaps I myself shall contribute to save the world, by offering the sacrifice that is to procure salvation. Perhaps, too, I may have formed ideas too high of this Jesus. Perhaps God doth not interest himself in his preservation, as I have hitherto supposed. Perhaps he hath assumed a character which doth not belong to him, and is nothing but a phantom of a Messiah. (Who can tell what extravagant reasonings may be formed by a mind given up to a passion, and determined to justify it ?) After all, should I add one more crime to what I have already committed, the number will not be so very great. The blood I am going to assist in shedding, will obtain my pardon for contributing to shed it. And I cannot persuade myself that a Saviour, who came into the world on purpose to publish a general pardon to all sinners, will choose to make an exception against me, me alone !"
Brethren, is this source of sophistry closed in regard to you? If I may venture to speak so, did the logic of your passions expire when Judas died? Which of us is not, so to speak, two different, yea, opposite men, according to the agitation of our spirits, and the dominion of our passions ? Let any one of us be consulted concerning a crime, which we have no interest in committing or palliating, and we shall talk of nothing but equity, rectitude, and religion : but let us be questioned concerning the same crime, when we have some interest in the commission of it, and behold! another language, another morality, another religion, or to say all in one word, behold another man !