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my counsel in difficulty, my support in trouble, my comfort in adversity; this friend, who constitutes the pleasure of my life, will be perhaps forever ex- . cluded from that happiness in heaven, to which all my hopes and wishes tend: when I shall be in the society of angels, he will be in the company of devils; when he shall knock' at the door of the bridegroom, who opened to me, he will receive this answer, verily, I say unto you, I know you not. This catechumen, in whose mind I endeavored to inculcate the truths of religion; a part of the men whom I thought I had subdued to Jesus Christ; a great number of these hearers, whom I often told, that they would be my joy and crown in the day of the Lord, (certainly you are our joy and crown) will perhaps be one day disowned by Jesus Christ in the face of heaven and earth. This pastor, whom I considered as my guide in the way to heaven, this pastor will himself experience all the horrors of that state of which he gave me such dreadful ideas. This husband, to whom providence united me, this husband, whom I esteemed as part of myself, I shall perhaps one day consider as my most mortal foe, I shall acquiesce in his dainnation; I shall praise God, and say, Hallelujah, power belongeth unto the Lord our God! true and righteous are his judgments! Hallelujah, the smoke of the torment of him, whose company once constituted my happiness, shall rise up for ever and ever! This child, in behalf of whom I feel I exhaust all that the power of love hath of tenderness, this child, whose least cry pierces my soul, and who feels no pain without my feeling a thousand times more for lim, this child will be seized with horror, when he shall see coming in the clouds of heaven, surrounded with holy angels, that Jesus, whose coming will overwhelm me with joy; this child will then seek
refuge in dens, and caverns, and chasms; he will cry in agony of despair, mountains and rocks, fall on me and hide me from the wrath of the Lamb! He will be loaded with chains of darkness, he will be a prey to the worm that never dies, and fuel for the fire that never will be quenched ; and when Jesus Christ shall say to me in that great day, Come thou blessed of my Father, I shall hear this dreadful sentence denounced against this child, depart, thou cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Too just a subject of grief! Rivers of waters, tears of love and pity, run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
III. So earnestly do I desire to have your attention fixed on the objects just now mentioned, that I shall hardly venture to finish the plan i proposed, and to proceed to a third plan of this discourse. I wish you were so alarmed with the eternal misery that threatens to overwhelm your fellow citizens and friends, your husbands and children, and so employed to prevent it, that you were become as it were insensible to the temporal ills to which the enemies of God expose you. However, we do not pretend that love to our neighbors should make us forget what we owe ourselves. As the excesses of the wicked made our prophet shed tears of charity, so they caused him to shed tears of self-interest.
The wicked are the scourges of society. One seditious person is often sufficient to disturb the state; one factious spirit is often enough to set a whole church in a flame; one profligate child is often enough to poison the pleasures of the most happy and harmonious family. Good people are generally the butts of the wicked. A wicked man hates a good man. He hates him, when he hath
not the power to hurt him, because he hath not had the pleasure of hurting him; he hates him after he hath injured him, because he considers him as a man always ready to revenge the affront offered him; and if he thinks him superior to revenge, he hates him because he is incapable of vengeance, and because the patience of the offended and the rage of the offender form a contrast, which renders the latter abominable in the eyes of all equitable people.
A good man, on the contrary, is happy in the company of another good man. What countrymen feel when they meet in a foreign land, where interests and customs, maxims and views, all different from those of the land of their nativity, resembles the pleasure believers experience, when they associate in a world, where they are only strangers and pilgrims. Accordingly, one of the · most ardent wishes of our prophet, was to be always in company with people of this kind; I am a companion of all them ihat fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts, said he to God. In another place, I will early destroy all the wicked of the land, that I may cut off all the wicked doers from the city of the Lord. And again, All my delight is in the excellent saints that are in the carth.
But how few of these saints did he find! Most of his misfortunes were brought on him by the very sinners whose depravity he deplores. They were the poison of his life, and them he always saw standing ready to persecute him, and to discharge against his person the impotent malice they had against that God, whose servant he considered it as his glory to be.
Doth our age differ in this respect from that of David ? Are saints more numerous now than they
were then? May a good man promise himself among you more approbation, more countenance, and support, than the psalmist found?
This is an odious question, and our doubts may seem to you illiberal. Well, we will not press it. But if the bulk of you be saints, this country must be the most delicious part of the whole universe. A good man must be as happy as it is possible to be in this world. In these provinces, free by constitution, opulent by trade, invincible by alliances, and perfectly safe, by the nature of their government, from tyrants and tyranny, if the number of saints be greater in these provinces than that of the wicked, it must be the most delicious of all residences in this world for a good man; if he stumbles, you will charitably save him from falling; if he errs, you will patiently bear with him, and gently reclaim him ; if he be oppressed, you will assist him with firmness and vigor; if he form schemes of piety, charity, and reformation, you will second him with eagerness and zeal; if he sacrifice his health, and ease, and fortune for your good, you will reward him with gratitude, yea with profusion. May a good man promise himself all this among you? Alas! to be only willing to devote himself to truth and virtue, is often sufficient to cause him to be beset round with a company of contradictors and opposers.
But we will not engage too deeply in such gloomy reflections; we will finish this discourse, and can we finish it in a manner more suitable to the emotions of piety that assembled you in this solemn assembly, than by repeating the prayer with which we began ? Almighty God! whose adorable judgments condemn us to wander in a valley of trouble, and to live, sometimes to be united by indissoluble ties, among men, who insolently brave thy commands, Almighty God! grant we may be gathered to that holy society of blessed spirits, who place their happiness in a perlect conformity to thine august laws!
The occupation of the blessed in heaven, (and this is one of the most beautiful images, under which a man, who loves his God, can represent the happiness of heaven) the employment of the blessed in heaven is to serve God; their delight is to serve God; the design of all the plans, and all the actions, and all the motions of the blessed in heaven,
of a believer in this unhappy world, which sin makes a theatre of bloody catastrophes, and an habitation of maledictions, is to see the unworthy inhabitants violate the laws of their creator, so the purest joy of the blessed is to see themselves in a society, where all the members are always animated with a desire to please God, always ready to fly where his voice calls them, always collected in studying his holy laws.
This is the society, to which you, my dear brethren, are appointed; you who, after the example of Lot, vex your righteous souls from day to day, at seeing the depravity of the world, you, I mean, who shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. Into that society those holy persons are gone, whoin death haih taken from us, and a separation from whom hath caused so much sighs and tears. Bebold, faithful friend ! behold the company, where now resides that friend, to whom thy soul was knit, as the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David ! See, thou weeping Joseph ! see that society where thy good father now is, that good Jacob, whom thou didst convey to the grave with tears so bitter, that the inhabitants of Canaan called the place where thou didst deposit the body,