Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

have no proportion to his faculties. Is an emmet capable of science to be allured by the company of the learned? Can an ant form plans of sieges and battles to render himself sensible of that glory, which exploits of war acquire, and for which the heroes of the world sacrifice their repose and their lives?

It is you, who have that meanness of soul, which you just now pitied in an ant. You inhabit cities and provinces, which compared with the rest of the world resemble the size of mole hills, the whole globe itself is nothing in comparison of the immense spaces, in which other works of the Creator are lodged. You creep on earth with a bandful of men much less in comparison with the thousand thousands of other intelligences than an ant hill is in comparison of mankind. You have intimate relations to these intelligences; you like them are capable of great and noble functions; like them you are capable of knowledge; like them you are able to know the Supreme Being; you can love like them; you can form tender and delicate connections as they can; and like them you are destined to eternal duration and felicity. - Do not say then, I shall be alone, nobody lives as you would have me live. They are the men, who surround you that are nobody in comparison of the intelligences, whom I propose to you for examples. It ill suits insignificant men to consider themselves alone as in the centre of divine benevolence, and as the only subjects of a monarch, who reigneth over all existence. He sitteth upon the circle of the earth, whence the inhabitants appear to him as grasshoppers. He bringeth princes to nothing, he considereth the judges of the earth as vanity. He shall blow upon them and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away like stubble, Isa. xl. 22.

But ye, celestial intelligences, seraphims burning with love, angels mighty in strength, messengers of the divine will, spirits rapid as the wind, and penetrating as fire, ye redeemed of all nations, all kindred, all people, all tongues, Rev. v. 9. ye make the crowd, ye fill the court of the sovereign of the world ; and, when we refuse to conform ourselves to this world, we imitate you; and when the slaves of the world shall be loaded with chains of darkness, we shall share with you the river of pleasures at the right hand of that God whom you serve, and to whose service we like you devote ourselves. God grant us this grace! To him be honor and glory for ever. Amen.

SERMON III.

THE ADVANTAGES OF PIETY.

1 TIMOTHY, iv. 18.

Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life

that now is, and of that which is to come.

THERE never was a disposition more odious,

I or more unjust than that of the profane Jews, of whom Jeremiah speaks in the forty-fourth chapter of his prophecies. He had addressed to them the most pressing and pathetical exhortations to dissuade them from worshipping the goddess Isis, and to divert them from the infamous debaucheries, with which the Egyptians accompanied it. Their reply was in these words, As for the word, that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee : but we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of hea. ven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well and saw no evil : but since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword, and by the famine, ver 16-18.; Nothing can equal the sacrifices, which religion requires of us; therefore nothing ought to equal the recompence, which it sets before us. Sometimes it requires us like the father of the faithful to quit our country and our relations and to go out, not knowing whither we go, according to the expression of St. Paul, Heb. xi. 8. Sometimes it requires us to tread in the bloody steps of those who had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea of bonds and imprisonment. Some were stoned, others were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword, wandered about in sheep skins, and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, ver. 36, 37. Always it calls us to triumph over our passions, to renounce our own senses, to mortify the flesh with its desires, and to bring all the thoughts of our minds, and all the emotions of our hearts into obedience to Jesus Christ. To animate us to sacrifices so great, it is necessary we should find in religion a superiority of happiness and reward, and it would be to rob it of all its disciples to represent it as fatal to the interests of such as pursue it.

As this disposition is odious, so it is unjust. The miserable Jews, of whom the prophet Jeremiah speaks, did indeed consult the prophets of God, but they would not obey their voice; they would sometimes suspend their idolatrous rites, but they would never entirely renounce them ; they discovered some zeal for the exterior of religion, but : they paid no attention to the spirit and substance of it, and as God refused to grant to this outside of piety such advantages as he had promised to the truly godly, they complained that the true religion had been to them a source of misery.

Were they the Jews of the prophets time? Are

they only Jews, who make such a criminal complaint ? Are they the only persons, who, placing religion in certain exterior performances, and mutilated virtues, complain that they do not feel that peace of conscience, those ineffable transports, that anticipated heaven, which are foretastes and earnests of eternal joy? We are going to-day, my brethren, to set before you the treasures which God opens to us in communion with him : but we are going at the same time to trace out the character of those, on whom they are bestowed. This is the design of this discourse, and for this purpose we will divide it into two parts; First, We will examine what the apostle means by godliness in the words of the text: And secondly, We will point. out the advantages affixed to it. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

I. What is godliness or piety? It is difficult to include an adequate idea of it in the bounds of what is called a definition. Piety is a habit of knowledge in the mind-rectitude in the conscience sacrifice in the life—and zeal in the heart. By the knowledge, that guides it, it is distinguished from the visions of the superstitious; by the rectitude, from whence it proceeds, it is distinguished from hypocrisy; by the sacrifice, which justifies it, it is distinguished from the unmeaning obedience of him, who goes as a happy constitution leads him; in fine, by the fervor, that animates it, it is distinguished from the languishing emotions of the luke-warm. : 1. Piety supposes knowledge in the mind. When God reveals a doctrine of religion to us, he treats us as reasonable beings, capable of examination and reflection. He doth not require us to admit any-truth without evidence. If he would have us

VOL. V.

« EdellinenJatka »