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that 'ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues, Rev. xviii. 4. To this du ty, they oppose other duties; and family duties in particular. What would become of my father, should I leave him in his old age? What would be. come of my children if I should forsake them in their infancy? They allege the duties of benevolence. What would become of so many poor people who procure bread in my employment ? So many starving families, who subsist on my alms ? So many people. in perplexity, who are guided by my advice? Whatwould become of these, if, neglecting their happi. ness, I should solely seek my own? They allege the duties of zeal. What would become of religion in this place, in which it was once so flourishing, if all those who know the truth should obey the command, Come out of Babylon.
Let us, my brethren, unmask this snare of the devil. He places these last duties before your eyes, in order that you may neglect the first, without which all others are detestable in the sight of God our sovereign Judge ; who, whenever he places us in a situation in which we cannot practise a virtue: without committing a crime, prohibits that virtue. God assumes to himself the government of the world, and he will not lay it on your shoulders : he still asserts the same language he once addressed to Saul, when that prince, under a pretence of obedience to a precept, had violated an explicit prohibition. Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams, 1 Sam. xv. 22.
5. But is it public worship ; (and this is a fifth snare, a fifth insinuation, and a fifth class of those sins which so easily beset us ; )....is it public worship which constitutes the essence of religion? Does not true devotion wholly consist in worshipping in Spirit, and in truth? May we not retain religion secret.
ly in our heart, though we apparently suspend the exterior service. And though external worship be required, must it always be presented in the presence of a multitude ? May not private devotion be a substitute for public worship? And may we not offer to God in the closet, the devotion which the calamia ty of the time does not allow us to offer in temples consecrated to his glory, and perform in our families the offices of piety which tyrants prévent qur per. forming in numerous assemblies ?
(1) I answer ; what are the private devotions perforined in places in which the truth is persecuted ! Ridiculous devotions; many of those who perform them being divided between Christ and belial, be. tween true and idolatrous adoration. In the morning, before the altar of false gods ; in the evening, before the altar of the supreme Jehovah. In the morning, denying Jesus Christ in public ; in the evening, confessing him in private. In the morning, making a parade of error; in the evening, pre. tending to acknowledge the truth. Devotions in which they are in continual alarms ; in which they are obliged to conceal themselves from their ene. mies, from many of their friends, and to say in secret, who sees me? who hears me ? who suspects me ? Devotions in which they are afraid of false brethren, afraid of the walls, or afraid of them. selves !
(2.) The inward disposition, you say, constitutes the essence of religion. I ask, what sort of inward disposition is that of the christians whom we attack? Shew us now, this religion which consists wholly of inward dispositions ; this worship in spirit and in truth. What ! this gross ignorance a necessary con. sequence of privation of the ministry, those absurd notions of our mysteries, those vague ideas of morality ; is this the inward religion, is this the worn ship in spirit and in truth? What! this abhorrence they entertain of the communion of the persecutor,
who they know scarcely possesses the first principles of the persecuted ? Is this the inward religion, is this the worship in spirit and in truth? What! this kind of deism, and deism certainly of the worst kind which we see maintained by the persons in question ? Is this the inward religion, is this the worship in spirit and in truth? What! this tran. quillity with which they enjoy not only the riches they have preserved at the expence of their soul; but the riches of those who have sacrificed the whole of their property for the sake of the gospel ? Is this the inward religion, is this the worship in spirit and in truth? What! this participation in the pleasures of the age, at a period when they ought to weep; those frantic joys, if I may so speak, over the ruins of our temples, after renouncing the doctrines there professed ? Is this the inward religion, is this the worship in spirit and in truth? What! those marriages they contract, in which it is stipulated, in case of issue, they shall be baptized by the ministers of error, and educated in their religion? Is this the inward religion, is this the worship in spirit and in truth?
6. I will add but one illusion more, and that is the illusion of security. If we offend, say the persons we attack;....if we offend in submitting to the pres. sure of the times, we do it through weakness, and weakness is an object of divine clemency. It is not possible, that a merciful God, a God who knows zuhereof we are made, a God who has formed us with the attachment we have for our property, our relatives, and our lives; it is not possible, that this God should condemn us to eternal misery, because we have not had the fortitude to sacrifice the whole. A double shield, my brethren, shall cover you against this temptation, if you have prudence to use it; a double reflection shall defend you against this last illusion.
: First, the positive declarations of our Scriptures. God is merciful, it is true ; but he is arbitrator of the terms on which his mercy is offered ;'or, as it is written, he extends mercy to whom he pleases, and declares that he will show no mercy to those who refuse to honour his truth. He declares, that he will deny those before his Father, who deny 'him before men, Matt. x. 33. He declares, that he who loveth father or mother more than him, is not worthy of him, Matt. x. 37. He declares, that they who receive the mark of the beast, or worship his image, shall be 'cast' alive into the lake of fire, burning with brim. stone, Rev. xix. 20. He declares, that he will class in the great day, the fearful; that is, those who have not had courage to confess their religion, with the unbelieving, with the abominable, with the murderers, with the whoremongers, with the sorcerers, with the idolaters, with the liars. He declares, that the fearful, shall, in common with the others, be cast into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, rohich is the second death, Rev. xxi. 8.
The second reflection, which should be a shield for repelling this illusion of the devil, arises from the nature of the crime itself, which we account a mere infirmity. Four characters contribute to the atroci. ty of a crime. 1. When it is not committed in a moment of surprise, and when we are taken unawares. 2. When we persist in it not only for a few hours, or days; but live' in it for whole years. 3. When, during those years of criminality, we have all the opportunities we could ask of emancipation. 4. When this crime not only captivates the solitary offender, but draws a great number more into the same perdition. These four characters all associate with the crime in question, the crime we account a weakness, and obstinately class among the infirmi. ties of nature. But I have not resolution to enlarge upon
this subject, and to prove, that our unhappy
Brethren are in such imminent danger of destruction. And the expiration of my time is one of the smallest inducements to proceed to other subjects.
II. Were it possible for the discourses introduced into this pulpit to be finished pieces, in which we were allowed to exhaust the subjects; were you cas pable of paying the same attention to those exercises, which turn on spiritual subjects, which you be. stow on business or pleasure, I would present you with a new scheme of arguments ; I would reduce, to different classes, the temptations which satan employs to obstruct you in the course. But we should never promise ourselves the completion of a subject, in the short time to which we are prescribed.
I shall take a shorter course, harmonizing the extent and importance of the remaining subject, with the brevity of my time. I shall proceed to give a portrait of the life, common to persons who attain the utmost age God has assigned to man. I shall conduct him from infancy to the close of life, trạcing to you, in each period it is presumed he shall pass, the various temptations which assail him; and by which it is impossible he should fall, if he keep in view the apostle's exhortation, Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us. Let every one who hears this sermon, with a view to profit, carefully apply to himself those traits, which have the nearest resemblance to his state. Hence, I would presume, every one of you to be the man, who shall attain the age of eighty years : these are the temptations he will find in his course. : 1. Scarcely will you be liberated from the arms of the nurse, when you will fall under the care of weak and indulgent people; who will, through a cruel complaisance, take as much pains to cherish the corrupt propensities of nature, as they ought to take for their subjugation. At this early period they will sow, in your heart, awful seeds, which will produce