Sivut kuvina

against the church, when her enemies exile her pastors, scatter her flock, suppress her worship, and burn her sanctuaries? Do all nations see the salvation of God, the arm of the Lord made bare, to effectuate distinguished events in behalf of this socie. ty; when they are given up to the fury of their tyrants; when Pilate and Herod are confederated to destroy them; when they obtain over them daily new victories? Do the waste places of Jerusalem sing, when the ways of Zion mourn, when her priests sigh, and when her virgins are afflicted? Does her salvation remain for ever, when the church has scarcely breathed in one place before she is agitated in another;-when she has scarcely survived one calamity, before she is overtaken with another; when the beast causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor; bond and free, to receive his mark in their hand, or in their forehead? Rey xiii. 15. Are kings nursing fathers to the church, and queens nursing mothers, when they snatch the children from her breasts; when they populate the deserts with fugitives ; and cause the dead bodies of hier witnesses to lie in the streets of the great city, which is called Sodom and Egypt? Rev. xi. 8...

It is against this first device of satan, St. Paul would fortify the Hebrews in the words of my text. Hear his admonitions and instructions; ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children ; my son, despise nat thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receideth, If ye endure chas. tening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he, whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereaf all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons, Heb. xii. 5, 6, 7, 8.

I have no need to arm you with any other shield against the sentiments of unbelief, with which some of

you are assailed on viewing the calamities of the church, Ecclesiastical persecutions are paternal

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

chastisements, which God inflicts upon her members. I would ask our brethren, who complain of the length of the persecution, and are ever saying, Alas! what always in exile, always in the gallies? I would ask them, as they seem astonished, and are bold enough to complain of their duration, whether they have profited by these afflictions? God, in chastising his church, is desirous of correcting the abuse you have made of prosperity. Have you profited by this chastisement ? Have you learned to make a right use of prosperity. God, in chastising the church, is desir. ous to correct the indifference you have entertained for public worship. Have you profited by this chastisement? Have you learned to sacrifice your dear. est interests to attend his worship? And if you have made those sacrifices, have you learned to worship with affections correspondent to the sacrifices you have made for him ? God, in chastising the church, is desirous to correct the strong attachment you have conceived for this world. - Have you profited by this chastisement ? Called to choose between riches and salvation, have you ever preferred the salvation of your souls, to exterior happiness.

2. In the time of tribulation, the devil-strongly prompts us to presumption. Here the commands of Jesus Christ are explicit, When they persecute you in one city, flee to another, Matt. x. 23. The decision of wisdom is extremely positive; they who love the danger, sball perish by it, Matt. xxvi. 52. Experience is a convincing test. St. Peter presumed to go into the court of Caiaphas, under a pretence of following Jesus, and there hei denied him. Is not this what we have represented a thousand and a thousand times, to those of our unhappy brethren, whom this part of our discourse particularly respects? We have prov. ed, that we must either leave the places in which the truth is persecuted, or calmly submit to martyrdom. We have made it appear, that no man can assure

himself of constancy to suffer martyrdom, unsup. ported by the extraordinary aids of the Holy Spirit. We have demonstrated, that it is presumption to promise themselves those aids, while they neglect the means offered by Providence to avoid the dan, ger. They do violence to reason. They resist de. monstration. They presume on their own strength. They rely wholly on supernatural power. They promise themselves a chimerical conquest. Hence those frequent abnegations. Hence those awful falls. Hence those scandalous apostacies. I have therefore done wrong in placing the temptations of presumption among those subtle snares, those plausible prețences, which impose on the most established christians. I am mistaken; they are the broadest snares, and grossest sophisms of the enemy of our salvation; and he is weak indeed who suffers himself to be surprised. What! have you proved your weakness a hundred and a hundred times, and

still talk of power ? What! have you at this day scarcely resolution to sacrifice a part of your property for religion, and do you presume that you can sacrifice your life? What! have you no forti tude to follow Jesus Christ into peaceful countries, and do you presume to hope that you can follow him to the cross?

3. Those, whom satan cannot destroy by presump tion, he endeavours, and it is a third share with which he assails the church in tribulation; he endeavours, I say, to destroy by discouragement. “I am weak,” says a man

says a man who discourages himself by temptations of this nature; “ I am weak : I shall not have constancy to sustain the miseries inseparably attendant on those who devote themselves to voluntary exile, by going into places where the truth is professed ; nor fortitude to endure the tortures inflicted on those who avow it in places where it is persecuted. I am weak; I have not courage to lead

do you

[ocr errors]

a languishing life in unknown nations, to beg my bread with my children, and to hear my poverty sometimes reproached by those to whom the cause for which I suffer ought to render it venerable. I am weak ; I shall never have constancy to endure the stink of dungeons, the weight of the oar, and all the terrific apparatus of martyrdom.”'

You say, I am weak! say rather I am wicked, and pronounce upon yourselves beforehand the sentence which the gospel has pronounced against persons of this description. You are weak! But is it not to the weak that are made, (provided their intentions are really sincere,) the promises of those strong consolations, which enable them to say, When I am weak, then I am strong, 2 Cor. vii. 10. You are weak ! But is it not said to the weak, God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it, i Cor. x. 13. You are weak! But is it not the weak to whom God has realized the truth of his magnificent promises ? I will not refer you to those marvellous ages, when men, women, and children sustained the most terrific tortures with a cou. rage more than human. I will not adduce here the example of those saints, enumerated in the chapter preceding my text; of saints who were stoned, who were killed with the sword, who were tortured, whọ were fettered, and who displayed more constancy in suffering, than their persecutors and hangmen, in the infliction of torments. But go to those myriads of exiles, who have inundated England, Germany, and these provinces, all of whom are protestant nations; those myriads of exiles, who have gone to Jesuş. Christ without the camp, bearing his reproach; des. titute of every earthly comfort, but delighted to have gotten their souls for a prey; were not they by nature weak' as you? And, with the assistance of grace, may not you become strong as they? But

those fathers, but those mothers, who have torn themselves away from their children, and the separation of whom from creatures so dear, seemed as tearing away their own flesh, were they not by nature weak as you? But those Abrahams, who, taking their children by the hand, went, in some sort, to sacrifice them to hunger and thirst, to cold and rain ; and who replied to the piercing complaints of those innocent victims, The Lord will provide, my chilo dren; in the mountain of the Lord it shall be seen, Gen. xxii. 8, 14. But those fathers, those mothers, were they not naturally weak as you? And with the help of God, may not you become as strong as they ? You are weak! But those slaves who have now been

irty years on board the gallies; those Rois, those Broussons, those Marolles, and such a multitude of our martyrs, who have sealed the evangelical doctrine with their blood, who have ascended the scaffold, not only with resignation, but with joy, with transport, with songs of triumph, exclaiming amid their sufferings, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me, Phil. iv, 13. Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, 2 Cor. ii. 14. Blessed be the Lord, who teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight, Psalm cxliv. 1. Were not those venerable men naturally weak as you ? And with the help of God, may not you become strong as they? Are you weak! It is still added, say rather, I am wicked, and blush for your impiety.

4. These are the most plausible insinuations, and the subtlest snares; and consequently, the most likely to entangle those who are defective in precuations of defence, But the enemy of our salvation somea times borrows weapons from conscience, in order to give it mortal wounds. The advice we give to the persecuted, is that of Jesus Christ; If any man will come ufler me, let him take up his cross and folloze me, Matt. xvi. 24. Come out of Babylon, my people,

« EdellinenJatka »