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soil, you, who have hardly a spark of love to “be perfect as our Father which is in heaven God, do you think your piety sufficient! Are is perfect,” we ought never to cease endeayou the man to leave off endeavouring to make vouring till we are “as perfect as our Father new advances!
which is in heaven is perfect.” Since the Perhaps you may say, the text is not to be gospel requires us to labour to become, by a taken literally, it is the language of humility, transformation of our being, one with God, as and resembles what St. Paul says in another Jesus Christ is one with God, we ought never place, I am the “chief of sinners;" agreeably to give over our endeavours till we do become to his own direction, that each Christian one with God. Mor as we shall never “should esteem another better than himself,” in this life carry our virtue to so high a degree and which he calls, very justly, "lowliness of as to be perfect as our Father is perfect, holy mind.” No such thing, my brethren, you will as God is holy, one with God as Jesus Christ be convinced of the contrary by the following is one with God, it follows to a demonstration, reflections.
that in no period of our life will our duty be 2. We ground the necessity of progressive finished; consequently, we must make conreligion on the great end of Christianity. Form, tinual progress, if we would answer our enif it be possible, a just notion of Christianity. gagements; and consequently there is no point I say if it be possible; for we have an unaccount fixed in the career of virtue, in which it would able reluctance to understand our own religion. be allowable to stop; and consequently, St. We have all a strange propensity to disguise Paul ought to be understood literally, when he the character of a true Christian, and to keep says of himself, “I count not myself to have ourselves ignorant of it. We have the holy apprehended; I therefore so run, not as unScriptures, and in them the gospel plan of re- certainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth demption before our eyes every day; and every the air." But I keep under my body, and bring day we throw over them a variety of preju- it into subjection, lest that by any means, when dices, which suppress the truth, and prevent, I have preached to others, I myself should be us from seeing its beauty: One forms of Chris- a cast-away,” Phil. iii. 13; and consequently, tianity an idea of indolence and relaxation, of all the excuses, of all the pretexts, of all the and, under prelence that the gospel speaks of" sophisms, which were ever invented to palliate mercy and grace, persuades himself that he may that slowness with which we walk in the way give a loose to all his natural evil dispositions. of virtue, there are none more frivolous than Another imagines the gospel a body of discip- these—we are not saints, we cannot be perfect, line, the principal design of which was to regu- we cannot put off human nature; for it is belate society; so that provided we be pretty good cause you are not saints, it is because you are parents, tolerable magistrates, and as good not perfect, it is because you cannot put off subjects as other people, we ought all to be human nature, it is on this account, that you content with ourselves. A third thinks, to be ought to make a continual progress in Chrisa Christian is to defend with constant heat tian virtue, that the sincerity, and, so to speak, certain points which he elevates into capital the obstinacy of your efforts may make up for doctrines, essential to holiness here, and to imperfections. salvation hereafter. A fourth, more unjust 3. Our third class of proofs is taken from the than all the rest, supposes the first duty of a fatal consequences of a cessation of our efforts, a Christian is to be sure of his own salvation. suspension of our religious endeavours. Were Each wanders after his own fancy.
it literally true that we could arrive at that It should seem, however, that the more we state of perfection which the gospel requires of consult the gospel, the more fully shall we be us; could we actually finish the morality of convinced, that its design is to engage us to religion it would still follow, that we must aspire at perfection, to transform man, to render make new efforts during our residence in this him as perfect as he was when he came out of world; and that without these our past labours the hands of his Creator, “to renew him after would be useless. A man employed in a methe image of him that created him," to make chanical art prepares his materials, sets about him approach the nature of glorified saints, and, his work, and carries it on to a certain degree. to say all in one word, to transform him into He suspends his labour for a while; his work the divine nature. This is Christianity. This does not advance, indeed, but our artist has at it is to be a Christian; and consequently a least this advantage over us, when he returns Christian is a man called to be “perfect as his to his labour, he finds his work in the same forFather which is in heaven is perfect;" to be wardness in which he left it. Heavenly exerone with God, as Jesus Christ is one with cises are not of this kind. Past labour is often God.
lost for want of perseverance; and, it is a cerThis definition of a Christian and of Chris- tain maxim in religion, that not to proceed is tianity, is justified by all we see in the gospel. to draw back. For why does it every where propose perfection Vice is closely connected with human profor our end, heaven to our hope, God for our pensities. Virtue, on the contrary, is directly model? Why does it teach us to consider the opposite. As soon as you cease to endeavour good things of the world as evils, and the evils to retain what opposes your propensities, naof the world as benefits, human virtues as vices, ture takes its course. You carry within you, and what men call vice as virtue? Why all so to speak, a worker of iniquity, who conthis All beside the matter, unless the gospel stantly labours at the fatal work of your deproposes to renew man, to transform him, and pravity. This workman is the old man. He to make him approach the perfect Being: every day gets forward, every day confirms you
From these principles we conclude this.- in sin, every day strengthens your attachment Since the gospel requires us to endeavour to to sensible objects, every day ties you with
fresh bands to earthly things. If you do not op- chor, and sets sail on that ocean of truth which pose labour against labour, reflection against re religion sets before him, and he soon finds imHection, motive against motive, progress against mense spaces before him; or to speak without progress, you will be defeated.
a figure, he finds his own virtues so few in In these observations we find an answer to number, so limited in degree, so obstructed in an objection, constantly repeated when we con- their course, and so mixed in their exercise, demn that perpetual dissipation, that exces- that he easily comes into a well-grounded sive gaming, and those reiterated amusements judgment, that all he has attained is nothing which consume the greatest part of your lives. to what lies before him. As he meditates on You perpetually complain, that we overstrain his sins, he finds them so great, so numerous, matters, that we aggravate things, that the so odious, so dangerous, that he cannot compreyoke of Christ is easy, and his burden is light, hend how it is that his heart does, not break, and that we make the one uneasy, and the and his eyes become fountains of tears. As he other heavy. You constantly allege, that re- meditates on the nature of this world, he finds ligion is not intended to put man on the rack, it so vain in its occupations, so puerile in its but to conduct him to reason: that the gospel pleasures, so void in its amusements, its friendis not contrary to a thousand pleasures which ships so deceitful, and its duration so short, society offers us, and that, after all, the things that he cannot comprehend what should detain we condemn are indifferent. I grant, religion him in the world. As he meditates on the fedoes not condemn pleasures. I grant more, licity of heaven, he finds it so substantial and the pleasures you refer to are indifferent in pure, so splendid and satisfactory, that he cantheir nature, that they have no bad influence, not conceive what should detain him, and preno treachery, no calumny in your conversation; vent his losing sight of the world and ascendno fraud, no swearing, no sordid interest in ing to heaven. As he meditates on the Creayour gaming, no lax maxims, no profaneness, tor, he finds him so wise, so just, so good, so no immodesty in your amusements; I grant all lovely, that he cannot imagine why liis heart this: Yet, after all, it is a fact, that, as the new does not always burn with flames of love inan suspends his work, the old man advances to him. his. It is always true, for example, that when Such is the effect of perseverance in a path a sermon has made some impressions on your of virtue! Accordingly we find the greatest hearts, when the lukewarm are aroused, when saints the most eminent for humility. Abrathe impenitent are terrified, those other objects ham durst not "take upon him to speak unto efface these impressions; and, though they may the Lord, because he was only dust and ashes," not lead you into the commission of fresh Gen. xviii. 27. Job, “though he were rightcrimes, yet they make you relapse into that eous, yet would not answer, but made supplifirst state of depravity from which you seemed cation to his judge,” chap. ix. 15. to be emerging.
David “could not stand, if the Lord, should 4. A fourth source of proofs in favour of mark iniquities,” Ps. cxxx. 3. St. Paul did the necessity of progress is, the advances them- not think he had attained, Phil. iii. 12. Το selves which are made in the path of holiness. say all in one word, celestial intelligences, who The science of salvation in this respect resem were never embodied, the seraphim placed imbles human sciences. In human sciences we mediately opposite the throne of God, with see a very singular phenomenon. A man of two wings, ready to fly at the command of the great and real learning is humble, he always Creator, have also four wings to cover their speaks with caution, he pronounces always feet and faces, to express, that their zeal, how with circumspection, he determines a point fervent and flaming soever, cannot equal what trembling, and his answers to difficult questions that God merits, whom they incessantly admire are not unfrequently confessions of his igno- and adore. rance. On the contrary, a pedant assumes the 5. Our fifth class of proofs is taken from state of a superior genius; he knows every the excellence of the ministry. St. Paul was thing, and undertakes to elucidate and deter- not an ordinary Christian: he was the minister mine every thing. Both these men are in of the gospel, and the greatness of his characearnest, both are sincere. The learned man ter was to him a ground of humility and difspeaks very sincerely: for, as he has made fidence. great advances in literature, he knows the ex Although the duties of ministers, and the tent of it; he knows that nature has difficul- duties of hearers, are essentially the same; ties, Providence has depths, religion has mys though there are not two ways to heaven, one teries: such a man becomes humble as he be for the pastor, and another for the flock, yet, it comes able, and the more he acquires, the more is certain, ministers have more motives to holihe feels the need of acquiring. On the con- ness than other men. trary, a pedant does not even know what learn What would the people say, if the minister ing is, he stops on the beach, sees a little way, of the pulpit, and the minister of society, were takes that little for the whole, and easily per- two men if the minister of the pulpit desuades himself that he knows all.
claimed against the vanities of the world, and Thus in the science of salvation, a man of the minister of society were worldly? If the little religion, who has only a languishing re- minister of the pulpit were a man, grave, segard for God, and a few superficial ideas of vere, fervent as a seraph: and the minister of virtue, soon flatters himself that he has done society were a man loose, and full of worldly all his duty, employed all his love, and carried vices. Certainly people would say we sported fervour to its highest degree. A man of lively with their credulity; and many a mouth would and vigorous religion does not stop on the thunder in our ears this cutting reproach, shore, he goes aboard a fast sailer, weighs an- “ Thou which teachest another, toachest th
not thyself? Thou that preachest a man should are obliged to quit it; and we die when we are not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that ab- just learning to live. If the famous Theoborrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?” phrastus, at the age of one hundred and seven Rom. ii. 21.
years, regretted life, because he just then began Besides, a minister has two works to do in to live wisely, what lamentations must other regard to salvation, his own soul to save, and men make? What then was the design of the souls of his people to save. Each of these God in placing us here? Was it that we should becomes a reason for his own sanctification form and refine society? But how can a soci“For their sakes I sanctify myself,” said the ety composed of creatures transient and imSaviour of the world, "that they also might perfect, be considered as a real and substantial be sanctified,” John xvij. 19. Interpreters une body of bliss. If it has some solidity and rederstand by this sanctification, that separation ality, when considered abstractly, yet what is which Jesus Christ made of himself for the it in itself? What is it to you? What is it to salvation of his church; but may we not un- me? What is it to any individual member? derstand the word sanctify in the first part of Does not one law reduce all to dust? the proposition, as we understand the same My brethren, there is only one way out of word in the second?“For their sakes I sanc- this labyrinth. One single answer is sufficient tify myself,” is as much as to say, I obey thee, for all these questions. This world is a place not only because, being a creature, I owe thee of exercise, this life is a time of trial, which is an inviolable fidelity, but because, being the given us that we may choose either eternal master and teacher of thy church, I ought to happiness or endless misery: influence it by my own example.
To this belong all the different ideas, which Further, a minister of the gospel has extra- the Holy Spirit gives us of life. Sometimes it ordinary assistance, he is always with God, is a state of traffic, in which eternal reward is virtue is constantly before his eyes, and though given for a "cup of cold water only.” Somealmost all other employments in society have times it is a state of tribulation, in which connected with them particular temptations to “light affliction, which is but for a moment, vice, the profession of a merchant to self-inte-worketh for us a far more exceeding and eterrest, that of a soldier to cruelty, that of a ma- nal weight of glory.” Sometimes it is a pasgistrate to pride, yet the ministry is itself an sage way, in which we are to behave as inducement to virtue. Such being the impor strangers and pilgrims.” Sometimes it is an tance of our engagements, and the eminence economy of visitation, in which "richness of of our character, who can flatter himself with goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, having discharged all his duties? Who can are opened to us." Sometimes it is a “race, venture to lift up his eyes to heaven? Who in which "all run, but one receiveth the is not annihilated under a sense of his imper- prize.” Sometimes it is a fight, in which we fections and frailties? “O Lord, enter not into cannot hope to conquer, unless we fight with judginent with thy servant,” Ps. cxliii. 2. courage and constancy.
Finally, The necessity of progressive sanc To this subject belongs the Scriptural estitification appears by the end which God pro- mation of life. Sometimes it speaks of life as posed in placing us in this world. We are of- mean and contemptible; and at other times, on ten troubled to conceive why God lodged man, the contrary, as great and invaluable. Somea creature so noble, in a theatre of vanity and times it heaps expression upon expression, imuncertainty. What is our life of thirty, forty, age upon image, emblem upon emblem, to or fourscore years, to the immense duration of make us consider it with contempt. It is “a eternity? How can we reconcile the part we shadow, a vanity, a flower, a grass, a vapour, act here, with the wisdom of him who placed a dream, a tale, a vain show, nothing" before us here; and, if I may speak so, the littleness God. And yet this "vain shadow," this of the world with the grandeur of its inhabi-" flower,” this " vapour,” this “dream," this tants?
What destination do you assign to tale,” this “show," this “nothing," the man? What end do you attribute to his Crea- Scriptures teach us to consider as a time for us tor? Why did he place him in this world? Was to "redeem,” as an "acceptable time," as a it to make him happy? But what! can he be “day of salvation,” as a time after which made happy among objects so very dispro- there will be “time no longer.” Why this portional to his faculties: Are not his fortune different estimation. If you consider life in and reputation, his health and his life, a prey regard to itself, and with a view to the connexto all human vicissitudes? Was it to make him ions we form, the pleasures we relish, the temmiserable? But how can this agree with the poral occupations we follow: if you consider it divine perfections; with that goodness, liber- in regard to sceptres and thrones, crowns and ality and beneficence, which are essential to establishments the most pompous and solid, God? Was it to enable him to cultivate arts you cannot underrate life. On the contrary, and sciences. But what relation is there be if you consider it in regard to the great design tween an occupation so mean and a creature so of the Creator, in regard to the relation, it has noble? Besides, would life then have been so to eternity, in regard to that idea which we short? Alas, we hardly make any progress in have given you of it, you cannot value it too - arts and sciences, before they become useless highly. This world then is a place of exercise, to us! Before we have well passed out of in- life is a time of trial, given us that we might fancy and novitiate, death puts a period to our choose eternal happiness or endless misery. projects, and takes away from us all the fruits This principle being allowed, our doctrine is of learning and labour. Before we have well supported by a new class of arguments; for be learned languages, death condemns us to eter- it granted that you remember nothing in your nal silence. Before we well know the world, we past life contrary to your profession of Chris
tianity; be it that you resemble St. Paul in all degree of piety, is an error; it is a heresy, his excellencies after conversion, and in none which deserves as many anathemas, and eccleof the crimes which he committed before that siastical thunders, as all the others which have happy period; the only conclusion which you been unanimously denounced by all Christians. have a right to draw is, that you have perform My brethren, let us rectify our ideas, in ored a part of your task, but not that there re- der to reatify our conduct. " Let us run with mains nothing more for you to do. You are patience the race set before us,” let us go on nearer the end than they who have not run so till we can say with St. Paul, “I have finished fast in the race as you have, but you have not my course." Be not terrified at this idea of yet obtained the prize. You have discharged progressive religion. Some great efforts must ihe duties of youth, and the duties of manhood, have been made by all holy men in this place now the duties of old age remajn to be dis- to arrive at that degree of virtue which they charged. You have discharged all the duties bave oblained; but the hardest part of the of health, now the duties of sickness and dying work is done; henceforward what remains is remain to be discharged. This world is a easy. The way to heaven is narrow at the place of exercise; while you are in it your ex- entrance, but it widens as we go on. The ercise is not finished; life is a time of trial; as yoke of Christ is heavy at first, but it weighs long as you live your trial remains.
| little when it has been long worn. Let us conclude. Were we to act rational After all there is a way of softening all the ly, we should always fix our minds on these pains to which we are exposed, by continuing truths; we should never end a day without our efforts. St. Paul practised this art with putting this question to ourselves. What pro- great success; it consists in fixing the eye on gress have I made in virtue? Have I this day the end of the race. At the end of the race, approached the end of my creation? . And as he saw two objects:— The first the prize. How the time of my abode here diminishes, do I easy to brave the enemies of salvation, when advance in proportion to the time that remains the eye is full of the prospect of it! How We should require of ourselves an exact ac- tolerable appear the pains of the present state, count of every day, every hour, every instant when the "sufferings of the present time are of our duration; but this is not the gospel of compared with, and weighed against, the glory most Christians. What we have been propos- that follows.” Next, St. Paul saw Jesus Christ ing, seem to most hearers mere maxims of the at the end of the race, another object which preacher, more proper to adorn a public dis anirnated him. He was animated by the excourse, than to compose a system of religion. ample of Christ, to finish his course with joy;
Why are not ecclesiastical bodies as rigid he was animated by the assistances which supand severe against heresies of practice, as they ported him; he was animated by the promiso are against heresies of speculation Certainly of Christ telling him, “He that overcometh there are heresies in morality, as well as in shall sit down in my throne;" he was animated theology. Councils and synods reduce the doc- by the mercy, which he knew, how weak sotrines of faith to certain propositional points, ever his efforts might be, would be approved and thunder anathemas against all who refuse at the tribunal of Jesus Christ, provided they to subscribe them. They say, Cursed be he were sincere; for Jesus himself conquered for who does not believe the divinity of Christ: him, and himself acquired that prize for the cursed be he who does not believe hypostatical apostle at which he aspired; in a word, he was union, and the mystery of the cross; cursed be animated by his love; Jesus Christ is at the he who denies the inward operations of grace, end of the race, and Paul loved Jesus Christ, and the irresistible efficacy of the Holy Spirit. and longed to be with him. I said, he saw I wish they would make a few canons against two objects, the prize of victory, and Jesus moral heresies! How many are there of this Christ; but these make only one object. St. kind among our people? Among our people Paul's prize is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is we may put many who are in another class. Paul's paradise. According to him, Christ is Let me make canons. In the first I would put the most desirable part of celestial felicity: a heresy too common, that is, that the calling “Whilst we are at home in the body, we are of a Christian consists less in the practice of absent from the Lord; we are willing rather to virtue, than in abstaining from gross vices; be absent from the body, and to be present and I would say, if any man think that he suf with the Lord,” 2 Cor. v. 6. 8. “I desire to ficiently answers the obligations of Christianity, depart, and to be with Christ,” Phil. i. 23, “I by not being avaricious, oppressive, and intem- press toward the prize of the high calling of perate, if he do not allow that he ought to be God in Christ Jesus," chap. iii
. 14. This zealous, fervent, and detached from the world, thought, that every step he took brought him let him be accursed. In a second canon, I nearer to Jesus Christ, this thought rendered would put another heresy, equally general, and him insensible to all the fatigue of the race, equally dangerous, and which regards the delay and enabled him to redouble his efforts to of conversion; and I would say, If any one arrive at the end. imagine that, after a life spent in sin, a few re O flames of divine love! Shall we never grets, proceeding more from a fear of death and know you except by the examples of the Hell, than froin a principle of love to God, are primitive Christians! "O flames of divine love, sufficient to open the gates of heaven, let him which we have so often described, shall we be accursed. 'In a third canon I would put never feel you in our own souls Fire us, in
fill up the list yourselves, my brethren, Aame us with your ardour, and make us unand let us return to our subject. To confine derstand that all things are easy to the man who one's self to a certain circle of virtues, to stop sincerely loves God! God grant us this grace! at a fixed point, to be satisfied with a given To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
by them; and it would have been difficult to SERMON LIV.
profess to fear him and avoid contempt.
It is not easy to determine the persons in
tended by the psalmist, nor is it necessary to THE MORAL MARTYR.
confine the words to either of the senses given; they may be taken in a more extensive sense.
The word king in the eastern languages, as PSALM CXIX. 46.
well as in those of the western world, is not I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, confined to kings properly so called; it is
sometimes given to superiors of any rank. and will not be ashamed.
Ask not the reason of this, every language has MY BRETHREN,
its own genius, and custom is a tyrant who It is not only under the reign of a tyrant, seldom consults reason before he issues orders; that religion involves its disciples in persecu- and who generally knows no law but self-will tion, it is in times of the greatest tranquillity, and caprice. If you insist on a direct answer and even when virtue seems to sit on a throne. to your inquiry concerning the reason of the A Christian is often subject to punishments dif- general use of the term, I reply, the same pasferent from wheels, and racks. People united sion for despotism which animates kings on to him by the same profession of religion, hav- the throne, usually inspire such individuals as ing received the same baptism, and called with are a little elevated above people around them; him to aspire at the same glory, not unfre- they consider themselves as sovereigns, and quently press him to deny Jesus Christ, and pretend to regal homage. Authority over inprepare punishments for him, if he have cour-feriors begins this imaginary royalty, and vanity age to confess himn. Religion is proposed to finishes it. Moreover, such as are called petty us in two different points of view, a point of gentry, in the world, are generally more proud speculation, and a point of practice. Accord- and absolute than real kings; the last frequently ingly, there are two sorts of martyrdom; a propose nothing but to exercise dominion, but martyrdom for doctrine, and a martyrdom for the first aim both to exercise dominion and to morality. It is for the last that the prophet make a parade of the exercise, lest their imprepares us in the words of the text, and to aginary grandeur shonld pass unnoticed. the same end I dedicate the sermon which I I understand, then, by the vagnie term kings, am going to address to you to-day. I come all who have any pre-eminence over the lowinto the place that affords a happy asylum for est orders of men; and these are they who exconfessors and martyrs, to utter in your hear-ercise tyranny, and inflict the martyrdom for ing these words of Jesus Christ, “Whosoever which the prophet in the text prepares us. In shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in order to comprehend this more fully, contrast this adulterous and sinful generation, of him two conditions in the life of David. Remark also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when first the state of mediocrity, or rather happy he cometh in the glory of his Father with the obscurity, in which this holy man was born. holy angels," Mark viii. 33.
Educated by a father, not rich, but pious, he În order to animate you with a proper zeal was religious from his childhood. As he led a for morality, and to engage you, if necessary, country life, he met with none of those snares to become martyrs for it, we will treat of the among his cattle which the great world sets subject in five different views.
for our innocence. He gave full scope without I. We will show you the authors, or, as constraint to his love for God, and could affirm, they may be justly denominated, the execu- without hazarding any thing, that God was tioners, who punish men with martyrdom for supremely lovely. What a contrast! This shepmorality.
herd was suddenly called to quit his sheep and II. The magnanimity of such as expose them- his fields, and to live with courtiers in the palace selves to it.
of a prince. What a society for a man accustomJII. The horrors that accompany it. ed to regulate his conversation by the laws of
IV. The obligation which engages men to truth, and his conduct by those of virtue! What submit to it.
a place was this for him to propose those just V. The glory that crowns it.
and beautiful principles which the Holy Spirit We will explain these five ideas contained teaches in the Scriptures, and which are many in the words of the psalmist, “I will speak of of them to be found in the writings of the thy testimonies before kings, and will not be psalmist! “I have seen the wicked in power, ashamed;" and we will proportion these arti- and spreading himself like a green bay-tree; cles, not to that extent to which they naturally yet be has passed away, and lo, he was not; Í go, but to the bounds prescribed to these ex- sought him, and he could not be found. Surely. ercises.
men of high degree are a lie, to be laid in a I. The authors, or as we just now called balance they are altogether lighter than vanity. them, the executioners, who inflict this punish- I said, ye are gods, and all of you are the ment, are to be considered. The text calls children of the Most High; but ye shall die them kings; “I will speak of thy testimonies like men. Put not your trust in a prince, in before kings." What king does the psalmist whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, mean? Saul to whom piety was become odi- he returneth to his earth, in that very day ous or any particular heathen prince, to whom his thoughts perish. He that ruleth his spirit, the persecution of Saul sometimes drove our is better than he that taketh a city. My son, prophet for refuge? The name of the God of the son of my womb, the son of my vows, give the Hebrews was blasphemed among these not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to barbarians; his worship was called superstition that which destroyeth kings. It is not for