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part of this congregation. On considering the zeal, this fervour; these indispensable duties of way of life which most of you follow, we find religion, the essential characters of a Christian, but too much cause for this awful conjecture. is it not true that they are not the acquisitions But should we see you, without alarm, run of a moment, of an hour, of a day? Is it not headlong into the abyss from which you cannot true, that, to attain this happy state, there be delivered by never-ceasing lamentations and must be time, labour, and repeated endeavours; tears' No, my brethren, we will redouble our consequently, that a transient thought on a entreaties, we will make fresh exertions to press death-bed, and in the last periods of life, is on your minds these important truths. quite inadequate to so great a work? Is it not APPLICATION.
true, that the Holy Spirit, in extending his as
sistance, requires that we should ask his aids, The first thing we require of you is to enter yield to his entreaties, and pay deference to an into your own heart, to do justice to yourselves, evangelical ministry? Is it not true, that he to confess that most of you are in the awful abandons to themselves those who resist his situation we have attacked; that you are nearly work; that it is thence concluded in the Scripall guilty of delaying conversion. I know that ture that we need his grace for our sanctificathe human heart has its evasions, and that con- tion; and that we ought to work out our salvascience has its depths. But, after all, you are tion with so much the more diligence? Is it not not so far blind as to believe that, while carried true, that mercy has restrictions and bounds, away as some of you are with avarice, others that it is promised to those only who conform with ambition; some with voluptuousness, others to the covenant of grace, that those conditions with slander; and some with a haughtiness are not a momentary repentance, a slight rewhich nothing can bend; living, as most of you course to mercy, a superficial desire to particido, resident in a city where you find all the pate in the merits of Christ's death; they imply temptations of vice in high life, and all the fa- such a total change, renovation of heart, and cility in the haunts of infamy, you are not so transformation of the soul, and in such sort, far blinded as to think that you are in a state that when one is not in a state to conform to of regeneration, while persisting in this course. the conditions, we are no longer within the And, as I supposed before, that no one of you sphere of evangelical promises. Is it not true, is so far infatuated as to say, I have made my in short, that those truths are not founded choice, I am resolved to cast myself headlong merely on arguments, on a chain of conseinto the pit of destruction, and to be a victim quences, and remote principles. But they are of eternal vengeance; as no one of you has car- demonstrated by sound and incontestable exried infatuation to this extreme, I am right in perience. Hence we ask you once more to adconcluding, that nearly all of you rely on a fu- mit the force of our arguments, and to do justure conversion. Begin here, begin by doing tice to the evidence we have adduced. justice to yourselves on this point. This is the Thirdly, what we also require is, that you first thing we require you to do.
should acknowledge the inefficacy of sermons The second is, to recollect the arguments we with regard to you, the little effect they comhave urged in our preceding discourses, against monly have, and consequently the little influthe delay of conversion, and confess their force. ence which ours (and especially those last In the first, we addressed you as well-informed delivered) have produced on your conduct. and rational beings; we proved from the human There is not a week, but some vice is atconstitution, that conversion becomes either tacked;—not a week, but some one ought to difficult or impracticable in proportion as it is be corrected;—not a week, but some evident deferred. In the second, we addressed you as change ought to be produced in civil and reliChristians, who acknowledge a revelation re- gious society. And what do we see? I apceived from heaven; and we endeavoured to peal to your consciences; you regard us as prove these truths by that revelation;-by the declaimers, called to entertain you for an hour, character of the economy of the Holy Spirit;- to diversify your pleasure, or to pass away the by the nature and conditions of the new cove- first day of the week; diverting your attention nant;-capital points of faith, fundamental ar- from secular concerns. It seeins that we asticles of religion, which you cannot evade, if cend our pulpits to afford you amusement, to you have the smallest shadow of Christianity. delineate characters, implicitly submitting to To-day we have directed all our efforts to ena- your judgment, academic compositions; to say, ble you to comprehend the same things by clear, * Come, come and see whether we have a fercertain, and indisputable experience. Over-tile imagination, a fine voice, a graceful geslooking, therefore, every thing which concerns ture, an action agreeable to your taste.” With us in particular, and our weakness, which we these detestable notions, most of you establish acknowledge and feel, do justice to our proofs; your tribunal, judging of the object of our seracknowledge their force; and inquire, whether mons: which you sometimes find too long, someyou have yet any thing further to object. times too short, sometimes too cold, and someSeek, examine, investigate. Is it not true, times too pathetic. Scarcely one among you that bad habits become confirmed with age? turns them to their true design, purity of heart, Predominate in the heart? Take possession of and amendment of life. This is the success of all the intellectual powers, and transform them- the sermons you have heard. Should we think selves, so to speak, into our nature? Is it not our discourses more happy? We should be too true, that habits of piety are not acquired in- credulous did we expect it. It must be acstantaneously, in a moment, by a sudden wish, knowledged, my brethren, that all we have and a simple emotion of the soul? Is it not said on the delay of conversion, has been of true, that this detachment from sensible objects, little avail with regard to most of you. Phithis giving up the world, this self-denial, this losophy, religion, experience,-all leave yoų
much the same as you were before. This is this vacuity of life might be excused in a youth the third thing you ought to confess.
following the impulse of nature, before he has When you have made these reflections, we had time to reflect, yet games, diversions and will ask, what are your thoughts? What theatres, do but ill accord with gray hairs; and part will you take? What will you do? What | that, at least, he should devote the remains of will become of all the persons who compose life, to the service of God, and the advance this congregation? You know, on the one hand, ment of his own salvation. that you are among the neglecters of salvation; Examine yourselves on these heads; let each you see, on the other, by evidences deduced make them the touchstone of his conduct; let from reason, Scripture, and experience, that him derive from them motives of reformation; those who thus delay, run the risk of never be let the time past suffice to have gratified his ing converted. You are obliged to allow, that concupiscence; let him tremble on considering the most pathetic exhortations are addressed, the wounds he has given his soul, and the danin general without effect; and, meanwhile, gers he has run, in delaying to the present time is urgent, life vanishes away; and the mo- hour. ment in which you yourselves must furnish a Is it forty, fifty, or sixty years since I came test of these sad truths, is just at hand. Do all into the world? What have I been doing? these things make any impression on your What account can I give of a period so preminds? Do they give any stroke at the unhap- cious? What virtues have I acquired? What py security in which you live? Do they tro u- wicked propensities have I subdued? What ble the false repose in which you rest: Have progress have I made in charity, in humility, they any influence on your lives?
and in all the virtues for which God has given I know the part you are going to take; that, me birth? Have not a thousand various pasunable to think of them without horror, you sions divided the empire of my heart Have are going to banish them from your mind, and they not all tended to enslave me? O miseraefface them from your memory. You are go- ble man! perhaps my day of grace is past: pering, on leaving this place, to fortify yourselves haps in future I may knock in vain at the door against this holy alarm, which has now, per- of mercy: perhaps I may be numbered with baps, been excited; you are going to talk of those of whom Christ says, “ Many shall seek any subject but those important truths which to enter in and shall not be able:” perhaps the have been preached, and to repose in indo- insensibility I feel, and the resistance which lence; to cause fear and trembling to subside, my unhappy heart still makes, are the effects by banishing every idea which have excited of divine vengeance: perhaps my time of visithem; like a man in a fatal sleep, while his tation is past: perhaps God spares me only in house is on fire; we alarm him, we cry, “Rouse life to make me a fearful example of the misfrom your stupor, your house is on fire.” He ery of those who delay conversion: perhaps it opens his eyes, he wishes to fly for safety; but is to me he addresses that sentence, “ Let him falling again into his former lethargy, he be- that is unjust be unjust still, and let him that comes fuel to the flames.
is unholy be unholy still.” But, perhaps I My brethren, my very dear brethren, think, have yet a little time: perhaps God has sparO think that the situation of your minds does ed me in life to afford me occasion to repair not alter these grand truths. You may forget my past faults: perhaps he has brought me tothem, but you cannot change them. Whether day into this church to pluck and save me you may think of them or not, they still sub- from my misery: perhaps these emotions of my sist in all their force. You may indeed shut heart, these tears which run down mine eyes, your eyes against the abyss which is under are the effects of grace: perhaps these softenyour feet; but you cannot remove it, you can- ings, this compunction, and these fears, are not avoid it, so long as you disregard our warn- the voice which says, from God,“ Seek ye my ings, and resist our entreaties.
face:” perhaps this is the year of good-will; If your salvation is dear to you, if you have the accepted time; the day of salvation: peryet the least sensibility, the smallest spark of haps, if I delay no longer, if I promote my love to God—if you have not resolved on your salvation without delay, I may succeed in own ruin, and sworn to your own destruction, the work, and see my endeavours gloriously enter into your hearts from this moment. Let crowned. each, from this moment, take salutary mea O love of my Saviour, bowels of mercy, sures to subdue liis predominant propensity. abyss of divine compassion!“O length, breadth, Withdraw not from this temple, without be- height, depth, of the love of God, which passing firmly resolved on a change of life. eth knowledge!" resolve this weighty inquiry;
Consider that you were not sent into the calm the agitation of my mind; assure my flutworld, to aggrandize and enrich yourselves; to tering soul. Yes, O my God, seeing thou hast form attachments which serve as unhappy ties spared me in life, I trust it is for salvation. to hold you on the earth; much less to scanda- Seeing thou seekest me still, I Hatter myself lize the church, to be high-spirited, proud, im- it is for my conversion. Hence I assume new perious, unjust, voluptuous, avaricious. God engagements, I ratify anew the covenant I has placed you here in a state of probation, have so often violated; I pledge to thee anew that you might become prepared for a better the vows I have so often broken. world. Consider, that, though the distractions If you act in this manner, your labour shall of life may frequently call a considerate man not be in vain in the Lord. For what is it to be engaged in the world, in defiance of his that God requires of you? Why has he created wishes; yet there is nothing so unworthy as to you out of nothing? Why has he given you his be, like most of you, always dissipated, always Son? Why has he communicated to you his devoted to pleasure. Consider, that though Holy Spirit? Is it to destroy you? Is it to
damn you? Are you so little acquainted with selves in some sort as saints, when they can althe Father of mercies, with the God of love? lege some one who surpasses them in wickedDoes he take pleasure in the death of the sin- ness. In short, we are going to prescribe the ner? Would he not rather that he should re- best precautions to people, who expose both pent and live?
their flanks to the enemy of their salvation; and These are the consolations which follow the who in the midst of beings, leagued for our exhortations of the prophet, and the words of everlasting ruin, live in the same security as if my text. For after having said, “Seek ye the the profoundest peace prevailed, and as if they Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him were walking in the only way wbich leads to while he is near;" he draws this conclusion, to eternal felicity. which I would lead you, which has been the Again, if it were only with regard to people design of these three discourses, and by which of this character, for whom we have so just a I would close the subject. “Let the wicked cause to fear miscarrying, we ought to enrol forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his ourselves in the little number, that associating thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, ourselves among the disciples of wisdom, acand he will have mercy upon him; and to our cording to the example of Jesus Christ, we God, for he will abundantly pardon.” And, might hope to say to God as he did, “Behold lest the penitent sinner should be overburdened me, and the children which God hath given with the weight of his sins,--lest, estimating me,” Heb. ii. 13; Isa. viii. 18. But when I conthe extent of divine mercy by his own con- sider the limits in which the greatest saints tracted views, he should despair of salvation, among us include their virtues, the scanty I will add this declaration from God himself, bounds which comprise their duties, I am afraid a declaration which admirably expresses the they will revolt against the doctrine of my text. grandeur of his compassion: "My thoughts And you, who carry piety to the highest degree, are not your thoughts, neither are your ways are you fully prepared to enter into the spirit my ways; for, as the heavens are higher than of the exhortation which St. Paul addresses you the earth, so are my thoughts above your to-day? You, who on the pressing entreaties thoughts. Now to God the Father, Son, and of Eternal Wisdom, which says, "give me thy Holy Spirit, be honour and glory for ever. heart," feel hard conflicts with yourselves not Amen.
to bestow on an only son sentiments which you owe solely to the giver, you have not yet car
ried divine love to the most eminent degree: it SERMON LXXXII. is not enough that you inspire your son with
the fear and love of God, you must acquire the
disposition of the father of the faithful, who ON PERSEVERANCE.
obeyed this command; “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and
offer him for a burnt-offering," Gen. xxii. 2. HEBREWS xii. 1.
You who, rather than abjure the truth, have Wherefore, seeing we are also compassed about with sacrificed one part of your fortune, you have
so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside not carried divine love to the highest degree; every weight, and the sin which doth so easily you must acquire the disposition of those extrabesei us; and let us run with patience the race ordinary men, some of whom were stoned for that is set before us.
religion, others were sawn asunder, others were My brethren, the Holy Spirit proposes to us killed with the sword, others wandered about in in the words we have read, distinguished duties, sheep-skins, and in goat-skins, others were afexcellent models, and wise precautions. “Let Aicted and tormented. These are the grand us run with patience the race that is set before models, on which St. Paul wished to form the us." These are the distinguished duties. “We piety of the Hebrews, when he addressed them are compassed about with so great a cloud of in the words of my text: it is on the same mowitnesses.” These are the excellent models. dels we would wish to-day to form your piety. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed which doth so easily beset us." These are the about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us wise precautions.
lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth I frankly acknowledge, my brethren, that on so easily beset us: and let us run with patience comparing the design of my text with the cha- the race that is set before us." racter of sore among my hearers, I am in doubt These words may be considered in two difwhether I ought not to suspend the thread of ferent points of view; the one respects the Hemy discourse; and whether the difficulty of suc- brews, to whom they were addressed, the other cess should not deter me from attempting the respects the whole Christian community. execution. We come to preach perseverance I. They have peculiar references to the He
of whom so great a number live in su- brews, to whom they were addressed. These pineness, and to whom it is much more proper Hebrews had embraced the Christian religion, to say, Return unto the testimonies of the Lord, at a time of general exclamation against the than Continue to follow them. We come to pro- Christians. They were very sincere in the propose the most excellent models, the example of fession of Christianity; but there is a difference the Abrahams, the Moseses, the Davids, of between sincerity, and the constancy to which whom so great a number hitherto propose to the disciples of Jesus Christ are called, particuthemselves, if I may so express myself
, only larly when the church seems abandoned to the negative models; I would say, who make it all fury of its persecutors. The grand design of their glory in not being altogether so bad as the the apostle in this epistle, was to inspire them worst of the human kind; they consider them- | with this constancy, and to prevent the fear of
punishments from causing them to fall into having prevailed with any of their nation, who apostacy.
had embraced Christianity to return to Judaism, This design is apparent, from the illustrious were not satisfied with their abusing it; they character he gives of the Lord Christ, to whom required them to utter blasphemies against the they had devoted themselves by embracing the person of Jesus, and against his mysteries, as Christian religion. He is not a mere man, not appears from the ancient forms of abjuration an ordinary prophet, not an angel; but the Lord which the learned have preserved. of men, and of angels. “For God,” says the All these considerations, and many more, of apostle at the commencement of this epistle, which the subject is susceptible, demonstrate, “who spake in time past unto the fathers by that the grand design of St. Paul, in his Epistle the prophets, hath in these last days spoken to the Hebrews, was to prevent apostacy, and unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed to prompt them to confess the truth amidst the heir of all things, by whom also he made the most cruel torments to which they might be worlds. Who being the brightness of his glory, exposed by the profession. This is the design and the express image of his person, and up- of my text. "Let us run with patience the race holding all things by the word of his power, that is set before us; that is, let neither persewhen he had by himself purged our sins, sat cutions the most severe, nor promises the most down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; specious, be able to induce you to deny Chrisbeing made so much better than the angels, as tianity, nor any consideration deter you from he hath by inheritance obtained a more excel- professing it. lent name than they. For unto which of the On this first design of the apostle, we shall angels, said he, at any time, Thou art my Son, merely conjure those, with whom there may this day have I begotten thee?” Heb. i. 1-5. remain some doubt as to the horrors of apos
This design is farther apparent, as the apos- tacy, and the necessity imposed on all Chris tle apprizes the Hebrews concerning the diffi- tians either to leave the places which prohibit culty, and even the impossibility of obtaining the profession of the truth, or endure the se mercy after an abjuration accompanied with verest tortures for religion; we shall conjure certain aggravating circumstances, which time them seriously to reflect on what we advance; does not permit me here to enumerate. The not to content themselves with general notions; sense is asserted in these words: “It is impos- to compare the situation of those Hebrews with sible for those, who were once enlightened, and that in which some of the reformed Christians have tasted of the heavenly gist, and were made are placed; to compare the abjurations required partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted of the first, with those required of the latter; the of the good word of God, and the powers of the punishments inflicted on the one, with those world to come, if they fall away to renew them inflicted on the other; and the directions St. again unto repentance,” Heb. vi. 4–6. To Paul gave the faithful of his own time, with "fall away,” here signifies, not the repetition those which are given to us. If, after sober and of a criminal habit we had hoped to reform, serious investigation, we still find casuists who (and who could expect salvation if this were the doubt the doctrine, by affirming, that those of meaning of the apostle?) but prosessing again our brethren, who still remain in France, ought the errors we had renounced on becoming Chris- to make their choice, between flight and martians, and abjuring Christianity itself.
tyrdom, we will add no more; feeling ourselves This design appears likewise, from the care unable to persuade men, with whom arguments the apostle takes to exalt the Christian econo so strong are incapable of conviction. my above that of Moses: hence he infers, that Perhaps some of you think, that we insist too if the smallest offences, committed against the often on the same subjects. But we frankly Levitical economy, were punished with rigour, avow, that, so very far from thinking we preach there cannot be punishments too severe for too often, it seems to us we by no means rethose who shall have the baseness to abjure sume them sufficiently. We are also fully reChristianity. “If we sin wilfully after that we solved to insist upon them more powerfully than have received the knowledge of the truth, there we have ever done before. Yes! while we shall remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a cer. see the incendiaries of the Christian world, men, tain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery who under the name of the meek and lowly indignation which shall devour the adversa- Jesus cherish the most ambitious and barbarous ries,” Heb. x. 26, 27. The sin into which we sentiments, holding the reins of government in wilfully fall, does not mean those relapses, of so large a space of Europe, making drunk, if I which we spake just now, as the ancient fathers may use an expression in the Revelation, and believed: whose severity was much more calcu- an expression by no means hyperbolical, "malated to precipitate apostates into the abyss king drunk the kings of the earth with the wine from which they wished to save them, than to of their fornication:” while we shall see edicts preserve them from it. But to sin wilfully, in issued anew, which have so often made to blush this place signifies apostacy; this is the sense of every one who has a vestige of probity in the the words which immediately follow the pas- community from which they proceed; while we sage. “He that despised Moses' law, died shall seo fresh faggots kindled, new gibbets without mercy, under two or three witnesses; erected, additional galleys equipped against the of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, Protestants; while we see our unhappy brethren shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden invariably negligent to the present period in under foot the Son of God, and counted the which they promised to give glory to God, alblood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanc- leging, as an excuse, the severity of the persetified, an unboly thing, and hath done despite cution, and the fury of the persecutors; that unto the Spirit of grace?” Heb. X. 28, 29. The when peace shall be restored to the churches, whole is descriptive of apostacy. The Jews, I they will return to devotion; while we see a
million of men bearing the Christian name, IV. We shall point to the different classes contenting themselves to live without temple, of persons who compose this congregation, the without public worship, without sacraments, various consequences they should draw from without hope of having on their death-beds the this doctrine, and the sentiments with which it aids of ministers of the living God to comfort should actuate their minds. them against that terrific period; while we shall 1. We shall remove what is equivocal in see fathers and mothers, so very far from send the term perseverance, and in the expression, ing into the land of liberty the children, whom let us run with patience the race that is set they have had the weakness to retain in the before us." We may take the term in a double climates of oppression, have even the laxity, sense; or, to express myself more clearly, there shall I say, or the insanity to recall those who are two ways in which we may consider the have had courage to fly; while we shall see ex couiso Jesus Christ prescribed to his disciples. iles looking back with regret to the onions of We will call the first, losing the habit of ChrisEgypt, envying the condition of those who tianity; and the second, doing actions incomhave sacrificed the dictates of conscience to patible with its design. By the habit of Chris fortune: while we shall see those lamentable tianity, we mean that disposition of a believer, objects, we will still enforce the doctrine of St. in consequence of which, notwithstanding the Paul in the epistle whence we have selected weakness he may feel in virtue;—the defects the text. We will still enforce the expressions with which he may have cause to reproach of the apostle, and in the sense already given. himself;—and the daily warfare between the "Take heed, lest there be in any of you an flesh and the Spirit, or even some victories evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the which the flesh may obtain over the miad;living God.-It is impossible for those who all things considered, he gives God the preferwere once enlightened, and have tasted of the ence to the world and the flesh; and has a heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the consciousness in his own breast, that divine Holy Ghost, and have tasted of the good word love prevails in his heart over every other of God, and the powers of the world to come, love. We may also turn aside from the course if they fall away, to renew them again to re- prescribed by Jesus Christ to his disciples, by pentance, seeing they crucify to themselves doing things incompatible with the design of afresh the Son of God, and put him to an open Christianity. It would discover a defective shame. Let us hold fast the profession of our knowledge of man to conclude, that he has lost faith without wavering; for if we sin wilfully a habit the moment he does any action conafter that we have received the knowledge of trary to it. One act of dissipation no more the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice constitutes a habit of dissipation, than a single for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of duty of piety constitutes the habit of piety; judgment, and fiery indignation which shall and we have no more reason for inferring, that, devour the adversaries. He that despised because a man has discovered one instance of Moscs' law died without mercy under two or attachment to the world, he is really earthlythree witnesses; of how much sorer punish- minded, than we have to say, that, because a ment, suppose ye, sball he be thought worthy, man has discharged a single duty of piety, le who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, is really a pious man. În what sense then, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, does the Holy Spirit exhort us to perseverer wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, Is he wishful to preserve us from doing any and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace." thing incompatible with the design of ChrisAnd in our text, “Seeing we also.” To what tianity? Is he wishful to preserve us from do these words refer? To what the apostle losing the habit? had said a little before respecting the faithful, Doubtless, my brethren, his design is to prewho, for the sake of religion," had been stoned, serve us from doing any thing contrary to the had been sawn asunder, had been killed with object of Christianity; because it is by a repetithe sword:” after enumerating these, he adds, tion of this sort of actions that we lose what “Seeing we also are compassed about with so is called the habit of Christianity. That disgreat a cloud of witnesses, let us run with pa- position of mind, however, which induces a tience the race that is set before us."
Christian to fortify himself against every temp2. Enough having been said concerning the tation, is a mean rather to obtain the virtue first sense of the text which regards but few which our Scriptures called perseverance, than Christians, we shall proceed to the second; perseverance itself. When we say, according which concerns the whole body of Christians, to inspired men, that, in order to be saved, we who are still in a world which endeavours to must endure to the end, we do not mean, that detach them from the communion of Jesus we should never in the course of life have Christ. St. Paul exhorts them to “ run with committed a single fault; but that, notwithpatience the race that is set before them;" that standing any fault we have committed, we is, to persevere in fellowship with him. Per- must be in the state just mentioned; that, all severance is a Christian virtue. On this virtue things being considered, we give God the preshall turn the whole of our discourse, which ference over sensible objects, and feel divine shall be comprised under four classes of obser- love in our hearts predominant over every vations.
other love. Where indeed should we be, if I. We shall romove what is equivocal in the we could not be saved without undeviating term perseverance, or running the race. perseverance, without running with patience II. We shall enforce the necessity of perse the race in the rigorous sense, I would say, so
as never to commit an action incompatible III. We shall remove certain systematical with the design of Christianity? Where should notions which excite confusion in this virtue. we be, were God to scrutinize our life with