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one has need of an extraordinary confidence to ! But if there be one kind of sorrow incompatirepress excess, and that an ordinary piety is in- ble with the hope of a Christian, there is anadequate to the task. I contend, however, that other which is altogether congenial to it, and religion forbids, even in this case, to sorrow | inseparable in its ties, and such is the sorrow above measure. Two remarks shall make it which proceeds from one of the following prinmanifest; and we entreat those whom God has ciples:--from sympathy;—from the dictates of struck in this sensible manner, to impress them nature;—and from repentance. To be explicit: deeply on their mind.
I. We have said first, from sympathy. 1. Our grief really proceeds from a carnal | Though we have censured the sorrow excited principle, and our heart disguises itself from its by the loss of our dearest friends, we did not own judgment, when it apparently suggests wish to impose a rigorous apathy. The sorrow that religion is the cause. If it were simply we have censured is that excessive grief, in the idea of the loss of the soul; if it were a which despondency prevailing over religion inprinciple of love to God, and if it were not the duces us to deplore the dead, as though there relations of father and son; in a word, if the was no hope after this life, and no life after motives were altogether spiritual, and the death. But the submissive sorrow by which charity wholly pure, which excites our grief, we feel our loss, without shutting our eyes whence is it thai this one object should excite against the resources afforded by Providence; it, while so great a multitude of unhappy men the sorrow which weeps at the sufferings of our are precisely in a similar case? Whence is it friends in the road to glory, but confident of that we see daily, without anxiety, whole na- their having attained it; this sorrow, so far from tions running headlong to perdition? Is it less being culpable, is an inseparable sentiment of dishonourable to God, that those multitudes nature, and an indispensable duty of religion. are excluded from his covenant, than because Yes, it is allowed on seeing this body, this it is precisely your friend, your son, or your corpse, the precious remains of a part of ourfather?
selves, carried away by a funeral procession, it Our second remark is, that the love we have is allowed to recall the tender but painful refor the creature should always conform itself collections of the intimacy we had with him with the Creator. We ought to love our neigh- whom death has snatched away. It is allowed bours, because like us they bear the image of to recall the counsel he gave us in our embarGod, and they are called with us to the same i rassments; the care he took of our education; glory. On this principle, when we see a sinner the solicitude he took for our welfare; the unwantonly rush on the precipice, and risking affected marks of love which appeared during salvation by his crimes, our charity ought to the whole of his life, and which were redoubled be alarmed. Thus Jesus Christ, placing him- at the period of his death. It is allowed to reself in the period in which grace was still offer- call the endearments that so precious an intied to Jerusalem, and in which she might ac- macy shed on life, the conversations in his last cept it, groaned beneath her hardness, and de- sickness, those lender adieus, those assurances plored the abuse she made of his entreaties; of esteem, that frankness of his soul, those fer"O that thou hadst known, at least in this thy vent prayers, those torrents of tears, and those day, the things that belong to thy peace," last efforts of an expiring tenderness. It is alLuke xix. 42. But when a man becomes the lowed in weeping to show the robes that Doravowed enemy of God, when a protracted cas had made. It is allowed to the tender Jocourse of vice, and a final perseverance in seph, on coming to the threshing floor of Atad, crimes, convinces that he has no part in his the tomb of his father; it is allowed to pour out covenant, then our love should return to its his heart in lamentations, to make Canaan recentre, and associate itself with the love of our sound with the cries of his grief, and to call Creator. "Henceforth know we no man after the place Abel-mizraim, the mourning of the the flesh. I hate them with a perfect hatred. Egyptians. It is allowed to David to go weepIf any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let ing, and saying, “O my son Absalom; my son, him be anathema. If any man love father, my son Absalom! would to God I had died for mother, son, or daughter, more than me, he is thee, O Absalom my son, my son!” 2 Sam. not worthy of me," 2 Cor. v. 16; Ps. cxxxix. xviii. 33. It is allowed to St. Augustine to 22; Matt. x. 37.
weep for the pious Monica, his mother, who This duty is, perhaps, too exalted for the had shed so many tears to obtain the grace for earth. The sentiments of nature are, perhaps, him, that he might for ever live with God, to too much entwined with those of religion to use the expression of his father. Confess. lib. be so perfectly distinguished. It is certain, ix. c. 8, &c. however, that they shall exist in heaven. If II. A due regard to ourselves should affect you should suppose the contrary, the happiness us with sorrow on seeing the dying and the of heaven would be imbittered with a thousand dead. The first reflection that a sight of a pains: you can never conceive how a father can corpse should suggest is, that we also must die, be satisfied with a felicity in which his son has and that the road he has just taken, is "the no share; nor how a friend can be composed way of all the earth.” This is a reflection that while his associate is loaded with “chains of every one seems to make, while no one makes darkness.” Whereas, if you establish the prin- it in reality. We cast on the dying and the ciple that perfect charity must be an emanation dead but slight and transient regards; and if of divine love, you will develop the inquiry; we say, in general, that this must be our final and you will also conclude, that excessive sor- lot, we evade the particular application to our row, excited by a criminal death, is a criminal heart. While we subscribe to the sentence, sorrow, and that if piety be its principle, it is a “It is appointed unto men once to die," we misguided piety.
uniformly make some sort of exception with
regard to ourselves: because we never have , in view, that we may so live as to avoid bedied, it seeins as though we never should die. coming the victims of that justice. It is an If we are not so far infatuated, as to flatter awful monument of the horror God has of sin, ourselves concerning the fatal necessity impos- which should teach us to avoid it. The more ed on us to leave the world, we flaiter our submissive the good man was to the divine selves with regard to the circumstances; we pleasure, the more distinguished is the monuconsider them as remote; and the distance of ment. The more eminent he was for piety, the object prevents our knowing its nature, the more should we be awed by this stroke of and regarding it in just light. We attend justice. Come, and look at this good man in the dying, we lay them in the tomb, we preach the tomb, and in a putrid state; trace his exit their funeral discourse; we follow them in the in a bed of affliction to this dark and obscure funeral train; and as though they were of a abode; see how, after having been emaciated nature different from us, and as though we had by a severe disease, he is now reserved as a some prerogative over the dead, we return feast for worms. Who was this man? Was he home, and become candidates for their offices. habitually wicked? Was he avowedly an eneWe divide their riches, and enter on their my of God? No: he was a believer; he was a lands, just as the presumptive mariner, who, model of virtue and probity. Meanwhile, this seeing a ship on the shore, driven by the tem- saint, this friend of Christ, died: descended pest and about to be bilged by the waves, takes from a sinful father, he submitted to the renbis bark, braves the billows, and defies the tence, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt danger, to share in the spoils of the wreck. thou return," Gen. iii. 19. And if those re
A prudent man contemplates the death of mains of corruption were subjugated to a lot his friends with other eyes. He follows them so severe, what shall be the situation of those with a mind attached to the tomb; he clothes in whom sin reigns: “ If the righteous be saved himself in their shrouds; be extends himself in with difficulty, where shall the wicked appear? their coffin; he regards his living body as about if the judgment of God begin at his house, to become like their corpse; and the duty he what shall the end be of those that obey noi owes to himself inspires him with a gracious the gospel?" 1 Pet. iv. 17, 18. sorrow on seeing in the destiny of his lamented The law imposed on us to die is, therefore, friends an image of his own.
a requisite, but indeed a violent remedy; and But why should the thought of dying excite to correspond with the design, we must drink sorrow in a saint, in regard of whom the divine the cup. The death of those who are worthy justice is disarmed, and to whom nothing is of our regret, ought to recall to our mind the presented beyond the tomb but inviting objects? punishment of sin, and to excite in us that sore The solution of this difficulty associates with row which is a necessary fruit of true repentwhat we said in the third place, that the death ance. of persons worthy of our esteem, should excite These are the three sorts of sorrow that the in our hearts the sentiments of repentance. death of our friends should excite in our breast.
III. It is a question often agitated among And so far are we from repressing this kind of Christians, that seeing Jesus Christ has satisfied grief, that we would wish you to feel it in all the justice of the Father for their sins, why its force. Go to the tombs of the dead; open should they still die? And one of the most their coffins; look on their remains; let each pressing difficulties opposed to the evangelical there recognise a husband, or a parent, or chilsystem results from it, that death equally reigns dren, or brethren; but instead of regarding over those who embrace, and those who reject them as surrounding him alive, let him suppose it. To this it is commonly replied, that death himself as lodged in the subterraneous abode is now no longer a punishment for our sins, but with the persons to whom he has been closely a tempest that rolls us to the port, and a pas- united. Look at them deliberately, hear what sage to a better life. This is a solid reply: but they say: death seems to have condemned him does it perfectly remove the difficulty? Have to an eternal silence; meanwhile they speak; we not still a right to ask, Why God should they preach with a voice far more eloquent lead us in so strait a way? Why he pleases to than ours. make this route so difficule? Why do not his We have taught you to shed upon their tombs chariots of fire carry us up to heaven, as they tears of tenderness: hear the dead, they preach once took Elijah? For after all the handsome with a voice more eloquent than ours. things one can say, the period of death is a you forgotten the relations we formed, and the terrible period, and death is still a formidable ties that united us? Is it with games and difoe. Whiat labours, what conflicts, what throes, versions that you lament our loss? Is it in the prior to the moment! what doubts, what uncer- circles of gayety, and in public places, that you tainties, what labouring of thought before we commemorate our exit?" acquire the degree of confidence to die with We have exhorted you to shed upon their fortitude! How disgusting the remedies! How tomb tears of duty to yourselves. “ Hear the irksome the aids! How severe the separations! dead;" they preach with a voice more eloquent How piercing the final farewell! This consti- than ours. They cry, “Vanity of vanities. tutes the difficulty, and the ordinary solution All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof leaves it in all its force.
is as the power of the field. The world passeth The following remark to me seems to meet away, and the lusts thereof. Surely man walkthe difficulty in a manner more direct. The eth in a vain shadow," Eccles. i. 2; Isa. xl. 6; death of the righteous is an evil, but it is an 1 John ii. 17; Ps. xxxix. 7. They recall to your instructive evil. It is a violent, but a necessary mind the afflictions they have endured, the remedy. It is a portrait of the divine justice troubles which assailed their mind, and the dewhich God requires we should constantly have | liriums that affected their brain. They recall
those objects that you may contemplate in their situation an image of your own; that you may
SERMON XCI. be apprised how imperfectly qualified a man is in his last moments for recollection, and the work of his salvation. They tell you, that they ON THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON once had the same health, the same strength, the same fortune, and the same honours as you;
1 Kings iii. 5—14. notwithstanding, the torrent which bore us
In Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon, in a away, is doing the same with you. We have exhorted you to shed upon their
dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall tombs the tears of repentance. Hear the dead;
give. And Solomon said, Thou hast showed
unto thy servant David, my father, great mercy, they preach with an eloquence greater than
according as he walked before thee in truth, and ours; they say, “that sin has brought death into the world; death which separates the father
in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart from the son, and the son from the father; which
with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great disunites hearts the most closely attached, and
kindness, that thou hast given him a son lo sit
on his throne, as it is this day. And novo, 0 dissolves the most intimate and tender ties." They say more: Hear the dead-hear some of
Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant king them, who, from the abyss of eternal flames,
instead of David, my father; and I am but a into which they are plunged for impenitency,
little child; I know not how to go out and exhort you to repentance.
come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy 0! terrific preachers, preachers of despair,
people which thcu hast chosen, a great people,
which cannot be numbered nor counted for mulmay your voice break the hearts of those hearers on which our ministry is destitute of energy
tilude. Give, therefore, thy servant an underand effect.—Hear those dead, they speak with
standing heart, to judge thy people, that I may a voice more eloquent than ours from the depths
discern between good and bad: for who is able to of the abyss, from the deep caverns of hell; they
judge this thy so great a people? And the speech cry, “Who among us shall dwell with devour pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this
thing. And God said unto him, Because thout ing fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings Ye mountains fall on us; ye
hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thy hills cover us. It is a fearful thing to fall into
self long life; neither hast thou asked riches for the hands of the living God, when he is angry,"
thyself; nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, Isa. xxxiii. 14; Luke xxiii. 30; Heb. x. 31.
but hast asked for thyself understanding to disHear the father, who suffering in hell for the
cern judgment: Behold I have done according to
thy words. Lo, I have given thee a wise and bad education given to the family he left on earth. Hear him by the despair of his condi
understanding heart, so that there was none like tion; by the chains which oppress him; by the
thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise fire which devours him; and by the remorse, the
like unto thee. And I have also given thee that torments, and the anguish which gnaw him,
which thou hast not asked, both riches and ho
nour; so that there shall not be any among the entreat you not to follow him to that abyss. Hear the impure, the accomplice of your plea
kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou sure, who says, that if God had called you the
wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and first, you would have heen substituted in his my commandments, as thy father David did place, and who entreats to let your eyes become
walk, then will I lengthen thy days. as fountains of repentant tears.
“Wo to thee, O land, when thy king is a This is the sort of sorrow with which we child!” In this way has the sage expressed the should be affected for the death of those with calamities of states conducted by men destitute whom it has pleased God to connect us by the of experience. But this general maxim is not bonds of society and of nature. May it pene- without exceptions. As we sometimes see the trate our hearts; and for ever banish the sorrow gayeties of youth in mature age, so we somewhich confounds us with those who have no times perceive in youth the gravity of sober hope. Let us be compassionate citizens, faith- years. There are some geniuses premature, ful friends, tender fathers, loving all those with with whom reason anticipates on years; and whom it has pleased God to unite us, and not who, if I may so speak, on leaving the cradle, regarding this love as a defect; but let us love discover talents worthy of the throne. A proour Maker with supreme affection. Lct us be fusion of supernatural endowments, coming to always ready to sacrifice to him whatever we the aid of nature, exemplifies in their character have most dear on earth. May a glorious re the happy experience of the prophet; “I have surrection be the ultimatum of our requests. more understanding than all my teachers. I May the hope of obtaining it assuage all our
Saurin, placed at the Hague as first minister of the sufferings. And may God Almighty, who has educated us in a religion so admirably adapted characters, saw it his duty to apprise them of the moral
persecuted Protestants, and often attended by illustrious to support in temptation, give success to our sentiments essential for an entrance on high office and exefforts, and be the crown of our hopes; Amen. tensive authority; The Abbe Maury, in his treatise on To whom be honour and glory, henceforth and Eloquence, though hostile to Saurin, allows this Sermon
on the Wisdom of Solomon, to be one of the best specifor ever.
mens of his eloquence.
understand more than the ancients,” Ps. cxix. | dream. We have elsewhere* remarked, that 99, 100.
there are three sorts of dreams. Some are in Here we have an illustrious proof. Solomon, the order of nature; others are in the order of in the early periods of life, fornied the correctest providence; and a third class are of an order idea of government which had ever entered the superior to both. mind of the profoundest philosophers, or the I call dreains in the order of nature, those most consummate statesmen. Awed by the which ought merely to be regarded as the irresceptre, he acknowledged the impotency of his gular flights of imagination, over which the arm to sway it. Of the high privilege granted will has lost, or partially lost, its command. of God, to ask whatever he would, he availed I call dreams in the order of providence, himself solely to ask wisdom. What an ad- those which without deviation from the course mirable choice! How many aged men have we of nature, excite certain instructive ideas, and seen less enlightened than this youth? On the suggest to the mind truths, to which we were other hand, God honoured a petition so wise, not sufficiently attentive while awake. Proviby superadding to the petitioner every other dence sometimes directing our attention to peendowment: he gave to Solomon wisdom, and culiar circumstances in a way purely natural, with wisdom, glory and riches; he elevated him and destitute of all claims to the supernatural, to a scale of grandeur, which no prince ever and much less to the marvellous. did, or ever shall be allowed to equal. It is to Some dreains, however, are of an order suthis petition so judicious, and to this reply so perior to those of nature, and of providence. magnificent, that we shall call your attention, It was by this sort of dreams that God revealed after having bestowed a moment on occasion of his pleasure to the prophets: but this dispensaboth.
tion being altogether divine, and of which the It occurs in the leading words of our text. Scriptures say little, and being impossible for It was a divine communication, in which the the researches of the greatest philosopher to place, the manner, and the subject, claim parti- supply the silence of the Holy Ghost, we shall cular attention.
make no fruitless efforts farther to illustrate 1. The place: it was in Gibeon; not the city the manner of the revelation with which Solofrom which those Gibeonites derived their mon was honoured. name, who, by having recourse to singular arti 3. A reason very dissimilar supersedes our fice, saved their lives, which they thought them- stopping to illustrate the subject; I would say, selves unable to defend by force, or to preserve it has no need of illustration. God was wishby compassion. That, I would say, the city of ful to put Solomon to the proof, by prompting those Gibeonites, was a considerable place, and him to ask whatsoever he would, and by encalled in the Book of Joshua, a royal city. The saying to fulfil it Solomon's reply was worother was situate on the highest mountains of thy of the test. His sole request was for wisJudea, distant, according to Eusebius and St. dom. God honoured this enlightened request; Jerome, about eight miles from Jerusalem. and in granting profound wisdom to his ser
We shall not enter into geographical discus- vant, he superadded riches, and glory, and sions. What claims attention is, a circumstance long life.--Ii is this enlightened request, and of the place where Solomon was, which natu- this munificent reply, we are now to examine. rally recalls to view one of the weaknesses of We shall examine them jointly, placing, at the this prince. It is remarked at the commence same time, the harmony of the one with the ment of the chapter, from which we have taken other, in a just and proper view. Four reour text, that "the people sacrificed in high marks demand attention in Solomon's request places.” The choice was, probably, not exempt to God, and four in God's reply. from superstition: it is certain, at least, that I. Consider, in Solomon's request, the recolidolaters usually selected the highest mountains lection of past mercies: “Thou hast showed for the exercise of their religious ceremonies. unto thy servant David, my father, great merTacitus assigns as a reason, that in those places, cy:" and mark, in the replý, how pleasing this being nearer the gods, they were the more likely recollection was to God. to be heard. Lucian reasons much in the same II. Consider, in Solomon's request, the asway, and, without a doubt, less to vindicate the pect under which he regarded the regal power. custom than to expose it to contempt. God He considered it solely with a view to the high himself has forbidden it in law.
duties on which it obliged him to enter. “Thy We have, however, classed this circumstance servant is in the midst of thy people which in Solomon's life among his frailties, rather than thou hast chosen, a great people, which canhis faults. Prevention for high places was much not be numbered nor counted for multitude. less culpable in the reign of this prince, than in Who is able to judge this thy so great a poothe ages which followed. In those ages, the ple?" And in God's reply, mark the opposito Israelites violated, by sacrificing on high places, seal, with regard to this idea of the supreme the law which forbade any sacrifice to be offered, authority. except in the temple of Jerusalem; whereas, in III. Consider, in Solomon's request, the senthe age of which we now speak, the temple did timents of his own weakness and the consciousnot exist. The people sacrificed on the brazen ness of his insufficiency: “I am but as a litlle altar, constructed by the divine command. This child, and know not how to go out, and to altar was then in Gibeon, where it had been come in:” and in God's reply, mark how highescorted with the tabernacle, as we read in the ly he is delighted with humility. book of Chronicles.
IV. In Soloinon's request, consider the wis2. The manner in which the revelation to dom of his choice; “Give, therefore, unto thy Solomon was made, supplies a second source of reflections. It was, says the historian, in a !
• Discours Hist. tom. v. p. 184.
servant an understanding heart to judge thy | arguments How often has he, for the sake of people:” and in God's reply, mark how Solo- the patriarchs, for the sake of David, heard mon's prayer was heard, and his wisdom prayer in behalf of their children? crowned. Four objects, all worthy of our re Let these maxims be deeply imprinted on gard.
the heart. Our own interest should be motive I. Consider, in Solomon's request, the recol- sufficient to prompt us to piety.
But we lection of mercies. It was the mercies of Da- should also be excited to it by the interest of vid, his father. Solomon made this reference our children. The recollection of our virtues as a motive to obtain the divine mercies and is the best inheritance we can leave them after aids his situation required. He aspired at the death. These virtues afford them claims to blessings which God confers on the children of the divine favours. The good will of Heafaithful fathers. He wished to become the ob- ven, is, in some sort, entailed on families who ject of that promise in which God stands en- fear the Lord. Happy the fathers, when exgaged to show mercy to thousands of gene- tended on the bed of death, who can say, “My rations of those that love him," Exod. xx. 6. children, I am about to appear before the awful
This is the first object of our discourse. The tribunal, where there is no resource for poor privilege of an illustrious birth, I confess, is mortals, but humility and repentance. Meansometimes extravagantly amplified. This kind while, I bless God, that notwithstanding my of folly is not novel in the present age: it was defects, which I acknowledge with confusion the folly of the Hebrew nation. To most of of face, you will not have cause to blush on the rebukes of their prophets, they opposed pronouncing the name of your father. I have this extraordinary defence: “We are Abra- been faithful to the truth, and have constantly ham's seed; we have Abraham to our father," walked before God, “in the uprightness of my Matt. iii. 9. What an apology! Does an il. heart.” Happy the children who have such a lustrious birth sanction low and grovelling sen- descent; I would prefer it to titles the most timents. Do the virtues of our ancestors ex- distinguished, to riches the most dazzling, and cuse us from being virtuous? And has God to offices the most lucrative. "O God, thou for ever engaged to excuse impious children, hast showed unto thy servant David, my fabecause their parents were pious. You are the ther, great mercy, according as he walked bechildren of Abraham; you have an illustrious fore thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in descent; your ancestors were the models and uprightness of heart!” Here is the recollecglory of their age. Then you are the more tion of past mercies, the recollection of which inexcusable for being the reproach of your age; God approves, and the first object of our disthen you are the faithless depositories of the course. nobility with which you have been intrusted; II. Consider, secondly, in the prayer of Sothen you have degenerated from your former lomon, the aspect under which he contemplated grandeur: then you shall be condemned to sure the regal power. He viewed it principally render to nature a corrupted blood, which you with regard to the high duties it imposed. received pure from those to whom you owe “Thy servant is in the midst of thy people
which thou hast chosen; who is able to judge It is true, however, all things being weighed, this thy so great a people, which cannot be that, in tracing a descent, it is a singular fa- numbered?" The answer of God is a corresvour of Heaven to be able to cast one's eyes pondent seal to this idea of supreme authority. on a long line of illustrious ancestors. I am And what we here say of the regal power, we not about to offer incense to the idol of distin- apply to every other office of trust and dignity. guished families; the Lord's church has more A man of integrity must not view then with correct ideas of nobility. To be accounted no. regard to the emoluments they produce, but ble in the sanctuary, we must give proof of with regard to the duties they impose. virtue, and not of empty titles, which often What is the end proposed by society on eleowe their origin to the vanity, the seditions, vating certain men to high stations? Is it to and fawning baseness of those who display augment their pride? Is it to usher them into them with so much pride. To be noble in the a style of life the most extravagant? Is it to language of our Scriptures, and to be impure, aggrandize their families by the ruin of the avaricious, haughty, and implacable, are dif- widow and the orphan? Is it to adore them as ferent ideas. But charity, but patience, but idols? Is it to become their slaves' Potentates moderation, but dignity of soul, and a certain and magistrates of the earth, ask those subelevation of mind, place the possessor above jects to whom you are indebted for the high the world and its maxims. These are charac- scale of elevation you enjoy. Ask, Why those teristics of the nobility of God's children. dignities were conferred? They will say, it
In this view, it is a high favour of Heaven, was to intrust you with their safety and repose; in tracing one's descent, to be able to cast the it was to procure fathers and protectors; it was eye on a long line of illustrious ancestors. How to find peace and prosperity under the shadow often have holy men availed themselves of of your tribunals. To induce you to enter on these motives to induce the Deity, if not to bear those arduous duties, they have accompanied with the Israelites in their course of crimes, at them with those inviting appendages which least to pardon them aster the crimes have soothe the cares, and alleviate the weights of been committed? How often have they said, office. They have conferred titles; they have in the supplications they opposed to the wrath sworn obedience, and ensured revenue. Enof Heaven, “O God, remember Abraham, trance then on a high duty is to make a conand Isaac, and Jacob, thy servants!" How tract with the people, over whom you proceed often has God yielded to the strength of these to exercise it; it is to make a compact, by