Page images

of his progress ; by the peace which passeth all understanding; by the serenity of justification ; by an anticipated resurrection ; by a foretaste of paradise and glory, which descend into his soul, before he himself is exalted to heaven.

A Christian is supported in his course, (as we have already intimated in this sermon,) by the consideration even of those torments, to which he would be exposed if he should come short. The patriarch Noah trembled, no doubt, on seeing the sluices of heaven let loose, and the fountains of the great deep broke open ; and the angry God execute this threatening, I will destroy man whom I have created, from off the face of the earth ; both man and beast, for it repenteth me that I have made them, Gen. vi. 7. But this fear apprised him of his privilege, being exempt in the ark from the universal desolation; which induced him to abide in his refuge.

A Christian is supported in his course by supernatural aids, which raise him above the

powers ture; which enable him to say, when I am weak, then

2 I am strong ; and to exclaim in the midst of conflicts, blessed be God which alway causeth us to triumph in Christ, 2 Cor. ii. 14. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me, Phil. iv. 13.

A Christian is supported in his course by the confidence he has of succeeding in the work in which he is engaged, and of holding out to the end. And where is the man in social life, who can have the like assurance with regard to the things of this world? Where is the general, who can assure himself of success by the dispositions he may make to obtainthe vice

of na

tory? Where is the statesman, who can assure himself of warding off every blow which threatens the nation? The Christian,--the Christian alone has this superior assurance.--I fear nothing but your heart ; answer me with your heart; answer me with your sincerity, and I will answer you for all the rest.

A Christian is supported in his course, above all, by the grandeur of the salvation with which he is to be crowned. What shall I say, my dear brethren, on the grandeur of this salvation? That I have not the secret of compressing into the last words of a discourse all the traits of an object, the immensity of which shall absorb our thoughts and reflections to all eternity!

With such vast support, timorous soul, shalt thou still be agitated with those distressing fears which discourage wicked men from entering on the course prescribed by Jesus Christ to his disciples? Fear not thou worm Jacob, for I am with thee. Thy Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. They that are for us, are more than all they that are against us, 2 Kings vi. 16. When thou passest through the walers, they shall not overflow thee : when thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, Isa. xliii. 2. To this adorable Deity, who opens to us so fine a course, who affords us such abundant means for its completion, be honour, glory, empire, and magnificence, now and ever. Amen.


On the Example of the Saints.

HEBREWS xii. 1.

Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with

so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us ; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

THERE are few persons so very depraved, as not to admire the line of life prescribed by religion ; but there are few sufficiently virtuous to follow it or even to consider it in any other light than as a grand scheme captivating to an enlightened mind, but to which it is impossible to conform. Reason, as soon as we are capable of contemplating the Being who gave us birth, yields to a world of arguments which attest his existence and perfections; it joins the concert of creation which publishes his glory; it devotes itself to him to whom we are indebted for all our comforts; it makes continual efforts to pierce those veils, which conceal him from our view, and seeks a more concise and sure way of knowing him than that of nature: it receives revelation with avidity ; adores the characters of divine perfections which it traces; takes them for a rule of life ; sighs on deviation from those models of perfection, and repairs, by revigorated efforts of virtue, the faults it had committed against virtue. Here is the line of life prescribed by religion. And who is so depraved, as not to admire it? But who is so virtuous as to follow it, or even to believe that it can be followed? We look upon it, for the most part, as we do the notions of an ancient philosopher respecting government. The principles, on which he established his system of politics, have appeared admirable, and the consequences he has deduced, have appeared like streams pure as their


God in creating men, says this philosopher, gave them all means of preservation from the miseries which seem appendant to their condition: and they have but themselves to blame if they neglect to profit by them. His bounty has supplied them with resources to terminate the erils into which they fell by choice. Let them return to the practice of truth, and virtue, from which they have deviated, and they shall find that felicity to which nothing but virtue and truth can conduct society. Let the states elect a sovereign like the God who governed in the age of innocence: let them obey the laws of this sovereign, as they formerly obeyed the laws of God. Let kings, and subjects, enter into the same views of making each other mutually happy. The whole world has admired this fine notion; but they have only admired it: and regard it merely as a system. The princes and the people, to whom this philosopher wrote are, as yet unborn; hence we commonly say, the republic of Plato, when we wish to express a beautiful chimera. I blush to acknowledge, but truth extorts

it from me, that this is the notion most men entertain of religion. They make its very beauty an argument for its neglect, and their own weakness an apology for the repugnance they feel in submitting to its laws: this is precisely the temper we propose to attack. We will prove by evident facts, and by experience which is consequently above all exception, that however elevated above the condition of man the scheme of religion may appear, it is a scheme which may be followed, seeing it has been followed already.

To this point we shall direct the subsequent part of our discourse on the text we have read. We have divided it into three parts ;-distinguished duties,excellent models,—and wise precautions. Of distinguished duties, let us run with patience the race that is set before us, we have treated in our first dis

Of wise precautions, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, we hope to treat in a succeeding sermon. Of excellent models, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, we shall speak to-day. Happy, if struck with so many heroic actions, you may be led to follow them, and to augment this cloud of witnesses, of whom the Holy Spirit himself has not disdained to make the eulogium. Happy, if we may say of you, as we now say of them, by faith they repelled the wisdom of this world; by faith they triumphed over the charms of concupiscence; by faith they endured the most cruel of torinents; by faith they conquered the celestial Jerusalem, which was the vast reward of all their conflicts. Amen.




« PreviousContinue »