Page images
PDF
EPUB

conciled us to God; that God hath set him forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood; that God called him to be an high priest that he might become the author of eternal salvation unto all them, that come unto God by him, Rom. iji. 25. Heb. v. 9. 10. and chap, vii. 25. Let us go, then, unto God by him, and by him only: And, let me repeat it again, Wo be to us, if we determine to go to God by our own speculations, and systems.

But the principal use we ought to make of the text and of this sermon is truly and thoroughly to acknowledge that superiority of virtue and holiness, to which the superiority of revealed religion engageth us. A mortifying, but a salutary reflection ! What account can we give of the light, that shines in the gospel with so much splendor, and which distinguisheth us from the heathens, whose blindness we deplore? When we place the two economies opposite to each other, and contemplate both, a crowd of reflections arise, and our prerogatives present themselves from every part. The clearest light shines around us. Light into the attributes of God; light into the nature, the obligations, the duration of man ; light into the grand method of reconciliation, which God hath presented to the church; light into the certainty of a future state.

But when we oppose disciple to disciple ; virtue to virtue ; we hardly find any room for comparison. Except here and there an elect soul; here and there one lost in the crowd, can you see any great difference between the christian and the pagan world ?

What shame would cover us, were we to contrast Holland with Greece, the cities in these provinces with the city of Corinth; Corinth was the metropolis of Greece. There commerce prospered, and attracted immense riches from all parts of the universe, and along with wealth pride, imperiousness

[ocr errors]

and debauchery, which almost inevitably follow a.. prosperous trade. Thither went some of the natives of other countries, and carried with them their passions and their vices. There immorality was enthroned. There, according to Strabo, was a temple dedicated to the.immodest Venus. There the palace of dissoluteness,was erected, the ruins of which are yet to be seen by travellers; that infamous palace, in which a thousand prostitutes were maintained. There the abominable Lais held her court, and exacted six talents of every one, who fell a prey to her deceptions. There impurity was, become so notorious, that a Corinthian was nonymous to a prostitute ; and the proverb to live like a Corinthian, was as much as to say to live a life of debauchery. Ye provinces ! in which we dwell. Ye cities in which we preach. O Lais ! Lais! who'attendest our sermons so often

I spare you. But how could we run the parallel between Holland and Greece, between these cities and that of Corinth?

Moreover, were we to compare success with success, the docility of our disciples with the docility of those disciples, to whom the pagan philosophers, who lived in those days of darkness, preached; how much to our disadvantage would the comparison be? Pythagoras would say, When I taught philosophy at Crotona, I persuaded the lascivious. to renounce luxury, the drunkard to abstain from wine, and even the most gay ladies to' sacrifice their rich and fashionable garments to modesty. When I was in Italy, I re-established liberty and civil

government, and by one discourse reclaimed two thousand men; I prevailed with them to subdue the suggestions of ayarice, and the emotions of pride, and to love meditation, retirement and silence. I did more with my philosophy, than you

.

do with that morality, of which you make such a magnificent display. Hegasias would say, I threw all Greece into an uproar; what I said on the vanity of life, on the insipid nature of its pleasures, the vanity of its promises, the bitterness of its calamities, had an effect so great, that some destroyed themselves, others would have followed their example, and I should have depopulated whole cities, had not Ptolomy silenced me. My discourses detached men from the world, more effectually than yours, although you preach the doctrines of a future life, of paradise, and of eternity. Zeno would tell us, I influenced my disciples to contemn pain, to despise a tyrant, and to trample on punishment. I did more towards elevating man above humanity with that philosophy, of which you have such unfavorable ideas, than you do with that religion, on which you bestow such fine encomiums.

What then ! Shall the advantages, which advance the Christian revelation above the speculations of the pagan world, advance at the same time the virtues of the pagans above those of christians ! And shall all the ways of salvation, which are opened to us in the communion of Jesus Christ, serve only to render salvation inaccessible to us! God forbid ! Let us assimilate our religion to the economy, under which we live. May knowledge conduct us to virtue, and virtue to felicity and glory! God grant us this grace! To him be honor and glory forever. Amen.

[ocr errors]

SERMON XII.

TIIE SUPERIOR EVIDENCE AND INFLUENCE OF

CHRISTIANITY.

1 John iy. 4.

Greater is he, that is in you, than he, that is in the world. THAT appearance, which is recorded in the se

cond book of Kings, chap. vi. 8, &c. was very proper to embolden the timid servant of Elisha. The king of Syria was at war with the king of Israel. The wise counsel of the prophet was more advantageous to his prince than that of his general was. The Syrian thought, if he could render himself master of such an extraordinary man, he could easily subdue the rest of the Israelites. In order to insure success, he surrounded Dothan, the dwelling-place of the prophet, with his troops in the night. The prophet's servant was going out early the next morning with his master, when, on seeing the numerous Syrian forces, he trembled, and exclaimed, Alas ! my master, how shall we do? Fear not, replied Elisha, they that be with us, are more than they, that be with them. To this he added, addressing himself to God in prayer, Lord, open his eyes, that he may see! The prayer was heard. The servant of Elisha presently saw the sufficient ground of his master's confidence; he dis

21

VOL. 11.

« PreviousContinue »