« PreviousContinue »
be cast for ever into outer darkness? Why do you not make these reflections, you who are perpetually occupied with the real or imaginary failings of your neighbour? Why do you not once turn your eyes to your heart, destitute of that love which is the badge of Christianity, and weep? Why do you not sometimes fix your views upon the fatal consequences of your unjust suspicions, of your rash judgments, and bewail your cruelty ? Here you would see a brother, carrying every where with him the dart with which you have pierced him, and groaning to the end of his days under a reproach which, without you, would perhaps never have covered him. There the soul of another, a prey to the most violent passions, and a thousand sins, of which he renders himself guilty, produced by your single sin; on all sides, distrusts, coldnesses, animosities, quarrels, of which you are the cause.
Do you not tremble at the view of such a complication of evils ? Do you not feel, that a heart which can reproach itself with them, has violated all the obligations of charity? Do you not think, that your time and your cares ought henceforth to be employed in repairing, as much as possible, the evils produced by you; in cherishing in your souls the sentiments of charity; and in striving to secure the favour of that God to whom the obdurate and unfeeling heart is an abomination ?
Finally, for I must hasten to a conclusion, let me recall to your remembrance, and may God himself impress upon your souls that awful passage of St. James: “ He shall have judgment without mercy that hath showed no mercy.” Can we, my brethren, hear this passage without emotion ?
What! we who have all so urgent a need of the divine mercy! Without it the most righteous must despair of sal
vation; without it the repentant sinner would in vain flatter himself with hopes of forgiveness; without it those even who shall be justly condemned would experience an aggravation of misery, which the mercy of a compassionate God alone can mitigate. And shall we voluntarily renounce this mercy? Shall we arm against us all the indignation of God, and heap up wrath against the day of wrath ? No, my brethren, no! let us not be such cruel enemies to ourselves. Let us repair our errors by our repentance, our humility, our charity; “ forbearing one another, and forgiving one another; rejoicing not in iniquity, but rejoicing in the truth ; loving one another with a pure heart fervently;" and showing ourselves to be endued with that “ wisdom which is from above, and which is indeed first pure, but then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated; full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."
THANKSGIVING SERMON, 1817.
1 SAMUEL xii. 23, 24.
But I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all
your heart : for consider how great things he hath done for you.
“ To every thing," says Solomon, “ there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the sun." A time when we should pour out our tears, and another when we should utter the accents of joy; a time when we should " sit in sackcloth and ashes,” and another when we should 6 anoint our head with the oil of gladness ;" a time to cry " Hosanna, save, we beseech thee !” and another to sing, “ Hallelujah, praise ye the Lord !" When the church, the state, or the community with which we are more particularly connected, is in affliction, it would display a criminal disregard to Divine Providence, and a cruel and insensible heart, not to “ weep with those that weep;" but when God has conferred upon us signal mercies, we are justly chargeable with the basest ingratitude, if we do not, with the Israelites on the borders of the Red Sea, raise the thankful song
of praise to our Deliverer; if we do not, with Moses, erect our altar, and inscribe upon it, “ Jehovah-nissi, the Lord is my banner;" if we do not, with the holy prophet, whose words have been read to you, publicly rear some memorial of his kindness, and write upon it, “ Ebenezer, hitherto the Lord hath helped us.”
To a discharge of this duty we have been invited by the civil authority of this place; and with minds convinced of the propriety of their advice, you have entered into the temple of the Most High. United in his presence in external acts of homage, may we also be united in the gratitude of the soul! May He, who reads our inmost sentiments, perceive no heart that is not warmed by a fire from heaven; no heart from which the incense of thankfulness does not rise before him. “ O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his praise together!”
The words of my text were uttered by the prophet Samuel, who so long and so illustriously acted as the teacher, the governor, and the deliverer of Israel. When his nation, ungrateful to the God who had so signally blessed them, and to this his faithful minister, to whom they were under such great obligations, wished to renounce the theocracy, and to “ have a king to rule over them, that they might be like all the surrounding nations," Samuel at first remonstrated with them on the folly and guilt of their designs. When however they persisted in their resolutions, instead of indulging any anger because they had deposed him, he only appeals to them that no oppression or extortion had stained his administration; assured them that his prayers in their behalf should still continually rise before the Lord; and exhorts them with all the fervour of a patriot, and all the
piety of a saint, to that course of conduct which would preserve their state, flourishing, happy, and beloved by God. Among other directions, is that given in our text: “ I will teach you the good and right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.”
In applying these words to ourselves, and to the occasion which assembles us together, let us,
I. Briefly review some of those great things which God hath done for us.
II. Show what is the return which feeling, gratitude, religion, require of us.
III. Prove to you, that the discharge of this duty is good and right.
I. You will not expect, my brethren, that I should retrace to you the long succession of benefits which, as a nation and a community, we have enjoyed from the time that our fathers first entered upon this favoured country to the present time; grateful as would be such a retrospect, it would lead us into details inconsistent with the limits of the present discourse. These are recorded in the annals of our country, in almost every page of which we meet with instances of divine interposition and guardianship, which must compel him who loves his country or his God, to lift up his grateful and adoring heart to Him who ruleth over all. For these the warm effusions of thankfulness were often poured out before the Supreme, by many of your parents who now lie silent in the dust; and who have left to you their descendants the delightful employment of expressing new gratitude for constantly renewed mercies. Instead then of unrolling the annals of past generations, let us merely fix our eyes upon those blessings