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do not allege it for the purpose of opposing the than for the diminutiveness of his body? Would censures you have heard, or of getting rid of you not look with disdain on an ant, that had our reproofs. By answering in this manner no other ambition than that of taking for a moyou give us an advantage over you, you lay a del other insects about him, and preferring their foundation which you mean to destroy, you do approbation before that of mankind, who hold not furnish yourselves with a shield against a rank so high in the scale of the world? My your ministers, but you yourselves supply them brethren, give what colours you will to this with arms to wound and destroy you. Why imagination, it is however certain, that you do we declaim against your conduct? What will form unjust ideas of this insect.
An emdo we mean when we reprove your way of liv- met has no relation to those beings, which you ing, except to convince you that it is not an- propose to him for models. Such ideas of hap swerable to the Christian character which you piness as you trace to him have no proportion bear? What do we mean except that you break to his faculties. Is an emmet capable of science the vows made for you in your baptism, and to be allured by the company of the learned? which you yourselves have often ratified at the Can an ant form plans of sieges and battles to Lord's table? What, in one word, except that render himself sensible of that glory, which exyou do not obey the laws of the gospel? But ploits of war acquire, and for which the heroes what can you advance more proper to strength of the world sacrifice their repose and their en the testimony which we bear against you lives? than that which you advance to weaken it, that It is you, who have that meanness of soul, is, that you live as the world live?
which you just now pitied in an ant. You inAll the world, say you, conduct themselves habit cities and provinces, which, compared as we do, and every body does what you cen- with the rest of the world, resemble the size of sure us for doing. But all the world conduct molehills; the whole globe itself is nothing, in themselves badly, all the world violate the spi- comparison of the immense spaces, in which rit of religion, all the world attack the maxims other works of the Creator are lodged. You of Jesus Christ, all the world run in the broad creep on earth with a handful of men much less road of perdition, all the world are destroying in comparison with the thousand thousands of themselves, and the apostle exhorts us not to other intelligences than an ant hill is in comtake the world for an example.
parison of mankind. You have intimate relaSecondly, I address myself to you who sin- tions to these intelligences; you, like them, are cerely desire to apply this discourse to its true capable of great and noble functions; like them design. I grant, the road opened to you is dif you are capable of knowledge; like them you ficult. To resist the torrent, to brave the mul- are able to know the Supreme Being; you can titude, to see one's self, like Elijah, alone on love like them; you can form tender and delithe Lord's side, and, in this general apostacy, cate connexions as they can; and like them you in which a Christian so often finds himself, are destined to eternal duration and felicity. when he desires to sacrifice all his duty, to re Do not say then, I shall be alone, nobody collect motives of attachment to it, this is one lives as you would have me live. They are of the noblest efforts of Christian heroism. the men, who surround you, that are nobody in
However, after all, it would argue great pue comparison of the intelligences, whom I propose rility to magnify our ideas of the crowd, the to you for examples. It ill suits insignificant many, the multitude; it would be childish to be men to consider themselves alone as in the centoo much struck with these ideas, every body tre of divine benevolence, and as the only subthinks in this manner, all the world act thus. jects of a monarch, who reigns over all existI affirm, that truth and virtue havo more parti- ence. “He sitteth upon the circle of the earth, sans than error and vice, and God has more whence the inhabitants appear to him as grassdisciples than Satan. What do you call the hoppers. He bringeth princes to nothing, he crowd, the many, the multitude! What do you considereth the judges of the earth as vanity. mean by all the world? What! You and your He shall blow upon them, and they shall wicompanions, your family, your acquaintances, ther, and the whirlwind shall take them away your fellow-citizens, the inhabitants of this like stubble," Isa. xl. 22. globe, to which the Creator has confined you; But ye, celestial intelligences, ye seraphim is this what you call all the world? What lit- burning with love, ye angels mighty in strength, tleness of ideas! Cast your eyes on that little messengers of the divine will, spirits rapid as molehill, occupied by a few thousand ants, lend the wind, and penetrating as fire, ye “redeemed them intelligence, propose to one of these in- of all nations, all kindred, all people, all sects other maxims than those of his fellows, tongues," Rev. v. 9; ye make the crowd, ye exhort him to have a little more ambition than fill the court of the sovereign of the world; and, to occupy a tiny imperceptible space upon that when we refuse to conform ourselves to this molehill, animate him to form projects more world, we imitate you; and when the slaves of noble than that of collecting a few grains of the world shall be loaded with chains of darkcorn, and then put into the mouth of this little ness, we shall share with you the "river of emmet the same pretext that you make use of pleasures” at the right hand of that God whom to us; I shall be alone, all the world conduct you serve, and to whose service, we, like you, themselves in another manner. Would you not devote ourselves. God grant us this grace! pity this insect? Would not he appear more con- To him be honour and glory for ever. temptible to you for his mean and spiritless ideas Amen.
truly godly, they complained that the true reSERMON LVII.
ligion had been to them a source of misery.
Were they the Jews of the prophet's time?
Are they only Jews who make such a criminal THE ADVANTAGES OF PIETY.
complaint? Are they the only persons, who, placing religion in certain exterior perform
ances, and mutilated virtues, complain that 1 TIMOTHY IV. 8.
they do not feel that peace of conscience, those
ineffable transports, that anticipated heaven, Godliness is profitable unto all things, having which are foretastes and earnests of eternal
promise of the life that now is, and of that joy? We are going to-day, my brethren, to which is to come.
set before you the treasures, which God opens TAERE never was a disposition more odi- to us in communion with him: but we are ous, or more unjust than that of the profane going at the same time to trace out the chaJews, of whom Jeremiah speaks in the forty-racter of those, on whom they are bestowed. fourth chapter of his prophecies. He had ad- This is the design of this discourse, and for dressed to them the most pressing and patheti- this purpose we will divide it into two parts: cal exhortations to dissuade them from wor- First, we will examine what the apostle means shipping the goddess Isis, and to divert them by “godliness,” in the words of the text: and from the infamous debaucheries, with which secondly, Point out the advantages affixed the Egyptians accompanied it. Their reply to it. “Godliness is profitable unto all things, was in these words, “ As for the word that thou having promise of the life that now is, and of hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, that which is to come. we will not hearken unto thee: but we will I. What is godliness or piety? It is difficertainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out cult to include an idea of it in the bounds of of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the what is called a definition. Piety is a habit of queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offer- knowledge in the mind-rectitude in the conings unto her, as we have done, we and our science-sacrifice in the life-and zeal in the fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities heart. By the knowledge, that guides it, it is of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, for distinguished from the visions of the superstithen bad we plenty of victuals, and were well tious: by the rectitude, from whence it proand saw no evil: but since we left off to burn ceeds, it is distinguished from hypocrisy; by incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour the sacrifice, which justifies it, it is distinguishout drink-offerings unto her, we have wanted ed from the unmeaning obedience of him, who all things, and have been consumed by the goes as a happy constitution leads him; in fine, sword, and by the famine," ver. 16—18. No- by the fervour that animates it, it is distinthing can equal the sacrifices which religion guished from the languishing emotions of the requires of us; therefore nothing ought to lukewarm. equal the recompense which it sets before us. 1. Piety supposes knowledge in the mind. Sometimes it requires us, like the father of the When God reveals a doctrine of religion to us, faithful, to quit our country and our relations, he treats us as reasonable beings, capable of and to go out, not knowing whither we go, ac- examination and reflection. He does not recording to the expression of St. Paul, Heb. xi. quire us to admit any truth without evidence. s. Sometimes it requires us to tread in the If he would have us believe the existence of a bloody steps of those who “had trial of cruel first cause, he engraves it on every particle of mockings and scourgings, yea, of bonds and the universe. If he would have us believe imprisonment. Some were stoned, others were the divinity of revelation, he would make sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with some character of that divinity shine in every the sword, wandered about in sheep skins, and part of it. Would he have us believe the goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, torment- immortality of the soul, he attests it in every ed,” ver. 36, 37. Always it calls us to triumph page of the sacred book. Accordingly, withover our passions, to renounce our own senses, out previous knowledge, piety can neither to mortify the flesh with its desires, and to support us under temptations, nor enable us to bring all the thoughts of our minds, and all render to God such homage as is worthy of the emotions of our hearts into obedience to him. Jesus Christ. To animate us to sacrifices so It cannot support us in temptation. When great, it is necessary we should find in religion Satan endeavours to seduce us he offers us à superiority of happiness and reward, and it the allurements of present and sensible good, would be to rob it of all its disciples, to repre- and exposes in our sight the kingdoms of the sent it as fatal to the interests of such as pur- world and the glory of them. If we have nosue it.
thing to oppose against him but superficial As this disposition is odious, so it is unjust. opinions of a precarious and ignorant system, The miserable Jews, of whom the prophet we shall not find ourselves in a condition to Jere:niah speaks, did indeed consult the pro- withstand him. phets of God, but they would not obey their Nor can piety destitute of knowledge enavoice; they would sometimes suspend their ble us to render to God such worship as is idolatrous rites, but they would never entirely worthy of him: for when do we render to renounce them: they discovered some zeal God worship suitable to his majesty? Is it for the exterior of religion, but they paid no when submitting to the church, and saying to attention to the spirit and substance of it, and a man, in the language of Scripture, Rabbi, as God refused to grant to this outside of piety Rabbi, we place him on a sovereign throne, such advantages as he had promised to the ) and make our reason fall prostrate before his
intelligenced No, certainly; it is when, sub- ter, and when they had made one, they never mitting ourselves to the decisions of God, we failed to instruct him thoroughly to hate all regard him as the source of truth and know- such as were not of their opinion on particular ledge, and believe, on his testimony, doctrines questions. All this was show, all this prothe most abstruse, and mysteries the most sub- ceeded from a deep, hypocrisy: by all this lime.
they had no other design than to acquire repuTrue piety is wise; it rises out of those pro- tation for holiness, and to make themselves found reflections which the godly man makes masters of the people, who are more easily on the excellence of religion. Open thou taken with exterior appearances than with mine eyes," said the prophet formerly," that I solid virtue. may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Such is the character of hypocrisy, a chaI have more understanding than all my teach- racter that God detests. How often does Jesus ers, for thy testimonies are my meditation. Christ denounce anathemas against people of Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light this character? How often does be cry conunto my path. Mine eyes prevent the night cerning them, “wo, wo?" Sincerity is one watches, that I might meditate in thy word," character of true piety, "O Lord, thou hast Ps. cxix. 18. 99. 105. 148.
proved my heart, thou hast visited me in the This is the first character of godliness, and night, thou hast tried me, and shall find nothis character distinguishes it from supersti- thing; I am purposed that my mouth shall tion. A superstitious man does not derive his not transgress. Lord, thou knowest all things, principles from the source of knowledge. A thou knowest that I love thee,” Ps. xvii. 3; family tradition, a tale, a legend, a monkish John xxi. 17. This character makes our love fable, the reverie of a confessor, the design of a to God resemble his to us. When God gives council, this is his law, this is his light, this is himself to us in religion, it is not in mere aphis gospel.
pearances and protestations: but it is with 2. Piety must be sincere, and this distin- real sentiments, emanations of heart. guishes it from hypocrisy. A hypocrite puts 3. Piety supposes sacrifice, and by this we on all the appearance of religion, and adorns distinguish it from a devotion of humour and himself with the most sacred part of it. Ob- constitution, with which it has been too often serve his deportment, it is an affected gravity, confounded. There is a devotee of temper which nothing can alter. Hear his conversa- and habit, who, really, has a happy disposition, he talks with a studied industry on the tion, but which may be attended with danger. most solemn subjects, he is full of sententious ous consequences. Such a man consulis less sayings, and pious maxims, and so severe, that the law of God to regulate his conduct than he is ready to take offence at the most innocent his own inclinations, and the nature of his conactions. Mind his dress, it is precise and sin- stitution. As, by a singular favour of heaven, gular, and a sort of sanctity is affected in all he has not received one of those irregular conhis furniture, and in all his equipage. Follow stitutions, which most men have, but a happy him to a place of worship, there particularly natural disposition, improved too by a good edubis hypocrisy erects its tribunal, and there he cation, he finds in himself but little indispodisplays his religion in all its pomp. There sition to the general maxims of Christianity. he seems more assiduous than the most wise Being naturally melancholy, he does not break and zealous Christians. There he lifts up his out into unbridled mirth, and excessive plea. eyes to heaven. There he sighs. There he sures. As he is naturally collected in himself, bedews the earth with his tears. In one word, and not communicative, he does not follow the whatever seems venerable in the church he crowd through the turbulence and tumult of takes pains to practise, and pleasure to dis- the world. As he is naturally inactive, and play.
soon disgusted with labour and pains-taking, Jesus Christ has given us the original of we never see him animated with the madness this portrait in the persons of the pharisees of of gadding about every where, weighing himhis time; and the only inconvenience we find self down with a multitude of business, not perin describing such characters is, that, speak mitting any thing to happen in society without where we will
, it seems as if we intended to being himself the first mover, and putting to it depict such individuals of the present age as the last hand. These are all happy incidents; seem to have taken these ancient hypocrites not to run into excessive pleasure, not to folfor their model. Never was the art of coun- low the crowd in the noise and tumult of the terfeiting piety carried to such perfection by any world, not to run mad with hurry, and weary men as by the old Pharisees. They separated himself with an infinity of business, to give up themselves from a commerce with mankind, the mind to recollection, all this is worthy of whom they called in contempt “people of the praise; but what is a devotion of this kind, world."* They made long prayers. They that owes its birth only to incidents of this fasted every Monday and Friday. They lay sort? I compare it to the faith of the man on planks and stones. They put thorns on the who believes the truths of the gospel only bottom of their gowns to tear their flesh. through a headstrong prejudice, only because, They wore strait girdles about their bodies. by a lucky chance, he had a father or a tutor They paid tithes, not only according to law, who believed them. As such a man cannot but beyond what the law required. Above all, have a faith acceptable to God, so neither can they were great makers of proselytes, and this he who obeys the laws of God, because, by a was in some sort their distinguishing charac- sort of chance of this kind, they are conforma
ble to his natural temper, offer to bim the sa* See Godwin's Moses and Aaron. Book I. Chap. x. crifice of true obedience. Had you been na
turally inclined to dissipation, you would have
been excessively dissipated, for the very same unwelcome messenger, who came to inform reason that you are now excessively fond of him of the defeat of his army: the messenger retirement. Had you been naturally indus- replied, “ Israel is fled before the Philistines, trious, you would have exceeded in labouring and there hath also been a great slaughter on the very principle which now inclines you among the people, and thy two sons Hophni to be too fond of ease and stillness. Had you and Phinehas are dead:” thus far he supported been naturally inclined to mirth, you would himself; but the man went on to say, "the ark have shown excessive levity, on the very prin- of God is taken;" instantly on hearing that the ciple that now turns your gravity into gloom ark was gone, he “ fell backward,” he could and melancholy. Would you know your not survive the loss of that august symbol of selves.. See, examine yourselves. You say, the divine presence, but died with grief. Obyour piety inclines you to surmount all tempo serve Nehemiah, to whom his royal master tations to dissipation; but does it enable you to put the question, “Why is thy countenance resist those of retirement it makes you firm sad?” said he, “Why should not my counteagainst temptations to pleasure, but does it nance be sad, when the city, the place of my free you from sullenness? It enables you to fathers' sepulchres lieth waste, and the gates surmount temptations to violent exertions, but thereof are consumed with fire?" clap. ii. 2, does it raise you above littleness. The same &c. Consider St. Paul, “We glory in tribumay be said of the rest. Happy he, who ar-lations, because the love of God is shed abroad ranges his actions with a special regard to his in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is own heart, inquiring what he can find there given unto us,” Rom. v. 3. 5. opposite to the law of God, attacking the strong Do you imagine you truly love God, while holds of Satan within himself, and directing you have only languid emotions towards him, all his fire and force to that point. “They and while you reserve all your activity and fire that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with for the world? There is between God and a the affections and lusts. I beseech you, there believer a tender and affectionate intercourse. fore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye Godliness has its festivals and exuberances. present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, " Flesh and blood!" Ye that “cannot inherit acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable the kingdom of God," i Cor. xv. 50, ye imservice. Sacrifice and offering thou dost not pure ideas of concupiscence, depart, be gone desire, mine ears hast thou opened. Lo, I far away from our imaginations! There is a come. I delight to do thy will, O my God, time, in which the mystical spouse faints, and yea, thy law is within my heart,” Gal. v. 24; utters such exclamations as these, “I sleep, Rom. xii. 1; Ps. xl. 7, &c.
but my heart waketh. Set me as a seal upon 4. Zeal and fervour are the last characters thy heart, as a seal upon thine arm, for love of piety. By this we know the godly man from is strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the such lukewarm Christians as practise the duties grave, the coals thereof are coals of fire, which of religion in substance, but do 80 with a hath a most vehement flame. Many waters coldness, that sinks the value of the service. cannot quench love, neither can floods drown They can hear the afflictions of the church it,” Cant. v. 2. narrated without emotion, and see a confused These are some characters of piety. Let us heap of stones, sad remains of houses conse- go on to examine the advantages of it. crated to our God, without "favouring the
II. Our apostle says,
godliness is profitable dust thereof,” according to the expression of unto all things, having promise of the life that Scripture. They can see the dimensions of now is, and of that which is to come.” There the " love" of God measured, the "breadth is an enormous difference between these two and length, and depth and height,” without sorts of blessings. The blessings of the life to feeling the least warmth from the ardour and come are so far superior to the blessings of the flame of so vehement a love. They can be present life, that when we can assure ourselves present at the offering of one of those lively, of the first, we ought to give ourselves very tender, fervent prayers, which God Almighty little concern about the last. To add a drop himself condescends to hear and answer, and of water to the boundless ocean; to add a temfor the sake of which he forgives crimes and poral blessing to the immense felicities, which averts judgment, without entering at all into happy spirits enjoy in the other life, is almost the spirit of these subjects. Such men as these the same thing. St. Paul tells us; that the require persuasion, compulsion, and power, to idea of life to come so absorbs the idea of the force them.
present life, that to consider these two objects A man, who truly loves God, has sentiments in this point of view, his eyes could hardly get of zeal and fervour. Observe David, see his sight of the one, it was so very diminutive, and joy before the ark; neither the royal grandeur, his mind reckoned the whole as nothing: “Our nor the prophetical gravity, nor the gazing of light affliction, which is but for a moment, the populace, nor the reproaches of an inter- worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal ested wife, could cool his zeal. Observe Elijah, weight of glory, while we look not at the things "I have been," said he, “very jealous for the which are seen, wich are temporal, but at the Lord God of Hosts; for the children of Israel things which are not seen, which are eternal," have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the Few imitate this apostle. The present, besword, and I, even I only am left, and they cause it is present; and in spite of its rapidity, seek my life to take it away,” i Kings xix. fixes our eyes, becomes a wall between us and 10. Behold good Eli, the frost of fourscore eternity, and prevents our perceiving it. We could not chill the ardour that inflamed him. should make many more converts to virtue, “What is there done, my son!” said he to the I could we prove that it would render mankind
happy here below, but we cannot change the mournfully before the Lord of hosts?” Mal. order of things. Jesus Christ and his apostles ii. 14. We ought to say with St. Paul, “What have told us, that " in the world we shall have fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye tribulation," and that “all that will live godly are now ashamed? For the end of those things in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution,” John is death,” Rom. vi. 21. xvi. 33; 2 Tim. iii. 12. However, it is true, 2. Consider next how piety influences our that even here piety procures pleasures, which reputation. I am aware, that worldly men by usually surpass all those of worldly people: at decrying piety, endeavour to avenge themselves least, which are sufficient to support us in a for the want of courage to practise it. I am road leading to eternal happiness.
aware, too, that practise wickedness as much, 1. Consider first, low piety influences our as often, and as far as ever we can, we shall health. Our bodies decay, I allow, by number- always find ourselves in a circle of companions less means.
Death enters them by the air we like ourselves. But after all, it is however breathe, and by the elements that support them, indisputable, that good people nsually acquire and whatever contributes to make them live, the respect of such as have not the laudable contributes at the same time to make them die. ambition of imitating them. I appeal only to Let us allow, my brethren, that most maladies your own conscience. Js it not true, that, take their rise in such excesses as the law of even while you are gratifying your own pasGod condemns. How can a man, devoured sions, you cannot help admiring such as subdue with ambition, avarice and vengeance, a man theirs? Is it not true, that, except on some whose passions keep him in perpetual agitations, occasions, in which you want, and therefore depriving him of peace, and robbing him of seek, accomplices in sin, you would rather sleep; how can he, who passes whole nights choose to form connexions, to make bargains, and days in gaming, animated with the desire and to deal with such as obey the laws of God, of gaining his neighbour's money, tortured by than with those who violate them: And amidst turns with the hope of a fortune, and the fear all the hatred and envy, which your irregulaof a bankruptcy; how can he, who drowns rities excite against good people, is it not true, himself in wine, or overcharges himself with that your heart feels more veneration for wise, gluttony; how can he, who abandons himself upright, and pious people, than for others, who without a curb to excessive lewdness, and who have opposite qualities. As these are your dismakes every thing serve his voluptuousness; positions towards others, know of a truth, they how is it possible for people of these kinds to are also dispositions of others towards you. Here expect a firm and lasting health? Godliness is it is, that most men are objects of great pity. a bar to all these disorders; "the fear of the The irregularities, which seem to conduct us to Lord prolongeth days: it is a fountain of life the end we propose, are often the very causes to guard us from the snares of death,” Prov. of our disappointment. May I not address one X. 27; and xii. 27. If then it be true that of you thus You trample upon all laws health is an invaluable treasure, if it be that, human and divine; you build up a fortunate which ought to hold the first rank among the house with the substance of widows, and orblessings of life, if without it all others are of no phans, and oppressed people, and you cement' value, it is as certain that without love to the law it with their blood; you sell your votes; you of God we cannot enjoy much pleasure in life. defraud the state; you deceive your friends;
The force of this reflection is certainly very you betray your correspondents, and after you little felt in the days of youth and vigour, for have enriched yourself by such ways, you set then we usually consider these as eternal ad-forth in a most pompous manner your riches, vantages, which nothing can alter: but when your elegant furniture, your magnificent paold age comes, when by continual languors, laces, your superb equipages, and you think and by exquisite pains, men expiate the disor- the public take you for a person of great considers of an irregular life, then that fear of God deration, and that every one is erecting in his is respected, which teaches us to prevent them. heart an altar to your fortune. No such thing. Ye martyrs of concupiscence, ye victims of You deceive yourself. Every one says in privoluptuousness, you, who formerly tasted the vate, and some blunt people say to your face, pleasures of sin, and are now thoroughly feeling you are a knave, you are a public blood-sucker, the horrors of it, and who, in consequence of and all your magnificence displays nothing but your excesses, are already given up to an an- your crimes. May I not say to another, You ticipated hell, do you serve us for demonstra- affect to mount above your station by arrogant tion and example?" You are become knowing language, and mighty assumptions. You deck by experience, now teach our youth how bene- yourself with titles, and adorn yourself with ficial it is to lead a regular life in their first names unknown to your ancestors. years, and as your intemperance has offended on a supercilous deportment, that ill assorts the church, let the pains you endure serve to with the dust which covered you the other day, restrain such as are weak enough to imitate and you think by these means to efface the reyour bad examples. Those trembling hands, membrance of your origin. No such thing. that shaking head, those di iointed knees, that You deceive yourself
. Every one takes pleaextinguished resolution, that feeble memory, sure in showing you some of
your that wom out brain, that body all infection and to mortify your pride, and they say to one anputrefaction, these are the dreadful rewards other, he is a mean genius, he is a fool, he rewhich the devil bestows on those on whom he sembles distracted men, who having persuaded is preparing himself shortly to exercise all his themselves that they are princes, kings, empefury and rage. On this article, then, instead rors, call their cottage a palace, their stick a of saying with the profane, “what profit is it sceptre, and their domestics courtiers. May I to keep the ordinances of God, and to walk | not speak thus to a third, You are intoxicated