Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

ance, there might be still some hope that the preaching of Christ cruciñed might prevail. But, alas! when that fails, how discouraging is your case! Therefore, I pray you, take the alarm, and labor to get your hearts affeci. ed with this representation. O yield to the attraction of the cross: let him draw you to himself, whom you see lifted up on it; and do not attempt such an exploit of wickedness as to resist the allurements of such lore. And O! cry to God for his enlightening Spirit. Alas! i is your blindness that renders you unaffected with this moving object. Did you but know the Lord of glory, who was crucified; did you but see the glory of the plan of salvation through his sufferings, you would immediately become the captive of his cross, conquered by the power of his love. And such, believe me, such you must be, before you can be saved. But if the result of your examination turn out in your favor, then,

5. You may entertain the joyful hope of salvation; of salvation through one that was insulted as not able to save himself; of crowns of glory through him that wore the crown of thorns; of fulness of joy through the man of sorrows; of immortal life through one that died upon a cross; I say, you may entertain a joyful hope of all this; for in this way of salvation there is no hinderance, no objection. God will be glorified in glorifying you, the law magnified in justifying you. In short, the honor of God and his government concur with your interest; and therefore, if you heartily embrace this plan of salvation, you may be as sure that God will save you, as that he will take care of his own glory, for they are inseparably connected. And do not your hearts, dead as they are, spring within you at the thought ? Do you not long to see your Savior on the throne, to whose cross you are indebted for all your hopes? And O! will you not praise his name while you live, and continue the song through all eternity? Are you not ready to anticipate the anthem of heaven, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing : for thou hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood : Rev. v. 9. 12. Finally, let me congratulate, * my reverend brethren,

The author, towards the end of the discourse, writes, “ Al a Presby. tery in Augusta, April 25, 1759;" which accounts for this particular ad. dress to ministers.

in their being made ministers of the New Testament, vhich reveals that glorious and delightful subject, Christ rucified, in full light, and diffuses it through all their studies and discourses. The Lamb that was slain is the heme that animates the songs of angels and saints above, and even our unhallowed lips are allowed to touch it without profanation. Let us, therefore, my dear brethren, delight to dwell upon it. Let us do justice to the refined morality of the gospel ; let us often explain and - enforce the precepts, the graces, and the virtues of Chris: tianity; and teach men to live righteously, soberly, and

godly in the world. But let us do this in an evangelical strain, as ministers of the crucified Jesus, and not as the scholars of Epictetus or Seneca. Let us labor to bring men to a hearty compliance with the method of salvation through Christ; and then we shall find it comparatively an easy matter, a thing of course, to make them good moralists. Then a short hint of their duty to God and man will be more forcible than whole volumes of ethics, while their spirits are not cast in the gospel-mould. Thus may we be enabled to go on, till our great Master shall take our charge off our hands, and call us to give an account of our stewardship !

a

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

2 CARON. XXXII. 25.But Hezekiah rendered not again

according to the benefit done unto him.

AMONG the many vices that are at once universally decried, and universally practised in the world, there is none more base or more common than ingratitude; ingratitude towards the supreme Benefactor. Ingratitude is the sin of individuals, of families, of churches, of kingdoms, and even of all mankind. The guilt of ingratitude lies heavy upon the whole race of men, though alas! but few of them feel and lament it. I have felt it

[ocr errors]

of late with unusual weight; and it is the weight of it that now extorts a discourse from me upon this subject. If the plague of an ungrateful heart must cleave to us while in this world of sin and imperfection, let us at least lament it ; let us bear witness against it; let us condemn ourselves for it ; and let us do all we can to suppress it in ourselves. I feel myself, as it were ex. asperated, and full of indignation against it, and against myself, as guilty of it. And in the bitterness of my spirit, I shall endeavor to expose it to your view in its proper infernal colors, as an object of horror and indig. nation.

None of us can flatter ourselves that we are in little or no danger of this sin, when even so good and great a man as Hezekiah did not escape the infection. In the memoirs of his life, which are illustrious for piety, zeal for reformation, victory over his enemies, glory and importance at home and abroad, this, alas! is recorded of him, “ That he rendered not again to his divine Benefac. tor, according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up, therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.”

Many had been the blessings and deliverances of this good man's life. I shall only particularize two, recorded in this chapter. The Assyrians had overrun a great part of the country, and intended to lay siege to Jerusalem. Their haughty monarch, who had carried all before him, and was grown insolent with success, sent Hezekiah a blasphemous letter, to intimidate him and his people. He profanely bullies and defies Hezekiah and his God together; and Rabshakeh, his messenger, comments upon his master's letter in the same style of impiety and insolence. But here observe the signal efficacy of prayer! Hezekiah, Isaiah, and no doubt many other pious people among the Jews, made their prayer to the God of Israel; and, as it were, complained to him of the threatenings and profane blasphemy of the Assyrian monarch. Jehovah hears, and works a miraculous deliverance for them. He sends out an angel (one was sufficient) who destroyed in one night, as we are elsewhere told, (2 Kings xix. 35) no less than a hundred fourscore and give thousand men ; which extensive slaughter, a Jewish tradition tells us, was made by means of lightning ; a very supposable and sufficient cause. Sennacherib, with the thin remains of his army, fled home inglorious; and his two sons assassinated him at an idolatrous altar. Thus Jerusalem was freed from danger, and the country rescued from slavery and the ravages of war. Nay, we find from profane history, that this dreadful blow proved fatal in the issue to the Assyrian monarchy, which had oppressed the world so long; for

upon this the Medes, and afterwards other nations, threw off their submission; and the empire fell to pieces. Certainly so illustrious a deliverance as this, wrought immediately by the divine hand, was a sufficient reason for ardent gratitude.

Another deliverance followed upon this. Hezekiah was sick unto death ; that is, his sickness was in its own nature mortal, and would have been unto death, had it not been for the miraculous interposition of Providence. But, upon his prayer to God, he was recovered, and fifteen years added to his life. This also was great cause of gratitude. And we find it had this effect upon him, while the sense of his deliverance was fresh upon his mind; for in his eucharistic song upon his recovery, we find these grateful strains : The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth. The Lord was ready to save me : therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life. "But, alas! those grateful impressions wore off in some time; and pride, that uncreaturely temper, began to rise. He began to think himself the favorite of Heaven, in some degree, on account of his own personal goodness. He indulged his vanity in ostentatiously exposing his treasures to the Babylonian messengers: which was the instance of selfish pride and ingratitude that seems here particularly referred to.

This pride and ingratitude passed 'not without evi. dences of the divine indignation ; for we are told, therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. As the crime was not peculiar to him, so neither is the punishment. Nations and individuals have suffered in this manner from age to age: and under the guilt of it we and our country are now languishing.

In order to make you the more sensible of your ingratitude towards your divine Benefactor, I shall give

:

you a brief view of his mercies towards you, and expose the aggravated baseness of ingratitude under the reception of so many

mercies. Mercy has poured in upon you on all sides, and fol. lowed you from the first commencement of your existence : rich, various, free, repeated, uninterrupted mercy. The blessings of a body wonderfully and fearful

. ly made, complete in all its parts, and not monstrous in any: the blessings of a rational immortal soul, preserved in the exercise of sound reason for so many years, amid all those accidents that have shattered it in others, and capable of the exalted pleasures of religion, and the everlasting enjoyment of the blessed God, the supreme good: the blessing of a large and spacious world, prepared and furnished for our accommodation ; illuminated with an illustrious sun, and the many luminaries of the sky: the earth enriched and adorned with trees, vegetables, various sorts of grain, and animals, for our support or convenience; and the sea, a medium of extensive trade, and an inexhaustible store of fishes: the blessing of the early care of parents and friends, to provide for us in the helpless days of infancy, and direct or restrain us in the giddy precipitant years of youth; the blessing of being born in the adult age of the world, when the improvements of art are carried to so high a degree of perfection; of being born, not among savages in a wil. derness, but in a humanized, civilized country; not on the burning sandy deserts of the torrid zone, nor under the frozen sky of Lapland or Iceland, but in a temperate climate, as favorable to the comfort and continuance of life as most countries upon earth; not in a barren soil, scarcely affording provision of the coarsest sort for its inhabitants, but in a land of unusual plenty, that has ne

a ver felt the severities of famine; the blessing of not being a race of slaves, under the tyranny of an arbitrary government, but free-born Britons and Virginians in a land of liberty: these birth-right blessings are almost peculiar to us and our nation. Let me enumerate also the blessing of a good education; good, at least, when compared to the many savage nations of the earth ; the blessing of health for months and years; the blessing of raiment suited to the various seasons of the year; the blessings of rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, of

« ÎnapoiContinuați »