« ÎnapoiContinuați »
scinated us all. He seizes the great and the this principle, that gold and silver are the sinall, the court and the city. But I abridge true riches: and the moment that the soul my intentions on this subject; I yield to the which established its happiness on a false prinreasons which forbid my extending to farther ciple becomes enlightened ; the moment it in. detail. To feel the strokes of God's hand, vestigates the numerous cases in which richis most assuredly the first duty he requires. es are not only useless, but destructive, it loses Hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.' the happiness founded on mistake. We may
II. This rod requires us, secondly, to trace reason in the same manner concerning the the causes and the origin of our calamities. other passions. There is then in the soul of Micah wished the Jews to comprehend that every man a harmony between happiness and the miseries under which they groaned were virtue, misery and crime. a consequence of their crimes. We would 2. This harmony is equally found in the wish you to form the same judgment of yours. great circles of national society. I am not But here the subject has its difficulties. Un wholly unacquainted with the maxims which der a pretence of entering into the spirit of a false polity would advance on the subject. humiliation, there is danger of our falling in- I am not ignorant of what Hobbes, Machito the puerilities of superstition. Few sub- avel, and their disciples, ancient and mojects are more fertile in erroneous conclu dern, have said. And I frankly confess, sions than this subject. Temporal prosperi- that I fe. I the force of the dificulties opposed ty and adversity are very equivocal marks of to this general thesis, of the happiness of nathe favour and displeasure of God. If some tions boing inseparable from their innocence. men are so wilfully blind as not to see that a But notwitstanding all the difficulties of particular dispensation of Providence is pro- which the thesis is susceptible, I think myductive of certain punishments, there are self able to maintain, and prove, that all pubothers who fancy that they every where see lick happ ness founded on crime, is like the a particular providence. The commonest oc- happiness of the individual just described. It currences, however closely connected with is a state of violence, which cannot be permasecondary causes, seem to them the result of nent. From the sources of those same vices an extraordinary counsel in him who holds on which a criminal polity would found the the helm of the world. The slightest adver- happiness of the state, proceeds a long train sity they regard as a stroke of his angry arm. of calamities which are evidently productive Generally speaking, we should always recol. of total ruin. lect that the conduct of Providence is involv. Without encumbering ourselves with these ed in clouds and darkness. We should form discussions, without reviving this controversy, the criterion of our guilt or innocence not by the better to keep in view the grand objects the exterior prosperity or adversity sent of of the day, I affirin, that the calamities unGod, but by our obedience or disobedience to der which we groan are the necessary conhuis word; and we should habituate ourselves sequence of our crimes; and in such sort, to see, without surprise in this world, the that though there were no God of vengeance wicked prosperous, and the righteous aillicted. who holds the helm of the universe, no judge
But notwithstanding the obscurity in which ready to execute justice, our degeneracy into it has pleased God to involve his ways, there every vice would suffice to involve our counare cases, in which we cannot without impie. try in misery. ty refuse assent, that adversity is increased Under what cvils do we now groan? Is it by crimes. It is peculiarly apparent in two because our name is less respected ? Is it becases : first, when there is a natural connex- cause our credit is less established ? Is it be. ion between the crimes you have committed, cause our armies are less formidable ? Is it be. and the calamities we suffer: the second is, cause our union is less compact? But whence when the great calamities immediately follow do these calamities proceed? Are they the the perpetration of enormous crimes. Let us mysteries of a God, who hideth himselt?' explain
Are they strokes inflicted by an invisible First, we cannot doubt that punishment is hand? Or are they the natural effects and a consequence of crime, when there is an es- consequences of our crimes? Does it require sential tie between the crime we have com- miracles to produce them? If so, miracles mitted, and the calamity we suffer. One of would be requisite to prevent them. Men the finest proofs of the holiness of the God, to of genius, profound statesmen, you who send whom all creatures owe their preservation us to our books, and to the dust of our closets, and being, is derived from the harmony he when we talk of Providence, and of plagues has placed between happiness and virtue. intlicted by an avenging God, I summon Trace this harmony in the circles of soci- your speculation and superior information to cty, and in private life. 1. In private life this one point ; 'our destruction is of ourAn enlightened mind can find no solid happi. selves :' and the Judge of the universe has no noss but in the exercise of virtue The p1s- need to punish our crimes but by our crin.cs. sions may indeed excite a transient satisfac- I have said, in the second place, that great tion; but a state of violenco cannot be per- calamities following great crimes, ought to manent. Each passion offers violence to be regarded as their punishment. And shall soine faculty of the soul, to which that facul. we retuse, in this day of humiliation, ascribty is abandoned. The happiness procured ing to this awful cause the strokes with by the passions is founded on mistake : the which we are afflicted? Cast your eyes for a moment the soul recovers recollection, the moment on the nature of the crimes which happiness occasioned by error is dissipated. reproach these provinces. All nations have The happiness ascribed to avarice is ground. their vices, and vices in which they resemble ed on the same mistake: it is couched in one another; all nations afford the justest
cause for reprehension. Read the various calamities whose distinguished characteris-
greater, when the people whom God afflicts Now, my brethren, can you cast your eyes have recourse to second causes instead of on these provinces, without recognising a the first cause ; and when they seek the renumber of sins of the latter class ? In some dress of their calamities in political resources, families, the education of youth is so aston- and not in religion. This is the portrait ishingly neglected, that we see parents train which Isaiah gives of Sennacherib's first exing up their children for the first offices of pedition against Judea. The prophet recites the republic, for offices which decide the hon- it in the twenty-second chapter of his book. our, the fortune, and the lives of men, with. He discovered the covering of Judah, and out so much as initiating them into the sci- thou didst look in that day to the armour of encer, essentially requisite for the adequate the house of the forest. Ye have seen also the discharge of professional duties. Profane- breaches of the city of David, that they are ness is so prevalent, and indifference for the many: and ye gathered together the waters homage we pay to God is so awful, that we see of the lower pool. And ye have numbered people passing whole years without ever en- the house of Jerusalem, and the houses have iering our sanctuaries; mechanics publicly ye broken down to fortify the wall. Ye made follow their labour on the sabbath ; women also a ditch between the two walls, for the in the polished circles of society choose the water of the old pool; but ye have not look. hour of our worship to pay their visits, and ed unto the Maker thereof, neither have ye expose card-tables, if I may so speak, in the had respect unto him that fashioned it long, sight of our altars. Infidelity is so rife, that ago. And in that day did the Lord God of the presses groan with works to immortalize Hosts call to weeping and to mourning, and blasphemies against the being of God, and to to plucking of the hair, and to girding with sap the foundation of public morals. How sackcloth. And behold, joy and gladness, easy, would it be to swell this catalogue! slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating, flesh, My brethren, on a subject so awful, let us and drinking wine: let us eat and drink for not deceive ourselves; these are not the to-morrow we shall die. And it was revealed spots of the children of God; they are the in mine ears by the Lord of Hosts, surely very crimes which bring upon nations, the this iniquity shall not be purged from you.' malediction of God, and which soon or late It belongs to you to make the application occasion their total overthrow.
of this passage ; it belongs to you to inquire III. To feel the calamities under which what resemblance our present conduct may we now groan, and to trace their origin is have to that of the Jews in a similar situa. not enough : we must anticipate the future: tion. Whether it is to the first cause you the third sort of regard required for the strokes have had recourse for the removal of your with which we are struck, is to develop their calamities, or whether you have solely adherconsequences and connexions. Some cala- ed to second causes? whether it is the maxmities are less formidable in themselves than ims of religion you have consulted, or the in the awful consequences they produce. maxims of policy? whether it is a barrier There are deeps which call unto deeps at you have pretended to put to the war, to the the noise of God's waterspouts;' Ps. xlii. pestilence, and famine; or whether you have 8; and to sum up all in one word, there are 'put one to injustice, to hatred, to fornication,
and to fraud, the causes of those calami- / when it fails in producing the reformation of ties!
those manners it was sent to chastise. Weigh 2. One calamity is the forerunner of great those awful words in the twenty-sixth chaper calamities, when instead of humiliation on ter of Leviticus. 'If ye will not hearken the reception of the warnings God sends by unto me, but walk contrary unto me; then I his servants, we turn those warnings into will walk contrary also unto you in fury; and contempt By this sign, the author of the I, even I, will chastise you seven times for second Book of Chronicles wished the Jews your sins.' The force of these words deto understand that their impiety had attained pends on those which proceed. We there its height. The Lord God of their fathers find a gradation of calamities whose highest sent unto them by his messengers, rising up period extends to the total destruction of the betimes and sending; because he had com people against whom they were denounced. passion on his people : but they mocked the If you will not hearken, Moses had said in messengers of God; they despised his word, behalf of God, verse 14, 'I will even appoint and misused his prophets, until the wrath of over you terror, the consumption, and the the Lord arose against his people, so that burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, there was no remedy,' xxxvii. 15, 16.
and cause sorrow of heart. And I will set My brethren, it is your duty to inquire how my face against you, and ye shall be slain far you are affected by this doctrine. It is before your enemies: they that hate you your duty to examine whether your present shall reign over you, and ye shall flee when desolating calamities are characterized as none pursueth you.' Immediately he adds, harbingers of greater evils. Do you discover "If ye will not for all this hearken,' and these a teachable disposition towards the messen. words occur at the eighteenth verse, ' If ye gers of God who would open your eyes to will not yet for all this hearken unto me, see the effects of his indignation ; or, do you then will I punish you seven times more for revolt against their word? Do you love to be your sins. And I will break the pride of reproved and corrected, or do you resemble your power ; and I will make your heaven as the incorrigible man of whom the prophet iron, and your earth as brass. And if ye walk says, thou hatest instruction,' Ps. 1. 17. contrary to me, I will bring seven times more What a humiliating subject, my brethren, plagues upon you according to your sins. what an awful touchstone of our misery!
And I will send the wild beast against you, 3. One calamity is the forerunner of great. I and they shall rob you of your children, and er calamities, when the anguish it excites make you few in number, and your highways proceeds more from the loss of our perishable shall be desolate.!. Then he denounces a riches than from sentiments of the insults new train of calamities, after which the words offered to God. This sign, the prophet Ho- I have cited immediately follow. 'If ye will sea gave to the inhabitants of Samaria. not be reformed by all these things, but will
Though I have redeemed them,' says he, walk contrary unto me, then will I also walk speaking for God,' they have not cried unto contrary unto you in fury, and will punish me with their heart, when they howled upon you yet seven times for your sins. And ye their beds.' It was for corn and wine, that shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh they cut themselves when they assembled of your daughters. And I will destroy your together; or as might be better rendered, high places, and cut down your images, and when they assembled for devotion.* Exa- cast your carcase upon the carcases of your mine again, or rather censure a subject which idols. And I will make your cities waste, presents the mind with a question less for and bring your sanctuary into desolation.' inquiry than for the admission of a fact al- Make, my brethren, the most serious reready decided. We would interrupt our busi- flections on these words of God to his ancient ness; we would suspend our pleasures; we people. If in the strictest sense, they are would shed our tears; we would celebrate inapplicable to you, it is because your prefasts on the recollection of our crimes, pro- sent calamities require less than sevenfold vided we could be assured that God would more to effectuate your total extermination. remit the punishment? We'cut ourselves; Do I exaggerate the subject ? Are your seawe assemble to-day for wine and wheat;' be- banks able to sustain sevenfold greater shocks cause commerce is obstructed ; because our
than they have already received? Are your repose is interrupted in defiance of precau- cattle able to sustain sevenfold heavier tion; because the thunderbolts fallen on the strokes? Is your commerce able to sustain a heads of our neighbours threaten us, and our sevenfold greater depression? Is there then friends, our brethren, and our children; or is so wide a distance between your present cait because that those paternal regårds of God lamities, and your total ruin? are obscured, which should constitute our IV. Let us proceed to other subjects. Hihighest felicity, and all our joys? I say again, therto, my dear brethren, we have endeathis is a subject already decided rather than youred to open your eyes, and fix them steada question of investigation.
fastly on dark and afflictive objects; we have 4. Not wishful to multiply remarks, but to solicited your attention but for bitter recomprise the whole in a single thought, one proaches, and terrific menaces We have plague is the forerunner of greater plagues sought the way to your hearts, but to excite
terror and alarm. The close of this day's deThe original word is so translated in the Freneh votion shall be more conformable to prayers
we offer for you, to the goodness of the God regard to the former phrase, They cue hemselvrs, we worship, and to the character of our minseems to harmonize better with the scope of the pas- istry. We will no longer open your eyes but sage than the English, They rebel, because it follows, Though I had bound and strongthened their arms,
to fix them on objects of consolation ; we will meaning their wounded arms.
no longer solicit your attention to hear pre- kingdom to pluck up, and pull down, and to dictions of misery: we will seek access to destroy it; if that nation against whom I your hearts solely to augment your peace have pronounced, turn from their evil. I will and consolation. Hear the rod, and who repent of the evil that I thought to do anto hath appointed it:' and amid the whole of them. The foundation of these hopes is your calamities, know what are your resour- stronger than all that we can ask. ces, and what are your hopes. This is our In particular, we found our hope on the fourth pait.
| love which God has uniformly cherished for One of the most notorious crimes of which this republic. Has not God established it by a a nation can be guilty when Heaven calls series of miracles, and has he not preserved them to repentance, is that charged on the it by a series of miracles still greater? Has Jews in Jereiniah's time. The circumstance he not at all times surrounded it as with a is remarkable. It occurs in the sixteenth wall of fire, and been himself the buckler on chapter of this prophet's revelations. His the most pressing occasions? Has he not inmission was on the eve of their approaching perted the laws of nature, and of the elements ruin: its object was to save by fear the men for its defence ? whom a long course of prosperity could not We found our hopes on the abundant merinstruct. He discharged those high duties cies with which God has loaded us during with the firinness and magnanimity which the time of visitation. With the one hand the grandeur of God was calculated to in- he abases, with the other he exalts. With spire, whose minister he had the glory to be the one hand he brings the pestilence to our • Because your fathers have forsaken me,' he gates, and with the other he obstructs it from said in the name of the Lord, and have entering ; from desolating our cities, and atwalked after other gods, and have served tacking our persons. them, and have worshipped before them; and We found our hope on the resources he has because ye have done worse than your fa- still left the state to recover, and to re-estabthers, therefore will I cast you out of this lish itself in all the extent of its glory and land, into a land which neither ye, nor your prosperity. We found our hopes also on the fathers know,' ver. 11–13.
solemnities of this day; on the abundance of Lest the apprehension of ruin without re- tears which will be shed in the presence of source should drive them to despair, God God, on the many prayers which will be ofmade to Jeremiah a farther communication ; fered to heaven, and on the numerous purhe honoured him with a vision saying, Arise, poses of conversion, which will be formed and go down to the polter's house, and there Frustrate not these hopes by a superficial I will cause thee to hear my words.' The devotion, by forgetfulness of promises, and prophet obeyed; he went to the potter's violation of vows. Your happiness is in yoar house; the workman was busy at the wheel. own hands. • Return ye now every one from He formed a vase, which was marred in his his evil way, and amend your doings.' Here hand ; he made it anew, and gave it a form is the law, here is the condition. This law according to his pleasure. This eniblem God is general; this condition concerns you all. explained to the prophet,saying, Go,and speak Yes this law concerns you ; this condition these words to the house of Israel O house is imposed on all. High and mighty lords: of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? it is required of you this day to lay a net saith the Lord. Behold as the clay is in the foundation for the security of this people : potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, O house Return ye then, my lords, from your evil of Israel. At what instant I shall speak ways and be converted. In vain shall you concerning a nation, and concerning a king. have proclaimed a fast, if you set not the dom to pluck up, and to pull down, and to fairest example of decency in its celebration. destroy it: if that nation against whom I In vain shall you have commanded pastors to have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will preach against the corruption which predomirepent of the evil that I thought to do unto nates among us, if you lend not an arm to them. Return ye now every one from his suppress it; if you suffer profaneness and inevil way, and amend your ways. What ef. fidelity to lift their head with impunity; if fects might not this mission have produced? you suffer the laws of chastity to be violated But the incorrigible depravity of the people in the face of the sun, and houses of infamy was proof against this additional overture of to be open as those of temples consecrated gruce ; those abominable men, deriving ar- to the glory of God; if you suffer public roats guments of obduracy even from the despe- and sports to subsist in all their füry; it yon rate situation of their nation, replied to the abandon the reins to mammon, to establisà prophet, “ 'There is no hope, we will walk af. its maxims, and communicate its poison, if ter our own devices, and we will every one possible, to all our towns and provinces do the imagination of his evil heart,' xviii. Have compassion then on the calamities of 1-12.
onr country. Be impressed with its sighs. Revolting at those awful dispositions, we Place her under the immediate protection of are, my brethren, invested with the same Almighty God. May he deign in clothing cominission as Jeremiah God has said to you with his grandeur and power to clothe us as well as to this prophet, ‘Go down to you also with holiness and equity. May be the potter's house ; see him mar, and form deign to give you the Spirit of Esdras, of his vessels anew, giving them a form accord Nehemiah, of Josiah, of Hezekiah, princes ing to his pleasure. Behold, as the clay is distinguished in the sacred Scriptures, who in the potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, brought their nation back to reformation and O house of Israel. At what instant I shall piety, and thereby to happiness and glory. speak concerning a nation, and concerning a This law concerns you, this condition, pastors, is imposed on you. “Return from mo, I pray thee, out of thy book," Exod. xxxii. your evil ways and amend. The ministry 32. O how glorious to be in a republic, if I with which God has invested you; this min. may venture so to speak, the stay of the istry at all times weighty and difficult, is par state, and the cause of its existence! May ticularly so in this age of contradiction and he who has chosen you to those exalted duties, universal depravity. You are appointed to assist you to discharge them with fidelity censure the vices of the people, and every May he purify all your yet remaiving defects one is enraged against you, the moment you and imperfections! Muy he make you the cast an eye on his particular crimes. They salt of the earth, and enable you to shine os will treat you as enemies when you tell them lights in the midst of this crooked and perthe truth. No matter. Force your hearers verse generation, and cause you to find in to respect you. Testify to them by your ge- the delights which piety shåll afford, the nerosity and disinterestedness, that you are first rewards of all the advantages it proready to make every sacrifice to sustain the cures. glory of your ministry. Give them as many This law concerns us all, this condition is examples as precepts; and then ascend the pul- imposed on each. “Let us return from our pit with a mind contident and firm. You have evil ways, and amend.' Why would we de. ibe same right over the people, as the Isaiahs, lay conversion? Why would we delay disas the Micahs, and as the Jeremiahs, had arining the wrath of heaven till overwhelmed over Israel and Judah. You can say like with its vengeance? Why should we delay them, the Lord has spoken. And may the our supplications till God shall cover him. God who has invested you with the sacred self with a cloud, that our prayers cannot office you fill, may he grant you the talents pass through? Lam. iii. 41. Why should we requisite for its faithful discharge; may he delay till wholly enveloped in the threatened assist you by the most intimate communica: calamities? To say all in a single word, why tions in the closet, to bear the crosses laid should we delay till Holland becomes as upon you by the public; may he deign to Provence, and the Hague as Marseilles ? accept the purity of your intentions, to have Ah! what word is that we have just procompassion on your weakness, and enable nounced? what horrors does it not oblige us you to redouble your efforts by the blessings to retrace? O consuming fire, God of venhe shall shed on your work!
geance, animate our souls; and may the This law concerns you, this condition is piercing and awful ideas of thy judgments inimposed on you, rebellious men: on you sin- duce us to avert the blow. Odreadful times, ners, who have excelled in the most awful where death enters our houses with the air courses of vice, in fighting, in hatred, in bru. wo breathe, and with the food we eat; every tality, in profaneness, in insolenco, and every one shuns himself as death ; the father fears other crime which confounds the human kind the breath of his son, and the son the breach with demons. It is you, chiefly you who of his father. O dreadful times, already have uplifted the arm of vengeance which come on so inany victims, and perhaps ready pursues us; it is you who have dug those pits to come on us, exhibit the calamities in all which are under our feet. But, return from their horrors! I look on myself as stretched your evil ways, and amend.' Let your re- on my dying bed, and abandoned by my dearformation have some proportion to your pro- est friends ; I look on my children as entreatfligacy, and your repentance to your crimes. ing me to help thom; I am terrified by their And may the God who can of these stones approach, I am appalled by their embraces, raise up children unto Abraham, and make to and receive the contagion by their last adieu ! rush from the hardest rocks fountains of liv. My brethren, the throne of mercy is yet ing water, may he deign to display on you accessiblo. The devotion of so many saints, the invincible power he has over the heart: who have besieged it to-day, have opened it may he penetrate the abyss of your souls, to us. Let us approach it with broken and and strike them in places the most tender contrite hearts. " Let us approach it with ard susceptible of anguish, of shame, and of promises of conversion, and oaths of fidelity. repentwice!
Let us approach it with ardent prayers for This law concerns you, it is imposed on the salvation of this republic; for the prosFou believers; and believers even of the firet perity of the church; for the peace of Euclass. How pure boever your virtues may rope and for the salvation of those victims, be, they are still mised with imperfections: which the divine justice is ready to sacrifice. how firm soever the fabrick of your piety Let us prostrate before God as David at the may be, it still requires support; and how sight of the destroying angel, and may we sincere soever your endeavours may be, they like that prince succeed in staying the awfu! must still be repeated. It is on you, that the executions. May this year, hitherto filled salvation of the nation devolves. It is you with alarms, with horror, and carnage, close piety, your fervour, and your zeal, which inust with hope and consolation. May this day, for the future sustain this tottering republic. which has been a day of fasting, bumiliation, May there be ten righteous persons in our and repantance, produce the soleninities of Sodom, lest it be consumed by fire from hea- joy and thanksgiving. God grant us the ren: may there still be a Moscs, who knows grace. To who be honour and glory for how to stay the arm of God, and to say, 0 ever. Amen. Lord, pardon this people; - and if not, blot