« הקודםהמשך »
while they threw down the walls of Jericho by the sound of the rams-horns, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of the fire, escaped the edge of the sword, waxing valiant in fight, and turning to flight the armies of the aliens. We might perform all those prodigies, and not obtain salvation. Yes, we might put to fight the armies of the aliens, display invincible valour in the warfare, escape the edge of the sword, quench the violence of the fire, stop the mouths of lions, overturn walls, force a passage through the sea, and yet be numbered with those to whom Christ will say; I know you not. And dost thou fear, christian combatant, dost thou fear to attain salvation without those miraculous aids ? The requisite assistance for thy salvation is promised. The fountain is open to the whole house of David, Zech. xii, 1, Seek, and ye shall find ; ask, and you shall receive ; knock, and it shall be opened. If you being evil, know how to give good things unto your children, how much more shall your Futher which is in heaven give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him. If any of you lack wisdom let kim ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.
O! if we knew the value of this wisdom! If we knew what miracles of virtue can be wrought by a soul actuated by the Holy Spirit. If we knew how to avail ourselves of this promise! Let us, my dear brethren, avail ourselves of it. Let us ask of God those aids, not to fatter our indolence and vice, but to strengthen us in all our conflicts. Let us say, Lord, teach my hands to war, and my fingers to fight, Psa. cxliv. Beeing so many enemies combined to detach us from his favour, let us thus invite him to our aid. Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered, lei them also that hate him flee before him, Let us pour into his bosom all those anxieties, which enfeeble the mind. Then he will reply, My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength shall be made
perfect in thy weakness. Then shall all the enemies, of our salvation fly, and be confounded before us.
Then shall all the difficulties, which discourage us by the way, disappear. Then shall we exclaim in the midst of conflicts, Blessed be God who always causeth us to triumph in Christ. Amen. To him be honour and glory for ever. Amen.
ON THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS.
HEBREWS xii. I.
Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a
cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin wh ch doth so easily beset us ; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
(THE SUBJECT CONCLUDED.] We proceed this day, my brethren, to show you the way, which leads to the end proposed in our two preceding discourses. The words we have now read for the third time, place three things before your view....distinguished duties....excellent models....and wise precautions. The distinguished duties are illustrated in the perseverance we pressed in our first discourse. The excellent models are the saints of the highest order, and in particular the cloud of witnesses with which we are surrounded. Of these, St. Paul has made an enumeration and eu. logium in the chapter preceding that, from which our text is read; and whose virtues we have traced in our last discourse. But, by what means may we attain an end so noble ? By what means may we discharge duties so distinguished, and form ourselves after models so excellent? This shall be the inquiry in our present discourse. It is by laying aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily besel us.... Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about roith so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset' us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Enter, my brethren, on the consideration of this subject with that sacred diffidence, with which frail creatures should be affected on contemplating the difficulties with which our course is strewed : but enter with all the magnanimity, with which' an idea of the powerful and promised aids should inspire the mind of a christian. Be impressed with this thought, and we conjure you to keep it constantly in view during this discourse ; that there is no way of run. ning the race like those illustrious characters adduced as models, but by endeavouring to equal them in holiness; and that there is no way of equalling them in holiness, but by adopting the precautions of which they availed themselves to attain perfection. Happy those of you, my brethren, infinitely more happy than the tongue of mortals can express, happy those whom this consideration shall save from that wretched state of indolence into which the greatest part of men are plunged, and whom it shall excite to that vigilance and activity of life, which is the great design of christianity, and the grand characteristic of christian! Amen.
We shall now illustrate the expressions in our text by a few remarks.
The first is that they are figurative. St. Paul represents our christian vocation by the idea of those races, 50 ancient and so celebrated among the heathen: and, pursuing the same thought, he repre. sents the precautions used by athletics to obtain the prize, as those which we ought to use in order to be crowned. The weights of flowing robes, such as were once, and such as are still worn by oriental nations, would very much encumber those who ran in
Just so, inordinate cares, I would say, cares concerning temporal things, and criminal purposes, exceedingly encumber those who enter on the course of salvation. I not only allude to criminal purposes, (for who can be so ignorant of religion as to deny it,) but also to excessive cares. St. Paul, in my opinion, had this double view. He requires us not only to lay sin aside, but every weight; that is, all those secular affairs unconnected with our pro. fession. In St. Paul's view, these affairs are to the christian what the flowing robes would have been to the athletics of whom we spake. How instructive is this idea! How admirably calculated, if seriously considered, to rectify our notions of morality! I do not wish to make the christian to become an anchoret, I do not wish to degrade those useful men, whom God seems to have formed to be the soul of society ; and of whom we may say in the political world as St. Paul has said in the ecclesiastical, I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, Rom. i. 14. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches, 2 Cor. xi. 28.
On the other hand, we often deceive ourselves with regard to what is called in the world....business! This man was born with all the uprightness of mind compatible with the loss of primitive innocence. While left to reflections of his own mind in early life, he followed the dictates of reason, and senti. ments of virtue. His mind, undisturbed with the anxieties inseparable from the management of a large fortune, applied almost wholly to the study of truth, and the practice of virtue. But officious friends, a proud and avaricious family, the roots of vanity, and love of exterior grandeur, scarcely ever eradicated, have induced him to push his fortune, and distinguish himself in the world. He aspires to civil employment. The solicitations to which he must descend, the intrigues he must manage, the friends