Imatges de pÓgina

SERM. keeping up a communication with all the XV. kingdoms of the earth. His command over

the animal race is still more extraordinary. For among these many are rendered subject to him by art and management, which are much his superiors in natural powers. Not to dwell longer upon this however than is necessary, it must be admitted that man has whereof to be proud, inasmuch as he is certainly placed in a situation of great power as to all the things around him on this globe of earth; but is his pride to know no bounds, because he can do as he pleases with the things rendered by the providence of God subordinate to him in this world; is he to do as he pleases in regard to every thing in the universe ? because he can see nothing below him in the scale of creation, over which he cannot exercise authority; is there therefore nothing to be discovered above him, to whose authority he ought himself to submit? The very power that he is able to exercise over the parts of the creation subject to him, should lead him to an immediate sense of the power that may be exercised over himself.


What is the object of the power he exer- SERM. cises over the different parts of the creation XV. subject to him ? Is it not in all instances to render them subservient to the use of man ? Is it not to make them harmonise with the general views and wants of society? And is it likely that man himself should have been left to act at random, when there is no being present in the world more able to do mischief, or thwart the chief ends of society? No, fortunately for us, man has a superior too! We may see by the disposition of those who dare to make a mock at sin, what a world this would be, if all men were equally inclined to cast off restraint ! To prevent so fatal an event the Almighty has subjected us to his own righteous laws, which he has promulgated among us, partly by the intervention of prophets and teachers, partly by descending himself from heaven to instruct us, and partly by the natural notices of good and evil engraved on our hearts. Of these laws and precepts every transgression is sin; those therefore who make a mock at sin, do in fact make a mock of that su





SERM. preme legislator, by whose authority, and

by whose laws, sin is prohibited and forbidden. But what becomes of the pride of man when he puts himself into this situation? What becomes of this Lord of this lower creation, when he presumes to put himself into competition with the God of heaven and of earth! What name shall we give to that barefaced and inconsiderate confidence with which the sinner slights God's laws ? Shall we call it courage? No, there is no real courage in venturing to fly in the face of God; there is a great deal of blustering and vain conceit, a great deal of insolence and rashness, and to recur to the words of my text, a great deal indeed of the worst sort of folly. And yet this folly is but too common in all ranks and conditions of life. It is to be found among the young, and too often among the aged ; if the poor are not exempt from it, neither are the rich. I do not mean to speak without discrimination ; I do not mean to say that all of any condition are subject to this folly. Some of the young are too discreet, many of the aged too considerate about




their latter end. Some of the rich set good serM. examples of virtue and of piety, and many of the poor place all their hopes, as they should do, in the mercy and salvation of God. Nevertheless it is much too commonly the case, that a mock is made at sin. Many commit sin for pleasure sake, many for profit sake. Many for want of reflection, many even in spite of all reflection. It may be worth our while to consider the most obvious conséquences of this sort of behaviour, and I think it will be easy to shew, that a disposition to mock at sin leads to a breach of all God's commandments. And first, to make a mock at sin, that is to make light of it, and think it of no serious consequence, is certainly to throw off all submission and allegiance to God, who has denounced the heaviest

punishments against all sin and disobedience. To be induced by any temptations to neglect the worship of God, and obedience to his commands, is to embrace some object in preference thereto; either by seeking after a vain popularity among others as thoughtless and indiscreet as ourselves, or

SEŘM. by endeavouring to compass the joys of

this life, to the absolute forfeiture of all the joys of heaven. It is to fall down and worship all the vain and transitory idols of this world, in absolute neglect of the duty we owe to our Father and Creator, which is in heaven. If this does not strike us, as any immediate acknowledgment of other gods besides the only God of heaven, it must at least appear to the most inconsiderate, to be a great neglect of the one true God. But perhaps there is no more common mode of mocking at sin, than the habit of swearing so peremptorily forbidden by the third commandment. To any body capable of apprehending the real and absolute majesty of God, and comparing it with the weakness and insignificance of human beings, it must appear horrible to think how continually, not only upon the most ordinary, but sometimes upon the most base and wicked occasions, his holy name is profaned. His name ought to be a sanctuary for those to fly to, who have no other possible means of attesting the truth, or proving their own innocence; instead of

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