Imatges de pàgina
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some of these (as one out of the ten lepers)" will return and give thanks to God," real, lasting thanks, by devoting themselves to his honourable service.

7. It is remarkable, that several of those whom you have brought back from the margin of the grave, were intoxicated at the very time when they dropped into the water. And at that very instant, (which is frequently the case,) they totally lost their senses. Here therefore was no place for, no possibility of repentance. They had not time, they had not sense, so much as to cry out, "Lord have mercy!" So they were sinking through the mighty waters into the pit of destruction! And these instruments of divine mercy plucked them at once out of the water, and out of the fire! By the same act, delivered them from temporal and from eternal death!

8. Nay, one poor sinner (let it never be forgotten!) was just coming down from the ship, when (overtaken by the justice and mercy of God) her foot slipped, and she fell into the river. Instantly her senses were lost, so that she could not call upon God. Yet he had not forgotten her. He sent those who delivered her from death; at least, from the death of the body. And who knows, but she may lay it to heart, and turn from the error of her ways? Who knows, but she may be saved from the second death, and, with her deliverers," inherit the kingdom?"

9. One point more deserves to be particularly remarked. Many of those, who have been restored to life, (no less than eleven out of the fourteen, that were saved in a few months,) were in the number of those that are a reproach to our nation, wilful self murderers. As many of the desperate men, who attempt this horrid crime, are men who have had a liberal education, it is a pity but they would consider those fine words, not of a poor, narrow souled Christian, but of a generous heathen, nay, a Roman! Let them calmly consider that beautiful passage:

"Proxima deinde tenent masti loca, qui sibi letum
Insontes peperêre manu, lucemque perosi
Projecêre animas. Quam vellent æthere in alto
Nunc et pauperiem, et duros perferre labores!
Fata obstant, tristique palus inamabilis undâ
Alligat, et novies Styx interfusa coercet."*

"Fata obstant!" But in favour of many, we see God has overruled fate They are brought back, over the unnavigable river. They do behold the upper skies. They see the light of the sun. Oh let them see the light of Thy countenance! And let them so live their few remaining days on earth, that they may live with thee for ever!

IV. 1. Permit me now to make a short application.

But to whom shall I direct this? Are there any here who are unhappily prejudiced against that revelation, which breathes nothing but benevolence? Which contains the richest display of God's love to man, that ever was made from the foundation of the world? Yet even to you

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In vain! By fate for ever they are bound
With dire Avernus, and the lake profound,

And Styx, with nine wide channels, roars around!" PITT's Virg

men.

I would address a few words; for if you are not Christians, you are You too are susceptible of kind impressions: you have the feelings of humanity. Has not your heart too glowed at that noble sentiment; (worthy the heart and the lips of the highest Christian ;)

"Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto!"

Have not you also sympathized with the afflicted? How many times have you been pained at human misery? When you have beheld a scene of deep distress, has not your soul melted within you?

"And now and then a sigh you stole,
And tears began to flow."

But is it easy for any one to conceive a scene of deeper distress than this? Suppose you are standing by, just when the messenger comes in, and the message is delivered. "I am sorry to tell you, but you must know it, your husband is no more. He was making haste out of the vessel, and his foot slipped. It is true, after a time, his body was found; but there it lies, without any signs of life." In what a condition are now both the mother and the children! Perhaps, for a while, stupid, overwhelmed, silent; staring at each other; then bursting out into loud and bitter lamentation! Now is the time to help them; by assisting those who make it their business so to do. Now let nothing hinder you from improving the glorious opportunity! Restore the husband to his disconsolate wife, the father to his weeping children! It is true, you cannot do this in person: you cannot be upon the spot. do it in an effectual manner, by assisting those that are. by your generous contribution, send them the help which you cannot personally give. Oh shut not up your bowels of compassion towards them! Now open your hearts and your hands. If you have much, give plenteously; if not, give a little, with a willing mind.

But you may You may now,

2. To you, who believe the Christian revelation, I may speak in a still stronger manner. You believe, your blessed Master "left you an example, that you might tread in his steps." Now you know, his whole life was one labour of love. You know "how he went about doing good," and that without intermission; declaring to all, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Is not that, then, the language of your

heart;

"Thy mind throughout my life be shown,
While list'ning to the wretches' cry,
The widows' and the orphans' groan,
On mercy's wings I swiftly fly,
The poor and helpless to relieve;
My life, my all, for them to give !"

Occasions of doing this can never be wanting; for "the poor ye have always with you." But what a peculiar opportunity does the solemnity of this day furnish you with, of" treading in his steps," after a manner which you did not before conceive? Did he say to the poor afflicted parent, (doubtless to the surprise of many,)" Weep not?" And did he surprise them still more, when he stopped her flowing tears, by restoring life to her dead son, and "delivering him to his mother?" Did he (notwithstanding all that "laughed him to scorn") restore to life the daughter of Jairus? How many things of a nearly resembling sort, "if human we may liken to divine," have been done, and continue to be done daily, by these lovers of mankind? Let every one then be ambi

tious of having a share in this glorious work! Let every man (in a stronger sense than Mr. Herbert meant)

"Join hands with God, to make a poor man live!"

By your generous assistance, be ye partakers of their work, and partakers of their joy.

3. To you I need add but one word more. Remember (what was spoken at first) the solemn declaration of Him, whose ye are, and whom ye serve, coming in the clouds of heaven! While you are promoting this comprehensive charity, which contains feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, lodging the stranger; indeed all good works in one; let those animating words be written on your hearts, and sounding in your ears; "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto ME.'

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SERMON CV.-On Pleasing all Men.

"Let every man please his neighbour for his good to edification," Rom. xv, 2.

1. UNDOUBTEDLY the duty here prescribed is incumbent on all mankind; at least, on every one of those to whom are entrusted the oracles of God: for it is here enjoined to every one without exception, that names the name of Christ. And the person whom every one is com manded to please, is his neighbour; that is, every child of man. Only we are to remember here, what the same apostle speaks upon a similar occasion; "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." In like manner, we are to please all men, if it be possible, as much as lieth in us: but strictly speaking, it is not possible : it is what no man ever did, nor ever will perform. But suppose we use our utmost diligence, be the event as it may, we fulfil our duty.

2. We may farther observe in how admirable a manner the apostle limits this direction; otherwise, were it pursued without any limitation, it might produce the most mischievous consequences. We are directed to please them, for their good; not barely for the sake of pleasing them, or pleasing ourselves; much less of pleasing them to their hurt; which is so frequently done, indeed continually done, by those who do not love their neighbour as themselves. Nor is it only their temporal good, which we are to aim at in pleasing our neighbour; but what is of infinitely greater consequence: we are to do it for their edification. In such a manner as may conduce to their spiritual and eternal good. We are so to please them, that the pleasure may not perish in the using, but may redound to their lasting advantage; may make them wiser and better, holier and happier, both in time and in eternity.

3. Many are the treatises and discourses which have been published on this important subject. But all of them that I have either seen or heard, were miserably defective. Hardly one of them proposed the right end one and all had some lower design in pleasing men, than to save their souls,-to build them up in love and holiness. Of consequence, they were not likely to propose the right means, for the attainment of that end. One celebrated tract of this kind, entitled, "The Courtier," was published in Spain, about two hundred years ago, and translated into various languages. But it has nothing to do with edi

fication, and is therefore quite wide of the mark. Another treatise, entitled, "The Complete Courtier," was published in our own country, in the reign of king Charles the second; and, as it seems, by a retainer to his court. In this there are several very sensible advices concerning our outward behaviour; and many little improprieties in word or action are observed, whereby men displease others without intending it: but this author, likewise, has no view at all to the spiritual or eternal good of his neighbour. Seventy or eighty years ago, another book was printed in London, entitled, "The Art of Pleasing." But as it was wrote in a languid manner, and contained only common, trite observations, it was not likely to be of use to men of understanding, and still less to men of piety.

4. But it may be asked, has not the subject been since treated of by a writer of a very different character? Is it not exhausted, by one who was himself a consummate master of the art of pleasing? And who, writing to one he tenderly loved, to a favourite son, gives him all the advices which his great understanding, improved by various learning, and the experience of many years, and much converse with all sorts of men, could suggest? I mean, the late Lord Chesterfield; the general darling of all the Irish, as well as of the English nation.

5. The means of pleasing, which this wise and indulgent parent continually and earnestly recommends to his darling child, and on which he, doubtless, formed both his tempers and outward conduct,—

"Till death untimely stopp'd his tuneful tongue,”—

were, first, making love, in the grossest sense, to all the married women whom he conveniently could: (single women he advises him to refrain from, for fear of disagreeable consequences:) secondly, constant and careful dissimulation: always wearing a mask: trusting no man upon earth, so as to let him know his real thoughts; but perpetually seeming to mean what he did not mean, and seeming to be what he was not: thirdly, well devised lying to all sorts of people: speaking what was farthest from his heart: and, in particular, flattering men, women, and children, as the infallible way of pleasing them.

It needs no great art to show, that this is not the way to please our neighbour for his good, or to edification. I shall endeavour to show, that there is a better way of doing it; and indeed a way diametrically opposite to this. It consists,

I. In removing hinderances out of the way; and,

II. In using the means that directly tend to this end.

I. 1. I advise all that desire to "please their neighbour for his good to edification," first, to remove all hinderances out of the way; or, in other words, to avoid every thing which tends to displease wise and good men, men of sound understanding and real piety. Now cruelty, malice, envy, hatred, and revenge, are displeasing to all wise and good men; to all who are endued with a sound understanding and genuine piety. There is likewise another temper, nearly related to these, only in a lower kind, and which is usually found in common life, wherewith men in general are not pleased: we commonly call it ill nature. With all possible care avoid all these: nay, and whatever bears any resemblance to them;-as sourness, sternness, sullenness, on the one hand; peevishness and fretfulness on the other ;-if ever you hope to "please your neighbour for his good to edification."

2. Next to cruelty, malice, and similar tempers, with the words and actions that naturally spring therefrom, nothing is more disgustful, not only to persons of sense and religion, but even to the generality of men, than pride, haughtiness of spirit, and its genuine fruits, an assuming, arrogant, overbearing behaviour. Even uncommon learning, joined with shining talents, will not make amends for this: but a man of eminent endowments, if he be eminently haughty, will be despised by many, and disliked by all. Of this the famous master of Trinity college in Cambridge was a remarkable instance. How few persons of his time had a stronger understanding, or deeper learning, than Dr. Bentley! And yet how few were less beloved! unless one who was little, if at all inferior to him in sense or learning, and equally distant from humility : the author of the "divine legation of Moses." Whoever, therefore, desires to please his neighbour for his good, must take care of splitting upon this rock. Otherwise the same pride which impels him to seek the esteem of his neighbour, will infallibly hinder his attaining it.

3. Almost as disgustful to the generality of men as haughtiness itself, is a passionate temper and behaviour. Men of a tender disposition are afraid even to converse with persons of this spirit. And others are not fond of their acquaintance; as frequently, (perhaps when they expected nothing less,) meeting with shocks, which if they bear for the present, yet they do not willingly put themselves in the way of meeting with again. Hence passionate men have seldom many friends; at least, not for any length of time. Crowds, indeed, may attend them for a season, especially when it may promote their interest. But they are usually disgusted one after another, and fall off like leaves in autumn. If, therefore, you desire lastingly to please your neighbour for his good, by all possible means avoid violent passion.

4. Yea, and if you desire to please, even on this account, take that advice of the apostle: "Put away all lying." It is the remark of an ingenious author, that of all vices, lying never yet found an apologist; any that would openly plead in its favour, whatever his private sentiments might be. But it should be remembered, Mr. Addison went to a better world, before lord Chesterfield's letters were published. Perhaps his apology for it was the best that ever was, or can be made for so bad a cause. But after all, the labour he has bestowed upon it, "has only semblance of worth; not substance." It has no solidity in it; it is nothing better than a shining phantom. And as lying can never be commendable or innocent, so neither can it be pleasing: at least, when it is stripped of its disguise, and appears in its own shape. Consequently it ought to be carefully avoided, by all those who wish to please their neighbour for his good to edification.

5. But is not flattery, a man may say, one species of lying? And has not this been allowed in all ages, to be the sure means of pleasing? Has not that observation been confirmed by numberless experiments; Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit?

"Flattery creates friends, plain dealing enemies?" Has not a late witty writer, in his "Sentimental Journal," related some striking instances of this? I answer, it is true: flattery is pleasing for a while, and that not only to weak minds; as the desire of praise, whether deserved or undeserved, is planted in every child of man. But it is pleasing only for a while. As soon as the mask drops off, as soon as it

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