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that in all nations he that feareth God is , fall, as it may appear to the infidel, contains accepted of him?" Acts x. 35. And is this what is most certain, and the wisest part a the system which is exempt from difficulties? rational man can take, is to adhere to it with How, superseding the authority of the Bible, an inviolable attachment. will you maintain this principle ? How will But how evident socver these arguments you maintain it against the terrors God de- may be, and however strong this apology for nounces against the base, and the fearful,' the difficulties of religion may appear, there Rev. xxi. 8; against the injunction to go always remains a question on this subject, out of Babylon; against the duty prescribed and indeed an important question, which we of confessing him in presence of all men, cannot omit resolving without leaving a Isa. xlviii. 20; Matt. x. 32; and with regard chasm in this discourse. Why these mysto the fortitude he requires us to display on teries? Why these shadows ? And why this the rack, and when surrounded with fire and darkness? Does not the goodness of God enfaggots, and when called to brave them for gage to remove this stumbling-block, and to the sake of truth! How will you maintain it give us a religion radiant with truth, and desagainst the care he has taken to teach you titute of any obscuring veil? There are vathe truth without any mixture of lies? rious reasons, my brethren, which render cer
Do you take the part of believing nothing? tain doctrines of religion impenetrable to us. Do you conclude from these difficulties, that The first argument of the weakness of our the best system is to have none at all. Ob- knowledge is derived from the limits of the stinate Pyrrhonian, you are then resolved to human mind. It is requisite that you should doubt of all! And is this the system which favour me here with a little more of recollecis exempt from difficulties. When you shall tion than is usually bestowed on a sermon. be agreed with yourself; when you have It is not requisite to be a philosopher to beconciliated your singular system with the come a Christian. The doctrines of our reconvictions of your mind, with the sentiments ligion, and the precepts of our moral code, of your heart, and with the dictates of your are sanctioned by the testimony of an infalliconscience, then you shall see what we have ble God: and not deriving their origin from to reply.
the speculations of men, it is not from their What then shall you do to find a light with approbation that they derive their authority. out darkness, and an evidence to your mind ? Meanwhile, it is a felicity, we must confess, Do you take the part of the libertine ? Do and an anticipation of the happy period when you abandon to colleges the care of religion, our faith shall be changed to sight, to find in and leaving the doctors to waste life deciding sound reason the basis of all the grand truths who is wrong, and who is right, are you de- religion reveals, and to convince ourselves termined as to yourself to rush head fore. by experience, that the more we know of most into the world? Do you say with the man, the more we see that religion was made profane, 'Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow for man. Let us return to our first principle. we die ? Do you enjoy the present without The narrow limits of the human mind shall pursuing uncertain rewards, and alarming open one source of light on the subject we your mind with fears of miseries which per- discuss; they shall convince us, that minds haps may never come? And is this the sys- circumscribed, as ours, cannot before the tem destitute of mysteries ? Is this the sys- time penetrate far into the adorable mystetem preferred to what is said by our apostles, ries of taith. our evangelisls, our doctors, our pastors, and
We have elsewhere distinguished three by all the holy men God has raised up for faculties in the mind of man, or rather three the perfecting of the saints, and for the work classes of faculties which comprise whatever of the ministry?' But though the whole of we know of this spirit; the faculty of thinkyour objectiuns were founded; though the ing; the faculty of feeling; and the faculty mysteries of the gospel were a thousand of loving. Examine these three faculties, times more difficult to penetrate ; though our and you will be convinced that the mind of knowledge were incomparably more circum- man is circumscribed within narrow bounds ; scribed ; and though religion should be in they are so closely circumscribed, that whilo finitely less demonstrated than it is; should attentively contemplating a certain object, this be the part you ought to take? The sole they cannot attend to any other. probability of religion, should it not induce You experience this daily with regard to us, if not to believe it, yet at least, so to act, the faculty of thinking. Some persons, I alas if in fact we did believe it? And the mere low, exten i attention much beyond common alternative of an eternal happiness, or an men; but in all it is extremely confined, eternal misery, should it not suffice to restrict This is so received an opinion, that we re, us within the limits of duty, and to regulate gard as prodigies of intellect, those who have our life, in such sort, that if there be a hell, the art of attending closely to two or three we may avoid its torments :
objects at once; or of directing the attention, We conclude. Religion has its mysteries ; without a glance of the eye, on any game, apwe acknowledge it with pleasure. Religion parently less invented to unbend than to exhas its difficulties; we avow it. Religion ercise the mind. Meanwhile, this power is is shook (we grant this for the moment to un extremely limited in all men. If the mind believers, though we detest it in our hearts), can distinctly glance on two or three objects religion is shook, and ready to fall by brilliant at once, the fourth or the fifth confounds it. wits. But after all, the mysteries of the Properly to study a subject, we must attend gospel are not of that cast which should ren- to that alone; be abstracted from all others, der a religion doubtful. But after all, Chris- forgetful of what we do, and blind to what Lianity all shook, all wavering, and ready til we see.
The faculty of feeling is as circumscribed of the Creator: they concern the attributes as that of thinking. One sensation absorbs of the Supreme Being : they concern what. or diminishes another A wound received ever has been thought the most immense in in the heat of battle ; in the tumult, or in the the mind of eternal wisdom: they concern sight of the general whose approbation we the traces of that impetuous wind, which seek, is less acute than it would be on a dif. blows where it listeth,' and which moves in ferent occasion. For the like reason the one moment to every part of the universe. same pain we have borne during the day, is And we, insignificant beings; we altogether insupportable in the night. Violent anguish obstructed, confounded, and absorbed, we af: Tonders us insensible of a diminutive pain. fect an air of surprise because we cannot fa. Whatever diverts from a pleasing sensation thom the depths of those mysteries! It is not diminishes the pleasure, and blunts enjoy- merely while on earth that we cannot com. ment; and this is done by the reason already prehend those immensities; but we can ne assigned ; that while the faculty is attentive ver comprehend them in the other world; to one object, it is incapable of application to because God is always unlimited, always in. another.
fivite, and always above the reach of circumIt is the same with regard to the faculty scribed intelligences; and because we shall of loving. It rarely happens that a man can be always finite, always liınited, always crea. indulge two or three leading passions at once : tures circumscribed. Perfect knowledge be
No man can serve two masters: for either longs to God alone. Canst thou by search. he will hate the one, and love the other; or ing find out God? Canst thou find out the else he will hold to the one, and despise the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as other. So is the assertion of Jesus Christ, heaven, wlfat canst thou do? deeper than who knew the human heart better than all hell, what canst thou know? Job xi, 7, 8. the philosophers put together. The passion • Where wast thou when he laid the founda. of avarice, for the most part, diminishes the tions of the earth? When he shut up the sea passion of glory; and the passion of glory, with doors? When he made the clouds the diminishes that of avarice. It is the same garments thereof, and thick darkness a swad. with the other passions.
dling band for it. When he subjected it to Besides, not only an object engrossing a his laws, and prescribed its barriers, and said, faculty, obstructs its profound attention to hitherto'shalt thou come, and here shall thy any other object related to that faculty ; but proud waves be stayed?' xxxviii. 4. 9-11. when a faculty is deeply ongrossed by an ob. Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or ject, all others, if I may so speak, remain in who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath solitude and slumber; the capacity of the first given him, and it shall be recompensed soul being wholly absorbed. A man who unto him again? O the depth of the riches concentrates himself in research, in the illus- both of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of tration of a difficulty, in the solution of a God, how unsearchable are his judgments, problem, in the contemplation of a combined and his ways past finding out!' Rom. xi. 33 truth ; he loses for the o oment, the faculty 35. Let us adore a Being so immense; and of feeling, and becomes insensible of sound, let his incomprehensibility serve to give us of noise, of light. A man, on the contrary, the more exalted ideas of his grandeur ; and who freely abandons himself to a violent sen- seeing we can never know him to perfection, sation, or whom God afflicts acutely, loses let us, at the least, form the noble desire of for the time, the faculty of thinking. Speak, knowing him as far as it is allowable to finite reason, and examine, draw consequences; intelligences. And as Manoah, wbo, after and all that is foreign to this point: he is no receiving the mysterious vision recorded longer a thinking being; he is a feeling be. Judges xiii. prayed the angel of the Lord. ing, and wholly so. Thus the principle we saying, " Tell me, I pray theo, thy name establish is an indisputable axiom in the stu- and received the answer, It is wonderfui; dy of man, that the human mind is circum- so should we say with this holy man, 'I pray scribed, and inclosed in very narrow limits. thee, tell me thy name, give me to know
The relation of this principle to the sub- this wonderful name Let us say with Mo ject we discuss, obtrudes itself on our regard. ses, Lord, let ne see thy glory, Exod. A slight reflection on the limits of the human xxxiii. 18. And with the prophet, Lord, inind will convince us, that men who make open thou mine eyes, that I may behold the so slow a progress in abstruse science, can marvels of thy law,' Ps. cxix. 18. never fathom the deep mysteries of religion. The third cause of the obscurity of our And it is the more evident, as these limited knowledge is, that truths the most simple, faculties can never be wholly applied to the and objects the least combined, have hower: study of trut . There is no moment of life, er certain depths and abysses beyond the in which they are not divided; there is no reach of thought; because truths the most moment in which they are not engaged in simple, and objects the least combined, haro the care of the body, in the recollection of a certain tie with infinity, that they cannot some tugitive ideas, and on subjects which be comprehended without comprehending have no connexion with those to which we this infinity. Nothing is more simple, nothwould direct our study.
ing is less combined, in regard to me, than A second reason of the limits of our know. this proposition; there are certain exterior lenge arises from those very mysteries which objects which actually strike my eyes, which excite ulazury, astonishment, and awe. excite certain emotions in my brain, and cer? What are those mysteries? Of what do they tain perceptions in my mind. Meanwhile, treat? They treat of what is the most eleva- this proposition so simple, and so little com1. wline: hy concern the essence! bined, luas certain derths and obscurities
above my thought, because it is connected i bered religion with the illustration of all abwith other inquiries concerning this infinity, struse doctrines, concerning which it obwhich I cannot comprehend. It is connect- serves a profound silence; and with the exed with this; cannot the perfect Being ex. plication of all the mysteries it imperfectly cite certain perceptions in my mind, and reveals ; had he explained to us the depths emotions in my brain without the aid of ex. of his nature and essence; had he discovered terior objects ? It is connected with another, to us the immense combination of his attriwill the goodness and truth of this perfect butes; had he qualified us to trace the unBeing suffer certain perceptions to be excited searchable ways of his Spirit in our heart; in the mind, and emotions in the brain, by had he shown us the origin, the end, and arwhich we forcibly believe that certain cxte- rangement of his counsels; had he wished to rior objects exist, when in fact, they do not gratify the infinite inquiries of our curiosity, exist? It is connected with divers other in and to acquaint us with the object of his views quiries of like nature, which involve us in dis- during the absorbing revolutions prior to the cussions, which absorb and confound our fee- birth of time, and with those which must folble genius. Thus, we are not only incapable low it; had he thus multiplied to infinity of fathoming certain inquiries which regard speculative ideas, what time should we have infinity, but we are equally incapable of fully had for practical duties? Dissipated by the satisfying ourselves concerning those that cares of lifc, occupied with its wants, and are simple, because they are connected with sentenced to the toils it imposes, what time the infinite. Prudence therefore requires would have remained to succour the wretchthat men should admit, as proved, the truths ed, to visit the sick, and to comfort the diswhich have, in regard to them the characters tressed? Yca, and what is still more, to stuof demonstration. It is by these characters dy and vanquish our own heart?-0 how adthey should judge. But after all, there is mirably is the way of God, in the restriction none but the perfect Being, who can have of our knowledge, worthy of his wisdom ! perfect demonstration; at least, the perfect He has taught us nothing but what has the Being alone can fully perceive in the immen- most intimate connexion with our duties, that sity of his knowledge, all the connexions we might ever be attentive to them, and that which finite beings have with the infinite. there is nothing in religion which can possi
A fourth reason of the obscurity of our bly attract us from those duties. knowledge, is the grand end God proposed 5. The miseries inseparable from life, are when he placed us upon the earth: 'this end the ultimate reason of the obscurity of our is our sanctification. The questions on which knowledge both in religion and in nature. religion leaves so much obscurity, do not de. To ask why God has involved religion in so volve on simple principles, which may be much darkness, is asking why he has not givcomprehended in a moment. The acutest en us a nature like those spirits which are mathematician, so who can make a perfect not clothed with mortal flesh We must class demonstration of a given number, cannot do the obscurity of our knowledge with the it in a moment, if that number be complica- other infirmitics of life, with our exile, our ted: and the tardy comprehension of him to imprisonment, our sickness, our perfidy, our whom a complicated problem is demonstrated, infidelity, with the loss of our relatives, of requires a still greater length of time. He separation froin our dearest friends. We must comprehend by a succession of ideas must answer the objection drawn from the what cannot be proved by a single glance of darkness which envelopes most of the objects the eye. A man, posted on an elevated tow of sense, as we do to those drawn from the er, may see at once the whole of a consider complication of our calamities. It is, that this able army in motion; but he at the base of world is not the abode of our felicity. It is that this tower, can see them only as they present the awful wounds of sin are not yet wholly themselves in succession. God is exalted healed. It is, that our soul is still clothed above all creatures; he sees the whole by a with matter. We must lament the miseries single regard. Ile has but, if I may so speak, of a life in which reason is enslaved, in which to apply his mind, and all are seen at once the sphere of our knowledge is so confined, But we, poor abject creatures, we are placed and in which we feel ourselves obstructed at in the humblest point of the universe. How every step of our meditation and researchi. then can we, during the period of fifty, or if We have a soul greedy of wisdom and knowyou please, a hundred years of life, destined ledge; a soul susceptible of an infinity of perto active duties, how can we presume to make ceptions and ideas; a soul to which knowa combination of all the Creator's perfections ledge and intelligence are the nourishment and designs, though he himself should deign and food : and this soul is localized in a world : in so great a work to be our guide. Great but in what world? In a world, where we do inen have said, that all possible plans were but imperfectly know ourselves; in a world. presented to the mind of God when he made where our sublimest knowledge, and prothe universe, and that, comparing them one foundest researches resemble little children with another, he chose the best. Let us who divert themselves at play. The idea is make the supposition without adopting it; not mine; it is suggested by St. Paul, in the let us suppose that God, wishful to justify to words subsequent to our text. When I was our mind the plan he has adopted, should pre- a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a sent to us all his plans; and comparison alone child, I thought as a child. The contrast is could ensure approbation ; but does it imply not unjust. Literally, all this knowledge, all a contradiction, that fifty, or a hundred years these sermons, all this divinity, and all those of life, engrossed by active duties, should suf- commentaries, are but as the simple compafice for so vast a design? Had God encum- Irisons employed to make children understand
exalted truths. They are bnt as the types, happy period? And have we still need to rewhich God employed in the ancient law to i sumne all our constancy, and all our fortitude instruct the Jews, while in a state of infancy. I to support the idea of dying! And is it still How imperfect were those types! What re- necessary to pluck us from the earth, and to lation had a sheep to the Victim of the new tear us by force to the celestial abode, which covenant? What proportion had a priest to the shall consummate our felicity ? Ah! how the Sovereign Pontiff of the church! Such is the prophet Elisha, who saw his master ascend in state of man while here placed on the earth. the chariot of fire, ploughing the air on his
But a happier period must follow this of brilliant throne, and crossing the vast expanse lumiliation. · When I was a child, I spake which separates heaven from earth; how Elias a child, I understood as a child, I thought sha regretted the absence of so worthy a as a child ; but when I became a man, I put master, whom he now saw no more, and whom away childish things. Charining thought, he must never see in life ; how he cried in my brethren, of the change that death shall that moment, My father, my father, the produce in us; it shall supersede the puerili. chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.' ties of infancy; it shall draw the curtain These emotions are strikingly congenial to which conceals the objects of expectation. the sentiments of self love, so dear to us. But How ravished must the soul be when this Elijah himself-Elijah, did he fear to soar in curtain is uplifted! Instead of worshipping so sublime a course! Elijah already ascended in these assemblics, it finds itself instantly cl- , to the middle regions of the air, in whose eyes evated to the choirs of angels,' the ten thou. the earth appeared but as an atom retiring out sand times ten thousand before the Lord.', of sight; Elijah, whose head already reached Instead of hearing the hymns wo sing to his to heaven; did Elijah regret the transition he glory, it instantly hoars the hallelujahs of ce- was about to complete! Did he regret the lestial spirits, and the dread shouts oi. Holy, world, and its inhabitants !- soul of man ;holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts : the whole regenerate soul-daily called to break the fetearth is full of thy glory.' Instead of listen. ters which unite theo to a nortal body, take ing to this frail preacher, who endeavours to thy flight towards heaven. Ascend this fiery develop the imperfect notions he has imbibed chariot, which God has sent to transport thee in a confined understanding, it instantly hears , above the earth where thou dwellest. See the great head of the church,' who is the the heavens which open for thy reception ; author, and finisher of our faith. Instead of admire the beauties, and estimate the charms perceiving some traces of God's perfections already realized by thy hope. Taste those in the beauties of nature, it finds itself in the ineffable delights Anticipate the perfect femidst of his sublimest works; in the midst licity, with which death is about to inves: of tho heavenly Jerusalem, whose gates are thee. Thou needest no more than this last of pearl, whose foundations are of precious moment of my ministry. Death himself is stones, and whose walls are of jasper.'-Do about to do all the rest, to dissipate all thy we then still fear death! And have we still darkness, to justify religion, and to crowa need of comforters when we approach that thy hopes.
CONSECRITION OF TIIE CHURCI AT VOORBURGII, 1726,
EZEK. ix. 16.
Mihough I have cast them far off among the heathen, and a?nong the coun
tries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.
THE cause of our assembling to-day, my Lut how consoling soever the idea may be brethren, is one of the most evident marks of in our dispersion of that gracious Providence, God's powerful protection, extended to a which has never ceased to watch for our wel. multitude of exiles whom these provinces fare, it is not the principal subject of our have encircled with a protecting arm. It is gratitude God has corresponded more a fact, that since we abandoned our native directly with the object with which we land, we have been loaded with divine favours. were animated when we were enabled to Some of us have lived in affluence; others in bid adieu, perhaps an eternal adieu, to aar the enjoyments of mediocrity, often prefer- country: what prompted us to exile was not able to ailluence ; and all have seen this con- the hope of finding more engaging company, fidence crowned, which has enabled them to a happier climate and more permanent estasay, while liviny even without resource, • ln blishments. Vlotives altogether of another the mountain of the Lord, it shall be seen ; kind animated our hearts. We had seen the in the mountain of the Lord, he will there edifices reduced to the dust, which we had provide.'
been accustomed to make resound with the
praises of God: we had heard the children and formidlahle power, took Nineveh their of Edom,' with hatchets in their hand, shout capital, and thus by a peculiar dispensation against those sacred mansions, "down with them; of Providence, they accomplished, and without down with them, even to the ground.”—May thinking so to do, the prophecies of Jonah, you, ye natives of these provinces among whom Nahum, and Zephanialı, against that celebrait has pleased the Lord so lead us, ever be ig. ted empire. norant of the like calamities. May you indeed From that period the empire of Nineveh never know them, but by the experience and of Babylon formed (again) but one, the of those to whom you have so amply afforded lerror of all their neighbours, who had just the means of subsistence. We could not sur- grounds of apprehension soon to experience a vive the liberty of our conscience, we have lot like that of Nineveh. wandered to scek it, thongh it should be in This induced Pharaoh Nechoh, king of tlens and deserts. Zeal gave animation to the Egypt, who, of all the potentates of the east, aged, whose limbs were benumbed with years. was the best qualified to resist those conquerFathers and mothers took their children in ors, to march at the head of a great army, their arms, who were too young to know an.l make war with a prince, who for the futhe danger from which they were plucked: ture, to use the expression of a prophet, was each was content with his soul for a prey,' regarded as the hammer of all the earth,' and required nothing but the precious liberty Jer. 1. 52. Pharaoh took his route through he had lost. We have found it among you, Judea, and sent ambassadors to king Josiah, to our generous benefactors; you have received solicit a passage through his kingdom. Jous as your brethren, as your children; and sia'h reply to this embassy even to this day have admitted us into your churches. We astonishes every interpreter; he took the have communicated with you at the same ta- field, he opposed the designs of Nechoh, ble; and now you have permitted us, a band. which seemed to have no object but to emanful of exiles, to build a church to that God cipate the nations Nebuchadnezzar had sabwhom we mutually adore. You wish also jugated, and to confirm those that desponded to partake with us in our gratitude, and to through fear of being loaded with the same join your homages with those we huve just chain. Josiah, unable to frustrate the obrendered to him in this new edifice.
jects of Nechoh, was slain in the battle, and But alas! those of our fellow-countrymen, with him seemed to expire whatever remainwhose minds are still impressed with the re- ed of piety and prosperity in the kingdom of collection of those former churches, whose Judah. destruction occasioned them much grief, can- Pharach Nechoh defeated the Babylonians not taste a joy wholly pure. The ceremonies near the Euphrates, took Carchemish, the capiof this day will associate themselves, with tal of Mesopotamia, and, augmenting the pleathose celebrated on Jaying the foundation- sure of victory by that of revenge, he led his stone of the second temple. The priests of- victorious army through Judea, deposed Jeficiated indeed in their pontifical robes ; the lioahaz, son of Josiah, and placed Eliakim his Levites, sons of Asaph, caused their cymbals brother on the throne, whom he surnamed Je. to resound afar ; one choir admirably con- hoiakim, 2 Kings xxiii. certed its response to another; all the people From that period Jehoiakim regarded the raised a shout of joy, because the foundation king of Egypt as his benefactor, to whom he of the Lord's house was laid. But the chiefs was indebted for his throne and his crown. of the fathers, and the aged men, who had He believed that Pharaoh Ncchoh, whose seen the superior glory of the former temple, sole authority had conferred the crown, was wept aloud, and in such sort that one could the only prince that could preserve it. The not distinguish the voice of joy from the voice Jews at once followed the example of their of weeping
king; they espoused the hatred which subCome, notwithstanding, my dear brethren, sisted in Egypt against the king of Babylon, and let us mutually praise the God, who .in and renewed with Nechoh an alliance the most the midst of wrath remembers mercy.' Hab. firm which had ever subsisted between the iii. 2. Let us gratefully meditate on this iwo powers. fresh accomplishment of the prophecy I have Were it requisite to support here what just read in your presence ; Though I have the sacred history says on this subject, I would cast them far off among the heathen, and illustrate at large a passage of Herodotus, among the countries, yet will I be to them as who, when speaking of the triumph of Phaa little sanctuary in the countries where they raoh Nechoh, aflirms, that after this prince shall come. These are God's words to Eze- had obtained a glorious victory in the fields of kiel: to understand them, and with that view Meggiddo, he took a great city of Palestine, I attempt the discussion, we must trace the surrounded with hills, which is called Cadyevents to their source, and go back to the lis: there is not the smallest doubt but this twenty-ninth year of king Josiah, to form cor city was Jerusalem, which in the Scriptures rect ideas of the end of our prophet's minis- is often called holy by way of excellence; and try. It was in this year, that Nabopolassar it was anciently designated by this glorious king of Babylon, and Astyages king of Media, title. Now, the word holy in Hebrew is Kebeing allied by the marriage of Neb chad- duscha, and in Syriac Kedutha. To this name
son of Nabopolassar, with Amytis Herodotus affixed a Greek termination, and daughter of Astyages, united their forces called Kadytis the city that the Syrians or th against the Assyrians, then the most ancient Arabs call Kedutha, which, correspondan