Skip to main content

Full text of "Sermons of Samuel Stanhope Smith ... to which is prefixed, a brief memoir of his life and writings"

See other formats



Srom f ^e £,i6rarg of 

(profefiBor ^amitef (gXiffer 

in (^emorg of 

Sub^e ^amuef (gitifPer QBrecftinrtbge 

(Jjreeentcb 615 

^amuef (tttiffer QSrecftinribge feong 

fo f ^e fet6rarg of 

(Jjrincefon C^eofogicaf ^eminarj? 
















BE IT Remembered, that oa the 3d day of May, in the forty-fifth year of the 
independence of the United States of America, A. D. 1821, S. Potter & Co. 
of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a book, the right where- 
of they claim as proprietors in the words following to wit: 

Sermons of Samuel Stmihjpe Smith, D. D. late president of Princeton college, J^ew 
Jersey. To which is prefixed, a brief memoir of his Life and Writit^s. 

In comformity to the act of the congress of the United States, entitled " An 
act for th& encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and 
books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, durng the times therein men- 
tioned." And also to the act, entitled, " An act supplementary to an act, entitled, 
" An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts 
and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein 
mentioned," and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, 
and etching historical and other prints." 


Clerk of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 


An account of the life and writings of the Author, - - 3 
Sermon I. Felix trembling before Paul, . _ - 63 

II. On the Parable of the Prodigal Son, - - 82 

III. Repentance of the Prodigal, - - - 97 

IV. Return of the Prodigal to his Father, - - 112 

V. On swearing in Common Conversation, - - 127 

VI. To a good man the day of death preferable to the day 
ofbirth, 141 

VII. The recompense of the Saints in Heaven, - - 158 

VIII. On Slander, 172 

IX. On Redeeming time, - - - - -191 

X. The giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, - - 209 

XI. A discourse on the guilt and folly of being ashamed of 
religion, _.-_-. 222 

XII. A discourse on the nature and danger of small 
Faults, - - 241 

XIII. On Charity, 259 

XIV. Paul pleading before Agrippa, _ . . 282 

XV. Desire of the apostle to depart and be with Christ, 296 

XVI. Religion necessary to National Prosperity, - 314 

XVII. The Original Trial and the Fall of Man, or the first 
sin and its consequences, - . - - 337 

XVIII. On the Love of praise, 354 

XIX. On Ruling Sin, 384 






Late President of Princeton College. 

VOL. I. 






Late President of Princeton College. 

Samuel Stanhope Smith, late President of Prince- 
ton College, was born on the sixteenth day of March, 
in the year of our Lord 1 750, at Pequea in the town- 
ship of Sahsbury and county of Lancaster, in the then 
colony and at present, state of Pennsylvania. His fa- 
ther, the Rev. Robert Smith, an emigrant from Ireland, 
was a celebrated preacher and eminent divine of the 
Presbyterian church, and for many years superintend- 
ed a respectable academy, established by himself, and 
under his care many pious and worthy clergymen of 
that church were reared. His mother, was Elizabeth 
Blair, daughter of the Rev. Samuel Blair, and sister of 
those distinguished divines, Samuel and John Blair, than 
the former of whom the church has seldom possessed 
a more judicious and profound Theologian, or a more 
fervent and successful Minister of the Gospel than the 
latter. He was initiated into the elements of his own 
language by his mother, who was a woman of an ex- 

4 Life of Dr. Smith. 

cellent native understanding, adorned with the softest 
and most pleasing manners. His parents, being en- 
couraged by the prompt parts and virtuous dispositions 
of their son, whicli began very early to display them- 
selves, determined that no exertions should be wanted 
to the assiduous cultivation of them ; and that he should 
enjoy all the advantages of a liberal education, which 
his country at that time afforded. — At the age of six or 
seven he commenced the study of the learned languages 
in his father's academy, which besides a general su- 
perintendence by his father, was. entrusted to the care 
of instructors who had come out from Ireland, and 
brought with them those rigid notions of scholastic 
discipline, and that minute accuracy in the system of 
teaching, which were prevalent in their native coun- 
try. It was the custom of this school, to require the 
pupils, not merely to dip into the Latin and Greek 
classics, or pass in rapid transition from one to another, 
by which means a very superficial knowledge of any is 
obtained, but when once they had commenced an au- 
thor, to read carefully and attentively the entire work. 
Besides this laudable and beneficial custom, the scho- 
lars of this academy, were stimulated to exertion by 
being brought into frequent competition, and by having 
conferred upon the successful candidates for distinction 
such honours as were calculated to awake their boyish 
emulation, and to quicken their diligence and atten- 
tion. Latin was the habitual language of the school, 
and after the pupils had passed through a few of the 
elementary works, as the Colloquies of Corderius and 
the fables of iEsop, any error which they committed 

Life of Dr. Smith. $ 

in grammatical propriety, either in addressing the teacher 
or in speaking with one another, was punishable as a 
fault. One literary exercise in the school was contest- 
ed with more than ordinary emulation. When any 
class had advanced in its course beyond the Metamor- 
phoses of Ovid and the Bucolics of Virgil, the mem- 
bers of it were permitted to enter into voluntary com- 
petitions for preeminence. On alternate Saturdays 
eight or ten of the better scholars from different clas- 
ses, were allowed to try their skill in the languages in 
the presence of the principal teacher. Each competitor 
was suffered to select a sentence within a certain com- 
pass, of one or two hundred lines, consisting of not 
more than six or seven hexameter verses. On this se- 
lected portion, he was the sole examiner, and was per- 
mitted to inquire about every thing with which he could 
make himself acquainted, by the most diligent previous 
investigation; such as, the grammatical construction of 
the sentences, the derivation of words, their composi- 
tion, relations and quantity, the history or mythology 
referred to in the passage, the beauty and pertinence 
of the figures and allusions, together with the taste and 
delicacy of sentiment displayed by tlie poet. After the 
whole contest, which usually lasted several hours, was 
concluded, rewards were bestowed by the master upon 
those who discovered the greatest address and ingenui- 
ty in conducting it. Competitions of this nature with 
his school-fellows, were all that diversified the early 
life of Mr. Smith, and on these occasions, he is said to 
have discovered remarkable adroitness and intelligence 
for a lad of his age, generally sui'passing those who 

6 Life of Dr. Smith. 

were much older than himself; although, as Dr. John- 
son is reported to have had a Hector, who, in this kind 
of academical warfare, rivalled and vanquished him; 
so our scholar found in a young man by the name of 
Dunlap, a formidable competitor, who often wrested 
from him the palm of victory. 

At this early age Mr. Smith not only discovered that 
the sentiments of religion had taken deep root in his 
heart, by publicly joining the communion of the Pres- 
byterian church, but evinced a strong predilection for 
that sacred profession, which he afterwards adopted, 
and in which he so eminently excelled. Taking little 
pleasure and aspiring to no distinction in the gymnastic 
exercises and sports of his school-fellows, he was re- 
marked even at this early period to be prone to sober- 
ness and reflection. At church he was unusually at- 
tentive to the services and the sermon, and at his re- 
turn home would give his father an accurate account 
not only of the text, and the general distribution of the 
parts, but oftentimes of the most minute subdivisions, 
together with the striking illustrations and remarks. In 
the absence of his father from home, he seemed to take 
great pleasure, in turn with his pious and excellent 
mother, in performing divine service in the family; and 
on some occasions, forming the semblance of a pulpit, 
and collecting his little brothers and companions round 
him, he would go through, with great gravity and earn- 
estness all the exercises of pubHc worship. 

From his father's academy he was transferred in his 
sixteenth year to the college at Princeton, in the state 
of New Jersey. The President of that Institution, the^ 

Life of Dr. Smith. 7 

Rev. Dr. Samuel Findlay, having lately died, and the 
president elect, the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon, not 
having yet arrived from Scotland, the College at this 
time was under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Blair, pro- 
fessor of theology, Mr Joseph Periam, professor of ma- 
thematics, and Mr. James Thompson, professor of lan- 
guages. Here those talents which had just begun to 
unfold themselves in his father's school, were display- 
ed on a wider and more conspicuous theatre of action. 
Commencing with the studies of the Junior year, which, 
in that seminary, was devoted, for the most part, to 
mathematics and natural philosophy, Mr. Smith main- 
tained throughout the whole of his collegiate course, 
distinguished reputation both for capacity and exem- 
plary deportment. Before the conclusion of the first 
year, he was publicly presented by the faculty in the 
presence of his class, as the reward of his preeminent 
success in his studies, with the mathematical works of 
the professor of that branch of science, in the Univer- 
sity of Oxford in England. Similar testimonials of re- 
spect were bestowed upon him by the professors dur- 
ing the different stages of his progress, both before and 
after the arrival of Dr. Witherspoon, who at this period 
entered upon the duties of the presidency; and in the 
eighteenth year of his age, he took his first degree in 
the arts under circumstances of distinction and supe- 
riority in a high degree gratifying to his ambition. 

During his residence in Princeton as an undergra- 
duate, he had been consigned more especially to the 
care of Mr. Periam, who had rendered himself distin- 
guished in the institution and his country, by a profound 

8 LAfe of Dr. Smith. 

acquaintance with mathematics and natural philoso- 
phy. Accustomed to the study of abstract sciences, 
Mr. Periam, it appears, had not confined himself ex- 
clusively to the cultivation of the branches which it was 
his province to teach; but had extended his inquiries 
to metaphysics also, and became infected with the fan- 
ciful doctrines of bishop Berkeley, which consist, as is 
generally known, in denying the existence of a mate- 
rial universe, and converting every object of the senses 
into a train of fugitive perceptions. How this profes- 
sor, who had been habituated to the hardy pursuits of 
mathematical science and the inductive philosophy, 
could ever have brought himself to embrace such a vi- 
sionary theory, a theory so repugnant to common sense, 
and rather an object of ridicule than of serious consi- 
deration, it is difficult to explain, unless it be upon the 
principle, that having been accustomed in those depart- 
ments of science which he cultivated, to require the 
most conclusive proof of every thing before he as- 
sented to its truth, he so far misconceived the subject, 
as to imagine that he must have arguments drawn from 
reason, to convince him of the existence of an exterior 
world, before he would admit the reality of it; and this 
surely is an evidence which nature would deny him, as 
she rests the proof of it solely and entirely upon the 
simple testimony of the senses. However this may 
have been, certain it is, that Mr. Periam had address 
and ingenuity enough, to infuse the principles of the 
bishop of Cloyne into the mind of Smith, and he be- 
gan seriously to doubt whether there were in the world 
such real existences as the sun, moon and stars, rivers^ 

Life of Dr. Sinith. 9 

mountains and human beings. So sincere and zealous 
did he become, at this time in the maintenance of im- 
materiahsm, and so confident of the sufficiency of the 
proofs by which it is supported, that he was ever ready 
to enter the hsts in a controversy on the subject; inso- 
much that his venerable father is said to have disco- 
vered no small share of solicitude and apprehension, 
lest his principles should be vitiated from this source 
with the fatal taint of scepticism and his understanding 
be perverted by false science. 

Mr. Turgot, comptroller general of the finances of 
France, under Louis the sixteenth, we are told by his 
biographer, was in the habit of saying, with that fond- 
ness for point and paradox, which indicated that the 
fraternity of self-styled philosophers who lived in his 
time in France, were as depraved in their taste as they 
were unsound in their politics, impious in their religi- 
ous opinions, and addicted to a miserable jargon in 
philosophy; "that the man who had never considered the 
question respecting the existence of an external world 
as a difficult subject and worthy of engaging our cu- 
riosity would make no progress in metaphysics.'^ Is 
not this to assert, that in order to commence metaphy- 
sicians, we should be affected with the symptoms of a 
rising insanity.^ Surely from such an%uspicious begin- 
ning we could not reasonably hope for any thing better, 
as the final result, than confinement in a mad house. 
Such idle and paradoxical declarations are as unfound- 
ed in truth, as they are disgraceful to philosophy, and 
are calculated to bring the noble science of metaphy- 
sics into utter disrepute and contempt, by impressing 

VOL. I. c 

10 Life of Dr. Smith. 

upon the minds of reflecting men the opinion, that in 
order to be initiated into its mysteries, they must be 
bereft of their senses. — Would it not be as well found- 
ed in truth and right reason to assert, that he who does 
not perceive a difficulty in the axioms of mathematics 
can make no progress in mathematical science? There 
is as good reason for disputing the first truths in ma- 
thematics, as there is for disputing the first truths in 
that science which rests upon experience and observa- 
tion, and which by a very apt and beautiful figure, has 
been denominated, by Lord Bacon, the interpretation 
of nature. And surely among all those truths which 
are regarded as elementary and incontrovertible in this 
latter science, none has a higher claim and more ve- 
nerable and prescriptive right to be considered as ele- 
mentary than the existence of an external world. The 
grounds upon which rest the truths of mathematical 
and experimental science, are different in kind but 
equally solid and immoveable; mathematics having its 
foundations in intuitive certainty, and experimental 
knowledge in what may be aptly denominated sensi- 
tive certainty, or tne evidence of the senses. If, there- 
fore, it be allowed to have been aproof of perspicacity 
and genius, as it undoubtedly was, in Mr. Smith at his 
early age, and i#\skilled as he must have been in the 
grounds of human knowledge, to perceive a real diffi- 
culty in proving by arguments derived from reason the 
existence of' a material universe, or, in other words, 
inferring by necessary consequence the real existence 
of the objects ot our perception, from our having per- 
ceptions of them; yet it must be admitted, at the same 

Life of Dr. Smith. 11 

time, that the knowledge of that man must be extreme- 
ly hmited in the science of the human ujind, who does 
not readily perceive the method by which he can ex- 
tricate himself from that difficulty, and arrive at un- 
doubted certainty from the testimony of the senses of 
the real existence, in renim natura, of external objects. 
Accordingly, Mr. Smith, although captivated, at first, 
by the specious fallacies of the bishop of Cloyne, had 
too much sober sense and penetration to be long held 
in bondage by the silken chains of such a fantastic 
theory. Dr. Witherspoon arrived from Scotland, and 
bringing with him, we are told, the recently broached 
principles of Reid, Oswald and Beattie, furnished him 
with a clue by which he was conducted out of the dark 
labyrinth into which he had been betrayed by bishop 
Berkeley and his disciple, professor Periam. From the 
cloudy speculations of immaterialism, he was now 
brought back to the clear light of common sense. Na- 
ture was again reinstated in her rights, and the exter- 
nal world, which had been banished for a while, re- 
turned and resumed its place in creation. This pro- 
gress in the understanding and opinions of Mr. Smith 
will appear natural, when it is recollected that the pow- 
ers of his mind were as yet immature, that he was mis- 
led by the guidance of a revered instructor, and that 
the utmost maturity of the intellectual powers is, in all 
cases, necessary to enable us to detect the errors and 
comprehend the abstruse subjects of metaphysical 
science. In an understanding ingenious and inquisi- 
tive, as was his, and prone to the pursuits of philoso- 
phy, the first tendencies, perhaps, uniformly are to ex- 

IS Life of Dr. Smith. 

pect by argument to prove every thing, forgetting that 
in all the branches of human knowledge there are some 
principles and maxims that must be taken for granted, 
and upon which as a foundation we must erect our 
various superstructures, otherwise, as Aristotle has long 
since remarked, we must suppose the human mind ca- 
pable of an indefinite advancement in the pursuit of 
elementary truths. If mankind had refused to cultivate 
the science of mathematics until they had proved the 
truth of its axioms and definitions by arguments drawn 
from reason, that interesting branch of human know- 
ledge had remained until this time, barren and uncul- 
tivated. In like manner if we refuse our assent to the 
truths which have been established in the experimen- 
tal sciences, under which head are included the science 
of mind and that of matter, until we have demonstra- 
ted by strict ratiocination the existence of an external 
world, we shall forever remain involved in doubt and 
uncertainty. — After the pubHcation of the incompara- 
ble treatise of Mr. Locke upon human understandmg, 
in which, with wonderful accuracy, he has traced the 
progress of the mind in the acquisition of knowledge 
from its simplest perceptions to its sublimest combina- 
tions, while, at the same time, with the most masterly 
skill and address he has ascertained and settled the 
grounds of all human knowledge, or the foundations 
upon which rest all kinds of truth and certainty, it 
would seem strange, indeed, that any persons could be 
found professing an acquaintance with his system, who 
could allow themselves to be misled by the philosophi- 
cal reveries of a Berkeley or a Hume. Such persons 

Ufe of Dr. Smith. IS 

cannot have studied and understood the writings of Mr. 
Locke. They must be wanting either in the capacity 
or the pains to enter into his views or thor6ughly to 
comprehend his meaning. Never could any refutation 
of errors be more complete and satisfactory, than that 
which may be drawn from the works of this illustrious 
metaphysician, of the principles of Berkeley and Hume. 
The Scotish metaphysicians above mentioned, are en- 
titled to their share of praise, inasmuch as they have 
drawn the attention of the pubHc to a subject which, 
important as it is, is by no means alluring, as they ap- 
pear also to have been inspired with becoming senti- 
ments of indignation and abhorrence of that abomina- 
ble scepticism and atheism, introduced by .Mr. Hume, 
and to have set themselves with so much zeal in oppo- 
sition to them. Had they limited their pretensions to 
the humble sphere of becoming the expounders of the 
doctrines of Mr. Locke, and the preceding philoso- 
phers, and making a skilful application of them to the 
discomfiture and overthrow of scepticism, their merit, 
as far as it extended, would have been acknowledged, 
and their claims acquiesced in by all succeeding ages. 
But when we find them assume to themselves a credit 
to which they are not entitled, laying claim to disco- 
veries, of which Mr. Locke was the author, arrogating 
to themselves the merit of having been the first who ap- 
plied the true method of philosophising prescribed by 
lord Bacon to the science of mind, when, in this very 
circumstance, consisted the discriminating merit of the 
great English metaphysician; accusing all the philoso- 
phers, who preceded them, of being duped by hypothe 

14 lAfe of Dr. Smith. 

ses, and hoodwinked in their pursuit of truth, by an 
ideal and fanciful theory, unfounded in nature, and de- 
structive to common sense; when we see them main- 
taining that the scepticism of Berkeley and intellectu- 
al fooleries of Hume, were legitimate inferences from 
the principles of that sublime philosophy, whose foun- 
dation was laid by the Stagyrite, and whose structure 
was carried on and completed by Des Cartes, Malle- 
branche, and above all, Mr. Locke, who may empha- 
tically be styled the great metaphysician of human na- 
ture; we crave leave to enter our protest against the 
admission of such magnificent pretensions, and our 
most decided reprehension of such egregious misstate- 
ments. All that has been done in the science of meta- 
physics, that is of any importance to the interests of 
truth and mankind, has been accomplished by Locke, 
Butler, Clarke and the Philosophers who preceded 
them. Not a single doctrine has been taught, or a sin- 
gle discovery made in this branch of science, which is 
not to be found in their writings. It was the precise 
purpose of Mr. Locke, and a purpose which he fully 
accomplished, to apply the method of investigation re- 
commended by Bacon to the science of mind, as New- 
ton applied it to matter, and with equal justice and 
force he might have declared with Newton, hypotheses 
non Jingo. His theory is founded in nature, and in its 
great outlines, or fundamental principles, will remain 
entire as long as the human mind shall retain its pre- 
sent properties, be governed by the same laws, and ex- 
hibit the same phainomena. Dr. Reid, indeed, through- 
out his voluminous works indulges himself very freely 

Life of Vr. Smith, 15 

in strictures upon the principles of Mr. Locke. — In 
more than half the instances in which he supposes him- 
self combating his errors, he is, in truth, maintaining 
his doctrines, and fighting with phantoms of his own 
creation ; and wherever he has departed from the track 
marked out by the illustrious Englishman, he has wan- 
dered from the truth. The very ideal theory itself, the 
grand heresy of which he accuses all the philosophers, 
from Plato to Mr. Hume, and out of which, as a foun- 
tain, he supposes their errors to have flowed, was un- 
known to the system of Aristotle, Des Cartes and 
Locke, although it undoubtedly tinctures the doc- 
trines of father Mallebranche. It appears to have been 
the offspring of the schoolmen, those miserable inter- 
preters and egregious falsifiers of the opinions of Aris- 
totle, whose crude brains were sufficiently productive 
of metaphysical monsters; and although for sometime 
after the revival of learning, while the school philosophy 
remained in vogue, the phraseology prevalent during 
its continuance was still used in scientific works, yet 
no one has more completely thrown off the trammels 
of that system than Mr. Locke or more heartily des- 
pised its verbal contests and idle gibberish. 

It is a little singular that Dr. Reid should have so 
frequently repeated as an accusation against Mr. Locke 
what that writer blamed Mallebranche for having at- 
tempted, that is, to explain the manner of perception. 
— To explain the manner of our perceiving external 
objects, it is asserted, all the philosophers agreed in 
having recourse to the ideal theory; but we venture to 
'asser.t that when this matter shall have been thorough- 

IQ Life of Dr. Smith. 

ly sifted, it will be found to have been falsely ascribed 
to the best of them, and as to Mr. Locke, he repeated- 
ly and unequivocally disclaims all attempts to explain 
the manner of perception. 

But to proceed from this short digression, with our 
account of the hfe and writings of the subject of these 
memoirs. — After taking his first degree in the arts, Mr. 
Smith returned to his father's family. — Here we find 
him perfecting his knowledge of the Latin and Greek 
classics by assisting his father in his school, and at the 
same time extending his acquaintance with science and 
literature by the perusal of the best writers with which 
the library of the family supplied him. The works of 
Pope, Swift and Addison, which were now read with 
avidity, served to form his taste upon the best models 
and imbue his mind with the principles of polite lite- 
rature, while those of Locke, Butler, Warburton and 
Edwards exercised and strengthened the hardier pow- 
ers of the understanding, and introduced him to an 
acquaintance with the more abstruse subjects of' me- 
taphysics and divinity. — To the circumstance of his 
having thus accidentally become familiarized to excel- 
lent models of writings may, in 'all probability, be as- 
cribed that delicacy and correctness of taste which are 
perceptible in all his productions. In cultivating the 
more elegant fields of the Belles-Lettres, he seems, 
however, to have taken the greatest pleasure, and to 
this species of exertion, his intellectual powers appear 
to have been best adapted by nature. Inspired by the 
natural ardour of youth and wrought up to enthusiasm, 
he occasionally, at this period, attempted to give v.eut to 

Life ofDw Smith. 17 

his feelings in poetic effusions, and a sonnet, an ode, or 
an eclogue was the result. But discovering in himself 
no native impulse prompting to such pursuits or pro- 
mising much success from tendencies of this nature, he 
soon relinquished all efforts to cultivate the muses and 
directed his attention to objects more suited to his ge- 

During his continuance at Princeton as a student, 
his talents and assiduity had not passed unnoticed by 
that able divine and nice observer of men and things, 
Dr. Witherspoon; and accordingly, a vacancy occur- 
ring in the offices of the college, Mr. Smith received 
from him a pressing invitation to return to the institu- 
tion with the view, as expressed in the letter written 
on the occasion, of taking under his immediate charge, 
the classical studies of the college, while he should 
assist also in cultivating among the students a taste for 
the Belles-Lettres. In this station he spent the two 
next years of his life, performing, with acknowledged 
ability, the duties of his office in the institution, and at 
the same time prosecuting his theological studies, as he 
had now determined, as well from the dictates of his 
understanding as the impulse of his feelings, to devote 
himself to the church. As soon as he had finished the 
usual course of reading prescribed to students of di- 
vinity, he left Princeton, and was licensed to preach the 
gospel by the presbytery of New Castle in Pennsylvania. 
Having impaired his health by his application to his 
studies, and labouring for some time under the attacks 
of an intermittent fever which long held his life in sus- 
pense, he determined in order to restore his health and 

VOL. I. D 

l^ Life of Dr. Smith. 

at the same time, contribute to the utmost of his 
power, towards the advancement of that sacred cause, 
in whose interests he was now enlisted, to spend some 
time, before his settlement in any parish, in voluntarily 
officiating as a missionary in the western counties of 
Virginia. He found, upon his arrival in this country, 
a people lately removed from Ireland, among whom 
were many pious and intelligent persons, attached to 
the principles of the presbyterian church, who received 
him with Irish hospitality, and gave that warm and 
cordial encouragement to him in his labours which a 
pious people scarcely ever fail to bestow upon a worthy 
clergyman. Here he spent some time during two suc- 
cessive missionary tours performed in the same year, 
in giving catechetical instruction to the young, in preach- 
ing the gospel at every opportunity, and in grounding 
the people in the principles of the christian faith. In 
all these labours he was eminently successful in the 
cause of his Divine master. As a preacher or pulpit 
orator he was universally regarded by them with the 
highest admiration. There were many circumstances 
in the church of Virginia, at this time, that prepared 
the way for his favourable reception, facilitated his 
success in the ministry, and soon enabled him to rear 
and establish for himself the most distinguished repu- 
tation as a preacher. The people of Virginia gene- 
rally belonged to the established church of England. 
Whether it was owing to culpable neglect and inatten- 
tion on the part of the English bishops in sending out 
clergymen to supply the parishes in this colony, or to 
the circumstance that they were too much occupied at 

Life of Dr. Smith. li> 

home with their numerous and arduous duties to be 
able to pay that attention to an affair of this kind, 
which their own sense of duty as well as interest 
required; it is certain, that the clergy who were des- 
patched from England and placed in possession of the 
hvings in this state, were, in too many instances, most 
egregiously defective in all those moral qualifications 
which would have fitted them to become faithful pas- 
tors and spiritual teachers and guides to their flocks. 
The deficiences and even gross immoralities of many 
of them, were flagrant and notorious. Violent contests 
often arose between the incumbents and their parish- 
ioners, which were maintained with equal bitterness 
and perseverance on both sides, and which sprang out 
of the disgust of the people at a ministry whose hves 
were at variance with their doctrines, and during the 
controversies maintained about the temporalities of the 
church, its spiritual concerns were entirely disregard- 
ed or forgotten. Even among those of the clergy who 
were best fitted from their piety, talents and learning 
to become able shepherds of the flock of Christ, the 
style of preaching which prevailed, was by no means 
alluring to the great body of the people. That cold and 
didactic manner which, in order to avoid the excesses 
of puritanism, had become fashionable in England, 
from the time of Charles the second, however suited 
it may have been to congregations brought up in the 
immediate vicinity of a polished capital, enjoying the 
advantages of a finished education and the enlightened 
intercourse of a court, and who, of consequence, would 
be more under the influence of their understandings 
and less under that of their feelings, was little suited to 

20 Life of Dr. Smith. 

affect and interest the simple and untutored inhabitants 
of the country. This was the style of preaching ge- 
nerally prevalent among the clergy of the church of 
England at this time in Virginia. It was oftentimes, 
indeed, sensible, judicious and even profound, but al- 
together without power to influence the will or reach 
and affect the heart. On the other hand, the mode of 
preaching which prevailed among the other denomina- 
tions of christians, who did not belong to the establish- 
ed church, while it was more passionate, earnest and 
vehement, and of course more attractive to the people, 
went equally into the opposite and worse extreme. As 
the preachers were, for the most part, uneducated but 
pious men, their pulpit addresses too frequently dege- 
nerated into mere empty declamation and vapoury effu- 
sions, which wanting the v,^eight of sound sense and 
solid learning to recommend them, produced little ef- 
fect that was permanent and were offensive to the in- 
telligent and reflecting part of the community. In this 
state of things, it is little to be wondered at, if Mr. 
Smith soon gained among them the highest reputation 
as a pulpit orator, and awoke no common interest in his 
favour. Having a mind already imbued with elegant 
literature and a taste improved by familiarity with the 
finest models of writing in the Latin, Greek, English 
and French languages, and withal a genius that kind- 
led into enthusiasm at the success of those celebrated 
preachers, whose praises and whose triumphs of elo- 
quence he had seen recorded in ecclesiastical history, 
and above all a heart deeply touched and interested 
with the great truths which it was his province to pro- 

Life of Ih\ Smith. 21 

claim; the doctrines of the gospel were presented to his 
hearers in a more attractive and imposing form than they 
ever before had been able to conceive. In Mr. Smith 
they found solid sense and deep learning recommend- 
ing by their embellishments the simple and sublime 
truths of religion, and the influence of the whole aug- 
mented by all the graces of style, composition and de- 
livery. The result was such as might have been an- 
ticipated. The people flocked from all quarters to lis- 
ten to the popular missionary. On the Sundays in which 
it was known that he was to preach, the churches 
within several miles of the one in which he was to offi- 
ciate were deserted, and the several denominations for- 
getting in the pleasure which they felt those differences 
of opinions and forms of worship by which they were 
separated from each other, assembled in the same place, 
attracted by the charm of his fervid and impressive 
eloquence. So strong at length, did the public senti- 
ment in his favour become, that some gentlemen of 
wealth and influence, who had long felt the want of a 
seminary of learning for the education of their sons, 
determined to avail themselves of this favourable op- 
portunity of accomplishing so important an object, and 
immediately set forward a subscription for the purpose. 
His popularity and weight of character among them, 
were now so great, that fifty thousand dollars were 
soon subscribed for laying the foundations of a college, 
of which it was contemplated that he should become 
the president. No sooner was the plan projected and 
the subscription list filled up, than those ardent and 
enterprising men commenced the erection of the build- 

22 Life of Dr. Smith. 

ings of that seminary which was afterwards chartered 
by the legislature, and in compliment to those distin- 
guished patriots of England, John Hampden and Al- 
gernon Sidney, denominated Hampden-Sidney college. 
Having now completed his missionary tour through 
Virginia, thus voluntarily undertaken, during the time 
in which the buildings were erecting for the contem- 
plated institution, he returned to the northern states, 
and connected himself to his venerable president and 
preceptor by ties even more intimate and interesting 
than those which subsist between the professor and pu- 
pil, by marrying his eldest daughter, a lady of great 
gentleness of disposition and amiable manners. Soon 
after this event he returned to Virginia, to take upon 
hitn the two-fold charge of principal of the seminary and 
pastor of the church. In both these capacities he ac- 
quitted himself with the greatest talents and address, 
and fulfilled to those gentlemen who had reposed con- 
fidence in him, their most sanguine expectations. His 
reputation both as a pious and learned Divine, and an 
eloquent and successful preacher every day increased, 
and the attachment of his flock, and the students of 
the college to his person, was sincere and unabated 
during the whole time of his residence among them. 
The frequency and vehemence of his mode of preach- 
ing, however, added to his arduous duties in the semi- 
nary, were too trying for a constitution which, although 
naturally sound, was not robust, and in the course of 
three or four years, his health was greatly impaired and 
his expectoration immediately succeeding the pubhc 
exercises of the church, became visibly tinctured with 

Life of Dr. Smith. 23 

blood. This appearance did not at first abate his zeal 
or restrain his exertions, but at length he was found to 
discharge blood in considerable quantities from his 
breast, and it became necessary, that, for a time, he 
should desist from repeating this painful and dangerous 
experiment upon his lungs. In order to recruit his 
strength and recover his health, it was thought advisa- 
ble by his friends that he should retire for a season to 
a watering-place among the western mountains of Vir- 
ginia, known by the name of the Sweet-Springs, which 
was just beginning to be held in great repute for the 
salubrious qualities of its waters. On his way to these 
springs an incident occurred to him which would not 
be worthy of an insertion here, except as it exhibits 
strongly to view the tenderness of that connection 
which subsists between a good pastor and his flock, 
and may serve as an encouragement to the clergy to 
the cultivation of that species of intercourse with the 
members of their communion which may lead to the 
formation of attachments so honourable to both parties. 
During his journey to the springs, he was one evening 
passing by a dairy yard, where an elderly lady, the wife 
of colonel Christian, so famous in our Indian wars, was 
standing among her servants and cattle. As soon as 
she saw him, she instantly stepped forward, asking 
pardon for her intrusion, and begged to know if he was 
in any way related to that most worthy of all men, as 
she said, Mr. Samuel Blair, his maternal uncle. I con- 
sider him, she continued, as my spiritual Father. Many, 
many years ago, no man was more dear to me: and on 
seeing you, as yoji were passing, so strong a resem- 

'U Life of Dr. Smith. 

blance of his countenance struck me, that I could not 
resist the impulse, which induced me to make this ab- 
rupt inquiry, however improbable or almost impossible 
it may seem, to see any one of Mr. Blair's relations in 
these remote ends of the earth. Mr. Smith informed 
her that she was not deceived in the resemblance she 
had traced, for that he was a near relation of Mr. Blair, 
and then stated the connection that subsisted between 
them. * Forgive me, my dear sir,' she continued, with 
great earnestness, ' if my affection for that good man 
constrain me to urge you to pass this night, as the day 
is far spent, with my family. I cannot help hoping to 
meet with his spirit in his perfect image. And let me 
have reason to bless my God and Saviour for this un- 
expected interview which strikes my mind as a special 
act of his gracious providence designed for the conso- 
lation of one of the most unworthy of his servants!' En- 
viable tribute of regard and attachment! Whatever may 
be the difficulties, and discouragements of the ministry, 
such a testimony of respect and affection from one 
pious woman, an affection too springing out of so pure 
and sacred a fountain, amply compensates the pastor 
for a life of toil. When placed in competition with a 
sacred veneration of this kind for the memory of a good 
clergyman, all the glory of the conqueror and tiie loud 
applause of the thoughtless multitude, are but as the 
dust of the balance! It embalms his memory, conse- 
crates his ashes, and without producing the effects sup- 
posed to result from his canonization, communicates to 
him its happiest rewards by enhancing his enjoyment 
in a future state of existence. 

Life of Dr. Smith. 25 

After remaining a few weeks at the springs above 
mentioned, Mr. Smith found the effusion of blood from 
his lungs to cease, and the slow fever which attended it 
disappear. On his return to his family with recovered 
health, new prospects opened to him in life and the way 
had been paved for his entrance upon a theatre in which 
the sphere of his usefulness would be extended, and 
those extraordinary powers he possessed be more con- 
spicuously displayed. Through the influence of Dr. 
Witherspoon, who learned more justly to estimate the 
talents of Mr. Smith in proportion to the intimacy of 
his connection with him, a vacancy occurring in the 
higher offices of the faculty of Princeton college, he 
was invited to return to the seat of his former studies, 
and appointed professor of moral philosophy, as it was 
known that this was his favourite branch of science, 
and one which he had cultivated with the greatest 
diligence and success. In the year 1779, therefoie, 
and ^yth of his age, he received this appointment, so 
well suited to his v^ishes, and which introduced him 
into that field of exertion in which he was eminently 
qualified to excel. Leaving his brother, the Rev. John 
Smith in whom he reposed entire confidence, and who 
was worthy of it, to take charge of the infant seminary 
reared under his care in Virginia, he removed to 
Princeton, the place that was to become the scene of 
his future labours. 

Upon his arrival at Princeton to enter upon the duties 
of his new appointment, the college was in a state of 
ruin. The war which had raged for some years before 
between the colonies and the mother country, had driven 

VOL. I. E 

^6 Life of Dr. Smith. 

the president of the mstitution from the state of New 
Jersey, dispersed the students and reduced the buildings 
to a state of complete dilapidation. The whole inte- 
rior of that noble edifice and of the church attached to 
it, had been torn out and destroyed by the British and 
American forces, who successively occupied it as bar- 
racks for the soldiery, during their passing and repas- 
sing through the state of New Jersey. The roof had 
been made a field of sport for idle soldiers and vaga- 
bond boys from the village, until its use as a defence 
against the injuries of the weather was almost destroy- 
ed. Its windows and doors were all shattered, and 
many of them burnt, the plaistering had been wanton- 
ly punched through with bayonets, and the lathing torn 
off for the purpose of kindling their fires, and the floors 
had been so generally cut by hatchets and axes, as to 
be utterly unfit for use. Added to this unpromising 
state of the building and the general dispersion of the 
students, were the difficulties which arose from the in- 
jury sustained by the funds of the institution from the 
financial embarrassments of the nation, and the gene- 
ral distress of the times. As the seat of the war had 
now, however, been transferred from the north to the 
south, and tlie nation, shaking off its despondency, be- 
gan to look with confidence to the final establishment of 
its independence, Dr. Witherspoon, determined to avail 
himself of this favoui'able opportunity to revive the in- 
stitution. Mr. Smith, in whose talents and address he 
had now learned to place unlimited confidence, was 
fixed upon, as the person to assist him in this under- 
taking. Accordingly Mr. Smith was commissioned at 

Life of Dr. Smith. 21 

once to attend to the repairs of the building, and in con- 
nection with the other teachers to superintend the in- 
struction of the small classes that remained. And with 
so much capacity, diligence and zeal did he devote him- 
self to the interests of the seminary, that in a short time 
the building was put into a condition to receive the pu- 
pils who were beginning to assemble, and the usual 
system of instruction set into operation. On this oc- 
casion, that natural generosity, disinterestedness and 
total disregard of pecuniary advantages, for which Mr. 
Smith was distinguished, were strikingly displayed. 
The funds of the college, from the causes belbre al- 
luded to, being insufficient to defray the expense of 
erecting the buildings, and at the same time contribut- 
ing to the maintenance of the professors, he, with un- 
usual liberality, devoted to these purposes considerable 
sums of money which he received from Virginia, ac- 
cruing to him li'om the sale of some lands which he 
possessed in that state, and for which disinterested sa- 
crifice of his own personal interests to those of the se- 
minary, he never afterwards received any adequate re- 

In efforts of this nature commenced the labours of 
Mr. Smith in one of the higher offices of the college, in 
discharging the duties of which, together with what 
was subsequently done by him, he performed a part 
lor that institution, for which she can never feel her- 
self too deeply indebted to him. For a considerable 
portion of time too, it is to be remarked, that he had 
to execute the duties of his office under circumstances 
of pecuhar disadvantage and delicacy. The great in- 
terests of the American nation which were at this time 

28 Life of Dr. Smith. 

pending, requiring the collective wisdom of her citizens 
to be brought into action for her welfare, Dr. Wither- 
spoon, whose integrity, capacity and attachment to the 
cause of patriotism had been sufficiently evinced dur- 
ing the war, was chosen by the state of New Jersey to 
represent herein congress. For several years he con- 
tinued to perform his duty in congress while he still 
held the presidency of the college, and during the time 
of his absence from the institution, the whole weight of 
his cares fell upon Mr. Smith, who was now placed 
in the very delicate situation of one who had to exert 
a vigilance and exercise an authority at all times of- 
fensive to the governed and reluctantly submitted to, 
without being invested with the dignity which com- 
mands respect and renders acquiescence and obedi- 
ence easy. This circumstance oftentimes rendered 
the performance of his duties in the highest degree irk- 
some. It must have been peculiarly painful to him to 
impose the restraints and inflict the censures, as well 
as exert that constant vigilance necessary in the go- 
vernment of a large number of youth, in a subordinate 
station, when the idea prevails among them that there 
is a superior, although he seldom interferes, who is an 
ultimate source of lenity and indulgence. For young 
men are too apt to measure that indulgence by their 
own wishes rather than by the standard of reason and 
the laws. Nothing, however, could overcome the firm- 
ness and perseverance of Mr. Smith. He had thus far 
been the chief instrument in reviving the seminary, and 
he was resolved to persist through all difficulties and 
discouragements to the accomplishment of his object. 
The superiority of his talents and the high respect 

Life of Dr. Smith. 29 

which the students could not fail to entertain for him, 
enabled him to surmount all obstructions, linder his 
care, supported by the character and influence of Dr. 
Witherspoon, the college was rapidly advancing to pros- 
perity, when an event occurred which had well nigh 
deprived him of life, and the institution and the coun- 
try of his future usefulness and eminence. So great 
was his activity and devotedness to duty, that besides 
his labours as an instructor, he had been in the habit 
of officiating also as preacher to the students. — These 
exertions, being above his strength and unsuited to the 
natural delicacy of his constitution, occasioned a recur- 
rence of the sjmptoms of his former complaint. One 
evening in the beginning of November, 1782, the blood 
burst forth apparently from the same part of the thorax, 
or upper region of the breast, from w^hich it had for- 
merly oozed in smaller quantities, but now with great- 
ly increased violence. It resembled the spring of the 
blood from a vein or minute artery which had been 
punctured by the lancet. The first flow of this alarm- 
ing rupture, for the blood spouted to a distance from 
his mouth, was checked in a short time by bleeding in 
the arm and feet, to fainting. The hemorrhage, how- 
ever, returned the next evening about three quar- 
ters of an hour later than the evening preceding, and 
was again restrained by a still more free use of the lan- 
cet. Evening after evening the same scene returned, 
only at each successive recurrence being somewhat later 
than on the preceding day, but with a stronger impulse 
and circumstances more alarming. — On this occasion, 
when death seemed inevitable, the resignation of Mr. 
Smith to the will of God, his confidence in his just and 

30 Life of Dr. Smith. 

righteous providence, and firm reliance on the merits 
of his Saviour, demonstrated that he was not merely 
a public teacher of the doctrines of rehgion, but that 
he deeply felt its power. While he was tranquil, self- 
collected and humbly resigned to the will of Godj his 
presence of mind and nice discernment, in marking 
the progress of his disorder, and suggesting the best 
expedients by which to obtain relief, are well worthy 
of remark and even admiration. — Learning from the 
experience of several anxious days, that the flux of 
blood returned at stated intervals, he proposed to the 
physicians to endeavour to anticipate its approach by 
opening his veins just before the time of its regular re- 
turn. As such a large quantity of blood had been dis- 
charged already, not less than two gallons in a few 
days, the attending physicians were averse from mak- 
ing so hazardous an experiment, declaring that by re- 
peating the operation beyond the absolute necessity of 
the case, they were only increasing the debility of the 
system which would be done at the imminent danger of 
fife. But Mr. Smith remarked in contradiction of their 
theory, that although so much blood had been lost, his 
arterial system, especially towards the approach of the 
time in which the paroxysm took place, was unusually 
strong, and the indication of its approach was a slight 
rise of the pulse and a gentle titillation at the ruptured 
spot. On the fifth evening, near the usual time of its 
return, Mr. Smith, with uncommon fortitude and pre- 
sence of mind, perceiving the symptoms, solicited one 
of the physicians, who happened to be alone with him, 
watching by his bed-side, instantly to open his vein. 

Life of Dr, Smith. 31 

aud if possible to prevent the flux from his breast. The 
good doctor, deterred by his own theory, refused to 
comply with Mr. Smith's urgent request, and while he 
was proceeding with his argument to justify his re- 
fusal, the blood released from the bandage which ob- 
structed it, spouted into his face, at the same time run- 
ning in a small stream from his mouth. Frightened at 
his own mistake, as soon as he could recover from his 
surprise he promoted its flow as much as possible, by 
increasing the stricture upon the superior part of his 
arm and opening another vein. When by these means 
the diseased flux from the mouth was arrested for the 
time, Mr. Smith, somewiiat impatient at the objections 
of his physicians, and their delay in resorting to what 
he conceived to be the only remedy that was hkely to be 
effectual in his critical situation, earnestly solicited the 
doctor to leave a lancet with him. He believed that 
urged by a sense of danger, he could summon resolu- 
tion to perform the operation on himself; and thought 
that, guided by the symptoms, he could prevent the re- 
turn of the disease, when a bleeder might not always 
be present to afford his aid. He thought moreover, 
that by daily anticipating the period in which the 
blood flowed from the diseased part, he might so far 
check the impulse of the fluid on that part as to allow 
the sides of the wound to unite and heal, since the cur- 
rent in the veins might be preserved in that calm and 
temperate motion which would not again force them 
asunder. The physician, after much persuasion, con- 
sented at last to resign the lancet to him, trembling 
lest he was putting the life of his friend at great ha- 

S2 Life of Dr. Smith. 

zard. Mr. Smith, however, confident of the correct- 
ness of his own views, resokitely but cautiously opened 
a vein the next day, somewhat earlier than the usual 
time of the paroxysm, a person holding him up in bed 
while he performed the operation on himself He drew 
from his arm nearly if not quite the quantity which had 
been found necessary since the accident took place, 
which, according to his calculations, prevented the 
eruption for that day. Extravasated blood however, 
which had been collected in large quantities in the ca- 
vities of the thorax and coagulated there, excited a 
slight disposition to cough, and it was computed that 
from six to eight ounces must have been expectorated 
by him during as many hours. This appearance, though 
alarming, did not discourage his cool and reflecting 
mind from repeating the experiment which had been so 
successful on the preceding day, although he was ap- 
parently almost exhausted even of the small quantity 
of blood requisite to maintain the functions of hfe. The 
experiment was now completely successful. The vio- 
lence in the action of the system abated. Day after 
day the same course was pursued with the same result. 
He was now, indeed, reduced to a state of extreme de- 
bility and decay, insomuch that he was unable to move 
a limb, could not speak to his attendants except in 
whispers, could not be raised in bed without fainting, 
and truly appeared to be rapidly approaching the peri- 
od of his dissolution. But his Heavenly Father thought 
proper to determine otherwise, and to raise him from 
the valley of the shadow of death, to become a chosen 
instrument of usefulness to his church, a blessing to the* 

Life of Dr. Smith. o3 

seminary, and an ornament to his country. He was 
raised from the bed of ilhiess. Before the conjplete 
reestablishment of his health, so great was his soHcitude 
about the prosperity of the college, and so deep his 
sense of duty and responsibility, that for some time he 
was in the habit of attending to the recitations of his 
class in his own room before he was able to appear in 
his place in the institution. Being able now to walk 
and ride out, as the vernal season approached he was 
soon restored to his usual health and able to attend to 
his duties as a professor, but was obliged for some 
years to abstain from all exertions in the pulpit, except 
occasionally and with great caution, and under much 
restraint. During his future life it is said to have been 
his constant practice, when he felt any symptoms of a 
tendency to his old complaint or any unusual action in 
his system to resort to the lancet for relief, which he 
had learnt to use for himself without difficulty or ap- 
prehension; and contrary to the opinion usually enter- 
tained on that subject, he did not find the necessity of 
resorting to it increase but diminish during his advan- 
cing years. 

Thus was this eminent servant of God once more 
restored, by a benignant providence, to his family and 
usefulness. He had still the same difficulties before- 
mentioned to contend with, during the hfe of Dr. Wither- 
spoon, whose time was occupied at first with his duties 
in congress, and afterwards at the instance of the board 
of trustees, in paying a visit to England on the hope- 
less errand of endeavouring to collect money to replen- 
ish the exhausted funds of the college. — Soon after this 

VOL. I. F , 

34 Life of Dr. Smith. 

event also that venerable man was afflicted with totai 
blindness, and many infirmities which almost deprived 
him of power to attend to his duties, so that the whole 
weight and responsibility of the president's office de- 
volved upon Mr. Smith. Like all men of real talent, 
however, his powers only became more conspicuous, 
as they were called into more vigorous exertion. The 
trustees of the seminary becoming every day more sen- 
sible of his capacity and distinguished usefulness, added 
to his titles and dignities in the institution, besides the 
one of professor of moral philosophy, those of professor 
of theology and vice president of the college. Nor was 
hisreputation any longer confined to the college alone. — 
He was beginning to attract the attention and respect 
of the literary public. In 1785, he was elected an ho- 
norary member of the American philosophical society 
in Philadelphia, the first institution of that kind in our 
country; and which comprised among it members, men 
of the highest distinction in science and literature. As 
his reputation, both as an orator and scholar, began to 
be justly appreciated, he was appointed this same year 
by that learned body to deliver their anniversary ad- 
dress. On this occasion, it was, that he chose for his 
subject, to explain the causes of the variety in the figure 
and complexion of the human species and estabhsh the 
identity of the race. This masterly treatise, so well 
selected for the occasion, was published in the philo- 
sophical transactions of the society, and obtained for 
its author deserved reputation as a philosopher both in 
his own and foreign countries. This same treatise has 
since been enlarged and improved by him, and together 

Life of Br. Smith. oO 

with some strictures upon the principles of lord Kaims, 
Mr. White of Manchester, &c. published in a separate 
volume. In the year following the publication of this 
work, while attending a commencement at Yale college 
in the state of Connecticut, he was unexpectedly to 
himself honoured with the degree of doctor in divinity, 
as some years afterwards he received from Cambridge 
in the state of Massachusetts, that of doctor of laws. 
His reputation as a philosopher, a divine and pulpit 
orator, was now established. Whenever he appeared in 
the pulpit, he excited universal approbation and ap- 
plause. In the ecclesiastical councils to which he was 
sent, he shone as a distinguished luminary. With a 
mind inured to close thinking, by habits of application 
to the study of those authors the most remarkable for 
profound thought and extensive erudition, an imagina- 
tion, which, to its natural fertility, had added the riches 
of all that it could cull in imagery from the finest pro- 
ductions in poetry and prose, and withall a ready and 
commanding eloquence, which he had cultivated from 
early life, he could not fail to become distinguished in 
debate. Accordingly it is said by those who knew him 
best, to have been no small enjoyment to listen to him 
in those discussions, which took place in the synods 
and general assemblies of the pi-esbyterian church. The 
confidence which his church reposed in him was evin- 
ced by her uniformly putting his talents anct learning 
into requisition, when any important measures w^re 
proposed or any interesting objects accomplished. In 
the year 1786 he was among the number of that com- ^^ 
mittee, who w ere directed to draw up a system of go- 

36 Life of Dr. Smith. 

vernment for the presbyterian church in America. Be- 
sides himself, this committee consisted of Drs. Wither- 
spoon, Rogers, M'Whorter, Sproat, Duffield, AlHson, 
Ewing and Wilson, of the clergy, together with Messrs. 
Snowden, Taggart, and Pinkerton, ruling elders; a list 
of divines in a high degree respectable, and some of 
whom would have done honour to any age or nation. 
In pursuance of this appointment was prepared and 
digested that judicious and excellent form of Presby- 
terial government by general assemblies, synods, and 
presbyteries, which prevails at this time in our coun- 

In 1794 Dr. Witherspoon finished his earthly course, 
and in the following spring. Dr. Smith was appointed 
his successor, and entered upon the dignity of that of- 
fice, the duties of which he had long before fulfilled. 
His talents, like all those which are genuine, shone 
more brightly in proportion to the elevation to which 
he was raised. The dignity of manners mingled with 
.a respectful attention to their feelings which, on all oc- 
casions, he discovered in his deportment towards those 
students, who devoted themselves to their duty, and 
were obedient to the laws; the clearness, comprehen- 
sion and force of style which he displayed as an in- 
structor to his class, the manly and impressive eloquence 
which he exhibited on all public occasions, when he 
appeared in the pulpit, rendered him the pride and or- 
nament of the institution. The period in which he 
was to preach became an era in the college, for at this 
time a pastor, had been provided for the church at 
Princeton, and the students on such occasions repaired 

Life of Dr. Smith. 37 

with alacrity and delight to the place of divine worship. 
Never did they return from the church on such occa- 
sions, without feeling a degree of enthusiasm in favour 
of the preacher and having a sensible effect produced 
upon their conduct by his eloquent and solemn ser- 
mons. The writer of this feeble tribute to his memory, 
can bear testimony to his success as a pulpit orator, as 
the effect produced upon his mind by the able and 
searching addresses of his venerable president will never 
be obliterated. They were the first that ever exhibited 
to him, that quickening power which the doctrines of 
the gospel are capable of exercising, when recommend- 
ed by the ornaments of style and composition, and all 
the arts of a persuasive eloquence. The addresses which 
he delivered to the senior class, which according to a 
laudable custom, took place in Princeton college, on the 
Sunday before the day of their public commencement, 
were generally executed in his best style, and delivered 
in his most impressive and happy manner. These ad- 
dresses annually delivered to his graduates became at 
length so celebrated that persons of the first distinction 
in our country went from considerable distances, even 
from Philadelphia and New York, to listen to them. 
The people of Trenton, in New Jersey, will long re- 
member the effect produced upon them by his oration 
upon the death of General Washington, an occasion on 
which eloquence could exercise her highest powers, 
and eulogy lavish her most hyperbolical encomiums, 
without any apprehension of degenerating into extra- 
vagance or excess. About this time, he published one 

38 Life of Dr. Smith. 

volume of sermons, which was well received both in hib 
own and in foreign countries. 

While the affairs of the college were thus prosper- 
ously advancing, under the auspices of a president and 
professors of acknowledged ability, for Dr. Smith had 
the happiness of having associated with him, first Dr. 
Walter Minto, one of the most distinguished mathema- 
ticians of his age, and afterwards. Dr. John M'Lean, 
who, for clearness of understanding and largeness of 
comprehension, had few equals in those branches of 
science to which he devoted himself; an event happen- 
ed which for a time overwhelmed with despair the 
friends of this institution. From some cause which, 
to this day, has not been completely explained, the col- 
lege buildings were burnt to the ground. This con- 
flagration was, at first, supposed to be the work of some 
incendiary among the malcontent students, and several 
of them suffered in their character, from the strong 
suspicions which were entertained of their guilt; but 
after a full investigation of the matter, it appears rather 
to have been the effect of accident than design. From 
w^hatever cause the effect may have been produced, we 
can more easily conceive than describe the sensations 
of Dr. Smith, when he saw that edifice, which he had 
been so instrumental in rearing after the ravages of the 
war, and which had been for some time past filled with 
young men, many of whom were ardently engaged un- 
der his care in the pursuit of knowledge, one heap of 
ruins. Sickened, however, as his heart was at the 
sight, his mind fertile in expedients, did not long hesi- 
tate as to the course which it was necessary to pursue 

Life of Dr. SmUL 39 

m this critical conjuncture. The board of trustees was 
immediately summoned, and a plan proposed of setting 
forward throughout the United States among the friends 
of the seminary a subscription, for the purpose of 
raising a sum of money sufficient to repair the injuries 
which had been sustained. In the execution of this 
plan, the influential members of the board were request- 
ed to exert all their power in collecting subscriptions 
in their several districts, w^hile the president was di- 
rected in person to travel through the middle and 
southern states, where the supporters of the institution 
principally resided, with the same views. Such was 
the success with which these exertions were attended 
that, in a short time, the building arose like a phoenix 
from its ashes; a larger library than the college before 
possessed was purchased, and more ample and conve- 
nient accommodations were provided for the students. 
For some years after this event, tlie number of the pu- 
pils was augmented beyond what had ever before been 
known in it. Thus was Dr. Smith a second time, the 
principal instrument in rearing this literary institution. 
From this period no important event happened bejond 
what are usual in similar places, until the year 1812, 
when after repeated strokes of the palsy, he found him- 
self unable to attend to his duties in college, and ac- 
cordingly, at the next commencement, to the great re- 
gret of the students and all the friends of the college, 
he pubhcly resigned his presidency, and retired to a 
house allotted to him by the board of trustees, while, 
with a liberality that does that respectable body of men 
no small credit, the greater part of his former salary 

40 Uife of Dr. Smith. 

was continued to him during his life. From this period 
although only in his sixty-second year, the paralytic 
strokes, with which he had been visited, had so far 
weakened his constitution, as to render him utterly in- 
capable of any of his ordinary exertions of body or 
mind. Even in this enfeebled state, however, his na- 
tural ardour and activity in the prosecution of learning 
still continued. He spent a portion of his time incor- 
rectmg his works, and prepared for the press, and pub- 
lished that system of moral philosophy, which for more 
than twenty years he had delivered to the classes, and 
which is certainly among the best productions of this 
kind extant. Conscious of the extreme debility of his 
system, he was obliged at length to rehnquish all those 
pursuits, to which he had become accustomed, and de- 
voted himself solely to the enjoyment of his family cir- 
cle and those numerous friends whose attachment to 
him became strengthened, by the near prospect which 
presented itself of so soon being deprived of him for- 
ever. The fervour and sincerity of his piety, appear- 
ed more conspicuous now that it was brought to the 
test. With a mind conscious of the most unsullied 
purity, and uprightness of intention; the retrospect of 
a well spent life, and an entire trust in the mercy 
and goodness of God, he seemed to await, in unruffled 
tranquillity the summons of his heavenly Father, that 
should transport him to a better world. Divested of all 
the passions which disturb and embitter the intercourse 
of those who are engaged in the conflicts of ambition, 
living separate from the world, and under the sure pros- 

Life of Dr. Smith. 41 

pect of a speedy dissolution, he appeared, in the lan- 
guage of the poet, 

To walk thoughtful on the silent, solemn shore 
Of that vast ocean he must sail so soon — 

For some weeks before his death, his strength be- 
came visibly decreased, and on the 21st Augusl, 1819, 
the 70th year of his age, he died almost without a strug- 
gle, conversing to the last with his family, exhibiting 
entire composure and resignation, and discovering even 
an anxiety to be released from that weight of feeble- 
ness and infirmity, which for some years before had 
borne down his spirit, and cut him off from those en- 
joyments, in w4nch his active mind found its greatest 
happiness. His funeral was attended by an unusual 
concourse of his fellow citizens, assembled, even from 
remote distances, to avail themselves of this last op- 
portunity of testifying their respect for a man so much 
honoured and esteemed. His body was deposited by 
the side of the other presidents of the college, and the 
usual monument is now erecting over his ashes. He 
had the misfortune to lose his wife some years previ- 
ous to his own death, by whom he had nine children, 
five of which number only have sui'vived him. 

We shall now proceed to state his claims as a phi- 
losopher, a president of the college, a writer, a pulpit 
orator and a man. Dr. Smith, from the earliest period 
of life, devoted himself exclusively to the cultivation of 
science. His pretensions as a philosopher do honour 
to his country. In all his works we discover great just- 

VOL. I. <5 

4^2 ' Life of Dr. Smith. 

ness and profoundness of observation, extensive ac- 
quaintance with science and literature, together with a 
liberal and philosophical cast of thinking. His Princi- 
ples of Natural and Revealed Religion, his Moral Phi- 
losophy, his Lectures upon the Evidences of Christi- 
anity delivered to the students in college, his Treatise 
upon the Figure and Complexion of the human spe- 
cies, and lastly, his Sermons, consisting of three vo- 
lumes, two of which are now given to the public; are 
the works upon which his reputation is built, and they 
are all written with the hand of a master. In his Prin- 
ciples of Natural and Revealed Religion, he has given 
a concise but neat and perspicuous view of the doc- 
trines and rites of the christian religion, as they are re- 
ceived and practised in the presbyterian church. His 
views are decidedly calvanistic, but couched in terms 
of so nmch moderation and liberality, that in his hands 
they are rendered as little offensive to those who have 
embraced a different creed, as it is possible to make 
them. In this treatise he has comprised within a small 
compass, a great variety of theological learning and 
useful and interesting disquisition, expressed in a lan- 
guage at once neat and elegant, while his doctrines are 
recommended by profound reflections and happy illus- 
trations. His Moral Philosophy is certainly among the 
best productions of this kind at present in the posses- 
sion of the literary world. As a book for the use of 
colleges and schools, it is liable to fewer objections than 
any that can be obtained. The treatise of Dr. Paley 
on this subject, although perhaps as a work of genius 
superior to any other, and characterised by all those 

Life of Dr. Smith. 43 

excellencies usually discoverable in the productions of 
that amiable moralist and elegant writer, is well known, 
and I believe, generally admitted to be most materially 
defective in tracing the foundations of moral duty. The 
excellent work of Hutcheson, is too abstract and dif- 
fuse for the use of schools, and that of Dr. Beattie 
rather an inferior production, and without that body of 
interesting matter which we have reason to expect in 
an elementary treatise intended for the instruction of 
youth. It is a common objection against this work of 
Dr. Smith, that he has introduced into it many topics 
which are irrelative to the subject of moral and politi- 
cal philosophy; and, perhaps, it is, in some degree, lia- 
ble to an exception of this kind. But even this cir- 
cumstance which may be admitted to be a real imper- 
fection in the work, when estimated as a production of 
genius, may be of service to it, when received into our 
colleges as a manual of instruction in the education of 
youth. The variety of subjects discussed serves to 
open, and expand the faculties of youthful minds, to 
extend the sphere of their acquaintance with science 
and literature, and at once to gratify their fondness for 
novelty, and to strengthen and invigorate their intel- 
lectual powers. His Lectures upon the Evidences of 
the Christian Religion, hold a respectable rank with 
the works of Stillingfleet, Grotius, Paley, and the nu- 
merous writers who have undertaken the discussion 
of the same subject, and his volume of sermons is 
one of the best on the subjects of practical divinity, 
which issued from the press during the last century. 
The treatise, however, upon which, if he had written 

44 Life of Dr. Smith. 

no other, he might found a high and well merited re- 
putation as a philosopher, is that upon the variety of 
figure and complexion in the human species, which is 
among the first and best of his productions. It was at . 
first published as delivered to the philosophical society 
of Philadelphia, and of course much less m size than 
it now appears in a separate volume, but it may rea- 
sonably be doubted whether by introducing into it a 
greater accumulation of matter, although that matter 
be of a very interesting and useful kind, and undoubt- 
edly contributes to the information and amusement of 
the reader, he has not upon the whole weakened the 
impression, which the argument produces upon the 
mind. However this may be, in its present form, it is 
indisputably a masterpiece of philosophical writing, and 
such as would have done honour to any man that ever 
lived. He who contributes to the detection and expo- 
sure of error and the establishment of the great prin- 
ciples of tmth and duty, who exhibits important doc- 
trines in science, morals or religion in new and interest- 
ing points of light, recommends them by original embel- 
lishments of fancy and all the graces of style and compo- 
sition, may, alike with him who has the happinessto make 
great discoveries in philosophy, be regarded as one of the 
benefactors of his race. In efforts of this kind lies the 
merit of Dr. Smith, in the treatise of which we are 
now speaking. If he had not the honour of conceiving 
the original plan upon which the varieties in the race 
might be explained, which it is conceded had been 
sketched out by the philosophers of Europe, he is en- 
titled to the still higher merit of having reduced what 
they had only conjectured, or feebly supported, to a 

Lnfe of Ih\ Smith. 45 

finished and conclusive argument amounting to the 
highest degree of moral certainty. His object in this 
treatise, is to show that all that great variety exhibited 
among our race in their stature, complexion and fi- 
gure, commencing from the Tartar and Simoide in the 
north of Europe, including the fair complexion and 
regular features of the temperate zones, the copper- 
coloured Indian, the deep olive of the Moors, and ter- 
minating in the indeUbly black of tropical Africa, to- 
gether with the other peculiarities of that nation, may 
be explained from the united action of climate, the 
state of society, and manner of Hving. Besides that 
this doctrine would seem to be evidently deducible from 
the account given in the Sacred Scriptures of the ori- 
ginal of our race, which is there traced, in the first in- 
stance to Adam our great progenitor, and in the next, 
•to Noah and his sons after the deluge, by whom the 
whole earth is said to have been overspread, it would 
appear equally to result by unavoidable inference from 
the maxims of a sound philosophy. No more causes 
of things are to be admitted than are both true and suf- 
ficient to explain the phenomena, is a maxim which, 
ever since the days of Newton, has been held as unde- 
niable. That admirable simplicity, which runs through 
all the adjustments and operations of nature, would 
seem to indicate that the Creator, in accomplishing the 
purposes of infinite wisdom, would resort to no more 
expedients than are absolutely necessary to the attain- 
ment of his ends. If, therefore, from, a single pair, or 
from the family of Noah, in the natural course of pro- 
pagation, the whole globe would be speedily peopled 

46 Life of Dr. Smith, 

and the purposes of the Creator in replenishing it with 
inhabitants be accompHshed, it would be against all the 
principles of a just philosophy to resort to the supposi- 
tion of a diversity of origin, in order to account for the 
varieties which exist. Nothing can be imagined more 
unphilosophical and less founded in fact and experience, 
than the opinion of those who, with Voltaire, imagine 
different races to be produced, suited to their various 
situations, like vegetable productions springing out of 
the soils to whicli they are severally adapted. Such a 
crude and unconcocted theory as this could have arisen 
only out of a wanton spirit of hostihty to religion. How* 
completely would the scene displayed in this affair have 
been reversed, had the Sacred Scriptures contained an 
account of the original of the human race, and the first 
settlement of the globe, conformable to the views of 
those who now undertake, by this indirect means, to 
invalidate their claims to credit.'^ Had they informed 
us, that progenitors for the different nations sprang up, 
hke mushrooms, suited to their conditions upon the 
globe; what sage lessons would have been read to us 
by the same men who are now maintaining these ab- 
surdities, about the simplicity of nature in her opera- 
tions, the necessity of being guided in all our inquiries 
by the strictest rules of philosophising, which require 
us to assign no more causes of things than are abso- 
lutely necessary to explain the phenomena, and since a 
single pair would be all that would be necessary to the 
population of the earth, it would be contrary to the 
principles of right reason, to suppose that the Supreme 
Being would have originally created more? This me- 

Life of Dr. Smith. 47 

thod of reasoning would at least be more consistent 
with their usual course of procedure in attacking the 
doctrines of religion or the authority ot revelation, than 
the one to which they have resorted in the present case, as 
they generally wish to conduct their operations against 
us, if not with the genuine and authentic arms of phi- 
losophy, at least, with those which counterfeit her vene- 
rable image and superscription. Complaint has been 
made on this subject, that the advocates of the identity 
of the race, by attempting to enlist revelation on their 
side, would wish to extinguish the lights of philosophi- 
cal investigation or stifle the voice of free inquiry. But 
might not the same complaint be made with equal just- 
ness and apphcation, in reference to any other doc- 
trines inculcated upon the authority of revelation? 
Might not the Sacred Scriptures be considered as liable 
to a similar reprehension, because they establish the 
truths that there is a God, a future state of rewards 
and punishments, an immortal existence intended for 
the souls of men, and all the other tenets of the chris- 
tian faith, and no longer allow a license to the erring 
reason of men, to subject them to the trial of vain and 
doubtful disputations.^ Far be it from us to feel any 
inchnation to check the progress of free inquiry, or set 
limits to that full and ample range which we would al- 
low to philosophy while she confines her researches 
within those tracts, over which God and nature have 
assigned her a just and lawful dominion. We are sen- 
sible of no tendency to partake of that spirit of bigotry 
and intolerance, which led to the persecution of Roger 
Bacon and Des Cartes, exposed Gallileo to confine- 

48 Life ofDr, Smith. 

ment, and put his life in jeopardy for his philosophical 
discoveries; but we cannot conceive why what is un- 
doubtedly revealed in the word of God or deducible 
from it by unavoidable inference, should be withheld 
or not boldly maintained, and pertinaciously adhered 
to, from an apprehension of checking reason in her 
range, or stifling the voice of free inquiry. We enter- 
tain no fears that after a full and complete investiga- 
tion, the doctrine inculcated in Sacred Scripture on this 
or any other topic will be found at variance with the 
conclusions of a just philosophy. The experience of 
the church in the case of Gallileo, if she had not been 
taught many other lessons of a similar nature during 
the course of her history, should have put her on her 
guard, not to be too sensitive or over-jealous in points 
of this kind, or allow her fears to be too easily alarm- 
ed, for the safety of that precious treasure of divine 
truth, entrusted to her keeping; but, to repose in entire 
confidence upon the conviction, that the same God 
who has endited his holy word, will not allow it to be 
invalidated or falsified by his works, when rightly in- 
terpreted. As far as the parallel has been hitherto 
run, between the word of God and his works, as dis- 
closed to us by the discoveries of science, the accord- 
ance, or correspondence traced between them has been 
strict and wonderful, and it is not hkely, that any fu- 
ture investigations of science, will be found to set them 
at variance with each other. This observation has been 
still more strikingly verified in the present instance. Dr. 
Smith has shown, in the treatise, whose merits we are 
now canvassing, that the inference to which we should 

Life of Dr. Smith. 49 

be naturally led from the representations of sacred scrip- 
ture, in regard to the identity of the human race, is the 
same which we should deduce from the principles of 
philosophy. We cannot but be of opinion, that any one 
who shall take the trouble, not only to read, but to 
study and comprehend this work, will find that by his 
able and learned argument upon the subject, he has 
fairly brought it to a conclusion, and supplied us with 
an evidence, as satisfactory to the understanding as the 
nature of the case admits. To all the objections, which 
have been alleged against his system, commencing 
with those of that elegant writer and profound critic 
lord Kaims, and terminating in the efforts of some later 
authors, who have had the presumption to controvert 
his principles, without taking the trouble to comprehend 
them, we consider him as having furnished satisfactory 
refutations. That his doctrine will ultimately triumph, 
and that all future discoveries of science will contribute 
to its support and confirmation, we entertain not the 
smallest doubt; nor that the work in which it is main- 
tained, will, by all those who are capable of judging, 
be regarded as a valuable accession to the stock of hu- 
man knowledge, and remain a lasting monument of his 

From his pretensions as a philosopher, we proceed 
to those which he sustained as the president of the col- 
lege. His talents, it is true, were rather of the con- 
templative than the executive kind, and he was more 
fitted for researches and speculations of the closet, than 
for the prompt exertions, the quick perception of the 
best expedients to accomplish ends, together with the 

VOL. I. H 

50 Life of Dr. Smith. 

ready and vigorous prosecution of them, which are in- 
dispensible quahfications in conducting to successful 
issues, the affairs of active life. To cool contempla- 
tion, or the calm pursuits of mild philosophy, rather 
than to the tumult and heat of action, he seems to have 
been formed by his habits, which were those of study 
and reflection. But, on important occasions in which 
his feelings became engaged, and his sense of duty pro- 
pelled him to exertion, no man discovered more promp- 
titude, decision and energy of character, or more firm- 
ness and perseverance. He entered upon the duties 
of the presidency in the college at a conjuncture, in 
which they had become peculiarly delicate and arduous. 
The French revolution which had just taken place, at 
the same time, that it uprooted the very foundation of 
the ancient monarchy of that nation, and threw the 
state into confusion and wild misrule as well as delug- 
ed it with blood, did not confine its effects to the hmits 
of that single kingdom, but extended its influence to 
many of the contemporary nations. In no country was 
this effect more sensibly felt than in our own, as was 
natural, on account of the severe struggle from which 
we had just released ourselves in the establishment of 
our independence, and the train of feelings and opinions 
to which that struggle gave rise. It awoke among the 
citizens of this republic an enthusiasm in favour of the 
civil rights of mankind, which had an immediate ten- 
dency to extravagance and excess, and which extend- 
ed itself throughout all the departments of civil and so- 
cial life. If our people were not prepared to consider 
all government useless and oppressive, they were at 

Iflfe of Dr. Smith. 51 

least not in a condition to bear with tameness and ac- 
quiescence any thing that bore the semblance of a re- 
straint upon their liberty. From the members of the 
republic this infection spread itself among our youth, 
who strange to tell, carried these false notions of liber- 
ty along with them into our seminaries of learning, and 
the same cause that gave rise to all the uneasiness of 
our Washington, the stay of the federal government and 
the guardian genius of his country, and which on more 
than one occasion shook to its foundation the noble fa- 
bric he had reared, extended its action also into the 
colleges and schools of our country. The spirit of in- 
subordination, which showed itself amongst the stu- 
dents, and their unceasing tendency to tumult and re- 
volt against the exercise of just and lawful authority, 
was the spring out of which flowed all Dr. Smithes anxi- 
eties and difficulties, in discharging the duties of his high 
and responsible station. From this fruitful source, storm 
after storm succeeded in the institution, which required 
all the address, influence and knowledge of human na- 
ture, which he could summon to his aid, to prevent from 
leading to its utter ruin. On these occasions, his readiness 
of resource, his firmness and decision of character, his 
commanding powers of eloquence, and all those talents 
that constitute real greatness, as it is capable of being 
exhibited in active life, conspicuously appeared. The 
dignity of his presence overawed disaffection and re- 
volt. Never did he address himself in vain to the stu- 
dents under his care. His eloquent appeals to their 
understandings, their pride of character, and their sense 
of duty were always irresistible. Armed with his pow- 

62 Life of Dr. Smith. 

evs, the authority of college never failed to triumph. 
Confusion and wild uproar heard his voice and was 
still. Severe as were the contests he had thus fre- 
quently to sustain with the students, they never ceased 
to regard him with the highest respect, and to enter- 
tain for his person undiminished affection. Of all those 
young men who were successively under his charge, I 
very much doubt whether a single one could be found 
who does not cherish for his memory the highest vene- 
ration. Never, perhaps, did any president of a college 
receive from his pupils a more flattering proof of atten- 
tion and respect, than he received from his, when, after 
the conflagration of the college-buildings, he was tak- 
ing his journey through the middle and southern states, 
in order to make up subscriptions to defray the expense 
of repairing the injuries which had been sustained. The 
gentlemen in the several districts through which he pass- 
ed, who had graduated under his care, met together to 
consult not only about the best method of paying their 
respects to him by waiting upon him in person, but also 
for the purpose of anticipating, in the way the most grate- 
ful to his feelings, the object of his visit. To save him 
from the task, at no time agreeable, of making appli- 
cation iu person to the men of wealth in the places 
through which he went, they not only presented him 
unsolicited the several sums which they themselves 
subscribed, but voluntarily undertook the office, of so- 
liciting in his stead the contributions of others. An act 
of complicated virtue, by which they at once discharg- 
ed the obligation of gratitude which they owed to their 
venerable preceptor, exhibited an example of the most 

JUfe of Dr. Smith. 53 

delicate courtesy to the object of their esteem, and ful- 
filled an important public duty. 

As a writer he is entitled to a very distinguished 
rank. He had a mind which was, indeed capable of 
comprehending the abstruse and penetrating into the 
profound, but which following its natural impulses, 
chose rather to devote itself to the acquisition of what 
is elegant and agreeable in science and hterature. If 
his natural parts did not prompt him, with Locke, 
Clarke and Butler, successfully to fathom the depths of 
that vast ocean of truth an4 certainty presented to us 
in metaphysics and divinity; with Addison, Pope and 
Swift, he found a high degree of mental enjoyment in 
exploring the more flowery fields of the Belles-Lettres, 
and all that part of knowledge which comes under the 
denomination of polite learning. With this kind of 
literary treasure his mind was richly stored, and he 
was at all times able to give vent to it in a correct and 
elegant style of writing. He was versed in the Latin, 
Greek, French and Hebrew languages; and his style of 
writing was remarkably neat and chastened, when com- 
pared with that which is now becoming every day more 
and more prevalent. In his works we find none of 
those meretricious ornaments, that perpetual splendour 
of diction, those studied efforts to dazzle by brilliant 
thoughts, and pompous expressions, which are now 
becoming but too common, and are always sure indi- 
cations of a corrupt taste. His periods, it is true, are 
generally well turned, and harmonious, and he disco- 
vers no disinclination to receive legitimate embellish- 
ments of fancy, when they come to him unsought. His 

54 Life of Dr. Smith, 

style is full, flowing and polished, but never glitters 
with gaudy ornaments. If there be any fault that is 
worthy of being noticed, it is the want of ease, grace and 
that artless simplicity which give to the productions of 
some writers an irresistible charm. Whatever defects, 
however, a scrupulous criticism might descry in the 
compositions of this writer, they are compensated by 
his uniform perspicuity, strength and elegance, the 
most indispensible requisites in fine writing. Circum- 
stances elicit the powers of authors, as well as the ta- 
lents of those who perform their parts upon the active 
scenes of life, and are called upon to gain the ear of 
listening senates or sway the rod of empires. Had Dr. 
Smith lived at the time of the reformation, or at any 
critical and interesting period in the history of the 
church, when great interests were at stake and import- 
ant controversies maintained, he would have been found 
one of the ablest champions that ever espoused a cause. 
In the days of Luther, Calvin and Cranmer, when all 
his powers would have been excited into strenuous ex- 
ertion, we very much overrate his talents, if he would 
not have approved himself a worthy coadjutor to those 
illustrious men, and entirely equal to that sublime un- 
dertaking on which they had embarked. 

As a pulpit orator he would have done honour to any 
age or nation. There was a dignity and even majesty 
in his person and appearance in the pulpit, as well as 
in his conceptions and style of speaking, which excited 
involuntary respect and commanded the most unremit- 
ted attention. He seems to have formed himself upon 
that imaginary model of a perfect pulpit orator, which 

lAfe of Dr. Smith. 55 

Dr. Blair in his excellent lectures upon rhetoric has 
so well delineated, in whose sermons and mode of ad- 
dress there should be transfused into the sound sense 
and masterly argument of the English preachers, the 
spirit, fire and vehemence of the French. To a certain 
extent, it must be admitted, that he carried into exe- 
cution what his mind had conceived. In his sermons 
there was always contained a large body of judicious 
and interesting matter, wrought with the highest art, 
and the whole animated with the glow of passion and 
imagination. Adorned by his genius the pulpit was 
converted into a fountain at once of light to illuminate 
the understandings of his hearers, and of heat to warm 
and fructify their hearts. We have often listened to 
preachers who, at times, would produce a more power- 
ful effect upon their audience and awake more sensa- 
tion ; but we have never heard one who throughout the 
whole of his address afforded them a richer and more 
delightful repast. His discourses were always con- 
structed with exquisite art and address, commencing 
with a regular exordium and exciting a deeper interest 
as he advanced through their different stages, and such 
was the earnestness and pathos of his mode of delivery, 
and his masculine eloquence, that the attention seldom 
flagged until he arrived at the conclusion. His oratory 
was a gentle stream that flowed, for the most part 
equably and smoothly, but which at times could swell 
into the force, impetuosity and sublimity of the torrent. 
His voice was clear, full and harmonious, his enuncia- 
tion distinct, his gestures few, but significant and impres- 
sive, his whole appearance dignified and imposing, and. 

56 Life of Dr. Smith. 

on some occasions, when he was more than usually excit- 
ed by passion, every feature spoke, and tiiat fine expres- 
sive eye, which nature had given him, became lighted 
up with a fire which penetrated every heart. In him 
we perceived no frothy declamations, no little arts to 
captivate the vulgar, none of the tricks and flourishes 
of eloquence, with which the discourses of those 
preachers who aim at popularity are too frequently 
disgraced. All was sober, chastened and dignified both 
in his matter and manner. A vein of ardent but ra- 
tional piety ran through his discourses that warmed 
every bosom, and kept the devotional feelings in a state 
of agreeable and wholesome excitement. No one re- 
turned from the church in which he had officiated 
without being sensible his heart had been made better, 
his understanding furnished with useful aliment for re- 
flection, and his moral feelings softened and improved. In 
his private qualities he was no less distinguished than 
in his public character. His person was somewhat 
above the ordinary size, his limbs well proportioned, 
his complexion fair and delicate, the features of his 
countenance which were regular, remarkably hand- 
some, and strongly marked with the lines of thinking, 
were crowned by an open and manly forehead and a 
large blue eye, in a high degree expressive and pene- 
trating, and v»^hich, when any thing interested him, 
kindled with intelligence and spoke the language of an 
ardent and noble mind. To a person thus well pro- 
portioned, he added an agreeable and insinuating ad- 
dress and an ease and urbanity of manners, that would 
have adorned the most polished circles and given grace 

Life of Di\ Smith. 67 

and dignity to a court. His principles were all of a 
high and honourable kind, and bore the stamp of great- 
ness and of the sternest integrity. No man had a deep- 
er destestation of vice, or would more instinctively have 
shrunk from any act that would have cast a blemish 
upon the purity of his character. Slander did, indeed, 
as usual, fabricate against him her calumnious tale and 
essay to tarnish his reputation, and that envy which 
could not reach his excellence endeavoured to bring 
him down to its own level, but the uniform tenor of his 
life, answered and refuted the aspersions of his detrac- 
tors. In domestic life his manners were amiable, af- 
fable and engaging. As a husband, parent and mas- 
ter, no one could be more gentle, affectionate and leni- 
ent in the exercise of disciphne. To his family he was 
indulgent even to a fault. Arduous as were his public 
duties, and devoted as he was to the pursuit of science 
and literature, he found time to assist in the education 
of his own children, daughters as well as the only son 
that lived beyond the state of infancy; and after repeat- 
ed strokes of the palsy had disqualified him from his 
attendance on the duties of the college, we find him 
spending the last remains of his strength in educating 
his little grand children, two sons of a favourite daugh- 
ter, Mrs. Prevost, whom he had the misfortune to lose 
some years after her marriage. With politics he never 
publicly interfered, after the conclusion of the revolu- 
tionary war, although at its commencement in his youth, 
he is said to have assisted by his eloquent sermons, in 
exciting among the people in the state of Virginia a 
spirit of resistance to the measures at that time pro- 

VOL. I. 1 

58 Life ofIh\ Smith. 

posed and adopted by the parliament of England. He 
was a warm and decided friend to rational liberty, but 
a determined enemy to that democratic rage, which 
would level all those distinctions so necessary to the 
existence of society, pull down authorities and powers, 
and under the sacred name of liberty, give rise to a 
general insubordination and licentiousness, incompati- 
ble with the existence of a just and equal government. 
Under these impressions, he was a warm supporter of 
the administration of Washington, and ranked among 
those who, amidst the party distinctions of the times, 
were denominated federalists. As a friend and com^ 
panion, he is not so highly to be commended as for his 
domestic qualities. There was a coldness, reserve, 
and even stateliness in his demeanor, arising probably 
from his habits of abstract reflection and close appli- 
cation to study, which threw a damp at first upon the 
efforts of those who were desirous of approaching him 
on terms of intimacy and friendship. Upon more fa- 
miliar intercourse, however, this reserve was laid aside 
towards those wiiom he esteemed, and his natural frank- 
ness, cordiality, and susceptibility of the tenderest at- 
tachments, appeared. Upon one thing his friends might 
calculate with perfect confidence, that he would never 
deceive them by false appearances. He professed no re- 
gard which he did not feel, and where he made over- 
tures of esteem and friendship, it was always done in 
candour and sincerity. His generous and noble mind, 
was infinitely superior to all dissimulation, disguise 
or artifice. He was equally above all intrigue and 
management to promote his own elevation. The ho- 

Life of Dr. Smith. 59 

nours which were conferred upon him, came to him 
unsought and unsoHcited. To the advantages and 
splendour which are derived from wealth, he appeared 
to be entirely indifferent. Of these his own intrinsic 
worth and real greatness prevented from ever feeling 
the want, while his religion taught him to elevate his 
views and affections above them. His piety was ge- 
nuine and sincere, without being obtrusive, deep and 
heartfelt without being gloomy, ardent but not noisy, 
active but not ostentatious. His uniform integrity and 
uprightness of conduct, his sedulous devotion to all his 
moral and religious duties, his unabated zeal for the 
promotion of the temporal and spiritual interests of his 
fellow-men, the readiness and alacrity with which he 
entered into all plans of usefulness, and above all, his 
calm, composed and happy exit from the world, show- 
ed, as far as such matters can be exhibited to the view 
of men, that he had a good conscience, and that the 
fear of God reigned in his heart, and was the ruling 
spring of all his actions. He has gone to his great ac- 
count, and we doubt not, that his works of piety and 
virtue will follow him, and through the mercy of his 
Creator, will render his futurity as blessed as his life 
was exemplary, and his death tranquil. The peace of 
Heaven be with his spirit— 111 ustrions man! A pupil 
who once revered thee as a preceptor, and whom thou 
afterwards didst honour with thy friendship, would 
erect to thee this frail monument, as a momento at 
once of his gratitude and attachment. By the efforts 
of thy genius thou hast reared for thyself, an imperish- 
able monument. Long shall thy memory be cherished 

60 lAfe of Dr. Smith. 

by the friends of science and virtue, of religion and thy 
country, of which thou wast so bright an ornament. 
May thy mantle fall upon thy successors in the pulpit, 
and thy spirit and eloquence be caught, in promulging 
the doctrines of thy Divine Master. Taught by thy 
great and good example, may future divines and orators 
of the pulpit, place their chief glory in the triumphs of 
their sacred eloquence over the vices and passions of 
mankind, and in conducting them by the charm of a 
virtuous and pious life in the ways of peace and salva- 




" And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to 
come, Felix trembled." — Acts xxiv. 25. 

Christians! you see in the apostle Paul before the 
tribunal of the Roman governor, the example, at once 
of a great orator, and a faithful minister of Jesus 
Christ. Accused by the high priest and elders of the 
Jewish nation of being a seditious disturber of the pub- 
lic peace, and of profaning their holy temple, and the 
sacred mysteries of their religion, he defended himself 
with the simplicity and energy of truth, and with the 
generous fervour of conscious innocence, against all 
the arts of that mercenary orator by whom they at- 
tempted to support their charges. Leaving to Tertul- 
lus those base flatteries which were only designed to 
gain the ear of corrupted power; Paul, in his noble 
and manly defence of himself, although always respect- 
ful, as became a prisoner to the magistrate before 
whom he was arraigned, seemed never once to forget 
his dignity as a man, or his authority as an apostle. 
Felix, charmed with his eloquence, and, probably hav- 

64 Felix trembling before Paul. 

ing his curiosity excited to learn something more cer- 
tain concerning that new religion which, under such an 
able advocate, was beginning to make the most impor- 
tant revolutions in the state of society and of public 
opinion, desired to hear him again on this interesting 
subject. It was with a view apparently so just and 
honourable, that he came with great pomp to the place 
of their judicial assemblies, accompanied by his nomi- 
nal wife, the object of a criminal passion, to whom he 
desired to give the pleasure of hearing so celebrated an 
orator upon questions which were then agitating all 
Judea and the world. 

The apostle, with the faithfulness which became a 
minister of God, spoke concerning the faith in Christ, 
and unfolded to him those sublime and astonishing doc- 
trines which distinguish the gospel from all the systems 
of Pagan theology; — the descent of the Son of God 
from heaven, — the great oblation which he offered for 
the sins of the world, — the resurrection of the dead, — 
an immortal existence beyond the grave, and the ever- 
lasting retributions which await the righteous and the 
wicked. When, in the progress of his discourse, he 
came to treat of the moral precepts of the gospel, with 
great address he turned the force of his eloquence to 
illustrate and press those virtues chiefly, for the viola- 
tion of which his illustrious hearer was most culpable, 
and had even become infamous throughout Judea. 
These topics he appears, from the effects produced on 
the conscience of Felix, to have urged with irresisti- 
ble energy. He spoke of righteousness, or justice, the 
basis of all our social relations; and of temperance. 

Felix trembling before Paul. Q5 

«r the moderation of all our appetites and passions, the 
foundation of personal purity and perfection, before a 
governor who was equally detested in his province for 
his iniquities, his cruelties, and his voluptuousness. The 
discourse of the apostle began at length to reach his 
inmost feelings; he searched his heart with the awful 
light of truth; he held up to him the mirror of his life; 
and while he depicted the beauty of virtue, the tranquil- 
lity and peace which it imparts to the innocent and up- 
right breast, and the glory and the honest fame with 
which it surrounds the humane prince, he presented 
to him, in the strongest colours, the iniquity and the 
horrible consequences of his past crimes. Never, 
perhaps, before had he seen himself in his true charac- 
ter, and he now began to be agitated with unusual in- 
quietudes. But when the holy and fervent preacher 
came, at length, to denounce the vengeance of heaven 
against such iniquities, and disclose to his view the 
terrors of a judgment to come, Felix, unable any longer 
to contain his emotions, trembled on the throne on 
which he sat. Admirable force of truth! that could thus 
penetrate a heart grown old in vice, inflated by the in- 
cessant flatteries of parasites, dazzled with the splen- 
dours of power, and rendered obdurate by the enormi- 
ty of his crimes. It arrested the prince, and convert- 
ed the judge into the criminal. lie trembled before 
Paul, who had been brought a prisoner, loaded with 
chains, into his presence. 

My object in the present discourse is briefly to re- 
view the subjects of the apostle^s reasoning, and to 
point out, 

VOL. I. K 

66 Felix trembling before Paul 

1. In the first place, the reference which they bore 
to the history and character of the Roman governor, 

2. In the next place, the application which may he 
made of them to our own state. 

1. Righteousness, or justice, of which St. Paul lirst 
reasoned, comprehended, according to the ideas of the 
ancients, and the distribution of the virtues made in 
their schools, the duties both of equity, and of benefi- 
cence. The faithful execution of all our civil functions, 
our domestic duties, the equity which we owe to others 
in our commerce with them, the compassion which we 
should extend to affliction and want; in a word, all the 
charities of life were embraced under this name; and, 
perhaps, not without reason. For every act of benefi- 
cence which the miseries of our fellow-creatures re- 
quire, every kindness and comfort which they need, 
and which it is in our power to bestow, is strictly an 
office of justice due from man to man. jigainst this 
duty, in every branch of it, Felix was a high offender. 
In the exercise of his government, he was equally un- 
just and unfeehng, avaricious and cruel: vices which 
so often are found together in corrupt rulers. The an- 
nals of Judea and of Rome, inform us that he sported 
with the lives and liberties of the people of his govern- 
ment. Under the most frivolous and iniquitous pretences 
he robbed the wealthy, and caused the innocent to be 
put to death. His troops, accustomed to blood, he often 
employed in the most wanton acts of violence and 
carnage. Prompted at once by avarice and prodigality, 
he plundered his province to enrich himself; the deci- 

Felix trembling before Paul. 67 

sioiis of his tribunals were always at auction; he ex- 
pected money of Paul to restore him to that liberty 
which the laws of Rome, and of human nature entitled 
him to enjoy. A Roman historian* has said of him, 
that he exercised the power of a prince with a base 
and mercenary soul. And, when he returned to the 
seat of empire, public accusers, and the universal com- 
plaint of his province followed him to the presence of 
the emperor; and nothing but the powerful interposi- 
tion of his brother, who happened to be, at that time, 
a favourite in the palace, preserved him from suffering 
the merited punishment of his crimes. Such was the 
character of this famous governor before whom the 
great apostle was called to plead the cause of justice 
and humanity. After tracing these virtues to their 
sources in the principles of human nature, in the great 
interests of society and mankind, in the will of God; 
after exhibiting in strong and beautiful colours, the 
dignity and worth of an upright character, the glory 
of a prince who presides with justice over his people, 
the amiability of the humane and benevolent feelings, 
those powerful cements of the order and felicity of the 
great family of man, that he might aggravate the pic- 
ture of iniquity and inhumanity which he intended to 
draw;— how, may we suppose, would he depict the 
crime of trampling, by his injustice and violence, on 
the laws of God and man; of rending asunder the 
peaceful bonds of society.'^ of violating that happy se- 
curity of the citizen in his condition which the laws 
were intended to protect.'^ and, instead of presiding, 

* Tacitus. 

68 Felix trembling before Paul. 

like a guardian angel, over the public prosperity, for 
which purpose alone power was entrusted to his 
hands, carrying desolation and terror throughout the 
nation, and invading with rapine, lust, and blood, the 
recesses of domestic happiness? With what energy 
would he address the heart; what appeals would he 
make to the conscience of his judge? — 1 seem to see 
the fervid and indignant preacher call up to his awa- 
kened imagination the spectres of so many murders 
which had been conmiitted by his orders; surround his 
tribunal with the cries of widows and of orphans, 
whose husbands and fathers he had caused to be drag- 
ged to prison and to death, — besiege his heart by the 
groans or the silent griefs of whole families reduced 
to beggary and despair for imputed crimes, and ruined 
by the enormous sums at which they were obliged to 
purchase a precarious justice; or given up to plunder 
because they refused or were unable to purchase it. 
These images presented with all the strength of co- 
louring which the eloquence of so great a master would 
give them, could not fail to disquiet the heart of his 
guilty hearer. His busy and disturbed fancy would re- 
call to him, ill one moment, all the iniquities of his life. 
Conscience shook him with its awful power: and, though 
surrounded by his guards, and by a magnificent retinue 
which would awaken all his pride, he was seen to trem- 
ble in the presence of his humble prisoner. 

2. The apostle treated, in the next place, of temper- 
ance; a term of more extensive signification in the ori- 
ginal language, than in our tongue, comprehending not 
only moderation in the pleasures of the table, but the 

Felix trembling before Paul. 69 

due government of all our senses, appetites, and pas- 
sions. This topic of the apostle's discourse, not less 
than the former, came home to the bosom and experi- 
ence of his illustrious hearer. 

Felix, whose province was equal to kingdoms, and 
whose rank was superior to that of the tributaiy prin- 
ces of the Roman empire, lived in all the splendor of 
Asiatic luxury, and abandoned himself to that shame- 
less intemperance in meats and wines which, at that 
period, so often disgraced the conduct of the imperial 
lieutenants, who enjoyed and abused the opportunity 
of raking the wealth of nations into their private cof- 
fers. But, intemperance in wine was to him only the 
fuel of intemperate lust, which rank and power gave 
him the means, and the imaginary privilege of indulg- 
ing without restraint and without shame. Of this, 
Drusilla, who sat by his side at that moment, afforded 
an example which could not fail to strike every spec- 
tator. She was the daughter of the first Agrippa, and 
the lawful wife of the king of Emesa. But, seduced 
by the licentious arts of the Roman, flattered with the 
splendor of imperial favour, and of a station exalted 
above that of kings, and burning herself with a dis- 
graceful passion, she causelessly broke the holy tie 
which united her to her husband, and, deserting his 
palace, plunged into the bosom of corruption in a new 
and infamous connexion. 

Drusilla was a princess of the Jewish nation; and 
the high priest daring, with a manly fortitude, to repre- 
hend such a violation of their holy law, and of common 

70 Felix trembling before Paul. 

decency, Felix procured the courageous and upright 
pontiff to be assassinated. 

What a field would these enormities open to the 
apostle, to display the guilt, and the horrible conse- 
quences of his licentious appetites, and unbridled pas- 
sions? Not to speak of the degradation of a reasonable 
and immortal nature wallowino- in the low excesses of 
the table, not to speak of the madness and fury of a 
tyrant inflamed by wine, and his utter abandonment, 
in that state, of all the principles of humanity; with 
what lioly ardor and indignation would he dwell on 
the fatal consequences of that lust, the victim of which 
he saw before him on the throne withFehx? To what 
disorders in society, to what crimes has it not given 
birth? What dark jealousies, what insidious plots, 
what worse than barbarian cruelties have sprung from 
a passion which claims, at the same time, to be the 
softest in the human breast? What humiliation, what 
shame, what unceasing tears has it created to inno- 
cence seduced and ruined? For an instant of guilty 
pleasure, what cold, what joyless what disconsolate 
hours must succeed of neglect and self-reproach! or, 
if tempted to extinguish feeling in a life of profligacy, 
what infamy! 

But, on this subject, and in the presence of such an 
audience, would not the faithful apostle turn the prin- 
cipal force and point of his discourse on the sacred- 
ness of the conjugal tie? on the peace and harmony of 
families? on the relation of this holy union to the pub- 
lic morals? on the cruelty of robbing a worthy man of 
the pure affections of a virtuous wife? the villainy of 

Felix trembling before Paul. 71 

introducing distrust and shame, and all the exquisite 
miseries of disappointed affection and tarnished hon- 
our, into those peaceful mansions, that sweet asylum 
of human happiness, where love and chastity only 
should reign? In what strong and glowing colours 
would he not represent the superior guilt of those who, 
sitting in the seat of the law, are the first to violate its 
justice and order? who, having the peace and purity of 
domestic manners under their protection, carry into 
them nothing but pollution? who, having the supreme 
charge of the public morals, give every where the 
most open and scandalous examples of pubhc vice? 
Felix, conscious of the point and application which all 
these truths bore to himself; condemned by his own 
reason, by his reflections, by the light flashed upon 
him by the eloquence of the apostle, seems to have felt 
each moment increase the compunction which had al- 
ready seized him, the fears which had already begun 
to agitate him. 

3. His confusion seems to have been completed, 
when the sacred orator proceeded to expose to his 
view the tremendous certainty, and awful retributions 
of a judgment to come. Amidst all the errors and fol- 
lies of Paganism, in which Fehx had been educated, 
some vestiges were still preserved of this sublime doc- 
trine, although obscured, and weakened in its influ- 
ence on the mind, by the fables of the poets, and the 
doubts of the philosophers. The law of God written on 
the heart, and the inextinguishable voice of conscience, 
preserved so high and important a principle of morals 
from entirely perishing; and offered to the apostle a 

12 Felix trembling before Paul. 

foundation on which to erect the superstructure of his 
reasoning. And, when he exhibited to FeHx the na- 
ture and perfection of the Supreme Deity, so awful to 
guilt, his eternal being, his almighty power, his infinite 
holiness, his inflexible justice, which will reward in 
terrible righteousness the iniquities of sinners; when he 
turned his attention inward to the dictates of that judge 
which God has placed in our own breasts, and showed 
him how those dictates point to a supreme tribunal, 
and the fearful decisions of eternal justice: these ideas, 
so consentaneous to reason and nature, were calcula- 
ted to take a deep hold on the heart even of a pagan, 
who, by his crimes, had roused upon him all the force 
of his conscience. 

The apostle having so far gained the attention of 
Felix, to truths which appear to have their foundation 
in the most certain principles of nature, would be pre- 
pared to declare to him those awful circumstances of 
the final judgment which transcend the discoveries of 
nature, and can be made known to man only by the 
holy spirit of inspiration. With what majesty, then, 
would the herald of heaven announce to the iniquitous 
governor, and to that vast assembly which had come 
together on this occasion, that God hath appointed a 
day in which he will judge the world in righteousness; 
wherein every man shall receive according to the works 
that he hath done, whether they have been good, or 
whether they have been evil? With what grandeur and 
terror would he paint to their imagination the heavens 
on fire, and wrapt together as a scroll, — the sun and 
moon extinguished in their orbits, and the earth, and 

Felix trembling before Paul. 7S 

the elements melting with a fervent heat! would he re- 
present the judge descending with the voice of the arch- 
angel, and the trump of God, assembling before him 
all the nations of the dead and of the living, and erect- 
ing his tribunal on the flaming ruins of the universe? 
Would he display to their view that fearful gulf of fire 
destined for the punishment of the impenitent; and un- 
cover before him, as it were, the smoke of their tor- 
ments, which ascendeth forever and ever? Would he 
depict the consternation of sinners, the terrors of guilt, 
and the utter impotence of all human power to resist 
the decrees of omnipotent justice! — Yes, that sovereign 
judge hath erected a tribunal before which shall appear 
princes as well as the meanest of their subjects; the 
great and noble of the earth, as well as the dependant 
and the poor; I your humble prisoner, and Cassar your 
lord and mine. There, not rank and fortune, but cha- 
racter and conduct shall form the great distinctions 
among mankind. There shall be judged with equal 
justice, the prince w ho here was above the law, and 
the friendless wretch who was its victim. And the 
crimes which now awaken in the bosom of guilt so 
many anxious forebodings, shall there be seen to sur- 
round the sinner as terrible witnesses against him in 
the day of judgment. The horrible revellings of intem- 
perance shall convert their brutal pleasures into instru- 
ments of torture. The tears of violated innocence, the 
sighs of those unhappy victims who have been first se- 
duced from virtue, and then abandoned to shame and 
wretchedness, the injuries of ruined families, the blood 
of those who have perished by the injustice of power, 

VOL. I. L 

74 Felix trembling before Paul. 

will cry from the earth for vengeance on the head of 
guilt. Felix, convinced, penetrated, condemned by 
his own heart, felt, in a moment, all his courage for- 
sake him. The imperial governor trembles! his pride 
cannot support him, his legions cannot protect him. 
He trembles in the face of his guards, and of that vast 
concourse assembled on such a public and interesting 

The Roman orator once made the instrument of 
condemnation drop from the hand of Csesar: but here 
the criminal favourite of Caesar, a prince only inferior 
to the emperor himself, in magnificence, in power, and 
pride, is made to write his own condemnation, in the 
terrors depicted on his countenance, in the strong agi- 
tations of his whole frame, in his haste to dismiss the 
penetrating preacher. Oh! to have been witness, said 
an ancient father of the church, to those divine strains 
of eloquence which flowed from this great apostle! 

My brethren, let us, instead of indulging a vain re- 
gret at no longer enjoying the pleasure of admiring and 
being edified by those divine talents which shall never 
more appear upon the earth, rather set ourselves to in- 
quire into those practical lessons of morality and duty, 
those reproofs and admonitions, which we may de- 
rive from this portion of sacred history. 

2. This was the second object of our discourse. 

Not invested with the power, we have neither beeH 
exposed to the temptations, nor enjoyed the opportuni- 
ties of becoming so criminal as this Roman prince. We 
may even think, as Hazael, while he yet remained in 
an humble station, that we are incapable of the same 

Felix trembling hefor$ Paul. 75 

enormities. But, if we carefully examine our hearts, 
we may, perhaps, find there the seeds of the same ini- 
quities, which require only the sun of prosperity to ri- 
pen them into act. Often do the smallest ebullitions 
of turpitude and vice even in our most unguarded ac- 
tions, betray a hidden fountain of impurity within, 
which is ready, whenever external obstructions are re- 
moved, to overflow with the waters of foulness and cor- 
ruption. Do we see a man void of sensibility for the 
miseries of his fellow-creatures? Do we see one who 
is ever ready to extort from penury its last farthing.^ 
Who, absorbed in his own interests, shuns the view of 
distress and want, lest it should make some unwelcome 
claim upon his charity.'^ We see the principles of all 
the iniquities which naturally spring from pride and 
selfishness, from avarice and inhumanity exalted to 

The crimes of Fehx, indeed, appear with the high- 
er aggravations, because his power and rank at once 
gave force to his passions, and enabled them to move 
in a wider and more destructive sphere. But do we 
not perceive the same unrighteous spirit continually 
operating throughout society, according to the extent 
of its opportunities and its means? What iniquitous 
transactions in commerce are often covered by a spe- 
cious fraud! What a horrible abuse have we seen 
made of the confidence of friends, involving them, with 
cool deliberate cruelty, in the ruins of a falling fortune! 
What project of speculation, which are at least of 
doubtful honesty; what hazardous enterprises in trade; 
what a style of luxury in living, which no means of 

76 Felix trembling hefme Paul. 

fairness and integrity can support, are plunging, not 
the culpable alone, but all who are connected with 
them, into the deepest distress, if not into absolute ruin! 
Good faith is betrayed, friendship is sacrificed, families 
are hurled from affluence and respectability into the 
abyss of affliction; and the guilt of the destroyers as- 
cends to heaven, loaded with the sorrows of so many 
unhappy victims. And, how frequently, alas! have we 
lately beheld fraud, grown great on the spoils of un- 
suspecting faith, display, with insolence, its fastuous 
equipages in the view of the misery which it has crea- 
ted, and rear the scandalous edifices of its vanity on 
the sighs and tears of those whom it has plundered! 

But descending from such great enormities to those 
narrow plans, those low tricks of dishonesty which of- 
ten take place among the inferior classes of fortune; — 
is not that spirit of extortion which is ready to exact 
upon the necessities of a neighbour; that low cunning 
which studies to overreach his candoaror inexperience 
in a bargain; that pitiful deceit which would detract an 
inch from the measure or an ounce from the weight 
of the smallest articles of your commerce, a crime in 
your sphere equivalent to the greater robberies of ini- 
quitous power? Shall I count him pure, saith God, with 
the wicked balances, loith the bag of deceitful weights? — 
No; the Supreme Judge of heaven and earth beholds, 
and will punish the iniquities of the heart, however they 
may be laid, by the force of circumstances, under re- 
straint in their operations. They want only power and 
a theatre, to exhibit themselves in all the enormities of 
rapine and oppression which disgraced the tyranny of 

Felix trembling before Paul. 77 

Felix. God beholds in these elements of iniquity, if I 
may call them so, the crimes to which, without the 
restraints of his providence, they would grow; and will 
cast them out with abhorrence from the presence of 
his glory, in the light of which no unrighteousness can 

In the next place, you have seen this illustrious sin- 
ner giving an unbridled indulgence to all his licentious 
appetites. You have seen him in his career of intem- 
perance, and of the bold and unblushing violation of all 
the laws of chastity and decency, which have attracted 
upon him the reproaches and execrations of succeed- 
ing ages. But, in looking round this assembly, do I 
see none before me, who, with shameful obedience to 
the impulses of a gross appetite, daily offer up their 
reason at the shrine of intemperance and debauchery? 
What effect would the fortunes and the power of Felix 
have on such persons, but only to enable them more 
completely to destroy in their hearts all the nobler af- 
fections of human nature.'' Husbands! who sacrifice by 
intemperance the peace and comfort of those delicate 
females who, by a mistaken affection, have put their 
happiness in your power; — Parents! who neglect the 
culture, the honour, the protection of those unfortunate 
children, to whom you have been the cause of giving 
existence, only to leave them afterwards a prey to ig- 
norance and vice; — Debauched sons! who pay no re- 
gard to the fond hopes, the anxious solicitudes of pa- 
rents, whose secret prayers and vows continually as- 
cending to heaven for you, who are callous equally to 
their admonitions and their tears, who can wound their 

78 Felix trembling before Paul 

tenderest feelings, who, in order to obtain the means 
of your own criminal indulgence, can undutifully im- 
pose, by false tales, upon their unsuspecting affection 
— behold in yourselves, crimes which, in their princi- 
ple, vie in malignity with those of this guilty ruler who 
trembled at the development of their enormity by the 
holy apostle. Ah! the sighs of those parents, the shame, 
the vices of those children forsaken by you, or corrupt- 
ed by your example; the griefs of that wife who finds 
in you no friend, no companion, whose soul is wasting 
away under your barbarous neglect, or your insulting 
cruelty, shall call down from heaven the vengeance of 
eternal justice. Such are some of the crimes of that 
intemperance which perverts, corrupts, and eventually 
destroys all the best powers of human nature, and the 
best affections of the human heart. 

The character of this degenerate Roman affords an 
additional point of comparison, in the excesses to which 
he indulged a licentious passion, whence another in- 
structive and practical lesson may be drawn. 

No passion more debases and contaminates the soul; 
none renders it more gross in its enjoyments, and more 
incapable of tasting the pure pleasures of virtue and 
piety; none more certainly excludes it from the man- 
sions of a holy and eternal love. Could I represent to 
you in the glowing colours, and with the generous in- 
dignation of that divine preacher who made Felix trem- 
ble, the gulf into which it sinks the soul; could I depict 
its scenes of pollution, and the multiphed and exquisite 
miseries which often spring thence; could I present to 
you the bosom of chaste love wounded and bleeding in 

Felix trembling before Paul. 79 

secret; the shame, the remorse, the eternal tears of be- 
trayed and ruined innocence; the jealousies, the rage, 
the crimes of a passion, as cruel as it is effeminate and 
dissolute, its infamy and guilt would flash with horror 
upon the heart! 

But, what though you do not riot in all the voluptu- 
ousness which countless and iniquitous treasures ena- 
bled him to purchase, or despotic power enabled him to 
command? Yet, if you are faithful to yourselves, and 
to truth, may you not find in your hearts the seeds of 
all those passions which pierced even his callous con- 
science with remorse? 

But I will not offend the ears of this assembly by 
speakingof their grosser pollutions, which it is difficult 
even to reproach with decency. Are there not lower 
degrees of these vices in which a sensual heart will of- 
ten indulge itself without restraint, and which it will 
employ all the sophistries of a corrupted reason to jus- 
tify and defend? Do you delight to amuse the fancy 
with those loose images which a remaining modesty, 
perhaps, still restrains you from realizing in a dissolute 
practice? Do you permit yourselves to abuse the free- 
dom and gayety of conversation by indelicate allusions, 
and double meanings? Do you attend with pleasure, 
and even seek for opportunities to attend those exhibi- 
tions which are calculated to inflame the passions and 
corrupt the modesty of youth? Do you love to stimu- 
late an impure imagination by those indecent pictures, 
those licentious odes, which a shameful abuse of the 
arts has employed to infect the manners of society? 
Ah! God, who beholds the consequence in the princi- 

80 Felix Iremblhig before Paul. 

pie, sees, in these elements of vice, the essence of those 
crimes into which it is to be feared that time, and op- 
portunity, and habit, will at length ripen them; — crimes, 
which made an illustrious and most obdurate offender 
to tremble on his own tribunal, and will cause him, 
one day, to tremble more horribly before the tribunal 
of a higher judge. To that awful bar, at which we, and 
all men must stand at last, permit me for a moment, 
in the close of this discourse, to direct your thoughts. 
Nothing, perhaps, will serve to impose a more effectu- 
al check upon the disorders of the heart, and of the 
life, than the serious remembrance that God hath ap- 
pointed a day in which he will judge the world in righ- 
teousness. It is a fearful consideration to guilt, that, 
/(W' every idle word, and for every idle thought, we shall 
render account to God. In this judgment all the depths 
of the soul shall be searched by a severe and omniscient 
eye. God shall judge the secrets of all hearts. Actions 
which had been long forgotten, actions which had been 
studiously concealed from the world, which self-love 
had endeavoured to conceal from itself, shall there be 
recalled from their darkness and oblivion, and exposed 
in the dreadful light of eternity. Under the impression 
of these solemn and awful truths, frequently re-enter 
your own breasts, and judge yourselves with the same 
spirit with which you shall be judged. Ah! sinners of 
every grade; — unjust, intemperate, Hcentious — avari- 
cious, envious, selfish — proud, haughty, disdainful — 
hard-hearted, unkind, uncharitable — slanderers, back- 
biters, disturbers of the harmony of society — impious, 
disloyal, undutiful! look up to that tribunal where no 

Felix trembling before Paul. 8 1 

sill shall escape its just condemnation; where no veil 
shall conceal it; where no sophistry shall protect or 
palliate it; and where, also, that witness, that serpent 
within shall wring the heart with undescribable an- 
guish. Thence cast your eye down to that fearful abyss 
of everlasting darkness and fire, ready to receive the 
reprobate children of wrath: and, as they descend into 
it, listen to the shrieks of their despair ^vhich add aug- 
mented horrors to the last groans of the universe!— 
But alas! when I would represent to you the terrors of 
that judgment, the holiness and majesty of that tribu- 
nal I feel the impotence of my own powers! Oh! that 
Paul himself, glowing with the inspiration of Heaven, 
could address you with the same voice which made the 
tyrant of Judea tremble! But thou, most blessed, and 
Holy Spirit! thou canst give effect even to the feeble- 
ness of our words! — Strike! penetrate our hearts! and 
make the sinner tremble at the terrors of thy justice 
only that he may flee to the refuge of thy mercy! 

VOL. I. w 




1st On the Excesses of the Prodigal. 

And not many days after, the younger son gathered all tog-ether, and took 
his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riot- 
ous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in 
that land, and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself 
to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 
And he would fain have filled hfs belly with the husks which the swine 
did eat: and no man gave unto him. Luke XV. 13 — 16. 

What a striking image is here presented by»our bles- 
sed Saviour, of a prodigal who, from the impulse of his 
own unbridled passions, or the seduction of other sin- 
ners, has forsaken the path of virtue, and plunged into 
the excesses of vice and dissipation. The youth, im- 
patient of his father's control, listening only to the calls 
of appetite and pleasure; without experience, and with- 
out prudent forecast, enters into the world. From a 
parent's indulgence, he solicits, and obtains that ample 
provision w^iich might have procured him a virtuous, 
and happy independence; but which, misapplied, be- 
came the incentive of every criminal passion, and the 
fatal instrument at length of his shame and ruin. Home, 
which was the svi^eet asylum of his first years, and the 
iaappy scene of his simple and regulated habits, becomes 


On the Excesses of the Prodigal. 83 

a prison to his unchained desires, and the reverend pre- 
sence of his father, which was a source of happiness in 
the period of his innocence, becomes irksome to an ex- 
travagant youth bent on the gratification of his unlawful 
passions. As long as the sentiments of filial piety were 
not entirely extinguished in his heart, the eye of a pa- 
rent whom he was accustomed to revere, imposed some 
restraint upon his errors. Wishing, therefore, to de- 
liver himself from the reproach of his looks, he sought 
a far country in which he might dare to give unlimited 
scope to his inclination. In this scene of fancied plea- 
sure, his excesses soon reduce him to indigence and 
misery; and he finds a wide difference between the 
pleasing pictiu-es to which his youthful imagination had 
given its warm colouring, and the sad realities, in which 
all its illusions, are found to terminate. Instead of 
those scenes of perpetual gayety, those eternal raptures 
of which he had suffered his fancy to dream, you see 
him discontented, anxious, filled with bitter recollec- 
tions, overwhelmed with his own reproaches, and, in 
the end, left destitute of the common comforts of life, 
and obliged' to share with filthy swine their miserable 
offal. A picture more humiliating, could hardly have 
been drawn of the abandoned situation of an unhappy 
young man, in that region where swine were viewed 
with pecuHar abhorrence, not only as the most obscene, 
but regarded by their religion as the most profane of all 

I shall not wait to present to you the different inter 
pretations which have been made of this beautiful and 
instructive allegory, or the various applications which 

84 On the Excesses of the Prodigal. 

have been given to its instructive moral. It is suffi- 
cient that it depicts in striking colours, the unhappy 
consequences of the errors and excesses of a young, 
and headstrong profligate; and points out the infe- 
licities which pursue, in the end, a course of sinful 
pleasures. It is calculated, in the next place, to display 
the deep repentance to which these several corrections 
are often made to lead the sufferer under the gracious 
direction and influence of the spirit of the Most High. 
And, finally, to exhibit the benignity and compassion 
of Almighty God, who often extends his mercy to the 
humbled penitent in his deepest affliction; and often 
comes to his succour in the moment of his despair. 

The whole parable, contemplated in this view, would 
open too extensive a field to be embraced in a single 
discourse; I limit myself, therefore, at present, to ex- 
hibit the errors and excesses of the prodigal, purpos- 
ing to pursue, hereafter, the remaining subjects in their 

His first error, and the fatal introduction of all which 
followed, was his precipitate endeavour to elude the 
inspection of his father's eye, and escape from the con- 
trol of his reverend presence. Give me, says the un- 
happy youth, that portion of goods which falleth to me: 
and when he had received them, he went into afar coun- 
try. He could no longer endure the observation of 
that countenance, which he had been accustomed to 
venerate, and which appears to have derived an awful 
majesty from the lustre of virtue and religion which 
beamed in it; he dreaded the importunity of his remon- 
strances. Some remaining sentiments of duty still ex- 

On tJw Excesses of the Prodigal 85 

isted in the midst of his folHes, which rendered it irk- 
some to know that that good man was acquainted with 
his disorders. He hastened, therefore, to escape from 
the restraints of an authority, a veneration for which, 
his vices had not entirely extinguished in his heart. 
He went into a far country. — We have in this image 
an aifecting exhibition of the thoughtless career of the 
prodigal who, in the pursuit of his criminal passions, 
studies only to forget, and in forgetting, hopes to elude 
the inspection and judgment of Almighty God. It is 
perhaps, impossible habitually to recollect his holy pre- 
sence and, at the same time, to abandon the heart to 
its criminal pursuits. It is only when his awful holi- 
ness, when the majesty of his perfection, when all his 
relations to us as our Father, our judge, and the aven- 
ger of our crimes are forgotten, or pushed from our 
thoughts, that conscience is rendered silent, that the 
fears of guilt are laid asleep, and reason dares to be- 
tray its sacred trust, and become the pander of lust, or 
the advocate of passion. When God is not in all 
our thoughts^ the world, and its images alone fill the 
heart. Let us then contemplate the prodigal, thus re- 
leased in his career from all control. — Just now mas- 
ter of his fortune, freed from every inconvenient re- 
striction which the presence of a venerable parent still 
imposed upon him, flourishing in the vigour of Jiealth. 
which his excesses have not yet impaired, he fancies 
that he has now entered on a path which will ahvays 
be strewed with flowers. Headlong he rushes into 
the pleasures before him, with no other study but 
how perpetually to vary them. He is engaged in a 

86 On Hie Excesses of the ProcUgal 

whirl of folly which hardly leaves his intoxicated heart 
one moment for reflection. All appears smiling round 
him, and he seems to himself to be in the morning of 
a fair and beautiful day that will never be obscured by 
a cloud. Ah! he has no suspicion of the tempests which 
will agitate its noon, or of those dark storms which are 
gathering to overcast its evening! His substance he 
wastes; riot undermines his health; debauch destroys 
the faculties of his mind; profligacy of manners, by 
degrees, lays waste the conscience; excess exhausts 
the powers of enjoyment, and renders him at once in- 
capable of true pleasure, and yet incapable of living 
without that withered and barren form of it, which a 
constitution, worn out in the service of sin has left him. 
Every sensation is blunted, at the same time, that ha- 
bit increases the demand for pleasures \\hich he is no 
longer able to enjoy. Thus he destroys the noble pow- 
ers of nature, and dissipates the goods which his hea- 
venly Father has bestowed upon him. His imagina- 
tion, his reason, his affections, all the energies of na- 
ture are absorbed and sunk in folly. The talents of 
the mind, the vigour of the body, the advantages of for- 
tune, which should all have been consecrated to the 
glory of God, have been perverted and abused in the 
infamous servitude of vice. 

But these are not the only wastes of this unhappy 
prodigal, -Not to speak of the diseases, the premature 
old age, the impotence of enjoying even lawful plea- 
sures, which intemperance and sensuality create, what 
becomes of the fond hopes of parents, the expectations 
and proud predictions of friends, that appeared to be 

On the Excesses of the Prodigal 87 

justified by the talents and the amiable dispositions 
which the dawn of life had begun to unfold? disap- 
pointed, and blasted, they leave them perhaps to grief 
and shame which embitter the remainder of their days. 
What becomes of that peace of mind, that sweet sere- 
nity of heart, that conscious worth and self-respect 
which are the companions of innocence and virtue? 
They are lost in the gulf of the passions, supplanted 
by remorse, and sunk in the humiliating conviction of 
the lost esteem of the world. The means of know- 
ledge, and of moral and religious culture, which he once 
enjoyed, and which should have early planted in his 
heart the principles of religion, now serve, to increase 
his hostility to all good, and precipitate his downward 
course to ruin. 

After the substance of the prodigal is wasted, his 
folly appears in stronger colours. 

A famine arises in that land to which he had retired, 
far from virtue, and far from the presence of his fa- 
ther; and he begins to be in want. He who had been 
master of superfluous wealth, is forced to seek a 
shameful subsistence by selling his services to the 
most infamous employments; he, who had revelled in 
the bosom of so many delights, is constrained to asso- 
ciate only with the swine which he is commissioned to 
feed; he seeks to devour along with them their filthy 
husks; but they are not sufficient to satisfy the crav- 
ings of his hunger. Behold, a new image of the vile 
slavery to which his ungoverned passions have, at last 
reduced the profligate, the brutality into which they 

S8 On the Excesses of the Prodigal. 

often sink him, and the misery in which they finally 
leave him. 

Do you see an unhappy youth who has sacrificed 
honor, interest, duty, his own convictions, the hopes 
and happiness of his family to the demon of pleasure? 
Straightway he goeth after her as an ox to the slaughter, 
or as a fool to the correction of the stocks. She imposes 
upon him her cruel chains. She drags him at her 
chariot wheels; often, indeed, a wilhng slave, but often 
also, a '^eluciant captive. The reproaches of his own 
heart, the reproaches of the world, the loss of private 
chat"acter and honor; the tears of his friends stand in 
the way of his guilty career, but the power of his cor- 
ruptions urges him on to the consummation of his dis- 
gi'ace. He sinks a slave to the most abject principles 
of his nature. Well have they been represented by 
herding with swine, and being nourished only with the 
vile husks which form the food of the filthiest of all 
animals. By the same figure, only improved by the fic- 
tions of poetry, does the prince of heathen poets depict 
the companions of Ulyses metamorphosed into swine 
by the malignant power of Circean pleasure. 

At last, even these miserable and polluted streams fail 
him. He had once rioted in abundance. Now, he seeks 
only to glut himself with the veriest offal of his filthy 
herd. Deprived of every pure, rational, and manly 
source of happiness, he drains every filthy puddle in 
his way; but their foul and poisonous waters, instead 
of quenching his raging thirst, serve only to inflame it. 
An immortal soul cannot be satisfied with brutish en- 
joyments. In spite of the impure propensities of vice, 

On the Excesses of the Prodigal. 81^ 

it pines for a felicity more worthy of its celestial nature. 
What in the gross corruptions of a mortal body, can 
have any congeniality with its heavenly origin? Nothing 
but the consciousness of having fulfilled its duty; no- 
thing but the pleasures of piety and virtue; but the 
heauty of holiness; but God in Christ reconciling the 
world to himself, can completely satisfy the tastes of 
immortality. All things else are barren, and leave the 
soul famished, for want of its proper nourishment. 
The libertine wanders from object to object. Disap- 
pointment meets him at every step; but far from cur- 
ing his folhes, it only stimulates him to new and alas! 
successless efforts. Each object pleases for a moment, 
and, he is ready to say, surely the happiness for which 
I seek is here. Hardly is it tasted, till, like all the rest, 
it writes vanity upon its own shallow stream, and leaves 
nought behind, but the painful void of folly, or the sting 
of conscious guilt. Whenever he returns upon him- 
seltj he is unhappy. The levity of youth, the ardour 
of pleasure may, for a time, suspend reflection. But 
the decays of nature, the strokes of divine providence, 
or the disastrous consequences of his crimes, will force 
conviction at last upon his reluctant heart. A consti- 
tution broken by vice, a family, perhaps, reduced to 
distress by extravagance, the griefs of friends, the 
reproaches of the world, or personal affliction will some 
time or other speak to the conscience with a voice 
which cannot be stifled or misunderstood. Yes, af- 
fliction will, sooner or later, such is the order of pro- 
vidence, vindicate the rights of God, and of divine jus- 
tice. The sinner will be made to feel the vanity of all 

VOL. I. N 

90 On the Excesses of the Prodigal. 

his projects of happiness, which leave the soul famish- 
ed, and bereft of its true good; dissatisfied with the 
world, yet incapable of the hopes of religion. Filled 
with distressful apprehensions, when the hand of hea- 
ven is pressing sore upon him, when his sins are pur- 
suing him with their scorpion stings, will not conscience 
terrified with gloomy forebodings, and despairing of 
hope from the world, begin also to despair of that hea- 
venly mercy which it has so long contemned and abus- 

Yet, it is this despair, which yields to piety the ear- 
liest dawn of hope for the wretched prodigal. The 
vices and follies of mankind are often cured by the evils 
which they bring after them; and the Holy Spirit not 
rarely employs the severe corrections of diving provi- 
dence to bring the first effectual convictions home to 
the breast of sinners. 

As long as this wretched youth could subsist on the 
offal of swine, he thought not of returning to the best 
of fathers. It was only the pressure of extreme cala- 
mity which brought him to his senses. Ruined by his 
own follies, he began to call to mind the security and 
happiness, the pure and virtuous joys he had tasted, 
the delightful moments he had passed in his father's 
house: thither, therefore, he resolves in deep contrition 
of soul to return, and seek there, if possible, an ulti- 
mate refuge from calamities to which he sees no end. 
And, in the holy and sovereign providence of Almighty 
God, how often is the cup of salvation extended to sin- 
ners on the rod of affliction? Almost all men require 
many and repeated corrections to redeem them from 

On the Excesses of the Prodigal 91 

the multiplied errors to which human nature is prone. 
And certain it is, that a deep sense of the evil of sin, 
and of the infehcity of a sinful course, is the first prin- 
ciple of true repentance; the first step in the prodigal's 
return to his heavenly father. But it is not my design 
at present, to portray the penitent sentiments which 
were at length awakened in the heart of this undutiful 
youth. These I reserve to offer to your reflections on 
a future occasion, that I may use your remaining time 
to derive from the portrait of his follies which has now 
been presented to you, some useful admonitions that 
may be applied to our own peculiar circumstances and 

Does any hearer then secretly acquit himself to his 
own heart, and put aside the mirror which I have en- 
deavoured to hold up to him, because he has not pro- 
ceeded to all the excesses of the prodigal in our gospel? 
Let us advance the glass a little nearer, and see if it do 
not reflect too faithful an image of ourselves. W hen 
first this mistaken youth solicited the exclusive control 
of his own fortune, he had probably no design, nor an- 
ticipation of proceeding to that height of folly to w hich 
he afterwards arrived. He became not completely de- 
praved at once. Vice steals upon the sinner by insen- 
sible approaches. In the commencement of his course 
he would be startled at the proposition of crimes to the 
commission of which he proceeds, at length, without 
remorse or shame. It is only by degrees that he casts 
off that modest reserve, and that delicate respect to the 
observation of the world of which youth are often deep- 
ly sensible in their first deviations from the path of Vir- 

92 On the Excesses of the Prodigal. 

tiie. By frequently extinguishing the fears of inno- 
cence and the blushes of modesty, the countenance be- 
comes hardened. Irritated by reproach, by advice, or 
even by the distant apprehension of public censure, the 
sinner comes, at length, to set them at defiance. Seek- 
ing a deceitful peace to his heart, he attempts to in- 
volve himself in those fallacious folds which may hide 
from his view the disorders of his conduct. He rejects 
the cautious habits, and the prudent maxims of his ear- 
lier years. He studies above all things to forget the pre- 
sence of Almighty God his Creator and his judge, that 
the awful consciousness of his inspection may no long- 
er impose a check on his incipient career. For a time, 
the principles of his education, or his respect for the 
observation of the world, may lay a useful restraint on 
the irregularities of his course, but if the habitual sense 
of a divine witness, is removed, every barrier against sin, 
every mound of duty is soon borne down by the violence 
of passion or overleapt in the inconsiderate levity of 
youth. — Guard, O young man! against the beginnings 
of sin. /if is, saith the wise preacher, like the letting 
out of water, which wears to itself a wider, and a wider 
channel, till the impetuosity of the flood, at last, over- 
comes all resistance. 

Beware, not only of forgetting God, but of too early 
affecting an independence on those whose wisdom, and 
affection entitle them to direct your inexperienced 
years. Remark how severely this unwise son suffered 
for his temerity. Youth are flattered with the idea of 
being their own masters; but their natural indiscretion, 
renders that period of life a season of infinite hazard 

On the Excesses of the Prodigal. 93 

to their inexperience. The world is full of secret 
snares, of corrupting examples, and of allurements 
dangerous to the passions of a bold and thoughtless 
youth. The first draughts of pleasure intoxicate the 
fancy and the heart. He sees nothing before him but 
scenes of delight; he hears nothing but enchanting 
sounds; but ah! he looks not to the gulfs which sur- 
round the Syren, while the charms of her voice are 
lulling him in a sweet delirium on the verge of ruin. 

No lure to perdition is more certain. Ah! young 
men! be not ambitious to deliver yourselves from the 
control of the authority; from the direction of the wis- 
dom and experience of those, who love you, and to 
whom nature has wisely subjected your first years. 
Happy, if their experience can become yours by a du- 
tiful submission to their counsels; if it can preserve 
you from the ten thousand unseen dangers which every 
where encompass your footsteps. Happy beyond ex- 
pression! if it can save you from the errors, and the 
fate of the vain undutiful prodigal of our gospel, who 
rashly hastened to deliver himself from the restraint of 
a father's eye, and the importunity of a father's advice. 

Would you, then, effectually guard against that fatal 
progression in vice which terminated in the total cor- 
ruption of the manners and morals of our young pro- 
digal. Shun the first avenues which lead to its dan- 
gerous declivity. Let your first prayer to Heaven be, 
lead us not into temptation. No symptom is more 
unpromising in the character of a young man, than 
a defect of filial duty; than that most culpable love 
of pleasure which is regardless of tlie convenience, the 

94 On the Excesses of the Prodigal. 

advice, the happiness of parents; which is willing to 
impose upon their love; which regards it in no other 
light than as affording a facility of obtaining the 
means of every criminal indulgence; which considers 
as clear gain to itself all that it can elicit, or extort 
from their tenderness and affection. Oh! the base 
ungenerous spirit of sinful pleasure! The prodigal 
commenced his career by wishing to make a father 
subservient to his guilty purposes, and then to withdraw 
himself from the authority of his observation, the ad- 
monitions of his love. On the other hand, if you cher- 
ish that filial duty, that lively sensibility to the comfort, 
the hopes, the honest pride, the ardent prayers of a 
worthy and affectionate parent which is the character 
of ingenuous youth, it will hardly be possible to de- 
part far from the path of virtue. It will prove the most 
favourable introduction to the renewing and sanctifying 
influences of the Holy Spirit. 

But shun, as the surest road to the consummation of 
a worthless character, the society of idle and vicious 
companions. Idleness is the parent of almost every 
other vice. Vicious companions inflame each other's 
passions, assist each other's projects, and stimulate 
each other's excesses. Ah! what pernicious princi- 
ples in such societies, are first sported and then re- 
ceived as maxims of conduct! What criminal projects 
are first suggested, and then executed! What dis- 
graceful vices, at first regarded as momentary levities, 
are afterwards ripened into deliberate acts, and fixed 
in inflexible habits! And have we not reason, alas! 
from the same cause to lament, in too many examples, 

On the Excesses of the Prodigal. 95 

age as well as youth perverted and destroyed by im- 
proper associations. Once industrious arid sober, we 
often see it, at length distinguished for frequenting the 
places of idle resort. Business is given up for loiter- 
ing, — the duties of a useful calling, for pernicious com- 
pany keeping, — sobriety for intemperance. — Arrived 
at this stage of profligacy, what an afflicting change is 
perceived in the whole moral character of these devo- 
tees of pleasure! Ask of their own breasts, where self- 
respect, where serenity and peace, where conscious 
worth have been long lost. Ask of their houses, filled, 
perhaps, with dissolution; or of a wife and children 
forsaken for the dearer society of profligate compan- 
ions. Ask of their families in tears, perhaps, for their 
absence, or trembling foi- their return. Ask of the 
world which now loads them with its reproaches. — 
Ah! deceived, mistaken men who dare to name the 
name of Christ! Flee, if it be not yet too late, these 
destructive monsters, which threaten to precipitate you 
into irretrievable ruin. The multitude of unhappy 
examples, which continually obtrude themselves upon 
our view require, my beloved brethren, this urgency in 
our public discourses. Can we see without deep con- 
cern for the interests of piety, and the interests of our 
country, the prevalence of crimes which are hastening 
to extinguish every principle of virtue and every manly 
and generous sentiment of the soul, — that are sinking 
men into the gulfs of corruption, which open their fum- 
ing mouths into the gulf of Hell.^ 

Almighty God! we implore of thy mercy, to rescue, 
even at this late hour, the miserable remnants of age 

96 On tJie Excesses of the Prodigal. 

already exhausted in the service of sin! Arrest in the 
commencement of their prodigal career, the dangerous 
profligacy of youth, and turn them in this precious 
season of life, to the obedience of thy holy will! where 
lies their true happiness and their true glory! Amen!. 


Second Discourse upon the Parable. 

And when he had come to himself, he said, how many hired servants of my 
father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger. I 
will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, father, I have sinned 
against Heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to oe called thy 
son: make me as one of thy hired servants. Aad he arose and went to his 
father. Luke XT. 11— 20. 

In the preceding discourse, I have presented to your 
view the errors of the prodij^al, — his excesses, — and 
the miseries in which a hfe of dissipation and folly had 
involved him — miseries which, at length, forcibly ar- 
rested his career, and brought him to serious reflection. 
Pressed by misfortune, and penetrated with remorse, 
he comes to the resolution of returning to his father's 
house, and imploring his compassion and forgiveness. 
I request your attention, therefore, to-day, while I of- 
fer to your devout meditations, the repentance of the 

1. He profoundly felt the wretchedness to which his 
follies had reduced him. 1 perish with hunger. 

2. He resolved to return to his father, with contrition 
and confession of his sins; and soliciting his forgive- 
ness, there to devote himself with renewed duty and 
zeal to his loved family. — / ivill arise, and go to my 

VOL. P. o 

98 Repentance of the Prodigal 

father, and say unto him, father I have sinned against 
Heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be 
called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants 

The sense of his miseries — and the resolution to for- 
sake his errors, and to return to his father, form the 
sum of his repentance. 

1. When the intoxication of his passions had subsi- 
ded, he found himself reduced to a state of the deepest 
distress; — I perish ivith hunger. — He had now learned 
from his unhappy experience how false and deceitful 
are all the promises of unhallowed pleasure. The 
scenes which imagination had pictured before him, and 
the delights which the senses, while they were not yet 
blunted by excess, had yielded, are all vanished, and 
he wonders by what infatuation he could have been so 
long misled and enslaved. Pleasure, while the appe- 
tite is not sated by indulgence, has the power of re- 
presenting all its objects in charming and beautiful co- 
louring. When desire is cloyed, the enchantment is 
broken. And the disgusted sense throws them back 
upon us as the filth of human nature, and the scouring 
of creation. With what different eyes does the prodi- 
gal, when come to liimself, look back upon the scenes 
of his folly. At every step in this humbling review, 
something he sees to awaken remorse; something to 
cover him w^ith confusion. Allied in his enjoyments to 
the swine which he is feeding, he feels himself justly 
condemned to herd with them as his companions. 
And the joys which had once made him forget his 
fathers house, and his own most precious interests, 
have become like coarse and tasteless husks: or like 

Repentance of the Prodigal. 99 

the apples of paradise which appeared fair and beau- 
tiful to the eye, but tasted, werel"ound to fill the mouth 
with dust and bitterness. 

After a profligate career, in which this young man 
gave full scope to his desires, and withheld not his 
heart from any joy, he comes, at length, to taste the 
bitter fruits of his follies, and sinks into want, disgrace, 
and sorrow. In the painful retrospect of liie, the 
memory of every sinful joy opens to his view a gulf in 
which reason, conscience and his own happiness have 
been whelmed. The recollection of his father's house, 
with the innocence, and virtuous delights which reign 
there, present images which fill him with regret. When 
he turns his view inward, on himself, he meets only the 
reproaches of his own heart; and when he attempts to 
cast his eye. forward to his eternal being, darkness and 
horror rest upon the prospect. The pleasures of sin 
are made, in the righteous order of divine providence, 
to punish their own follies, and avenge the rights of 
God, of virtue and humanity. Within himself he 
has no resource against the deep distress which has 
overtaken him; the world aifords him none; he can 
hope for none in a repetition of sins which have now be- 
come the cause of his deepest affliction, and which he 
cannot look back upon, but with profound horror. If 
then, he has none from that benignant and gracious 
parent, whom he has forsaken, hopeless indeed must 
his condition be. — But iiom this quarter a ray of light 
first breaks in upon his soul, through the darkness 
which surrounds it. He was sinking in despair. But 
when he thinks of his father's house, he conceives a 

100 Repentance of the Prodigal. 

hope that he who has given him existence, will not 
spurn his repentance. It is, at least, his refuge; and 
into it he is resolved to flee. Ah, christians! how gra- 
cious frequently is God in the sufferings which he in- 
flicts! If this unhappy prodigal, could any longer have 
found subsistence in that far country to which his 
passions had driven him, still, perhaps, he would have 
been willing to rest contented in his slavery, and to 
wallow in the kennels of impurity. But a merciful 
providence still pursues him with repeated strokes. 
His own sins are made his tormentors. All his com- 
forts have abandoned him. — Stripped of every hope on 
which he had been accustomed to repose, he is left na- 
ked to the buffetings of that dark storm which Heaven 
has collected round him, and to that still more afflict- 
ing tempest which conscience has raised within his 
breast, till overwhelmed with grief, he yields to the full 
conviction of his guilt. His supreme solicitude now 
is, how he shall tread back his former steps, and re- 
gaittj if possible, his father's forfeited love. Conscious 
that he has no plea to make for the fatal errors of his 
life, no ground on which to claim forgiveness, he re- 
solves to cast himself absolutely on that mercy and 
compassion which a repentant son never implores in 
vain from an affectionate father. Such is the first step 
of a sinner's return to God, — the first movements of a 
sincere repentance. He is penetrated with a deep 
sense of his miseries and his guilt, while yet, far from 
God, his heavenly Father, he is ivithout God, and with- 
out Christ in the ivorld. When smitten by divine pro- 
vidence with severe affliction, or pierced by some ar- 

Repentance of the Prodigal. 101 

row from the word of God, he is arrested in his career; 
when he is forced to turn his reflections backward on 
his actions, which in the whirl of his dissipations, he 
had never seriously considered; or to enter into the re- 
cesses of his heart, to which he has hitherto been a 
stranger, in what new lights appears the whole scene 
of life? What new sentiments oppress his heart? He 
had flattered himself, formerly, with the innocence of 
all his pleasures. He now sees in them nothing, but 
unexpiated crimes. He is overwhelmed with fear, re- 
morse, and conscious guilt. Instead of that countenance 
of thoughtless hilarity which had marked the course of 
his dissipation, you perceive his countenance clouded 
with melancholy; for forward presumption, you see only 
anxiety, and apprehension. Pride and arrogance are 
tuined into humility and contrition; and he is ready to 
say with Job, thou writest bitter things against me and 
makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth. As all 
objects assume the colour of the mind, the heavens 
gather blackness over his head, — God, most merciful, 
appears arrayed in terrors, and the majesty of his 
throne is surrounded, only with the flames of a con- 
suming justice. But to what quarter shall the con- 
science of guilt have resource for relief? Shall he re- 
turn to the world to find a comfort in its pleasures, 
which he cannot find in his own breast? or a diversion 
in its pursuits from his troubled thoughts? Alas! he has 
tried the utmost that the world can yield, and found it 
barren of true felicity. He has experienced its end, 
and found it wormwood and gall. Shall I then, such 
is his language, strive to forget the judge, the tribunal, 

102 Repentance of the Prodigal, 

and the awful destinies of the eternal world? Oh! infi- 
nite folly! does not that judge still behold me? does not 
that tribunal still await me^ — Can I, by forgetting, es- 
cape the judgments of God? — Nay, will not that terri- 
ble day surely arrive, like the deluge on the inhabitants 
of the old world; or like the fire from heaven on the 
guilty cities of the plain, only the more terrible for not 
having been expected? No, I cannot return to the 
paths I have left. Alas! there is no source of conso- 
lation open to a reasonable mind, out of religion. A 
God in Christ is my only refuge. And, to me the uni- 
verse is a comfortless void, till 1 am reconciled to my 
heavenly Father. I feel the earth totter beneath my 
feet. Eternity presents to my view an abyss of hor- 
ror. To no quarter can i look for hope, but to the be- 
nignity and compassion, the remaining tenderness which 
I may yet find in the bosom of a justly offended father. 
Yes, it is my last, my only hope. — I will go, — I will go 
and cast myself upon his compassion. 

2. It is the second consideration which presents it- 
self to us in the repentance of the prodigal. He resolves 
to return to his father. 

This resolution is the consequence of his painful ex- 
perience, and of that profound reflection on himself, 
and his errors, which the Holy Spirit, taking advan- 
tage of the calamities which his sins had brought upon 
him, has awakened in his heart. I will go to my fa- 
ther — here 1 perish. My folly and madness, now ap- 
pear to me in the strongest lights^ and in the darkest 
colours. But shall not a penitent son find kindness 
with him who is kind even to the evil and unthankful? 

Repentance of the Prodigal. 103 

Ah! if I could obtain his forgiveness, if I could regain 
his favour, never, never, would I again renounce those 
holy endearments, which, if I had been wise, I might 
still have enjoyed in his presence, and is not this what 
he supremely desires, my repentance and reformation? 
Then may I not even yet hope for compassion from a 
parent whom my ingratitude has so deeply wounded? 
If I cannot deserve the affection of a son who has never 
erred; may I not claim his piety, at least, as a suffer- 
ing wretch that he may remember was once his son-^ 
I think I see the good old man in the days of my wan- 
dering, following me with his affectionate solicitudes, 
with his anxious prayers; and will he not rejoice to 
see me at last, rescued from the gulf into which my 
headlong passions had precipitated me? It is, at least, 
the only hope which remains. And I will pursue it, till, 
if I must be driven to despair, it shall be by the stern 
command of that father himself, the image of whose 
goodness now lights up the last ray in my bosom, pe- 
netrated with remorse and shame. The humblest 
menial in his house possesses abundance and content- 
ment. Amidst the easy service which he pays to so 
gracious a lord, he enjoys a calm of mind, a self-ap- 
proving conscience, a sweet serenity which, in all my 
guilty pleasures, I could never find. — I will arise and 
go to my father ' 

But, in putting this resolution into practice, with 
what sentiments, and with what language would a pe- 
nitent son approach a father, whom he had so deeply 
afflicted and offended? Would he come with excuses 
or palliations in his mouth, in order to prepare a fa- 

104 Repentance of the Prodigal 

vourable reception? Would he say, the levity and in- 
consideration of youth, which should be regarded with 
indulgence, hurried me away? Would he allege the 
ardour of the passions at that age, the force of exam- 
ple, the solicitations of pleasure, which it is difficult 
for a young man in certain situations to resist? 
But, in the midst of all my errors would he add, my 
heart was still good? I still thought with kindness of 
the parent whom I had forsaken ; and excepting the tor- 
rent that bore me along, I would, in other things have 
been willing to regulate my actions by his counsels? 
Would he hope to advance his plea by throwing such 
softenings over his faults? No, he would be too much 
humbled to hold this deceitful language. No, in the 
depth of his contrition, he would see only his guilt, not 
its excuses. He would dwell upon its aggravations, not 
upon its palliatives. He would delight, such is the spi- 
rit of repentance, to take a certain revenge upon him- 
self for his ingratitude and folly, by the depth of his 
contrition, and the humility of his confessions. I will 
go to my father, if an unworthy but penitent son, may 
yet dare to address him by that tender title, and will 
say to h\m, father I have sinned against Heaven, and 
before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 
Against Heaven. — For, in breaking the ties of nature, 
I have violated the most sacred laws of God, my hea- 
venly Father. I have forgotten that holy and awful 
presence which would have imposed a check upon my 
infatuation, which duty to an earthly parent was una- 
ble to restrain. I have sinned before thee, my father, 
who didst foster me with so much indulgence; before 
thee, whom every law of nature, and of duty, whom 

Repentance of the Prodigal. 105 

ten thousand acts of kindness and endearment should 
have taught me to love; — before tlwe, whose consolation 
in the decline of life I should have proved; but whose 
peace I have wounded, whose soul I have filled with 
bitterness and anguish. Yes, / artt no mone ivorthy to 
be called thy son. That holy privilege which, by my 
bitter experience, I have been at length taught so high- 
ly to estimate, I have most justly forfeited. But if I 
cannot be restored to that prerogative which, like Esau, 
I have shamefully sold for the gratification of my low 
appetites, may I not be permitted to behold, to serve, 
to reside near thee, whom I have learned to love, when, 
alas! I no longer deserve to be beloved. Make me as one 
of thy hired servants, till I have proved by my dutiful 
zeal that I am not altogether unworthy thy compas- 

Such are the simple expressions of the prodigal's re- 
pentance, extorted from a heart profoundly penetrated 
with its folly: such also are the sentiments which pene- 
trate a convinced and penitent sinner, conscious of the 
enormity of his offences against God his heavenly Fa- 
ther. When first he turns his eyes towards the throne 
of the heavenly grace, will not the same grief for his 
transgressions, the same shame of his follies, the same 
humiliating sense of the evil of his sins mark his peni- 
tent confession of them before Almighty God.'* He em- 
ploys no palliations to soften their guilt, he studies no 
concealment, or disguise to hide their number, or ma- 
lignity from his own view.^ His acknowledgment is 
frank and sincere, universal and unqualified. Hardly 
can he find words sufficiently strong to express his al> 

VOL. I. p 

106 Repentance of the Prodigal. 

horrence of their evil, his sense of his own unworthi- 
ness, or the depth of his self abasement. The holy 
Psalmist in his affliction, speaks the genuine language 
of repentance; — Against thee only have I simied, and 
in thy sight done this evil. Mine iniquities are gone 
over my head. They are too Jwavy for me to bear. And 
the convinced publican gives a just and affecting exam- 
ple of the humility, and conscious shame of a sin- 
cere penitent, when he could not lift up so much as his 
eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God 
be merciful to me a sinner! He has no plea in his 
own merits to offer to God his father and his judge; no 
justification in his own good intentions, no excuse in 
the violence of temptation. He lays open his inmost 
soul to the inspection of his judge. He justifies the 
.sentence which condemns him; he condemns himself. 
— / have sinned against Heaven, and before thee. 

This confession implies deep, unfeigned sorrow for 
his manifold sins and offences against Almighty God; 
for the dishonours offered to the glory of his heavenly 
Father, and to the purity of the law of eternal recti- 
tude. Is it for his own miseries that he is grieved.^ 
For the pains which vice brings after it in the order of 
divine providence.^ Or even for the eternal sufferings 
to which, by the righteous judgment of heaven it is 
doomed.'' No, it is simply for the evil of his sins; for 
the vileness of his ingratitude, that he is overwhelmed 
with repentant sorrow. For when his sins are most 
freely forgiven, and the sense of that pardon most gra- 
ciously sealed to his heart; when most encouraged to 
hope in the divine mercy, his fears are all extinguished 

Repentance of the Prodigal. 107 

in the blood of the everlasting covenant, it is then that 
his griefs flow most copiously. It is then that a sense 
of his ingratitude opens new sources of sorrow in his 
bosom. It is then that, with David, he wets his couch 
with his tears; or with Peter, when the cock summoned 
his sleeping conscience to its duty, and the compassionate 
look of his master melted his heart, that he goes out 
and weeps bitterly. God may forgive him ; but he knows 
not how to forgive himself 

When the penitent prodigal has resolved to return 
to his father, one of the most decisive proofs of his 
sincerity, is the promptitude with which he ^executes 
his dutiful resolution. Does he then, remembering with 
too fond an attachment, pleasures which he must now 
part with forever, study to procrastinate the moment 
of separation .^ Does he find difficulties in accomplish- 
ing his purpose too powerful for his virtue.'^ Does the 
distance of the road deter him? Does the strength of 
dissolute habits overcome him.^ Does the shame of 
his own appearance, all squalid and in rags, withhold 
him from the presence of his father? Does he fear 
the ridicule of his companions? Or shrink from the 
austerity of the manners he must now assume? No, 
he has suifered too much from his follies to be recon- 
ciled to them again; or to hesitate about renouncing 
them with holy indignation. His ingratitude has too 
deeply penetrated his soul to suffer him to waver in his 
purpose. The returning tide of his affections is too 
strong to be resisted. He waits not to deliberate. He 
makes no nice calculation of difficulties. His zeal 

108 Repentance of the Prodigal. 

bursts through every obstacle; and he hastens to throw 
himself at the feet of bis father. 

Here is another analogy which strongly represents 
the case of a penitent sinner in forming his first reso- 
lutions of duty. Many difficulties meet him in enter- 
ing on a new course of hfe. The self-denials of re- 
pentance, and the duties of religion present to him a 
face of gloom before he has yet tasted the divine con- 
solations which flow^ from a sense of the presence, and 
the most gracious favour of his heavenly Father. Can 
I, at once, and entirely, break my connexions with the 
world, with which I have been so intimately associa- 
ted.^ Can I, at once, make such an entire change in 
all the habits of life? Shall I be able to bear the re- 
proaches, the sneers, the coldness of companions whose 
party I must now forsake? Can I hold myself up as 
a spectacle for the observation and remarks of the 
world, which never remarks with candour? Will not 
a gravity and seriousness of deportment, an abstraction 
from all the little follies, and even the innocent gayeties 
of society be expected from me that I cannot support? 

Ah! w^hen the soul which has hitherto been the slave 
o>f sin, is about to break its chains, and enter on a new 
life, all the remains of corruption in the heart, will rise 
up to oppose the change, and present to the imagina- 
tion every difficulty, most calculated to deter a young 
convert from taking an open and decided part in favour 
of religion. But if, with the repenting prodigal, he is 
truly sensible of the evil and depth of his iniquities 
against Almighty God, of the infelicities of his state, 
of the vanity of all his past projects of happiness: — if 

Repentance of the Prodigal. 1 OJJ 

pricked in his heart, with the hearers of the apostle 
Peter, on the day of Pentecost, it is his soHcitous in- 
quiry, men and brethren! ivhat shall T do? If, hke the 
penitent and beheving disciples, looking up to Jesus 
Christ, he is compelled to exclaim; — Lord, to wliom 
shall I go, tlwu hast the words of eternal life — all diffi- 
culties will vanish before the views of eternity which 
will then open upon the soul, — will be overborne by the 
torrent of feelings which will then . deluge his heart. 
Shall I sacrifice my eternal interests, may he say, to a 
false shame? Shall any pleasure of my own, if the 
world could now afford me pleasure, come in compe- 
tition with the boundless obligations of gratitude and 
lo\'c which 1 owe my Creator and Redeemer. Shall I 
shrink from ridicule and scoffing, if it be necessary for 
his glory, who did not shrink from shame and mocking 
and from the agonies of the cross for me? Does the 
world whisper me that the change which I am about 
to make, is too great and sudden to be supported with 
consistency, by those who would, at the same time, 
maintain any reputation in society? And therefore 
does it advise me to break my connexions with it only 
by degrees? Ah! false and insidious deceiver! How 
shall % who am dead to sin, live any longer therein? 
How shall I, who am alive only to the feehngs of duty, 
delay one moment, to cast myself before the mercy seat 
of my heavenly Father? — Does the pride and error of 
a corrupted heart insinuate that I ought first to prepare 
for myself a favourable reception, before approaching 
into the presence of his hohness, by the merit of a pre- 

110 ^Repentance of the Prodigal. 

vious course of duties. Alas! what merit is there in 
those outward, and heartless services which I vainly 
call lyiy duties? What merit can a sinful mortal pre- 
sent before the throne of divine mercy? Is not the 
whole system of my salvation a system of absolute 
grace? How can a penitent sinner appear most ac- 
ceptably befui e r,od, but as a humble suppliant, re- 
nouncing all confidence in his own righteousness, and 
relying solely on the gracious promise of Almighty 
God, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ? Yes, 
unworthy as I am, and without any plea to offer, but 
my miseries, I will not postpone my return to a father 
to whom penitent misery, will be always welcome; — 
who has invited the weary and heavy laden to come to 
him; — who offers to the hungry and tlie thirsty, nine 
and milk without money and without price; — and who 
has declared to those who believe, though your sitis he 
Wee scarlet, they shall be as ivool; though they be red like 
crimson, they shall be tvhite as snoiv. In one word, who 
proclaims to the ivretched, the miserable, the blind and 
the naked ^ to sinners of every grade, him that cometh 
to me, I will in no ivise cast out. Yes, when the con- 
vinced and penitent prodigal is brought to this point, 
neither the menaces, nor the blandishments of the 
world; neither the example, nor persuasions of other 
sinners; neither the fear of man, nor the seductions of 
pleasure, can delay or divert his firm and holy resolu- 
tion of returning to God his heavenly Father. His 
heart is full of his father's goodness. — 7 ivill arise and 
go to my father. 

Repentance of the Prodigal 111 

penitent souls! who may be forming this wise and 
pious resolution, may Almighty God, in his infinite 
mercy, grant you those abundant aids of his grace 
which are requisite to enable you to fulfil your wise 
and holy purpose! Amen! 



Tlie third discourse on this Parable. 

liut, when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compas- 
sion, and ran, and fell upon his neck aad kissed him. And the son said 
unto him; Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight, and 
am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his ser- 
vants, bring forth the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his 
hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; 
and let us eat and be merry: for this my son was dead and is alive again; 
he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry. Luke XV. 20-2 L 

Christians! you have followed the prodigal through 
the errors of his youth; you have seen him plunged in 
the deepest affliction. Overwhelmed with miseries in- 
duced by his own misconduct, he reproaches his folly; 
he turns his view wistfully back on his former happy 
state; he recalls to mind the goodness of his father 
whom he had so grievously offended, and now peni- 
tently resolves to return and implore his forgiveness. 
The benignity with which his father receives him; the 
joy with which he embraces a profligate son restored 
to a sense of his duty; the image of the divine com- 
passions towards penitent sinners, is the interesting 
matter which still remains to be considered, and which 
now claims your serious attention. 

Return of the Prodigal 113 

Let us then contemplate the affecting images pre- 
sented to us in this beautiful allegory, that we may de- 
rive from them an encouragement for every sincere 
penitent, to hope in the mercy of his heavenly father, 
notwithstanding his manifold.offences. 

The anxious father had never withdrawn his affec- 
tionate solicitudes from this unduiiful son, even after 
he had abandoned his family. His fond hopes had 
still anticipated his return to viitue: his fervent pray- 
ers were continually addressed to Heaven, that some 
merciful correction in the dispensations of divine pro- 
vidence, might restore his lost child to himself: to the 
reflections of wisdom, and to the sense of his duty. 
Often he turned his eyes to that quarter where the un- 
happy youth, in departing, had vanished from his sight, 
and from which, if he ever should again behold him, 
he expected his return. He was the lirst, therefore, to 
perceive the young man^s approach. Though covered 
with rags, squalid with disease and filth, and emacia- 
ted with want, yet a father's affection was able, under 
all these cruel disguises, to discern the traces of an 
image which love had indelibly inipressed on his heart; 
and when, yet a great way off, he recognized his son. 
He saw him trembling, overwhelmed with shame, he- 
sitating in his approach, and doubtful of his reception. 
The good old man dissolved in tenderness at the sight; 
hastens to console, and reassure the afflicted penitent. 
And in tbe tumults of his joy at again seeing him, and 
seeing him returning to his family, and his duty, he 
could no longer restrain himself; — he ran, he fell upon 
his neck, he kissed him, and carried to his heart the 

VOL. I. Q 

114 Return of the Prodigal. 

seal of his pardon, by the ardour, with which he em- 
braced him. 

What a moment for the prodigal, who was approach- 
ing almost without liope! Covered with confusion, and 
oppressed with his own recollections, his heart swells 
with a thousand emotions, which, for a time, suspend the 
power of utterance, and break from him only in sobs 
and sighs. At length, he recovers himself so far as to 
begin his affecting confession; — Father, I have sinned 
against Heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy 
to he called thy son, lie would have added, make me 
as one oj thy hired servants! — but the impatience of his 
father's eager sensibility on the occasion prevented him; 
and, before he could fmish the sentence which was in his 
mouth, orders are already given to array him with the 
best robe; to efface all the marks of his former servi- 
tude and wretchedness; and to invest him with the 
customary pledge in the east, of his being restored to 
his rank and honour as a son, by putting a ring on his 
hand. Let it be a jubilee in my family! pVepare a feast! 
invite my friends! let all partake in my joy! — for this 
my son was dead, and is alive again, was lost, and is 

In this beautiful and touching group of images, you 
have presented an interesting picture of the compas- 
sion and benignity of our heavenly Father towards his 
guilty and offending children, who return to him by; 
sincere repentance. 

1. Then his patience and forbearance with the sin- 
ner during his errors. 

Return of the Prodigal. 115 

2. The readiness with which he meets and reassures 
the penitent. 

3. And lastly, the joy with which he receives an 
exiled son, on his return to his family. There is joy in 
Heaven, over one sinner that repenteth. 

1. Let us contemplate, in the first place, the patience 
with which this indulgent parent waits on all the er-- 
rors of an undutiful son. 

Instead of cutting him off from the privileges and 
hopes of his house, in just displeasure for the abuse of 
his goodness, his paternal kiudness never forsakes the 
unhappy youth, amidst all the movements of his folly. 
He waits, and hopes, and prays for his restoration, till 
his excesses, and the sufferings which spring out of his 
own misconduct, at last, bring him to a just sense of 
himself, and an humble recognition of the beneficence 
of a parent who had been so unworthily requitted. 
With still greater benignity, my dear brethren, do we 
not behold, in the whole order of divine providence, 
the mercy and long-suffering of Almighty God waiting 
upon sinners, while they are forgetful of his holy claims 
upon their duty and love: nay, while they are boldly 
setting at defiance his laws, and his almighty power.^ 
If he does not cut them off in the pursuit of their sin- 
ful pleasures, if he spares them in the midst of so many 
folhes and crimes, is it because his holiness is not most 
justly offended.'^ or, because his power cannot reach 
them.^ Surely not. But our most merciful Father is 
w^aiting the operation of those means, which, in the 
benign, but corrective dispensations of his providence, 
he is employing to bring them to repentance, and re- 

116 Return of the Prodigal. 

store in their hearts the sentiments of obedience and 
duty. Let me endeavour to carry this reflection home 
to the bosom and feeHngs of every hearer. 

Has not your own experience, my Christian brother! 
afforded you the most affecting proofs of the forbear- 
ance of Almighty God, the father of mercies, with your 
manifold wanderings, notwithstanding the wastes, to 
use the language of the parable, which you have made 
of that portion of goods entrusted to your care; that is, 
of your time, your mental talents, your active powers, 
your temporal blessings, your spiritual privileges. Life, 
which you have so often perverted from its proper 
end, is still prolonged, to afford you the opportunities 
of repentance. Mercies which, alas! have been so often 
abused, are not yet withdrawn. The means of grace, 
and the aids designed for the attainment of your sal- 
vation are not only continued, but multiplied. The 
voice of his providence, by which he would recall you 
to himself, is continually becoming more distinct, more 
frequent, and more loud. Impenitent prodigal! whoever 
you may be, let me speak to you with plainness, and 
let me intreat you to deal sincerely with your own 
heart. Has not Almighty God, at some times, while he 
seemed to snatch you from imminent death threatened 
by disease, or other alarming accidents, carried to your 
bosom, for a moment, the conviction that he had recal- 
led you to life, only to repeat the invitations of his mer- 
cy.^ Has he not on other occasions, by the disappoint- 
ment of your hopes, by painful suffering, by the dis- 
gusts which followed your excesses, made you a thou- 
sand times feel the vanity of the world, and the infeli- 

Return of the Prodigal. 117 

city of your pursuits, only that he might raise your 
thoughts to higher and purer aims? When your sins, 
perhaps, have been on the point of exposing you to 
public shame", and overwhelming you in ruin, has he 
not mercifully deHvered you from the abyss which you 
had prepared for yourself, and that was already gaping 
beneath your feet, only that he might impose upon you 
new obligations of gratitude to his holy providence? 
Has he not, by his most blessed spirit, often created 
and cherished in your breast many serious resolutions 
of duty, which have been again, alas! extinguished in 
tlie cares or in the pleasures of the world? Has he not 
even prompted, and by his grace, assisted you, to make 
some feeble and tottering steps in your return towards 
him? Has he not waited on your delays? Has he not 
again and again renewed those serious impressions, 
which you have as often hastened to efface? By multi- 
plied mercies, he has graciously sought to attract you 
to himself By afflictions he has called you; he has cal- 
led you by the penetrating remonstrances of his word; 
and by the secret suggestions of your own conscience; 
and has he not sometimes called you by the most in- 
teresting voices from the tomb, into which you have 
seen your dearest friends descend before you? And 
this day does he not come to repeat so many calls? 
God! how rich is thy mercy! How astonishing thy 
patience with worms of dust, who dare to insult thy 
long suffering benignity! Thou hast not discharged on 
their heads as thou justly mightest, the thunders with 
which thy justice had armed thee; but thy mercy still 
prolongs to them the season of heavenly grace! 

118 Return of the Prodigal. 

2. You perceive, in the next place, the gracious rea- 
diness with which our heavenly Father meets the re- 
turn, and reassures the hopes of his prodigal but peni- 
tent children. 

This compassionate parent, the type of our heavenly 
Father, recognized his son, while he was yet a great 
way off. Love had impressed an ineffaceable image of 
that dear, though undutifid youth upon his heart; and 
parental affection preserved him ever attentive to re- 
mark the first returning sentiments of piety and duty, 
for which, notwithstanding all his errors, he never 
could entirely cease to hope. He, accordingly, recog- 
nized his abashed and trembling son, under all the dis- 
advantages of his appearance, the first moment of his ,.. 
arrival; and flew to meet him on the wings of parental | 

What a lively portrait is here traced of the benignity 
and grace of our Father who is in heaven! For, is not 
he who is the author of all beneficence and compassion _ 
in the human breast, still more ready than an earthly 1 
parent, to receive repentant sinners to his mercy, who, 1 
notwithstanding all their follies, are still his children. 
He looks with benignity on their first wishes to regain 
his favour, he assists, by his grace, their first endea- 
vours to return to their duty — he sees them with com- 
passion, to pursue the image of the parable, while they 
are yet a great way off, and hastens to embrace them, ij 
From afar, from eternity, he prepared for them that 
astonishing system of grace, which, in the fulness of 
ages, was displayed in all its glory on the mount of 
Calvary. He contemplated them with mercy, in Christ 

Return of the Prodigal, 119 

Jesus before the foundation of the world. And is it 
not he, at last who inspires them with the penitent sen- 
timents of the returning prodigal, and the holy purpo- 
ses and resolutions of sincere obedience? And have 
you. not, in these acts of divine beneficence, the strong- 
est demonstrations of his love, of his readiness to for- 
give iniquity, transgression, and sin, and to receive the 
returning prodigal to all the blessings of his heavenly 
family? Penitent believer! your experience will speak 
for God, and attest not only the compassion with which 
he forgives your transgressions, but the grace with 
which he anticipated your return, and, if I may speak 
so, kindly urged and attracted you home. Is it to your 
own wisdom, your own good dispositions, your own 
just reflections that you ascribe the first movements of 
repentance? Or was it not God himself, who, by some 
powerful idea from his holy word, first touched your 
heart; who. by some aflBicting, but merciful stroke of 
his providence, first brought you to a pause in the 
course of your iniquities: who, by some sudden thought, 
the origin of which you could hardly trace, opened at 
once upon your view your sins, and the imminent dan- 
gers of your state, your neglected duties, and your eter- 
nal interests? Even after you had formed the resolu- 
tions of returning to your father's house, would you not 
again, and again have fallen back into the vortex of the 
worlds temptations, if he had not, by his blessed spirit, 
assisted your infirmity, and kindled anew the holy pur- 
poses of your soul? And when you were faithful to the 
grace received, did not he increase its attractions, its 
consolations, its holy constraints, till he had banished 

ISO Return of' the Prodigal 

the fears of guilt, and perfectly assured your heart he- 
fore him in peace? Yes, Christian, he sees the penitent 
and returning prodigal while he is yet a great way off, 
he meets him with the assurance of his love, he dis- 
pels his apprehensions, he revives his flagging resolu- 
tions, and reanimates his hopes when beginning to de- 
spair; nor leaves him till he brings him home, and 
makes him taste the ineffable joys of forgiveness and 
reconciliation with God. 

3. Finally, in this accumulation of tender -images, 
our blessed Saviour would represent, not only the mer- 
cy of God, to the returning penitent, but the holy joy 
with which he embraces, and restores him to his hea- 
venly family. 

This benevolent father, who is intended to exhibit to 
us an image of the highest human kindness, no sooner 
beholds his humble and weeping son, overwhelmed 
with the sense of his miseries, than h^ orders him to 
be habited in the best robe; adorns his hands with rings, 
the symbols of pecuhar favour; crowns his return with 
feasts, and with every public demonstration of joy; and, 
unable any longer to restrain his ecstasies on the occa- 
sion, gives vent to them in the most affecting strains, 
— My son was dead, and is alive again, was lost, and 
is found. 

In these figures you behold the sinner, though stain- 
ed with many pollutions, cleansed in the blood, and 
clothed in the righteousness of the blessed Redeemer; 
— ^you behold him raised to the favour and the honours 
which he had forfeited; you behold the joy that is in 

Return of the Prodigal i 2 J 

Heaven over one sinner that repenteth. — Let us review 
these ideas. 

A sincere penitent, under the deep convictions of 
his guilt, is ashamed and afraid to appear in the pre- 
sence of his Creator and his Judge. He trembles, he 
hesitates to embrace the offers of the free and abun- 
dant mercy of the gospel. He doubts of the applica- 
tion of that mercy to his peculiar case; for, in the true 
spirit of repentance, he esteems himself among the 
chief of sinners, and hardly dares to raise his hopes to 
it. A righteousness, which completely fulfils the pre- 
cept, and magnifies the justice of the divine law, is 
the only habit of soul, in which he can appear with ac- 
ceptance in the presence of infinite purity. But when 
he reviews the past, and reenters into his heart, in 
which are concealed the polluted springs of his actions, 
he sees there the profound depths of his iniquities. He 
perceives innumerable imperfections mingled with his 
most holy services. In the spirit of the prophet, he 
confesses that all his righteousnesses are like filthy rags; 
and his iniquities like the winds have carried him away. 
He is overwhelmed with confusion, before God most 
holy, at the nakedness to which his sins have reduced 
him. But, behold the condescension, the grace, the in- 
finite love of his heavenly Father! He gives command- 
ment to clothe him in the best robes. He covers all 
his imperfections in the merits and righteousness of 
Jesus Christ, ivho of God is made unto us imdom and 
righteousness, and sanctification, and complete redemp- 
tion. He cleanses him from all his impurities, and re- 
moves the stains of his former crimes in that precious 

VOL. I. R 

122 Return of the Prodigal. 

blood which was shed for the remission of the sins of the 
world. In this beautiful imagery, the trembling peni- 
tent enjoys a new source of consolation and hope, add- 
ed to a thousand gracious promises inscribed in almost 
every page of the word of God. 

When this affectionate parent has arrayed his pro- 
digal in pure garments, his next care is to restore him 
to the dignity and honours of his family. And, in the 
merciful constitution of the gospel of our salvation, is 
not this grace attached to the repentance of sinners 
that they should be called the sons of God? United to 
Christ, they become incorporated with him into his 
heavenly family; and, by virtue of their head, are made 
heirs of glory and immmortality. Put a ring on his 
hand, saith the father, the pledge of my love, and of his 
complete restoration to the privileges and honours of 
my house. In this precious symbol, what blessings are 
conferred on the humble, and penitent believer! What 
glorious reversions are pointed out to him beyond the 
grave! Such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor 
hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. — Oh! 
heavenly Father! graciously deign to receive the senti- 
ments of our contrition! and make us, according to 
thine infinite mercy in Christ Jesus, partakers of the 
blessings of thy children redeemed from sin, and from 
everlasting death! 

But that which our blessed Saviour, in the view 
which I have taken of this parable; may be supposed 
chiefly to represent by the festivities, and all the de- 
monstrations of joy with which this good father cele- 
brates the return of his unhappy son, is the holy joy 

Return of the Prodigal. 123 

with which Ahuighty God beholds the repentance of a 
sinner. Nothing, Indeed, in the Divine mind, can re- 
semble those transports which an affectionate parent 
would feel on recovering a beloved and lost child. But 
our heavenly Father, by employing such tender images, 
exhibits, in the most lively forms to the human heart, 
his infinite benignity, and affords the penitent sinner 
the most affecting encouragement to repose his hope 
in the promises of his grace. The Lord is merciful 
and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness and 
truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. Jis I 
live, saith the Lord, T delight not in the death of a sin- 
ner, but rather that he should turn to me and live. His 
tender mercies are over all his works. And my beloved 
brethren, do we not behold these most precious truths 
shining in the whole structure of the universe, and in 
the whole order of providence, in every part of which 
infinite goodness presides along with infinite wisdom, 
and infinite power for the happiness of his creatures. 

But the most transcendent proof of the love of God, 
and his joy,if I may speak so, at seeing his undutiful chil- 
dren returning to his family, and to their own happiness, 
you behold in the life and the death, the incarnation 
and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. What brought 
the Son of God, who inhabits the praises of eternity, to 
this abode of frailty and misery.^ What led him to sub- 
mit to the humiliation, and afflictions of this mortal 
state.'* Why did he offer himself, for the guilt of hu' 
man nature, to the stroke of eternal justice? Can in- 
finite benevolence demonstrate by stronger prpofs, or 
paint in colours more worthy of Heaven, that love 

12 4f Return of the Prodigal, 

which passeth all understanding, that boundless com- 
passion with which the Redeemer is ready to embrace 
the repenting sinner, that divine and ineffable joy with 
which he receives into his bosom the tears of their con- 
trition, the pledges of their duty? Here, penitent souls! 
behold your encouragement to flee to the refuge of his 
mercy, from the denunciations of the law; from the cry 
of the avenger of blood. Here behold the security with 
which you may rest on the promises^ and the grace of 
the gospel. 

If God, who is the fountain of love, rejoices over 
you; if the Saviour rejoices to see the fruit of his suf- 
ferings and death, there is joy also in heaven above, and 
in the church on earth over one sinner that repenteth.— 
The servants, the whole household, the friends of the 
happy father are all invited to partake in his happiness, 
and do not all good men, who are animated with the 
same spirit which breathed so fervently in their blessed 
Master; do not the angels, those ministering spirits 
who a*e sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation, 
indulge a holy triumph in seeing continually new ac- 
cessions to the kingdom of grace, and new heirs to the 
kingdom of glory? Yes, piety must ever rejoice in be- 
holding the designs of divine love advancing upon earth; 
and contemplating the progressive victories of evange- 
lic truth over the kingdom of error and of darkness. 

Oh! ineffable goodness and condescension of Al- 
mighty God! His patience is not exhausted, his love is 
not quenched, even by your iniquities! If pressed then, 
by the calamities, the shame, the disappointments which 
your follies liave brought upon you, in that far country 

Return of the Prodigal 125 

to which you had impiously fled from his presence; if 
urged by your convictions, and the reproaches of your 
own heart, you have been brought to this pious and 
wholesome resolution, I ivill ansa and go to my father; 
behold he stands ready to embrace you; he runs to 
meet you, while you are yet a great way ofl"; he is rea- 
dy abundantly to supply your wants; he will clothe 
your nakedness; he will raise you to honour; he will 
acknowledge you as his son; he will rejoice over you 
with immortal joy. 

Suffer me now in the conclusion, to call your atten- 
tion again to the gracious condescension of God our 
Saviour. What accumulated proofs does he offer, not 
only in this parable, but throughout the sacred scrip- 
tures, to reassure and comfort the penitent soul op- 
pressed with the sense of its guilt! The convinced con- 
science, under a full discovery of its sins, is prone in 
the first paroxysms of the humbling conviction, to dis- 
trust the promises of divine grace as extending to an 
object so unworthy. It ascribes a peculiar malignity to 
its sins, as if they transcended the mercy of our hea- 
venly Father, whose nature is love. The ever blessed 
Redeemer, therefore, knowing the conscious timidity 
of guilt, has multiplied the assurances, and examples 
of his grace, in order to remove, if possible, every doubt 
which its fears could suggest. Often the alarmed con- 
science is prone to represent the limited season of the 
divine mercies as entirely past. Never, penitent 
soul! while the period of your probation is still prolong- 
ed, and your heavenly Father is waiting to receive your 
return; never, while the means of grace are offering 

126 Return of the Prodigal 

you their aid, and the calls of the gospel are sounding 
in your ears. — Never, while the Holy l^pirit is speak- 
ing to your heart; while he is moving on the face of 
the waters, to bring to order the chaos of corrupted 
nature, and to compose your disordered affections. 
Never, while he is awaking in your souls those desires 
after salvation which demonstrate that he has not for- 
saken you; desires, which he alone could create; which 
he alone can satisfy; and which he thus rouses into 
these holy actings, only that he may most abundantly 

Fulfdl, 0, heavenly Father! our humble and fervent 
desires! and receive to the arms of thy mercy, thy return- 
ing prodigals! Amen! 



Above all things, my brethren, swear not. — James, V. 12. 

An oath for confirmation is the end of all strife. And 
in the administration of civil justice, the laws are often 
obliged to appeal to that reverence of the Supreme Be- 
ing, vs^hich nature has impressed upon the hearts of 
men, to strengthen their natural respect for truth in 
rendering testimony. This immediate appeal to Al- 
mighty God, on proper occasions, so far from being re- 
fused by religion, is sanctioned by its highest authority. 
The only restriction v^hich it imposes is, that, in as- 
suming an oath, thou shall not take the name of the 
Lord thy God in vain. The indiscriminate and irre- 
verent use of oaths had infected, in a high degree, the 
common discourse of the pagan nations in the age of 
the apostle. This profane abuse, on trivial occasions, 
of names that were held sacred, is proscribed, in the 
text with positive authority, and with a holy and indig- 
nant zeal. The apostle would preserve the awful name 
of the eternal, with the most sacred reverence only for 
his solemn worship, or for the most important purposes 
of society. In the same spirit does religion reprehend 
all customary swearing, and inconsiderate imprecations 
in the common intercourse of mankind with one ano- 

128 On Swearing. 

ther. No vice admits of less palliation^ and none per- 
haps, has become more audacious and unblushing in 
f its exercise. Unhappily we see it, not confined to the 
classes of ignorance and debauchery, it has become the 
disgrace of those who boast a better education and 
hold a higher rank in society. It seeks not conceal- 
ment, as other vices do, nor does it attempt to bury its 
shame in the shades of night; but is spreading a bane- 
ful infection through our social manners, in which no 
language should be heard that is not delicate and chaste, 
and conformed to the rules of piety and virtue. It 
would seem indeed, as if the peculiar sanctity of our 
religion, by imparting more grand and awful concep- 
tions of the Divine Nature, had only rendered unworthy 
christians capable of a more frightful impiety. 

To demonstrate the sinfulness of common and pro- 
fane swearing, — its unreasonableness, — and its inu- 
tility to those ends which men think to serve by it, is 
the object of the present discourse. 

1. The sinfulness of this practice, under which I in- 
clude all oaths, execrations, and profane exclamations 
in common discourse, all those light and frivolous in- 
vocations of sacred names, so often uttered through 
habit, or employed to give vent to the ebullitions of 
passion, or of any sudden and silly surprise, will be 
manifest on considering, for a moment, the disrespect 
which it offers to God our maker — the evil which it 
causes to men themselves — and the injury which results 
from it to the best interests of society. 

Above all things, saith the apostle, swear not; placing 
this vice in the highest grade of crimes against the 

On Swearing. 129 

purity of social intercourse, and that sacred reverence 
which creatures owe to the supreme Creator. ^^ hat, 
indeed, can strike the ear of piety with greater horror 
than a light irreverent invocation of the name of Al- 
mighty God, — of him who hath made the heavens and 
all the Jwst of them by the breath of his month; at whose 
look'the earth trembles, and the foundations of the ever- 
lasting hills are moved? The law of Moses,^ which is 
no other than the law of God, surrounds and guards this 
holy name with the most profound veneration and awe. 
The Jewish nation called it the unutterable name; and 
never dared to pronounce it, but in the most serious 
form, and on the most solemn occasions. To the praise 
of some of the greatest men who have ever adorned 
the annals of piety, or science, it is recorded, that they 
never spoke of God, without preceding that holy name 
by a serious pause, accompanied with a secret act of 
mental adoration.* But why speak we of men ? The 
angels of heaven are represented as veiling themselves 
in deepest humility before the eternal, unable steadfast- 
ly to look towards the throne of his holiness. Listen to 
the noble rhapsody of the prophet Isaiah; — I beheld the 
Lord upon a throne high and lifted up, and his train 
filled the temple. Before him stood the Seraphim. Each 
one had six icings — with twain he covered his face— 

* This sacred revercuce for tlie name of God, is so conformable to every 
pilnciple of reason, thai in the moral writings of heathen sages, «c fiud it 
enjoined, as well as in the oracles of our holy religion. "The i ame of 
the Divine Being," says Plato, " ought never to be employed on light and 
trivial occasions." And another Greek moralist adds that the true way to 
preserve that veneration which ought ever to be paid to the Divine Na- 
ture, is to abstain from every irreverent use of his name. 

VOL. I. S 

130 On Swearing. 

with twain he covered his feet — and with twain he did 
fly. And one cried to another, and said, holy! holy! 
holy! is the Lord of hosts! the ivhole earth is full of his 
glory! And, is it for worms of the dust, whose breath 
is in their nostrils, to insult that Being of Beings, who 
made them by his power, who can consume them with 
the breath of his mouth; but who still spares them in the 
midst of dieir crimes, only to afford them the oppor- 
tunity and the means of repentance. Is it for misera- 
ble mortals, in their mirth, or in their cups, irreverently 
to toss that holy and venerable name from their impure 
mouths, and to make it the vehicle of their wrath, or 
their sport? Oh impiety! oh blasphemy! — How are the 
ears of piety wounded! how is reason revolted! It is a 
crime, it would appear, without motive, without temp- 
tation, without excuse; committed in the mere wanton- 
ness of impiety. 

Do men ever treat the respected characters of those 
whom they revere or love, with the same indecent li- 
cense? Would it not be deemed the last outrage of a 
disciple on his master, of a dependent on his benefac- 
tor, of a child on his parent, of a profligate wretch on a 
man of worth? In what light then ought we to regard 
it in a worm of dust towards the Lord of nature, our 
Creator and our Saviour? God! how long will thy 
forbearance spare the follies of impious mortals! Above 
all, when they deal their execrations on their fellow 
worms, or imprecate thy vengeance on their own heads; 
holy and righteous God! will the thunders of thy jus- 
tice forever sleep! Ah! profane sinner! if God should 
blast thee in his wrath while thy mouth is filled with 

On Sweming. 131 

cursing and bitterness, would not thy conscience, in 
perishing, justify the rig;our of his judgment? Is God 
eternal andmost holy; is Christ Redeemer of the world, 
a name to be thrown from impious lips in anger, or li- 
centious sports; with which to vent your ruffian rage, 
or assist your buffoonery; to express your chagrin in an 
unfortunate game, to dash with youi* drunken cups, or 
to aid you in dragging to dishonour and ruin the delud- 
ed^ictim of perfidious vows? Is it a name with which 
to season impure discourse, to help out a miserable 
jest among fools, who mistake profanity for wit, to stop 
the gaps of conversation, and supply a wretched va- 
cuity of head? A pious mind shudders at such pro- 
fanation. Do you ask, then, if the same reproach is 
to be passed on those inferior forms of swearing 
which persons of vulgar taste are prone to blend 
with their discourse, by certain saints, or heathen dei- 
ties, and a hundred other silly, and unmeaning names? 
If they do not strike the ear with equal horror, they 
surely are not less worthy the deepest reproach Every 
departure from the plain and dignified language of truth 
proceeds from some wrong principle. Thou shall not 
swear by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath, \ 
When oaths and profanity form the common style of ^ \ 
conversation, they detract from the respectability of 
any character. They even tend to impair that confi- 
dence in a man's veracity which a decent and well re- 
gulated conversation, always weighed in the balances 
of reason and virtue will naturally create. Assimilated 
in his language to the lowest characters in society, we 
are ready to ascribe to him the same grossness of mind, 
and the same defect of virtuous sentiment, however it 

13:2 On Stvearing. 

may, in some*instances, be more decently varnished by 
the forms of civility. 
•N. Saint Chrysostom, in a still warmer strain of indig- 
nation, charges the habit with the foul stain of perjury. 
He, says that holy and eloquent orator, tvho habitually 
-swears in his discourse, both intentionally and inadver- 
tently; on subjects on which he is ignorant, no less than 
on those ivithin his knowledge, in jest, as well as in 
earnest; just as he happens to be impelled, must fre- 
quently be liable to the charge of perjury. What, in- 
deed, is this obvious crime, but invoking Almighty God, 
as the witness perhaps of a falsehood; of a threat that 
will never be executed, of a promise that will never be 
performed, of a fact that does not exist; or which in 
the law of morality, is the same in its effect, of which 
we have no certain ground of belief? Ah! how many 
rash assertions must they, who indulge in this perni- 
cious habit, unguardedly utter; attesting, at the same 
time, the holy name of God, and imprecating on their 
own falsehood his terrible damnation? Forgive me, 
christians! this harsh language, which they so freely 
employ against themselves to their great reproach an 
the injury of their own souls. 

Blasphemers of the name of your God! give to these 
reflections your most serious attention. Ah! what is 
it thoughtlessly, or falsely to obtest the living and eter- 
nal God, the Creator of heaven and earth? What is 
it to defy omnipotence, or, in the madness of our folly 
to imprecate, upon our own souls, his curse, whose 
wrath burns to the lowest Hell? 

This vice merits, in the next place, the most pointed 


On Sifjearins:. 13S 


reprobation, for the injury it creates to the civil inte- 
rests of mankind. He who weakens the rehgion and 
sanctity of all oath, loosens the strongest bonds of our 
political associations. The fear of God is the most 
powerful principle of justice in the human breast; and 
an appeal to God as the witness and judge of our sin- 
cerity, is the surest pledge of truth to society. JV'o obli- 
gation, says the great Roman orator, is more effectual 
to secure the Jidelity of mankind than an oath. But 
Cicero made this declaration when the simplicity of 
Roman manners was not yet entirely corrupted. For, 
afterwards, in the extreme degeneracy of the empire, 
the Romans became liable to the same reproach which 
a great historian has made to the Greeks, in conse- 
quence of the introduction of an universal luxury of 
manners, and the prevalence of an Atheistical philo- 
sophy; that they could not he hound hy any oaths, or 
pledges of their tnUh. And surely a customary pro- 
fanation of the divine names and attributes, is the most 
direct way to obliterate the fear of God from the minds 
of those whose tongues, or whose ears have become 
familiar with this unhallowed language. 

I will not assert that every person who disgraces his 
conversation by a thoughtless profanity, will not fear a 
false oath when solemnly called to recollect himself, 
and the presence of his Cieator, before a tribunal of 
justice: but surely no habit more obviously tends to 
this unhappy consequence, so dangerous to the interests 
of our social union. Above all, when ignorance is 
led by your example, lightly to pronounce, and violate 
the most awful oaths, the most deteriorating eifects are 

134 On Siuearing.' 

justly to be apprehended to our civil institution, to fol- 
low in rapid succession. 

II. After exhibiting the enormity of this vice, as in- 
volving a direct offence against the duty of a creature 
to his Creator, it might seem superfluous or improper 
to argue against it on the ground of its indecency, were 
it not that many men are still governed by certain sen- 
timents of propriety, long after they have lost their re- 
verence for religion. And may I not ask if this vice 
is not a gross violation of that amiable and benevolent 
character which every christian sh(*uld be peculiarly 
solicitous to preserve, of a delicate attention to the feel- 
ings of others, and endeavour to place them at ease, 
and render them satisfied with themselves and with us? 
Whatsoever things are lovely, saith the great apestle, 
if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think of 
these things. It would be giving a darker picture of 
the public manners, than, I presume, they yet deserve, 
if we should not suppose that few companies can be 
assembled, in which there are not some persons, and 
those probably of the best taste, and of the most amia- 
ble or respectable characters whom it deeply wounds 
to hear the adorable names of their Creator, and Re- 
deemer treated with a rude impiety. How unworthy, 
I do not say, of a pious man, but of a man of cultivated 
manners, to pay no regard to sentiments so worthy, to 
feehngs so just and noble! If the modesty of these good 
men, or their love of peace prevent them from expres- 
sing the just indignation with which they are wanued 
at the dishonour done to religion; if their meek piety 
leads them to pray for the offender rather than re- 

On Swearing. 135 

proach him, the insult upon their feehngs is the more 
inexcusable. Nor is it much palhated by that absurd 
preference of politeness to religion, which sometimes 
leads a man to ask pardon of a grave and reverend 
person who may happen to be present, for a profane 
expression, which has escaped him, while, at the same • 
time, he treats with open disrespect the awful pre- 
sence of Almighty God. 

Genuine good breeding, besides its delicate atten- 
tions to the sensibilities of others, ever connects with 
them a certain refinement in our mental tastes. This 
forms, indeed, the principal distinction between barba- 
rian and civilized society. And the most polished class- 
es of the latter, always study to exhibit in their conver- 
sation a picture of the elegance and cultivation of their 
minds. But is any rational train of thought expressed by 
profanity.'^ Does it contain any indication of true re- 
finement? On the contrary, is it not a proof of vulgar 
manners and a gross taste? It sinks conversation to 
the coarse level of the streets. It is accordindv, in 
Europe, almost wholly excluded from the intercourse 
of the higher ranks of life, as a disgraceful symptom 
of vulgar education. Ifj unhappily, delicacy has been 
less observed in our own country, it is only because, 
among us the highest improvements in society have not 
been generally aimed at. Hardly have any other distinc- 
tions been established but such as the possession and 
pursuits of money create. Adventurers in a new world, 
having too often acquired sudden wealth, have not been 
able, in a more elevated station, to lay aside the rude- 
ness of their first habits. And if children's children. 

136 On Sivearing. 

inheriting a fortune accumulated by their grandsires, 
have forgotten whence they were sprung, yet tiiis re- 
maining vestige of uncultivated manners, and defect 
of moral education, might make them look back with 
shame, to the recent vulgarity of their original, and 
lead them to hasten to extinguish the remembrance of 
it, by a more pure, and chaste conversation. 

III. Let us consider, in the next place, what apo- 
logies, or what excuses men, in their folly, have been 
prone to plead for this outrage upon religion, and on 
decent morals. Seldom^ indeed, do they ever attempt 
its justification. They only seek to find palliations of 
its grossness or impiety. It is committed, they say, 
without thought, — it is not accompanied with any in- 
tentional disrespect to religion, — it is an effect merely 
of momentary passion, or of wine. 

Without thought! what folly! nay, what depravity of 
heart! in which crimes of this dark colouring can excite 
no reflection! Do you pretend that it is not accompanied 
with intentional impiety.? May not this absurd apolo- 
gy be equally pleaded for every s\u? The immediate 
aim of vice, is not to offend Almighty God; it is to gra- 
tify ourselves: but this gratification, the sinner pursues 
in contempt of his laws, and in violation of the duty of 
a creature to his Creator. It is his crime, that God is 
not in all his thoughts. And of this sin it is the pecu- 
liar aggravation, that it tends more directly than any 
other, in its very commission, to recal the divine pre- 
sence to his mind, which he forgets, despises, or in- 
sults. If you excuse it as the effect of passion, which 
you cannot repress, or of wine which inflames the 

On Swearing. 137 

brain. What crime may you not justify on similar 
grounds? Is not wine the parent of lust and of quar- 
rels? Are not robbery, violence, murder, the fruits of 
intemperate passion? 

Would you accept the same apology from your ser- 
vants, from your dependent, from your child? Ah! it is 
only adding crime to crime; and while you think you 
excuse, you are only aggravating the offence. 

I request your attention, christians! in the last place, 
to the folly of this vice, which appears in its utter inu- 
tility even to those foohsh ends which men usually hope 
to gain by it: for, most assuredly, it can never increase 
our favourable opinion of the veracity, the wit, or the 
courage of the common swearer. 

Weak, indeed, must he be who hopes to strengthen 
his credibility by oaths and cursings. If his upright 
character do not give weight to his assertions, they can 
derive none from his impiety. What barriers of truth 
and virtue are able to restrain that man from pursuing 
any end to which his passions impel him, whose pious 
principles are not sufficient to preserve him from in- 
sulting the Most High God, by profaneness and blas- 
phemy? A very coarse but common proverb, with 
which every hearer is acquainted, demonstrates the ge- 
neral impression on the minds of men to be, that habi- 
tual profaneness is usually accompanied with a very 
doubtful veracity. And that poet drew his observation 
from human nature, who, to caution innocence against 
the arts of a seducer, has said; — " but if he swear, nay 
then, hell certainly deceive you.'' 

VOL. I. T 

138 On Swearing. 

Does not that man offer the greatest affront to his 
own truth and honour who confesses, by this practice, 
that they stand in need of this equivocal support? 

Some men have unhappily adopted a false and per- 
nicious notion that profaneness serves to increase the 
zest of their wit. A repartee, they think, has some- 
thing more smart; a story has a more hvely air, that is 
seasoned by an oath. And the impious strain of dia- 
logue kept up in a multitude of miserable farces, exhi- 
bited ill our theatres to attract the populace, has 
strengthened this mistaken notion in those young men 
who have little education besides what they derive from 
these schools; and few principles of taste, or morals, 
except such as are borrowed from a misconducted 
drama. It is a poor and low conception of wit, to ima- 
gine that it is in any way alHed to irreligion. There 
may be ribaldry, there may be buffoonery, there may 
be an odd assemblage of profane expressions to make 
the vulgar laugh, but there cannot be wit. I deny not 
that there have been profligate and profane men who 
have been witty: but it was not the profanity of their 
discourse that constituted its wit. — Yet, this unfortunate 
association, which sometimes takes place, has misled 
many a vain youth, who has been ambitious to imitate 
the vivacity of their genius, but has caught only their 
irreligion. Much to be pitied, if not contemned, are 
those young men, who imagine that impiety is any in- 
dication of talents, or that its language can add any 
ornament to discourse. It is, on the other hand, an 
almost infaUible criterion of shallowness of thought, 

On Su'caring. 139 

and of circumscribed ideas. It is a vulgar and impov- 
erished substitute for wit. 

The last and almost the silliest error in judgment 
on this subject, is seen in those young men who affect 
a profanity of lansjuage, in order to impress the world 
with a wonderful opinion of their courage, by seem- 
ing to have risen fairly above the fear of God. True 
courage is a calm, and firui, and dignified principle. A 
profane may be a brave man; but the blusterings and 
ravings of impiety are very equivocal symptoms of real 
magnanimity; and, more frequently, they are mere arts 
to supply the want of it. it is not uncommon, and if 
the scene were not too gross, we might be amused, to 
see two vile and pusillanimous wretches, trying to fiigh- 
ten one another, or to lash up their own spirits to a 
little effort by horrible blasphemies. But, alas! they 
inspire no person with any belief of their bravery, un- 
less it be the impious audacity of braving the terrors 
of Almighty God, only while they vainly suppose them 
at a safe distance. For, ah! when he shall appear to 
avenge his violated law% and vindicate the insulted 
glory of his name, what aff'right, what horrible dismay 
shall seize upon these false bravoes! Whither then 
shall be fled all their impious courage, when they be- 
hold that God arrayed for judgment whom they had 
so often defied.'' when they see the flames of that dam- 
nation kindled, which they had so often imprecated on 
their own heads.'^ Jehovah! it is because thou art God 
and not man, that thou dost not smite them on the in- 
stant, and sink them down to perdition with the 
streams of their blasphemy issuing from their lips! 

140 # On Swearing 

In the conclusion of this discourse, let me present to 
youinasingle view the united prospect of the evils which 
we have seen associated with this reproachful vice It 
displays a high insult on the glory and perfection of Al- 
mighty God — it brings dishonour, added to the guilt of 
perjury on the soul — it is an outrage upon good man- 
ners, and deeply injures the best interests of society — 
it is equally without reason and without excuse — and, 
finally, it accomplishes not one of the ends which a pro- 
fane man thinks to serve by it, either to raise the repu- 
tation of his veracity, his wit, or his courage. In one 
word, it appears, in every view which we can take of 
it, to be a melancholy dereliction of virtue and decency, 
equally unprofitable, shameful and sinful. 

Therefore, christian brethren ! Swear not at all, nei' 
ther by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any otlier oath; 
but let your communication be yea, yea, nay nay, in the 
simplest forms of affirmation and denial; /or whatso- 
ever is more than these cometh of evil Amen! 




Preached at tJie funeral of a pious friend. December 
I8th, 1803. 

And the day of death, than the day of one's birth. Eccles. VII. 1. 

The maxims of wisdom, to the men of the world, 
often wear the appearance of paradox; for they res- 
pect enjoyments for which the worldly mind has no 
relish; or bear a reference to a state of being of which 
our present experience furnishes no adequate images. 
They draw the piincipal motives of action from an in- 
visible world; and often they recommend the discipline 
of affliction and sorrow to men who seek to spend life 
only in a continued succession of varied pleasure and 
joy. — " It is better/^ says the wisest of preachers, " to go 
to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting.'^ 
And, not less strange and contrary to our first impres- 
sions, is the maxim of our text, that the day of death 
is better than the day of one^s birth. The whole pro- 
verb, to which he appeals, is, a good name is better 
than precious ointment; and tJw day of death, than the 
day of one's birth. Taking these two maxims together 
in the connexion in which they are here placed, the 
sacred writer seems, by the first, to intend, not merely, 
to lay down a general proposition; that a good name is 

142 Funeral Sermon. 

to be preferred to the richest perf'ames — that a virtu- 
ous fame, and the honest reputation of piety, are more 
to be desired than all the ostentatious displays, and vo- 
luptuous indulgences of luxury. But the whole has 
an evident allusion to the elegance and magnificence of 
eastern funerals; on which occasions the wealthy em- 
balmed the bodies of their friends with the most costly 
spices, and washed them in the richest, and most fra- 
grant oils. The import of this proverb, then, may be 
expressed in the following proposition; that the reputa- 
tion of piety and virtue, which the excellent of the earth 
carry with them to the tomb, is infinitely to be prefer- 
red to all the costly honours which can be paid to their 
remains. Much dearer to the heart is the tender re- 
membrance of departed goodness, than the ostentatious 
pomp of funerals, or the invidious magnificence of 
tombs; the tears which embalm the memory of those 
who have rendered themselves beloved by their virtues, 
than the perfumes which wealth, or vanity profusely 
scatters on their dust. 

But the proposition which immediately follows: bet- 
ter is the day of death than the day of one's birth, bears, 
in the estimation of the world, much more the air of 
paradox. What, it uiay be asked, does not man at his 
birth, open his eyes on the sweet light of life; and be- 
gin to taste the charming consciousness of existence? 
Does he not enter on a multiphed and varied scene of 
enjoyment, both sensible, rational, and social.'^ Does 
not death, on the contrary, present to the imagination, 
ideas the most formidable to human nature? — It is un- 
doubtedly, an awful event to those who know no high- 

Funeral Sermon. 143 

er good than the hidulgence of their appetites, than the 
pursuit of their passions, and the gratification of their 
pleasures, and whose troubled and boding consciences 
cannot look through the shadows of the grave, with 
calm and pious hope, into the eternal world The pro- 
position in the text, therefore, cannot be regarded as 
an universal maxim. It is applicable to those alone, 
to whom faith and piety have prepared in heaven a 
blessed retreat from all the troubles, and sorrows with 
which sin has poisoned our residence upon earth, and 
which frequently fall with peculiar severity upon the 
lot of the pious. — If there were no happier condition 
of being reserved for virtue beyond this life, how many 
of the most estimable of mankind might pronounce 
that the evils of existence have far overballanced its 
enjoyments? How often might the children of misfor- 
tune exclaim, — Why, merciful God, Creator! have 
we been brought into being only to pass our transient 
moments in suffering, and then drop again forever into 
the gulf of annihilation.'' We begin our course in pain; 
and, as we advance in the road of fife, we measure its 
stages only by the succession of our griefs. Continual- 
ly we find one hope, and one project blasted after an- 
other. We incessantly renew them only to be blasted 
again. The moments of happiness which now and 
then we are permitted to enjoy, but prepare for us, by 
their disappointment, an increase of sorrow. — Have 
you united your heart to a friend who is worthy of your 
confidence.^ It is, perhaps, only to suffer in his suffer- 
ings, and then, in the bitterness of your soul, to part 
with him forever. Are you blest in the smiles and 

144 Funeral Sermon. 

protection of an affectionate parent? With what an^ 
guish are you shortly to be robbed of that protection, 
and to see those smiles extinguished in death! Do you 
find the enjoyment of yourself doubled in the caresses 
of a lovely infant? And does not the same moment 
create in your bosom ten thousand anxious apprehen- 
sions, for its safety, its virtue, and its happiness? With 
what painful solicitudes do you follow it often till the 
close of life? And, at the length, what expressible pangs 
are prepared for your heart, whether God shall call 
you to leave it, deprived of your protection, to the dis- 
tressing uncertainties of the world, or to follow it your- 
self to the dark forgetfulness of the tomb? Have you 
chosen one to whom you have imparted your soul, who 
is dearer than father, mother, friend or child; who mul- 
tiplies, by partaking all your joys, by reciprocating all 
your most tender sentiments; and is still more endear- 
ed by sharing and soothing all your griefs? Ah! what 
distractions await your final separation! What discon- 
solate hours remain for you, when the tomb has swal- 
lowed up your richest moral treasure, your joy, your 

Review the pains, the diseases, the wants, the lan- 
guors, the despondencies, the envies, the rivalships, the 
animosities, the slanders, the injuries, the eternal agi- 
tations with which life is filled, and say, if the world 
considered only, in itself, and separated from the hope 
of a future, and better existence, would be a desirable 
abode?— Who would be wilhng to take fife again, just 
on the same terms on which he has already enjoyed it, 
with the certainty of running the same round of errors. 

Funeral Sermon. 145 

t)f follies, and disquietudes, and of meeting again in it 
the same chagrins, sorrows and afflictions, if these were 
to terminate all its hopes? — Life, then, derives its princi- 
pal value; often, indeed, it is rendered tolerable, only 
from the hopes which religion affords the believer of 
a blessed immortality, to which death opens the ob- 
scure but interesting passage. Here we discern the 
true or the supreme reason, of the preference given by 
the sacred writer, of the day of death, over the day of 
one's birth. The afflictions of the world render that 
day desirable to a good man when he shall forever rest 
from all the troubles of this vain life. The hope of 
heaven crowns with joy that moment when he shall 
exchange them for everlasting peace and happiness. 

Let us, then, in this view, institute a brief compari- 
son between the present life, and the future, and bliss- 
ful state of the pious, which will serve, still farther, to 
illustrate and verify the maxim in the text. 

At our birth, we enter upon existence; but, at the 
same time, we enter upon sorrow; we are introduced, 
indeed, to many sources of enjoyment, but they are 
spoiled by our imprudence, and our passions. We have 
received, from our Creator, the faculties of reason 
which greatly ennoble us above all the other inhabi- 
tants of the earth; but still that reason is limited, and 
afflicted by innumerable errors and doubts. The so- 
cial sympathies which unite us to our family, our friends, 
and to human nature, are the sources of many exqui- 
site enjoyments, but they are the sources likewise of 
the most poignant afflictions. — But life is finally the 
theatre of sin and human imperfection; of all tliose 

VOL. I. u 

146 Funeral Sermon. 

mok-al evils of the heart, most grievous and oppressive 
to the dehcate, and pious conscience. In ail these 
points, to a sincere christian, the day of death has an 
unspeakable advantage in the comparison, over that of 
our entrance into life. 

For then the pains, the infirmities, the diseases, and 
all the innumerable evils which cursed the fall of man, 
which poison the pleasures of existence, and often ren- 
der insensibility desirable, are buried, with these re- 
mains of corruption, in the grave. The soul, which 
now paitakes of the disorders of this frail body, to 
which it is so closely allied, being freed from the mass 
of infirmities which oppress it, shall be elevated to a 
state in which it will flourish in perpetual health and 
vigour. Its powers of enjoyment, its capacities of hap- 
piness, its active energies, will be inconceivably en- 

What its state will be till the general resurrection 
of the just, we have few lights afforded us to judge. 
Only, it will not yet have attained the consummation 
of its happiness. That interval, nevertheless, is but a 
moment. Duration is not measured in eternity as it 
is among men on earth. One day is, mith the Lord, 
as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 
Before Jehovah, the infinitude of space is as a single 
point, the infinitude of years as a single instant. The 
grave is a bed in which we lie down for a short repose; 
but the mohient of sleep touches on the moment of 
waking, the moment of dissolution on that of our resus- 
citation, when this corniptible shall Iiave put on incor- 
rujptioni o,nd this mortal shall have put on immortality. 


Funeral Sermon. H7 

And all the redeemed shall rise, and sing; O grave f 
wheie is thy victory? 

2. Havins; spoken of the multiplied evils of life, I 
must beg permission to add that its calamities are aug- 
mented by its very pleasures, which are often spoiled 
by our imprudence, and our passions. For men are 
prone to pursue them to cloying, when they always end 
in disgust. They set an undue value upon them, and 
then are rendered unhappy by the disappointments cre- 
ated by their own errors. Pursuit fatigues; possession 
begets indifference. We are continually flying from 
flower to flower, rifling their sweets; and then dissa- 
tisfied because they have faded. We endeavour, by 
an eternal succession of objects, to perpetuate enjoy- 
ments which are incessantly escaping. But alas! how 
often is imprudent pleasure, when it seems to be sur- 
rounded only by light gayeties, void of care; by charm- 
ing dissipations; by the delirium of joy, treacherously 
digging beneath our unsuspecting feet, the most terri- 
ble pit-falls! I would not, by these reflections, be un- 
derstood to undervalue the blessings of divine provi- 
dence. Every creature of God is good: but, for want 
of wisdom, of moderation, and prudence, in the enjoy- 
ment of them, they are often converted into real sour- 
ces of misery. 

Such is the condition of human nature in the pre- 
sent world. What the state of the soul will be, when 
released from the incumbrance of this body of sin and 
death, has been marked in the sacred oracles, with 
small precision to our indistinct conceptions. Only the 
powers of enjoyment of the glorified mind, become vi- 

148 Funeral Sermon. 

gorous, and susceptible, of a sublime felicity, which 
far transcends the impotent capacity of language to ex- 
press, or the impotent talents of imagination to con- 
ceive. Not depending: on these gross material senso- 
ries, which wear themselves out by their own action, 
and exhaust themselves by indulgence, they will be 
able to bear an eternal action without fatigue, they ac- 
quire strength by enjoyment; every new pleasure only 
imparts the augmented and undecaying faculty of en- 
joying more. The pleasures of piety and virtue, of rea- 
son and devout affection to the supreme author, and 
sum of universal being, which reigns in heaven, 
have this quality, that they never can cloy. Pure, and 
sublime, they are always serene. Without the tumult, 
and the delirium which always attend the high plea- 
sures of sense, they never fatigue. Every enjoyment 
awakens new desires, and every desire gratified aug- 
ments the power of enjoyment. As the rays of the sun 
penetrate and illuminate the whole substance of the 
diamond, so the sun of righteousness, the source of su- 
preme felicity to the holy soul, penetrates with immor- 
tal light and joy all its essence. It is full of God. Oh! 
Infinite mind! Immaculate fountain of happiness, 
whose nature is love! What unknown felicities dwell 
in thy presence! What ineffable joys flow along with 
the emanations of thy glory, to the spirits of the re- 
deemed in heaven! 

Is then the grave, my Christian friends, the only 
gate to these celestial habitations.^ And is it not want 
of faith in the promises, and the glory of the Redeem- 
er, unworthy of his disciples, that can allow us to say 

Funeral Sermon. 149 

that the day of death is not greatly to be preferred, when 
we judge of it by the hghts of rehgion, to that day which 
only ushers us into this region of imperfection and sin; 
of so many false pleasures and so many real pains? 

3. We may otherwise veiify the maxim of the sa- 
cred writer on the grounds of our intellectual powers. 
They afford us, without doubt, many advantages which 
elevate human nature far above all the other inhabi- 
tants of the earth. Yet is the sphere of their operation, 
at present, confined within a range that is extremely 
limited. They can penetrate but a little way into that 
dark abyss which surrounds us on every side. We dis- 
cern, only now and then, some taint openings into the 
book of knowledge; but immediately it is shut. We 
perceive some feeble rays of light from the eternal 
world, but instantly, they are extinguished, leaving us 
to painful conjecture, and to anxious doubt; inflamed 
with the desire of knowing, and incessantly mocked 
with disappointment. How confined is our knowledge 
of ourselves, of our Creator, of the boundless works of 
nature, of our present, or our future being! Nature is 
so fine in her elements, so complicated in her structure, 
so vast in her extent, that the few discoveries which 
we are capable of making, serve only to awaken a cu- 
riosity which can never be gratified. The soul, the 
body, their mutual actions and relations contain mys- 
teries which the wisest men have, for ages, endeavour- 
ed to resolve. Reason has studied to know what God 
is; piety has sought to approach him; but clouds and 
darkness envelop the view. Still he is a God who 
hideth himself ixom our most eager inquiries, who with- 

150 Funeral Sermon. 

draweth himself from our most ardent endeavour to 
embrace him. And when we attempt to penetrate the 
mysteries of eternity, on them rest the profound sha- 
dows of the grave. But, when the soul shall have laid 
aside this feeble apparatus of sense, which some- 
times aids, but often misleads our inquiries; and when 
we shall have emerged from this dark and narrow 
sphere, from its painful doubts, its imperfect views, its 
innumerable errors, into the glorious lights of an im- 
mortal day, then shall ive know, in the language of the 
apostle, even as also we are known. 

The cultivation of knowledge is among the noblest 
employments of the reasonable soul; and, an eternal 
progression in its development, will be, in heaven, 
among the sublimest sources of its felicity. What ex- 
alted faculties shall there be added to the glorified soul, 
what divine illumination shall shine upon it, no mortal 
language can depict to the human imagination. An 
infinite field shall be laid open to its insatiable thirst of 
information; a field so boundless that although the mind 
should comprehend every subject to which it applied 
its thought with the rapidity of intuition, eternity would 
not be sufficient to survey them all. Say then you who 
are ambitious of knowledge, w^ho have tasted the plea- 
sures of that small portion of it which is permitted to 
man upon earth, how rich and glorious are the pros- 
pects which religion opens to your hopes, in the career 
of your future existence.^ They add the highest con- 
solations to the death of the righteous. For \ihere ive 
see through a glass darkly, ive shall there behold face 

Funeral Sermmi. 151 

to face the glory of God, and the splendors of the uni- 

4. Suffer me, christians, to add as a strong corrobo- 
ration of the pious and happy truth which 1 am iUus- 
trating, that the social sympathies and affections of 
our nature, which, on earth create so many pains as 
well as pleasures, prepare for the pious soul in heaven, 
only the most pure and elevated enjoyments. Sweet is 
the society of friends, whose souls are congenial, whose 
sensibilities are at once warm and virtuous, whose 
minds are enlightened, who mutually share each others 
thoughts, sentiments, wishes, and their whole bosoms, 
without suspicion, misapprehension, or doubt. But, alas! 
the imperfection of human nature vi^ill never permit 
them to be completely happy in this preliminary resi- 
dence. Their intercourse is embarrassed with so many 
cautions; so many contrary interests, real or imagina- 
ry, divide them, as leave only faint ideas of what might 
be enjoyed by a perfect nature not more exalted than 
that of man. If such is the case of even the purest 
and noblest unions among men, what alas! is the ordi- 
nary intercourse of the world .^ When you suffer your 
view to fix on its coldness, its selfishness, its jealousies, 
its rivalships, its slanders, its envies, the collisions of 
its interfering claims; when you consider the imperti- 
nences in which conversation is wasted, the follies 
which you cannot but despise, the profaneness which 
wounds the ears of piety, the indelicacies which offend 
against virtuous morals, — what a scene of vanity, what 
a bleak and chill region does this world appear to a 
heart warmed with the sentiments of benevolence, of 

152 Funeral Sermon. 

friendship, and of piety! Are you not ready to exclaim 
with the holy prophet; Oh! that I had in the wilderness, 
a lodging place of way-faring men, that I might leave 
my people and go from them; for they are all an assem- 
bly of treacherous men; they bend their tongues like their 
bows for lies. Take ye heed eveiij one of his neighbour^ 
and trust ye not in any brotlwr. 

Contemplate, on the other hand, the blessed society 
of spirits made perfect in Heaven, of the general as- 
sembly of the church of the first born, of beings the 
most wise, the most pure, the most benignant; from 
which is excluded all jealousy and suspicion, all reserve 
and distrust, all weakness and imperfection; in which 
all the intercourse of society is a commerce of wisdom, 
of affection, of fidelity; where heart meets heart, and 
soul mingles with soul, in all the ardor of love, with 
all the frankness of truth. No language can exhibit, 
no colours of imagination paint that blissful society, 
those delightful attractions which unite pious souls in 
heaven. The happiness of heaven is perhaps too fre- 
quently represented as one eternal ecstasy; one unceas- 
ing and rapturous act of devotion. The devotions of 
that immortal temple will undoubtedly form its noblest 
exercise, and the sublimest source of its joys. But eter- 
nal ecstasies do not constitute the state of any being. 
In that sublime world, as in the present state, the prin- 
cipal portion of active duty, and the most numerous 
sources of actual felicity consist in that social inter- 
course which is perfected by the acquisition and 
communication of knowledge, by mutual and endear- 
ing acts of benevolence, by the delightful and recipro- 

Funeral Sermon. 153 

cal effusions of love between all holy and happy spirits. 
Shall we not even hope that these friends will again 
meet and recognize their friends from the earth; and 
that those happy unions which have been formed in 
time, will be there purified from all alloy, and siiall at- 
tain complete perfection in the regions of immortal 
love. Oh! most blessed society! what strong posses- 
sion does the idea take of the heart! How blissful to 
the believing and regenerated soul will be that day 
which is destined to introduce him to its full fruition! 

5. The present life is, in the next place, full of the 
most afflicting fluctuations. Tossed on a troubled ocean, 
the agitated mind enjoys no settled calm. Even the 
apprehensions of death, which ought to be regarded, 
by a good man, as a happy release from all its evils, 
become, by the despondency of his faith, the sources 
often of his deepest anguish. But when God shall have 
called his children home from this land of exile, and 
distressful change, which was designed only as.^u^ce 
wherein to exercise and ripen their young graces, their 
happiness is then fixed beyond the power of accident, 
or of duration itself almost omnipotent in its force to 
impair or change. No contingency can affect it, no 
tempest can shake it, no enemy can annoy it; for none 
shall ever be able to pluck them out oj their Father's 

Christians! compare the feeble spark of life which 
we receive at our birth, the pains and miseries which 
are ready to extinguish it almost as soon as it is lighted 
up, the storms which afflict it, the anxieties which har- 
rass it, the troubles which overwhelm it, till it is at 

VOL. I. X 

154 Funeral Sermon. 

length quenched in the tomb; compare these with 
the glories to which the redeemed shall be raised by 
Jesus Christ, with the eternal and immutable beati- 
tude which they shall enjoy with him; and what be- 
liever will not ardently confirm the sentence of the holy 
preacher; that, better is the day of death than the day of 
one's birth: for to a good man, death is only the begin- 
ning of an everlasting life. 

6. Finally, if at this solemn and interesting period, 
the humble christian escapes from the afflictions of the 
world, and the innumerable evils to which man, by his 
fallen nature is heir through sin, it is still a higher con- 
solation that he escapes from sin itself What is now 
the subject of his supreme anxiety and grief? Is it not 
the unsubdued remnant of sin in his heart? What is 
the object of his most assiduous labours, of his most 
earnest conflicts with himself, and with the world? Is 
it not to repress, and finally to subdue the last strug- 
gling efforts of sinful passion? What are the most fer- 
vent breathings of his pious soul? Are they not to re- 
cover the lost innocence and perfection of his nature? 
to behold the glory of God? to be transformed into the 
same image from glory to glory by the spirit of the Lord? 
Never, then, shall these anxious solicitudes cease, shall 
these fervent aspirations be completely satisfied till the 
believer has laid down all his imperfections in the dust 
of death. At his birth he brought into life a nature 
prone to sin, as well as subject to misery; senses which 
deceived him, appetites which misled him, passions 
which tyrannized over him. At death the remains of 
sin, which he never ceased to lament, shall be finally 

Funeral Sermon. 155 

expelled from their strong hold in the heart. The pas- 
sions against which he maintained a perpetual conflict, 
shall be extinguished in the grave. The seductions 
and temptations of the world, which so often misled 
him from his duty, which so often harrassed his peace, 
which so often made him falter and flag in his heaven- 
ly course, shall be annihilated by that stroke which 
severs the soul from the body; when the immortal spi- 
rit, released from its imprisonment, and bondage, and 
breaking all those hateful ties which had bound it to 
its corruptions enters, at length into the immediate pre- 
sence of Almighty God, whom it loves, whom it adores, 
and impatiently desires to resemble in all the holy at- 
tributes of his nature. Beholding, in the resplendent 
light of heaven, his infinite purity, it is changed into the 
same image. Jehovah, the infinite / am, penetrates 
all its essence; it is commingled with the supreme 
mind; it is dissolved in his infinite love. Behold then 
the happiness of the pious disciple of Christ consum- 
mated, his joy forever perfected. And, although to the 
eye of sense, and the erring affections of nature, dis- 
tress and misery surround the bed of death; and where- 
as only joys and congratulations greet our entrance 
into the world, yet precious in the sight of the Lord, 
is the death of his saints; it is still true, when religion 
sheds its light on the darkness of the grave, as well as 
on the false joys of the world, that, more blessed to the 
real saint, is that moment which introduces him to his 
heavenly rest, than that which first opens his eyes on 
this scene of error and imperfection. 

\dt) Funeral Sermon, 

Often, christians! should your interest and your com- 
fort lead you devoutly to contemplate your pious hopes 
of a blessed and immortal life with your glorious Re- 
deemer, that the} may sustain your pious fortitude in 
all the afflictions of life, that they may purify and ele- 
vate your heavenly affections and raise your nature 
above itself When we review all the topics which 
justify the reflection of the sacred preacher, it would 
seem surprising, if we were not aware of the imper- 
fection of our christian graces, and with how little vigor 
a celestial faith flourishes in this barren soil, that a 
disciple of Christ, should ever be reluctant to meet 
that glorious change which is to transfer him from 
earth to heaven; from the society of imperfect men, to 
the glorious assembly of perfect spirits in heaven; from 
this region of darkness to the immediate vision of God. 
One of the ancient poets with much good sense has 
said, "the Gods conceal from mortals how happy it is 
to die that they may be willing to live." The Creator 
indeed, in order to attach us to live for the sake of its 
necessary duties, has implanted in the human breast 
a natural dread of dissolution which can be overcome 
only by the subhme discoveries of faith, and the strong 
aff(?ctions of religion. And it is to the reproach of 
our religion if we have not so lived as ardently to as- 
pire to rest where our Redeemer is. Yes, christians! 
if your faith is able to open to your view the land of 
promise, the reward and termination of your labors, 
as Canaan appeared to Moses from the mountain of 
Pisgah, what can be formidable in dying — in ending a 
painful pilgrimage — in escaping from a desert of fa- 

Funeral Sermon. 157 

mine, and perpetual conflicts — in passing the flood of 
Jordan, under the conduct of the captain of your sal- 
vation? Why should we be distressed at seeing our 
pious friends pass before us the holy stream to their 
eternal rest? or why should we be afraid to follow them? 
Let the apostle be our example, who so earnestly desi- 
red to depart and he with Christ. Let so many belie- 
vers be our examples who have looked on death not 
with tranquillity only, but with triumph. If it be true 
then, that religion alone can inspire you with a ration- 
al superiority to the fears of death, and even render 
that formidable event a supreme blessings, cultivate 
within your hearts its humble graces, and its celestial 
hopes. Confirm more and more your pious confidence 
in the name, the promise, and the righteousness of the 
Redeemer, that, in that moment so formidable to con- 
scious guilt, so trying to frail humanity, you may be 
able to join with the apostle, and with all true belie- 
vers in this holy and triumphant song; death! where 
is thy sting! grave! where is thy victory! The sting 
of death is sin, but thanks be to God who giveth us the 
victory through Christ Jesus our Lord! Amen! 




Rejoice in that daj^, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. 
Luke VI. 25, 

This is the consolation which our most merciful 
Redeemer offers to his humble disciples, who, for the 
trial and purification of their graces, are often exposed 
to severe afflictions in the present world. Instead of 
sinking under the actual calamities pf life, or repining 
at the prosperity of others who advance before them in 
the road of wealth and honours; the precious hopes of 
religion, when they take full possession of the heart, 
are sufficient to check every envious disposition, and 
subdue every impatient anxiety, and may even furnish 
them with a lawful subject of exultation and triumph, 
in circumstances otherwise fitted to produce the deep- 
est depression. The necessary evils of the present 
state, how severely soever they may press upon the be- 
liever, can be only of short duration, and shall be ex- 
changed, according to the promise of the Saviour, for a 
state of felicity in the heavens, where the ransomed of 
the Lord shall come to Mount Zion, with songs, and 
everlasting joy ; and sorrow and sighing shall flee aivay. 
Nay, the afflictions which oppress him in this mle of 
tears, often prepare for him a richer inheritance, and 
a more glorious crown in the kingdom of his heavenly 

Recompense, ^t. 158 

Our blessed Lord, in proposing tliese elevated hopes 
to his suffering followers, enters into a brief comparison 
of the rewards of afflicted piety, with the ultimate con- 
sequences of the most successful course of vice; Wo 
to you rich! for you have received your consolation! Wo 
to you who are full! for you shall hunger. Wo to you 
who laugh now! for you shall mourn and weep. Not 
that poverty on the one hand, or wealth on the other, 
that adversity, or prosperity, is necessarily connected 
with the virtues, or with the vices of individuals; but 
while the gospel offers its consolations to those who 
may be oppressed with the weight of their afflictions, 
it warns the great and those who live in pleasure, that, 
if all their hopes are bounded by the enjoyments of the 
present world, most miserable, ultimately will be found 
their mistaken choice. 

Let us enter carefully into this interesting compari- 
son, and examine, with devout attention, the principles 
on which these general propositions are founded. The 
rewards of the world are mutable, and uncertain; — in 
their best estate, they are of small value, and, in a lit- 
tle time, they vanish forever from the grasp of the pos- 
sessor. — Opposed to these imperfections of earthly 
things, the final reward of piety is sure, — Behold! saith 
the Saviour, indicating its certainty; as if placed by faith 
within the immediate view of the soul — He adds, it is 
great, pointing in this expression, to its excellence and 
perfection; and it is consummated, in the last place, 
by being laid up in heaven, the blessed residence of 
pious and redeemed souls, a name indicative of a happy 
and everlasting existence to express its eternity «ind 

160 Recompense of the 

glory. — The certainty, therefore, the glory and eternity 
of the rewards of the righteous in a future state, will 
form the subject of our pious meditations on the pre- 
sent occasion. 

Useful it is frequently to raise our thoughts to the 
contemplation of heavenly things; that our affections by 
being elevated above this world, which is not our abid- 
ing place, may be rendered more spiritual and pure; 
that thence we may draw more sublime and animating 
motives to a holy diligence in all our religious duties; 
and that, from the most blessed hopes, we may derive 
a sovereign consolation under the manifold afflictions 
of this mortal state. 

1. Accompany me then^ my christian friends, in my 
meditations; first on the certainty of this recompense, 
which places the believer so far above the painful vi- 
cissitudes, which almost ever attend the most prosper- 
ous career of earthly fortune.— For those ivho rejoice 
now, shall iveep and mourn. 

After men have fatigued themselves in the pursuits 
of gain, or of ambition, and, perhaps, exhausted the 
powers of nature in incessant labours, for the accom- 
plishment of their ends, how often, I speak not here of 
the young who are just now in the morning of their 
hopes, but of those who have made a full trial of the 
world, how often have their most flattering prospects 
been disappointed! What mortifications, chagrins, re- 
verses have continually met them! When they have 
been most successful in their pursuits, do they ever at- 
tain that settled calm and peace of mind, without which 
there can exist no true felicity? How many, on the 

Saints in Heaven. 161 

contraiy, do we behold, who, after all their solicitudes 
expended on a fortune which for ever escapes thenij 
are left to eat the bread of carefulness, and to drink 
the waters of the deepest sorrow! The world has over- 
whelmed them with misfortunes; men have cast out 
their names as evil; friends have deceived their confi- 
dence; or if a few have remained faithful, pressed to- 
gether by a similitude of suffering, all the comfort they 
can yield each other in affliction, is only an unavailing 
sympathy in iheir common griefs. — Wo, then to those, 
who look for their reward from the world, and who are 
only tossed, without the tranquil and refreshing hopes 
of rehgion, upon the ocean of its uncertainties! But our 
blessed Saviour pronounces the benediction in the text 
upon the poor and afflicted who trust in him, that it 
may be their consolation, under all their present sor- 
rows, — your reward is great in heaven. On what, then, 
does the security of this gracious promise rest? On the 
unshaken foundation of the truth and faithfulness of Al- 
mighty God. You behold in the immutable attributes 
of the Father of mercies, an unfailing ground of oc mf 
fort to the sincere believer, under the severest calami- 
ties which can oppress his lot. Who was ever press- 
ed under a heavier load of sufferings than the great 
apostle of the gentiles.^ But when he looked forward 
to the blessed recompense of the saints and contem- 
plated the security of his inheritance in the promise, 
and its completeness in the glory of God, he shrunk 
not from poverty or repioach, from imprisonment, or 
chains, or death. All his afflictions seemed to be swal- 
lowed up in the sure and certain hope of the glory to 

VOL. I. Y 

3 GB Recompense of tlie 

be revealed. For I know, in whom I had trusted, and 
am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have 
committed to him against that day. Henceforth, is laid 
up for me a crown of righteousness ivhich tJie Lord, the 
righteous judge will give me iii that day, and not to me 
only, but also to all them that love his appearing. To 
this blessed assurance, this holy triumph, every belie- 
ver, however obscure his rank in society, or afflicted 
his lot in life, is entitled by the favour and promise of 
Almighty God. For ivith god there is no respect of per- 

The rewards of a proud, envious, and unjust world 
are always uncertain. But if it were less unjust, it 
may not be acquainted with your merits. Your obscu- 
rity may have concealed them from its view. You may 
have wanted opportunities to produce them into light. 
Men may have been too proud, or too selfish to turn 
their regards upon your fortunes. But let the humble 
christian be assured that no obscurity can conceal him 
from the merciful eye of his heavenly Father. His 
eye penetrates the deepest shades of poverty and afflic- 
tion. He beholds the virtues and graces of those who 
are unknown to the world; and will display them, at 
last, before the universe in the full light of heaven. 
How many saints are now in those abodes of blessed- 
ness, whose modest worth, whose heavenly graces were, 
while on earth, hardly known to their nearest friends! 
Nay, God who searches the heart, beholds and records 
against the day of recompense, those holy intentions, 
those pure desires, those pious breathings which raised 
from the bottom of the soul^ can be discerned only by 

Saints in Heaven. 163 

his omniscient eye. He discerns the goed that you 
would do, if the means were not wanting to give it ef- 
fect. So that there is not a pious purpose, a benevo 
lent wish, a devout aspiration formed in the heart 
which is not sure of its reward. The meanest servi- 
ces of those who can do no more, raised from a spirit 
of unfeigned charity, — the two mites of the widow cast 
into the pubhc treasury, — a cup of cold water given to 
a disciple in the name of Christ, shall receive from his 
mercy, at last, a most gracious reward. 

But the security, to the sincere christian, of this 
blessed promise rests not only on the inviolable 
truth and benignity of the eternal, but on the founda- 
tion of the perfect obedience, and all sufficient merit 
of" the glorious Redeemer, the Lord our righteousness. 
The grace of God, by giving a Saviour to the world, 
and accepting his atonement for the sins of mankind, 
has condescended to convert the promise into a retri- 
bution of justice. It is now, not only an attribute of 
his mercy, to receive the penitent to its protection and 
grace, it is just also, in God to justify the sinner who 
helievdh in Christ, and to raise him, at last, from the 
grave, to the possession of eternal life. Behold, Oh! 
humble believer! the sure foundation of your hope; — 
the truth of Jehovah, and the all availing sacrifice of 
our redemption! In the blood of the son of God, you 
behold the seal of that (>tornal covenant which is the 
immutable security of your confidence and faith. All 
the mercy, the justice, the truth, and the righteousness 
of heaven are the pledges of this inheiitance to every 
liieliever who hath united himself to the merits of Je- 

164 Recompense of the 

sus Christ Rejoice then, christian! behold your 
sure reward! 

Thus briefly have I opened to your view its certain- 
ty, in opposition to the instabiUt}, and changes of the 
world. Let us, in the next place, contemplate its ex- 
cellence and glory, — great is your reward. — The men, 
without doubt, who serve this world only, serve a hard, 
and often an ungrateful master. It repays them with 
little that is worthy the anxieties, and the labors wasted 
upon it; and still less that is able to satisfy the desires 
of the reasonable soul. Many sorrows attend its pur- 
suit; aud when attained, as far as mortals can possess 
it, still it leaves in the heart a most painful void. And 
though it should lavish on your ambition, or your ava- 
rice, its highest glories, or its most ample treasures, 
to something still the soul aspires, infinitely beyond 
these mutable and perishable possessions. But the 
portion which an humble believer enjoys in God his 
heavenly Father, so far overbalances all the afflictions 
of this present time, that, in the comparison, they are 
lost and forgotten, or felt only to urge him into a clo- 
ser union with his supreme good. And when he rai- 
ses his subli-me views to his future inheritance, it is 
seen to be commensurate to the ever growing aspira- 
tions of the soul in the eternal progress of her being. 
The hope of the reward of the saints in heaven, al- 
leviates the painful afflictions which are the necessary 
portion of the best and most upright man in this pro- 
bationary pilgrimage. For, in the language of the 
apostle, we count that the sufferings of this present 
time are not worthy to be compared with tJie ghi^ that 

Saints in Heaven. 165 

aliall be revealed in us. And, to an humble and sin- 
cere faith in the promises of the gospel, our sufferings 
help to soften their own pains, by weaning the heart 
from the vain caresses of the world, and urging it in- 
to a nearer and more intimate union with God. Thus 
are our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, 
made to ivoi^k out for us a far more exceeding and eter- 
nal weight ofgl&ry. Let the pious sufferer, then, be 
consoled ; for, though now he maij go forth sowing his 
seed in tears, he shall return bearing his sheaves, and 
gathering, in the end, the rich and blessed fruits of 
an immortal harvest. 

If then, the hope, and the distant view of your hea- 
venly inheritance is sufficient to sooth and relieve the 
heaviest calamities of life, much more must its pos- 
session be commensurate to the utmost desires of your 
heavenly being. Those vast desires, which the world 
cannot satisfy, are brought to perfect rest in God; their 
ardent thirst is quenched, if I may speak so, in those 
rivei^s of pleasure which Jloiv at God's right hand. 

The immortal powers of the glorified soul can never 
be wearied, or cloyed with the pure delights of which 
God is the source, and the sum. Shall I speak of the 
glories of that heavenly country, the paradise of God.'' 
shall I speak of the general assembly of perfect spirits 
enshrined in bodies which shine as stars in the king- 
dom of their father; of the blessed society of redeem- 
ed and holy souls united to one another in an eternal 
love.-^ All are sources of a joy, at present, inconcei- 
vable by mortals; but it is God himself, the fountain 
of life, whose nature is love, and whose love is the life 

1 (i Recompense of the 

of the universe, who constitutes the supreme feli- 
city of the heavenly state. The happiness of a pure 
spirit is to mingle with the infinite and eternal mind, 
who fills and occupies all its powers. God is the sum, 
and plenitude of its joy. — God! most worthy to be 
loved! when the soul is full of thee, what can it desire 
besides. The royal Psalmist of Israel, in the ecstasy 
of devout meditation, anticipating the future glory of 
the saints, exclaims, I shall be satisfied when J awake 
with thy likeness/ Feeble is our translation often to 
express the strength and beauty of the original. In 
a short paraphrase let me endeavour to transfuse, if 
possible, the force of this expression into our language. 
In the resurrection, when I awake from the sleep of 
death, I shall be satiated with beholding thy glorious 
image. Every power of happiness will be completely 
occupied; every vessel will be full and running over. 
This divine poet then proceeds, they shall be abun^ 
dantly " satisfied'' with tJie abundance of thy house. 
Very forcible in the Vulgate is the translation of this 
phrase, they shall be inebriated with enjoyment, and 
the delights of thy presence, thou wilt make them drink 
of the river of thy pleasures; for with thee is the foun- 
tain of life; and in thy light, shall they see light. They 
shall drink immortal life and happiness from those 
pure and refreshing streams which spring eternally 
beneath thy throne, whose is the fountain of life. And 
in thy light, shall they see light. Remark this stong 
and singular expression, which implies that the light 
of heaven, that ecstatic light which fills all the celestial 
regions with unutterable joy, is only the emanation of 

Saints in Heaven. 167 

the glory of God. But of these heavenly objects it has 
not yet entered into the heart of man to conceive. Yet, 
in this distant and obscure region, examples are not 
wanting, which exhibit some feeble gleams of that fe- 
licity which the saints shall enjoy in God, when freed 
from the cumbrous veil of mortal flesh, they shall be- 
hold his glory in open vision. How many blessed mar- 
tyrs, when only a ray of that glory has entered their 
souls, have been able, with the apostle, to rejoice in 
chains, and in death? How many have offered them- 
selves as pure sacrifices to their Redeemer in the midst 
of flames? The transports of their minds have not 
only rendered them insensible to suffering, in situations 
which affect us with horror to conceive, but elevated 
them above their sufferings in holy ecstasies. — But not 
to resort to these high and rare examples, christians, 
have you not the evidence within yourselves? Not- 
withstanding the manifold imperfections of which you 
complain, and the lukewarmness of this age of the 
church, have you not, at some happy moments, been 
satiated with the abundance of his house? In the de- 
lights of a pure and holy devotion, in the temples of 
the Most High, or at the table which bears the pre- 
cious memorials of your Saviour, have you not, while 
prostrate in spirit before the throne of grace, almost 
forgotten, for a season, both the follies and the inte- 
rests of the world; its hopes, its fears, and its plea- 
sures? Filled with the sweetness of your divine con- 
solations, have you not been ready, with the apostle, 
to count all things but lossfiyr tlie excellency oftJie know- 
ledge of Christ Jesus your Lord? or to exclaim in the 

1 68 Recompense oftlw 

holy raptures of the king of Israel, whom have I in hea- 
ven but thee! and there is none npon the earth that I 
desif^e besides thee!- — Christian! if such are the refresh- 
ments with which you meet in the way, what will be 
the full measure of your joy when you shall have ar- 
rived at the period of your trials, and attained the con- 
summation of your reward? If your exile affords such 
comforts, what will be your joy; a joy past all under- 
standing, when, having surmounted the dangers and 
troubles of the desert, you shall have gained, at last, 
that promised land which you have so long and so anx- 
iously sought? 

Vain, and abused world! which dost occupy the soul, 
to the exclusion of God! what are thy rewards, the gold 
of thy misers, the pleasures of thy sensualists, the tri- 
umphs of thy conquerors, compared with the recom- 
pense of the most humble and afflicted disciples of Je- 
sus, even in this earthly pilgrimage; above all, when 
they shall have arrived in their everlasting habitations? 

I!I. This is the third and last character of the re- 
ward of the saints which I proposed to illustrate — it 
is immutable and everlasting. Rejoice, for ^reat is 
your reivard in heaven; in heaven, that eternal condi- 
tion of happy existence in which the saints who have 
been redeemed from the earth shall enjoy a sublime 
and glorious felicity commensurate with its endless du- 

Though now you groan under the burden of the cor- 
ruptions, which you still bear about with you, you en- 
joy the promise of the eternal spirit of truth, that^ when 
you have put off this body of death, you shall be cloth- 

Saints in Heaven. 169 

ed upon with your house which is from heaven, and be 
forever ivith the Lord. When you have passed, in a 
diligent course of faith and obedience, the storms and 
tempests of Hfe, you shall reach a peaceful shore where 
the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at 
rest. Remember what our Saviour hath said, those 
who laugh now shall mourn and weep; intimating, by 
this image, how unstable are the fortunes of this world. 
And how often do we behold the vain children of pros- 
perity dashed from the proud eminence on which they 
thought they stood like Gods? But if they escape the 
ordinary fluctuations of the world, how soon shall death 
bury all their prospects, and annihilate all their pos- 
sessions in the grave -^ How soon shall that glorious 
edifice of their fortune, which they are rearing wiih so 
much pains, that pampered tabernacle of their bodies, 
which they nourish with so much care, crumble in pie- 
ces, and fall in ruins? Where then, shall be found 
the immortal soul if it has no portion in God? But in 
union to thee, O God! eternal in thy being! fountain of 
life! sum of all excellence and perfection! consists the 
consummation of our happiness; and the general as- 
sembly of the redeemed, united in one body to Christ 
their glorified head, shall, along with him, derive tlieir 
supreme felicity from the everlasting emanations of thy 
love! — Eternity is the sublime idea which crowns the 
hopes of the believer. Interminable existence, cease- 
less progression in glory and perfection, which eye hath 
not seen, iwr ear heard, neither hath it entered hUo the 
heart of man to conceive. 

VOL. I. z 

1 70 Recompense of the 

But when we strive to expand the soul to these vast 
ConceptionSj we are absorbed and lost in a boundless 
sea of thought! Count my soul, if possible, the sands 
upon the shore of the sea; reckon the drops in the 
ocean — compute the rays of the sun, or the atoms that 
compose the universe, in order to measure the ages of 
happy existence; these ages shall roll away; but the 
pious soul shall have approached no nearer to a ter- 
mination of her felicity than at the first moment when 
they began to revolve. — Oh! glorious, mysterious being! 
You shall live with God, and in God, and partake of 
his immortality! If we had not the infallible word of 
Revelation on which to rest our hope; if religion had 
only kindly deceived us for our pleasure, I would say 
w^ith the great Roman philosopher, may I never be wa- 
ked from so sweet a delusion! But our blessed Saviour 
has not merely offered these transcendent prospects to 
our faith, but in a manner verified them to our senses, 
by his own resurrection, and his triumphant ascen- 
sion to his original glory in the heavens; where, in the 
progress of your interminable existence, you shall see 
suns and systems roll away beneath your feet, repla- 
ced by new suns, and new systems, and the universe 
perishing and renovated myriads of times, while seat- 
ed on Mount Zion, and near the throne of God, you 
shall contemplate the wonderful revolutions of eter- 

When once we have tasted the joys of existence, 
with what dread we contemplate the possibility of lo- 
sing its pleasures. With what earnestness we desire 
to prolong its duration! But simple existence is not 

Saints in Heaven. 171 

all that the promise of the new covenant holds out to 
the hope of the believer. It is an eternal progression 
in knowledge, it is the everlasting exercise, and en- 
joyment of that heavenly love which is the life of the 

To the curious thirst of knowledge, the boundless 
fields of the universe will be laid open to the excursive 
flights of pious souls, who, with the celerity of light- 
ning, or on the wings of the wind, will pervade the im- 
mensity of the works of God; according to the beauti- 
ful image of the Psalmist; who maketh his angels ivtnds, 
and his ministers aflame of fire* at the same time, they 
will, with a holy rapture, for which the language of 
mortals furnishes no expressions, the ideas of mortals 
no images, mingle their being with that Infinite Mind 
whose nature and essence is love. They will breathe 
in heaven the air of love; and be united in the most 
delightful emanations, and reciprocations of an eternal 
love, with an innumerable company of angels, and 
with the general assembly of the first born wJiose names 
are written in heaven. 

Wherefore my beloved brethren, disciples of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, seeing you look for such things what man- 
ner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and 
godliness? Show that you are seeking a better coun- 
try, even an heavenly. And be diligent that, at his com- 
ing, you may be found of him in peace, loithout spot 
and blameless. For only the pure in heart shall be ad- 
mitted to see God. Amen! 

* I am aware that this passage will well bear another translation: " who 
maketh winds his messengers, and flames of fire his servants." 


Speak not evil one of another brethren. — James iv. 2. 

The great duties of morality and religion, being 
prescribed by the clear dictates of reason, and enforced 
by the powerful sanctions of conscience, are not often 
so openly and palpably transgressed, as those lighter 
obligations of the law of charity, which should regu- 
late the ordinary intercourse of mankind in society. 
In these minor duties, the heart is more frequently off 
its guard; their importance to the general interests of 
humanity, is seldom duly appreciated: and the little 
passions, which so often intrude into our social circles, 
to disturb the harmony of life, are apt insensibly to 
seduce men, beyond those delicate boundaries of cha- 
rity, which require a scrupulous self-command always 
nicely to obs rve them, and the active and steady in- 
fluence of virtuous principle, always to respect them. 

To none of the duties of morality are these reflec- 
tions more applicable, than to that prudent government 
of the tongue prescribed in the text. And the trans- 
gressions of this unruly member, are wont to be es- 
teemed of so light a nature, that the habitual inatten- 
tion of mankind to preserve a proper control over it, 
Contiibutes greatly to multiply its unguarded errors. 

On Slander. 173 

The mind is so little braced to a just and virtuous cau- 
tion on this subject, that the tongue, freed from tlie salu- 
j tary restraints, whicJi prudence, as well as religion should 
[impose upon it, is prone, through mere want of rcflec. 
i tion, to infringe those amiable ties which are necessa- 
i ry to bind society together. But there are, besides, so 
. many causes of indifference to each other's feeliiigs 
t in the intercourse of life; so many points of rivaiship 
and competition; so many sources of envj, j< alousy, 
prejudice, that, perhaps, men more frequently inlringe 
I them through some secret impulse of alienation and 
resentment hardly perceived by themselves. — When 
I we reflect on the numerous occasions which prompt to 
! the violation of this anuable law of benevolence, per- 
petually recurring in the commerce of mankind; and 
i when we further reflect on the constant vigilance, and 
j self command required to impose a proper restraint on 
I the indiscretions of conversation, we have the highest 
reason to exclaim with the apostle; — if any man offend 
j not in word, the san. e is a perfect man, and able also 
lo bridle the whole body. Among the multiplied offen- 
ces of the tongue that, perhaps, is the most common 
which consists in speaking evil one of another. 

It is a subject of just lamentation that many of the 
disciples of the mild and charitable religion of our bless- 
I ed Saviour, while they profess to fix their view almost 
; exclusively upon ihe transcendent duties and doctiines 
I of the gospel, permit themselves to overlook the hunsble, 
I but not less real duties, of social morality. They are 
I at little pains to regulate their lempiT and their pas- 
'■ sions, or to subject to a prudent control the license of 

174 On Slander. 

the tongue. None are more rigid upon certain points 
of doctrine; none more negligent in cultivating those 
mild and amiable graces by which we approach near- 
est to the meekness, humility, and charity of Jesus 
Christ. — Ah! mistaken followers of your Redeemer! by 
no vice is the genuine spirit of the gospel more 
tarnished, or the temper of its benevolent morality 
more reproachfully impaired than by evil speaking and 
slander. Conversation has grown from this cause, to 
be an almost perpetual offence against the genius of our 
holy religion. And christians, who should regard one an- 
other as brethren, or, to employ, with the apostle, the 
image of a closer union, as members of one body in 
Christ, are frequently rent, by this vice, into innumera- 
ble little factions, to the great annoyance of our social 

On the principle of speaking no evil, however, thus 
generally expressed, it is requisite to make some expla- 

It is not every censure passed on the faults, or the 
vices of our fellow men which may justly be brought 
under the reprehension of the apostle. There are oc- 
casions in which it becomes a duty to speak with just 
severity of their conduct; as in the case of parents or 
of guardians, who are charged with the moral instruc- 
tion of their children, or their pupils, and who may use- 
fully enforce their precepts by proposing examples of 
vice to their censures; — the officer of justice may 
prosecute, or denounce offenders against the laws of 
his country; a friend may remonstrate with a friend, 
and hold up, with the most benevolent designs, the dan- 

On Slander. 175 

i ers of imprudent, or vicious connexions which una- 
wares, his friend may be forming. But the sin which 
; the apostle condemns, consists not only in falsely and 
I malignantly forming, and disseminating histories of 
scandal, to the injury of our neighbour's reputation, but 
in unnecessarily, thoughtlessly, and without that due 
j consideration of his honor and peace, which charity re- 
: quires, giving currency to the tales and whispers of 
scandal, which are so often cruelly; so much oftener, 
inconsiderately; but always uncharitably, circulated 
through society. 

Slander may be considered under three aspects — 
i As it is malignant and propagated with the previous 
knowledge, or belief of its falsehood; as it is supposed 
to be justified by the truth of its facts; and, finally, 
as it consists of those lighter faults and stains of 
reputation which unhappily form the common enter- 
tainment of our social parties. — 1. Malignant slan- 
der has indeed i'ew or no open advocates. It is 
reprobated by the world, as the indication, and the 
foul ebulhtion of a heart most detestable in its prin- 
ciples and diabolical in its aims. And hardly is any 
epithet in the vocabulary of reproach, more oppro- 
brious than that of vile slanderer. Yet, shameful as it 
is, and exposed to just abhorrence, can we say that it 
is, happily, among us, a rare crime? Seldom, indeed, 
has it appeared with that open and unblushing effron- 
tery which, a few years ago, it assumed in the public 
vehicles of intelligence in our own country. Seldom 
has it possessed such an open field, or been inflamed 
with such poisonous virulence, as then it displayed by 

176 On Slander, 

the competitions and passions ot" our political parties. 
And have we not accordingly seen this vile prostration 
both of truth and charity deform society with a most 
pernicious intiuence? The public ear was shamefully 
polluted, the sacredness of character profaned, and no 
victim spared, if only envy, ambition, or wounded vani- 
ty required the sacrifice. Restrained neither by decen- 
cy nor by truth, its principal aini was to beat down an 
enemy, or to put aside a rival; to inflict a wound upon 
his feelings that should gratify an atrocious vengeance; 
and rob him, if possible, of the pubhc esteem. And, 
provided the end were accomplished, it sanctioned the 
iniquity of the means. In this career, if the calumnia- 
tor does not possess sufficient hardihood to invent 
his dishonorable tales, he is prone to seize with avidi- 
ty on those which Fame, with her malignant breath, and 
thousand tongues, has prepared for him; which, like 
some magical operator, is continually raising up new 
scenes in soci:^ty. These he colours, distorts, or mag- 
nifies at pleasure, through the optic glasses of envy and 

Another form of this vice, if not so atrocious, yet 
certainly not less unworthy, ungenerous, and base, con- 
sists in those dark, designmg calumnies which shun the 
fair and open light, and are propagated chiefly by hint 
and insinuation. Your enemy studies to preserve him- 
self in concealment; and hopes to wound in security, 
from behind his cowardly covert. With affected scru- 
pulosity he avoids the odious imputation of direct slan- 
der; but every thing is suggested to our suspicions, 
which have been previously and artfully excited. His 

On Slander. 177 

narratives are so framed that every doubtful incident 
shall be interpreted in its worst meaning, every sup- 
pressed circumstance shall be more than supplied by 
the apprehensions of his hearers, and awakened imagi- 
nation shall complete a history which he affects to con- 
ceal. Oh! most vile assassination! 

II. But in the next place, we often perceive this viola- 
tion of christian charity which no one will defend under 
its proper title, indulged and justified under the pretext 
of the truth of the calumnious imputations. — Truth, it is 
said, is no scandal. — This maxim of the passions is nei- 
ther just in itself, nor consistent with the mild spirit of 
Christianity. The illiberal temper by which it is dicta- 
ted, betrays itself by the vengeful tone with which the 
spurious maxim is pronounced. Alas! may not a ma- 
lignant truth recall to memory, or cruelly, divulge the 
lamented errors of a life, in other respects, most wor- 
thy and amiable; and the more interesting, perhaps, for 
that softening of meekness and humility which repen- 
tance for those very errors has shed over it. Ah! 
christians! who are we that we should rejudge the judg- 
ments of God, and still subject to the protracted tortures 
of infamy, the lamented evils which infinite mercy 
hath pardoned, and covered with the Redeemer's 

But, without entering into a scrutiny which belongs 
only to God; scandal, which piesents to the public view, 
nothing but the blemishes of character, never exhibits 
it with fairness and truth. The observation is no 
less true, than universal, that there is no man without 
his faults: but it is, perhaps, not less true, that there is 

VOL. I. A a 

178 On Slander. 

hardly any mau who does not possess many virtues 
which entitle him to our benevolent and charitable con- 
sideration. But the unfriendly pencil of slander por- 
traying him only on his worst side, presents to us a 
false image instead of that mixed character, so like our 
own, only composed, perhaps, of a different mixture of 
virtues and vices, which should claim our sympathy, or 
obtain our indulgence. On a ground of truth, may be 
laid a representation which, on the whole is false, and 
calcu]ated to deceive. The colouring is deepened, 
and all the lineaments, are distorted, if our passions 
do not guide the hand, in finishing the portrait, fancy 
adds a colouring which it thinks necessary to give it a 
higher interest; but if personal injuries have inflamed 
the temper, resentment colours it to justify its ven- 

How often, before experience has corrected the 
precipitancy of our judgments, may we have received^ 
from such partial representations, the most unjust pre- 
possessions against the most estimable of mankind? 
Some accidental deviation from tlie path of virtue, 
drawn forth by circumstances of peculiar temptation; 
some misconception; some error of judgment; some 
sudden imprudence of passion; some foible against 
which the weakness of human nature is not, at all times, 
sufficiently on its guard, may have furnished to slan- 
der that single trait of truth on which the calumny is 

But if you accurately examine the fact, will it not 
frequently be discerned to be no other than one of 
those common rumours, of which no one can ascertain 

On Slander. 179 

the origin? And small acquaintance, surely, does it 
require with human society to understand how uncer- 
tain, and often, how baseless are those foolish tales 
which are daily circulated. Prejudice or mistake has 
given them birth; malignity, carelessness, or the mere 
love of talking has propagated them; and the malicious 
curiosity of mankind has entertained them without ex- 
amination. At each step in their progress, they are 
magnified by some new exaggeration, till, at length, the 
original fact is lost in an accumulation of false addi- 
tions. Ignorant of the world must he be who has not 
observed in a thousand instances, how common fame 
disguises, and distorts every little incident which she 
touches. He who disseminates a slanderous tale on 
this ground must be either malevolent or- weak; ma- 
levolent, who estimates, so cheaply, the good name and 
tranquillity of mind of his brother; weak and credulous, 
^vho can still trust the integrity of fame after all his 
experience of her idleness and falsehood. 

Permit me to remark further, that so few men are 
capable of making accurate or candid observations on 
the conduct of others, and that those actions from 
which any important inferences with regard to charac- 
ter can be justly drawn, are so rarely seen in a fair 
light, that the plea of actual observation is often an ex- 
tremely equivocal ground of censure. Actions can 
seldom be fairly estimated when seen single, and apart 
from the circumstances with which they are connect- 
ed. Their motives, which are often concealed; the si- 
tuation into which the actor may be accidently thrown, 
various principles of education; ideas and habits form- 

180 On Slander. 

ed in different circles of society, create a wide diversity 
in the judgment which men are prone to make of the 
same action. The most innocent conduct, measured by 
our prejudices may be tainted by unmerited reproach. 
What security have we for candor, or for truth amidst 
the collisions of opposing interests, amidst the conflicts 
of contending parties in government, or unfortunately, 
even in religion, amidst the pride of ignorance, the 
rivalships of different inividuals, or classes in society, 
which almost always exhibit in an oblique light the ac- 
tions and the language of those who differ from us in 
party, or in social connections? Do not the most serious 
umbrages often arise from mere inadvertances? And 
how often do all these causes concur to aggravate 
the errors of our unsuspecting neighbours; above all, to 
distort, almost unperceived by ourselves, the features 
which we draw of an obnoxious character? 

On this subject, fellow christians! let me appeal to 
your own experience. What injustice have not you 
suffered from prejudice, from imperfect observation, 
from the want of fair and candid examination? From 
actions misconceived, from motives misinterpreted i' In 
a word, from the folly of thoughtless, or the envy of 
malignant tongues? Ah! disciples of our blessed Re- 
deemer! with what scrupulosity and caution should 
you ever suffer yourselves to entertain injurious im- 
pressions against the reputation of your brethren? 
With how much more charitable caution should you 
ever be induced to communicate those impressions to 
others? The pretence of truth can seldom, from the 
very constitution of human nature, and human society. 

On Slander. 181 

be received as a legitimate source of the histories of 
scandal and truth; if we were more certain of attain- 
ing it on those suspicious subjects, can never, unless 
where imperious duty imposes the obHgation of reveal- 
ing it, sweeten the mahgnity of the fountain from 
which it flows. — Charity speaketh no evil; Charity 
thinketh no evil. 

III. I proceed to consider this vice in its inferior 
grades, as it consists in exhibiting the hghter faults of 
character tor the entertainment of our friends, or our 
social parties. They are made the subject of uncha- 
ritable comment from various motives: Sometimes as 
a mere supplement to the barrenness of conversation; 
sometimes only to give vent to the impulses of a loqua- 
cious humour: at other times, to indulge a vein of faceti- 
ousness and pleasantry; to amuse a frivolous curiosity; 
to gratify some private pique, or avenge some imaginary 
injury; or finally, to please those whom the narrator 
may conceive he has an interest in pleasing, by sacrifi- 
cing a rival to his vanity, or resentment. 

On each of these motives I solicit your attention to a 
few reflections. And let no hearer deem the subject 
unworthy of the gravity of this place, or the sanctity of 
the devotions of the sanctuary. The first law of Christ, 
and of justice is, to do to others as you would that they 
should do to you. He has well nigh attained the per- 
fection of christian charity, who is able to bridle the 
indiscretions of the tongue. 

The first cause from which men usually have re- 
course in society, to this unworthy anecdote, is mere 
barrenness of thought. Vulgar minds are little capa- 

182 On Slander. 

ble of the elegant displays of wit, or the agreeable and 
instructive discussion of the usual rational and useful 
topics of discourse. The laxness of our morals, and 
the declension of devotional fervor, have rendered sen- 
timents of piety scarcely adujissible into mixed com- 
panies. And, often, there is too little of benevolence, 
or candor in these circles, to take pleasure in exhibit- 
ing, in favourable lights, the amiable and worthy quah- 
ties of men among whom the competitions of self-love, 
or the jealousies of honor, or of interest, have created 
many more points of rivalship, and perhaps, of secret 
alienation, than of friendship and union. In this case, 
the blemishes in the character and reputation of our ac- 
quaintance present the easiest sacrifice to the general 
amusement, or malignity. 

II. Not uncommon is it also to meet with those 
thoughtless spirits who offend against this rule of cha- 
rity merely through a natural, and imprudent loquacity. 
Governed by this mischie\^us impulse, they seldom re- 
gulate their discourse with judgment. And unhappily 
the defect of judgment is rarely the only frailty united 
with this indiscreet temperament. Too often we find 
a pernicious humour of prying into the secret affairs of 
individuals, and of families, even by the most circuitous 
means, and from the most corrupted sources, in order 
to furnish out the unworthy fund of their inexhaustible 
volubility. And although they are commonly persons 
of weak and frivolous minds, yet are they, not unfre- 
quently malignant also; and have the mischievous pow- 
er of rendering more deserving characters unhappy, and 
sowing the seeds of discord through society. Could 

On Slander. 183 

they be charged only with imprudence, yet are the er- 
rors of indiscretion often not less culpable, nor less 
pernicious in their consequences than the designs of 

If your company is in a vein of pleasantry, how often 
does the common cheerfulness cruelly seek its enter- 
tainment in the foibles, or perhaps, grosser delinquen- 
cies of their friends? The general faults of manners 
would be the legitimate subjects of mirth or reprehen- 
sion; but to be agreeable in this way requires a 
greater fund of talents and of observation than ordina- 
rily falls to the share of common and mixed socie- 
ty. Less invention and ingenuity are requisite to seize 
on the blemishes of individuals. It is easy for dullness 
to collect the materials of vulgar mirth, and direct it 
against the greatest talents, or the greatest virtues. 
Aristophanes could laugh at the wisdom of Socrates, — 
Foote could turn into ridicule the piety of Whitefield. 
The sons of profligacy ha^ glorified in their moments 
of sportive wantonness, to charge the virtuous and ami- 
able Addison with intemperance, and the moralist John- 
son with occasional debauch. Slander often appears 
in this form, in which the thoughtless gayety of the com- 
pany makes them forget that they are immolating hu- 
man victims, in a detestable sacrifice to their own vani- 
ty, or endeavouring to erect a shelter for their vices un- 
der the defects of superior virtue. 

Suffer me, on this occasion, strongly to appeal to the 
self-love of every hearer. Imagine yourselves the sub- 
jects of this humiliating pleasantly, and, by the keen- 
ness of your feelings, judge of the injury you may be 

doing to the sensibility of others. In the view of chris- 

184 On Slander. 

tianity, indifference to their happiness is a sin against 
the genuine principles of charity; hghtly to trifle with 
their just and natural claims to respect, is the hardness 
of selfishness; to be sportive with their failings is the 
triumph of malignity. 

In this view let us contemplate the ordinary strain 
of those social parties which are professedly intended 
to preserve the mutual endearments of good neighbour- 
hood, and are boasted to be among the proofs of the 
refinement of our manners. — What are they, in truth, 
but perpetual offences against this benevolent law of 
our Saviour, and against the genuine spirit of huma- 
nity? On this humble theatre do we not daily see cha- 
racter traduced, acquaintances depreciated, friends sa- 
crificed? Under the face of hilarity and good humour, 
does not the same uncharitable, cold, and treacherous 
spirit lurk in every bosom? And he who smiles at 
your story in this company, is ready to smile at you in 
the next. With the highest appearances of union and 
social enjoyment, each is secretly divided against all. 

Here, fikewise, may I be permitted to observe, that 
that portion of our species chiefly formed to soften and 
harmonize human society, whose glory it is to mitigate 
and correct the ruder passions and manners of men, 
and to educe into act all the finer feelings of the soul, 
are too often seen to lay aside the gentle characteristics 
of their nature. It would seem, indeed, as if the pecu- 
liar sensibility of their hearts, by making rivalships more 
ardent, and multiplying the points of competition, often 
added keenness to their satire, bitterness to their invec- 
tive, and poignancy to their ridicule. 

On Slander. 185 

On other occasions, this odious vice appears to have 
little in view besides interesting an idle curiosity. To 
be the first to attract attention by some new tale 
of wonder, or of scandal, has, to a large portion of 
mankind, a surprising charm. To the dishonor of hu- 
man nature, obliquy almost always finds an indulgent 
reception in society; and a little mind is pleased with 
the temporary importance which the malignant curio- 
sity of the world bestows upon it. By persons of this 
low vanity, blemishes in the conduct of all their ac- 
quaintances are eagerly sought after, for the unworthy 
pleasure of displaying them; the private infelicities of 
families are diligently raked out in order to be exposed. 
Such spirits, and such there are in almost every vici- 
nit^^may be regarded as the evil genii of human society. 
They multiply the causes of mutual alienation among 
brethren; they scatter contagion around them; and pro- 
vided they have a tale to amuse, or the power to excite 
a wanton smile, feel little compunction at the cruel 
wounds which they inflict. 

The licentiousness of the tongue, however, iff more 
frequently set in action by some private pique, or for 
the purpose of avenging some real, or imagined injury. 
The infinite colhsions and interfering interests of so- 
ciety insensibly create innumerable causes of mutual 
alienation. Rising reputation, the praise of talents or 
of beauty, is received with envy. The approbation of 
friendship, is misinterpreted by ever vigilant jealousy, 
as involving some indelicate reflection upon those who 
are present, and is seldom admitted without being qua- 

VOL. I. B b 

186 On Slander. 

lifted by exceptions, or counteracted by some low and 
base insinuation. 

But, the most violent and unchristian animosities are 
often discerned in those persons whose ardent sensi- 
bilities, prone to sudden and precipitate attachments, 
are united with a proportionable defect of prudence 
and judgment in forming them. Easily wrapped into 
fervent and visionary friendships, their predilections 
are as easily converted into the bitterest enmities. 
They require the fervor of their own zeal to be return- 
ed by their friends with equal warmth; and such sa- 
crifices are continually demanded in order to corres- 
pond with their romantic notions of this union of hearts, 
that friendships of this fine texture can seldom be du- 
rable. But, when they are dissolved, it is comnronly 
in a tempest of angry passions. For these fine and 
elastic spirits, whose benevolent feelings are so exqui- 
site as hardly to be within the range of human nature, 
are found to be not less susceptible of the paroxysms 
of fury than of kindness. And as there were formerly 
no bounds to their admiration, and their zeal for your 
service, there are now no limits to their indignant re- 
taliation of your imagined treachery. Innumerable 
faults are recorded with every exaggeration which dis- 
appointed love or friendship can create. Sarcasm, 
satire, reproach, and the most envenomed detraction, 
are employed to vilify a friend converted into an ene- 
my; and all companies are tired with the histories of 
their wrongs. 

Finally, the lowest and most unworthy exercise of 
the spirit of detraction, is speaking evil of others, for 

On Slander, 187 

the sake of creeping into the good graces of those who 
have in their hands, the distribution of office, emohi- 
ment, or honor. — To substitute art and cunning for 
trutli and integrity, — to trample on innocence, in order 
to advance any sinister interest of our own, are sure 
indications of a treacherous spirit which you can bind 
by no principle, which you can hold by no obligation. 
And he who is now the idol to whom the sacrifice of 
character is made, shall himself become the sacrifice, 
if the tide of interest changes, or new prospects of for- 
tune are opened to the insidious flatterer. 

Thus, my christian brethren, have I exhibited this 
sin, so pointedly reprobated by the holy apostle, in a 
variety of interesting lights, traced its motives, expo- 
sed its false and unworthy pretences, — and presented 
it to your view, as a crime against both justice and 
charity, equally pernicious, detestable, and vile. — 

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. 

Few sins are more lightly chastised by the con- 
science of men than evil speaking; yet few are follow- 
ed by a more pernicious influence on the harmony of so- 
ciety; few tend more effectually to extinguish that spi- 
rit of mutual benevolence and charity which is the 
true principle of the happiness, as well as of the great 
duties of human nature. The wounds which are gi- 
ven and received by thoughtless and envenomed tongues 
form a large portion of the infelicities of human life. 
In vain will you excuse its lightest indiscretions, as 
being the effects of levity and inconsideration; or as a 
harmless endeavour to raise an innocent amusement 
out of the venial failings of your acquaintance. Could 

188 On Slander. 

you, in the same manner, sport with the character of a 
parent, a brother, a sister, a friend? But the law of 
charity is, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself . 

Consider, I pray you, my fellow christians, the un- 
happy, and often irreparable consequences which re- 
sult from this vice to the peace and comfort of society; 
and frequently, to individual honor and reputation, the 
most valued possession to a delicate and virtuous mind. 
When a slander is once committed to the world, who 
can answer for the extension it will receive, or the in- 
jury of which it may be productive? Every repetition 
adds somewhat to the original tale, till, at length, com- 
mon fame raises into an enormity which deserves the 
execration of mankind, a small and venial failing, 
which merits their indulgence, or compassion. Per- 
haps, without a failing, the malice, or the indiscretion 
of one unfriendly or inconsiderate tongue may have 
alarmed all imaginations, may have infused distrust 
into all hearts, and filled a country with the wrecks of 
a ruined reputation. 

It boots you not that you possess the most mild and 
inoffensive temper, or that your hfe is adorned by the 
most conspicuous virtues. The iniquity of slander 
will take advantage of the unresisting meekness of the 
one, or is provoked by the pre-eminent merits of the 
other. In vain you attempt to retrieve the purity of 
your name, by proving the falsehood of its imputations. 
You may prove them false; still your reputation shall 
be tarnished, and your innocence have received an in- 
delible stain. Do you expect reparation from the re- 
pentance of the slanderer? The injury he has done 

On Slander. 189 

you has made him your enemy. But though he should 
repent, the evil is no longer in his power. The slan- 
der is gone from him. It is in possession of others. 
And each new reporter circulates it from a different 
center, till it fills at length a diffusive sphere to which 
we can hardly assign any limits. Alas! what jealou- 
sies, what distrusts, what mutual alienations, what poig- 
nant miseries often spring from this guilty source! 
Christians! whose spirit is charity; whose symbol is 
concord; and whose motto, Hke that of the primitive be- 
lievers, should be union and love! never may this 
shameful dereliction of the spirit of Christ dishonor 
your holy profession! Learn to govern this unruly 
evil. Regard the character of your brother as a sa- 
cred treasure which ought to be approached with re- 
verence, — as the most dehcate of all possessions, liable 
to be tarnished with the lightest breath. Endeavour 
to change such unprofitable, and unhallowed conversa- 
tions, where you are unhappily exposed to them, into 
a wiser channel. But if the indiscretion of uncharita- 
ble tongues must prevail, learn to be silent. Silence 
is the school of prudence. It preserves the tranquilli- 
ty of the mind; and still keeps the heart open to the 
influence of amiable and good affections. But the 
tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison; it is a 
world of iniquity; it dejileth the whole body, and setteth 
on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell. 

Permit me, christians, in the last place, to remark 
that the most effectual correction of this unhap- 
py propensity of our fallen nature is, along with the 
love of God our heavenly Father, and wath charity to 

190 On Slander. 

mankind who are his offspring, to cuUivate the spirit 
of genuine humihty. If men will humbly and peni- 
tently reflect on their innumerable offences against Al- 
mighty God, it will restrain that self-sufficiency and 
pride, which is prone to comment severely on the er- 
rors of our fellow christians, and extinguish that un- 
charitable spirit which is ever ready to blazon them to 
their injury. Carry forward your view to the supreme 
tribunal of heaven; it will prostrate in the dust, that 
presumptuous arrogance which dares to judge our fel- 
low sinners. Humility, like charity, in the bosom of 
a christian, speaketh no evil, thinketh no evil. 

Almighty God! so influence our minds, at all times, 
that restraining the evils of a thoughtless or uncharita- 
ble tongue, our words may always be seasoned with 
grace/ Amen! 


Redeeming the time — Ephesians, 5. 16. 

My Christian brethren! we have before us in the pre- 
sent Hfe, a duty to perform, and an interest to secure, 
of the highest moment to every heir of immortahty. 
The cares of our future and eternal existence are con- 
tinually pressing for our most earnest attention, while 
the means and opportunities of successfully fulfilling 
these interesting duties, are rapidly escaping from our 
possession, and soon will be forever past. These truths, 
important at all times, were addressed at that period 
with pecuhar force to the Ephesian converts, from the 
affecting circumstances in which the christians were 
placed. Persecution, in its most cruel forms, continu- 
ally menaced them. Encompassed with chains, and 
with funeral piles, they were obliged to be always 
ready to prove the sincerity of their holy profession, 
and to seal their faithful testimony with their blood. 
In the midst of these perils it was, that this illustrious 
apostle exhorted his beloved children in the faith, to be 
ever prepared to meet the dangers, and the deaths 
which environed them; and to use, to the best advan- 
tage, for this purpose, the precious moments still indul- 
ged to them by the goodness of God. 

192 On Redeeming Time. 

He employs on the subject, a strong and unusual 
figure, rede€m,i7ig the time, as if by extraordinary assidu- 
ity in the discharge of every duty, and a wise appro- 
priation of our whole time, we might purchase back 
the seasons which have been misapplied and lost; or 
gain additional leisure from our other necessary occu- 
pations to bestow, on the cares of our salvation, and 
the interests of eternity. 

Although the external circumstances of the church 
are, at present, more prosperous and happy, and the 
fires of persecution are no longer kindled among us; 
yet, as human life is at all times uncertain, surrounded 
with thousands of seen, and tens of thousands of unseen 
dangers, the exhortation of the apostle, to redeem the 
time may, with no less propriety and earnestness be 
addressed to us, than to the persecuted saints of Ephe- 
sus. Perhaps, to us, it speaks with a louder voice than 
to them. Their imminent dangers imposed upon them 
the necessity of continual vigilance, and was calcula- 
ted to awaken the most active zeal in every duty; while 
the lukewarmness and security of our age, lulling our 
watchfulness to sleep, and weakening all the pious en- 
ergies of the soul, require its admonitions to be more 
frequently sounded in our ears, and more earnestly 
pressed upon our thoughts. It requires not less firm and 
established principles of grace, nor less fervour of pious 
zeal, to resist the temptations of prosperity, and the se- 
ductions of pleasure, than to encounter the terrors of 
chains, of imprisonment, and of death. 

Let me request your most serious attention, then, 
my Christian brethren, while I endeavour, 

On Redeeming Time. 193 

I. First, to explain, and afterwards to enforce the 
duty enjoined in this precept, by rhe holy apostle. — 

I. In its primary view, it implies the faithful employ- 
ment of the whole of life in diligently fulfilhng all its 
duties, and pursuing the great end of hving, the sal- 
vation of the soul. By a wise disposition, and prudent 
application of our time, we may greatly multiply the 
useful moments of hfe, and compensate for many past 
neglects and wasted opportunities of promoting our 
own improvement, or essentially serving the interests 
of our fellow christians. And christians! when we 
recollect what a holy culture is requisite to prepare the 
soul for the mansions of perfection and happiness in 
the heavens; and what a solemn account is to be ren- 
dered of all the actions of life; when we remember, fur- 
ther, that all our acts, that all our words, that every 
emotion which rises in our breasts, every affection or 
impulse which we cherish in our hearts, is impressing 
some colour on our eternal destiny; and finally, that 
the fehcity of the saints in the everlasting progress of 
their being, shall bear some proportion to the good 
which they have done in life, with what persevering 
activity and zeal ought every duty to be performed, and 
every moment be put to profit.^ One of ihe principal 
means of fulfilling this duty, is the happy and pious 
talent of making all our ordinary engagements in the 
world, all our necessary employments, and even all our 
lawful amusements, minister to the views of religion. 

Some austere and gloomy men have vainly imagined, 
that, in order to exercise themselves unto godliness, it is 
requisite to retire from the world, and bury themselves 

VOL. I. e c 

194 On Redeeming Time. 

in profound solitude, where they may be continually 
occupied in a melancholy devotion — This is mistaking 
the spirit of the gospel. It is in the world, amidst its 
trials, its conflicts, its labours that our duties he. For 
society we were formed by our own benevolent Creator, 
And the first law of our being, next to that supreme 
devotion which should terminate immediately on God 
our heavenly Father, is to glorify him by diffusing hap- 
piness through the great family of his children. Gen- 
uine and rational piety confers on a good man the di- 
vine art of living continually for heaven, and making 
all his occupations in life subservient to the primary 
end of his existence. He enters upon them in obedience 
to the will of God, he discharges them, as being 
always under the immediate inspection of God — In 
them all he remembers the reference which they bear 
to the final judgment of God — the idea of God mingles 
with all, and sanctifies all. 

11. We are here presented with the most general 
view of this important and comprehensive duty. De- 
scending into its details, it implies, in the first place, a 
more than usually earnest and diligent improvement 
of certain seasons in life, or opportunities occurring 
in the order of divine Providence over the churches, 
which are found to be most favourable to the culti- 
vation of the principles of religion in the heart. 

It has often been remarked that, in the pursuits of 
life, there is, to every man, a tide in his affairs, which, 
if wisely observed and improved, will usually lead to 
a successful issue; but if the golden opportunity be 
lost, seldom, or never can it be effectually regained. 

Oil Redeeming Time. 195 

The analogy exists, not les:, in our spiritual con- 
cerns, than in those of a temporal nature — in seeking 
the salvation of the soul, than in pursuing the fortunes 
of the world. There are seasons, in the arrangenjents 
of divine Providence, which are pecuHarly calculated 
to assist our improvement in divine knowledge, and in 
all the devotional exercises of the heart. They are 
commonly as transient as they are inestimable; and; 
when once they have passed away, they never return, 
or never, with the same favourable circumstances. 

Of these seasons, the most auspicious to religion, is 
youth. It yields the heart more tender and suscepti- 
ble to the persuasions of the gospel. Its softness, not 
yet hardened in a course of vice, is more easily cast 
into the mould of virtue. The arts and interests of the 
world have not yet depraved its ingenuousness, and 
rendered it indocile. This lovely period our heavenly 
Father regards with peculiar complacency; and he lis- 
tens to the first lispings of a child, who begins to seek his 
favour. Or, to change the figure, according to the beau- 
tiful imagery of the parable in the Gospel, he meets, 
with affectionate warmth, the return of the young pro- 
digal, who, sensible of his errors, desires again to find 
a refuge in the compassions and forgiveness of a Fa- 
ther. But after the susceptibility, and openness to in- 
struction of this age is passed away, the Holy Spirit 
speaks to the heart less frequently, and, when he does 
speak, his still, small voice is more easily drowned in 
the clamours, and the cares of the world. 

Youth is the spring of our being, tlie precious seed 
time of eternity, which, under a wise and faithful cultiva- 

196 On Redeeming Time. 

tion, promises the blessed fruits of an immortal harvest. 
In this vernal and genial season, if I may be allowed to 
pursue the image, how^ much more may be done for 
the improvement of the soul, and the growth of its hea- 
venly graces, than during the ardors of summer, when 
the passions burn in all their fury — than during the busy 
cares of autumn, when interest only occupies the heart 
— than during the frozen winter of age, when the affec- 
tions are all locked up, and the powers of nature are 
all in decay? — To descend from this strain of figure, 
youth is the season of improvement; the happy period 
most favourable for introducing the principles of piety 
into the mind, and cherishing the warm affections and 
the sacred glow of religion. The advance of life may 
be more distinguished for stability of character, for 
prudence and wisdom; but the fervors of piety, of cha- 
rity, and divine love, flourish chiefly in youth. Then is 
the period which requires the most earnest application 
ofmindforthe cultivation of every praiseworthy talent 
of our nature, and of every divine grace that habitually 
elevates the wsoui to heaven. If youth has been misspent, 
manhood becomes, in consequence, void of worth, age 
sinks into contempt, and, most commonly, the fatal foun- 
dation is laid of shame and everlasting contempt. 

If we may dare, without rashly interpreting the 
counsels of Heaven, to point out another season pecu- 
liarly fitted and designed by our blessed Saviour to call 
his wandering children to the bosom of his family, and 
to assist their progress in the divine life, it is when he 
is pleased, in the superintendance of his gracious pro- 
vidence over his churches, to move by a more copious 

On Redeeming Time, 197 

influence than usual of his Holy Spirit on the hearts 
of men — when we see a more solicitous attention awa^ 
kened in the public assemblies of christians, to the 
truths of the gospel, and happier effects accompanying 
the administration of its ordinances. Whether these 
seasons have been prepared by causes more or less 
obvious, they are to be regarded as precious means to 
assist the cultivation of the immortal interests of the 
soul, while all the sympathies of human nature are en- 
gaged on the side of religion, in seeing greater numbers 
turning from the error of their ways, and the true Israel 
are perceived, according to the beautiful image of the 
Psalmist, to proceed with a more vigorous pace to- 
wards the heavenly Zion, through this dry and thirsty 
vale, while all its pools are filled with water. Op- 
portunities there are, which impose on every christian, 
inviolable obligations to the most active diligence in 
all the offices of religion, not only by the blessings 
with which they are usually accompanied, but by the 
spiritual judgments with which their neglect or abuse 
is often visibly followed. The soul which they do not 
dissolve, they harden; if they do not persuade, they ir- 
ritate the sinner; the sins which they do not exter 
minate, only strike their roots deeper, and extend them 
wider in a soil which has been partially softened by the 
rains and the dews of heaven. The most inveterate 
enemies of Jesus Christ, and of his holy religion are 
commonly found among those who were once, almost 
persuaded to be christians. 

Apply these reflections, as they may be justly ap- 
plied, to those movements of divine grace which are 

198 On Redeeming Time. 

more peculiar and personal. Seasons there are in the 
life of perhaps every hearer of the gospel, when divine 
truth addresses itself with more than ordinary persua- 
sion to the heart; when Divine Providence has, by 
some interesting dispensation, reached its inmost feel- 
ings, and awakened it to deep and serious reflection. 
Tliese are precious moments. Cherish their sacred 
impressions; pursue the pious and penitent resolutions 
which they have begun to form, and let them augment 
your earnest solicitude at the throne of heavenly 
grace. Know, then, the merciful day of your visitation, 
and improve it with diligence to the glory of God and 
your own salvation, whether itrises in brightness, like the 
morning sun unspotted with a saddening cloud; or de- 
scends, hke the refreshing dews and shadows of the 

III. This important obligation consists, in the next 
place, in a wise and prudent distribution of the employ- 
ments and duties of each day, and giving to each its ap- 
propriate season. Our time can seldom be less usefully 
employed than by an irregular and unequal attendance 
on its necessary avocations. But when each engage- 
ment commands its stated period; and the whole bu- 
siness of life has its order fixed, you multiply its use- 
ful moments, and every portion of your existence is 
made to contribute to some valuable end. But if the 
seasons of devotion, of meditation, and the various of- 
fices of piety, are wavering and unsettled, seldom can 
the soul be devoutly collected in these holy exercises, 
and raised to a due elevation of pious fervour. They 
are then easily turned aside, or postponed by every 


On Redeeming Time. 199 

trivial occurrence, and your affections become cold and 
unequal. In order, therefore, to redeem the time with 
the best advantages, employ it with order; appropriate 
to each duty its proper season, and to each season its 
proper duty. Thus may you prolong hfe; you may 
multiply its useful moments, and increase the value of 
each moment as it passes, for the most holy offices 
and duties of religion. 

IV. The sacred obligation of redeeming time, in- 
cludes, in the last place, such a recollection of the 
time which is past, as will make it a useful monitor to 
direct us in the wise employment of the future. The 
frailties of human nature require that it should be edu- 
cated in the severe school of experience, that we may 
learn wisdom from our own errors. Too commonly the 
review of life, is only the review of its follies, of its 
omissions of duty, of the mistakes of ignorance, of the 
illusions of pleasure, of the surprises of passion, of op- 
portunities neglected, of time misapplied and wasted. 
From a faithful retrospect of our errors, what instruct- 
ive lessons may often be derived! Here prudence may 
learn to avoid the faults into which inadvertence has 
fallen; to escape follies into which passion has been 
ensnared: to correct the defects of precipitancy, or the 
more serious evils of criminal ignorance. If pleasure 
has deceived you, my brother, by specious appear- 
ances, if passion has involved you in disastrous conse- 
quences, let experience preserve you hereafter, by con- 
tinually pointing to these beacons of your danger. 

Another important instruction meets us, in this se- 
rious review of time. It is calculated deeply to pene- 

200 On Redeeming Time. 

trate the heart with its extreme brevity; that affecting 
idea so little realized by men in the moments of health, 
but always so justly alarming to the sons of guiU. In look- 
ing forward, time appears long, and we are often impa- 
tient of its tardy progress; it is only when we take a retro- 
spective view, that we discern how speedily it has flown. 
The ancients painted these truths to the imagination by 
a very striking emblem. It was the image of an old man 
who had but a single lock of hair remaining on his 
head, and that was before; while the hinder portion 
was entirely bare. Conveying this most interesting mo- 
ral, that, if we do not seize time and opportunity prompt- 
ly, while it is advancing, and presents to us only this 
forelock, there is nothing by which we can arrest or 
detain it when it has passed. This aged figure, which 
carried with him a formidable sithe, that, in its de- 
structive sweep, cut off all animated being, like the 
grass of the field, hid behind him , in his approach, an 
ample pair of wings, and seemed to move with the tar- 
dy and faltering pace of decrepid years, but when past, 
he spread his pinions, and flew with inconceivable swift- 
ness. Behold, my beloved brethren, an image of time! 
II. Permit me now to offer to your serious consi- 
deration, some additional reflections on the importance, 
the brevity, and the uncertainty of our time on earth, 
in order to enforce the duty enjoined in the text. 

The importance of things may often be estimated 
from their connexions; and the life of man deiives 
an unspeakable value from its relation to succeeding 
eternity. It is the season of preparation for our immor- 

OnRedeemiiig Time. ;20l 

tal existence, in which according to the use, or the 
abuse that we make of it, shall be fixed the condition 
of every soul either in a glorious and interminable fe- 
licitj, or a condition of wo which my heart shrinks 
to conceive, and my tongue fails to pronounce. My 
Christian brethren! how interesting and how awful this 

If we see mankind so assiduously labouring as they 
do, for the meat that perisheth; for a perishing fortune 
which they must soon leave to others; or a perishing 
name which shall soon be buried with their ashes in 
their tombs, how much more ought we to labour for the 
meat which endureth to everlasting life! for the glorious 
distinctions, and the high rewards wherewith God shall 
crown the fidelity of those who love him! — For the 
wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament and 
they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever 
and ever. Christians! can this narrow period of time, 
these fugitive moments, appear in a more interesting 
light than as destined to prepare the soul for her im- 
mortal being? The faithful improvement of this tran- 
sient existence opens a path to glory and immortality 
which is terminated only by the throne of God. 

Not only does our present life derive a reflected 
value from that immortal being which awaits us; but 
its importance is unspeakably enhanced by the consi- 
deration that it is the only season wherein the salvation 
of the soul can be attained. There is no after state in 
which the errors and mistakes of the present may be 
corrected. The voice of the Spirit of truth has declar- 
ed; — There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor 
wisdom, in tlie grave whither thou goest. Do you not 

VOL. I. Dd 

202 On Redeeming Time. 

hear the decree of Heaven announced in terms so 
explicit that no sophistry can explain them away? Do 
you not see it illustrated by the whole course of pro- 
vidence. If the season of education and improvement 
has been misapplied, can its lost advantages ever be re- 
gained? if you have neglected your seed time, can you 
hope to reap in harvest? Do not intemperance and 
profligacy implant diseases in the constitution, which 
no medicine, no length of time, no repentance can cure? 
and when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his 
glory, judging the universe, what is his fearful decree 
on those who die in their sins? Let him that is filthy, 
he filthy still. Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire! — 
Yes, then, the merciful Abraham cannot send Laza- 
rus with one drop of water to mitigate the intensity of 
the flames which consume them. Yes, when the Bride- 
groom is come, the doors of mercy are forever closed 
against the foolish virgins who were not prepared to re- 
ceive him at his coming. 

The dissolute and profligate often abridge, by their 
own follies, the brief period of the mercy of Heaven. 
Before they have run out half their days, they are given 
up to an impenitent mind; and the secret seal of the 
Almighty is already fixed upon their destiny. Behold 
then. Christians, heirs of immortality! the unspeakable 
value of this transient portion of time. Life, fleeting 
and precarious, contains the utmost limit of the sea- 
son, and the means of salvation; of that period of our 
moral education which is destined to cultivate the soul 
for heaven. These blessings are, perhaps, restricted 
even to a brief portion of the rapid hour which is pass- 

On Redeeming Time. 203 

Ing: possibly the present moment brings with it the only 
remaining offer of the divine mercy, which awaits thee, 
my dear brother. AH the importance of eternity may be 
attached to each moment, as it passes. With what fer- 
vent devotion of soul, ought it to be redeemed, and put 
to profit! 

If all the hopes of the present Hfe, if life itself, to any 
culprit against the laws of his country, should rest upon 
a single moment; if the criminal had only this moment 
remaining, in which to solicit a reprieve, that was still 
in his power, how precious would that moment be? 
With what earnestness would he prefer his suit.'^ would 
he engage others in his behalf? would he study to in- 
terest the public sympathy? would he set to work 
every engine which could advance his hopes? Alas! 
what is that little particle of time which a criminal 
could redeem from death, compared with his eternal 
existence? What is this frail and perishing life, if we 
could prolong it to its utmost period upon earth, com- 
pared with the ever during being which commences 
beyond the tomb? What is that stroke which it awakes 
all his energies to escape, however painful or however 
shameful it may be, which mingles only this corrupt- 
able portion of our nature with the dust, to that fearful 
decree which consigns both, soul and body to Hell for- 

Could one of the happy children of light address 
you from the abodes of blessedness, in which he en- 
joys the ecstacies of eternity, with what immortal ar- 
dors would he proclaim the value of time? would he 
press upon you the wise improvement of the present 

204 . On Redeeming Time. 

moment, pointing to the glory in which he now exists, 
and which, after a few more conflicts, awaits every pi- 
ous soul in the mansions of the redeemed? Fearing 
the weakness of faith, clouded and darkened as it is by 
the shadows of sense, which once impeded his own 
progress in the divine life, and put to hazard his own 
salvation; how would he redouble the earnestness of 
his admonitions, and strive to reanimate your languish- 
ing zeal! 

On the other hand, could you hear the lamentations 
of one of those miserable j^moners oX wrath, who are 
reserved in chains, under darkness unto the judgment of 
the great day; in what fearful accents would he preach 
the same truth! Would not his lamentations be in the 
room of len thousand arguments, to gain an access to your 
hearts? Oh! those precious means of securing the sal- 
vation of my soul, once indulged me by the mercy of 
Heaven, but lost by my folly, by my madness! In what, 
alas! have they ended? Terrible judge of the universe! 
only in these flames which consume me! When I look 
round, I behold nothing but unquenchable fires; but 
the horrors of despair! When I look forward to eternal 
ages, the same fires burn, the same horrors reign! 
Mortals! if you knew your present happiness! Just 
God! were not thy decree inexorable! could I regain 
the moments I have lost! irrevocably lost! how would 
I consecrate them only to thee! Yes, I would astonish 
the world with my zeal. They would call it madness; 
but to a soul that knows the power of thy wrath, it 
would be only the fervor and diligence of wisdom. 

In the ardent sentiments of these heirs of glory, and 

On Redeeming Time. 205 


these heirs of shame learn, my beloved bretliren, to es- 
timate the preciousness of those moments which, by the 
unmerited favour of Ahnighty God, you still enjoy. 
What lessons on their pious employment do they teach 
to iiumble wisdom! 

The duty of redeeming time is urged with increased 
force, if possible, by the solemn considerations of its 
brevity, and its infinite uncertainty. But how shall 
we give impression to these important truths, which 
seem to have lost their effect upon the hearts of men 
only by their constant repetition in our public assem- 
blies, and even by the terrible examples of them conti- 
nually presented to our view in the course of divine 
providence. God! thou alone, by thy heavenly grace, 
canst effectually touch the heart, otherwise insensible 
to the instructions of thy blessed word! Give efficacy 
to these solemn ideas, — accompany the admonitions of 
thy holy providence, so often seen and disregarded; so 
often felt, for a moment, and forgotten, with the pow- 
erful energy of thy most Holy Spirit! 

My brethren, look back upon the long succession of 
time that is passed. How many generations of the hu- 
man race have been already swept from the earth, and the 
places which have knoimi them, shall knmv them no more 
forever! And are not we, in our turn, hasting to pass from 
the view of men.'' The period in which we have lived, 
shall in a little time, be no longer remembered; or, if 
history record a few events, merely to connect the se- 
ries of ages, they will form but one imperceptible link 
in that infinite chain. Oiir days on earth are as a slut- 
doiv; as the vision of the night; as a vapour which ap- 

206 On Hedeemins: Time 


peareth for a little, and then vanisheth away. — Great 
God! so teach ns to number our days, that we may ap' 
ply our hearts unto wisdom/ 

If our time is shorty is not even this brief period 
abridged by a thousand avocations? — by the cares of a 
family — by the engagements of business, — by the ne- 
cessary refreshments of nature, — by the functions of 
our station, — by the decencies and civihties of society? 
— Take from Hfe all that is necessarily, or unnecessarily 
bestowed upon the world ; take from it all that is wasted 
in dissipation, in frivolity, in anmsement, in mere inac- 
tion, and how small a portion remains to be exclusive- 
ly devoted to devotion, and the cares of our salvation? 
And, is not that small portion continually escaping from 
us almost without our observation? Arrest it, then, 
in its progress by the power of meditation. Recall it 
daily to your own tribunal, rejudging there the actions 
of every day. Fix your attention deeply on its solemn 
and awful lapse. 

A profitable exercise it may be frequently to set apart 
some stated period, as a birth day; the commencement 
of a new year; the anniversary of some remarkable dis- 
pensation of divine providence, and reviewing the inter- 
val between the present and the past, to demand of your 
heart how you have lived in the mean time; what you 
have done for God, for eternity, for the benefit of human 
nature? what ripeness you have gained for heaven? 

It may not be unuseful, frequently, in serious medi- 
tation, to count the hours as they strike, or attend to 
the seconds as they beat. They are so many portions 
of time continually reuniting themselves with eternity. 
A few more shall beat, and the last shall bear us with 

On Redeeming Time. 207 

it on its wings to the tribunal of God. A celebrated poet 
has employed this thought with great beauty and force. 
— It was past the dead hour of midnight, and mortals, 
all insensible, were sleeping on the bosom of that mighty 
stream which is silently, and constantly bearing us 
along with it into the abyss of eternity. — The next 
hour tolled: — " The bell, saith he, strikes one! we take 
no note of time, but by its loss. To give it then, a 
tongue is wise in man. As if an angel spoke, I feel 
the solemn sound. It is the knell of my departed hours. 
— It is the signal that demands despatch. — How much 
is still to do!" 

If to the brevity, we add the uncertainty of time, that 
fearful uncertainty, which every where meets our view 
in ten thousand affecting examples, can motives more 
powerful, or interesting be addressed to perishing mor- 
tals to be always in readiness for the coming of their Lord. 
It is the common and fatal error of mankind to count 
upon the continuance of time, and opportunity, till they 
are just vanishing from their possession. In health, 
they admit no serious apprehensions of the approach 
of death, till their last sickness has overtaken them. 
In sickness they flatter themselves till their disease has 
already seized upon their vitals. So true it is that almost 
all men perish suddenly at last. Some build their 
promises of life on the vigour of their frame; some on 
the elasticity of youth; and others raise their falacious 
expectations even on their old age, because they have 
already resisted so many assaults of disease, or escaped 
so many of the strokes of accident. — Ah! deceive not 
yourselves in a calculation on which such an infinite 

208 On Redeeming Time. 

stake depends! Do you count on the maturity of you^ 
strength? Alas! what is the fancied vigor of mortals, 
when touched, and withered by the hand of death? 
Do I see in this assembly, a few heads already blos- 
somed for the tomb? Let your withering wrinkles, 
your gray hairs, your frail and tottering limbs be solemn 
moniters to you, that you touch upon the verge of the 
eternal world. I seem to see death beckoning you. 
Nor let the inexperienced ardor of youth, which gilds 
so deceptively the prospects of life, delude the young 
with the vain hope of having time to spare. No age, 
alas! is exposed to greater hazards. Your precipitan- 
cy, your inexperience, the delicacy of your frame which 
constitutes the principal charm of that lovely period, 
are your snares, and often the invisible pitfalls of your 
ruin. Death lies in ambush about your path. He 
points his fatal arrows at one and another of your com- 
panions. You see them fall in the midst of the tri- 
umphs of conscious strength and beauty. And thou, 
my brother! my son! thou dost not know if the next 
shaft may not be aimed at thee. Amen ! 




I the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the 

land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai 

and there fsrael encamped before the Mount. Ex. 19. 1,2. 

The people of Israel, having left Rephidim, where 
til at miraculous stream from the rock had refreshed 
tlieir fainting spirits, and where Joshua had made his 
first essay in generalship in a victorious conflict with 
the hosts of Amalek, were encamped in the plain of 
Sinai, before that sacred mountain on which God had 
ali"eady appeared to Moses, to invest him with the 
high commission of legislator of his chosen people, 
and on which he was again about to appear in terrible 
majesty to promulge his holy law. Hitherto they 
possessed no known and written code, but were regu- 
lated by daily orders issued by their leader. All their 
controversies were brought to his tribunal to be deci- 
ded according to a law in his own breast, of according 
to those lights by which, in special cases, his mind was 
informed from above. Henceforward, they were to 
enjoy a known and written system of laws by which 
they should understand both their duties, and their 
rights, and which should be interpreted and appHed 


2 1 6 The giving of the Law 

by judges chosen from among the most venerable heads 
df famihes in their respective tribes. 

To the legislator himself, appeals lay only in a few 
great and difficult causes. In that unrefined age, the 
extreme simplicity of manners required, and admitted 
of, only the most simple organization of the govern- 
ment, and the people, in their judges, found their Fa- 

All the preparations for the publication of the law 
were made with the greatest solemnity. Limits, which 
the people were not to pass, were marked out round 
the mountain on which the glory of God was to des- 
cend, to teach them the profound distance at which 
they were placed from him, — the awful reverence with 
which they should approach the presence, or hear the 
commands of their Creator. They were required to 
purify themselves, to wash their garments, and to pre- 
serve their persons from ail defilement, as emblems of 
that purity of soul with which we should come before 
Him who is holy, who searcheth, and will, at last, judge 
the lieart. — And finally, they were called to impose up- 
on themselves a solemn and national vow to obey the 
laws which were about to be promulgated to them 
from heaven. 

The circumstances accompanying this vow merit 
your attention. Moses was called up into the Mount 
by Godi probably by means of some voice distinctly 

* The respectable and pious priest of Midian, the father-in-law of the 
legislator, had the merit of suggesting this judicial arrangement when he 
came to bring to Moses his wife and liis two sons, whom lie had sent back 
into Arabia, when he went into Egypt to deliver his countrymen. 

On Mount Sinai. 2\l 

formed in the air: for, that no image, or figure of any 
being uas ever seen by Moses, he himself expressly and 
strongly asserts. He brings back from Jehovah a mes- 
sage full of affection, recounting the prodigies by which 
he had effected their deliverance in Egypt, and the 
care with which he had guided, cherished, and protected 
them in their dangerous march; and, concluding with 
the most gracious promises, if they should continue to 
observe his covenant, and to obey his word; — you shall 
be to me a peculiar treasure above all people; a king- 
dom ofjjriests? a holy nation — This message Moses 
communicated to the elders who were the magistrates, 
and representatives of the nation, and they to their res- 
pective divisions of the people, who, with universal ac- 
clamation, pronounced all that the Loid hath spoken 
we imll do. 

On the morning of the third day, as Moses had fore- 
told, while the minds of the whole nation were sus- 
pended in anxious expectation, God descended on 
Mount Sinai, in the symbols of his awful Majesty and 
his glorious power. Clouds and darkness involved 
its summit; while the tremendous thunders and light- 
nings which issued from them struck terror to the 
hearts of that vast congregation. The mountain was 
all on flame, and the smoke, as a mighty furnace, as- 
cended from it to the skies. In the midst of these con- 
vulsions of the elements, the trumpet, the image of that 
last trumpet which shall raise the dead and shake the 
universe, sounded long and loud. And as it waxed 
louder and louder, the whole mountain shook to its 
base. Then it was that God, willing to put a mark 

2 1 2 The giving of the Law 

of distinguished honor on his chosen prophet, and t* 
stamp a divine authority on his mission, in the hearts 
of the assembled nation, called him, by a heavenly 
voice, to come up into the top of Mount Sinai invel- 
oped in clouds and flames. Behold, then, this divine 
man, all serene, penetrating, if I may speak so, the bo- 
som of the thunder, and approaching the presence of 
him who maketh darkness his pavilion round about him, 
dark vapours, and thick clouds of the sky; before whom 
the earth shook and trembled, and the foundations of the 
heaven were moved. How sublime the spectacle! what 
grandeur, what authority did it throw round the charac- 
ter of their legislator in the eyes of that great nation! 
There he conversed face to face with God his maker; 
and returned only to dispose them in order, to receive 
the law which was about to be proclaimed not by man, 
or by inferior agents, but by the awful voice of God 
himself Then was the moral law, the basis of the 
political and religious institutions of Israel; that lavi^ 
which was afterwards written on two tables of stone; 
and which is inscribed by nature on the hearts of all 
men, delivered from the midst of the darkness where 
God resided; and each law was announced in thunder. 
That law, so apt to be forgotten by mankind unless 
when recalled by some dreadful dispensation of divine 
Providence, was impressed on their hearts by all the 
terrors of the Almighty. The people overwhelmed with 
fear, besought Moses that he only would speak to them, 
hereafter, in the name of God, and let not God speak to 
us lest ice die. Moses again ascended into the Mount. 
The thunderings and the lightnings ceased. Only the I 

On Mount Sinai. 2\$ 

thick cloud remained upon the summit; and the holy 
legislator entered alone into the darkness vvhei'e the 
glory of the Most High resided. He brought thence, 
after six days, the heads of his civil and religious poli- 
ty, and reciting them in the audience of all the people, 
engaged them, by new vows, to their observance * 
Once more, however, he was to return into the Mount, 
that he might receive from God in detail all the insti- 
tutions of that singular, but admirable code, which was 
destined for the future government of Israel. 

Committing, therefore, the supreme government to 
Aaron and Hur, during his absence, he retired, along 
with Joshua, his lieutenant and successor, into the 
cloud which still invested the top of the Mount, and 
veiled the divine glory which shone in the midst. 
Here, in a residence of forty days, he received from 
God the tables of the moral law, and the volume of 
his political, and ceremonial institutions. 

Let us review the scene at once so awful and ma- 
jestic, which we have just contemplated that we may 
derive from it some useful and pious reflections which 
may confirm our faith, and lead us justly to esteem our 

* For this purpose, he took with him Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and se- 
venty of the elders of Israel, as representatives of the whole nation, and on 
one of the eminences of Sinai far below the summit, but in the view of 
the whole camp, he periormed all the rites which, in that age, were used 
to accompany the most solemn covenants. He erected twelve pillars, 
one for each tribe, as lasting monuments of the transaction, — he sacrificed 
a victim, — he spread a feast of which they all partook before God, — and 
finally he look the blood of the victim, which is called the blood of the co- 
venant, one half he sprinkled on the altar, and with the other he sprink- 
led the people after they had, with cue voice declared, all that the Lord 
hath spoken mil we do. 

214 The giving of the Law 

own superior blessings under the milder dispensation of 
the gospel. All these glorious displays of divine power 
seem to have been necessary to give authenticity to 
the mission of this great legislator, and to procure from 
a people as yet rude and uncultivated, a prompt obe- 
dience to his laws. The lights of the great revela- 
tion of nature were beginning to be extinguished in 
the corruptions of the world; the pious traditions of 
the patriarchs of the respective nations were hastening 
to be buried under the growing mass of superstitions: 
when God would arrest this corruption, and rescue the 
truth from beneath the load of superstitious error 
which covered it, it became necessary to display 
anew before the eyes of mankind, the same omnipo- 
tent power which created the universe. He alone 
who gave the original law of nature could restore and 
repubhsh it, if it has been lost and corrupted. When 
God determined to rear a nation to be the depositary 
of divine truth, and of the hope of the world, it was to 
be expected that he would found it on some transcend- 
ent demonstrations of his power and glory. Miracles 
of grandeur, mira( les of terror only could produce a 
deep and permanent impression on minds like theirs, 
or inspire that voluntary submission to law and politi- 
cal order which Moses desired to establish. What was 
the state of their minds.'^ Bred in servitude, knowing 
no law but the will of their masters, they possessed not 
the habits of self-government, and were unacquainted 
with the institutions of evil society: just emancipated 
from slavery, in the delirium and intoxication of freedom, 
they were impatient^ murmuring, factious. No means, 

On Mount Sinai. 2\5 

then, existed, by which such a people could be govern- 
ed, except a mihtary despotism, by which they would 
still be subjected to a master; or an institution founded 
on the awful power of religion, by which, while the 
mind was subdued to obedience and habits of order, it 
would, at the same time, acquire a sense of its digni- 
ty, and its rights. Moses was too wise, too humane, 
and too pious a legislator to aim at establishing a d€S- 
potism which degrades and depraves the mind. He 
wished to infuse a degree of liberty into his govern- 
ment which was not known in that age, and which 
their habits and ideas had not yet prepared them to en- 
joy. He gave them known and certain laws which 
ascertained their rights not less than their duties, he 
entrusted their administration only to the most compe- 
tent and impartial hands; and placed the whole under 
the sacred and inviolable protection of religion. And 
the most tremendous sanctions of religion, the most 
sublime displays of divine power, were necessary to 
subdue the untractable minds of this great nation, even 
to institutions on which their prosperity, and their ex- 
istence depended. Other legislators, indeed, have pre- 
tended to a secret intercourse with some Deity, in or- 
der to procure veneration for their laws, and to strength- 
en their own authority. But who, like Moses, has 
conversed with heaven in the face of an assembled 
nation.-^ Who, like him, has wielded the powers of 
heaven in the sight of millions? has obtained from 
heaven those illustrious testimonies which come home 
to the senses and the heart of every spectator.'' His 
miracles rested not on the credulity of vulgar minds, 

216 The giving of the Law 

nor could they consist in deceptions of sense. Could 
Moses, in the passage of the Red Sea, in the miracu- 
lous descent of their d^ily bread, in the tremendous 
tokens of the divine presence on Mount Sinai have 
imposed on the senses of a whole nation? Could he^ 
without illustrious miracles have induced this nation, as 
yet uncultivated and disorderly, to adopt so holy and 
sublime a law? Could he have fixed its roots so deep- 
ly in their hearts as to render it more stable than the 
institutions of any other nation which ever existed? 

The wisdom of the policy of Moses, in the next 
place, deserves to be admired and imitated, founded as 
it is in the purest and sublimest ideas of virtue and re- 
ligion, A finer epitome of pious and moral principles 
never was conceived than that w^hich is prefixed to the 
Mosaic code. It were too long to go into an analysis 
of those commandments, the sum of which is, Thou 
shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, andiwith 
all thy sold, and with all thy strength, and with all thy 
mind; and thou shall love thy neighbour as thi/self. 
With these principles in the heart, obedience to all 
the particular laws which unfold and detail them, will 
be both certain and delightful. Virtue, which is the 
most stable foundation of states, is itself securely 
founded only in religion. When religion is abandon- 
ed, virtue decHnes along with it. Impiety is the pa- 
rent of profligacy of manners, which when they be- 
come general among any people, absorb the public af- 
fections in the pursuits of private pleasure, and the 
state is hastening to be overturned. Such is the or- 
tler of Providence, that depravity of morals is not more 

On Mount Sinai. 2\1 

©ertainly the forerunner of the ruin of individuals tlian 
of nations. This serves to explain that sanction ad- 
ded to the second commandnient, so often mistaken 
by the friends of piety, and so often made the subject 
of virulent and ignorant declamation by its enemies: — 
/ am a jealous God visitins^ the iniquities of the fathers 
upon the children unto the third and fourth generation 
of them that hate me, and shoiving mercy unto thou- 
sands of them that love me and keep my command- 
ments. Declension to idolatry by the people of Israel 
would be the utter dereliction of the true God, whose 
glory they had seen displayed in so many astonishing 
operations; and would be in them the proof and the 
increasing source of the general depravity of the pub- 
lic morals. When a people is become impious and 
sunk in vice, their speedy ruin is inevitable. The 
disorders and evils of one generation are accumulated 
on another, till at length, ail the ties which hold socie- 
ty together being dissolved, they become ripe for con- 
quest, for horrible revolutions, or for some dreadful 
and exterminating stroke of Divine Providence. This 
is visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children. 
For this threatening, however it may applicable to in- 
dividuals in a certain degree, has an aspect chiefly on 
the state of nations. And if we consult experience, 
which is the history of the world, we shall find that, 
when once such extreme corruption of public senti- 
ment and manners has taken place, the fourth genera- 
tion, or even the third, has seldom passed, before such 
a nation is sunk into the common gulf of states and 
enipires. On the other hand, if the republic preserve 

VOL. I. F f 

S 1 8 jf Vie giving of the Law 

its manners uncorrupted, were it to a thousand gene- 
rations, such is the force of virtue, it shall continue to 
flourish under the smiles of heaven. Oh! ignorant ob- 
jectors to religion, who have spent your venom on this, 
as on a thousand other passages in the sacred wri- 
tings, is it not, however, a just exhibition of the visible 
and established order of the moral world? Why then 
should not God declare it both as a warning and an 
encouragement to that people whom he had taken un- 
der his more imnjediate protection? Or is it harsher, 
or more unreasonable to declare it in terms than to 
act upon it in the government of the universe? Ah! 
how often does malignity of heart press against reve- 
lation objections which it has drawn only from the 
fund of its own ignorance. Unbehever! explain to me 
the course of nature, justify the visible order of Provi-^ 
dence; that is, explain and justify the first principles 
of your natural religion, and I will, on the same 
grounds, vindicate the doctrines of revealed. 

But your time demands that I hasten to a conclu- 
sion. Let uje, then, observe, in the last place, that the 
terror with which the law was delivered on Mount Si- 
nai forms a striking contrast to the mildness and gen- 
tleness with which the gospel was announced by the 
Saviour of the world. Leaving, now, the particular 
circumstances of Israel out of view, which required the 
most awful demonstrations of a divine power to enforce 
that law on their acceptance, which they were not pre- 
pared by any previous habits or ideas, to receive; the 
terrors of the one, the peace and tranquillity of the other, 
are emblems of a conscience penetrated with a sense of 

On Mount Sinai. 219 

guilt, and ofa heart restored to hope in the mercy of God 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. The law is a school- 
master to bring lis to Christ. Not only do all the shadows 
of that typical institution continually point to the future 
Saviour, but the conscience of guilt, awakened by the 
violated law, could not be appeased but by those vic- 
tims which derived their efficacy only from the great 
saaifice which was offered /or the sins of the whole 
world. The law is holy, just, and good; but for every 
transgression it denounces death on the sinner, or on 
the victim which stands in the sinner's room. And 
still do we not find that a guilty conscience forever re- 
peats the thunders of Sinai in the bottom of the soul? 
To the convinced sinner the justice of God appears 
in the most terrible forms; devouring fires are kindled 
bj it; and the dismay, d criminal can no longer speak 
to the Most High, or dehver himself from the fears of 
instant perdition but through a mediator. Christ, by 
satisfying the claims of justice, by quenching the con- 
suming fires of a broken law, by sprinkling the blood 
of the covenant on the altar, and on the sinner, re- 
stores peace to the heart, and opens the gates of eter- 
nal mercy. The thunders of Sinai precede the 

still small voice of divine grace. And believe it, sin- 
ner, you must feel the full force of the claims of the 
law before you will ever be persuaded to flee to the re- 
fuge of the gospel. But to every convinced, humbled, 
and penitent soul, the gospel exhibits an immoveable 
rock on which it may rest its hopes, an ark of safety in- 
to which it may retire. Rejoice then, christian! that 
you are not come to the Mount that might not be touch- 

220 The giving of the Law 

ed, and that burned with fire; nor unto blackness, and 
tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and that dreadtul 
voice which they that heard, entreated that the word 
should not be spoken to them any more: but you are 
come unto Mount Zion, unto the city of the living God, 
and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to 
the blood of sprinkling which speaketh better things than 
that of .flbel. Bfthold, then, your encouragement and 
consolation under all the terrors of guilt, under all the 
threatenings of the law. But remember, O hearer of 
the gospel, and let the interesting truth sink deep into 
your hearts, that, in proportion to the consolations and 
the riches of divine grace, will be, at last, the terrors 
and the hopelessness of abused mercy. See, then, 
that you refuse not him who speaketh from heaven. For, 
if he who despised Moses' law died ivithout mercy, un- 
der two or three witnesses, of how much, sorer punishment 
suppose ye, shall he be thought ivorthy, who hath trod- 
den underfoot the Son of God, and counted the blood of 
the covenant, wheiewith he was sanctified, an unholy 
thing, and hath done despite to the spirit of grace? 
And what. Oh! what was the awful grandeur with 
which he descended on the sacred mountain, as the 
legislator of Israel, to the terrors which shall surround 
him as the Judge of quick and dead! What was the 
trumpet which shook sinai to its base, to that trumpet 
which shall waken the slumbers of death, and shake the 
mighty fabric of the universe into ruins! What were the 
fires and the darkness which enveloped its summit, to 
the blackness of darkness forever, and to ihe fires which 
shall never be quenched! What were the dreadful 

On Mount Sinai 22 1 

thunders which petrified the camp of Israel^ to those 
thunders which eternal justice will lanchon the heads 
of the guilty! Hasten, then, O sinner! to the gates of 
inercy while yet they are standing open, before the de- 
cree of heaven, which pronounces, him tlmt is filthy let 
him he filthy still, shall close them forever. Amen! 




Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adul- 
terous and sinful g'eneration, of liim also shall the Son of Man be asham- 
ed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy Angels. 

Mark viit. 38. 

To perform our duty, and then without ostentation 
to avow it, is our most honourable and useful charac- 
ther. It is fuliilling the first law of our nature, and ex- 
tending religion and virtue in the world, by the influ- 
ence of our example. To be ashamed of our duty, is 
to be ashamed of our glory. To acknowledge its obli- 
gation in secret, and yet disguise it before men, disco- 
vers a weakness and duplicity of mind, that is no less 
inconsistent with dignity of character, than with piety. 
The sentiment of shame, that gives, to the opinion of 
others, so great authority over our conduct, is, origin- 
ally, a wise and excellent law of Nature. But, the de- 
pravity of man hath perverted the best principles, and 
changed the most ingenuous feelings of the heart into 
ministers of sin. Great crimes are evidently opposed to 
the interest of society, and, therefore, they are con- 
demned by pubUc opinion. The depravity of the human 

On tJie guilt and f oily ^ ^c. 22'i 

heart is equally opposed to the spirit of true religion; 
and, therefore, the manners, and, at least, the ostensi- 
ble opinions of the world, contradict the purity and 
simplicity of the Gospel. The one opposes vice in the 
extreme; the other tends to encourage vice in a certain 

The world hath so accommodated its conversation, its 
wit, and its opinions to its manners, that men, in the 
cause of piety, are afraid of incurring its censure or 
contempt They want courage to oppose the stream 
of custom; they renounce their duly, in compliance 
with fashionable vice, or they conceal their inward re- 
verence for it; and, against their conviction, they live 
like the world. 

To be ashamed of Christ is a sin, that may be con- 
sidered in a variety oi hghls. Our Saviour, in pronoun- 
cing this sentence, had, probably, an immediate view 
to the testimony, which his disciples would be called 
to bear to his name, before the tribunals of their un- 
righteous judges, where the splendor of courts, the 
scoffs of enemies, the ignominy of punishments, and 
the humble and unfriended condition of the first Chris- 
tians, would all contribute to subdue their minds, to 
make them ashamed of their Master's cross, and to de- 
prive them of the courage necessary to profess, or to 
suffer for, his despised cause. 

Honour elevates the mind, and gives fortitude to the 
weak. Shame is an enfeebling principle, that takes, 
even from the brave the confidence necessary to avow 
truth, and the firmness necessary to endure suffering. 
Indeed, to be ashamed of Christ, and to deny him, are 

22 4> On the guilt and folly 

so intimately connected, as cause and effect, that St. 
Matthew, in expressing this declaration of our Saviour, 
says, " whosoever shall deny me before men, him will 
I also deny before my Father, who is in Heaven." 

Through the goodness of God, we are not exposed 
to persecution. But, living in an age in which custom, 
in which the powers of wit and ridicule, in which the 
honours of society, and in which even reason and phi- 
losophy have been engaged on the side of vice, we are 
hable to disguise the truths of the Gospel, and to be 
ashamed of Christ, with a more criminal weakness, 
than they who suffered their constancy to be shaken 
by the majesty of tribunals, and the terror of flames. 
It is this evil which I propose, from the text, to explain 
and condemn, 

I. By pointing out what is implied in being ashamed 
of Christ, and his words, and, 

II. By demonstrating its folly, and its guilt. 

I. in pointing out what is implied in being ashamed 
of Christ, and his words, I shall treat of the sentiment 
of shame, directly, and unfold some of its principle 
causes, and consequences, as they affect the profession 
of religion. 

I. In the first place the sentiment of shame. This, 
like other simple feelings and emotions of the human 
mind, cannot be easily understood, except, by exciting 
the perception, and calling to mind the occasions on 
which we have most sensibly felt its constraints. Let 
us recollect those seasons, in which a sinful regard to 
the observation of nien, has tempted us to decline the 
duty to which we have been urged by our own hearts; 

Of being ashamed of Religion. 225 

or. in which we have gone into criminal compliances 
with the work], through a weakness of mind, that was 
unable to support the presence, or to contradict the 
opinions, of our fellow sinners. Let young persons, par- 
ticularly, recollect their fears, lest it should be known 

. that they worship God, and pay, to the Creator, the 
first dut} of a creature. Recollect what it is, that 
sometimes clothes you with a light, and thoughtless air 
in the house of God; afraid to be serious, lest you 
should appear too much to believe the Gospel, or to 
be affected by its truths. 

When, at any time, the Divine Word begins to seize 
upon your hearts, what is it that excites you to shake 

. off the conviction? And, when almost persuaded to be 
Christians, what withholds you from being persuaded 
altogether-' It is shame. You are afraid the world will 
temark it; the world, whose presence weighs more 
with you, than the authority of an invisible Deity. If 
you feel the compunctions of repentance; you fear, lest 
they should be injputed to melancholy, or to weakness. 
If you perceive the duty and importance of making 
salvation your first care, and of honouring your Saviour 
by a public profession of his name: yet, you want the 
necessary resolution to encounter the world, to meet 
the sneers of your companions, their looks of suspicion, 
their hints of hypocrisy, their presages of inconstancy. 
Thus, may every hearer understand this sentiment, 
by recalling to mind the occasions on which he has 
felt it, and on which it has checked his desire, or de- 
stroyed his resolutions of duty. 

.1 II. I shall farther illustrate it, by pointiug out some 
VOL. I. c^ g 

226 On the guilt and folly 

of its principal causes. These may be reduced to the 
three that follow; the pain of singularity, the power 
of ridicule, the want of sincerity. 

Singularity is always painful to an ingenuous 
mind. It seems to hold us out, as exceptions from the 
general law of human nature, as insensible to its feel- 
ings, and worthy neither of the affections, nor of the 
confidence of mankind. Singularity always attracts the 
censure of the world, or, by contradicting general prac- 
tice, or opinions, it invites contempt. The public man- 
ners have numbers on their side, sufficient to brand 
with ignominy, whatever, by differing from them, im- 
plies their condemnation. Superstition, contraction of 
sentiment, weakness of mind, illiberality of" heart, are 
the mildest reproaches, that fashionable dissipation be- 
stow's on piety that dares to be singular. Wealth and 
power, objects before which the human mind is prone 
to bow, being too often on the side of vicious fashion, 
give it great advantage, in establishing wrong ideas of 
honour and disgrace. And, because the multitude of 
men of science, like the vulgar multitude, are frequent- 
ly in the same interests, even philosophy and wit have, 
been pressed into its service by these its obedient sons. 
To withstand so many formidable enemies, is an ar- 
duous task, even for confirmed virtue. Little is thef 
wonder then, if first resolutions, in religion, should be 
shaken by them; and if the young should, sometimes, 
not have fortitude to bear up against them. To be sin- 
gular in piety, is to dare incur contempt, for the des- 
pised cross. A hard sacrifice for human pride, and, 
especially, for juvenile virtue! Many more are found. 

Of being ashamed of Religion. 221 

who are ready to forsake the Saviour, than who have 
firmness of mind sufficient to overcome the constraints 
of a false shame. Imperious fashion, both in conduct 
and opinion, will forever sway the wordly heart. To 
rise above its influence, requires an extraordinary zeal 
m religion, that seems to annihilate the temptations of 
the world, or an established and respected character in 
piety, that gives a man authority over his own actions. 
But, in the commencement of a religious life, and be- 
fore a character in it hath become appropriated, as it 
were, and sacred, for a man to enter into the society 
of his companions with reserve; to go with it only a 
certain length; to seem to enjoy it with constraint; to 
reproach them, by more severe and corrected morals; 
and to incur their suspicion, obloquy, or contempt, re- 
quires uncommon prudence, and uncommon fortitude. 
How often does the dismaying power of shame sub- 
due the heart, before so many difficulties! 

2. Another source of shame is found in the power of 
ridicule. Ridicule is perhaps the severest assault, which 
a man about to enter upon duty is called to sustain. It 
is apt to dismay and humble him more, than the cool- 
ness of contempt, or the violence of power. So sensi- 
ble of its force are some infidels, that, with this weapon 
alone, do they attack Christianity, which they have so 
long in vain assailed by reason. It is a species of attack 
which every man can use against religion; because all 
can laugh, though few can reason. It can be used against 
religion viith peculiar success; because its perfections 
are often invisible to sense, or withdrawn from the 
view, while the imperfections of its professors, which 

228 On the guilt and folly 

are mistaken for it, are obvious to every eye. The 
saints! The hypocrites! The weak fools! are titles that 
will furnish abundant sources of amusement to those, 
who mistake names for characters, and laughter for 
wit. x\nd, when other matter fails, uumickry, the low- 
est species of ridicule, con>es in, with a thousand ma- 
licious and false additions, to dress out the last scenes 
of humble diversion. .The wise and experienced Chris- 
tian arrives, at length, to feel his superiority over these 
ludicrous attacks, but the young and inexperienced find 
them almost irresistible. They feel the humiliating 
contempt of laughter; they are degraded in their own 
esteem; ridicule dismays them; a senseless smile sub- 
dues their hearts; and, before a sinful generation, they 
are ashamed of Christ, and of his words. 

3. In the consciousness of want of sincerity we find 
another cause of that weak shame, which is prone to 
d(^ny, or to disguise, our reverence for religion. Pre- 
tences to an unsuppoited character, are, in the highest 
degree, dishonourable and reproachful. The world, 
that differs in so many things from the disciples of 
Christ, agre'es with them in condemning visible hypocri- 
sy. Many young persons, dreading the contempt that is 
due to this character, are deterred from making a declar- 
ed choice of religion. Conscious that a conduct grave, 
devout, and holy should accompany the protession of 
piety, and fearing lest they want that sincere and cou- 
rageous zeal, which will enable them to make such a 
resolute and conspicuous change of life, as "becomes 
the followers of Christ, they decline to appear openly 
for his cause. They are afraid of discovenng ibr it 

Of being ashamed of Religion. 229 

that reverence and attachment which they really feel, 
llest they should not be able to support the profession 
with uniformity and consistency. Ah! my brethren, if 
our hearts were sincere, the importance and glory of 
Divine things would at once decide our choice, and 
overcome the apprehensions of being ever willing to 
sacrifice them to worldly interests, or to worldly plea- 
sures, to the solicitations or the sneers of men. But 
insincerity fears the reproach of hypocrisy more, than 
it fears hypocrisy itself; insincerity shrinks from the 
opinion of a worm, but does not tremble before the jus- 
tice of the Creator; insincerity is ashamed of our 
glory, in the midst of sinners, who are forever glory- 
ing in their shame, 

4. The consideration of the effects as well as the 
causesof thisprinciple, will assistin explaining its nature. 
One of the most certain consequences of being ashamed 
of duty, is, to lead to boldness and audacity in vice. 
Shame is perhaps the evidence of a middle character, 
neither virtuous nor abandoned. It is always accom- 
• panied with some remaining reverence for God. But, 
judging, from the licentious face of the world, that other 
sinners are not subject to the same constraints, it blush- 
es for this sentiment, as for a weakness. Endeavouring 
to cover its belief, or its fears, it assumes a greater 
show of infidelity, and licence, than [>erhaps is real. 
It soon affects to talk in the stile of the world; to di- 
vert itself with serious persons, and, at length, with 
serious things; it gives hints of libertinism, which it re- 
presents, as superiority to vulgar prejudice; it some- 
times pushes these appearances farther than wouid be 

230 On the guilt and folly 

necessary, if men were really infidels, to secure to 
themselves, without controversy, that honourable cha- 
racter. But conscious insincerity urges them to ex- 
tremes, to cover its own deceptions. And, men being 
prone to form their opinions, no less than to derive 
their feeUngs, from sympathy, these mutual appear- 
ances contribute to create, at length, that vice and in- 
fidehty to which all, in the beginning, only pretend. It 
is, besides, a principle of human nature, that pretence 
itself will ultimately form those dispositions, and ha- 
bits, which it continues to affect. 

But, if shame more modestly resolves, not to re- 
nounce, but to postpone, the care of our salvation, is 
there not reason to fear that this unhappy resolution 
will eventually come to the same issue? Need I repeat, 
in this assembly, the usual fruits of delay? Ah! my 
brethren, men always find the same reasons for de- 
laying; and those who, through a false shame, and fear 
of the world, postpone their duty, may usually be con- 
sidered, in effect, as resolving to renounce it. If con- 
science, however, or if other motives prevail with 
some men, who are, notwithstanding, under the influ- 
ence of a criminal shame, openly to acknowledge their 
Saviour, will it not often corrupt the principles, and 
pervert the spirit of religion? They study to accommo- 
date its spirit, and principles, to the opinions and man- 
ners of the world, that the world, seeing nothing in 
their piety, but its own image, may cease to reproach 
them. Piety becomes, with them, prudential maxims 
of behaviour. The distinguishing doctrines of the Gos- 
pel, the denial of ourselves, the regeneration of the 

Of being ashatned of Religion. 2'6l 

heart, and spirituality of life, are little to be observed 
in persons, who are afraid of nothing so much, as of 
being remarked for religious singularity, and who aim 
no higher, than to pay the same ceremonious respect 
to the church which they do to the world. Lest their 
piety should be reproached as superstition, they are 
careful perhaps to make it understood, that they do not 
place too high a value on the public institutions of re- 
ligion? Lest it should be derided as enthusiasm, do they 
not banish, from their devotion, all appearances of 
zeal? Lest they should incur the imputation of a narrow 
or illiberal mind, do they not often run so far into the 
principles and manners of a dissolute age, that hardly 
can you discern they are the friends of religion? 

Having thus far considered what is implied in be- 
ing ashamed of Christ and of his words, I proceed, 

11. To show its folly, and its guilt. "Ofhini also 
shall the Son of Man be ashamed." The folly and the 
guilt of this vice are reciprocal. They mutually contri- 
bute to illustrate and aggravate each other. 

In this connection, its folly deserves, in the first 
place, to be considered with the most serious attention. 
It consists, in being ashamed of our true glory; in ho- 
ping to avoid, by renouncing religion, an evil which 
cannot be shunned among men, I mean, detraction and 
ridicule; in fearing an imaginary evil, that is, reproach 
for real virtue and piety; and finally, in exposing our- 
selves to infinite danger, for the sake of covering a 
fruitless deception. 

1 . It consists, in the first place, in being ashamed of 
our true glory. What is the highest glory of man? 

2S2 On the guilt and folly 

Whether we consider ourselves as creatures, as sin- 
ners to be redeemed, or as moral agents, the most im- 
portant lights in which we can be viewed, our glory 
and our duty are the same; obedience to the Crea- 
tor, gratitude to the Saviour, and conformity to the 
laws of our nature. If God is our Parent, and the au- 
thor of our being, doth not every idea of duty, and of 
honour, require us to worship him, and publicly to 
claim our relation to him? On the worthy and obedi- 
ent child the virtues of the parent are reflected; and 
every related object derives a splendor from the digni- 
ty of the principal. But, examine all the things on 
earth, that are the subjects of human boasting, and 
are they not, in his presence, ^* less than nothing, and 
vanity?" '), God! the universal Father! Origin of Be- 
ing! Fountain of Good! in union to thee, in conformity 
to thine image, in obedience to thy will, consists the 
glory of the rational and moral nature! To be ashamed 
of thee, is not the absurdity only, but the madness of 
human folly! 

Gratitude to the Saviour is the second duty, and the 
second honour of man. To show a defect of grati- 
tude, where it is justly due, is a decisive proof of a 
degenerate and ignoble mind. But the greatness and 
condescension of the Redeemer, the meanness and 
the guilt of man, concur, in this case, to impose 
a boundless claim on our gratitude and love. Is it 
not our true glory, my brethren to feel, with all 
their force, the infinite obligations created by redemp- 
tion? Is it not our glory, to acknowledge them with 
warmer gratitude, in propoition as they are forgotten. 

Of being ashamed of Religion. 233 

or neglected, by the world? Yes, this is the dictate of 
a true, a generous, a grateful, as well as pious heart. 

Lastly, the honour of man consists in fulfilling (he 
end of his being, which is the will of God. But tliis 
weak principle, which makes him desert his duty, 
changes, at the same time, and degrades, his rational 
and moi-al nature, and sinks them from their original 
and native glory, the one, to a resemblance of brutal 
natures, the other, to an image of infernal spirits. O 
Man! ambitious of glory! afraid of nothing so nmch as 
of disgrace! Unwise and fooHsh man! Thou art 
ashamed of thy glory! and thou gloriest in thy shame. 

The folly of being ashamed of our duty appears, in 
the next place, in vainly hoping to avoid, by renoun- 
cing religion, an evil which cannot be shunned among 
men, I mean, detraction and ridicule. What is the 
World, but a vast theatre, where envy and malice are 
perpetually sharpening the tongues and the wit of men 
against each other,^ What is half the intercourse of 
life, but a scene of obloquy and sneer, where the cha- 
ract*^rs of the absent are the constant sacrifice to the 
vanity of the present.** Where ever you have rivals, and 
that is, where ever you have acquaintance of the same 
sex, or age, or profession with yourself, you find those, 
whose weak minds have no other means of exalting 
themselves, but by depressing you. Change then your 
life, you only change the subject of discourse. You 
cannot gain, by continuing of the party of sinners, what 
you fear to lose, by embracing the cause of religion — 
their friendship, or their good opinion. And why should 
you fear, in the service of God alone, an evil, to which 

VOL. 1. H h 

SS4 On the guilt and folly 

you must be equally or even more exposed, by remain- 
ing in the interests of the world? I say more exposed, 
for it greatly augments the folly of this sin. 

In the next place, that, while it incurs a real, it flies 
from an imaginary evil. It fears reproach for religion, 
when, in reality, the world has no reproach to make; 
when, instead of despising, it respects, the beautiful 
and supported character of piety. Wisdom and good- 
ness, rightly understood, can never be the objects of ri- 
dicule, or censure. They vindicate themselves to the 
judgment and conscience, even of the vicious. Misre- 
presentation, to which an honest mind should ever be 
superior, is here the only ground of reproach. And 
what can, even, misrepresentation alledge? That, in 
youth, it is an affectation of wisdom and virtue above 
your companions, and above your years. Alas! can any 
age be too early to be wise, and to seek for real and 
durable felicity? If the multitude of your companions 
afford few examples of piety, is it not the greater ho- 
nour to rise to a degree of wisdom, rarely attained 
even in mature life; and, at an age in which we think 
it much if you learn with docility, to be able, already, 
to give an example worthy of imitation? Will the 
world busy itself to find out false motives for your 
change? Let such malice serve to disgust you more 
with a world, the true character of which you are now 
just beginning to discern. Will they say, with a sneer, 
" Ah! this zeal will not last long!" Let such insult on- 
ly determine your resolution more firmly to support 
the dignity of religion, by the integrity of your conduct, 
and by perseverance in virtue. If you do thus, be 

Of being ashamed of Religion. 285 

assured that the world itself, after proving your since- 
rity, and spending its first resentments upon you, for 
having forsaken its party, will regard you with reve- 
rence and esteem. It is not indeed religion, but in- 
sincerity, and hypocrisy, they despise. If, then, you 
would silence obloquy, and obtain an honourable place 
in their hearts, be not ashamed of the doctrines of 
Christ. But you must be careful to mix with your re- 
ligion nothing weak or supei'Stitious, nothing libertine 
or worldly. Do not resemble, too much, the men of 
the world; it is their own image whicii they despise in 
a Christian. Persevere in the path of duty. They 
will convert contempt or hatred into veneration; they 
will applaud your resolution; they will envy your des- 
tiny; and, if they cannot resemble you, in their lives, 
they will secretly sigh, that their end may be like yours. 
The folly of this evil consists, in the last place, in 
its exposing us to infinite danger, for the sake of cover- 
ing a fruitless deception. " Whoever shall be ashamed 
of me and of my words (saith the Saviour) of him also 
shall the Son of Man be ashamed." Wo to that man, 
of whom the Son shall be ashamed! God, when offend- 
ed, might be reconciled through his atonement: but, 
when the Saviour is rejected, there remaineth no more 
sacrifice for sins. Is this the issue of being ashamed 
of the Gospel? Is this tlie reward of that frivolous ho- 
noui", which we would preserve, in the opinion of a 
corrupted world, by renouncing virtue.? Is this the 
fruit of that criminal deception, which we strive to 
maintain by unworthy pretences, against the strug- 
gling sense of inward duty.'^ Do we derive from it even 

23() On the guilt and folly 

present gain, to make a momentary compensation for 
the eternal loss? No. Worldly reputation and interest 
are, when rightly considered, in favour of religion. 
But, when the soul; when the hopes of salvation, when 
the judgment of God, are put in the balance against a 
slande?-, a sneer, a suspicion, a look of miserable mor- 
tals, and outweighed! oh! infinite folly! My brethren, 
eternity alone can disclose it, in its full magnitude, 
when we shall see, in the dreadful light of everlasting 
burnings, the vanity of human opinion, and all the ter- 
rors of that denunciation, " Of him also shall the Son 
of Man be ashamed." 

Having endeavoured, in few words, to illustrate the 
folly of being ashamed of religion, I shall, with equal 
brevity, illustrate its guilt. lis guilt consists, in exalt- 
ing the authority of man above the glory of God; in 
ingratitude to him, who was not ashamed of us; and, 
in promoting vice, by the pernicious influence of our 

1. In exalting the authority of man above the glory of 
God. His infinite perfection, independently on his 
rights as our Creator, has a supreme claim to our ado- 
ration and love. He is infinitely more worthy, than any 
of his creatures, of the lervent and entire devotion of 
our hearts He, who hath created the powers of un- 
derstanding and enjoyment, is able to fill them with 
consummate and eternal consolations. Not to love 
him, therefore, not to make his glory predominate over 
all other objects, is an evidence that the heart is blind 
to moral beauty, and corru[)ted in all its affections. 
But, to make man the arbiter of our duty to God; to 

Of being ashamed of Religion. 237 

make the Divine glory stoop to the pleasure, or opinion 
of a miserable worm, is a crime beyond expression. 
Its malignity is to be estimated from the perfection of 
him who is offended, and, hke that, it is infinite. 

2. The guih of this sin consists, in the next place, 
in ingratitude to him, who was not ashamed of us. 
Ingratitude, to a benefactor, is among the most detest- 
ed vices. If the ingratitude of men, for the blessings of 
salvation, strikes us with less horror, than other exam- 
ples of this sin, it is because we do not discern, in the 
light of faith, the infinite distance between the Creator 
and the creature. But, when he descends from his 
eternal throne; when the incarnate Deity submits to 
suffer; when the Divine glory was not ashamed of hu- 
man weakness, — that sinners should be ashamed of 
him! Be astonished, O Heavens, at this! And tremble, 
thou Earth, who bearest in thy bosom such guilt! 

It has sometimes been asked, by those w^ho are not 
willing to make great sacrifices, whether we may not 
acquit ourselves of duty in secret, without exposing our 
profession to the view of those who would insult or de- 
ride it? I answer. No. Sincerity glories in its object. 
And, when God is the object, the soul, occupied in the 
blessedness of its portion, forgets, in a measure, the ap- 
plause or censure of the world. His glory will be a 
sufficient portion, when the world frowns. The sense 
of his love will support the heart agpinst the fear of 
its reproach. Shame to that worldly prudence that is 
ashamed of its God! Shall sin, the disgrace of our na- 
ture, walk anions; us with elevated and impudent fore- 
head? And shall religion, the glory of the reasonable 

238 On the guilt and folly 

soul, blush and retire, lest the profane eyes of meu, 
dazzled with its beauty, should not be able to endure 
the sight? 

3. Its guilt consists, in the last place, in promoting 
vice, by the pernicious influence of our example. Ex- 
ample is contagious; and the world becomes more cor- 
rupted, from the vice that is already in it. To decline 
the profession of religion, through false shame, is, in 
some respects, more injurious to the interests of vir- 
tue in the world, than open impiety. This, sometimes 
prevents imitation, by a certain horror at its enormity: 
That, by preserving greater decency, more effectually 
insinuates its poison. Your example proclaims your 
unbehef, or your contempt of the Gospel, and invites 
others to receive it with incredulity, or to treat it with 
scorn. In the account of Divine justice, the depravity, 
and perhaps the perdition, of many sinners shall be 
charged to that criminal shame, which alienates you 
from the life of God, and shall go to augment your 

In the conclusion of this discourse, permit me tore- 
mark, that, although Divine grace alone can effectual- 
ly secure the heart, and raise it above the influence of 
a false and unholy shame, yet, it will greatly contribute 
to this happy effect, to have, early established, just 
ideas of honour and shame, by a well directed educa- 
tion. It is of great importance, in the beginning of 
life, to preoccupy the mind by good impressions; to 
teach it to reverence God, before it has yet seen the. 
beauties of holiness; to honour, before it has learned 
to love religion; and to prepare it to despise, before it 

Of being ashamed of Religion. 239 

has arrived to detest the vices, and the follies of the 
world. It is of the greater importance, because our 
habits and opinions are constantly and imperceptibly 
forming, by all that we see and hear. If religion does 
not, early, impart such as are rational and just, the 
world will, necessarily, prepossess the mind with such 
as are pernicious and false. False shame will with- 
hold it from the influence of piety; false honour will 
raise up, within it, the most dangerous enemies to sal- 

Let parents and instructors, therefore, be diligent 
to discharge their duty, with fidelity, to the rising ge- 
neration. The most happy fruits will reward your pru- 
dent and honest zeal. Reflect what advantages you 
enjoy, when you plead the cause of piety, against vice, 
and of Heaven, against the world. What can be more 
glorious, than the service of the King of kings? What, 
more great and worthy than virtue, which brings to 
perfection all the best and noblest principles of human 
nature? Religion is the true glory, as well as happi- 
ness of man. Sin only is his real shame. It is accom- 
panied, besides, with unspeakable danger, and is speed- 
ily tending to eternal ruin. 

Suffer me to extend, a little, this idea. It is strong- 
ly implied in the expression of our Saviour, " of him 
also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh 
in the glory of the Father, with the holy angels." All 
miseries are included in this threatening. When God 
condescends to treat the sinner in this language of sar- 
castic contempt, it strikes me as the most fearful de- 
nunciation of Divine vengeance. Other threatenings 

24^0 On the guilt and folly 

seem more definitely to mark their penalties: this, 
presents nothing distinctly to the imagination; but 
holds up every thing most terrible to our fears Shall 
I call up to view the last tribunal; the Heavens on fire; 
the earth shaken, and moved out of its place; the ele- 
ments melting, with fervent heat, before the wrath of 
God and of the Lamb? Sh^ll I speak of Tophet, that 
is ordained of old, the pile whereof is fire and much 
wood, and the breath of the Lord, as a stream of brim- 
stone, doth kindle it? And shall I not say after all, 
that his most fearful sentence is, "of him shall the Son 
of Man be ashamed?" This is indignant justice 
heightened by contempt. The flames of anger may 
consume the sinner. Shame will bury him forever, 
from his sight, in the depths of misery. What! ba- 
nished from thy sight, O merciful Saviour of men! 
This is, indeed, the blackness of the everlasting dark- 
ness! Let those unhappy men, who are ashamed of 
Christ and of his words, deeply reflect on this dread- 
ful destiny! To persuade you to this wise and neces- 
sary resolution, is the whole object of the present dis- 

May the Spirit of God add, to these instructions, his 
own evidence, and his almighty energy! May he im- 
part to us a wise estimate of eternity, and time; of the 
opinions of men, and the approbation of God! And 
now, to the King eternal, immortal, and invisible be 
rendered, through Jesus Christ, all honour, glory, and 
praise, from all on earth, and all in Heaven. Amen. 




Thou shalt not surely Die. — Genesis Hi. 4. 

This is a suggestion that arose in the breast of the 
tnother of mankind, and encouraged her to the commis- 
sion of a crime, that hath involved the whole race in vice 
and misery. Plucking tht fruit appeared, to her, to be 
among those actions which have been left indifferent by 
Wature; and plucking it trom a forbidden tree, was pro- 
bably represented, by her curiosity, to be among the 
small and venial errors, that may be indulged to human 

A like suggestion is continually rising in the breasts of 
all her children, on those vices to which they are strong- 
ly prompted by inchnation and by pleasure. Pleasure in- 
vests vice with a charm that deceives the heart; and, al- 
though satiety often strips the delusion from indulgence 
and gives a momentary force to the sentiments of con- 
science, that condemn it;yet, nature speedily recovers her 
tone; the same pleasures grow again to be enjoyed, and 
again surround their objects with the delusive appear- 
ances of pardonable weakness, or of douotlul innocence. 
They are forever repeating, like the first temptation. 
" Thou shalt not surely die." 

VOL. I. 1 i 

242 On the JVature and Danger 

The call of pleasure is esteemed the voice of Nature, 
when, by Nature, is meant only a factitious depravity, 
which hath become ingrafted by habit in the constitu- 
tion. How often do we hear it contended, that a mer- 
ciful Creator could not have connected pleasure with 
guilt; but, that where we find gratification, we may fair- 
ly conclude we are within the bounds of innocence? In 
reasoning thus, we forget that Nature, ever luxuriant, 
gives birth to superfluities, in the moral, as well as in 
the natural world, designed to exercise the industry and 
virtue of man, in correcting or subduing them. The 
rich and abundant soil of the human heart produces 
weeds, as well as better herbs; and it belongs to the 
husbandman to eradicate the noxious and to cultivate 
the useful. But men are forever employing the most 
false and superficial pretences to justify their inclina- 

There are, indeed, some high and atrocious crimes 
which attack the security of society and the happiness 
of mankind in the most essential points, to which the 
conscience can seldom give its sanction, even after the 
longest habits of sinning. But there are some vices 
which every man studies, with success, to excuse; some 
which he indulges with less caution and restraint; 
some which he esteems small and venial faults, and 
on which he is always saying to himself, " Thou shalt 
not surely die.'^ 

These form a numerous and dangerous class of of- 
fences. Highly criminal in their own nature, they be- 
come the seeds of greater evil. They tend, in the na- 

Of Small Faults. 24>'6 

} tural progress of habit, to weaken the power of con- 
science, to render inclination our supreme law, and to 
change, at length, the whole system of duty, and of 

These sins will form the subject of the following dis- 
course, iu which I propose, 

I. To explain their nature, and, 

II. To point out iheir dangerous consequences. 

I. When I speak of small sins, I do not compre- 
' hend, in that denomination, those lamented errors and 
imperfections, that spriog from the infirmity of human 
nature, in the best of men; I do not mean those 
evils, that sometimef surprise a Christian, in an un- 
guarded moment, but which are speedily resisted, con- 
fessed, and effaced, by sincere repentance; I do not 
, mean those, over which he is gaining a slow but pro- 
[ gressive victory. 1 speak of such as enter into the 
plan of life; as are excused, because they are small; as 
are not recollected with penitence, but are studied only 
to be justified. They may be divided into such as are 
acknowledged to be sins, such as are of a dubious nature, 
and such as may be considered chiefly in the light of 
temptations to other sins. 

I. In the first place, acknowledged sins, which are, 
however, palliated or excused, from the miuuteness of 
their objects, from the rarity of their occasions, and 
from the force and concurrence of passion and oppor- 

(1 ) Men, if they cannot be charged with those high 
and daring offences, that, by insulting the majesty of 
God. and disturbing the peace of society, awaken the 

244 On the JSTature and Danger 

indisjnation, or the pity of the wise and good, are 
proii/ to flatter themselves with the idea of coiijpara- 
tive iniiocence. and to hope, that the Divine mercy will 
impute their smaller failings to infirmity and not to guilt. 
Let me illustrate the observation by an example. If 
they abstain from blaspheming their Creator, or from 
persecuting and reviling those who serve him, they 
pardon themselves, as a trivial offence, their neglect of 
his worship, their indifference to the progress of reli- 
gion, or their want of that inward purity of heart which 
alone is worthy of his children, if they abstain from 
open fraud, it does not wound their conscience, per- 
haps, to make an advantage of titeir neighbour's igno- 
rance, or to impose on his undesigning and credulous 
simplicity. If they abstain from violence and bloodshed, 
do they not, however, justify themselves, though they 
hate their neighbour in their heart, and rejoice in an 
opportunity to injure his precious reputation, or to dis- 
appoint his lawful hopes.^ If they cannot be accused 
of that mad ambition that desolates the earth, are they 
not guilty of the same vice, though acting in an hum- 
bler sphere, by being proud, or insolent, or vain.'' If 
they are not chargeable with seducing matrimonial 
chastity or virgin innocence, yet do they not abandon 
themselves to those loose imaginations, to those soft 
and effeminate dalliances, which contain all the luxury 
of sensuality, while they only seem to abstain from the 
ultimate crime. ^ Thus, while they do not proceed to 
the last and highest acts of vice, they plead, with suc- 
cess, an indulgence for themselves, at the tribunal of 
their own hearts, for all inferior evils, Thty even 

Of Small Faults, 24>5 

claim some merit, perhaps, for the restraints which they 
impose on their passions. 

(2.) They derive, in the next place, an extenuation 
for particular sins, from the rarity of their occasions. 
If they can seldom be charged, and on such occasions, 
only, as seem to excuse them, by the opinion, or the 
practice of the world, are they not prone to make their 
own apology from the general predominancy of a 
better conduct.-^ Will you bear me, without offence, 
to produce an example that is perhaps too common.^ 
Have we not known men, who, in their habits, were 
sober, temperate, and industrious; who notwithstand- 
ing, to show their hilarity with a friend, or to testify 
the sincere part which they take in seasons of public 
festivity, would transcend those limits of moderation 
and sobriety, which, at other times, they esteem them- 
selves bound to observe.-^ It is, in their view, a suffici- 
ent answer to the remonstrances of religion, tc say, that 
these excesses are rare; and that, if the general tenor 
of life be regular and prudent, it is a rigid morality 
that will not permit us, at certain seasons, to indulge 
scmevvhat to the occasion. 

(3.) Another class of acknowledged sins, which are 
held to be small, consists of those that are extenuated 
from the force and concurrence of temptation. Temp- 
tation is passion awakened by opportunity. The pas- 
sions Conceal the deformity of vice. Circumstance and 
opportunity excite them into ardour, and precipitate 
them inlo action. Pleasure, therefore, that bribes the 
concience, and precipitation, that precludes reflection, 
both tend to lessen, in our view, the guilt of sm. 

246 Oil the Nature and Danger 

And, instead of penitently confessing, and deploring it 
before God; instead of condemning it, in the sentiments 
of an hujnble and contrite heart, too frequently, we seek 
a false peace, by extenuating its evil. The strength of 
temptation, we say, the attractions of pleasure, the co- 
incidence of opportunity, the combination of events, were 
too powerful for human nature, and we hope that God 
will look with indulgence on the weakness of his crea- 
tures. Ah! my brethren, this is not the language of 
repentance, which never seeks to cover or protect 
our sins, but is disposed ingenuously to acknowledge, 
and warmly to condemn them. It is building our inward 
peace, and our religious hopes, not on the true founda- 
tion of the Gospel, but on the false ground of extenua- 
tion and apology. 

2. Another class of these sins, that are considered 
as small, consists of such actions, as are of a dubious 
nature. The decision of the apostle, is founded in the 
highest reason. lie that doubteth is condemned, if, un- 
der that doubt, he proceeds to act: Yet such evils usu- 
ally leave a feeble impression of their guilt on the con- 
science; and men, who judge thus lightly of duty and of 
sin, will ever follow inclination, in contradiction to 
their doubts. Under this principle of action, it is easy 
to obtain every gratification that the heart solicits. The 
heart gives its colouring to all moral objects. If it can- 
not paint them, as absolutely innocent, it seldom 
fails of being able to represent them, as dubious, at 
least, and, under this form, to enjoy their pleasures. 

That principle is fdse, that invites us to act against 
our doubts; or, that supposes dubiety affords an equal 

Of Small Faults. 247 

diance for the action being virtuous. On the other 
hand, it necessarily involves guilt. It is often the re- 
sult of criminal ignorance; it is more frequently the re- 
sult of criminal passion; it poisons innocence itself; 
and it renders vice, if possible, more guilty, because 
it is the depravity of the heart that creates the uncer- 

As vice consists less in the kind, than in the circum- 
stances and degrees of action, a wide and diversified 
field is hereby opened for self deception. The gradual 
increments of passion are infinitely minute; the circum- 
stances of actions are infinitely various, and contain in 
them something peculiar to the character and state of 
every person. The progressive shades of conduct, if I 
may speak so, are so delicate, their limits seem to be so 
blended, as to afford an endless scope for uncertainty, es- 
pecially to those who do not wish to see. Pious men are 
afraid to approach this dubious boundary. They deny 
themselves, theretbre, many lawful enjoyments, that 
they may restrain indulgence, clearly, within the limit 
of innocence, which, when attempted to be too nicely 
traced, is always uncertain. Vice loves to lurk in these 
obscure confines, that, in their uncertainty, it may find 
an excuse for transgressing them; that it may enjoy its 
beloved pleasures, without suffering the reproaches of 
guilt; and that, wrapped in its own shades, and conceal- 
ed from its own view, it may flatter itself it is also con- 
cealed from the view of God. Conscience, indeed, 
amidst this darkness and doubt, often raises its voice 
and shakes the breast with secret terrors: But they are 
as often calmed, by the dangerous opinion that they 

248 On the Nature and Danger 

are sins of only small, or dubious guilt. Thus, all these 
inwaid admonitions perish without fruit, and the soul 
returns to that state of doubt, which it makes both the 
motive, and the protection of vice. 

3. A third class, consists of such as may be consi- 
dered chiefly in the light of temptations to other sins. 
Temptation, voluntarily indulged, is a lower degree of 
the vice to which it leads. A good man, who fears sin, 
and, at the same time, is conscious of his own ti-ailty, 
will study to shun its dangers, by retiring from them. 
Those who cherish the temptation, secretly love the 
vice: Yet, as long as sin rests chiefly in the thoughts 
and atfections, and is not carried into open act; as long 
as it can be considered, rather in the light of temp- 
tation, than of compliance, men admit, with diffi- 
culty, the conviction of its guilt. It is viewed, at the 
utmost, as a small and venial fault, and, like the first 
temptation, is continually repeating, " Thou shalt not 
surely die." 

Under the idea, that temptation indulged, that emo- 
tion and desire, when not carried into act, are not cri- 
minal, or are only small faults; how often are those 
places frequented, without caution, the contagion of 
which is dangerous to virtue.'^ How often are those 
societies courted, whose breath infects the purity of the 
heart .^ How often do we, deliberately, throw our- 
selves into situations, from which it is almost impos- 
sible to escape without sin.'* Are not malevolent sen- 
timents cherished, under the same idea, against our 
neighbour? Is not the tongue indulged, in an un- 
christian license, to depreciate his reputation.'* Do 

Of Small Faults. :249 

not envy, repining, and discontent, secretl}' insult the 
providence of God. or openly attark the peace of man- 
kind^ Doth not passion exert itself, in a thousand 
unrestrained ebullitions? Are not the sweets of re- 
venge tasted in imagination? Are not loose and sensu- 
al scenes enjoyed in fancy, and pictures of soft and ef- 
feminate indulgence created, in all their variety, and all 
their licentiousness? it is possible, perhaps, to be more 
sensual, in the continual reveries that occupy and dis- 
sipate a vain imagination, than in the most gross and 
actual vice. Sensuality appears here with a refine- 
ment, that may tempt even a noble mind; and it is ex- 
empted from those disgusts and disappointments, which 
always succeed and dash those pleasuies, when they are 
grossly enjoyed. The heart abandons itself to the de- 
lightful delirium; and the conscience, httle offended at 
evils that are not attended with public eclat, easily ad- 
mits their apology. Small effort is made to overcome, 
or destroy them. They are ranked among the venial 
errors and infirmities of human nature; and, by de- 
grees, they infect and corrupt the whole soul. This 
leads me, 

II. In the next place, to point out the danger of this 
class of sins. This danger consists in their strength- 
ening, insensibly, the corruption of the heart, and in- 
creasing its vicious tendencies; because they alienate 
from the heart, the aids of the Holy spirit; because 
they confirm our sinful habits and passions; and, 
because the human mind, in executing, always falls be- 
low its own purpose, in framing its plans of duty and 

VOL. I. K k 

250 On the Nature and Danger 

1. They alienate, from the heart, the aids of the Ho- 
ly Spirit. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit, however it 
has been abused by weak and enthusiastic sects, seems 
to be a dictate of natural, as well as of revealed religion. 
In some secret and ineffable manner, he guards the heart 
against the power of temptation, he suggests and illus- 
trates our duty, and often sheds a peculiar evidence and ^ 
persuasion on all its motives. But, as his aids are bestow- 
ed to render us faithful, so, our fidelity is necessary to 
secure their continuance. The voluntary indulgence of 
sin, tends to extinguish his lights. If he is resisted, he 
withdraws; and, in his holy Word, there are many ex- 
amples, and many threatenings of his forsaking those 
who depart from him. " My spirit (saith the Lord) 
shall not always strive with man.^ The h art shall 
cease to feel the emotions and constraints of piety, in 
proportion as it persists to violate the affections inspired 
or the duties imposed by rehgion. 

The Holy Spirit frequently enables a good man to 
combat the force of sudden and unexpected temptation, 
by the inward energy of bivine grace; but more com- 
njonly he secures his virtue by disposing him to shun 
its finest impressions. If, contrary to his faithful admo- 
nitions, however, we invite its dangers, and unneces- 
sarily expose ourselves to the influence of situations, 
and of objects unfriendly to piety; if, for example, we 
enter too freely those circles, whose high and un- 
guarded gayeties are dubious, at least, in the aspect 
they have on piety; if we amuse ourselves too often with 
writers, whose principles or manner is unfavourable 
to purity of morals; if we permit ourselves, through 
a display of wit, to sport sentiments which our own 


Of Small Faults. 251 

hearts do not perfectly approve; if we voluntarily fre- 
quent scenes, that are calculated to inflame the pas- 
sions and corrupt the soul: if, in instances hke these, 
we thwart the tendency of the Divine Spirit, and rush 
into dangers, against which he would mercifully guard 
us; if, in these small combats, these preludes, as it 
were, to vice, we resist his ojovements, and quench his 
grace; may we not expect, that, in greater trials, he 
should leave us to ourselves, and withdraw that holy 
influence which we have abused? Doth not our own 
experience, my brethren, verify the threatening of 
religion? Are not our hearts growing more callous to 
the impressions of Divine truth? Is not vice losing its 
deformity, and becoming more practicable to the heart? 
And while, without reserve, we indulge in small sins, 
is not the guilt of great ones lessening in our view? 
Are not these the symptoms of the departure of the Ho- 
ly Spirit? This is the first danger. 

2. The second, is, that they strengthen the passions 
and the habits of vice. The human mind is ever in 
progression. Dispositions and habits increase by in- 
dulgence. Moral principles, in this, resemble the 
growth of the natural powers. Every exercise of the 
heart strengthens its tendencies. The indulgence of 
small sins contributes to inflame all the vicious passions. 
Its pleasures excite the appetite, and at length, ren- 
der it too powerful for reason and principle. They 
weaken the force of conscience, which they have often 
violated; and they are tending, by degrees, Ut dissolve 
the obligations of duty, which they have so often relax- 
ed. Each gradation of vice is so minute and imper- 

252 On the Kature and Danger 

ceptible, that we are hardly conscious of our progress; 
and, as exevj indulgence increases the tendency to gra- 
tification, it impairs, by degrees, the power of reflec- 
tion, and the habit of self-command. What, then, re- 
mains to guard the weakness of the heart? What is 
there, of sufficient force, to restrain it from proceeding, 
at length, to every vice to which passion may prompt, 
and opportunity invite? Yes, my brethren, the habits 
of indulgence, created amidst small or dubious gratifi- 
cations, cherish those vehement desires, which finally 
arrive to spurn at all control. 

If, then, you indulge those loose and sensual emo- 
tions that agitate the heart, when it is not subjected to 
habitual restraint; if you use those perpetual flatteries 
to the sex, or those doubtful assiduities, which tend to 
suspicious attachments; are you not ultimately in dan- 
ger of taking the most criminal licences? Or, to give 
an example of a different kind, if you cherish in your 
breast, those emotions of aversion or contempt, which 
are apt to rise against others, who differ froin you in 
interest, in rank, or in manners; if you give yourselves 
an incautious liberty in ridicule, or in satire, and severe 
wit; if you indulge your tongue in expressions of disdain 
towards those who have displeased you, or in those little 
tales of obloquy and censure, that are perpetually crea- 
ting dissentions in society; will not your affections, by 
degrees, be alienated from your brethren? Will not 
that meekness and benevolence, which ought to charac- 
teiize a Christian, be extinguished? Will not animo- 
sities grow to be unforgiving and eternal? In like 
manner, if an excessive love of interest hath tempted 
you to little frauds, to be hard and overreaching in your 

Of Small Faults. 253 

contracts, and to press with severity on your neighbour's 
wants; doth not the heart, in time, become unfeehng? 
Is it not preparing to go to the extremes of dishonesty 
and cruelty, when any great advantage may be derived 
from them? If you attend the ordinances of religion 
with a careless and irreverent mind; is not this the 
way, at length, presumptuously to profane them? If you 
treat virtue with derision, or with levity, in your conver- 
sation; if you use habitual and indecent profanations of 
the Divine name; are not the strongest obligations of 
piety thereby dissolved? Are you not in danger of 
mounting, step by step, to the extreme of vice, which 
sets at defiance both the fear of God, and the opinion 
of the world? 

Besides the strength and irritation of the passions, 
created by small indulgencies, sin itself is gradually di- 
minished, in the sense of its guilt, and becomes daily 
more practicable to the heart. The heart, not yet en- 
tirely corrupted, shrinks from great crimes; but decoy- 
ed and allured on, from one stage to another, it boldly 
reaches, at least, a degree of vice, to which it would 
once have looked up, and trembled. Each minute gra- 
dation is familiarized, by repetition and by habit; and 
the sinner, in his conduct, rests there perhaps, till, by a 
thousand apologies of self-love, and a thousand decep- 
tions of the passions, offence begins to wear the face 
of doubtful innocence. The next superior degrees of 
vice are then considered as small sins, and, on the prin- 
ciple I am combating, we first venture upon them, and, 
finally, learn to justify, or to excuse them. Thus, is 
the heart insensibly seduced; and it may possibly ar- 

2o4< On the JS'ature and Danger 

rive to commit the highest crimes, under the idea of 
their being only small offences. Ah! how difficult is it, 
when once you begin to say, of any sin, " thou shalt 
not surely die," not to plead the same encouragenjent 
for all? It is easier, perhaps, to forego every unlawful 
gratification, than, after we begin to yield, to set any 
bounds to compliance. Appetite, accustomed to few 
indulgences, claims but few, and can, with less difficul- 
ty, resign them all; but, flattered and pampered, it soon 
becomes impatient of restraint, and, while it has power 
to enjoy, is still soliciting for new pleasures. 

3. In the last place, the voluntary commission of 
small sins exposes to greater crimes, because the hu- 
man mind, in executing usually falls below its own pur- 
pose, in resolving. If, therefore, men will take all those 
criminal, or doubtful freedoms, which they may deem, 
in any way, compatible with their general duty; if they 
aim, in practice, just to escape great sins; will they not, 
probably, be permitted to fall into them.'^ The ball, 
that is too exactly levelled at its mark, sinks below it. 
To strike it, with certainty, we must take a higher aim. 
In like manner, we must, in morals, aspire to an eleva- 
ted pitch of virtue, we must aim at perfection; if we 
would rise even to that imperfect degree of goodness, to 
which the pious sometimes attain, in the present life. 

To those who observe the human mind with care, 
this will appear a natural effect. She forms her reso- 
lutions in retirement, when the objects of temptation are 
withdrawn, the passions are subsided, and the beauty 
and importance of religion appear, in their proper glory, 
to the eye of faith and reason: But, when she descends 

Of Small Faults. 255 

into the world, and applies herself to carry her views 
into operation, the vigor with which she resolved is 
weakened, the livehness of faith is obscured, amidst 
the impressions of sense, and the conflicts of passion. 
A thousand objects oppose her purposes. Indolence, 
interest, pleasure, ourselves, mankind, the universe, all 
tend to hinder their execution. It may be received as 
a sure and general principle, that he, who voluntarily in- 
dulges himself in small faults, will in the natural pro- 
gress of moral habit, become a greater sinner. Virtue, 
indeed, is never secure, that does not guard against du- 
bious as well as against acknowledged vice; nay, that 
does not renounce all appearance of evil, and aspire 
after hohness. 

Having thus, from reason and experience, explained 
the nature, and the danger of small faults, and illustra- 
ted these remarks, by many appeals to our own feel- 
ings and observation, permit me, in the conclusion of 
this discourse, to urge on every hearer, as an object of 
the highest importance, to remark, with attention, the 
insidious progress of vice, and to guard, with diligence, 
against its beginnings, and its first impressions. Small 
faults are the dangerous seeds of higher sins. And all 
the most atrocious crimes in human society^ may, or- 
dinarily, be traced to these commencements. Vice, 
enjoyed in fancy, allures and corrupts the soul. The 
cherished ideas of sensual pleasure, that offer, for 
themselves, a thousand palhations and excuses, be- 
tray, or impel it to actual crimes. Places of Hcence 
and danger frequented, ensnare and enflame it; render 
vice, at first, familiar to the view, and, at length, prac- 

256 On the JVature and Danger 

ticable to the heart. Temptations, not resisted in time, 
and banished from the imagination, acquire too firm a 
hold. Omitting, or precipitating the duties of religion, 
or suffering their warmth and spirit to be relaxed, 
weakens the sentiments and affections of piety, and 
gives, to every dangerous and criminal object, an op- 
portunity to impress its idea with vivacity and strength. 
This is the artifice of sin. It betrays insensibly. One 
gradation opens the way to another. Sin never could 
tempt us, with success, if all its deformities were open 
to the view at once. But the gradual and impercepti- 
ble access of temptation, offers no alarm to the heart. 
Pleasure, which gilds its object, justifies compliance, 
and throws over it a veil of innocence. And, at each 
gradation of vice, the next above it appears as a small 
fault. How many persons come, by these means, free- 
ly to indulge in vices, on which they would once have 
looked with aversion, or with horror.^ How many vi- 
ces are there, that, once condemned and shunned, as 
threatening the destruction of the soul, now enter into 
the plan of fife, and are incorporated into the charac- 
ter.^ For example, how often may habitual intoxica- 
tion have grown out of a convivial humour, imprudent- 
ly indulged^ How often may a profligate impiety have 
sprung, from the apparently innocent ambition of plea- 
santry and wit? How often perhaps may conjugal infi- 
delity, and the loosest passions have arisen, from the 
smallest of all vices, an extreme desire to please.'^ Oh! 
what pernicious consequences flow from these apparent- 
ly inconsiderable sources.'^ The beginnings of sin are like 
the letting out of a flood, which wears itself a wider. 

Of Small Faults. 257 

aud a wider passage, till, at last, it deluges the whole 

Finally, therefore, let me urge it on every serious 
hearer to avoid these sins, as being among the most 
dangerous, as well as insidious enemies of the soul. 
Do you not perceive, my brethren, what ruinous conse- 
quences they bring in their train '* and how insensibly 
this ruin steals upon the heart r While you are say- 
ing peace and safety! then sudden destruction cometh. 
While you are repeating, " thou shalt not surely die,^' 
the decree of death issues from the sovereign and irre- 
sistible justice of God. Beware of small faults; they 
terminate in great sins, and, eventually, in certain per- 
dition. What ever pleasures they offer, or by whatever 
deceptions they beguile the heart, you are. called, reso- 
lutely, to sacrifice them to the glory of God, and to your 
own present peace, and your eternal salvation. Chris- 
tians! is this an arduous labour.'^ Ijaveyou not, already, 
resisted the greatest temptations'" Have you not, alrea- 
dy, overcome the greatest sins.'* Is not the most pain- 
ful conflicts, already past.^ Nothing remains to you, 
one would think, but light victories over an inconsider- 
able enemy. Engage, therefore, in this warfare, with 
resolution and decision; resolve to destroy every sin, 
the smallest, as well as the greatest. If they are small, 
do not, for such trivial gratifications, endanger your 
eternal hopes. And in this pious and noble labour, 
cease not, till you have rendered the work of virtue and 
holiness complete. Fervently implore the aid of the 
Holy Spirit, without whose grace our own resolutions 
will be. ineifectual. And, may the God of all mercy and 

VOL. I. • L 1 

259 On the Mature and Danger, ^c. 

love strengthen our virtue, and animate^ our holy pur- 
poses, for Christ's sake. Amen. 

Mow, to Him, who is able to keep you from fallings 
and to present you, faultless, before the presence of 
his glory, with exceeding joy, to the only wise God, 
our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and pow- 
er, both now, and forever. Amen. 


But the greatest of these is charity. 1 Cor. xiii. 13. 

The history of human greatness is found almost ex- 
clusively written in the revolutions of empires, and the 
records of actions which fill the world with miseries 
and crimes. Religion entering more truly into the real 
value of things, and framing its estimate according to 
the rule of the divine will, would fix our esteem su- 
premely on those silent virtues of the heart which, 
without noise or ostentation, tend to proniote the hap- 
piness of mankind. Charity, which is only another 
name for that pure benevolence and love which chief- 
ly assimilates man to God, is the constant theme of 
its praise, and the principle which it lays at the foun- 
dation of all its duties. The whole fabric of religion, 
.indeed, may be regarded as the temple of love; its al- 
tars burn only with the fires of a holy love; and the 
consummation of its hopes in the kingdom of heaven, 
is but the perfection of that spirit of love which con- 
nects all intelligent and moral natures in the sweetest 
bonds with one another, and with God the centre of 
their common union. This is that heavenly principle 
in the heart of a good man, which the apostle, in this 
chapter, exalts above all intellectual attainments, above 
all the external rites and offices of religion, and even 
above all other graces and virtues of the heart. 

^^0 On Chanty. 

Let me, then, on this occasion, christians, turn your 
pious meditations for a moment, on the nature and 
the excellence, of the grace of charity; and endeavour 
to awaken your pious zeal to fulfil its duties. 

The subject, indeed, is so trite that it hardly affords, 
in a christian assembly, any novelty of thought to in- 
terest your sympathies; but its utility, and its benign 
aspect on the happiness of society, will speak for me 
in the goodness of your own hearts, and procure an in- 
dulgent ear to the repetition of the most common 

Charity, in its original and most extended meaning, 
embraces in one vvord, the whole moral law of the gos- 
pel; — tliou shalt love the Lord thy God ivith all thy 
heart, ivith all thy soul, with all thy strength, and with 
all thy mind; and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy- 
self. But because in the moral order of the world, 
much the most numerous class of our active duties 
terminate directly on our fellow men, the sacred wri- 
ter has described this grace chiefly by its effects on 
our social relations. The term, however, has, by time 
and custom, received, in common usage, a more Hmi- 
ted application, to a part only, though a most impor- 
tant part, of those social duties, — the assistance, and 
comfort of the most destitute and afflicted portion of 
our species, — provision for their wants, consolation 
for their sufferings, and that benevolent care of their 
instruction in the elements of christian knowledge, 
which will preserve them from the fatal temptations 
of vice, naturally resulting out of their unhappy condi- 
tion, and restore them to some consciousness of the 

On Charity. 261 

dignity of their immortal nature. To this limited 

idea of christian charity, the present occasion invites 
us, in a great measure, to confine our views. And a 
noble and godlike virtue it is, to take the poor and the 
distressed, and especially, the helpless widov^^ and for- 
saken orphan under its protection. Or rather, should 
I not call it, a heavenly grace? For, till the system of 
grace and mercy was revealed from heaven, and its 
spirit had descended into the hearts of men, had the 
world ever witnessed such charitable cares, such bene- 
volent institutions, as have grown up since that period^ 
for the comfort of the desolate children of sorrow. 

Let me intreat you, therefore, christians! disciples of 
the merciful Redeemer, to lend me your patient and 
candid attention, while I unfold, a little more in detail, 
some of the most obvious characters of this grace. — 
It is universal in its objects; — most pure and benevo- 
lent in its designs; — and in all its actions most benefi- 

i. This genuine philanthropy diffuses its benevolent 
regards, and, within the compass of its means and op- 
portunities, its benevolent deeds, to the whole hunjan 
race. No rank or condition of men, no sect, or name 
of religion excludes them from its kindness and pro- 
tection. " I am a man, said a virtuous heathen, and 
nothing that concerns human nature can be indifferent 
to me." There brofke forth a sentiment not unworthy 
a disciple of Jesus Christ. A sentiment springing out 
of that felicity of nature which we sometimes see dis- 
closing itself beneath the darkness of paganism; but 
which, cultivated by the grace of the gospel, exalts 

262 On Chanty. 

man to the perfection of his being. Such a man, 
surrounded by the spectacles, and assailed by the claims 
of human misery, is ever prone to forget hitnself, ab- 
sorbed in the emotions of his own benevolence. Health, 
fortune, talents are to him only so many precious means 
of doing good. To the destitute he becomes a pro- 
tector, to the oppressed a defender, to the orphan a fa- 
ther, to the wretched a comforter. Even the miseries 
of vice, if it may yet be reclaimed, find in him, as in 
the Deity, a Saviour. All the distinctions which sub- 
sist among mankind are sunk in the common relations 
of humanity: — for all are of one flesh; the equal off- 
spriiig of God. 

2. But the true nature of this grace appears, in the 
next place, in the sincerity of its affections, and the pu- 
rity of its aims. 

Let MS not love in word and in tongue, saith St. 
John, but in deed and in truth. What doth it profit, 
saith another apostle, though a man say to his poor 
brethren, be ye warmed, and be ye filled, notwithstanding 
ye give them not those things that be needful for the bo- 
dy? — Men may sometimes speak well, or even declaim 
eloquently, on the virtue which they do not practise: 
And charity, alas! has often flourished in good words 
and wishes, while it has been starved and barren in 
good deeds. 

Not frequently, hkewise, have the most liberal alms 
lost their acceptance wiih God, by the impurity of their 
aims, or the corruption of the source from which they 
flowed. Vanity has fed the hungry, and clothed the 
naked. Ostentation has reared uia^niflcent hospitals: 

On Charity. 268 

and still more strange, the most splendid acts of mu- 
nificence have sometimes, been merely a shameful 
commutation for crimes? — What then, is the genuine 
principle, and the standard of christian charity? Hear 
it from tiie mouth of the Divine lawgiver himself; — 
Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself. In doing your 
alms let only the pure impulses of a benevolent mind 
prompt your hands and your hearts. No calculations of 
interest or of vanity ought in this holy service, to sway 
you: for thy left hand shall not know what thy right hand 
doth. And whatsoever you would that men should do to 
you, do ye even so to them. Behold the equity of the gos- 
pel! It makes your self-love the measure of your charity 
to your fellow men. — In imagination transfer the feel- 
ings of the afflicted, the miserable, the dependent, to 
your own bosom, and whatever your consciousness that 
the claims of humanity, in your case would demand, in 
those claims, my beloved christian brother, read the 
benevolent law of your Saviour. Oh! merciful Saviour! 
if thy disciples always drunk deep of this divine spirit, 
would the children of wretchedness and poverty so of- 
ten have cause to mourn that they were despised and 
forgotten by their happier brethren? would modest but 
unfortunate merit be so often comprlled to retire from 
the eye of contemptuous wealth? Would Lazarus so 
often beg in vain for the fragments which daily fall 
from the table of purpled luxury? W^ould the peni- 
tent Magdalen be rejected, and her returning virtue be 
discouraged by reminding her, like the unfeeling Pha- 
risee, that she had been a sinner. Would even the 
miserable offspring of idleness and vice be cast away 

264 On Chanty, 

like a polluted thing from the pure bosom of charity, 
when they are not yet so far lost^ but that they might 
be redeemed to society and to God? 

Blessed Saviour! thy most benevolent example has 
taught, what thy precepts have enjoined, ever to culti- 
vate a tender sympathy with the suiferings of our fel- 
low men; — to cover, with the mantle of love their im- 
perfections; — to console the mourning; — to raise the 
afflicted from the dust; — to embrace in the arms of 
our christian affection, the most necessitous, and 
wretche J of mankind, who, notwithstanding their mul- 
tiplied miseries, are still our brethren. Be such the 
purity and sincerity of those holy affections in which 
you are required chiefly to imitate Jesus Christ, your 
Lord, who deigns also, to be called your Elder Brother. 
— Let love be ivithout dissimulation. JVot only rejoice 
with those that do rejoice; but, as still more becoming 
the lot of human nature, and the disciples of him who, 
for our sakes, became a man ofsorroivs, and acquainted 
with s^rief, weep with those who weep. 

Finally, true charity is distinguished by that active 
beneficence which is employed in doing good. If it 
rests in those instinctive emotions of sympathy which 
are the involuntary impulses of huaian nature on see- 
ing an object in distress; — if it goes no farther than in- 
active wishes, and barren prayers, this is the mocke- 
ry of virtue. Christian benevolence is ever operative, 
studying in proportion to its means, and often beyond 
its immediate means, to diffuse its blessings to that por- 
tion of human nature that is within its reach. What 
a noble and dehghtful employment! — to enter into the 

On Charity. 265 

i plans of the Father of mercies! To dry the tears of the 
afflicted! To turn into acts of praise the sighs of the 
disconsolate! To pour a refreshing balm into the 
wounded spirit! to be like the angel of God to the wi- 
daw and the orphan! Blessed is the lot of those whose 
riches are neither hoarded with niggard selfishness, 
nor scattered in an ostentatious and effeminating lux- 
ury, but, llowing, like a beneficent Providence, with 
diffusive munificence, carry along with them the streams 
of happiness throughout society. 

But, christian brethren, is great wealth always ne- 
cessary to fulfil the duties of charity? May not medi- 
ocrity redeem from so many factitious wants, from so 
many useless gratifications of vanity the funds for doing 
good? Nay, will not benevolence find its resources 
in the very bosom of poverty? If it has not gold and 
silver to bestow, has it not its sympathies, its assiduities, 
its thousand nameless services, which are often more 
precious than silver or gold? 

Chanty is a habit of the soul, always in action; per- 
petually alive to whatever affects the comfort and hap- 
piness of human nature. Every event in Providence 
it connects with some benevolent emotion of the heart; 
congratulating with the happy, sympathizing with the 
distressed. Is the cold piercing? Is the atmosphere 
filled with contagion? It sheds a tear over the mise- 
ries of the poor. It devises the means of their relief. 
Does the storm rage? -It sends to heaven its prayers 
for the houseless child of want, for the desolate travel- 
ler, or the perishing mariner. — Charity feels for every 
mortal. As it has opportunity, it does good to every 

VOL. 1. Mm 

266 On Charity. 

creature. It carries in its bosom, if I may speak so, 
the human race. 

II. Christians! I have spoken to you of the nature 
of charity: hsten, if you please, in the next place, to a 
few reflections on the excellence of this grace. 

In its most extended view it is the principal end of 
all the instructions of the holy scriptures; it forms the 
most distinguishing character of the Redeemer of the 
vrorld; it is the band of the moral union of the universe; 
it is the supreme source of the felicity of heaven. And, 
in the more limited view I am now taking of it, all 
these considerations concur to form the most endear- 
ing union of the believer with his fellow christians. 

Thi'oughout the sacred writing you perceive it every 
where inculcated with the most affecting and persua- 
sive eloquence. It is the scope of all their histories, 
their laws, their moral maxims, their divine songs, their 
ritual institutions. The whole force of the Spirit of 
inspiration seems employed to kindle and cherish this 
holy fire in the bosoms of the faithful. One would 
think that the sole end of the incarnation and ministry 
of the Saviour, besides making atonement for the sins 
of mankind, and bringing life and immortality to light, 
to the miserable heirs of death, was to announce and 
reiterate to them these two commandments; — Love 
God, your Creator and Redeemer — and love your fel- 
low men, ivho are your brethren. He who could have 
unfolded all the mysteries of nature, He who could 
have laid open the secret and infinite chain of causes 
and effects in the universe, has limited his instructions 
only to forming good men. Instead of gratifying the 

On Charity. 267 

vanity of science, his doctrine is designed to be the 
consolation of humanity — to unite mankind in one har- 
monious body in him who is the Head, — and to con- 
nect heaven with earth by the holy ties of beneficence 
and love. 

If our blessed Saviour has given such importance to 
this principle in his divine instructions, with infinitely 
more beauty and force has he recommended it in his 
most holy example. 

If the works which he effected for our redemption 
are too sublime for the imitation of mortals, behold him 
in his humanity, and in the whole course of his bene- 
ficent life, the amiable pattern of our virtue. It was 
one illustrious scene of benevolence. He went about, 
saith the sacred writer, doing good. When the Holy 
Spirit, who speaks in the Evangelist, would bestow on 
him the highest eulogy, he does it not in the pomp of 
artificial eloquence, so often eaiployed to impose on 
the imagination, and mislead reason; — but in two sim- 
ple words, doing good. Oh! virtue most worthy of the 
Son of God! — It is also, as I have said, the blessed 
bond of the moral union of the universe. Descending 
from God through all pure and intelligent natures, and 
returned from them to him in devout affection, it em- 
braces and binds together the whole in the most de- 
lightful and harmonious ties. When God would re- 
unite the universe to himself, and connect in one holy 
family the whole brotherhood of mankind, he sent forth 
upon earth the spirit of charity in his own Son. A 
mutual and immortal charity forms the perfect state of 
all holy minds. It was the glory of Paradise. — And 

■268 On Chanty. 

it is the state to which the gospel is tending, through 
the power and grace of the Redeemer, to restore our 
imperfect nature in the everlasting kingdom of the 

Love is the true principle of the happiness of hea- 
ven, — that love which unites all holy and intelligent 
natures to God, the centre of their being, and unites 
them to one another in him. It is for this end in order 
to strengthen the root and habit of this heavenly affec- 
tion, and to prepare its perfection, that we are placed 
under the present disciplhie of charity, if I may call it 
so, in his church and kingdom upon earth. Great 
part, without doubt, of the felicity, as well as of the 
employment of the celestial state, where God unveils 
the immediate splendors of his throne, shall consist in 
high and rapturous acts of devotion. But even the 
immortal powers of the saints made perfect in glory, 
will not be able to sustain an eternal ecstasy: nature 
will alternately require more gentle movements, and 
those softer pleasures which will be found in the de- 
lightful exercise of all the heavenly charities. j 

To recapitulate these ideas in a single sentence. 
The principal end of the Creator in forming this sys- 
tem seems to have been the happiness of man: or, if 
we would rather say his own glory, his glory consists 
in the happiness of the creatures he has made. That 
happiness is placed chiefly in the exercise of a mutual 
and universal charity. To teach the law of charity, the 
Son of God descended from heaven. Charity is the 
scope of all the instructions, the institutions, the exam- 
ples of the holy scriptures. Charity is the image of 

On Chanty. 269 

God, the glory of the Redeemer, the moral bond of the 
universe, the supreme source of the fehcity of heaven. 
M)w, therefore, abide these three, faith, hope, charity; 
hut the greatest of these is charity. Faith embraces 
the gospel as the word of God, the rule of life, and the 
foundation of hope; charity is its spirit, and its sum. 
Hope discloses to the believer the motives of obedience, 
in the immortal rewards of piety and duty; of which 
charity is the essence and the sum. And in heaven 
the perfection of charity shall form its own eternal re- 
ward. Faith shall cease, being lost in vision. Hope 
shall be consummated, being realized in possession. 
But charity, but love shall exist forever. In the pre- 
sence of the Eternal King, commencing a new career, 
freed from all obstruction and imperfection, it shall con- 
tinually advance our nature nearer to the perfection 
and felicity of the Supreme and all perfect mind. 
Many reflections will naturally have suggested them- 
selves to a christian assembly from the preceding prin- 
ciples and illustrations. A very few only I can select 
for your reconsideration. Among the first, a devout 
■disciple of Christ, can hardly fail to recognize with 
holy joy the character of the living and true God whom 
we adore, w^hose nature is love. With what divine 
superiority does the gospel exhibit him who is the 
source of all being, above the multiplied shapes of er- 
ror which bewildered and disgraced the reason of the 
blinded nations before the advent of the Saviour. 
Among all the phantoms which superstition has ever 
offered to the veneration of mankind, can any resem- 
blance be found to him who places his glory in the fe- 

270 (hi Chanty. 

licityofthe universe which he has created? Where 
superstition and vice, for they always go together, main*- 
tain their blind dominion, we behold ignorance and 
cruelty trembling before the bloody altars of Moloch, 
or sensuality rioting in the groves of Syrian pollution. 
Shows, festivals, and fantastic rites are substituted in 
the room of those virtues of the heart, and that divine 
love which alone should reign in the temples of the 
Eternal. Merciful Redeemer! who has taught thy dis- 
ciples to love one another, endue us richly with that 
spirit of charity which is thine image, the distinction, 
and glory of thy most blessed gospel! That interesting 
discourse, out of which my text is taken, proposes to 
us, in the next place the truest estimate of the respec- 
tive value of religious principles. Speculative truth 
has, undoubtedly, its importance; the rites and ceremo- 
nials of religion, which give it its visible form and body, 
are not without their price; but that which is most es- 
sential to the spirit of the gospel is its tendency to pro- 
mote the happiness of mankind. The true test of piety 
is its good works, — its imitating the benevolent labors, 
the munificent pattern of the great Teacher and Exam- 
ple of all virtue. What was the life of Jesus Christ but 
a constant exemplification of that active beneficence to 
the bodies and the souls of men, which should form 
the honorable distinction of all his disciples? What 
was the whole scope of his discourses, but to teach men 
to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with 
God? On what shall turn his decisions in the last 
judgQient, when seated on thethroneof eternal justice, 
the destinies of the universe shall proceed from his lips? 

On Chanty. 271 

I was hungry and ye gave me meat; I loas thirsty and ye 
gave me drink; naked and ye clothed me; a strajiger ai\d 
ye took me in; sick, and in prison, and ye came unto me. 
And how does he himself interpret the spirit of this 
divine sentence? In as much as ye have done it unto one 
of the least of tliese, ye have done it unto me. 0, Al- 
mighty and most gracious Saviour! what thanks and 
praise do we not owe thy condescension and grace, 
who hast so identified the humhle children of poverty 
and affliction with thyself, as to make our charitable 
cares for them, the test of our obedience, and the mea- 
sure of our final rewards from thee! 

In the remaining portion of this discourse, let us, 
my christian brethren, turn our attention more directly on 
those objects of our benevolence, which have so deeply 
engaged the efforts of this amiable association, at whose 
request the present assembly has been convened. And, 
on this subject, I have the pleasure of believing that 
no prejudices arising from diversity of opinion, either 
on religion, or on poHticks, can be suffered to enter 
this temple of charity, to obstruct the free current of 
your benevolent emotions. Here humanitj^- alone pleads 
for her afflicted children. 

The unprotected widow, and the helpless orphan, 
present themselves before you, to solicit your alms, at . 
the commencement of a season always filled to them 
with peculiar distress. They have no language in 
which to express their own griefs. And they offer 
themselves to you this evening, through the medium of 
this benevolent society, the exquisite sensibilityof whose 
sex has taught them to feel, and the sympathy of whose 

212 On Charity. 

pious hearts has carried them into the thousand retreats 
of female suffering in this city, to collect the simple 
and unaffected details which they here present to your 
charity, for the love of God. They lift, for a moment, 
before your eyes, the veil that covers the scenes of 
sorrow which every where surround you. Ah! could 
you enter into the innumerable receptacles of penury 
and want, and personally witness the infirmities of age, 
and the emaciated forms of weakness and disease, des- 
titute of every con}fort which sick and exhausted na- 
ture requires, pouring their disconsolate sighs to Hea- 
ven, w'hile they seem forsaken of every human aid, 
could you, amiable children of affluence and ease! could 
you restrain the synipathy of your tears, and the mu- 
nificence of your charitable hands.^ 

If, to the other distresses of abject penury there be 
added, what often happens, a family of helpless chil- 
dren weeping round a disconsolate mother; who has 
no means of relieving their painful necessities; let the 
heart of a mother picture to itself the deep anguish of 
her soul! They ask for food, but she has only her 
tears to give them ; they cry for a garment to cover them 
from the piercing cold; she can answer only with her 
groans; tortured with their incessant importunities, she 
can only weep with them, looking to Heaven, and to you. 
If, from the precarious supplies of charity, she can glean 
a scanty pittance for the most pressing wants of the 
present day, alas! how often does she know not where 
to find her next meal, or the next fragment of wood to 
light and to warm her hearth! How many, alas! strug- 
gling in the extremities of want, do I seem to see, like 

On Charittj. 373 

the poor widow of Zarephath, addressing the prophet 
Elijuli; As the Lord thy God livelh I have but a hand- 
ful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruise, and 
behold I am 2;atherin<j; two sticks, that I may go in and 
dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it and die. 
Then surveying the melancholy scene around her, and 
anticipating the still more melancholy prospects before 
her, her full heart is ready to burst. And, indeed, she 
must sink down overwhelmed with her sorrows, if your 
charity do not come in, like the heaven-directed pro- 
phet of God, to restore life to her and her children. 
Christians, these are not pictures presented from a 
too ardent fancy. Those whose benevolence prompts 
them, and whose activity and leisure enable them per- 
sonally to examine these abodes of affliction, often have 
their feelings harrowed up by scenes' that the benevolent 
heart hardly dares to contemplate, and that language is 
too feeble to express. In its anxiety to relieve only the 
most urgent wants, which continually press on the be- 
nevolence of this society, it is, alas! constrained to suf- 
fer all the anguish of an impotent charity. Oh! could 
the delicacy of those amiable females who shine before 
me in all the elegance of taste and wealth, consent, not 
to take these representations from my lips, but, fbrsa- 
kins: for a moment the chambers of ease, to look into 
these receptacles of human misery, what new views of 
life would arrest your feeling hearts! What new im- 
pulses would be given to your christian chanty, alrea- 
dy so conspicuous? But another class of female suf- 
ferers, permit me to bring forward to your attention, 
christians! not less to be pitied perhaps, though they 

VOL. I. !V n 

214, On Charity. 

do not offer to the eye such obvious spectacles of dis- 
tress. They have once been more happy, and their 
timid dehcacy, M^hich shrinks from contempt, and per- 
haps, some proud remembrance of the past, long re- 
strain them from revealing their necessities; as long as 
they are able to support their sufferings, they devour 
their tears in secret. Their griefs, which they cannot 
resolve to disclose, consume their spirits and their 
health; and it is only the wan and anxious countenance 
of wo, that betrays to the discerning eye those cruel 
wants which they have long endeavoured to conceal 
from the world. Do you, whose feeling hearts under- 
stand the modesty and delicacies of an amiable woman, 
pity the deep and covered griefs that often fatally prey 
upon the finest sensibilities of human nature. 

But the highly meritorious and benevolent association 
who apply this evening to your charity, have, for their 
objects, not only the comfort of distressed widows, suf- 
fering under accumulated afflictions, but the protection, 
nourishment, and moral culture of destitute orphans. 
And christians! what can be more worthy the disciples 
of Jesus Christ, who is himself the example of all mer- 
cy and grace, than to rescue from misery and vice, and 
to restore to society and virtue, those helpless infants 
who have no parent, no friend but God and you. 

And for them we dare to solicit your benevolence in 
the name of your country, of religion, and hun}anity. 
No evil can more dangerously affect the peace and or- 
der of the community, than throwing into it that njass 
of ignorance and vice, which must result from aban- 
doning the children of poverty without instruction, or 

On Chanhj. 215 

protection to all the infelicities of their unhappy state; 
whereas, by extending to them the hand of a munificent 
charity, you prepare for your country, a class of useful 
citizens, serving it by their labour, attached by the 
grateful remembrance of the benefits (hey have received 
from it, and stengthening its social ties by virtuous 
habits, and religious principle. Yes, christians, by this 
benevolence, you are discharging one of the noblest 
duties which, as good citizens, you owe your country, 
or, as christians, you owe the church of God. But, if 
society possesses its claims, does not religion impose 
its commands.'^ Has not God declared himself the 
protector of the fatherless? And by bestowing on you 
the means of fulfilling this beneficent design, has he 
not devolved on you, also the sacred trust of protecting 
them in his name.-* Oh blessed Saviour'- who, in the 
days of thy flesh, didst take little children in thine 
arms and cherish them; from that throne of glory, to 
which thy charity and love to mankind did raise thee, 
inspire our bosoms, here in thy holy temple, with 
the same divine spirit! and deign to accept the sacrifi- 
ces of our charity, which, on this evening, we make 
in thy courts to the praise and glory of thy heavenly 
grace! Permit me, now finally, christian brethren, to 
address our invocation to you in the name of huma- 

When you consider the friendless condition of these 
orphans, thrown by the hand of Providence, on the cold 
neglect of the world, do not the strongest sympathies 
of nature plead for them in your breasts.^ Who, alas! 
remains to mitigate to them the injuries of their forlorn 

276 On Charity. 

condition? Who to administer the soothings of pity to 
their wretchedness? Despised and forgotten, or passed 
with contemptuous scorn by every casual wanderer, 
they seem to have no interest in hunian nature, not 
even in its sympathies. From their first capacities of 
action, encompassed only with the incentives and ex- 
amples of vice, they speedily lose every ingenuous sen- 
timent that should attach them to society, every con- 
sciousness that can remind them, for a moment, that 
they belong to an order of beings above the brutes that 
perish. And, when you look forward, christians, dis- 
ciples of that blessed Saviour who hath brought life and 
immortality to light, who is there to implant one prin- 
ciple of piety, to cherish one spark of immortal hope 
in their y<»ung bosoms? How strong then is the appeal 
which these wretched outcasts make to your charity 
as christians, and to your feelings as men? If you 
regard them only as helpless children, most tenderly do 
they solicit your commiseration. But if you view them 
as immortal beings, the heirs of everlasting life, or ev- 
erlasting death, how much more forcibly do they knock 
at the hearts of the disciples of the Redeemer of man- 

If you will permit me, my christian brethren, in the 
conclusion of this address, to suggest an inferior, but 
certainly, a most interesting consideration; your be- 
nevolence this evening is not less necessary to soothe 
the hour of dissolution to the dying parent, than to pro- 
tect the beginning of hfe to the destitute orphan. Death, 
so terrible in its own nature, is often aggravated a thou- 
sand ibid to the feeling heart, by the prospect ot leaving 

On Chanty. 211 

a dependant family where there is no asyhim to receive 
them from the contempt and injuries of the world. 
What must be the sensations of an affectionate parent, 
in bidding a last adieu to his beloved offspring, in this 
dreadful extremity? He is poor indeed, and we are 
too apt to think lightly of the feelings of poverty, but 
poverty has not quenched natui'e in his heart. Oh! 
dear but wretched portions of my self! What retreat 
now remains to you from that dark, dark cloud which 
I see bursting over you! Had I been spared, these 
hands could still have laboured for you. But who will 
be a parent to you when I am gone.^ Oh! my God! 
my own sorrows I could have born. But when I look 
on these children who exist, and are miserable, only 
because I once loved, my heart dies within me before 
thy last stroke. Merciful Father of the universe! To 
thy compassion, may I dare in this last moment, to 
commend them.^ Be thou their father and I die in 

Yes, christians, from heaven he hears the anguish 
of a parent's heart pleading for his wretched offspring: 
and he commits to your charity this evening, the duty 
and the privilege of saving them for him. Pity, dis- 
ciples of your Redeemer! the griefs of a dying father, 
of a dying mother. Commiserate the tears and the 
sufferings of an unhappy orphan; or if it is yet ignorant 
of all its calamities, let that very ignorance prove a new 
plea for it to your humanity. 

But, is there not another class of forsaken infants, 
the offsprings, on one hand, of unfeeling licentiousness, 
on the other of error and cruel deception, which no 

278 On Charity. 

less powerfully claim your charitable protection, not 
for the sake of the guilty parents who merit your 
deepest abhorrence, but for the sake of the unoffend- 
ing little sufferer, whom, not its own, but their vices 
have doomed to be an heir of misery and shame- 
Christians! disciples of that gracious Master who re- 
ceived the penitent Magdalen to the asylum of his 
mercy! to that charity by which you chiefly resemble 
him, would I appeal in its behalf Nay, to that sex 
conjoined in this benevolent association, whose virtues 
are most justly offended, may I not dare to appeal? 
Ah! let not your chaste and virtuous indignation against 
the crime of a wretched mother, stifle the sympathies 
that would move you to rescue a perishing infant. God 
forbid that I should endeavour to repress one indignant 
emotion in your bosoms against a vice, the bane of 
public morals, of domestic tranquillity, purity and hon- 
our. But ah! remember, that she has, most probably, 
fallen a sacrifice to cruel, villainous seduction. Unfee- 
ling wretches! who can cooly inmiolate to your bru- 
tal appetites inexperienced innocence; who first intox- 
icate the heart by a well dissembled passion, — betray 
its too easy confidence by vows and oaths, — and then 
plant in it the stings of an eternal remorse! on you 
chiefly should fall the vengeance of public opinion, and 
the justice of the laws. Yet such is the perversion of 
our manners that you still continue to enjoy a certain 
indulgence in society, while the deluded victim of your 
perfidy is abandoned to despair. Gracious Heaven! 
what could impel a mother to desert her own infant.'* 
The weakest and most timid animals are inspired with 

On Charity. 279 

courage to defend their young: women for them will 
rush upon the weapons of death, or plunge into the 
midst of flames. Are then the sentiments of nature ex- 
tinguished in her heart? Has vice converted her into 
a monster? No; the all-subduing power of shame has 
*irged her to this act of horror. Great God! thou wast 
witness to the anguish of her soul while she perpetrated 
this deed. Penetrate with repentant compunction the 
heart of her destroyer! Let her deep contrition be the 
pledge of her restoration to virtue! And let a wretched 
infant, though surrounded with crimes, find an asylum 
in the charity of so many virtuous matrons, whom their 
own virtue permits, without shame, to snatch it from 
perdition! And do you, venerable fathers, do you, young 
men of virtuous principles, and generous feelings, en- 
deavour by your charities, and by the moral and reli- 
gious culture extended to these children of shame, to 
expiate, in some measure, the vices of so great a por- 
tion of your sex. Do I speak to one person whose 
criminal arts, perhaps, whose perjuries, have plunged 
a woman into infamy, or thrown a helpless outcast on 
the benevolence of the world? Oh! for once be honest: 
for once let a sentiment of virtue touch your heart; 
and here^ in this temple, make some atonement for 
the sighs, the tears, the anguish you have created. Ah! 
cruel father! unhappy mother! how near were you be- 
ing stained with the blood of your own infant, if the 
charity of those chaste and delicate minds who most 
deeply abhor your crime, had not rescued it from impen- 
ding death, and you from so horrible a deed! Father 
of mercies! if ever vice, by such deeds of infamy. 

280 On Charity. 

shall outrage the morals and purity of a christian city, 
let not charity be ashamed to clasp the little sulferers 
to her bosom, and rear up ciiildren to virtue and to 

In behalf of female orphans, especially I address my- 
self to that sex distinguished for the purity of their sen- 
timents, the delicacy of their feelings. When you re- 
flect to what vice, to what profligacy, their ignorance, 
their wants, the abandoned society with which they 
will be compelled to mingle, must expose them, unless 
redeemed from ruin by your charity, can stronger mo- 
tives be proposed to the benevolence of your hearts? 
To a virtuous woman this is a state worse than death. 
Mothers! secure in the virtue of your amiable daughters; 
daughters! happy in the protection and exaujple of 
such virtuous mothers! pity the unfortunate orphans of 
your own sex; and save them from vice and infamy. 
Christians! I have now appealed to your charity in be- 
half of your country, of rehgion, and humanity: suffer 
me finally to appeal to it in behalf of yourselves. ^ 

Your own benevolence will furnish you with your 
purest and noblest pleasures. What enjoyments are 
so sincere, or so nearly allied to heaven as those which 
are tasted by the heart in doing good? What so much 
ennobles human nature, as bearing the image of Him 
whose beneficence extends to all being: Every grief 
which you extinguish, every sigh which you suspend, 
every consolation whicli you pour into the bosom of 
the afflicted, redoubles, by reflection, your own happi- 
ness. And at last, when you shall rest Irom the labors 
and sorrows of hfe, how sublime will be your fehcity! 

On Charity, 281 

to be surrounded in the presence of God by those whom 
you have contributed to save! to draw down on your- 
selves the blessings of those who were ready to perish! 
and to have the benedictions of your charity. Amen. 

VOL. 1. o 


And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that Lear 
me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except 
these bonds. Acts xxvi, 29. 

Paul, in this eloquent discourse made in the pre- 
sence of Agrippa, displays, as he had formerly done 
in that which he deli\ered at the tribunal of Felix, the 
talents and address of a consummate orator. This 
king, the son of Herod the great, had been educated 
in the principles of the Jewish religion; and, although 
a man of pleasure, was not unacquainted with the wri- 
tings of Moses and the Prophets, nor, perhaps, wholly 
incredulous of their divine authority. The apostle, 
availing himself of this incident, boasts to Agrippa his 
Jewish origin, and displays his zeal in the Jewish reli- 
gion, which nothing could abate, or divert from its fer- 
vent and excessive course, till the blessed Saviour of 
the world, arresting his career, poured round him a 
light from heaven beyond the brightness of the sun, 
and at once subdued both his prejudices and his rea- 
son, and cured his unbelief, by appearing to him in all 
his glory. The strength of early prejudices in 
Paul, and the ardor of his exterminating zeal, were 
vouchers for him that nothing but the most full con- 
viction, the most illustrious miracles, could have led 

Paul before £gnppa. 28S 

him to embrace the gospel of Christ, and to be ready to 
suffer imprisonment and death, in that cause which 
he had, so lately, been persecuting with the bitterest 
fury. He now saw the scriptures in a new light; — he 
saw the types and prophecies all pointing, not to a 
conquering Messiah who should vindicate the Jewish 
nation into liberty, and subdue the world by arms, but 
to a suffering Saviour who should conquer only by his 
death. On this subject his tongue glowed, till the Ro- 
man governor, who understood none of these things, 
exclaimed, Paul! thou art beside thyself; much learning 
doth 7nake thee mad. With dignity, but with the pro- 
found respect due to this illustrious magistrate, he re- 
pels the imputation; at the same time he takes occasion 
from it to appeal to the prejudices of Agrippa as a 
Jew. The king knoweth of these things, saith he, be- 
fore ivhom I speak freely. They are known to him not 
only from their publicity in Judea, but from their an- 
alogy to events which he believes in our ancient scrip- 
tures. — King Agrippa! believest thou the prophets? 1 
know that thou believest. This appeal, so full of art, 
and so happily applied, this apparent confidence in his 
principles as a Jewish prince, touched the heart of 
the king. Almost, saith he, thou persuadest me to be a 
christian. How noble, how benevolent, how anima- 
ted, and yet delicate, the reply of the apostle, — would 
to God, that not only thou, but also all who hear me this 
day, were both almost, and altogether such as lam, ex- 
cept these bonds! The address discovered by the ora- 
tor in this conclusion cannot be too much admired. 
Finding that he had gained the ear of his principal 

284) Paul before dgrippa. 

judge; perceiving, in the language of Agrippa, a 
rising interest in his favour, he instantly, and in the 
most masterly manner, turned it to his own advantage. 
After wishing for them, and for all the vast assembly 
which heard him, the happiness which he enjoyed as a 
christian, as a disciple of Jesus, and an heir of the re- 
surrection, he just points to his chains as the only de- 
duction from the sum of his felicity, and the only thing 
which he would not include in his wishes for them. 
Those chains speak powerfully for him to hearts alrea- 
dy predisposed both to pity and admire him. He fore- 
saw the impression they would produce; it was suffi- 
cient now merely to point to them, to make every spec- 
tator feel their cruelty more sensibly than could be 
done by a thousand harangues. Festus and Agrippa 
rise from the tribunal, and, penetrated with his inno- 
cence, take measures, with all expedition, to transmit 
him to Rome according to his desire. Sublime ora- 
tor! of whose eloquence the master of Grecian critics 
has already made the eulogium, thou wast still more 
excellent and worthy of our esteem as a christian mi- 
nister. Let us then, my brethren, consider the import 
of his prayer for Agrippa, for Festus, and for all that 
immense assembly whom curiosity had attracted toge- 
ther to hear this celebrated discourse. The apostle, 
feehng the strongest conviction of the truth, as it is in 
Jesus, and glowing with the love of his Saviour, and 
conscious of the ineffable happiness which flows from 
the belief and the hopes of the gospel, dares, though in 
the humblest station, though exposed to labours, af- 
flictions, persecutions, and though now just drawn forth 

Paul before Agrippa. 285 

from a prison, to wish for kings, and princes, the same 
fehqity in the reception of that precious gospel which 
he himself experienced. 

What then, is the happiness flowing from a sincere 
believer in the doctrines of Christ, which emboldened 
his com'age and prompted his benevolent zeal to utter 
such a prayer in their behalf? In ordinary cases, it 
would have been deemed insulting to men of their sta- 
tion and rank in the world, to desire for them the hap- 
piness of a prisoner in chains; but the holy apostle, 
inflamed with a subject so interesting to him and to 
mankind, was moved by the consciousness that he was 
imploring for them the highest of temporal and eter- 
nal blessings. 

The religion of Christ, embraced on the ground of 
conviction, and with the sincerity and ardor with which 
St. Paul received it, is a source of the most exalted 
happiness to the greatest and wisest, as well as the 
humblest, of mankind; — because it composes and 
settles the doubts and anxious inquiries of the human 
mind, with regard to subjects the most important and 
interesting to man, on a basis of immovable truth, — it 
offers to the affections of heart the most perfect ob- 
jects to fill them, — it affords the only true consolation 
under all the calamities of life,— it elevates our nature, 
strengthens virtue, and opens to us the sources of the 
highest felicity in a future, a blessed, and immortal ex- 

1. It composes and settles the fluctuating and doubt- 
ing mind, tossed among a thousand anxious uncertain- 
ties concerning subjects the most important and inte- 

286 Paul before Agiippa. 

resting to man. Without the aids of those lights from 
heaven which we can follow with security in exami- 
ning them, reason is agitated in a chaos of doubt. In 
the deep of security which surrounds us, its feeble ta- 
per seems only to mislead us the more. Abandon re- 
velation, and what can we know of the Creator; of the 
origin, or government of the world; even of our own 
nature, our duties, or our destination? What various, 
what incoherent, what contradictory conjectures have 
the wisest of men framed on these subjects which, 
above all others, they have sought to understand! 
God! if by the efforts of reason alone we attempt to 
lift our souls to thee, and unite them to the infinite 
source of being, how are we lost and confounded! Ig- 
norance repels us from thy throne, and we seek to 
know thee, in vain! Nay, could we be assured amidst 
the evils of the world, if there were a God; or if all 
things were governed by capricious accident, or by a 
senseless fate.? If our destiny were indifferent to him, 
or if frail mortals might hope to find in him a father 
in whose good u ess and compassion they might take re- 
fuge even in death.? — Would not as many anxious in- 
quiries arise also with regard to our own being.? What 
are we? For what end do we exist.? What are our 
duties either to heaven or earth.? What shall be our 
destiny beyond this life.? These are questions, and 
they might be multiplied without end, which involve 
interests the dearest and most precious to man; ideas 
which the eager curiosity of the reasonable mind is 
most solicitous to imderstand. But has reason, has all 
the wisdom of the wise ever been able to resolve them, 

Paul before Agrippa. 287 

or to bring to light any solid grounds on which an anx- 
ious inquirer after truth can rest? No, we find, in 
the revelation of the Spirit of Christ alone, those lights 
which can lead the heart to solid repose. Agrippa was 
at this moment agitated by an important doubt. He was 
irresolute, and undetermined whether he should yield 
himself to the instructions of this great apostle of 
Christ, or resign his understanding again to all the 
uncertainties of his former state. Conviction on the 
one side, or rather the dawning rays of truth, and, on 
the other, habit, honor, pleasure, drew him different 
ways Would to God! saith this holy minister, that I 
could withdraw you from the dark and dubious re- 
gions of nature in which you are involved! that I could 
make you partaker of those holy and consolatory truths 
on which my own mind reposes with such unspeaka- 
ble satisfaction! That I could shed into your heart 
those precious lights which would fix all its waverings, 
and lead you, as they have done my own soul, to a per- 
fect rest in God! 

2. The faith of Christ is a source of the highest 
happiness, in the next place, because it offers to the 
heart the noblest objects of its affections. Would to 
God, saith St. Paul, that you were as / am, for my con- 
solations are complete in Christ. And Avell might this 
prayer be made for Agrippa and for Festus, lor prin- 
ces and for people, for all who bound their pursuits 
and hopes by this world. What is necessary to hap- 
piness.'^ Interests which are stable, friends who are 
sincere, pleasures which are worthy of our nature. 
And, alas! what are the pleasures which the world 

288 Paul before Agrippa. 

affords? What are the pleasures, especially, which 
reign in the courts of such princes as Festus and 
Agrippa? Are they not those of appetite, of intempe- 
rance? Pleasures which are such, only during the 
moments of passion and intoxication; but leave behind 
them guilt, remorse, and humiliation. 

What in the next place, are the friendships of the 
world? cold, interested, treacherous. For friends, do 
you not too often find rivals, enemies, secret assassins 
of your name and happiness? And are not the most 
splendid conditions of fortune still more than others, 
subject to these infelicities? And what is the ordina- 
ry state of society in the world, but an intercourse of 
insipidity, of frivolity, of indifference, of insincerity, in 
which the heart is deserted, or pleases itself only with 
delusions? What, finally, are the interests of the 
world? Is there any thing durable in them? Any 
thing which can completely satisfy an immortal mind? 
Are they not continually disappointing our hopes, and 
perishing from our embrace? Is not their pursuit tu- 
mult, their possession anxiety; and, if these are our on- 
ly goods, their loss despair? Do not these agitations 
and fears more frequently harrass the prince than the 
peasant? Do not the vicissitudes of the world more 
dreadfully assail the throne than the cottage? The 
hearts of those who are elevated to high stations and 
to power, have still less to fill the void that is in them 
than those of the meanest of their dependents. Sur- 
rounded with sycophants and interested flatterers, they 
seldom possess a single friend with whom they can 
confidentially reciprocate one frank and tender feeling 

Paul before A^rippa. 289 

of the soul. — King! if you would seek for sincere 
happiness, happiness that shall be durable and worthy 
of your nature, expect not to find it in the splendor of 
your throne, in the dissipations of your court, in that 
crowd of flatterers and dependents who surround you, 
in a word, in any of the enjoyments of the world. It 
is to be found only in the religion of that Heavenly 
Master whose grace arrested my criminal career, and 
illuminated my darkened mind, and in whose name I 
now preach. Would to God that I could impart to 
you the principles of that joy which passeth all under- 
standing, now reigning in my breast, which the world, 
in all its prosperity, cannot yield, nor can all its adver- 
sity take away. This furnishes the highest and the 
only certain sources of felicity to a reasonable mind. 
But it must be a mind renewed, purified from the 
grossness of the flesh, cultivated by the spirit of God 
himself, to be able to relish, and truly to enjoy them. 
In God, in Christ, in the law of charity and love, ia 
the contemplation of a blessed and immortal existence, 
the heart of a good man enjoys its richest treasures, its 
supreme consolations. In the Creator he finds the 
sum of all that is sublime and beautiful, that is excel- 
lent and perfect in the universe. In him all the pow- 
ers of the soul may expatiate with eternal and unwea- 
ried delight. But Christ is the mirror in which the 
glory of the Deity shines with the most transcendent 
beauty to man. In him the penitent soul finds peace 
with God. The fears, the apprehensions, the disquie- 
tudes of guilt are allayed. Without a mediator, no 

frail and sinful mortal can look up to the supreme tri- 
voL. I. pp 

^90 Paul before Jlgrippa. 

bunal, or approach to the borders of the grave without 
fear. JButin Christ repentant guilt his nothing to ap- 
prehend even from the justice of heaven. And let 
every believer say, if he does not afford to the heart the 
object of its sweetest and most delightful affections. 
Behold, God manifest in the flesh! behold, God recon- 
ciled to offending man! behold yourself redeemed from 
eternal death, and made an heir of everlasting life! 
What cause is here for the unbounded flow of grati- 
tude and joy, for the holy ecstasies of love! 0, Agrip- 
pa! thou hast never experienced, in all the pomp of 
royalty, in all the flatteries which wait on power, in all 
the excesses of criminal pleasure, joys to be compa- 
red to these. Would to God, saith the apostle, anima- 
ted with all the fervors of divine love, that thou wert 
a partaker of my felicity, so pure, so exquisite, so sur- 
passing all understanding! 

Other objects of the heart in the law of charity, and 
love to our fellow men, I omit particularly to present to 
you, lest I exhaust your attention; but proceed to re- 
call to your minds, 

3. Another source of the happiness afforded by re- 
ligion in the consolation which it affords in all the ca- 
lamities of life. 

Of this, experience had rendered Paul himself a most 
competent judge. Stripes and imprisonments, insults, 
and the excesses of popular fury, dangers and fatigue, 
hunger and thirst, by land and on sea, on the highway 
and in the desert, had constantly pursued him ever 
since, obedient to the heavenly vision, he had con^e- 
erated himself to the service of Christ. He had often, 

Faul before Agrippa, 291 

as he says himselt, been in the midst of deaths, for the 
cause of truth and of his ever blessed Redeemer; but 
the consolations of reUgion were superior to all his 
sufferings; and, at that moment, though a prisoner and 
in chains, he felt himself happier than kings and pro- 
consuls on their tribunals and their thrones. Whence 
did these consolations arise to the apostle? and whence 
do they arise to every sincere believer? From the glo- 
ry of God, from the mercy, the grace, and salvation of 
the Redeemer, which, absorbing all the soul in the 
most delightful contemplations, and wrapping it often 
in the ecstasies of admiration, gratitude, and divine 
love, render it superior to all its afflictions. They 
arise from the conviction that all these temporary pains, 
which are part of our discipline upon earth, are, under 
the direction of a most wise and gracious parent, who 
does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men; 
a merciful correction that will ultimately be converted 
into a peculiar blessing to those who love God; and 
that these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, 
work out, in the end, afar more exceeding and eternal 
weight ofglonj, to those who enter heaven through ma- 
Kiy tribulations. 

The world is full of calamities; and, conniionly, as 
we advance in life, and, especially, as we verge to- 
wards its decline, the strokes of misfortune fall so hea- 
vily, and are repeated in such quick succession, that, 
were it not for the supports of religion, the tender and 
sensible heart would sink under them. And are thrones 
exempted from afflictions, more than cottages? wealth 
and splendor of fortune, more than poverty? A grip- 

292 Paul before Agrippa, 

pa more than Paul? Nay, are not elevated stations 
more exposed than the humble, to the fury of the 
tempest? Prosperity, while it skives an increased va- 
lue to the world, and renders it more necessary to our 
happiness, at the same time softens, and weakens the 
heart, and makes all the vicissitudes of life the more 
terrible. High fortune commonly finds, in the latter 
end, men more treacherous, and the world more de- 
ceitful. But, when the world, and all its enjoyments, 
are about to pass away forever, how fearful is the 
grave, how fearful is eternity,, to those who have no 
higher portion! Life was troubled, anxious, insecure: 
but despair rests upon the tomb. 

4. Another excellence and felicity of religion, there- 
fore, and one which gave the state of the apostle an in- 
finite preference above that of his illustrious hearers, is 
the precious hope which it yields a good man of a bles- 
sed immortality. It removes from the grave that des- 
pair which covers it to the guilty, and adds to the con- 
sciousness of being a higher and purer enjoyment by 
the consoling assurance that we shall not perish in the 
dust; that life is there suspended only for a moment, 
to be restored improved to inconceivable degrees of 
felicity and perfection. Blessed and glorious hope! 
What ideas can contribute so much to elevate our na- 
ture, to strengthen the principles of virtue, and, from 
both causes, to promote the happiness of a sincere be- 
liever in Jesus Christ? Paul, when rapt to the third 
heavens, he saw and heard what it was impossible to 
express in the language of mortals, had still but faint 
conceptions of the glory that is to be revealed; but it 

Paul before Agrippa. 29$ 

taught him to rejoice in persecution, it inspired hira 
with a desire to depart and be with Christy it enabled 
him to triumph over the last enemy of man — O grave! 
where is thy victory/ death, where is thy sting! — Was 
it not with reason then that the holy apostle prayed for 
his princely hearers, that they might be persuaded to 
embrace that blessed gospel, the divine fruits of which 
he had found to his own unspeakable consolation; that 
blessed Redeemer who by his death hath purchased, 
by his resurrection has assured to all his faithful disci- 
ples, everlasting life? Paganism, philosophy, that lax 
Judaism which Agrippa professed, could give no dis- 
tinct ideas, no certain hopes of a future and happy ex- 
istence. But without this hope, what are the pomps, 
what are the fortunes, what are the pleasures of the 
world, which are hastening to pass away, and be swal- 
lowed up by death? It is not merely the gloom of an- 
ticipated annihilation which is shed upon them; but con- 
science, with a boding voice often shakes the heart in the 
midst of its crimes with the most fearful apprehensions of 
a future retribution. And at no time, perhaps, are these 
bodings louder, or these apprehensions more severe 
than in the intervals of the excesses of pleasure. What 
are those blue hours as they are often called by the 
world, those distressful feelings of which the intempe- 
rate so often complain, but dismal anticipations of fu- 
turity? Oh! Proconsuls of Rome! Kings of the east! 
dissolved in luxury, enervated by pleasure, dazzled by 
the splendors which surround you, yet often trembling 
at that airy hand which, to the eye of conscience, is 
writing your condemnation, how supremely blessed is 

^94 Paul before Agrippa, 

a humble, persecuted apostle in chains, compared with 
you! Oh! ineffable consolation to have beyond this 
life the hope of living forever, of beholding God in 
peace, of being united in the blessed society of all those 
pure spirits who have been redeemed from the earth 
by the blood of the Lamb; of pouring into the bosom 
of the Saviour the eternal ecstasies of our gratitude, 
and of advancing forward, by an endless progression 
in the perfection of our being, towards the infinite 
source of existence, and of happiness. Ah! would to 
God! that all who hear me this day were both almost 
and altogether such as was this holy and fervent apos- 
tle, except his bonds! But why need I make this ex- 
ception? You would be happy in bonds, in imprison- 
ment, or death, if it were necessary in the service of 

But, my brethren, remember that, for this end, you 
must be not only almost but altogether christians. You 
must not rest, like x4grippa, in partial convictions of 
the truth; in resolutions and wishes imperfectly form- 
ed: you must not rest in rites and exterior forms, and 
in a merely nominal and exterior profession of the gos- 
pel of Jesus. You must imbibe, you must be anima- 
ted by his spirit. Let the same spirit be in you which 
was also in Christ Jesus our Lord. The higher you 
rise in your attainments in virtue and piety, the more 
richly will you drink of those rivers of pleasure which 
flow at God's right hand. 

Endue us, God! with thy Holy Spirit! Elevate 
our views, our tastes, our affections, above this world,. 

Paul before Agrippa. 295 

that, partaking copiously of the communications of thy 
grace, we may begin on earth, the feUcity oi' heaven! 



Haviug a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 

Phil. i. 23^. 

When we regard the present life as a period of 
trial destined to prepare our nature for a higher con- 
dition of existence: it will be the tendency of a genuine 
faith in the truth of the gospel, often to look beyond 
all the imperfections of life, to the full maturity of our 
being, and the glorious rewards, with which a faithful 
and merciful Saviour shall ultimately crown the obe- 
dience of his sincere disciples. The hope of the glory 
to be revealed, bestowed by the grace, and enjoyed in 
the presence of the Redeemer, affords the supreme 
consolation to humble piety under all the distressing 
vicissitudes of the present life. And when the evils 
of the world are multiplied, and the frailty of human 
nature is ready to sink beneath their pressure, often 
will the good man lift to heaven the eye of faith, as to 
his proper home, pouring his sighs into the bosom 
of his heavenly Father, that the moment may at length 
arrive, when he shall be permitted to rest from his la- 
hours. And in the progress of his pilgrimage, where 
harassed by temptation, or overwhelmed with grief for 

Desire of the Apostle, ^c. 297 

the remaining imperfections of'his nature, when hope is 
ready to forsake him, and the feeble and obscure disco- 
veries of faith are insufficient to satisfy the ardent long- 
ings of his soul, will he not often be ready anxiously to 
exclaim, lohen ivill the day daimi, and these shadows flee 
away? when shall I lay aside this body of sin and death; 
and my soul arrive at its desired rest! 

Such were the fervent aspirations of this holy apos- 
tle, under the numberless perils, and the unceasing 
persecutions to which he was exposed for the sake of 
the gospel of his Lord and Saviour. Nature almost 
exhausted, and sinking under the weight of his suffer- 
ings, panted for repose like the weary hireling at the 
close of day. And nothing reconciled him to enduring 
the load of life but the prospect of rearing to maturity 
those churches which he had planted amidst the most 
imminent dangers. Earnestly he desired to depart and 
be with Christ, nevertheless, saith he, to abide in the 
flesh is more needful for you. 

1. Let me, then, in the first place, consider the im- 
port of this pious aspiration of the holy apostle, which 
has been frequently repeated by other believers the 
imitators of his faith. 

2. And, in the next place, illustrate the principal 
reasons for which a sincere disciple of Christ may de- 
sire, when such is the will of God, to be absent from 
the body, and present with the Lord. 

1. This holy desire of the apostle, and of every true 
believer by whom it is repeated, implies as an indis- 
pensible pre-requisite an humble and confiding trust in 
the righteousness of the Redeemer, and in his most gra- 

VOL. 1. _^ Q q 

298 Desire of the Apostle 

cious promises of eternal life. Out of Christ, saith the 
Holy Spirit, our God is a consuming fire to the irm^k- 
ers of iniquity. To them, therefore, the dissolution ot 
the body, and the appearance of the soul before the 
Supreme tribunal, far from being an object of desire, 
is an event which necessarily fills them with dismay. 
It is only when our faith can rest its hopes upon tlie 
rock of ages, that it can overcome the painful appre- 
hensions of our approaching dissolution. It is only when 
the soul, confiding with a holy assurance in Christ, can 
fill her view with that celestial glory to which he is 
raised, as the head of all his people, that she aspires to 
enter with him into her eternal rest. In this confi- 
dence she is able to meet the last enemy with a divine 
tranquillity, and, often, to rejoice, in the stroke which 
breaks the ties that hold her enchained to the corrup- 
tions of the (lesh; and rends the veil which obscures the 
vision of all that she has longed most ardently to en- 
joy. Hence the saints in scripture are so often heard 
to speak the language of triumph in the prospect of 
death, and under the pressure of sufferings more for- 
midable than death to the devout and holy soul. Be- 
ing justified by faith, saith the apostle, we have peace 
ivith God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall 
separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, 
or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or 
peril, or sword? JS'ay, in all these things we are moi^e 
than conquerors through him that loved us. For lam 
persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor 
piincipaUHes, nor 'powers, nor things present, nor things 
to come, nor height, 7ior depth, nor any other crecdure, 

To depart and he uith Christ. 299 

shall he ahle to separate us from the love of God which 
is in Jesus Christ, mir Lord. Here then, holy hrethren, 
you perceive the first principle of that fervent aspira- 
tion expressed by the blessed apostle, and which has 
often been breathed forth by the saints, to dcjmrl and 
be with Christ, — a firm trust in the righteousness of the 
ever blessed Redeemer, and founded on this, a lively 
hope in the future rewards and glory which aw^ait all 
true believers. Why, indeed, should not an afflicted 
christian earnestly desire this happy release from a 
suffering and sinful world, if, with the venerable pa- 
triarch, in similar circumstances, he can say, / knoiv 
that mil Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the 
latter day upon the earth: — and though after my skin, 
ivorms destroy this body, yet, in myjlesh, 1 shall see God. 

2. This breathing of the soul, implies in the next 
place, that the apostle had risen, by the power of a di- 
vine faith, above the undue influence of all the ordinary, 
and even lawful causes, which usually attach a good 
man, most strongly to life. 

I do not mean those natural appetites for the com- 
mon blessings of divine Providence which are insepara- 
ble from human nature as long as we remain connect- 
ed with this system of sense. Desirable and lawful 
they are while pursued with moderation and enjoy- 
ed with temperance. But what are the highest delights 
of the perishing body, compared with those rivers of 
pleasure, which spring eternally from the throne of 
God .^ What the products of your most fruitful fields 
compared with the fruit of //le tree of life which grows 
in the midst of the paradise of God.^ And although H is a 

SOO Desire of the apostle 

pleasant thing to behold the sun, will not the humble 
christian joyfully close his eyes upon it, who believes 
that he is entering into that city which hath no need of 
the sun, neither of the iuoon to shine in it, for the 
glory of the Lord doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the 
light thereof? 

But the causes to which I i^efer, and which are 
adapted to take the most powerful hold on the heart of 
a truly pious man, are the desire of being more exten- 
sively useful to mankind; soHcitude to strengthen 
the habits of piety and virtue in his own breast, before 
he is called to appear in the immediate presence of his 
Supreme judge; and finally, the wish to promote the 
comfort and happiness of those who at once are most 
immediately dependent on his protection, and are the 
dearest objects of his affections upon earth. 

1. Of these causes, I place first, the desire of being 
more extensively useful to mankind. 

This holy apostle, notwithstanding his solicitude to 
exchange his labours for his reward, his conflicts for 
his crown, was ready, if such were the will of his hea- 
venly Father, to continue in the midst of his sufferings 
and dangers, to rear by his care, and nourish with the 
word of life, the churches which he had planted by his 
labours. To promote the glory of God in the salvation 
of mankind, is the object of supreme desire to every 
faithful servant of Christ. United in affection to those 
to whom he has been made the instrument of spiritual 
good, he may wish still to live with them, to encourage 
and assist their progress in their heavenly journey. 
Ever attentive to the interests of the church, he may 

To depart and be mth Chnst. 301 

be anxious to see, with regard to it, the issue of new 
and uncommon aspects of divine providence. Per- 
ceiving with grief how httle he has hitherto done to 
advance the kingdom of his Redeemer, so dear to all 
the faithful, he may be sohcitous still to remain upon 
earth, to repair, if possible, the imperfection of his 
past services. He may have laid down new resolu- 
tions of duty, new and more holy purposes of useful- 
ness, which he may pray only to have time to accom- 
plish. Yet these motives, however laudable, must be 
submitted to the sovereign disposal of Almighty God. 
If it is his will that you should leave the harvest in the 
midst of your labours, go without a murmur; go with 
cheerful resignation to receive a reward, in your own 
esteem so little merited, knowing that he hath other 
labourers whom he can send into his harvest. On the 
other hand, however ardently he may long for his eter- 
nal rest, he will be willing to encounter all the afflic- 
tions of this earthly pilgrimage, as long as his Saviour 
lias one work for him to perform, or one trial for him 
to endure. He is in a strait betivixt two; but the will 
of Heaven shall decide his choice. 

2. If a zeal for public usefulness contribute to 
strengthen his desire of life, it may, perhaps, be aug- 
mented by a pious solicitude to become more conform- 
ed to the image and the will of God, before he is call- 
ed from this state of trial to receive his final reward. 

This is a case, however, in which the deceitfulness 
of the human heart may easily mistake, in ascribing to 
a desire of increasing sanctification, only some feeble 
purposes of future duty. If it were simply his desire 

o02 Desire of the Apostle 

to rise to the full maturity of his christian virtue; 
where can he so certainly attain the perfection of holi- 
ness as in heaven, when he shall have put off this body 
of sin and death? Ought not a believer therefore, to 
find, in these considerations even stronger motives to 
desire to be absent from the body and present with the 
Lord; and to look forward, as his chief joy, to those 
celestial habitations where he shall sin no more? 

3. But a much more powerful tie to life, is the de- 
sire which is natural to all men, and which is often 
most strongly felt by the best of men, of remaining to 
provide for the happiness of those who are most de- 
pendent upon his protection. Those affections which 
attach us to family and friends far from being weaken- 
ed, are strengthened and refined by the habits of vir^ 
tue, and the spirit of piety; so that often they increase 
to a good man, in his last moments, the difficulty of 
parting with these tender objects of his affections; 
with the companions and partners of his purest joys, 
with the sharers and soothers of all his griefs, with 
whom he has mingled his soul, and who are become 
the dearest portions of himself Ah! how hard the 
trial, if he knows that he must leave an afflicted and 
unprotected widow, orphan and helpless children, in 
the midst of a deceitful and ensnaring world. He has 
himself keenly suffered from its afflictions; he has ex- 
perienced its coldness, perhaps its enmity, and to pro- 
tect them from the same ills, and ward the anguish 
from their hearts, he would wilhngly encounter alone 
its severest assaults, and bare his own breast to receive 
all its shafts. But when he thinks of them, and that 

To depart and he tvith Christ. 303 

he can no longer be their shield or their guide, his 
spirit faints. 

Above all, the vices which are continually present- 
ed to youth in the manners of the world; the seductions 
which assail them, the snares which encompass their 
inexperienced years, fdl him with afflicting apprehen- 
sions. If Heaven should prolong his life, he could 
protect their weakness, and direct their footsteps in 
the path of virtue; a thousand pangs he could ward off 
from their bosoms; but he is about to leave them, he 
knows not to what lot: on earth he shall see them no 
more, and he knows not if he shall meet them in Hea- 
ven. Ah! painful separation! how must it rend the 
heart of an affectionate parent, husband, or friend! 
Ah! the pang which must mingle itself even with the 
hopes of heaven in the last look which he casts on these 
precious objects of his love. In the midst of these 
overwhelming emotions, however, tlie believer finds 
a refreshing consolation in the faithfulness of the di- 
vine promise. The mercy of the Lord is from ever- 
lasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his 
righteousness unto children^ s children. Leave thy father- 
less children, and I will protect them, and let thy ividoivs 
trust in me. 

Although the love of these dear connections, which 
have so powerfully twined themselves about his heart, 
forms the strongest tie that binds the believer to life, 
yet the love of God is, in his breast, a superior prin- 
ciple. Although his heart bleeds at the stroke which 
separates him from them: yet, leaving them in the 
hands of a merciful Saviour, he is resigned, and will- 

304 Desire of the Apostle 

ing to go to that land of vision, where he shall more 
clearly behold all the gracious designs of their heaven- 
ly Father toward them unfolded, and where, waiting 
for them, he shall drink eternal consolations from the 
river that, springing irom the hill oi" God, carries im- 
mortal life and joy through all the regions of the ce- 
lestial Eden. My flesh and heart, may he say with the 
holy Psalmist, dothfaint and fail, yet God is the strength 
of my heart and my portion forever. 

4. In the last place, the language of the text im- 
plies an earnest aspiration of soul to attain the perfect 
vision of God, the blessed fruition of his heavenly in- 

It is not the language of resignation merely, that the 
apostle speaks: it is the sighing of a labourer to finish 
his toils and be at rest — the anxiety of a traveller agi- 
tated with tempests, and worn with fatigue, to find 
again a secure and settled home — it is the prayer of a 
regenerated soul to escape from this region of temp- 
tation and sin — it is the longing of an exiled child to 
return to his father's presence, and to taste again in 
a father's love, those pure and heart-felt joys which, 
among strangers, he could never find. 

Such will frequently be the aspiration, also, of all 
sincere believers during their passage through this af- 
flicted pilgrimage, or as they are approaching its se- 
rious and interesting termination. In God their af- 
fections are centered. With him they daily hold de- 
lightful communion. But impeded by the weakness 
of the flesh, and the obscurities of sense, they often 
have reason anxiously to exclaim. Oh that I knew 

To depart and be with Christ 305 

where I might find him! Oh! that God would rend the 
veil that hangs upon my mortal vision! Oh! that the 
time vj^ere come when I shall know even as also I am 
known! when, released from all earthly attachments, 
my soul may be lilled only with God! And now, O 
Lord! through all my remaining pilgrimage, so help 
me to live above this world, that, whenever it shall be 
thy will, I may with the holy apostle be ready and 
willing and desire to depart and be with Christ! 

2. I now further request your attention, for a few 
moments, while I point to some of the principal rea- 
sons for which a humble and devout christian may 
justly desire, when such is the will of God, to be ab- 
sent from the body and present with the Lord. These 
may be reduced to a very few and simple considera- 
tions. 1. The imperfection of the world viewed as 
the portion of the pious soul. 2. The afflictions with 
which the world abounds. 3. And finally, the hopes 
of a higher and immortal life, when the transient 
scene of the world shall have passed away. 

The imperfection of the world will weaken his mo- 
tives for continuing in it. Its manifold afflictions will 
render him more willing to depart from it — And the 
hope of eternal hfe beyond all its painful vicissitudes, 
will awaken his holy desires to take possession of his 
heavenly inheritance. 

The imperfection and vanity of the world as the 
portion of a rational and immortal mind has, in all 
ages, been a fruitful theme of moral reflection. And 
the experience of all who have ever pursued it with 
the greatest eagerness, or enjoyed it with the great- 

VOL. I. R r 

306 Desire of the Apostle 

est pleasure has, in the result, confirmed the humilia* 
ting testimony ofthe sacred preacher; vanity of vanities, 
all is vanity!— FdLY would I be from indulging the com* 
plainings of disappointment, or the mistaken spirit of 
ascetic mortification, as if the present state furnished 
no sources of lawful enjoyment to a sincere christian. 
Pleasures undoubtedly, of a very elevated kind, he may 
derive from the consolations of piety ; though greatly im- 
paired from the frailties of a corporeal and sinful na* 
ture, and from our inadequate conceptions ofthe glory 
of Cod, and the boundless mercy of the Redeemer. 
Many exquisite satisfactions he may taste from the 
temperate gratification of all the senses in their proper 
place, though from the same sources often spring his 
keenest pains, and his most severe afflictions. And plea- 
sures of a more refined and exquisite nature, he often 
enjoys from the delightful sympathies of society, the 
confidential intercourse of friendship, or the tender 
endearments of domestic love. But, ah! how short 
lived! and how often the spring of deep and exquisite 
suffering! With infinite pain the dearest ties are torn 
from our hearts. The most cruel separations divide us 
from those whom we have most tenderly loved, and 
rend us as it were from ourselves, till death consigns 
them, one after another, to the house of silence, and 
leaves us, at length, nothing more to wish, but to fol- 
low them. 

On the other hand, the happiness which the warmth 
of our hearts had once taught us to expect from the 
pleasures of society, and still more from the sympa- 
thies and endearments of friendship, is, but too ii-e- 

To depart and he nnth Chnst 307 

quently blasted by the chillness of indifference, and the 
treachery of selfishness. Suspicions and rivalslnps, 
vanity or pride, rise up and poison the cup of humaa 
felicity. The whispers of malignity, the arts of dis- 
ingenuousness, infuse jealousies and distrust between 
the nearest friends: and each, aware of the insincerity 
of all, learns to surround himself with an atmosphere 
of selfishness, which blights the early blossoms of so- 
cial happiness. Hence few have lived long in the world 
who have not contracted a distrust of the world. And 
often it happens that the most open, candid, and be- 
nevolent hearts, having met the most ungrateful re- 
turns from a false friendship, are liable to fall intoth<j 
most sullen misanthropy, and to wrap themselves up 
in unsocial retirement. 

In what, indeed, consists the greater part of the 
commerce of society.^ A good man finds in it little be- 
sides associations for criminal pleasure; parties of fri^ 
volity and idleness, comedies of ridicule and scandal; 
every thing that wounds the feelings of sincere piety, 
and genuine benevolence. With so many causes of 
dissatisfaction with the world, is it wonderful that a 
real disciple of Jesus should sometimes sigh to h ave 
its infected atmosphere and be at rest with his Ke- 
deemer.^ Is it wonderful that, wearied with the insin- 
cerity, the dissimulation, and malevolence of mankind, 
he should long to be translated to that immortal so- 
ciety who are forever united in the blissful charities of 
Heaven ? 

2. I remark, in the next place, that our impotence 
to gratify the ardent thirst of divine knowledge, ^iwa- 

308 Desire of the Apostle 

kened in the heart of a behever, by the Holy Spirit, 
may become a powerful reason why he should be will- 
ing to emerge from this sphere of darkness and error 
into the light of his countenance^ in which is the per- 
fection of knowledge, and tfie fullness of joy. The 
thirst of knowledge is natural to man; but piety seeks 
to turn this powerful propensity to the purposes of de- 
votion. It aspires to understand God our Maker, that 
it may more profoundly adore him; to form just ideas 
of the ever blessed Redeemer in his eternal existence; 
in his descent from Heaven to redeem the world; in 
his reascension to his primitive glory, that it may con- 
tinually pour forth to him the devout effusions of its 
gratitude and love; it aspires to investigate the astonish- 
ing works of God, and the awful mysteries of his pro- 
vidence, that it may derive from them more abundant 
materials of admiration and praise. But, ah! how 
small a portion of his works can we understand! Every 
object which we behold, baffles, in a thousand ways, 
the weakness of the human mind. With what la- 
borious efforts she strives to enlarge herself to embrace 
the idea of God. She would penetrate all her pow- 
ers with the love of God in Christ. She would mingle 
her essence with that Being of Beings. In these 
painful efforts to unite herself with him, she would al- 
most burst the dark and narrow sphere in which she 
is confined. But she is imprisoned; she is encompassed 
with thick clouds, she is oppressed by the weight and 
the corruptions of the body; and in submissive faith, 
is constrained to retire into herself, waiting till this 
corruptible shall have put on ineorruption. 

To depart and he ivith Christ. 309 

But in these ineffectual endeavours to raise our na- 
ture to God, and to mingle with that infinite fountain of 
being and of love, in these ardent but impotent de- 
sires to penetrate into the spiritual and eternal world, 
the christian finds new reasons to be willing to forsake 
this imperfect lodgment where we know only in part, 
and to look foivvard with hope to that higher condition 
of existence, when that which is perfect is come, and 
all that is in part shall be done away; and where we 
shall no more see thr-ough a glass daikly, hut face to 
face in immediate vision. 

3. If the world offers few enjoyments which should 
render the sincere disciple of his Saviour reluctant to 
leave it at the call of Heaven: the afflictions, on the 
other hand, with which it abounds, may well reconcile 
him to the stroke which parts the frail cord of life, and 
brings them all to an eternal period. 

The portion allotted to man from the beginning, was 
labour, and toil, and sorrow, till he return to the dust 
from which he was taken. Innumerable pains are 
continually avenging upon him the sin of human na- 
ture. And, in the order of Divine Providence, we not 
unfrequently behold the most virtuous of mankind 
subjected to the severest sufferings, which constrain 
the humble penitent to exclaim with the holy Psalm- 
ist; verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and loashed 
my hands in innocency;for all the day long have I been 
plagued, and chastened every morning. 

But our personal afflictions, are far from being the 
only evils which urge the behever to seek, beyond this 
desolate empire of pain, disease, and death, a more 

310 Desire of the Apostle 

peaceful habitation with Jesus Christ who has conquer- 
ed death, and opened the gates of eternal life. Our 
sympathies intimately unite us with our fellow men: 
and often, in the families of our friends, do we see one 
desolating calamity, or a succession of afflicting be- 
reavements, turn a pleasant garden into a disconsolate 
wilderness, and impress a face of mortal gloom on all 
the prospects of life? How often do we perceive those 
who yesterday were at the summit of the wheel of 
earthly fortune, to day precipitated to the bottom, and 
plunged into the depths of wretchedness? Here the 
head and stay of a lovely family is removed from them; 
and those who were lately accustomed to competence, 
ease, and respect, are left to want, to dependence, to 
the cold neglect of the world, to a melancholy which 
will never cease to prey upon their hearts. Here you 
behold Jacob rending his clothes, and putting sackcloth 
on his loins, his heart pierced with an inconsolable 
grief for the loss of his beloved Joseph: and though all 
his sons and his daughters rise up to comfort him, he re- 
fuses to be comforted, saying I mil go down into the grave 
to my son mourning. Are these rare examples of hu- 
man misery? Far from it. They are calamities which 
every day almost obtrudes upon our sympathy. What 
is usually the effect of long hfe, but to have the heart 
broken by breach after breach, till it has hardly the 
power of enjoyment left? To have one comfort, and 
one friend after another taken, till we are left almost 
alone upon the earth, and the world becomes to us, 
a vast and melancholy solitude. In the midst of so 
many, and such deep afflictions, how naturally does 

To depart and he with Christ. 311 

piety cast a longing look to that land of rest where 
sorrow and sighing shall flee away! 

The catalogue of these evils 1 shall conclude with 
one which, however can be truly understood only by a 
soul fervently touched with the love of God, and glowing 
with zeal for the glory of his Redeemer. The sins that 
are in the world, the madness and fljlly of mankind who 
seem eagerly bent on pursuing their own destruction, 
the desperate impiety of sinners, who are labouring 
to extend the kingdom of darkness, often occasion to 
sincere piety the sentiments of a profound grief Ri- 
vers of water, saith the Psalmist, run down mine eyes 
because tJiey keep not thy laiv. 

But if the humble disciple of Christ is affected with 
grief at being a witness of the sins of others, much 
more sensibly will he be afflicted by the evils which 
lodge in his own heart. The apostle Paul speaks in 
the name, and addresses himself to the feelings of every 
christian, when he complains; — Oh! ivretched man that 
I am! who shall deliver me frorr tlie body of this death? 

Is it surprising, then, that, under the full and peni- 
tent impression, of these sentiments, he should ardent- 
ly desire to arrive at that state of perfection in which 
he shall know God in a degree infinitely more clear, 
and serve him in a manner infinitely more complete 
than he can do in the present life? Is it surprising 
that he should long to quit the church below, with its 
obscure ritual of types and symbols, for the sublime 
and immortal devotions of the temple above; this cold, 
and dark, and imperfect region obscured with the 
mists of ignorance, and the clouds of human corrup- 

312 Desire of the Apostle 

tion, for those habitations of everlasting hght and truth 
where he shall behold tlie Sun of Righteousness in all 
his glory? 

For the strongest of all reasons for which a true be- 
liever should ever desire to be absent from the body, 
is the hope of possessing that immortal inheritance 
which the gospel reveals to an enlightened faith. In- 
stead of being surprised, therefore, that in the closing 
scene of life, he should desire to depart and be with 
Christ, may we not ratiier wonder that this devout 
aspiration is not constant, and almost impatient. It 
is the ardent wisJi of a traveller wearied with inces- 
sant agitations, to find a secure and settled rest — of 
an exiled child, who feels himself a />?ig"nm and stran- 
ger upon earth, to arrive at a settled home, and return 
to the embraces of a father's love. Blessed are the dead 
who die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours, 
and their ivorks do follow them. 

But the blessedness of Heaven consists, not mere- 
ly in exemption from the sorrows of the present Hfe, 
but in the possession of a glory which eye hath not seen, 
and which it has not entered into the heart of man to 
conceive. But, oh! in what language shall we de- 
scribe; by what images represent that celestial city, the 
distant outlines of which could only be sketched by 
the Spirit of inspiration.-^ Yet, in those happy moments 
in which faith can attain even a faint vision of that 
land of peace, all the evils of hfe are forgotten in the 
blissful prospect. All the splendid temptations of the 
world fade, as the stars are lost in the radiance of the 

To depart and he mth Christ. 313 

Often have these principles displayed a divine pow- 
er in minds constitutionally the most feeble and timid, 
and in circumstances the most formidable to human 
nature. Often have they enabled the martyr to tri- 
umph in the midst of flames; and often have they 
shed a glory on the dying bed of the saint. Happy 
the humble and pious soul who, in descending into the 
valley oftJie shadow of death, can say, with the apostle, 
I am now ready to be offered up, and the time of my 
departure is at hand; I have fought a good fight, I have 
finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, 
there is laid up for me a crown of rigliteousness, which 
the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that 
day; and not to me only, but to all them that love his 

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord! Yea, 
saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, 
and their works do follow them! Amen! Even so 
Gome Lord Jesus! 

VOL. 1. s s 


I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God, visiting^ the iniquities of the fa- 
thers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them 
that hate me, and showing mere} to thousands of those that love me 
and keep mj' commandments. Exod. xt. 5, 6. 

The immediate government exercised by God over 
the people of Israel, was the visible model of that se- 
cret Providence which presides over all the nations of 
the earth. The text discloses one of the most certain 
and invariable rules according to which the divine ad- 
ministration is conducted; which is, that the prevalence 
of virtuous manners among any people, and their re- 
spect to the institutions of religion, is usually connected 
with national prosperity; and on the other hand that 
impiety, and a general di -^solution of the pubhc man- 
ners prepares the way for a succession of national ca- 
lamities, which are followed, at length, by some disas- 
trous and fatal revolution. — Various interpretations 
have been given to this passage, and various attempts 
made to illustrate and vindicate the principle involved 
in it, expressed by visiting the iniquities of the fathers 
upon the children; but any application of it which has 
ever been made to the case of individuals, and their 
offspring, is evidently unfounded, and wholly unsup- 
ported by the state of the world. For, neither the suf- 
ferings of the posterity of vicious men, nor the pros- 
perity of those who have descended from pious ances- 
tors have verified the application of this sanction to 

Religion necessm^, ^c. 315 

them in the extent which the terms obviously imply 
We do not always see the childreii of the most profli- 
gate miserable to the third and fourth generation; still 
less do we see the descendents of the virtuous and 
pious invariably happy. The strained explanations 
which conjmentators are obliged to employ, and ihe 
exceptions they must necessarily admit in order to sup- 
port this interpretation, demonstrate that the object of 
the Divine Legislator has been wholly misconceived. 
But when we regard it as indicating a general princi- 
ple in the government of divine Providence over the 
nations of the earth, no fact is more certain, or more 
decisively confirmed by the universal testimony of his- 
tory; that righteousness exalteth a nation^ but sin is the 
reproach of any people; which last expression in the 
sacred scriptures, signifies the righteous chastisements, 
and, often, the total excision inflicted by God upon a 
sinful generation; when he visits the iniquities of the 
fathers upon the children to the full accomplishment 
of his just displeasure. When a nation has abandon- 
ed religion, the firmest basis of civil government is dis- . 
solved. Voluptuousness and effeminacy , avarice and pro- 
digality, a restless ambition, dark treacheries, and a uni- 
versal disregard of justice, which are the natural conse- 
quences of a general impiety, accumulate every spe- 
cies of misery on a wretched people, forsaken of God, 
and lost to virtue. The precious ties of society are 
broken; the national imbecility invites insult and inva- 
sion from abroad; it perishes under a fatal internal 
weakness, — and hastens to sink them in irretrievable 
ruin. Such is the course of divine Providence over 

316 Religion necessary to 

the great communities of the world; such, according 
to the universal testimony of experience, is the rapid, 
and fatal career of impious and corrupted nations; and 
such, appears to me, to be the genuine interpretation 
of this divine denunciation, which has commonly been 
so ill explained. J| 

If it be asked how this great political doctrine can 
be derived from a law which is aimed primarily against 
idolatry; and what connexion exists between this law, 
and the sanction with which it is armed? To answer 
ttiis inquiry, it is necessary to recur to the constitution 
of the government of Israel. Being administered by 
God himself, through the oracles pronounced from the 
sanctuary of the Holy of Holies, it has not improperly 
been denominated a theocratic institution, in which 
Jehovah was regarded as the immediate ruler and 
king. Idolatry, therefore, in that nation, is not only 
to be considered as treason against the commonwealth 
of Israel, but was, in truth, the public and open dere- 
liction of God; the abandonment of their religion, and 
the introduction of all that corruption of manners 
which is the natural consequence of the utter destitu- 
tion of religious principle. This law, therefore, hav- 
ing an immediate reference to the establishment of 
the national religion and government of Israel, its sanc- 
tions, also, in order to their right interpretation, should 
be regarded as having chiefly a national aspect. They 
rest, however, upon principles, in the moral govern- 
ment of the world, which are common to all the great 
communities of mankind. When a nation has become 
conspicuous for an open and avowed neglect and con- 

JVational Prosperity. 317 

tempt of the principles and institutions of religion, and 
for those profligate vices which are the natural conse- 
quences of impiety, it is hastening to be chastised by 
those direful calamities which usually attend the de- 
cline £^nd fall of nations. Almighty God visits upon 
the guilty inhabitants their iniquities, with the iniqui- 
ties of their fathers, to the third and fourth generation; 
and the accumulated sum of their crimes and punish- 
ments sinks them in deep and irretrievable perdition. 
Do you ask again, where is the justice of this order? 
and if it does not involve a principle inconsistent with 
the benignity of the divine nature, and unworthy of 
the Father and Judge of the universe? No, christians! 
it is a principle immutably ingrafted into the system of 
nature. And the language of the text points to a fact 
in the moral order of the universe, and in the conduct 
of Divine Providence over the nations, acknowledged 
by all wise and good men, and verified by the whole 
history of the world. Obvious it is, however we may 
explain the equity of the arrangement, that children 
every where suffer from the vices, the follies, and even 
the misfortunes of their parents. And it is the infal- 
lible order of human society, arising out of the consti- 
tution of man, that, when nations have sunk into spe- 
culative or practical atheism, and the pubhc manners 
have grown generally corrupt, each race becomes by 
a natural progression, more profligate than the past 
The crimes and disorders in each preceding genera- 
tion become only the foundation of new crimes and 
disorders in the following, till, in a: *few descents, an 
impious and abandoned progeny is ripe for a terrible 

318 Religion necessary to 

and accumulated destruction. The limitation of the 
sacred writer to the third and fourth generation will 
be found to correspond with the usual course of the 
decline and extinction of empires. After they have 
fallen into gross impiety and corruption of manners, 
seldom do they pass that period before they suffei; 
some disastrous revolution, or before they cease to be 
a nation. 

On the other hand, where have we seen a people, 
under the full influence of religious and moral princi- 
ple, in the full vigor of frugal and virtuous habits, 
which has fallen a prey to internal disorders, or to for- 
eign domination? While they love God, and keep his 
commandments, the blessing of Heaven will be upon 
them; their prosperity will be coextended with the 
reign of virtue and religion in the midst of them. 

Having brought the subject to this point, 1 lay down 
the following proposition, as resulting from the prece- 
ding illustrations, that the belief of the principles of re- 
ligion, and the practice of its duties, under some form 
which is calculated profoundly to impress the public 
mind with the sentiment of God, and the righteous go- 
vernment of his Providence over human affairs, is es- 
sential to the prosperity of nations; whereas national 
impiety becomes, at once, the parent and the nurse of 
disorders and crimes which hasten their approach to 

The principle, then, which I have laid down, and 
which 1 suppose to be embraced in the text, derives 
force from the opinions of all wise legislators; and I may 
add, the unequivocal testimony of experience. We 

JVational Prosperity. 319 

need but open the pages of antiquity: the historians, 
the poets, the legislators, the philosophers oi" all na- 
tions concur in one sentiment, that religion forms the 
only sohd basis of states. It is but in very recent 
times that this maxim has ever been railed in question. 
In every region of the earth, priests have been coeval 
with magistrates; and in the earliest periods of the 
world, we often find the sacred united with the regal 
functions. The wandering tribes of barbarians could 
never have been reduced to social order, and softened 
to civilized manners by any power less than that of 

On such minds laws could have but a feeble opera- 
tion, and abstracted principles of civil policy, so op- 
posed to all their former ideas and habits, could never 
have induced them by any anticipation of the benefits 
of civil order to renounce the wild liberty of their na- 
tive forests. — As examples of what took place in all 
other nations, let me recall to your mind those illus- 
trious priests, who first civilized Boeotia and Thrace.'* 
putting the principles of their moral, civil, and religious 
institutions into verse, they subdued the savage spirits 
of the natives by the authority of religion, and soften- 
ed them by the united influence of poetry and song. 
The more we examine this subject by the purest and 
best lights of antiquity, the more we shall be convin- 
ced that to religion alone the world, in the beginning 
was indebted not only for its social order, but for its 
arts, its morals, and the elements of its science. 

i have said that the proposition 1 have laid down de- 
rives confirmation li*om experience as well as from the 

320 Religion necessary to 

concurrent testimony of the wiser portion of all nations^ 
Where do we find a people in history who have aban- 
doned religion, and become sunk, in consequence, in- 
to effeminate and profligate manners, who have not 
been, at the same time, treading on the brink of des- 
truction. To this cause Polybius ascribes the loss of 
Roman liberty — to this cause Greece having become 
effeminate and factious, owed her subjugation to Rome 
— this was the fatal cause which subjected impious 
and idolatrous Israel to a long and distressful captivity 
to the empire of Babylon — and this finally extermina- 
ted them from the land which, under the favour and 
protection of Jehovah^ they had enjoyed for so many 
ages. And, have we not recently seen, in a great na- 
tion, a bold and impious attempt to govern without re- 
ligion, by the speculations of philosophy, and the brute 
force of violent and momentary laws.-^ What has been 
the result? Bursting from order, she plunged into an 
abyss of crimes. Philosophy herself perished in the 
tempest which she had raised; and religion has been 
again invoked to restore justice and peace to an un- 
happy people. Her mild but powerful voice alone 
could calm the raging of the storm, which despotism 
found herself unable to control, and say to the waves 
of that furious sea, peace! be still! 

So strongly were the philosophers of Greece and 
Rome persuaded of the connexion of religion with pub- 
lic happiness that, though far from being themselves 
believers in the popular superstitions, they esteemed it 
essential to the interest of the republic that the reve- 
rence of the people for these forms should be preser- 

JVational Prosperity, 321 

ved for the sake of that awful sentiment of religion 
connected with them, which threw its majesty over the 
laws, and imparted its energy to the great principles 
of morals. 

The necessity of religion to the interests of civil so- 
ciety arises out of the necessity of morals. Without 
religion, on what could the public morals rest? On 
the laws? The laws depend on morals for their own 
force. — On reason? Are the abstractions and doubt- 
ful conclusions of reason able to combat with the force 
of the passions? Were reason a more accurate stand- 
ard and efficient principle of duty than it is, I hesitate 
not to maintain that, where the mind, in its moral rea- 
sonings, is not under the commanding influence of an 
authority believed to be divine, its refinements, its ab- 
stractions, its deductions will forever be only more in- 
genious vindications of its own passions. Will politi- 
cians, then, rely on the native sentiments of justice, 
of temperance, of chastity in the human heart, to give 
effect to those laws which are most necessary for the 
order and happiness of society? I acknowledge the 
existence of these sentiments; and will, farther, main- 
tain that all the principles of natural morality, in the 
popular mind, are the dictates of feeling rather than 
the results of reasoning. But, as they exist in nature 
they are vague and indefinite. It is religion which, 
impressing a divine authority on the sentiments of na- 
ture, its moral instincts and feelings, gives clearness 
and precision to all the laws of duty. By reducing 
them to a few simple and positive precepts, it reaches, 
by a single word, an end which could hardly be at- 

VOL. I. T t 

S22 Religion tiecessary to 

tained by volumes of disquisitions. Thou shall not 
steal — Thou shall not commit adultery — Thou shall not 
bear false ivitness against thy neighbour — Nay, entering 
into the very fountains of action in the heart, thou 
shall not covet, or extend thy desires to any of the pos- 
sessions of thy neighbour. What a circle would be 
necessary to establish these principles by reason? And 
to how many exceptions, would they constantly be lia- 
ble! By one word, religion determines the rule, and 
cuts off all the modifications and evasions of the pas- 
sions. When the question is to practise all our duties, 
as men and citizens, could any cold and general con- 
siderations of political convenience produce obedience 
to them in opposition to those warm impulses which 
are continually urging men to their violation? Does it 
not require all the majesty, — does it not require all 
the sublime motives, — does it not require, if I may 
speak so, the omniscience of religion, which no secre- 
sy can escape, which no deception can elude, effectu- 
ally to enforce them? Religion has a power which no 
other considerations possess, by entering into the heart, 
and rectifying its principles, and by arresting the very 
beginnings of vice in its desires and intentions. Where 
religion is respected, and virtuous moral habits are es- 
tablished under its influence, the seeds of justice, of 
civil order, and obedience to the laws, are already 
sown in the heart. 

If reason and political convenience are the only 
foundations of obedience to the laws, will not every ci- 
tizen be disposed to examine "them by the narrow 
scale of his own understanding? Will he not be dis- 

jyatimial Prosperity, 323 

posed to make his own feelings of convenience the test 
of his duties to the pubhc? Have the mass of citi- 
zens, and those too who are placed in the most disad- 
vantageous positions in society, comprehension of mind 
sufficient to combine the general interests of a nation? 
Can they be supposed to have that high regard to an 
abstracted idea of public good, which will dispose them 
patiently to sacrifice to it their private feelings of hu- 
miliation and want, while others seem to reap exclu- 
sively all the benefits of society? — But do your philo- 
sophic pohticians rely for obedience to the laws, in 
the mass of the people, on their native sentiments of 
justice? What then! does the actual state of pohtical 
order, and civil justice in any country, perfectly coin- 
cide with the natural sentiments of eqnity in the popu- 
lar mind? Will the poor forcibly perceive the justice 
of that order in which, by the effects of time, and the 
operation of the laws, indolence, imbecility, and vice, 
have come into the possession of the most enviable 
stations in society, and have amassed together the 
greatest portion of wealth, which no labours and no 
merits can wrest out of their hands, or even share with 
them? No, the sentiments of justice, as it exists in 
the minds of the people, would militate against the 
views of the legislator; and, without the control of a 
divine power, would rather impel the multitude to per- 
petual revolutions, and reorganizations of the state. — 
On the other hand, religion assumes the laws already 
existing, and recognizing the authority from which 
they emanate, enjoins obedience to them. While she 
invigorates the sentiments of justice in the heart, she. 

824 Religion necessary to 

at the same time, associates them with the rules of 
justice and order established in the state, and impres- 
ses the awful seal of her authority both on the laws, 
and on those sacred sources from which they are le- 
gally authorized to flow. With silent majesty she pre- 
sides over the peace of the republic, with an influence 
infinitely more powerful than that of the laws them- 
selves. — Will these same pohticians, in the next place, 
rely on the rigor of tribunals to supply the defect of 
moral principle.^ — In vain; for, without virtue the tri- 
bunals are impotent. The efficacy of laws depends 
upon opinion. And impiety soon breaks down all the 
barriers which restrain the indulgence of vice, and 
impairs the moral springs which give energy to the 

Impiety is purely and absolutely selfish. And, if 
there be no God, wifl not his own indulgence be, to 
each man, his chief good? — the centre to which he 
will point all his actions? If there is no moral law, no 
judge, no future state of being, why should we not de- 
vour the present moment which alone is ours? why 
should not sensual pleasure be our only good? why 
should we submit to the painful self-denials, the .use- 
less sacrifices of virtue? Why should the poor man 
permit the rich to enjoy unmolested all the benefits of 
society? Why should he not with a bold hand, equa- 
lize their conditions? Why should the voluptuary ab- 
stain from the delicate honors of chastity? Or why 
should chastity disdainfully reject his pursuit? Why 
should not all, with one consent, plunge into those bru- 
tal pleasures which alone are worthy of a sensual na- 

National Prospetity. 325 

ture? — pleasures which dissolve the bands of society, 
effeminate and weaken the public force, and, absorbing 
every thing in the vortex of self, abandon the care of 
the public interest, and fill the nation with assassina- 
tions, murders, adulteries, incests, unnatural crimes, 
and all the basest and most horrible vices. Such have 
ever been the fruits of impiety where it has infected 
the mass of any people; — such has been its tendency 
to national prostration of manners, and to national 

One benefit of a public and positive religion, and 
that far from being the least important, is its impres- 
sing, by sacred rites and forms, the principles and ha- 
bits of piety and virtue profoundly on the heart. If 
man were purely an intellectual being, ceremonies 
and rites would be useless; perhaps they would only 
clog and encumber the active and fervid energies of 
the soul. But, constituted as he is, the heart must be 
seized through the senses, and the imagination. The 
influence of principles will soon evaporate unless they 
are fixed and strengthened by form. Weak is that 
mind, and ignorant of the true principles of human 
nature, which affects to despise the rites and forms of 
rehgion; which is not, on the contrary, deeply impres- 
sed by them. — But what institution can be more fa- 
vourable to virtue, to civility, to humanity, than that of 
the Sabbath? In the church men meet in the name 
of God to recognize their common fraternity. Every 
social affection is cultivated, every unsocial passion is 
repressed by the very ideas of the place where they 
are assembled, by the instructions which are received. 

S26 Religion necessary to 

and the objects presented to them in the house of God. 
The most important truths are brought down to the 
level of the weakest understanding by the simplicity of 
the gospel; and they are brought profoundly home to 
every bosom by the authority of God, in whose name 
they are published, and by the grandeur of the hopes 
and fears of religion. If then society is governed more 
by manners than by laws; if laws themselves derive 
their principal force from the good morals and virtu- 
ous habits of the people, of what importance, even in 
a civil view, are the public institutions of religion! — 
On the other hand, what instructors would philoso- 
phers prove .^ Of what instructions would the people 
be capable, if they did not come to them clothed in the 
simple precepts, and sanctioned by the sacred authori- 
ty of religion.^ The experiment has been tried in a 
great nation which put itself into the hands of the phi- 
losophers, to be moulded by them according to their 
fancied ideas of perfection. What has been the effect 
of this trial? Hear it from the people themselves — 
hear it from the universal voice of all their best and 
wisest men assembled in the general council of the de- 
partments. — " We find, say they, there can be no in- 
struction without education, and no education without 
morals, and no morals without religion. The instruc- 
tion of the last ten years has been of no effect, because it 
has been separated from religion. Children have been 
let loose to a most alarming state of vagrancy. Desti- 
tute of any idea of the Divinity, they have grown up 
without any true notions of justice and injustice. 
Hence have ensued among us savage and barbarous 

JVational Prosperity. S21 

manners, and the mild and polished French are in 
danger of becoming a ferocious people." — Such are 
the ideas which have resulted in a great and enlighten- 
ed nation from a decisive, experiment made on the 
principles of this national irreligion. 

From every view which we can take of the subject, 
this conclusion continually meets us, that religion is 
absolutely necessary to the peace, the ordei", the solid 
interests, the durable prosperity of a nation.* 

What then is the conclusion which we should draw 
from the preceding illustrations.? That religion is the 
only solid bat>is of morals, and of the republic. On 
that people the blessing of God will rest among whom 
religion continues to maintain its practical influence. 
He has so laid the plan of divine Providence, and ar- 
ranged the moral course of things, that piety and vir- 
tue lay the surest foundations of social happiness and 
civil order; vice and irreligion infuse into the state the 
principles of disorder and ruin. Need we recur to his- 

* Will it be said that relig-ion tends, on the one hand, to superstition, . 
and on the other to fanaticism — that superstition debases hnman nature, 
that fanaticism disturbs civil society? I answer, that religion does not ne- 
cessarily lead to the one, or the other. If we find it sometimes connected 
with superstition, superstition itself is preferable to atheism, a cold and 
selfish principle which destroys all certainty or oblig-ation in morals; 
which first relaxes, and finally bursts asunder the bands of society. If re- 
ligious zeal sometimes kindles into fanaticism, it is a fervor which soon 
spends its force, if it is not unjustly opposed, and the human mind, in that 
case speedily returns from its highest paroxysms to its natural and reason- 
able tone. Fanaticism, however, is not peculiar to religion. It is a flame 
of the soul which may be kindled by any strong public passion.- There 
are fanatics in literature; there are fanatics in politics; and have we not 
seen that there are fanatics even in atheism, infinitely more dreadful than 
all others.'' 

328 Religion necessary to 

tory, the whole train of which demonstrates these in- 
fallible and experimental conclusions? The conse- 
quence is involved in the nature of things. Public 
virtue rears impregnable barriers against internal 
tyranny and foreign domination, and plants the most 
immovable foundations against the tempests of revo- 
lution. "Blessed is that people whose God is the 

But, when the ties of religion are once broken from 
the mind, all the most effectual restraints of moral prin- 
ciple are instantly dissolved; public sentiment is ab- 
sorbed in private interest — public virtue is lost. Sen- 
suality insulates every citizen; he has no country but self; 
all the energies of patriotism are enfeebled; and voluptu- 
ousness, in its progress, creates a base servility of soul 
which is prepared to submit to any master who will fa- 
vour its indolence, and afford it the means of indulging 
its effeminate pleasures. Mutual faith is perished— =- 
vows are broken without scruple; for what remains 
to enforce their obligation.^ Deceit and treachery 
are but ordinary means to accomplish unworthy ends. 
Lust, jealousy, and dastardly revenge disturb the or- 
der and destroy the happiness of society. When man- 
ners have arrived at this stage of degeneracy, they can 
then be purged only by the destructive power of a for- 
eign master, or by some dreadful internal and extermi- 
nating revolution.— Such has ever been the ultimate pro- 
gression of national dereliction of morals and religion 
— republics have fallen a prey to internal tyranny, em- 
pires to foreign conquest. To cite to you proofs of 
this truth would be to repeat the records of universal 

JVational Prosperity. 329 

history. Nor is it applicable to nations only, but is illus- 
trated in the fortunes of individual families. Profligacy 
of manners, poisoning the very fountains of life, a vi- 
cious and debilitated race becomes extinct in a few 
generations. — This is the curse which God has inflict- 
ed on practical atheism, and its constant companion, 
extreme corruption of manners. He has so laid the 
plan of his providence over the world, that the course 
of nature shall avenge the violated majesty of his law, 
and become itself, the minister of his justice. When uni- 
versal depravity of morals has invaded a people, each 
race becomes, by obvious causes, more corrupted than 
the last; the evils of the preceding are still accumula- 
ted upon that which follows, and seldom, as I have be- 
fore said, does the third, or the fourth generation pass 
away till they are ripe for the exterminating judgments 
of Heaven. Thus does a righteous and jealous God 
visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the 
third and fourth generation of those that hate him. 

In the conclusion of this discourse, let us briefly re- 
view the state of our own country. Considering the 
recent origin of the American nation, have we not just 
cause to deplore the declension of religion? Is not the 
holy zeal, and the primitive disciphne of the churches 
of all denominations lamentably relaxed ? Is not domes- 
tic education and government reproachfully neglect- 
ed, to the infinite injury of the public morals, and the 
hazard of a total dissolution of manners? With what 
unreasonable jealousy has rehgion been viewed in the 
establishment of all our political constitutions! How 
little is the sacred charter of our immortal hopes studi- 

VOL. I. u u 

^30 Religion necessary to 

ed and understood! With what avidity have the doc- 
trines of a licentious philosophy, which emancipates 
the heart from all moral control, been received even by 
the multitude, although unable to comprehend its spe- 
culative principles! Have we not especially to lament 
the prostitution of the Sabbath, which, if rightly used, 
is one of the most excellent institutions ever established 
in any nation? And what is the consequence of this 
irreligious tendency in our manners? The public 
mind is agitated with the most violent and uncorrect- 
ed passions. — Deadly and murderous quarrels are mul- 
tiplying beyond all former example. Station and virtue 
are indiscriminately attacked by the most atrocious 
slanders. Every man of sentiment and feeling will 
soon be driven from all public functions. Worth will 
seek to hide itself in profound retirement; and the state, 
unless Heaven, in mercy, interpose to preserve us, will 
be tossed between alternate factions of unprincipled 
men, who will stop at no measures for their own ag- 
grandizement, — of audacious demagogues who are 
restrained by no moral sentiments, — of vile intriguers 
who will stoop to any baseness to advance their merce- 
nary and ambitious aims. Licentiousness is in danger of 
proceeding to atheism, and atheism of aggravating licen- 
tiousness, till a miserable people, lacerated by their own 
crimes, and tired with the misfortunes which they bring 
upon themselves, will be willing, at last, to seek a dread- 
ful refuge in the despotism of a master. Do you say 
these are idle and visionary predictions? They are 
predictions founded on the nature of man, and the cer- 
tain and invariable course of human things. Remem- 

JVational Prosperity. 851 

ber the same predictions already verified with regard 
to the dreadful fate of France. And yet, perhaps, 
even this fate is less dreadful than the horrors of their 
abused liberty, the consequence and the curse of a de- 
lirious impiety, which they proudly and ignorantly call- 
ed by the name of philosophy. These evils are the 
curse which God has worked up in the very order of 
the universe as the punishment of public and national 
vice. But, brethren, let us, in the language of the apos- 
tle, hope better things of you though we thus speak. May 
that God who has so often extended his arm in our fa-' 
vour yet arise for our salvation! Religion still has a pow- 
erful hold of the public mind — among the great body of 
the people its institutions are still respected — the pub- 
lic manners are hitheito comparatively simple. God! 
arrest, in thy mercy, the spirit of impiety, and restore 
among us in all their purity and energy, the primitive 
institutions of the gospel! 

• Behold, my brethren, in these reflections, new mo- 
tives to animate your pious zeal. I speak not here of 
those motives derived from peace of conscience, from 
the hope of the divine mercy, from your eternal inte- 
rests; but liom ihe interests of your country. Your 
piety, your virtue has an important aspect on its felicity. 
Even in a corrupted age the piety of a few individuals 
may sometimes^ delay the execution of the judgments 
of God; and may prove a cement to society which will 
long serve to bind together its disjointed fragments, and 
prevent it from being utterly dissolved. Five righteous 
men would have saved the devoted city of Sodom. 
Every good man contains in himself a large portion of 

33^ Religion necessary to 

the public safety. How consoling, how sublime is the 
reflection that, by his virtues he is promoting the hap- 
piness of millions, and that, by his christian graces, how- 
ever imperfect and unworthy, he is drawing down on 
millions the blessings and protection of Heaven. 

What then christians! is your duty, in this respect, to 
God, and to your country, as good citizens'' I might 
recount all the sacrifices of piety which you owe to God 
— all the offices of justice and charity due to mankind, 
but to confine my view to a single object — it is the faith- 
ful discipline, ihe virtuous and pious education of your 
families. Families are the elementary parts of the re- 
public. While domestic manners are preserved pure, 
particularly while parental government and instruction 
on the one hand, and filial duty on the other, are main- 
tained in their vigor, these are the surest pledges of the 
public virtue, and the public felicity. 

This idea leads to the true meaning of that com- 
mandment, which has been as little understood as the* 
words of our text; — Honor thy father and thy mother , 
that thy days may be long upon the land ivhich the Lord 
thy God giveth thee. Not surely, that filial duty shall be 
a pledge of long life to the individual, which is not 
warranted by the course of human events; nor, accord- 
ing to the answer in the Catechism of the Westminster 
assembly, that excellent compilation, in general, of 
christian science, " that it shall be a pledge of long life, 
and prosperity, as far as shall serve for God's glory, 
and their own good, to all such as keep this command- 
ment," which is saying nothing more than is equally 
true of every other precept of the decalogue. But, ad- 

J^ational Prosperity. S3 3 

dressed to the nation of Irsael as a universal law, it evi- 
dently implies, that, if in its proper spirit, it were incor- 
porated into their national manners, and domestic ha- 
bits, they should long prosper in that happy land into 
which Jehovah their God had brought them, A wise 
and virtuous education is the only true ground of filial 
duty, and fihal duty is the genuine principle of all the do- 
mestic virtues. By such a discipline, religion, and 
good morals will continue to be handed down from race 
to race: and the state, strong in the virtue of its citi- 
zens and purity and innocence of the public manners, 
will continue to flourish for ages. The days of such a 
nation, or their continuance on the land of their fathers 
shall be prolonged, under the blessings and protection 
of Almighty God, — to thousands of generations, saith the 
divine legislator, of those who love God, and keep his 
commandments. Be ours then, christians and fellow 
citizens, the praise of the patriarch Abraham, whose 
resolution and glory it was, that he would bring up his 
children, and household after him to fear the Lord. Be 
ours the pious purpose of the heroic and patriotic 
Joshua, " as for me, and my house, we will serve the 

Christians! on your fidehty and care depend the most 
precious interests of your beloved children. In every 
child an immortal soul is entrusted to your charge. 
And may I not add, though an inferior, yet a most im- 
portant consideration, a sacred pledge is committed to 
you for the commonwealth. You have a deep stake in 
the happiness of your country. And remember that 
its prosperity is most securely bottomed upon religion 

334 Religion necessary to 

and virtue. Train up virtuous citizens then, for the re- 
pubHc, immortal heirs for the kingdom of heaven. 

From reflections such as these, ought not every citi- 
zen, animated by the spirit of true piety, to regard it as 
among the first, and most important of his social duties, 
by his example, by his instruction, by all his active 
energies, to extend the practical influence of vital reli- 
gion, and to multiply the means of religious knowledge 
through every grade of the people. On such a nation 
God will shower his distinguished blessings, and spread 
over them the shield of his holy protection. 

Christians! we see men sufficiently concerned about 
their political constitutions, and the administration of 
their government. Indeed, they suffer themselves to be 
inflamed with an excessive and culpable zeal on these 
subjects, as if the public felicity depended exclusively 
on the laws, and on the men appointed to administer 
them. But be assured, and it is a truth vouched by 
the experience of ages as well as by the word of God, 
that the prosperity of republics depends infinitely more 
on their religion, than on their legislation. When the 
public morals are pure, even bad laws hardly produce 
any sensible ill effect; but when the general manners 
are corrupted, the best laws often operate the most in- 
jurious consequences. Regard not the vices, then, 
which prevail in society, as evils which affect merely 
the guilty individuals who practise them ; but deplore 
them as containing the stores of accumulated calami- 
ties which threaten one day, to fall upon your country. 
Silently they diffuse a contagion which is infecting 
the whole mass of society; they are gathering in secret, 

JVational Prospenty. 335 

a fearful cloud over our heads, which, in God's appoint- 
ed time, that is, when it grows dark and heavy with our 
iniquities, shall burst upon us and upon our children. 
Deeply should it be borne in your minds, christians, that 
every good man is, in proportion to his rank and influ- 
ence, a pillar and a bulwark to his country ; but that every 
vicious and profligate citizen is, contributing to under- 
mine the foundation of its happiness and safety. 

It is unusual to urge the duties of religion, or to de- 
claim against the prevalent vices of the age, from con- 
siderations drawn from our public and national inte- 
rests? Listen to the addresses of the prophets to the peo- 
ple of Israel; are they not replete with exhortations and 
remonstrances derived from the same source? Let 
me, however, conclude this discourse by making an ap- 
peal to your hearts from a different quarter. If your 
piety and virtue be useful to your country, how much 
richer a blessing is it preparing, through the mediation 
of your Redeemer, for your own souls, in the everlasting 
habitations of the righteous? If your iniquities contri- 
bute to bring down the judgments of Heaven on a guil- 
ty land, remember a more awful truth, that every im- 
penitent sinner is treasuring up for himself " wrath 
against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the 
righteous judgment of God.'^ If, in the national de- 
reliction of morals and religion, God visits the iniqui- 
ties of the fathers upon the children; — if we see pesti- 
lence and war, wasting and desolation afllict the guilty 
nations, does not a doom infinitely more dreadful await 
the sinner in that world, where justice, freed from the 
restraints which arrest its course in a probationary 

^36 Religion necessary, ^c. 

state, shall pour its vials with unmitigated vengeance on 
the reprobate children of folly and vice. 

Christian brethren, this is not the picture of a gloomy 
fancy which delights in fearful images, nor the decla- 
mation of a tragic eloquence which loves to try its skill 
upon the passions of men; it is the word of God, which 
in its greatest simpHcity, carries with it the greatest 
majesty and terror; "he that believeth not shall not see 
life, but the wrath oi' God abideth on him/' 






In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Gen. ii, 17. 

The introduction of moral and physical evil into the 
world, has been a subject of anxious and fruitless spe- 
culation among men, ever since the origin of philoso- 
phy. — That a Creator, who was himself good, should 
form an impure and vicious being, seemed impossible 
— that a Creator who was omnipotent, as well as good, 
should suffer the introduction of evil into his works 
seemed improbable. Reason, involved in darkness, 
and fatigued with inquiries that only ended in disap- 
pointment, had recourse to the wildest conjectures. 
For, so painful to the mind is a state of uncertainty 
and doubt, that often, it would rather rest on any fan- 
cy, however extravagant, than continue unfixed, and 
vibrating in perpetual suspence. Some of the eastern 
nations maintained an eternal principle of evil as well 
as of good, the confines of whose respective dominions 
met, and were blended together in this v<^orld, and in 
the nature of man. — Many of the Greeks believed in 
the eternity, and the essential perverseness of matter 


338 Fall of Man. 

which could not be corrected even by the omnipotent 
hand of the Divine power of the universe, and which 
gives the body such a vicious ascendency over the pu- 
rer faculties of the mind — And not a few of the mo- 
derns, unable to reconcile the miseries of the world 
with the goodness of a Deity, or the vices of men with 
infinite moral perfection in the Creator, have boldly 
denied his existence, and sunk their doubts in the 
gulf of atheism. — Reason, indeed, if we rely on it alone 
on this subject, soon plunges us into endless hypothe- 
ses and doubts, and can propose no satisfying solution 
of the difficulties which arise out of its own conjec- 
tures. God alone is able to unfold to man his own 
works; and we must trace the source of our corrup- 
tion, of the afflictions with which the world is filled, 
and of our universal mortality, in the history of the 
fall which he ha?h dictated to Moses. — But, does this 
history remove every difficulty, or answer every inqui- 
ry which human curiosity has raised with regard to 
the existence of evil.*" No, the mind of man is not 
yet sufficiently expanded to take in the principles of 
the Divine government, which have a relation proba- 
bly to the whole universe; and, certainly, to a much 
higher condition of being than the present. We re- 
semble children attempting to judge of the economy 
and discipline of families, and the policy of nations. 
A few facts, or a few didactic precepts, is all that we 
can receive on this subHme and comphcated subject, 
so far in advance of its present improvements.^ — Some 
inexplicable questions must still remain: but the his- 
tory of Moses recommends itself by its simplicity and its 

Fall of Man. 339 

probability before all the fabulous traditions of the Pa- 
gan nations, which seem, however, to rest upon the 
same basis with his; and far before those idle conjec- 
tures which have ever amused, peiplexed, and divided 
the schools of philosophers. Does an enemy of reli- 
gion ask, why God should have left any difficulties in 
a revelation which is designed to teach us his will? 
For this plain reason that it is impossible to be other- 
wise. We are extremely limited in our powers of 
knowledge. Ignorance will forever be the source of 
difficulties. And if a thousand questions had been sol- 
ved which we now raise on the subject of religion, they 
would only have given rise to ten thousand more equal- 
ly embarrassing. Nor could this process ever stop, 
nor inquiiies and difficulties come to an end till we 
should arrive at omniscience. God has, therefore, re- 
vealed only so much as is necessary to our present du- 
ty — the rest he has reserved to gratify our thirst of 
knowledge, and to feed our intellectual pleasures in the 
career of an immortal existence. 

Having made these preliminary observations in or- 
der to prepare our minds for the following illustrations, 
and, at the same time, to prevent too much from being 
expected in the discussion of the present subject, I 
proceed to say that, according to the sacred history, 
God originally formed man a pure, a holy, and immor- 
tal being, a work worthy of the power, the benevo- 
lence, and the holiness, of the Creator — he placed him 
in a garden filled with the purest delights of nature, 
but not wholly without the necessity of being cultivated 
by human industry — along with the privileges which he 

340 Fall of Man. 

conferred on man, he mingled temptation to try his fi- 
delity, and, in trying it, to confirm his virtue — he estab- 
lished a physical law that children proceeding by or- 
dinary descent from their parents, should derive from 
them their whole nature, its perfections or defects; so 
that the first man became, by this law, the federal as 
well as natural head of his whole posterity. They would 
have partaken of his virtue and his immortality, if he 
had persevered in his obedience — they have been sub- 
jected to sin, and to death by his fall. The test of his 
obedience was his abstaining from eating the fruit of 
the tree of knowledge of good and evil, a name proba- 
bly derived from its fatal consequences — the denun- 
ciation was, in the day thou eatest tliereof thou shall 
surely die. 

On this subject I shall consider, 

1. In the first place, the test which God established 
of the fidelity of our first parents, &c. 

2. Secondly, the consequences of their disobedience 
to themselves, and their posterity. 

1. The test of their fidelity, the temptation which 
was to try their persevering obedience to the Divine 
command, was the frmt oi^ the tree of knowledge. 

Of every tree in the garden they were permitted to eat 
both for pleasure and subsistence, except of this alone. 
One immortal tree was planted in the midst of Eden, 
either appointed by God as a visible symbol of life — 
or, perhaps, containing some ineffable virtue to repair 
forever the decays that must necessarily happen in 
such a material system as the body. Opposite to it 
was placed this fatal tree, the fruit of which seems to 

Fall of Man. S4l 

have contained a subtle, but delicious and intoxicating 
poison that created such irregular movements in all 
the senses, the appetites, and the passions, as tarnish- 
ed the purity, and destroyed the virtuous and holy 
power of the soul over its own actions; and that be- 
came the natural mean by which the offended Crea- 
tor inflicted on the body the curse of mortality which 
he had denounced on their disobedience. 

Piety has sometimes humbly inquired why was the 
trial of man^s fidelity rested upon, apparently, so tri- 
vial a command? Ignorance and infidelity have de- 
manded with a sneer, if virtue and vice, if the safety 
and ruin of mankind, could depend upon the eating of 
a little fruit? Christians! attend to the circumstances 
of the period and of our great father, and you will see 
that, far from being a trivial, it was a most important 
prohibition — and if not this, at least something of the 
same kind, was, perhaps, the only trial that, in the 
state of primitive man, could be made of his obe- 
dience. — So that if sin could destroy our nature, its 
ruin might depend, in the language of the objectors, 
on the eating of a little fruit. Remember then, that 
animal food was not yet necessary for man — even the 
culture of grain had not yet taken place — that his 
whole sustenance consisted of the fruits which Eden 
as yet spontaneously produced. And if the impor- 
tance of an object is to be measured by the interest 
which men have in it, what in life is of so much im- 
portance as the provisions by which it is sustained? 
To what else are almost all the labours and cares of 
men devoted? And, what faults are greater in them- 

U2 Fall of Man. 

selves, or lead to greater crimes, than the abuse of 
those provisions, in intemperance, that is, in depraving 
the appetite, in inflaming the passions, in corrupting 
and sensualizing our vt^hole nature. What does God 
punish, in the course of Providence, with more dis- 
tinguished severity? Fruit was, to the original pair, 
every thing that the taste, the appetite, the body de- 
manded — It might be all that the most tempting viands 
of luxury can now offer to the epicure. And the fruit 
of that forbidden tree was probably of such a nature as 
to render the use of it a high intemperance, and the 
only intemperance, of which they could then be guilty. 
I said, likewise, that it was, perhaps, the only kind of 
trial which could then be made of man's obedience, if 
any peculiar test were proposed at all. — Go through 
the decalogue, and what command is there which 
Adam could have violated.^ Could he have denied 
God with whom he conversed every day, and whose 
works were shining in all the freshness of their glory 
before his eyes in the recent creation ? Could he have 
dishonoured his parents, who had no parent but God.^ — 
Could he have murdered, or injured, the only compa- 
nion of his existence.'^ Could he, who possessed the 
only wife in the world, be guilty of unchastely violating 
the right of another.-^ Could he steal, or defraud, or 
envy, or covet, when all things were his, and he was 
already lord of the universe? It would seem as if his 
trial could relate only to some act of personal purity 
and temperance — such as appears to have been the 
object of this precept. Many very pious writers in- 
deed have supposed that the trial of man's obedience 

Fall of Man. 343 

consisted in absolute submission to the sovereignty of 
God, without any other reason or ground for the com- 
mand. If it were so, I do not know that we could 
dispute the right of the Supreme Creator to impose 
such a test. In either view, it is evidently a com- 
mand of much higher importance than the cavillers at 
Christianity have affected to represent it — and much 
higher than christians themselves, who have not mature- 
ly considered the circumstances of the case, have often 

This command our first parents disobeyed. It has 
frequently been asked how minds so innocent and pure 
as theirs could fall into sin, or entertain, for a moment, 
the first temptation to offend their Creator.^ — We are 
too imperfectly acquainted with the complicated and 
rapid movements of mind, to explain precisely how 
this was effected. But, wherever moral liberty exists 
in a being not infinitely perfect, there exists the possi- 
bility of change. The great enemy of God and of hu- 
man happiness, who had previously fallen from his 
glory and fidelity in Heaven, abusing the form, or the 
body, of the serpent, led our primitive mother into the 
transgression. He seems, from the very name of the 
tree, to have awakened her curiosity and thirst for 
additional knowledge, which at first view appeared not 
t© be a criminal motive, that could startle her by its 
guilt: but was calculated rather to lull and throw off its 
guard her pious vigilance. He called in question the 
ground and, therefore, the reality of the Divine prohi- 
bition, and, probably by his own example in eating the 
forbidden fruit, brought into doubt at least, the cer- 

344 Fall of Man. 

tainty of the Divine threatening. In an unhappy mo- 
ment she was surprized — she fell without yet being 
conscious of her state. Intoxicated by her imagina- 
ry success, and, perhaps, by the spirit of the fruit, she 
brought a portion of it to Adam; and adding the force 
of her persuasions and her charms, he yielded to the 
multiplied temptation, and fell with her — And alas! 

2. What a train of evils, both to them and to us, 
have followed the fatal action! 

When the delirium of that mortal fruit was past, they 
became conscious for the first time of their true situa- 
tion, and that they had lost the favour of God. They 
feared him whom they had so often met with confidence 
and joy, pouring at his feet the grateful and delightful 
homage of their hearts. They fled, and vainly thought 
to hide themselves from his sight. — They felt that 
shame in the presence of one another, which is the 
disgraceful effect of vice, and they attempted to cover 
themselves with fig leaves. This is a remarkable fact 
which deserves your attention. The nakedness, which, 
in the age of innocence, never affected them with any 
emotion but such as was pure, now began to cover 
them with blushes. — Was it that the glow of a celes- 
tial beauty which surrounded the primitive body of 
man was lost, and the deformity of a fallen nature be- 
gan to appear? Or, was it that, formerly, the senti- 
ments of devotion, of friendship, of a virtuous tender- 
ness, of a sublime sympathy, of a high, intelligent, and 
noble conversation "which reigned between them, ab- 
sorbed their minds, and made every sensible pleasure 
only a gentle heightening to more pure and refined 

Fall of Man, 345 

sensations — but now the tumults only of a gross pas- 
sion filled their hearts, always shameful, and, in their 
situation, incapable of being subjected to the control of 
decency? Perhaps, both these causes contiibuted to 
this striking and singular incident in the history of the 
fall. Their nature, which had made a near approach 
to the angelic, was now sunk and becoming brutal. 

But this was a small part, it was but the commence- 
i)i<?nt of that dreadful sentence which had been de- 
nounced on their transgression — in tJie day thou eatest 
thereof, thou shalt surely die. 

Theological writers have, not unjustly, distinguish- 
ed in this sentence a threefold death — that of the soul 
to virtue, and the high and celestial life of holiness 
which it lived in Paradise — that of the body in its dis- 
solution, and that of both soul and body in their eter- 
nal rejection from God. The Supreme Judge called 
the trembling criminals before him, not to receive their 
apology or hear their defence, but to convict them of 
their guilt — and, having pronounced his fearful decree, 
he ordered his angel to expel them from the garden, 
the abode of innocence, the theatre of so many sub- 
lime beauties, the scene of so many happy and exqui- 
site hours; and, the more effectually to cut off all hope 
of return, he commanded him to plant at the entrance 
a flaming sword, the awful symbol of their separation, 
and of his inexorable justice. — Stripped of their pri- 
mitive glory, retai)Hng little of their former nature, but 
the memory of joys that were now forever lost, they 
descended, oppressed with their grief and their guilt, 
into a world rendered barren and unkind, to draw their 

VOL, 1. Y y 

346 Fall of Man. 

subsistence bv the siveat of their brow, from the re- 
luctant soil. The serpent, the instrument of their 
temptation, was ordered to follow them, to crawl upon 
his belly, and to lick the dust, not so much as a pu- 
nishment inflicted on the senseless animal, as to keep 
them humble and penitent, by a perpetual image be- 
fore their eyes of their degraded state, and to be a con- 
stant monitor of the fearful evil of sin which involves 
in ruin its instruments, and every thing connected with 
it. Through life they were subjected to labour and 
toil — to the tumults, the conflicts, the shame, the re- 
morse of sinful passions — to disease and pain — to be- 
reavement and disappointment — and, finally , they yield- 
ed all the remnants of worldly enjoyment and hope to 
the dreadful dominion of death. But this was the 
lightest portion of those calamities ^vhich have suc- 
ceeded tlie fall. His whole posterity were involved in 
the same ruin. This would drive the sting of guilt 
tenfold deeper into his own heart. He looked down 
through the long series of ages and behold nothing but 
a fearful succession of crimes and miseries — the world, 
destroyed by his fault, turned into a field of blood, a 
place of skulls One son he saw destroyed by the 
hand of his brother, — the beginning of so many fra- 
ternal murders which were afterwards to stain the 
earth — and he lived to be a melancholy witness of the 
commencement of those crimes which prepared the 
deluge that overwhelmed the guilty race in the age of 
Noah. We this day, and mankind in ev(Ty period 
have felt the fatal effects of the original transgression. 
TV 6 derive thence a corrupted nature — we derive 

Fall of Man. 347 

thence an existence that groans under innumerable 
afflictions — theme have flowed the crimes and the mi- 
series which have filled the world — and thence the 
universal empire of death. Oh! how fearful was that 
transgression! how dreadful, how desolating, how ex- 
tensive was that sentence! — Adam stood at the head 
of his race —they were to partake of his nature, and to 
be involved in his destiny. This was fixed by God as 
the certain and immutable law of our being. — We see 
the existence of this law demonstrated in the whole 
state of the world — we reap its lamentable consequen- 
ces in our own experience. 

This doctrine has been boldly arraigned by the ene- 
mies of religion. Is it consistent with the goodness and 
the justice of God, they ask, that one should stand in 
so important a relation as the representative of all? 
That the fate of so many beings, not yet in existence, 
should depend upon the doubtful conduct of an indivi- 
dual who may happen to be their progenitor? My 
brethren, those of you especially whose minds have 
ever been shaken by the scruples of infidelity, listen to 
me for a moment with patience and attention. It is an 
interesting subject. It shows us our origin — It is 
the hinge of religion. The human mind, then, is 
too weak to penetrate into the reasons of the divine 
government, or the causes of things either in the 
physical or moral world. It is only by effects arid 
events that we can arrive at any knowledge con- 
cerning them, or judge of them at all. But, wherever 
we see a fact clearly exist in nature, we justly ascribe 
it to some law established by the Creator; and whether 

S48 Fall of Man. 

we can penetrate its principles, and discern the reasons 
on whic|i it is established or not, one truth is clear, ac- 
cording to the just and beautiful idea of the poet, in spite 
of erring reason, whatever is, by his appointment, is right. 
And when one fact, or a chain of correspondent facts 
are decisively ascertained, we may safely reason from 
them by analogy. 

In the first place, then, do we not see that vice, that 
misery, that death, exist universally in the world? On 
the subject of universal vice which is the most doubted. 
I appeal to the whole history of man — I appeal to every 
man^s consciousness. Whether, then, is it more con- 
formable to reason, and to our ideas of divine goodness 
and justice, to suppose that these evils are the direct 
and immediate work of God; or, are derived to man- 
kind through a progenitor who abused his mercies, and 
forfeited his immortality along with his virtue.'^ Is it 
more difficult, or, on the other hand, is it not much less 
difficult to account for them on the scripture doctrine 
of representation, than on the principle of direct crea- 
tion? If God can be justified in giving them existence 
without the supposition of the original innocence and 
the fall of man; can their introduction by the fall 
render them unjust? But to produce almost demon- 
strative evidence for this doctrine laid down in the his- 
tory of Moses, and confirmed by the whole authority of 
the sacred writings, is it not conformable to the laws 
of nature in all similar and analogous cases, that is, to 
the system of God in the government of the world? 
Do not children inherit the nature of their parents? If 
the first parents of the race, then, possessed only a fallen 
imperfect, corrupted, and mortal nature, could they have 

Fail of Man. S49 

communicated to their offspring one that was pure and 
immortal — one that resembled their original and para- 
disiacal constitution? Must not those then who sprung 
from them, have partaken of their degeneracy? that is, 
have suffered the same evils which they had brought 
upon themselves by their unhappy catastrophe? Again, 
do not children inherit the poverty, the humiliations, 
the ignominy of parents? Do we not even see them 
inherit their diseases? Is that in consequence of their 
own faults? or is it not in consequence of that universal 
law of nature, of which our doctrine affords only the 
principal example? Does not mind, in this case, fol- 
low the law of body? Take other examples — In a vi- 
cious, profligate and effeminate age, are not the children 
who are born, placed, by the order of Providence, with- 
out any antecedent crime of their own, in a situation in 
which it is almost impossible for them to acquire the 
manly and noble virtues? See the Copts, the descen- 
dents of the ancient Egyptians, the modern Greeks, the 
dispersed and wandering Jews, the wretched remains 
of so many other nations — degenerate, vicious, misera- 
ble, contemptible, are they not suffering under the very 
law which is called in question by this objection of infi- 
dehty? Children among them spring from their fathers 
under every circumstance of wretchedness and base- 
ness. And, if an individual, if a nation, why not a 
world? Do you ask me how I vindicate these appoint- 
ments, these laws of the Creator? That is not my pre- 
sent duty. It is sufficient for me that they exist, to 
vindicate the sacred scriptures. What then is the im- 
port of this threatening to us? It is to the children 

650 Fall of Mm. 

and parent the same — death spiritual, temporal, and 
eternal. We derive from him a nature not merely im- 
perfect, but corrupted — we are doomed, after many 
sufferings, to return to* the dust — we are liable to ever- 
lasting perdition, being by nature, saith the apostle, chil- 
dren of wrath. From these fearful evils we can be 
delivered only by the virtue, and the glorious power of 
the Second Adam, the promise of whose coming was 
interposed by the compassion of God, to relieve the 
terror, the distraction, the despair of our wretched first 
parents, when they perceived their abandoned state, 
and saw the extent of the misery which they had crea- 

Let us, then, contemplate, for a moment, the deplo- 
rable state into which we are fallen, that, feehng our 
miseries and our guilt, as we ought to feel them, we 
may be persuaded more earnestly to flee to the refuge, 
and embrace the hope of the gospel. " By one man 
sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and death 
hath passed upon all men, because all have sinned. Be- 
hold," saith the Psalmist, "I was shapen in iniquity, 
and in sin did my mother conceive me. Marvel not," 
saith the Saviour himself, "that I said untoyou,you must 
be born again — that which is born of the flesh is flesh." 
Would you know the full import of this last expression ? 
Saint Paul interprets it, when he says, " the carnaV 
that is, the fleshly, "mind is enmity against God — it is 
not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." 
We are born then inclined to evil when we begin to act 
—subjected to the impure dominion of sensual appetites, 
and disordered passions — unholy in the sight of God— 

Fall of Man. 35 1 

and in ourselves, and separated from our relation to 
Jesus Christ the promised Saviour of men, subjected 
to the fearful curse of his righteous law. 1 do not en- 
ter into the inquiry whether sin is seated in the soul, 
in the body, or in both? the decision of it is little ma- 
terial to the vindication of the justice or the goodness 
of God, for which it was instituted — I do not say that 
we are born in the actual exercise of malignant vice; 
but that we are so constituted as to tend to sin as soon 
as we grow to be capable of moral action — I do not say 
that we are absolutely and totally corrupted without 
any remaining tendency to good, for then we should be 
devils, but that we are so depraved in all oui* moral 
powers that evil predominates over the good — we fail 
in every point of the law of God, and therelore are sub- 
jected to its holy, but its fearful curse; " for it is written, 
cursed is every one who continueth not in all things 
written in the book of the law to do them." These are 
gloomy and humiliating ideas, indeed, and therefore, 
not only have unbelievers denied the original depravity 
of man; but many christian writers, and many hearers 
ot the gospel, endeavour to soften this mortif} ing pic- 
ture of human nature. They cpnceive of its corrup- 
tion merely as its frailty — and of its sins as foibles ea- 
sily pardonable in a being so trail. But, my brethren, 
the whole scriptiires represent man as naturally im- 
pure and unholy, and needing to be sanctified and pu- 
riried by the blood and the Spirit of the Redeemer — as 
guilty and capable of salvation only through the great 
victim slain from the foundation of the world - as liable 
to death, from which he could be delivered only by him 

252 Fall of Man. 

who acquired the right to conquer Death by first sub* 
mitting- to its power in our room. And is not this the 
language of sacrifices, of ceremonies, of the means of 
grace, of that precious seal of the covenant, the em- 
blem of cleansing and purification, impressed upon the 
offspring of believers under the dispensations both of 
Moses and of Jesus? Was it not to the lost that a Sa- 
viour was necessary? to the blind that light was sent? 
Is not this the foundation of the duties of repentance, 
and of faith, and of the indispensible doctrine of spirit- 
ual regeneration ^ Is it not the voice of the whole history 
of man — of the pangs of the mother — of the cries of the 
infant — of the discipline of childhood — of the passions 
of youth — of the restraints of government — of the vi- 
ces of society — of the desolations of cities by famines, 
and pestilences, and earthquakes — of the eternal mur- 
ders which have deluged the earth with blood under the 
name of wars — nay of that conciousness of guilt which 
speaks in the bosom of every man? 

From this view of the state of human nature, what 
is the first and most urgent of our duties? Is it not sin- 
cere repentance? Is it not an entire change of heart — 
of our moral conduct and principles of action? Is it not 
a deep conviction of the corruption of our nature — of 
our alienation from God our Maker — and of the sen- 
tence of eternal death which his law continually pro- 
nounces against the sinner? What is the fearful im- 
port of the declaration of the apostle, that we are by na- 
ture the children oficrath? Thy wrath, Almighty God! 
who can endure? Thy displeasure. Creator! Father! 
Source of life! who can support? My brethren! has 

Fall of Man. 353 

one sin destroyed the universe? cast man down from 
an immortal and almost angelic nature, into the 
depths of corruption and death? And, what is the 
des-^rt of so many actual crimes added to all the 
forf itures of the first transgression? Our state is 
surrounded with unspeakable danger and terror — 
but the gospel opens a door of mercy. It has pre- 
pared a sacrifice in our room that has satisfied all 
the claims of divine justice. Sinner! hasten to this 
altar — Cover yourself" under the merits of this precious 
victim. Make your peace again with God through 
him. By him you may regain your lost holiness, and 
your lost immortality. He has conquered Death and 
Hell which had extended their dreadful dominion over 
us — He has triumphed over the grave that we might 
live forever. Believe in his name — confide in his mer-» 
cy — obey his laws. All the evils of the fall will be re- 
paired by him — and the primitive innocence and glory 
of man will be more than restored in the celestial 
Eden. Amen! 

VOL. I. z z 


Whatsoever thing-s are of good report, if there be any praise^ 

think of these things Phil. iv. 8. 

The supreme motive, in the heart of every good man, 
to honorable and worthy actions, is, the pure love of 
goodn«;ss and of virtue. The spirit of God, however, 
has not di.^dained to employ, as an auxiliary principle 
of duty, that love of praise, or of standing well in the 
opinion of our fellow men, which though common to 
mankind, is often fielt most sensibly by generous and 
noble minds. 

As virtue pres( nts to us only what is amiable in dis- 
position, what is honorable and manly in conduct, or 
what is useful to society, it is not wonderful that it 
should be the oDject of general approbation. In like 
manner all the noble endowments of our nature, all 
distinguished acquisitions in science, all extraordinary 
efforts of genius, all great talents for the management 
of affairs, if they are seen to be directed by disinterested 
and virtuous principles to public good, command the 
applause of mankind. And, in return, the approbation 
and esteem of our fellow men, being among the ujost 
precious rewards of virtue, in this life, are also justly 
ranked among its most powerful and laudable incen- 
tives Youth are particularly susceptible of the influ- 
ence of thi> principle And praise may justly be held 
out to them, as a motive to stimulate every improve- 

On the love of Praise. ^55 

ment of their natural talents, and their moral powers. 
Mot that false praise which vanity solicits for superfi- 
cial or frivolous attainments; not that corrupted praise 
which vice bestows on the ingenuity which is employed 
to defend its pleasures; nor those mistaken plaudits 
which the ignorance and passions of the misguided 
multitude too often yield to the art and cunning which 
mislead them; — but the praise which i? bottomed upon 
piety and virtue; upon solid goodness and usefulness; 
the praise of actions which God, which conscience, 
which the world, when all their ends and motives are 
known, will approve. For this reason the apostle has 
said, " Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things 
are honorable* whatsoever things are true, whatsoever 
things are lovely," before he adds, " if there be any 
praise, think of these things," — that is, let your desire 
of praise be connected with truth, with honour, with 
justice, and with all that is amiable in life and man- 
ners. But this principle, however justifiable and lau- 
dable, when properly directed, is susceptible also of 
great perversion and abuse; and, instead of invigorating 
and unfolding the germs of goodness and worth, or of 
greatness and nobleness of character in the hearts of 
youth, may be made the instrument of misleading tliem 
into the most pernicious deviations from duty, or inci- 
ting them to vice. 

Let me, then propose to your consideration the love 
of praise under two views. 

* This is the meaniDg of the origioal word translated honest in our vpt- 

356 On the love of Praise. 

I. As it is a laudable and useful principle of action 
— and, 

II. As it may be corrupted, and possess a dangerous 
influence on the heart. 

I. The love of praise has, evidently, been intended 
by our Creator as one of the most powerful incentives 
to actions great and honourable in themselves, and bene- 
ficial to mankind. No principle raises human nature 
to a higher tone of exertion. And when all its activity 
is directed to good and noble ends, it may justly be ex- 
pected to lay the most solid and sure foundation for 
reputation and esteem in every sphere of life. The 
collisions of interest, indeed, or the predominance of 
party passions may, for a season, depress merit, and 
elevate imbecility or vice to distinction; — Vanity may, 
for a time, be caressed by the insidious flatteries of 
those who despise, while they court it; — Wealth, 
though acquired by crimes, may receive a deceitful 
and interested homage from dependants; the splendor of 
conquest may dazzle for a while the misjudging worlds 
and cover with a false and temporary lustre, the iriqui- 
ties by which they were achieved, and the miseries 
which follow in their train; but, they are talents guided 
by wisdom and piety, and directed to promote the in- 
terests of humanity, which unite the suffrages of all 
mankind, and embalm to posterity the memory of good 
men, and the fame of the benefactors of nations. 

In examining the principles of human conduct we 
will often find this passion pervading with a useful in- 
fluence all the active springs of our nature. It serves 
to polish the manners, arid to circulate those amiable 

On the love of Praise. 357 

attentions which contribute so much to the pleasure 
and enjoyment of life. The delicacies of conversation, 
the elegancies, the refinements, the charms of social 
intercourse which distinguish civilized from savage 
man, all spring from the mutual desire of pleasing and 
the reflected hope of being respected and beloved. 
Praise often cherishes in the youthful breast the seeds 
of future worth, and infuses into them the principles of 
a vigorous growth. And a generous emulation to ex- 
cel is usually regarded, at that period, as the presage 
of all that is wise, and virtuous, and manly in after life. 
Praise has trimmed the lamp of the student, has gui- 
ded and animated the hand of the artist, and often ad- 
ministered the noblest incentives to the fires of genius. 
To what, indeed, do we owe the poets, the orators, the 
statesmen, the patriots, the heroes, who have adorned, 
and shed a glory on the respective nations which have 
given them birth? I will not exclude the operation of 
other, and of higher principles in the formation of 
many of these great characters; but certainly one, and 
that, by no means the weakest in its influence, has been 
the proud hope of being rewarded with the esteem of 
their country; or the still prouder hope of enjoying 
that immortality in the memory of men which genius 
so often confers on its possessor; or which the public 
gratitude sometimes endeavours to bestow on illustri- 
ous services rendered to the interests of humanity. 
Those nations have, accordingly, flourished most who 
have best known how to touch this powerful spring of 
great and honorable actions. A statue, a tripod, a 
triumph, even a laurel crown, or an oaken wreath, 

358 On the love of Praise. 

bestowed as a mark? of the public favour, contributed 
to elevate the genius of Greece and Koine, above tliat 
of all other nations. — What dangers will not men en- 
counter, what labors will they not undergo, what self 
denials not endure, in order to obtain a high place in 
the est'em of mankind? None can be entirely insen- 
sible to it except those who are conscious to themselves 
that they want worth to deserve it. Base and nmlig- 
nant must be that heart which is wholly indifferent to 
the o[)inion of the world. 

The love of praise, therefore, when cherished in its 
due degree, not only incites the youth to useful im- 
provement, and prompts the man to the performance 
of actions of conspicuous merit, but is intimately con- 
nected with those respectful and benevolent regards to 
mankind, which form the finest ties of human society. 
Whatsoever things, then, are lovely, in themselves, and 
in the esteem of the world, if there be any virtue, and 
i/* there be any praise resting on these amiable and sohd 
foundations, think of these things. 

From so many considerations does it appear that the 
love of praise, when directed to proper objects, and 
preserved within proper bounds, is a legitimate, and a 
laudable principle of action. Our blessed Saviour 
himself, who was the most humble and self-denied of 
men, has not disdained to employ it as a motive and 
reward of good deeds in the example of the grateful 
sister of Lazarus, who had just given him a costly tes- 
timony of her affectionate attachment: — " Verily I say 
unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached iu 
the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman 

On the love of Praise. 359 

hath done, be told for a memorial of her." And God 
hath denounced it as a curse on the wicked, that ^^ their 
name shall rot;'' but, '' blessed shall be the memory of 
the just;'' " They shall be had in everlasting remem- 

As a noble encouragement to piety, to virtue, to 
philanthropy, to the cultivation of all your intellectual 
and moral powers, remember that these are the quali- 
ties which chiefly comuiand the esteem of mankind, 
and procure for their possessor that " good name which 
is better than precious ointment;" and is infinitely more 
to be vahied, than the splendor of riches, or of power. 
The one is exposed to envy, the other begets affection 
and confidence; the one may excite admiration, the 
other commands esteem; the one may awaken in the 
bosom the pride of superiority, a cold unsocial senti- 
ment, the other attracts love, than which a sweeter 
consciousness comes not to the heart. Riches and 
honors pass away, or descend to others who enjoy the 
benefit, and forget the favor — the memory of a good 
man is precious. While he lives he ujarches encom- 
passed with his virtues, which attract round him the 
hearts of his fellow citizens; and when he dies, he car- 
ries with him their regrets and their tears. 

Ah! did the princes and rulers of the earth know 
wherein their true glory consists, they would find 
it, not in the splendors which dazzle the eyes, and re- 
pel the groans of a miserable people: not in the power 
which imposes its yoke on subject nations; not in the 
mercenary flatteries with which they are worshipped 
in fife; nor, at death, in the magnificient monuments. 

360 On the love of Praise. 

and proud inscriptions which he to posterity; but in the 
fehcity of their country, in the blessings and prayers 
of nations made happy by their wisdom. — Those who 
have extorted by arbitrary force, or stolen by insidious 
arts, a false glory during their lives, shall be held up 
in their true light to posterity. Their private faults, 
the public evils which have flowed fr»»m their vices, 
will be dragged from beneath the veil with which pow- 
er, or dependent adulation had attempted to cover 
them; and condemned, by the faithful severity of his- 
tory, to the reprobation and contemptof future ages. But 
the justice and maganimity of great rulers, the wisdom 
and integrity of able legislators and statesmen, the illus- 
trious actions, or the generous sacrifices of patriots and 
heroes, the talents which have adorned the age in which 
they flourished, the extraordinary mental powers which 
have given direction to the great movements of the 
world shall, in the language of the sacred writer, be 
had in everlasting remembrance. 

In every station of hfe, then, in which men may be 
placed by divine providence, they may justly regard an 
honest fame as among the purest and holiest motives 
of a noble and virtuous conduct. Whatsoever things are 
of good report ; if there be any virtue, if there be any 
praise, think of these things. 

That a fair reputation is a valuable possession, that 
the love of praise, when directed by just principles, 
and preserved within due bounds, is not only an allow- 
able but a laudable motive of action, will not be de- 
nied. But, Uke all the best propensities and powers of 
our nature, it is capable of being perverted and it of- 

On the love of Praise, 361 

ten is perverted, to ends very different from those for 
which it was implanted in the heart of man by his 

II. Of its abuses, therefore, permit me next to speak, 

It may be excessive. It may be ill directed, and be- 
come the minister of vice. 

The praise of men, as has been already said, far 
from being the governing motive of our conduct, 
should only be auxiliary to the pure love of virtue, and 
a pious submission of heart to the vvill, and the law of 
God It should be subordinate, as a principle of action, 
even to the approbation of our own consciences, and to 
that self respect which it will ever be the care of a wise 
and good man to cultivate. The noblest enjoy nientof vir- 
tue and piety, next to the sense of the favor of God, 
is derived from the conscious rectitude of our own con- 
duct; and. that inward tranquilhty and peace which a 
Self approving conscience sheds through the whole 
soul. A good man will always be able to rest upon 
himself, if the caprice of the world should deny him his 
honest fame, or even the malignant arts of his enemies 
should succeed for a time, to overwhelm him with ca- 

The desire of praise, when it becomes excessive, 
and this is its first abuse, puts your happiness too much 
in the power of others, both for your comfort and your 
duty. For although greattalents will generally be admir- 
ed, and virtue esteemed; yet, many events may occur 
to rob the best of men of that reputation to which 
their merits justly entitle them. They may be sunk in 
obscurity; they may be thrown, in tjie course of fro^ 


362 On the love of Praise. 

vidence, into situations unfavourable to the display of 
their talents^ or their virtues. Ignorance may not be 
able to appreciate them; prejudice may distort them, 
misfortune may cast them under a cloud, party pas- 
sions may taint them, slander may tarnish then), envy 
may corrode them, the unsuspecting candor, frankness, 
and honesty of the most innocent minds may often lay 
them open to the attacks of artful and designing enemies. 
Beware, then, of setting your heart too fondly on a pos- 
session so perishable and uncertain. For if you fail to at- 
tain it, by having formed a wrong estimate of your own 
powers, or the opinions of the world; or if you should 
be deprived of it, by the arts of rivals, or of enemies, 
you will be overwhelmed with anguish. But, seek first 
the praise of God, and of your own hearts. Hence you 
will derive the truest and most lasting happiness. And 
although the approbation of your fellow men would be 
a sweet ingredient in the enjoyment of Hfe; yet, the 
want of it will, in that case, inflict no fatal wound on 
your peace; you will have a happiness secured above 
the arts of malice and the storms of misfortune. 

It deserves to be particularly remarked, in the next 
place, that when this passion becomes too visible, man- 
kind often take a pleasure in disappointing our vanity. 
And the truth is, vanity forfeits a great part of the es- 
teem which would otherwise be paid to the virtues 
with which it is sometimes connected. Not even the 
splendid talents and illustrious services of Cicero, 
could save him from the contempt and ridicule of his 
cotemporaries. When he would have it beheved that 
he was wholly devoted to the republic, he seemed to be 

On the love of Praise. 36S 

»ot less devoted to his own glory, and was thought by 
many of his Countrymen, to be a patriot only for fame. 
To repress still further the criminal excess of this 
passion, which invades that supremacy of duty and 
love which we owe to God, reflect how often is praise 
unjustly withheld, by ignorant or envious men from 
your most deserving qualities, or your most meritorious 
actions: how often it is injudiciously bestowed upon 
the undeserving; how often it is given to the most fri- 
volous accomplishments: how often it is won by the 
most superficial appearances of merit; how often it is 
stolen from the multitude by base compliances, and 
hypocritical professions; and how often, if you possess 
power, or wealth, or beauty, it is impossible to distin- 
guish sycophancy ti-om esteem, and flattery from sincere 
attachment, ileflect moreover, that the breath of mor- 
tals, however soothing to our vanity, cannot soothe the 
cold ear of death, or follow us beyond the grave. If 
it hangs over our tombs for a few moments, like a light 
vapour, it is soon dissipated by the passions which oc- 
cupy and agitate the surviving world, or sinks down in 
the chill night of an eternal oblivion. Nothing but the 
testimony of a good conscience, and a sincere trust in 
the Redeemer, can support the soul when all human 
things are passing away, and it finds itself entering 
alone through the valley of shades* into the eternal 
world. Let not the praise of men, therefore, if you 
receive it, unduly elate you; nor if it is withheld, be too 

* The valley of shades, was the name by which a dark vale not far from 
Jerusalem, was distinguished, which furnished to the sacred poet, the illu- 
ision contained in this figure. 

364 On the love of Praise. 

much depressed, if you have the higher praise of your 
const ience, of your works, and of God. 

As the love of praise, when it is suffered to hold too 
high a place in the heart, will necessarily disappoint 
you, and will often defeat its own aims; so, by receiv- 
ing a wrong direction, it becomes the minister of sin. 

If the applauses of those with whom you associate 
are the chief objects of your ambition, what tempta- 
tions do they not lay in your way, when you happen 
unfortunately to be connected with men who substitute 
fashion for duty, and who justify vice by example? 
Your contempt of religion, and of sober manners will, 
in such connections, often outrun fashion itself; you 
will be ambitious to obtrude your example among the 
first in every modish scene of dissipation. 

But, most dangerous is this passion in the associa- 
tions of young men, who are yet in the full tide of folly; 
whose reason has not been enlightened, and whose 
passions have not been chastened by experience; who 
mistake sprightliness for wit, and effrontery for talent. 
Here, he who can point out new roa Is to plea-u "e; he 
who can most ingeniously defend the vices of fashion, 
or with the greatest dexterity wield a stroke against 
the authority or the doctrines of religion; he who is 
most daring in his own conduct to overleap the bounds 
prescribed by the prudence of wisdom, and the cau- 
tion of experience, will always be encouraged with 
thoughtless and giddy applause. Leaders in vice who 
are bold and assuming, ever meet with followers and 
imitators, sooner perhaps, than the patrons and exam- 
ples of virtue and piety, who are modest and retiring. 

On the love of Praise. 3C5 

Here, in the noisy plaudits of your companions, you 
will learn to drown tl>e voice of conscience, and the 
awful menaces of religion; here will you soon be in- 
cited ostentatiously to trample on the restraints, which 
you miscall the prejudices, of a pious education; and 
to contemn the sober opinion of the world. You will 
affect to be more impious and profligate than you are, 
till you become as profligate and impious as you affect 
to be. Ah! how many unhappy youth, aspiring to dis- 
tinction among such associates, have precipitated their 
own destruction. 

Looking a little higher, among the ranks of litera- 
ture^ and turning over the volumes of infidelity and 
immorality, which the press has so copiously poured 
upon the present age, I say to myself of these perni- 
cious writings, that spring from the corrupt affections 
of the heart; how many have their immediate source in 
that vanity which aspires to gain the reputation of su- 
perior wit and strength of mind, by attacking all an- 
cient systems, by boldly assailing the sacred doctrines 
of religion, and maintaining every extravagant novelty of 
opinion. All the libertine, all the vain, all who are lovers 
of pleasure more than lovers of God; that is, unhappily, 
the greater portion of all the higher circles of society, 
are ready to extol with excessive praise, and crown with 
the laurels of genius, the authors who would emanci- 
pate them from the thraldom of religious fear, and lay 
the spectres which haunt the gloom of the grave. \u 
an age of luxury and pleasure, this misapplication of 
talent opens an easy path to that airy temple which 
false wit, and superficial science, have erected on an 

366 On the love of Praise. 

humble eminence, decorated with artificial flowers, in 
opposition to the genuine temple of Fame, planted on 
the summit of an arduous cliff, the ascent to which is 
always difficult and laborious. The incessant applaus- 
es of the giddy throng who surround it below, seduce 
a crowd of authors, who hasten thither to offer their 
works on the altars of vice. Alas! deplorable talents! 
corrupted while they corrupt! Applauded by those on- 
ly whom they are helping to destroy! 

in the false and pernicious direction given to this 
passion, we may find the cause of many of those dis- 
orders, which have disturbed the tranquillity of free 
governments. Often it created the most dangerous fer- 
ments in the httle republics of Greece. And we do 
not want examples among ourselves of the most odious 
factions, excited and nourished by this principle. It is 
not alv\a}s the love of a little brief authority, nor even 
the mean avarice of gaining a few extraordinary emol- 
uments in the public service, which sets your restless 
demagogues on work, (although not a small proportion 
of our pretended patriots are governed by such unwor- 
thy motives), but, frequently, vain men, with no other 
talents than presumption and loquacity, are ambitious 
of obtruding themselves on the public view. Ambitious 
of vulgar praise, they study to seize on some popular to- 
pic to stir the commonalty into violence and frenzy. 
The best characters are the subjects of their slander; 
the best measures they find some low and mercenary 
ground of defaming; while they strive to raise into a 
flame a fickle, envious and ignorant populace, with 
whom a violent and worldly zeal is too often the proof of 

On the love of Praise. 367 

patriotism. Little scrupulous of the means they employ 
to accomplish their end, the public good, which is their 
loudest pretence, is their least concern. All their ob- 
ject is to rise into favour on the agitated tide. And, 
for a while, perhaps, they ride in triumph, supported 
on the bubbles they have raised. The bubbles break, 
and leave them to sink into their native obscurity; other 
favourites, not less ambitious and possibly more un- 
principled than themselves, agitate this multitudinous 
ecean by a new storm. They hurl their predecessors 
into the troubled waves, in the midst of which, like 
them, they ride, for a little while, till, in their turn, 
they are precipitated by new pretenders. In the mean 
time, their country suffers innumerable, evils; till at 
last, they make the very name of patriotism be ab- 
horred: and the distracted, and so often deluded peo- 
ple, seek some dreadful remedy for pohtical disorders 
at length become intolerable. 

Perhaps, a still more deplorable effect of this mis- 
guided passion, is seen when it ascends to the very 
seat of Moses and the apostles, and corrupts, in the 
mouths of the teachers of religion, the purity and sim- 
plicity of its truths. On this subject two opposite evils 
•ften dishonour the sanctuary of truth. While somC; 
studious only to please the circles of polite fashion, 
prophesy smooth things, and bring down the standard 
of evangelic morality to what fashion prescribes, or 
the delicacy of luxury will bear; others, destitute of 
talents to edify the church of God by the extent and 
variety of their knowledge, or the powers of a cultiva- 
ted elocution, address themselves to catch the applause 

368 On the love of Praise. 

of zeal from the misjudging multitude, who seldom 
are able to distinguish an assumed fervor from the ge- 
nuine warmth of sincere piety. With noise, with rant, 
with terror, by whatever engines will move and agitate 
rude minds, but equally distant from the genuine spirit 
of religion as the vicious complaisance of the former, 
they pursue their unworthy ends. There are dema- 
gogues in religion as well as in politics, whose chief 
aim it is to render themselves conspicuous in a party. 
But all the flashings of their fiery zeal cannot conceal 
from a true discerner of the human heart, the unwor- 
thy passions which, under the mask of humble devo- 
tion, are helping to blow the flame, for the purposes 
of their own vanity. Among all impieties, hardly can 
one be mentioned more odious to Heaven, and to all 
good men, than to stand up in the temples, and in the 
name of the Most High, only to seek our own gl»ry. 
To soften down to the taste of fashionable pleasure, on 
the one hand, those holy and eternal truths on which 
depends the salvation of immortal souls; or, on the 
other, to convert the humble, devout, and reasonable 
service of the living God into the frantic bowlings of 
the idolatrous woishippers of Moloch, or of Dagon. I 
know not which should most shock a rational and pi- 
ous mind, to see an Adonis present himself, like a ser- 
vant of the Graces, before the awful altars of Jeho- 
vah; or to see an ignorant and presumptuous mortal 
throwing himself into a counterfeited frenzy; dealing 
out the denunciations of Heaven on his fellow crea- 
tures, according as his own passions impel him; ap- 
proaching his Creator and Redeemer with the most 
indecent familiarities of expression; and pouring forth 

On the love of Praise. 369 

his own incoherent rhapsodies, instead of the words of 
truth and soberness; — Those divine truths which we 
ought always to touch with the same reverence and 
awe, with which the priests of Israel approached the 
ark of the covenant, or Aaron and his sons entered 
into the holy of holies. — Oh! impiety! thus hypocriti- 
cally to employ religion to serve the base purposes of 
our own vanity! to dare attempt to make God, if 1 may 
speak so, pander to our vile praise! 

Thus the love of praise, when it is excessive, or ill 
directed, may, in many ways, corrupt the heart. We 
have often seen it, when lavishly and indiscreetly be- 
stowed, deprave those excellent dispositions which at 
first deserved it. Acquired, in the beginning, by the 
exercise of the most modest virtues, it has at last in- 
flated the heart with an odious vanity, and created a 
spirit self-conceited, arrogant, and intractable. Ah! how 
little does vanity, or pride, become a man in the midst 
of his fellow men! a brother in the midst of his breth- 
ren! — above all, a worm of the dust in the presence of 
the infinite Creator! 

But though the love of praise when it is excessive, 
or misplaced, is attended with so many evils and dan- 
gers, yet have we seen it, when properly regulated^ 
ever united with a generous emulation to excel, and 
become the parent of the most valuable improvements 
in society, and of the highest virtues. Separate it from 
the pernicious principles with which it is often con- 
joined, and I will again and again repeat, with the apos- 
tle, — " Whatsoever things are of good report; if there 
VOL. I. 3 b 

370 On the love of Praise. 

be any virtue, if there be any praise, think of these 

But, it is time to address myself to the last duty of 
this day, giving my parting counsels to those youth who 
have just finished their course of studies in this insti- 
tution, and offering up for them my most fervent 

Young Gentlemen, 

"We now touch on the last moments of our union as 
instructor, and as pupils. It is a moment always ac- 
companied with many serious reflections. You are 
parting from the retirements of your studies. The vast, 
and various prospect of life is before you, with all its 
uncertainties and dangers, its hopes and disappoint- 
ments, its rivalships and contentions, its labors and 
its duties. I look upon you like a mariner who has 
just passed an agitated ocean, while you are, as yet, 
only launching amidst the waves. He hopes, he prays 
for the success of so many young and ardent adven- 
turers; but he tren)bles at the hazards in which he 
knows you will presently be involved. At a moment, 
then, in which many recollections and anticipations na- 
turally press upon the mind to dispose it to solemnity, 
and to awaken in our bosoms many tender, as well as 
serious emotions, may I not hope that instructions to 
which you have often listened with deference, will 
make upon your hearts a more lasting impression than 
on ordinary occasions. 

In the course of your studies it has ever been an ob- 
ject with the government of this institution to nourish 

On the love of Praise. 371 

in your bosoms a generous emulation to excel, and to 
fan that love of praise, which, united with the love of 
science, and the nobler sentiments of duty, would 
stimulate you to the highest exertion of the best pow- 
ers and faculties of your nature. Still continue to 
cherish that useful principle which will impel you for- 
ward in the career of honourable improvement. In the 
youthful breast it can hardly be excessive. Not yet 
tainted by the envy of rivalship, or the intrigues of am- 
bition, which so often corrupt the passions of riper 
years, its earliest tendencies are to lead you to virtue; 
to prompt you to the cultivation of every talent, the ac- 
quisition of every accomplishment which will awaken 
in your favor, on all sides, the voice of praise. How 
lovely is youth when we behold in it all the symptoms 
of a virtuous sensibihty; all the ardor of a generous 
emulation; all the noble purposes of duty; all the mo- 
dest consciousness at once of worth, and of the imper- 
fection of its attainments! all the auguries of future 
honor, and usefulness! 

Cultivate a generous love of praise. At your age, 
it will be a powerful incentive to virtue: to genius it 
will be Uke the animating rays of the sun, which give 
life, action, and energy to the whole creation. 

What then are those qualities which procure for 
their possessor the highest honor and distinction among 
men? Are they not the great endowments of the 
mind, and the good affections of the heart? On a noble 
magnanimity, on diffusive benevolence, on unshaken 
integrity, on a warm, rational, and dignified piety, on 
extensive science, on a powerful and manly eloquence^, 

372 On the love of Praise. 

on the masterly ability of combining and applying all 
the branches of knowledge for the purposes of public 
utihty, are founded the most solid claims to public es- 
teem. Superficial talents, and showy but hollow pre- 
tensions, may deceive the multitude for a moment; but 
experience and time, which disclose the true charac- 
ters of men, and the sounder judgments of the wise, 
which ultimately prevail over hasty and ill founded 
opinions, will strip from them the laurels with which 
ignorance had crowned them. 

It is the union of talents with virtue which forms the 
true foundation of lasting praise. Virtue will procure 
for you higher confiidence from your fellow citizens, 
talents spread round you greater lustre. It is on the 
union of both that you should build your hopes of ho- 
nou and esteem. 

Be not in haste, then, to enter on the exercise of 
those various liberal professions to which most of you 
intend hereafter to devote your faculties. Wait with 
patience the development of the full powers of your 
minds; and continue long to collect, with persevering 
industry, from every source, the treasures of know- 
ledge, which are necessary to fit you to appear with 
distinction and eminence, before you advance into the 
public theatre of life. A prudent delay will, in the end, 
be gaining both time and reputation. But if you are 
impatient to display your talents^ or to enter on the ac- 
quisition of a pitiful gain, and therefore content your- 
selves with hasty and superficial preparations, you will 
probably march through your whole course with feeble, 
nerveless, and obscme eilbrts, which, if they do not c<^ 

On the hve of Praise. 373 

ver you with contempt, will, at least, leave you sunk 
among the vulgar throng who make up the mass, or 
drag at the tail of their respective professions. 

Whence is it that we hear from the pulpit so many 
insipid, and common-place discourses, without illumi- 
nation to gratify the understanding, and without energy 
to impress the heart? Seldom, perhaps, is it to be as- 
cribed to the absolute defect of natural capacity, but to 
the want of due preparation for discharging honorably 
and usefully the fun<tions of this holy office. Whence 
is it that many a young preacher, after being well re- 
ceived for a few discourses, becomes at last spiritless, 
and insipid, and addresses only fatigued and listless 
audiences.^ He has exhausted his scanty intellectual 
funds, and has nothing new to produce from his im- 
poverished treasury. 

Whence is it that the noble and dignified science of 
justice, so often degenerates into a pitiful pettifogging 
and chicanery.^ Young men without diligence and 
application, meanly furnished with juridical knowledge, 
and destitute of the rich and varied powders of eloquence 
derived from a general acquaintance with other arts, 
have addicted themselves only to the meagre forms, 
and the dishonourable quibbles of the law. — And is 
it not lamentable to see, in so many instances, men, 
ignorant of the first elemeitts of civil and jjolitical 
science, presuming to prescribe laws to the republic; 
and pretending, without the smallest consciousness of 
their own insufficiency, to direct the relations, and set- 
tle the jarring interests of the state with foreign na- 
tions! Interests, relations, lawb, which require a con- 

374 On the love of Praise. 

summate knowledge of the principles of civil society, 
the most extensive information concerning the political, 
commercial, and military state of the civilized world, 
the most vigorous powers of combination, a penetra- 
tion which pervades at a single glance the most com- 
plicated systems; a comprehension able to embrace at 
one view the most remote consequences; a perspicacity 
fitted to unravel the most intricate questions of policy. 
Among your most valuable attainments let me add, 
that it is especially important, in a free country, to cul- 
tivate a forcible and persuasive eloquence. I may 
surely address myself to an American scholar in the 
language which Sir William Jones has used to a young 
British nobleman whom he was desirous of training up 
to the knowledge and management of public affairs. 
" I am fully convinced, says he, that an Englishman's 
real importance in his country will always be in a com- 
pound ratio of his virtue, his knowledge, and his elo- 
quence, without all of which qualities httle real utility 
can result from either of them apart." 

Bui, remember, it is not the noisy declamation of a 
town-meeting, nor the crude and incoherent garrulity 
which so often fatigues the attention, and delays the 
public business, in our legislatures, which will enable 
an orator to coiiibine the great interests, and guide the 
movements of a nation. To perform this with success 
he should thoroughly comprehend those interests, he 
should possess a perspicacious mind, clearly to develop 
them, he should be able to forsee, and to obviate all 
difficulties which will oppose the execution of his plans, 
he should derive light and information from all ages, 

On the love of Praise. 375 

he should understand the true character, powers, and 
resources of his country, he should discern the best 
means of drawing them into operation, he should know 
how to touch all the springs of human action. Behold 
what a field is before the real statesman! These were 
the pow^ers which gave Demosthenes so great an as- 
cendant over all the corrupted politicians, and noisy de- 
magogues of Athens. These were the powers which 
made even the ujost polished orators, who knew only 
the modulation of periods, and charmed the ear with- 
out enhghtening the understanding, yield to his sdpe- 
rior illumination and energy. He did not deem it suf- 
ficient to declaim with angry and boastful vehemence 
against the public enemy. This would have been an 
easy task to a far inferior orator. He penetrated and 
displayed the artful designs of the Macedonian king: 
— he unfolded the true interests of Greece: he por- 
trayed in strong colours the storm which impended 
over his country, he pointed out;, at the same time the 
resources with which she was able to meet and dispel 
it; he showed to Athens her own strength: he entered 
into the minutest details of her finance; he understood 
the views and intrigues of every state which could af- 
fect the interests of his own country; he knew how to 
resuscitate from the slumbers of luxury, the ancient 
vigor of the republic; all the stores of history were open 
to his use; all the lights of science, all the powers of 
language, were summoned to his aid. — Were these 
mighty effects the fruit of superficial attainments, of 
hasty studies, of precipitately intruding himself into the 
management of affairs ? You know his history— his la^ 

^76 On the love of Praise. 

bors; his long continued and intense application; his 
obstinate conflicts with the difficulties which nature 
opposed to his success. But he resolved to become the 
first statesman and orator in Greece; and he became 
so. But, why propose such an illustrious and transcend- 
ant example to young men who, as yet, are only enter- 
ing on their literary career? — Because every young 
man, who desires to excel, should, from the beginning, 
have his view and his ambition fixed on the highest 
models. But this example, while it is calculated to 
excite the ardor of your emulation, is fitted also to en- 
courage your hopes, and may serve to show you how^ 
much is in your power. For it is a maxim which 
ought to be engraven on the heart of every ingenuous 
youth to whom nature has not been extraordinarily de- 
ficient in her gifts, that, like the Athenian orator he 
can accomplish whatever he is firmly resolved to do. 
But, let me add, that the love of praise, when it is 
not made the handmaid of vanity, but is modest and 
well-directed, will make you studious especially to gain 
the approbation of those whom it is your duty, and 
whom it will be your chief honor and happiness to 
please. To be ever ready to do good to the lowest of 
mankind is an exalted virtue; but to be ambitious of 
the applauses of the ignorant and fickle multitude is a 
low aim; and to collect them is not a difficult task to 
those who can stoop to the dishonourable arts which 
are requisite for this end. Be it your ambition to de- 
serve the esteem of the wise and good, whose opinion 
will stamp a worth upon your name. Cultivating their 
esteem, you will be supported also by the conscious- 

On the lave of Praise. 37 

Hess of your own hearts; — that noble consciousness 
which God has made, next to. his own approbation, 
the most precious reward of virtue; and which will 
console you like Socrates, and like Phocion, or, to take 
a higher example, like Daniel, if, at any time, the ma- 
lignant arts of rivals or of enemies should prevail 
against you. 

Prepare to deserve, hereafter, the approbation of 
your country by meritorious and distinguished services, 
as so many of the sons of the college have done who 
once occupied the place in which you now stand. 
Men who have not enjoyed the advantages of liberal 
culture are permitted to confine their views to a nar- 
row sphere. But education imposes higher duties on 
her sons, and enforces them by sublimer examples. 
Patriotism was the first of virtues to a Greek, or a 
Roman. He sucked it in with his first milk; he inhaled 
it with his vital breath; to strengthen this passion all 
his studies, his discipline, his exercises were directed. 

But passing all other considerations, permit me to 
press upon you one which cannot fail to touch the heart 
of an ingenuous youth. Among your highest aims let 
it ever be, to deserve the praise and the love of those 
to whom, immediately, you owe your existence; and 
who have the deepest stake in your honor and felicity. 

The sweetest recompense which, as dutiful sons, 
you can receive for all the ^elf-denials of your early 
virtues, must be to witness the happiness, and the hon- 
est pride of those who have loved you with supreme ten- 
derness, whose hearts have throbbed with ten thousand 
anxieties over your inexperienced years, who have 

VOL. I. 3 c 

378 (^n the love of Praise. 

made so many painful sacrifices to your education, 
when they behold all -their sacrifices, their anxieties, 
their love, repaid by your duty, and rewarded by youl* 
improvement. I seem to participate with them the 
tender delight, the sweet rapture in which they are dis- 
solved, when on your return they believe they are em- 
bracing in their arms their worthy sons. If the world 
were filled with your praises, methinks the idea dear- 
est to you, must be the delicious pride which your repu- 
tation and honor must reflect to the heart of an affec- 
tionate parent. Ah! what a motive to improvement! 
what a reward for excelling! The most amiable trait 
in the character of the great Epaminondas was his 
fihal piety. Being asked which was the happiest cir- 
cumstance in a life distinguished, as his was, by illus- 
trious deeds, and the admiration of his countrymen; 
."it was, says he, that after my victory at Leuctra my 
father and mother were both living to enjoy the honors 
paid me by my fellow citizens." If this virtue displays 
a more resplendent lustre surrounded with the glory of 
heroic actions, yet this lovely sentiment, in my opinion, 
confers more real greatness on the Theban hero than 
all his victories. The thought of rendering happy a 
father, or a mother by our own virtues and honors, 
how precious to the heart of a dutiful son! There are 
no personal gratifications he would not forego, there are 
no sacrifices he would not make, to enjoy it. But 
why do I speak of sacrifices.^ When it is your own 
virtue, honor, reputation, when it is, in a word, your 
own happiness which makes them happy. — Imagine 
you see the tear of tenderness and delight start in their 
eyes at these your first honors; and, with their venera- 

On the hve of Praise. 379 

ble and beloved forms before you, resolve that they 
never shall have cause to blush for then' sons. 

But if, in any instance, they have already descended 
to the tomb, and left you to maintain the honor of their 
families, let your virtues prove the noblest monument 
to their memory. 

Would to God that I could inspire this pure and vir- 
tuous sentiment into the bosom of every American 
youth! It would, along vsdth religion, to which it is 
intimately allied, be the surest foundation of the pros- 
perity and glory of my country. — " Honor t-hy father 
and thy mother, saith the Spirit of God to the people 
of Israel, that thy days, that is, thy existence as a na- 
tion, may be long upon the land which the Lord thy 
God giveth thee." 

I have recommenced the praise of your friends, of 
your country, and of mankind, as a motive to duty; 
and pointed out the good effects that may result fi-om 
your desire to obtain it. Bear with me however, a few 
moments, while I caution you against the dangerous 
consequences which may spring from the abuse of this 

JNIany young men who have early discovered a cer- 
tain promptness and vivacity of parts, courted and ca- 
ressed as the life of every gay company, have cultiva- 
ted only those superficial talents which made them en- 
tertaining companions, and attracted the unthinking ap- 
plauses of levity and mirth. Having glittered awhile in 
the circles of fashion or of dissipation, they have after- 
wards sunk into insignificance and all their early 
promises have perished. 

380 On the love of Praise. 

Their vanity, nourished by the praises of their 
friends, led them to imagine that they already shone 
with the lustre of genuine wit at the summit of the 
mountain, while they only flashed like meteors at the 
bottom for a few moments and disappeared. Between 
sprightliness of parts, and the capacities of a great 
mind, between promptness of wit, and solidity of under- 
standing, between the brilliancy of certain companion- 
able qualities and mature wisdom, there is a wide dif- 
ference. i\nd young men fascinated by the noisy plau- 
dits bestowed on these frivolous accomplishments, have 
too frequently misapplied their time, and given a wrong 
direction to the early efforts of their genius. Thus 
have been blasted all the opening blossoms of hope; 
and the first rich promise of fruit has withered and 
dropped from the tree before it came to maturity. 

When vanity assumes a merit to itself lor the novel- 
ty, the extravagance, or impiety of the principles it 
maintains, it presents to us one of the most fatal symp- 
toms of a depraved heart. It is dangerous even to 
sport opinions of which you are not firmly persuaded, 
in order to gain the praise of ingenuity and wit. But 
lost, and commonly beyond recovery, is the unhappy 
youth whom the vanity of receiving the applause of 
loose and profligate companions leads to place himself 
at the head of associations for vice. Stimulated by 
their flatteries, he outgoes even his own desires for 
indulgence; and far outgoes his convictions of what is 
consistent with reason, or with duty. In proportion to 
the ascendance he has assumed among them, must he 
be more profligate than they; aim a more poignant 

On the love of Praise. 381 

ridicule at virtue, more impious scoffs against religion, 
Oh! fatal vanity! which is hastening the perdition of 
the soul, and laying up for them the eternal execrations 
of those whom they have ruined by their example, and 
who are now ruining them by their guilty praise. 
" Of you, I may say with the apostle, I hope better 
things, though I thus speak." 

But in the conclusion of this address, suffer me to 
repeat to you, that, however laudable in youth is a 
generous love of praise, it should never hold the chief 
sway among the motives of your conduct. It should 
ever be subordinate to a pure and ardent love of virtue, 
and reverence for religion, and even to a just and noble 
respect for yourselves. But, the first object of desire to 
every reasonable being should be the approbation of 
God. He who embraces all being in himself is the 
sovereign good. What is the transient breath of mortals 
compared to his favour ivhich is life., and his loving 
kindness which is better than life? Vam is all human 
glory, separated from virtue and from the love and ser- 
vice of the living God. The laurels of the conquerors 
of the world have long since withered on their brows 
— the proudest monuments of princely vanity have been 
long since levelled with the dust, the most splendid 
works of genius and of art consecrated to the fame of 
illustrious men, are continually passing to obhvion, and 
the world itself shall perish; but those who love God 
shall inhabit with him the praises of eternity. 

Never can you too profoundly impress it on your 
hearts that God your Creator possesses the supreme 
right to all the powers of your being. From him they 

382 On the love of Praise. 

are derived, to him they ought continually to tend. 
How amiable and lovely in youth is piety, which draws 
down the spirit of heaven to earth; which opens on the 
beginning ofhfe the fairest blossoms of hope; which 
consecrates to our adorable Creator and Redeemer 
the bloom of existence; and is preparing in the heart 
the ripened fruit of a blessed and glorious immortality. 
The early contact of the soul, if 1 may speak so, with 
infinite purity, which is effected by the power of devo- 
tion, at once ennobles and purifies its being, and pre- 
pares it for those holy and ineffable joys which perfect 
spirits taste in the presence of God. 

Retiring as you now are from these studious retreats 
in which you have spent many hours of refined and 
social pleasure; and dissolving many pleasing ties which 
have hitherto united you with your literary associates, 
let these separations remind you of that more serious 
moment when you must part with all human friend- 
ships; and when the world fading from your view, shall 
leave you no support in the conflict with death, and no 
consolation at the bar of Heaven, but the mercy and 
grace of your Redeemer, and the review of life spent 
in obedience to his holy will. So live, and employ the 
talents which God has given you, that the supreme 
Judge, assembhng round you in that day your good 
works, may, from this tribunal, proclaim them to the 
universe, to your everlasting glory and praise. 

As I am now performing the last office which my 
station requires in superintending this period of your 
education; for your diligence, for your laudable ambi- 
tion, in any instance, to excel; for all that you have 

On the love of Praise, 383 

done well for your own honor and interest, or for the 
general interest of morals and letters in the college, 
accept my thanks. For nothing is dearer to my heart 
than the improvement in every useful and ornamental 
endowment of those whose education has been com- 
mitted to my charge. 

If, in the course of your studies, I have, through in- 
advertance or mistake, injured the feelings of one per- 
son in the class, I trust that my motives, and the ar- 
duousness of my situation will excuse it. All that is 
past is forgotten, except your virtues. Henceforward 
I regard you as equals, and, as men. One emotion 
only occupies my heart in a fervent aspiration to hea- 
ven, for your honor and usefulness in life; and for your 
everlasting salvation. blessed Jesus! Saviour and 
advocate of mankind! who dost offer the sincere prayers 
of thy people before God, deign to present this prayer 

with acceptance at the heavenly throne! 



And the sin which doth so easily beset us. Htb. xii, I. 

Frequently, in the sacred writings, the self-de- 
nials, and the arduous duties of the christian hfe are 
represented by images drawn from the athletic exer- 
cises, so customary in that age, for which the comba- 
tants were obliged to qualify themselves by a vigorous 
preparatory discipline, and in which during the actual 
contlict they were obliged to exert the utmost powers 
of nature in contending for the honorable prize. In 
this passage the apostle borrows his allusions from the 
race; a contest for which they prepared themselves by 
an exact temperance as well as by a long course of 
pirevious and active exercises. In the race itself, they 
disencumbered themselves of every weight, that, being 
free from whatever might obstruct their speed, or de- 
press their energies, they might have better hope to 
gain the goal in triumph. This analogy the apostle ap- 
plies to the progress of a christian through the present 
evil world. It requires all the vigor of soul, all the 
self-denial, all the earnestness and zeal which were 
ever exerted in the best disputed race. Heaven is the 
glorious prize proposed to our activity and perseve- 
rance in duty. But, inheriting as we do a degenerate 
nature, placed in the midst of innumerable temptations, 

Our Ruling Sin. 385 

we are impeded in our course by the weights which 
our corru|»tions hang on ail the devout and pious ten- 
dencies of the soul. It is a course in which we are 
obliged continually to ascend towards the heavenly 
hills against all the propensities of a corrupted heart, 
and in which we are obliged, too often, to struggle 
under an oppressive load of worldly and impure aflfec- 
tions, which weigh down the soul, and hinder its ad- 
vancement in its spiritual course. Christians! if you 
would obtain the victory in this race, if you would 
gain the immortal prize which is set before you, dis- 
encumber yourselves of every weight, hut especially, says 
this great apostle, of that sin which doth so easily beset 

Every sinful propensity, every excessive and world- 
ly attachment and care, all our unsanctified passions 
and pursuits, form so many impediments in our chris- 
tian race; so many dangerous obstacles to the attain- 
ment of our salvation. But, there is commonly some 
one passion, indulgence, or pursuit, to which each man 
is chiefly prone, which enters more into his character 
than other sinful propensities, which may be deemed 
his constitutional or prevailing evil, and which this 
great writer calls the sin which doth so easily beset us. 
Infecting all the powers of the soul, and mingling with 
all its movements, it forms the principal hindrance to 
the return of a sinner to God by sincere repentance, 
and is the principal obstruction even of a believer in 
his progress towards Heaven. It often hangs as a 
heavy weight upon the soul; it retards his speed and 

VOL. 1. 3 P 

386 Our Ruling Sin. 

slackens his diligence, and oppresses within him the 
springs of the divine hfe. 

That we may the better understand this sin, and be 
enabled to comply with the exhortation of the apostle, 
let me — in the first place, point out its distinguishing 
characters — and in the next place, offer to the peni- 
tent sinner some means to dehver him from its dange- 
rous power; and to throw off its oppressive weight. 

1 . In order to point out its distinguishing characters 
with the more precision, let us consider it both in its 
operations and its causes. 

1. And first in its operations. — 

These you will find in your thoughts, your senti- 
ments, your affections, your pursuits. Your predomi- 
nant evil then may often be learned by considering 
what are those objects and images which most fre- 
quently offer themselves to your thoughts.'^ which most 
readily move your affections, or at the view of which 
your passions now quickly kindle. What are those 
gratifications on which you are willing to bestow the 
greatest portion of your time, for which you are rea- 
dy to make the greatest sacrifices? What is that which 
most readily offers itself to your mind when free from 
other engagements.? Wliat is most apt to obtrude 
itself into the midst of other engagements, and even 
into the most serious moments of devotion.? To give 
some examples; do you find these images and objects 
in your worldly gains.? in voluptuous pleasures.^ in 
sensual indulgences.? in the vanity and ostentation of 
your person.? Or, do you find them in the malevolent 
passions, the resentments, the envy, the revenge which 

Our Ruling Sin. 

are continually rankling in the dark and malignant bo- 
som? Like Haman does the honor of Mordecai dis- 
turb your thoughts, and rob you of your peace? Like 
the envious children of Jacob, are you always conceiv- 
ing, planning, or wishing some evil towards a more 
fortunate brother? Like Nabal, do you deny yourself 
to all the sweet and pious offices of cJiarity and human- 
ity, for the sake of hoarding up a vile treasure? Like 
Sampson ensnared by the wiles of an artful seducer, 
are you willing to desert virtue, and honor, and repu- 
tation, for an unlawful pleasure? Like the sons of Be- 
lial, do you find your supreme delight in riot, intoxica- 
tion, and debauchery? Like the saunter ers in the pa- 
rable, is it your chief gratification to stand all the day 
idle, to gape at the corners of the streets for news, for 
anecdote, for slander, and indolently to herd with those 
who have nothing farther in view than to pass the 
time? Like the young man in the gospel, though you 
may have many amiable qualities, are you notwith- 
standing, so devoted to the world that there is still one 
possession which you cannot sell, one pleasure which 
you cannot renounce that you may follow Christ? The 
purport of these inquiries is to ask if worldliness and 
idleness, if the love of sensual pleasure, if avarice, if en- 
vy, the irritable and wrathful passions, give the prevail- 
ing features to your character? Behold then the evil 
against which the holy apostle earnestly exhorts you to 
struggle; — the power against which he encourages you 
to contend; — the weight which he commands you to 
lay aside. 

388 Our Rulinpi; Sin.' 

Ag;ain, you may know the sin which most easily be- 
sets yon. Examine your convictions, when, at any 
time, the divine word has been apphed with power to 
your heart. — When convinced of your duty, when pe- 
netrated with the sentiments of rehgion; and ahiiost 
persuaded to be a christian; whryt is that sin which you 
forsake with the greatest reluctance? To which you 
cling with the fondest attachment; for which you are 
most desirous to find apologies to your own heart? 
which you strain the language, or the examples of the 
scriptures to justify? or which, in the face of the Scrip- 
tures, you press your reason to palliate or excuse? What 
is that pleasure for which you will go the most doubt- 
ful lengths in your condu't? that, in a word, for which 
you would be v, Jling to make the sacrifice of all your 
other sins if you could be permitted to enjoy this in 
peace? By such inquiries, and such reflections upon 
your own heart and character, may you learn to know 
and distinguish that sin which is the most dangerous 
enemy of our s?]vation; which requires the most holy 
resolution and fortitude to tear the heart from its in- 
fluence; and which, more than all others, demands un- 
ceasing self-command and watchfulness over our 
thoughts and actions. 

Other discriminating characters of this sin we may 
derive from considering its sources. Not unfrequently, 
it seems to flow from a certain natural temperament 
of constitution, we see men at different times who ap- 
pear by an original propensity of nature, to be strong- 
ly addicted to avarice, to lust, to envy, to revenge, or 
pride. These vices display themselves with the first 

Our Riding Sin. 389 

passions of childhood, and strongly mark the first open- 
ings of the character. Having struck their roots deep- 
ly into the soil of nature, they grow almost without our 
consciousness, and require the greatest vigilance, the 
greatest self command, and even the greatest powers 
of divine grace to subdue them. If they are only neg- 
lected they increase by those continued impulses from 
within, which are forever pushing them on to excess; 
and they soon add the force of habit, to the tenden- 
cies of nature. — Habit often becomes, itself, an inde- 
pendent and powerful principle of the sin of which the 
apostle speaks. Even where nature has given no pe- 
culiar bias, what strength, what almost irresistible force 
do certain vices acquire by the influence of habit 
alone? Is it not from this principle rather than trom 
the remaining vivacity of sensations and appetites 
which have been long cloyed and blunted, by excess, 
that debauchery and profligacy, still retain their pow- 
er over old and debilitated libertines .'' But let me in- 
stance in two vices to which mankind are, perhaps, 
never led by original propensity^ or taste. I mean in- 
temperance and profanity. Intoxicating liquors are, 
in the beginning, almost always tasted with disrelish.'* 
But company, but example, but solicitation, but gayety 
and levity of spirits, but idleness which requires some 
excitement to the indolent and relaxed powers of na- 
ture, allured on the drunkard by degrees, and at length 
created tliat destructive and almost unconquerable ap- 
petite, so ruinous to health, to mterest, to peace of 
mind, to domestic happiness, to social order, to every 
worthy and respectable quality of human nature. And 

390 Our Ruling Sin. 

hardly can he now see his idle companions, and never 
can he taste the ensnaring and poisonous draught, hut, 
at once, he loses all self-command^ and to his shame 
and ruin he is dragged as a fool to the correction of 
the stocks. 

In the next place, is there any natural impulse or 
temptation to profanely using the holy name of Al- 
mighty God? Yet, do we not see it, by a shameful 
and pernicious habit, incorporated by certain individu- 
als into the whole tissue of their discourse? Hardly 
can they address one another, hardly can they express 
their resentments or their pleasures, hardly can they 
breathe but through the medium of profanity. Al- 
though religion loudly prohibits it, although their own 
reason condemns it, although it is an offence against 
decency as well as against God, and to make the mild- 
est apology for it, which can be made, it is an un- 
meaning vulgarity of language, which those who pos- 
sess any just sentiments of propriety as well as of du- 
ty, frequently resolve to lay aside, yet the unworthy ha- 
bit still cleaves to them. It is a sin which besets them 
at every moment, and is speedily tending to destroy 
in their hearts all veneration for God their Creator, 
and all regard to his holy and awful inspection. 

If our ruling sin sometiiries arises out of original 
propensity and taste, if it is more frequently created by 
habitual indulgence, does it not often spring also out 
of situations and connexions into which in the course 
of Providence, or by our own imprudence, we may 
have been thrown in life? — Is not poverty, for exam- 
ple, and a state of dependence exposed to the sins of 

Our Ruling Sin. S91 

envy, of discontent at the dispensation of Divine Provi- 
dence? Is not wealth exposed to the sins of presump- 
tion and pride, of luxury and voluptuousness? How 
often have unhappy reverses of fortune fatally tempted 
men to dishonesty and fraud? How often has sudden 
and unexpected wealth immersed them in worldly cares, 
or in dissipated pleasures, which have induced, at 
length, an entire oblivion of God and of the duties of 
religion? How often have imworthy friendships, im- 
prudent and vicious associations engaged men, unwari- 
ly at first, and at length, habitually in a fatal course of 
folly and of crimes? Hhere has the dissolute youth 
contracted those vices which, in spite of his own con- 
victions, are dragging him captive at their will? Where 
has the worthless gambler learned his infamous trade? 
Where has the contemptible lounger acquired his ha- 
bits of idleness? The prodigal, the intemperate, the 
profligate, where have they depraved and corrupted all 
their powers both of body and of soul? Was it not in 
that vicious society into which accident first has thrown 
them, and which imprudence afterwards has cherish- 
ed? — In innumerable ways may accidental connexions, 
circumstances, situations contribute to form the cha- 
racters of men, and to create that dominant and habi- 
tual sin which becomes, at length the tyrant of the 
soul, and the principal hindrance to their salvation. 

2. But, it is not enough to expose to you this sin, 
and to represent its dangers; it is not of less impor- 
tance to consider by what means we may be enabled 
to overcome its power, and lay aside its weight in our 
christian course. Our first study it should be then, by 

392 Our Ruling Sin. 

diligent, serious, and faithful self-inquiry to discern this 
complexional and characteristic evil which the scrip- 
tures emphatically call the plague of our own hearts. 

Truly to understand, and sincerely to be disposed 
to confess it to ourselves and to God, is already more 
than half the victory gained. Against it chiefly, in the 
conflicts of the Heavenly race, should the vigilance 
and the holy zeal of every believer be directed, that he 
may thoroughly eradicate it, and obtain the entire com- 
mand over all the passions and appetites of nature 
Ti^hich impel to its indulgence, or which tend to che- 
rish it and increase its strength. But, if you endea- 
vour only, or principally to correct and restrain other 
sins to which you are less enslaved, while this beloved 
and dominant lust still holds the throne of your heart, 
however you may thereby promote many of the decen- 
cies of life, the essence of the character remains un- 
changed. It is lopping off a few branches from a 
poisonous tree, while its root is suffered to remain fix- 
ed in the earth. 

How then .^ do you ask, are we able of ourselves 
to lay aside the weight of this sin which so easily besets 
us, the principles of which we carry with us, and which 
is incorporated into our whole nature.'' Can a corrup- 
ted heart cure itself.^ It is true that, for this end, we 
must obtain the aids of the Holy Spirit. But there are 
duties on our part to which in the order of Divine grace, 
those aids are mercifully attached by God. And God 
may be said to have placed our salvation in our own 
power; because he has put it in our power always to 
obtain his aid. 

Our Ruling Sin. 393. 

Of these duties the first in order, and perhaps in in- 
fluence, is fervent and continual prayer. God is ever 
ready to impart his grace to those who ask in sinceri- 
ty, and persevere at his footstool with a holy constan- 
cy. He has promised in his blessed word, and the ex- 
perience of the saints has verified his promise, thati^e 
ivho asketh shall receive, he who seeketh shall find, and 
to him who knocketh it shall he opened. These are on- 
ly accumulated images to express the holy prevalence 
of prayer. Prayer, at the same time that it obtains the 
merciful assistance of God, invigorates all the energies 
of the soul in its conflicts with the world, and the powd- 
er of sin. In aid of prayer, employ those holy precau- 
tions which your Irailty requires, retire from the scenes 
which awaken your passions^from the temptations 
which inflame impure desires — from the opportuni- 
ties which favour indulgence — from whatever would 
excite or call into action that sin which so easily besets 
you. Measures of precaution are necessary to be 
combined with the most active and vigorous resist- 
ance. It is necessary sometimes with Job to make a 
covenant with your eyes. 

To prayer, to vigilance, to all the precautions of pru- 
dence, unite habitual and profound meditation on di- 
vine things. Assemble in your minds all the conside- 
rations of religion, all the motives to duty, which can 
either weaken the force of the passions, or encourage 
and animate your ardor in the christian course. Often 
profoundly occupied in the contemplation of God in the 
courts of his house, or the retirements of your private 
devotion, let every unhallowed passion be silentbefore the 

VOL. J. 3 E 

^^4- Our Ruling Siii. 

purity of his holiness and the majesty of his glory. In 
the infinite changes, and the approathing dissolution 
of all earthly things, seriously consider the vanity of 
the world, the temptations of which nourish and keep 
alive the power of that dangerous sin. Place before 
your mind in all its grandeur and solemnity, in all its 
terrors and its joys that eternal existence on which you 
are shortly about to enter. Behold in the universal expe- 
rience of mankind, recognize in your own experience, 
the worthlessness and imperfection of all sinful plea- 
sures, the emptiness of all sinful pursuits, the deplora- 
ble issue of all those proud honors, and those vain 
splendors with which sinners have dazzled the eyes 
of their fellow sinners, that they may not acquire any 
dangerous hold upon your heart. Above all, profound- 
ly meditate on those high rewards, those crowns and 
palms of glory which are proposed to the christian vic- 
tor at the end of his race, and shall adorn his hands, 
or encircle his head in the immortal kingdom of God. 
Could a simple wreath of laurel, could the shouts of 
the agitated and impatient spectators, inspire with such 
resolution, with such perseverance, with such inex- 
tinguishable ardor, those who contended for the glory 
of swiftness in the Olympic course? For these frivol- 
ous honors, would the eager combatants endure so 
many self-denials, and lay out all the powers of a gen- 
erous and noble nature in such arduous conflicts, and, 
christians! when celestial mansions, a celestial triumph 
are before you, how great should be your holy zeal, in 
your Heavenly race? Shall immortal joys, shall the 
approbation of the Universal Judge, shall crowns of 

Our Riding Sin. 395 

glory, and the applauses of an innumerable company of 
angels, and of the countless myriads redeemed from 
the earth, reward your victory in this course, and what 
self-denials, what pious labors, should you not be wil- 
ling to endure, what active exertions in duty, should 
you not be willing to make, in order to gain that ever- 
lasting goal? Your unholy passions, your false and 
guilty pleasures, will you not be ready to sacrifice 
them in this conflict to the glory of God, and the sal- 
vation of your souls? will you not lay aside evet^ weight 
and encumbrance, and above all that sin, however deal- 
to you, which doth so easily beset you, that you may 
run with christian perseverance and finish with Hea- 
venly and everlasting triumph, the race set before you? 
In the conclusion, permit me to observe that this sub- 
ject bears a relation to the state both of convinced 
sinners, and of sincere believers. In the one, this ru- 
ling sin is the principal obstacle to an entire and un? 
reserved submission of the heart to the grace of the 
gospel, in the other it is the chief cause of the imper- 
fection of their obedience, who fail at last, and of the tar- 
diness of their progress in the Divine life who loiter in 
their way. When the sinner, penetrated with his 
guilt is endeavouring to escape from the wrath to come, 
is it not the power of this sin which holds him a mi- 
serable captive, almost against his own will? When 
he seems on the point of giving up every other lust, 
and making his peace with God, what is it that seems 
to dash him back from the throne of grace but the 
consciousness of this sin which still keeps him ensla- 
ved to his corruptions? Every thing else, perhaps, he 


Booksellers and Stationers. JS'b. 87, Chesnut Street. 

Propose publishing 


in 1 vol. 8vo. Price 2 dolls. 


In 2 vols. 8vo. Price 5 dollars boards. 




lu 1 vol. 8vo. Price 4 dolls. 
S. P. Sf Co. have now in press 

A Royal 8vo. and pocket edition of the Book ol" 


Each with splendid engravings bj 


Price of the large copy, from 4 to 8 dolls. Price of 
the pocket edition, from 3 to 5 dolls, depending al- 
together on the style of binding. 


Have just published 





From its first organization to the year 1817. 


Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Cliurch in the commouwcaUJi 
of Pennsylvania. Price 3 doll«. 


A selection of extracts consolatory on the death of 


Senior Msistant Minister of Christ Church, St. Peters and St. James. 
Price 2 50 bds. 3 dolls, bound. 


Being a course of Morning and Evening Prayers for every day in 
the month, caiefuUy revised and adapted to the use of Chris- 
tians in the United States of America. Price 1 dollar. 










Price 1 doll. 



Price 62 cents. 


On the conversion and apostleship of 


Price 50 cents. 


ON The 


Price 50 cents. 





Price 87 1-2 cents. 


For sale by S. Potter ^ Co. JVb. 87, Chesnut Street 

Maclin's splendid edition of the Holy Bible, in 6 vols, folio, Rus? 

sia gilt, with numerous engravings. Price 300 dolls. 
WestaWs Bible, 3 vols, with numerous engravings. Price 36 dolls. 
Poofs Synopsis of the Holy Scriptures, 5 vols, folio, 50 dolls, 
Oiven on the Hebrews, 4 vols, crown folio. Price 40 dolls. 
Holy Bible, London copy, large print, extra gilt binding, 50 dolls, 

Thompson's Seasons, with numerous prints, from paintings by 
Hamilton, 1 vol. folio. Price 50 dolls. 

Humphrey's edition of the Bible, with notes by Grotius, Light- 
foot, Pool, Calmet, Patrick, Lock, Burkit, Sir Isaac Newtoii 
and Pearse, in 3 vols, folio. Pi-ice 60 dolls. 

Mant and D'Oyhfs Family Bible, now publisliing, and to be com- 
pleted in 16 Nos. forming 2 large quarto vols. 9 of the Nos. 
are already published. Price 1 doll. 125, and 150, per No. 

GilVs Exposition of the Old and JSTew Testament, in 9 vols, quar- 

Scott's Family Bible, in 3 vols, quarto. 

Cruden's Concordance, 1 vol. 4to. 

Paley's Tiieological Works, 5 vols. 8vo. 

Scott's Theological Works, 7 vols. 8vo. 

Tracts against Popery, published 1667, 14 vols. 4to. 

Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, new edition 4 vols. 8vo. 

Bishop White's Works, 4 vols. Bvo. Price 12 dolls. 

\* Orders for every description of books, whether 
of EngHsh or American publications, will be supplied 
at the shortest notice on reasonable terms, by 


JB ^' •" '■ -m ', : •' te-..yFyg».' 








■ h li 


FEB 3 


' ^^-^^0^^