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The direction which I am now considering is, if I mistake not, perfectly accordant with these maxims of wisdom. Seek and receive advice on every occasion ; but of that advice, and of every thing else, judge for yourselves. For what other end were you endowed with the capacity of judging ?

In the meantime, allow me to say, this direction is not merely true, it is also of high importance. A large part of the follies, the vices, and the miseries of mankind, may be traced solely to an unhappy adoption of fashionable opinions, and a thoughtless imitation of fashionable practices; opinions which few of those who adopt them believe; and practices of which few of those who follow them approve. A desire to be like others is one of the most prominent features of the human character. To resemble others in wisdom and virtue is glorious ; to resemble them in things indifferent is certainly not censurable ; but to assume folly and to make vice your pattern, because others are foolish and vicious; to tread in the steps of blockheads, coxcombs, infidels, or villains, merely from a propensity to imitation, is a sacrifice of reason, a voluntary idiocy, a wanton suicide. When others around you utter wisdom, and act with rectitude, avail yourselves of the social spirit, and catch the wisdom and the rectitude. When others swerve, nobly assert your own independence, and refuse to follow them. Determine to have only your own faults to answer for. If mankind would universally thus act, folly. would scarcely grow in this unhappy world, and vice would soon be esteemed an exotic.

Third, Diligently read, and faithfully obey the sacred Scriptures.

Assuming what is a mere and totally irrational assumption, that the Scriptures are not of divine origin, they will still teach you more wisdom, and lead you to better conduct, than all the volumes produced by man. This they will also accomplish with a certainty and an efficacy wholly singular ; in ways most ingenious and happy; and with motives of every kind, adó dressed to every feeling, and fraught with infinite force. The single aim of the Scriptures is to make men virtuous. The end is supremely excellent; it is glorious ; it is divine, The means used in them for its accomplishment are scarcely less deserving of these epithets; for to say the least which can be truly said, almost all the virtuous men who have existed have been made such by them. We know of no other book which has made men virtuous at all.

But the Scriptures are of divine origin. Numerous, ingenious, and most industrious men, have, through more than sixteen hundred years, laboured to disprove their character as a revelation. The work is, however, no nearer to its accomplishment, than when it was begun. Had the design been practicable, it could scarcely have failed of coming before this time to an issue. If you will faithfully examine, and will at the same time dare to judge for yourselves, you will find that the controversy between Christians and infidels has been merely, whether man should yield to passion and appetite, or to argument, to duty, and to God; whether he should live for time, or eternity; as an animal, or as an intelligent being; for earth, or for heaven; for himself, or for his Maker ; whether God is the moral governor of all rational beings, or the sluggard of Epicurus, housed in his own elysium, quaffing sensual enjoyment, and wholly indifferent to the universe of creatures.

Fourth, In all your conduct, think before you act, and especially inquire how each action would appear to you on a dying bed.

On that bed you will drop most of your prejudices, and will no longer be under the influence of passion or appetite, of reverence for the world, or devotion to fashionable opinions and practices. This world and its objects will recede; and eternity, with its infinite concerns, will draw nigh. Should you then possess, unimpaired, your rational faculties, you will see the true nature of things more clearly, and estimate their value more justly. You will see, that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, and the means by which they are gratified, form a wretched character, constitute a wretched possession, and furnish a wretched hope. You will see, that the scramble for wealth, honour, and pleasure, ardently as it may have engaged you, and wholly as it may

have engrossed others, was, on the one hand, a silly puppet show of children, and on the other a phrenzied tumult of bedlam.

Although you cannot perfectly form the same estimate of things, until you come to this solemn, this life-explaining situation, yet you may, in no unhappy degree, reap its advantages through every period of your lives. It is in the power of man, with suitable efforts, to place himself in any situation to realize the scenes which it would present, and to imbibe the sentiments to which it would give birth. Accustom yourselves to the situation in which you will actually be on a dying bed, and you will realize such sentiments as will be there entertained. Your estimate of the world, of yourselves, of duty, and of happiness, will, by degrees, resemble the final estimate ; your passions, appetites, and prejudices, will lose their dominion over you; the world will cease to be your God; present enjoyments and sufferings will appear to be the dreams of a moment; and future things, no longer distant or dim, will rise, expand, and approach with amazing solemnity and grandeur. Thus circumstanced, it will be impossible for you not to live as candidates for eternity and for heaven.

Fifth, Remember that God is always where you are, and perfectly sees, hears, and knows whatever you think, speak,

or do.

Sixth, Remember that you are sinners, and that it is therefore impossible that you should be virtuous in this life, or happy in that to come, but by an interest in the Redeemer.

I will not attempt to prove to you that you are sinners. If you have ever looked into your own hearts, or examined at all your own lives, you cannot but know this to be your real character. Nor can you, instructed as you have been in divine things from the cradle, nor even in the exercise of sober reason unassisted by revelation, seriously believe for a moment, that impenitent sinners can be accepted, justified, and blessed of God. God, the infinitely holy, cannot but hate sin, and determine that without holiness no man shall see his face.

His unchangeable law admits of no repentance as the ground of restoration; and his voice has declared SERMON XIX.

THE NATURE AND DANGER OF INFIDEL PHILOSOPHY.

Preached to the Candidates for the Baccalaureate in 1797.

SERMON I.

COLOSSIANS 11. 8.

Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain

deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

When the Gospel was published by the apostles, it was, according to the prophetic declaration of its author, vigorously opposed by the world. This opposition originated from various sources ; but, whencesoever derived, wore one uniform character of industry, art, and bitterness. The bigotry of the Jews, and the sword of the Gentiles, the learning of the wise, the persuasion of the eloquent, and the force of the powerful, were alike exerted to crush the rising enemy.

Among the kinds of opposition which they were called to encounter, not the least laborious, malignant, or dangerous, was the philosophy of the age. A large number of their first converts lived in countries where the language of the Greeks was spoken, and their philosophy received. The things which this philosophy professed to teach, were substantially the same

men.

errors.

with those which were taught by the apostles, viz. the character and will of God, and the duty and supreme interest of

Hence it naturally became an object of veneration, assumed the station of a rival to the Gospel, and exhibited an imposing aspect, especially to young and unsettled converts.

The doctrines and the spirit of the philosophers were, however, generally direct counterparts to those of the Apostles. Some truths, and truths of high importance, they undoubtedly taught; but they blended them with gross and numberless

Some moral and commendable practices they at times inculcated, but so interwoven with immoralities, that the parts of the web could never be separated by the common hand. Covetous, self-sufficient, and sensual, they looked down with supreme contempt on the poor, self-denying, and humble followers of Christ, and on their artless, direct, undisguised, and practical preaching. Notwithstanding this contempt, it however prevailed against all their specious logic, pompous eloquence, and arrogant pretensions. Their philosophy, enveloped in fable and figures, perplexed with sophistry, and wandering with perpetual excursion round about moral subjects, satisfied in no permanent degree the understanding, and affected in no useful degree the heart; while the Gospel, simple, plain, and powerful, gained the full assent of common sense, and reduced all the affections under its control. Of course, the contempt of philosophers was changed into hatred, rivalry, and persecution ; and their ridicule of Christianity was succeeded by the serious efforts of violence and malignity.

St. Paul, who appears thoroughly to have comprehended the nature, and often to have experienced the effects of the existing philosophy, has with great force exposed its dangerous tendency. In the beginning of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, he has given an ample account of its inefficiency and emptiness, and a full refutation of its insolent pretensions to be a rule of life and salvation. The arguments of its weakness and mischievous tendency, furnished in various passages of Scripture by him and his companions, remain still unrefuted; and as they were at first, so they are at this day, effectual

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