Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

subject they will furnish the most awful and momentous instruction. From them you will learn, that the safety of nations is not to be sought in arts or in arms; that science may flourish amidst the decay of humanity; that the utmost barbarity may be blended with the utmost refinement; that a passion for speculation, unrestrained by the fear of God and a deep sense of human imperfection, merely hardens the heart; and that, as religion, in short, is the great tamer of the breast, the source of tranquillity and order, so the crimes of voluptuousness and impiety inevitably conduct a people, before they are aware, to the brink of desolation and anarchy. If you had wished to figure to yourselves a country which had reached the utmost pinnacle of prosperity, you would undoubtedly have turned your eyes to France, as she appeared a few years before the revolution; illustrious in learning and genius; the favourite abode of the arts, and the mirror of fashion, whither the flower of the nobility from all countries resorted, to acquire the last polish of which the human character is susceptible. Lulled in voluptuous repose, and dreaming of a philosophical millennium, without dependence upon God, like the generation before the flood, they ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage. In that exuberant soil every thing seemed to flourish, but religion and virtue. The season however was at length arrived, when God was resolved to punish their impiety, as well as to avenge

the blood of his servants, whose souls had for a century been incessantly crying to him from under the altar. And what method did he employ for this purpose ? When He to whom vengeance belongs, when He whose ways are unsearchable, and whose wisdom is inexhaustible, proceeded to the execution of this strange work, he drew from his treasures a weapon he had never employed before. Resolving to make their punishment as signal as their crimes, he neither let loose an inundation of barbarous nations, nor the desolating powers of the universe: he neither overwhelmed them with earthquakes, nor visited them with pestilence. He summoned from among themselves a ferocity more terrible than either; a ferocity which, mingling in the struggle for liberty, and borrowing aid from that very refinement to which it seemed to be opposed, turned every man's hand against his neighbour, sparing no age, nor sex, nor rank, till, satiated with the ruin of greatness, the distresses of innocence, and the tears of beauty, it terminated its career in the most unrelenting despotism. Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and which wast, and which shalt be, because thou hast judged thus ; for they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy. If the weakness of humanity will not permit us to keep pace with the movements of divine justice; if, from the deep commiseration excited by the view of so much woe, our tongue falters in expressing those sublime sentiments of triumph which revelation suggests on this occasion, we shall be pardoned by the Being who knows our frame; while nothing can prevent us, at least, from adoring this illustrious vindication of his own religion, whose divinity we see is not less apparent in the blessings it bestows, than in the calamities which mark its departure. Our only security against similar calamities is a steady adherence to this religion; not the religion of mere form and profession, but that which has its seat in the heart; not as it is mutilated and debased by the refinements of a false philosophy, but as it exists in all its simplicity and extent in the sacred Scriptures; consisting in sorrow for sin, in the love of God, and in faith in a crucified Redeemer. If this religion revives and flourishes amongst us, we may still surmount all our difficulties, and no weapon formed against us will prosper: if we despise or neglect it, no human power can afford us protection. Instead of shewing our love to our country, therefore, by engaging eagerly in the strife of parties, let us choose to signalize it rather by beneficence, by piety, by an exemplary discharge of the duties of private life, under a persuasion that that man, in the final issue of things, will be seen to have been the best patriot, who is the best christian. He who diffuses the most happiness, and mitigates the most distress within his own circle, is undoubtedly the best friend to his country and the world, since nothing more is necessary, than for all men to imitate his conduct, to make the greatest part of the misery of the world cease in a moment. While the passion, then, of some is to shine, of some to govern, and of others to accumulate, let one great passion alone inflame our breasts, the passion which reason ratifies, which conscience approves, which heaven inspires, that of being and of doing good. There is no vanity, I trust, in supposing that the reflections which this Discourse has presented to your view, have awakened those sentiments of gratitude to the Father of mercies for his gracious interposition in the restoration of peace, which you are impatient to express by stronger evidence than words. Should this be the case, a plain path is before you. While the eminence of the divine perfections renders it impossible for us to contribute to the happiness, or augment the glory of the Creator, he has left amongst us, for the exercise of our virtue, the indigent and the afflicted, whom he has in an especial manner committed to our care, and appointed to represent himself. The objects of the institution, for which I have this day the honour to plead, are those of whom the very mention is sufficient to excite compassion in every feeling mind, the sick and the aged poor.” To be scantily provided with the * It may be proper to remind the reader that this discours necessaries of life, to endure cold, hunger, and nakedness, is a great calamity at all seasons; it is almost unnecessary to observe how much these evils are aggravated by the pressure of disease, when exhausted nature, demands whatever the most tender assiduity can supply to cheer its languor and support its sufferings. It is the peculiar misfortune of the afflicted poor, that the very circumstance which increases their wants, cuts off, by disqualifying them for labour, the means of their supply. Bodily affliction, therefore, falls upon them with an accumulated weight. Poor, at best, when seized with sickness they become utterly destitute. . Incapable even of presenting themselves to the eye of pity, nothing remains for them, but silently to yield themselves up to sorrow and despair. The second class of objects, which it is the design of this society to relieve, are, the aged poor. Here it is quite unnecessary for me to attempt to paint to you the sorrows of old age; a period indeed which, by a strange inconsistency, we all wish to reach, while we

was preached for the benefit of a Benevolent Society, recently instituted at Cambridge, for the relief of the sick and aged poor; and that one principal motive with the author for complying with the request of the Society in publishing it, was a desire to excite the attention of the benevolent to the formation of similar societies in other parts. For the local information of such as may be desirous of contributing to this Institution, the writer has the pleasure to add, that Mr. Alderman Ind, with that benignity which marks his character, has been so kind as to undertake the office of treasurer to the society, to whom the benevolent are requested to send their annual subscriptions or donations. A further account of the institution will be found at the end of the Sermon.

« AnteriorContinuar »