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Let thine enemies be scattered, let them that hate thee flee before thee! Amen. Psal. Ixvii. l.

All is metaphorical in the words of my text. St. Paul represents the temptations of a christian under the image of a combat, particularly, of a wrestling. In ordinary combats there is some proportion between the combatants : but in this, which engageth the christian, there is no proportion at all. A christian, who may be said to be, more properly than his Redeemer, despised and rejected of men, Isa. Jiii. 3. a man, who is the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things, 1 Cor. iv. 13. is called to resist, not only flesh and blood, feeble men like himself; but men, before whom imagination prostrates itself, men, of whom the holy Spirit says, Ye are gods, Psal. Ixxxii. 6. that is, potentates and kings. We wrestle not against Aesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.

Moreover, a christian, who, whatever degree of light and knowledge grace hath bestowed on him, whatever degree of steadiness and resolution he hath acquired in christianity, always continues a man, is called to resist a superior order of intelligences, whose power we cannot exactly tell, but, who, the scripture assures us, can, in some circumstances, raise tempests, infect the air, and disorder all the elements ; I mean devils. We wrestle against wickedness in high places.

As St. Paul represents the temptations of a christian under the notion of a war, so he represents the dispositions, that are necessary to overcome them, under the idea of armor. In the words, which follow the text, he carries the metaphor further than the genius of our language will allow. He gives the christian a military belt, and shoes, a helmet,

a sword, a shield, a buckler,with which he resisteth all the fiery darts of the wicked. But I cannot discuss all these articles, without diverting this exercise from its chief design. By laying aside the figurative language of the apostle, and by reducing the figures to truth, I reduce the temptations, with which the devil and his angels attack the christian, to two general ideas. The first are sophisms, , to seduce him from the evidence of truth; and the second are inducements, to make him desert the dominion of virtue. The christian is able to overcome these two kinds of temptations. The christian remains victorious after a war, which seems, at first, so very unequal. This is precisely the meaning of the text. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.

I. The first artifices of Satan are intended to seduce the christian from the truth, and, we must own, these darts were never so poisonous as they are now. The emissaries of the devil in the time of St. Paul; the heathen philosophers, the scribes and pharisees,werebutscholars and novices in the art of coloring falshood, in comparison of our deists, and sceptics, and other antagonists of our holy religion. But, however formidable they may appear, we are able to make them lick the dust, Micah vii. 17. and as the art of disguising error was never carried so far before, so, thanks be to God, my brethren, that of unmasking falshood, and of displaying truth in all its glory, has extended with it.

The christian knows how to disentangle truth from six artifices of error. There are six sophisms,

that prevail in those wretched productions, which our age hath brought forth for the purpose of subverting the truth.

1. The first artifice is the confounding of those matters, which are proposed to our discussion ; and the requiring of metaphysical evidence of facts which are not capable of it.

2. The second artifice is the opposing of possible circumstances against other circumstances, which are evident and sure.

3. The next artifice pretends to weaken the eyidence of knowing things, by arguments taken from things that are unknown.

4. The fourth artifice is an attempt to render the gospel absurd and contradictory, under pretence that they are obscure.

5. The fifth artifice proposeth arguments foreign from the subject in hand.

6. She last forms objections, which derive their weight, not from their own intrinsic gravity ; but from the superiority of the genius of him, who proposeth them.

1. The matters, which are proposed to our discussion, are confounded ; and metaphysical evidence of facts is required, which are not, in the nature of them, capable of this kind of evidence. We call that metaphysical evidence which is founded on a clear idea of the essence of a subject. For example, we have a clear idea of a certain number: if we affirm, that the number, of which we have a clear idea, is equal, or unequal, the proposition is capable of metaphysical evidence: But a question of fact can only be proved by an union of circumstances, no one of which, taken apart, would be sufficient to prove the fact, but which, taken altogether, make a fact beyond a doubt. As it is not allowable to oppose certain circumstances against


a proposition, that hath metaphysical evidence, so it is unreasonable to require metaphysical evidence to prove a matter of fact. I have a clear notion of a given number, I conclude from this notion, that the number is equal or unequal, and it is in vain to object to me, that all the world does not reason as I do. Let it be objected to me, that they, who affirm that the number is equal or unequal, have perhaps some interest in affirming it. Objections of this kind are nothing to the purpose, they are circumstances, which do not, at all, affect the nature of the number, nor the evidence on which I affirm an equality, or an inequality, of the given number; for I have a clear idea of the subject in hand. In like manner, I see an union of circumstances, which uniformly attest the truth of a fact, under my examination: I yield to this evidence, and in vain is it objected to me, that it is not metaphysical evidence, the subject before me is not capable of it.

We apply this maxim to all the facts, on which the truth of religion turns, such as these. There was such a man as Moses, who related what he saw, and who himself wrought several things which he recorded. There were such men as the prophets, who wrote the books that bear their names, and who fortetold many events several ages before they came to pass. Jesus, the son of Mary, was born in the reign of the emperor Augustus, preached the doctrines, which are recorded in the gospel, and by crucifixion was put to death. We make a particular application of this maxim to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we this day commemorate, and it forms a shield to resist all the fiery darts that attack it. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact, which we ought to prove ; it is an extraordinary fact, for the demonstration of which, we allow, stronger proofs ought to be adduced, than for the


proof of a fact, that comes to pass in the ordinary course of things. But, after all, it is a fact; and, in demonstrating facts, no proofs ought to be required, but such as establish facts. We have the better right to reason thus with our opponents, because they do not support their historical sceptiscism without restrictions. On the contrary, they admit some facts, which they believe on the evidence of a very few circumstances. But, if a few circumstances demonstrate some facts, why doth not an union of all possible circumstances demonstrate other facts ?

2. The second artifice is the opposing of possible circumstances, which may, or may not be against other circumstances, which are evident and sure. All arguments, that are founded on possible circumstances, are only uncertain conjectures, and groundless suppositions. Perhaps there may have been floods, perhaps fires, perhaps earthquakes, which by abolishing the memorials of past events, prevent our tracing things back from age to age to demonstrate the eternity of the world, and our discovery of monuments against religion. This is a strange way of reasoning against men, who are armed with arguments, which are taken from phenomena, avowed, notorious, and real. When we dispute against infidelity; when we establish the existence of a Supreme Being; when we affirm that the Creator of the universe is eternal in his duration, wise in his designs, powerful in his executions, and magnificent in his gifts; we do not reason on probabilities, nor attempt to establish a thesis on a may-be. We do not say, Perhaps there may be a firmament that covers us; perhaps there may be a sun, which enlightens us ; perhaps there may be stars, which shine in the firmament; perhaps the earth may support us ; perhaps aliments

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