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But it would have been a thousand times better that you should have lived to augment the number of the wretched; if you permit these favours of heaven to frustrate your salvation; and put off the apostle, saying, as the unhappy Felix, When I have a convenient season, I will recal thee. Go thy way for this time. I have payments to meet, I have orders to write.
Let us seclude ourselves from bustle and tumult. Let us seek retirement, recollection, and silence. And may the death which is at hand, expressing myself with a prophet, induce us to make haste, and not delay returning to the testimonies of the Lord, Psalm cxix. 59, 60.
My brethren, you are not sufficiently impressed with this thought. But we,--we, to whom God has committed the superintendance of a great people ;we, if I may so speak, who are called to exercise our ministry in a world of dead and dying men, who see lopped off in succession, every member of a numerous flock; we are alarmed, when we consider the delays which predominate in the conduct of most Christians. We never ascend the pulpit, but it seems that we address you for the last time. It seems that we should exhaust the whole of religion, to pluck our heroes from the world, and never let them go till we have entrusted them in the arms of Jesus Christ. It seems that we should bid you an eternal farewell; that we are stretched on our bed of death, and that you are in a similar situation.
Yes, Christians, this is the only moment on which we can reckon. It is, perhaps, the only acceptable time. It is, perhaps, the last day of our visitation. Let us improve a period so precious. Let us no longer say,-by and by—at another time; but let us--to-day--this moment-even now. Let the pastor say, I have been insipid in my sermons, and remiss in my conduct ; having been more solicitous during the exercise of my ministry, to advance my family, than to build up the Lord's house. I will preach hereafter with fervour and with zeal. I will be vigilant, sober, rigorous, and disinterested. Let the miser say, I have riches ill-acquired. I will purge my house of illicit wealth. I will overturn the altar of mammon, and erect another to the Supreme Jehovah. Let the prodigal say, I will extinguish the unhappy fires by which I am consumed, and kindle in my bosom the flame of divine love. Ah, unhappy passions, which war against my soul; sordid attachments; irregular propensities ; emotions of concupiscence; law in the members; I will know you no more, I will make with you an eternal divorce, I will, from this moment open my heart to the Eternal Wisdom, who condescends to ask it.
If we are in this happy disposition, if we thus become regenerate, we shall enjoy from this moment, foretastes of the glory, which God has prepared. . From this moment, the truths of religion, so far from casting discouragement and terror on the soul, shall heighten its consolation and joy; from this moment, heaven shall open on this audience, paradise shall descend into your heart, and the Holy Spirit shall come and dwell there. He will bring that peace, and those joys, which pass all understanding. And,
'commencing our felicity on earth, he shall give us the earnest of his consummation. God grant us the grace! To him, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and ever. Amen.
On the Covenant of God with the Israelites.
DEUTERONOMY xxix. 10-19.
Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood, unto the drawer of thy water: that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day that he may establish thee to-day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; but with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day: (for ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the nations which ye passed by. And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, nood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them) lest there should be among you man or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be
among you a root that beareth gall and worm
wood, and it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace though I walk in the imagination of mine keart.
My brethren, this sabbath is a covenant-day between God and us. This is the design of our sacraments; and the particular design of the holy supper we have celebrated in the morning-service. So our chatechists teach ; so our children understand and among the less instructed of this assembly there is scarcely one, if we should ask him what is a sacrament, but he would answer, “it is a symbol of the covenant between God and Christians."
This being understood, we cannot observe without astonishment the slight attention, most men pay to an institution; of which they seem to entertain such exalted notions. The tendency would not be happy in conciliating your attention to this dicourse, were I to commence by a humiliating portrait of the manners of the age; in which some of you would have occasion to recognize your own character. But the fact is certain, and I attest it to your consciences. Do we take the same precaution in contracting a covenant with God in the eucharist; which is exercised in a treaty on which the prosperity of the state, or domestic happiness depends ? When the latter is in question, we confer with experienced men, we weigh the terms, and investigate with all possible sagacity, what we stipulate, and what is stipulated in return. But when we come to renew the high covenant, in