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occasion the sort of devotion we are describing, and usually produce a piety 'like the morning cloud, and the early dew that goeth away.'

In this

We do not intend here to describe a kind of Christians too odious to be put even into this vicious class. For, my brethren, we have a very singular sort of people among us, who, though they live in the practice of all worldly licentiousness, will frequent the Lord's table, in spite of all the pains we take to show their unworthiness, and to keep them away. They will pass through a kind of preparation, and for this purpose they retrench a little portion of time from their course of licentiousness, set out, however, with so much accurate calculation that it is easy to see they consider devotion more in the light of a disagreeable task than in that of a holy enjoyment. They suspend their habits of sin the whole day before, and all the live long day after the communion. interval they receive the Lord's Supper, all the while determining to return to their old course of life. What devotion! in which the soul burns with love to worldly pleasure, while it affects to play off the treacherous part of love to religion and God! A devotion that disputes with Jesus Christ a right to three days, gives them up with regret and constraint, and keeps all along murmuring at the genius of a religion, which puts the poor insulted soul on the rack, and forces it to live three whole days without gaming and debauchery! A devotion deep in the plot of Judas to betray the Saviour at his own table! These people need not be characterized. We never administer the Lord's Supper without protesting against them; we never say any thing to them but Wo, wo be to you; and though, through a discipline of too much lenity, they escape excommunication, yet never can they escape the anathemas, which God in his word denounces against unworthy communicants.

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We mean here people of another character. It is he among Christians who does not live in the practice of all sins, but who does reserve some, and some of those which, says the gospel, they who commit shall not inherit the kingdom of God,' 1 Cor. vi. 10. This inan does not with a brutal madness commit such crimes as harden him beyond reflection and remorse, but he has a sincere desire to a certain degree to correct himself. He takes time enough to prepare himself for the Lord's Supper, and then he examines his conscience, meditates on the great truths of religion, the justice of its laws, the holiness of every part, and the rich present which God bestowed on the church in the person of his own Son. He is affected with these objects, he applies these truths to himself, he promises God to reform: but, in a few days after the communion, he not only falls into one or two vicious actions, but he gives himself up to a vicious habit, and persists in it till the next communion, when he goes over again the same excesses of devotion, which end again in the same vices, and so his whole life is a continual round of sin and repentance, repentance and sin. This is a second sort of people whose devotions are transient.

3. But, of all devotions of this kind, that which needs describing the most, because it comes nearest to true piety, and is most likely to be confounded with it, is that which is excited by the fear of death,' and which vanishes as soon as the fear subsides.

The most emphatical, the most urgent, and the most pathetical of all preachers is death. What can be said in this pulpit which death does not say with tenfold force? What truth can we explain, which death does not explain with more evidence? Do we treat of the vanity of the world? So does death; but with much more power. The impenetrable veils which it throws over all terrestrial objects, the midnight darkness in which it involves them, the irrevocable orders it gives us to depart, the insurmountable power it employs to tear us away, represent the vanity of the world better than the most pathetical sermons. Do we speak of the horrors of sin? Death treats of this subject more fully and forcibly than we; the pains it brings, the marks it makes upon us while we are dying, the grave, to which it turns our eyes as our habitation after death, represent the horror of sin more than the most affecting discourses. Do we speak of the va lue of divine mercy? Death excels in setting this forth too hell opening under us, executioners of divine vengeance ranging themselves round our bed, the sharp instruments held over us, represent the mercy of God more fully than the most touching discourses. sermons like these! When then a sickness supposed to be mortal attacks a man, who has knowledge and sentiment enough to render him accessible to motives and reflections, but who has not either respect enough for holiness, or love enough for God thoroughly to attach himself to virtue, then rises this morning cloud, this early dew that goeth away.'


I appeal to many of you. Recall, each of you, that memorable day of your life, in which sudden fear, dangerous symptoms, exquisite pain, a pale physician, and, more than all that, a universal faintness and imbecility of your faculties seemed to condemn you to a hasty death. Remember the prudence you have had, at least appeared to have, to make salvation your only care, banishing all company, forbidding your own children to approach, and conversing with your pastor alone. Remember the docility with which, renouncing all reluctance to speak of your own faults, and all desire to hear of those of other people, you respectfully attended to every thing we took the liberty to say, we entered on the mortifying subject, you submitted to the most humbling and circumstantial detail, you yourself filled up the list with articles unknown to us. Recollect the sighs you uttered, the tears you shed, the reproofs you gave yourself, yea, the odious names by which you described yourself. Remember the vows, the resolutions, the promises you made. What are become of all these fine projects of conversion and repentance, which should have had an influence over all your life? The degree of your piety was regulated by the degree of your malady. Devotion rose and fell with your pulse. Your

zeal kept time with your fever, and as the one decreased the other died away, and the recovery of your health was the resurrection of sin. This man, this praying man, this holy soul, then full of pious ejaculations and meditations, is now brimful of the world. You are the original of the portrait in the text, and your piety is as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that goeth away.'

II. We have seen the nature, now let us attend to the insufficiency of this kind of devotion. Let us endeavour in this second part of our discourse to feel the energy of this reproof, 'O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.'

1. On a day like this, in which we have partaken of what is most tender in religion, and in which we ought to yield to the soft feelings which religion is so fit to excite, let us advert to a singular kind of argument proposed in the text against transient devotions, that is, an argument of sentiment and love.

Certainly all the images which it pleases God to use in Scripture to make himself known to us, those taken from our infirmities, our passions, our hatred, or our love, all are too imperfect to represent a God, whose elevation above man renders it impossible to describe him by any thing human. However, all these images have a bottom of truth, a real meaning agreeable to the nature of God, and proportioned to his eminent and infinite excellence.

God represents himself here under the image of a prince who had formed an intimate connexion with one of his subjects. The subject seems deeply sensible of the honour done him. The prince signifies his esteem by a profusion of favours. The subject abuses them. The prince reprehends him. The subject is insensible and hard. To reproofs threatenings are added, and threatenings are succeeded by a suspension of favours. The subject seems moved, affected, changed. The prince receives the penitent with open arms, and crowns his reformation with a double effusion of bountiful donations. The ungrateful subject abuses them again. The prince reproves him again, threatens him again, and again suspends his liberality. To avert the same evil the selfish ingrate makes use of the former method, avails himself of the influence which the esteem of the prince gives him, and again he obtains forgiveness. The prince loves this violence: but the perfidious subject knowing his goodness returns to his ungrateful behaviour as often as his bountiful lord yields to his own inclination to mercy and esteem, and thus becomes equally barbarous, whether he seems affected with the benevolence of his prince, or whether he seems to despise it. For, my brethren, it is much less difficult to separate one's self wholly from a faithless friend, than to conduct one's self properly to one who is faithless only by fits. These equivocal reformations, these appearances of esteem, are much more cruel than total ingratitude, and open avowed hatred. In an entire

rupture the mind is presently at a point: but in such imperfect connexions as these a thousand opposite thoughts produce a violent conflict in the mind. Shall I countenance ingra titude, shall I discourage repentance? I repeat it again, though this image is infinitely beneath the majesty of God, yet it is that which he has thought proper to employ. O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morn ing cloud, and as the carly dew it goeth away.' O Ephraim, O Judah, why do you rend my heart asunder by turns with your virtue and your vice? Why not allow me either to give myself entirely to you, or to detach myself entirely from you? Why do you not suffer me to give a free course either to my esteem or to my displeasure? Why do you not allow me to glorify myself by your repentance, or by your ruin? Your devotions hold my hand: your crimes inflame my anger. Shall I destroy a people appealing to my clemency? Shall I protect a people trampling upon my laws? 'O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodnesss is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.'

2. Consider secondly, the injustice of these devotions. Though they are vain, yet people expect God to reward them. Hear these words, they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness' but, say they, wherefore have we fasted, and thou seest not? Wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge,' Isa. lviii. 2, 3. Though these complaints were unjust, yet, what is very remark. able, God sometimes paid attention to them; for though he sees the bottom of men's hearts, and distinguishes real from apparent piety, yet he has so much love for repentance, that he sometimes rewards the bare appearance of it. See how he conducts himself in regard to Ahab. Ahab was a wicked king. God denounced judgments against him, and was about to inflict them. Ahab tore his garments, covered himself with sackcloth and ashes, and lay in the dust. What said God to Elijah? Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil,' 1 Kings xxi. 29. Not bring the evil! Why, has Ahab prohibited idolatry? Has he restored Naboth's vineyard? Has he renounced his treaties with the enemies of God? No. Yet Ahab humbleth himself, and because he humbleth himself I will not bring the evil.' So true it is, that God sometimes rewards a mere shadow of repentance.

The Jews knew this condescension of God, and they insulted it in the most odious manner. Come, let us return unto the Lord, for he hath torn, and he will heal us, he hath smitten and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us, in the third day he will raise us up;' and when he has raised us up,' and re-established us, we will follow our former course of life. When the tempest is over, we will again blaspheme the Creator of storms. Is not this the very summit of injustice!

3. There is, let us observe, a manifest contradiction between these two periods of life, between that of our devotion and that of our sin. What destroys one, necessarily subverts both; and a reasonable man acting consistently ought to choose, either to have no periods of devotion, or to perpetuate them. Yes, we should choose either a real inward piety to influence our practice, or none of the superficial sentiments that produce a profession of it. We should choose either to act openly like an unmoveable philosopher, or shall I rather say a brute beast, when we seem to be upon the verge of the grave, or that the piety excited then should continue as long as we live in case of recovery. There is a palpable contradiction in having both these dispositions. When the state is in danger, and a solemn fast is kept, what is supposed? That there is a just God governing the universe, dispensing good and evil, sooner or later destroying rebellious nations, and exercising a justice more or less severe according to the duration of his patience. If we believe all this, we should endeavour to regulate the state by these principles, and if we do not believe it, we should not humble ourselves, and fast, and bow down our heads like a bulrush.' What is supposed by the prayers, and tears, and protestations we bring to the table of Jesus Christ? That God loves us, that he has so loved us as to give us his Son, that a Christian ought to return Jesus Christ love for love, and life for life. If we believe this, we ought to be always faithful to God, and if we do not believe it, we ought not to communicate, to pray, to weep, to promise. What is supposed by all the appearance of devotion we have in sickness? That the soul is immortal, that there is a future state, that an eternity of happiness or misery awaits us. If we believe this, we ought to regulate our actions by these truths, and if we do not believe it, if the soul be not immortal, if heaven and hell be phantoms, we ought not to put on an appearance of religion in prospect of death. But such is our littleness, when we lose sight of a thing, we think it ceases to be. When we find the art of forgetting truth, it should seem truth is no more. When we cease thinking of our judge, it seems to us there is no judge. We resemble children who shut their eyes to hide themselves from the sight of their nurses.

4. Every part of devotion supposes some action of life, so that if there be no such action the whole value of devotion ceases. We hear a sermon, in this sermon we are taught some truth of religion which has a close and inseparable connexion with our moral conduct. We are told that a judge must be upright, a friend disinterested, a depositary faithful.

We do

well to be attentive to this sermon: but after we have heard it, we violate all the rules, if we be corrupt judges, ungrateful friends, faithless depositaries; and if because we have heard our duty we think ourselves discharged from the necessity of doing it, do we not pervert the order and destination of this discourse? We receive the Lord's Supper, there we go to confirm our faith, to detach ourselves from the world, to prepare ourselves for a future state.

We do well to receive the Lord's Supper: but if after we have received it we become lax in believing, fastened to the world, and without thought of a future state, and if we neglect these duties, under pretence that we took steps relative to these duties, do we not pervert the Lord's Supper? This reasoning is so clear, that it seems needless to pretend to elucidate it. Yet many people reason in this manner, I have been to a place of worship, I have heard a sermon, I have received the com. munion, and now I may give a loose to my passions: but it is because you have been to a place of worship, it is because you have heard a sermon, and received the communion, it is on account of this, that you ought wholly to employ yourself about that work, to promote which all these devotions were appointed.

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5. Transient devotions are inconsistent with the general design of religion. This design is to reform man, to renew him, to transform him into the likeness of glorified saints, to render him like God. But how does a rapid torrent of devotion attended with no moral rectitude contribute to this end? If while I fast I eradicate the world from my heart, if while I acknowledge the enormity of my past life I endeavour to reform it, if while I give mortal blows to the old man I form the new man in my heart, and if I thus build the edifice of grace, where once the temple of depravity stood, then I direct a fast day towards the great end of religion. But what says God of another kind of fasting? Is it such a fast that I have chosen, that a man should afflict his soul for a day? Is it to bow down the head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Isa. lviii. 5. And what says God of exterior devotions in general? To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord. I am full of burnt-offerings and incense. Your new moons I cannot away with. Who hath required this at your hand? chap. i. 11. The answer seems ready. Didst not thou, Lord, establish this worship, order an elegant temple to be built, and command the Jews to go up to Jerusalem? Sabbaths, solemn assemblies, new moons, do they not owe their origin to thee? No: when they are destitute of love and obedience, 'I hate new moons and Sabbaths, and solemn assemblies I cannot away with.' In like manner, of all devotions of every kind, when they are not attended with uniform moral obedience, we say, and in particular of the Lord's Supper we say, 'I am weary' of your preparations, I am full' of momentary devotions, and your pretended holy resolutions I cannot away with.' 'O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.'

6. Transient devotions must render promises of grace to you doubtful, even supposing you should ever, after a thousand revolutions of transient piety, be in possession of true and real religion. What think you of this question? A man who has spent his life in sin is taken

extremely ill. His illness, a review of his life, and a fear of death, rouse his conscience. He sends for a minister, he opens to him all his heart, he confesses his sins, he weeps, he groans, he protests ten thousand times that he hates his past life, and that he is determined to reform. He persuades himself, and all about him, that he is really converted. The minister promises him peace, and displays before him all the comfortable declarations, which it has pleased God to bestow in the gospel. The sick man recovers his health, returns to the world, forgets all his designs of conversion and repentance, and pursues his former course of intrigue, and passion, and arrogance. He falls sick a second time, sends a second time for his minister, and again he opens his heart, accuses himself, sheds floods of tears, and once more vows amendment and conversion. The minister on the same principle as before encourages him to hope again. He recovers again, and perjures himself again, as he did the first time. A third time his illness returns, and he takes the same steps, and would embrace the same promises, if they could be addressed to him. Now we ask, how a minister ought to conduct himself to such a man? What think you of this question? You know our commission, it is to preach peace to such as return to God with sincerity and good faith. The marks of sincerity and good faith are good works, and where circumstances render good works impossible, protestations and promises are to be admitted as evidences of sincerity and good faith. These evidences have been deceitful in the man we speak of. His transition from promising to violating was as quick as that from violating to promising. Have we any right to suppose the penitent knows his heart better this third time than he did the first and second? How should we be able to determine his state, how can we address to him any other than doubtful promises, since God, in some sort, adopts such sentiments in the text? 'O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud that goeth away.'

the soul between religion and the world. The world combats religion, religion combats the world. The divided heart is the field of battle where this violent combat is fought. To desire to enjoy the pleasures of both virtue and sin is to enjoy neither, and to partake of the inconveniences of both. To be at a point, to take a part, and to take the wise part, is the source of true peace and solid felicity.

Besides, this state of suspension which God assumes in the text is violent, and cannot last long. Like motives of patience do not concur at all times: witness the kingdom of Judah mentioned in the text, which was at length given up to the fury of the Chaldeans; witness this Ephraim, I mean the kingdom of the ten tribes, concerning whose destiny the prophet seems in the text to waver; however, at length God determined their dispersion, and the tribes were confounded with those idolatrous and wicked people, whose immorality and idolatry they had too exactly copied. All the help of history, and all the penetration of historians are necessary to discover any trace of these people: if indeed the penetration of historians and travellers have discovered any thing about them.

But why go back to remote periods of the world to prove a truth which our own eyes now behold in abundance of bloody demonstrations? If there ever were a year from the foundation of the world, if there has ever been a year proper to prove these terrible truths, it is that which lately came to an end. The dreadful events that distinguished it, and of which we were if not the victims, at least the witnesses, are too recent and too well known, to need description. This year will be proposed to the most distant posterity as one of the most alarming periods of divine vengeance. Future preachers will quote it as St. Jude formerly did the subversion of Sodom, and the universal deluge. They will tell your posterity, that in the year one thousand seven hundred and nine the patience of God, weary with Europe, enveloped in one general sentence friend and foe, almost the whole of that beautiful part of the world. They will say that all the scourges of heaven in concert were 7. Consider finally, the imprudence of a man let loose to destroy guilty nations. They will who divides his life in this manner into peri- lead their auditors over the vast kingdoms of ods of devotion and periods of sin. It seems at the north, and show them the Borysthenes first to be the height of wisdom to find the un-stained with blood, contagion flying rapidly as heard-of art of uniting the reward of virtue, with the pleasure of vice. On the one side, by devoting only a few moments to religion he spares himself the pains which they experience who make conscience of giving themselves entirely up to it: and by suspending only for a little while the exercise of his passions, he enjoys the pleasure of hoping fully to gratised there, they will render it doubtful whether fy them. On the other side, he quiets the storins of divine justice that threaten his rebellion, and thus obtains by devotions of a moment a protection, which others devote a whole life to acquire. Let us undeceive ourselves. heart divided in this manner cannot be happy. The chief cause of the difficulties we meet with in the way of salvation is owing to our partial walking, and to the fluctuation of


on the wings of the winds, from city to city, from province to province, from kingdom to kingdom, ravaging in one week so many thousand persons, in the next so many thousand more. They will tell them of the kingdoms which were claimed by two princes, and by lively images of the cruel barbarities practi

it were a desire of conquering or depopulating these kingdoms that directed the arms of these rivals. They will represent that theatre of blood in Flanders,* and describe in glowing

Our author refers to the battle of Malplaquet, fought September the 11th, 1709, between the French army consisting of one hundred and twenty thousand men commanded by Marshal Villars, and the confederate army consisting of nearly an equal number un

colours troops on both sides animated with equal fury, some to defend posts which seemed to need no defence but themselves, others to force intrenchments which nature and art seemed to have rendered impregnable. They will describe both armies animated with a fury unknown before, disputing in carnage and blood with efforts unparalleled both for the greatness of the slaughter, and the glory of the victory. They will represent the most fruitful kingdom of Europe under all the misery of scarcity, in this more cruel than famine, it inflicts a more slow and lingering death. They will speak of the labourers howling for bread in the public roads; and will tell of ‘a sudden ferocity next to madness possessing multitudes, men seizing public convoys, snatching the bread from one another's hands, decency, fidelity, and religion being dead.**

So many victims sacrificed to divine vengeance, my brethren, so many plagues wasting Europe, so many shocks of the earth, above all, so great a share as our crimes had in kindling the anger of God, should seem to shake the foundations of this state, and to convulse and kill the greatest part of this auditory. Yet this state still subsists, thanks to thine infinite mercy my God, the state yet subsists, and though afflicted, distressed, and weary with a long and cruel war, it subsists as rich and as splendid as any country in the world. These hearers too, yet subsist, thanks to thy mercy my God, our eyes behold them, and by a kind of miracle they have been preserved to the beginning of another year. Preserved did I say? They have been crowned. And how does this year begin, this year which we never expected to see, after a year distinguished by the three great evils, pestilence, famine, and war, how does it begin with us? It begins with the smiles of heaven, with a participation of what is most august in religion, with the descent of the Holy Spirit into our hearts, with the renewing of our covenant with God, and, if I may be allowed to say so, it begins with an acknowledgment on God's part, that his love will not allow of our destruction, how much Boever we deserve to be destroyed. 'O Ephraim, how shall I give thee up? O Israel, how shall I deliver thee up? How shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.' Ah! why must a joy so pure be mixed with a just fear that you will abuse his goodness? Why, across such a multitude of benefits must we be constrained to look at vengeance behind? O republic nourished by heaven, upon which the eyes of the Lord thy God are always fixed, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year,' Deut. xi. 12; why must we be driven to-day to utter unpleasant omens, along with the most affectionate benedictions? And you believers who hear us, why, now that we wish you a happy new year, must we be obliged to foretell an unhappy one?

der the command of the Duke of Marlborough. The confederate army obtained the victory at the price of wenty thousand of their best troops. Flechier's pastoral letter.

For what security have we that this year will be more holy than the last? have we any certainty that this communion will be more effectual than others? What security have we that the resolutions of this day will have more influence over our lives than all before? Can we be sure that the devotion of this day will not be as a morning cloud, and as the early dew that goeth away? And consequently what security have we that this will not be the last year of this republic, the last communion, the last invitation of mercy that will ever be given to all this assembly?

Ah, my brethren, my dear brethren, behold the God who heweth us by his prophets, behold him who has slain men by the words of his mouth, behold him, who in the presence of his angels waiting in this assembly, behold him once more saying to you, 'O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as the morning cloud, that goeth away!'

There are two great motives among many others, which chiefly urge your conversion today your receiving the Lord's Supper this morning, and the uncertainty of living all this year.

This morning you received the Lord's supper, and with it peace of conscience, inward consolation, ineffable pleasure, 'joy unspeakable and full of glory,' if indeed you did feel this, and if these are not in regard to you sounds without meaning. What! shall four days, shall four days efface all these impressions? What! shall a worldly society, will a sensual temptation, can a profane raillery bring you to violate all your resolutions, and to be guilty of perjury towards God? Do not fall into the puerility mentioned a little while ago, do not think the great truths you have felt to-day will cease to be, because you cease to think of them. Jesus died for you, Jesus gave himself for you, Jesus demands your heart, Jesus promises you an eternity of happiness; this is true to-day, this will be true to-morrow and all next week, during all your temptations and pleasures; and what, pray, can the world of fer you in lieu of the heaven that came into your conscience? what to supply the place of that Redeemer, who this morning gave himself to you in a manner so affectionate?

To this first motive add the other, the vanity of life, a vanity described by the renewing of the year. I am aware how feeble this motive is to many of us. The past insures us for the future, and because we have never died, it seems to us as if we never should die.

My brethren, you compel us today to set before you the most mournful images, which can possibly strike your eyes. You oblige us to open wounds beginning to heal, and to anticipate the sorrows of the present year; but what can be done? If we cannot detach men from the world, we must tear them away by force.

Did we deceive you last year when we told you, that many who were present in this place on new year's day, would not live through the year? Has not the event fully verified the sad prediction? Answer me, ye disconsolate wi

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