« PreviousContinue »
and will keep my
og the first indh psalny"after the
Bompanions. Let us break with the enemies of God. Let us dread the contagion of poison, and avoid the manufacturers of it. As there is no sinner so obstinate as not to be moved by an intercourse with good men, so there is no virtue so well established as not do be endangered by an intimacy with the wicked.,
2. A second great secret in conversation is the art of sitence. To talk a great deal, and to reflect on all that is said, are two things incompatible, and certainly we cannot speak wisely if we speak without reflection, The book of Ecclesiasticus advises us to make a door and a bar for the mouth, chap. xxviii. 25. The fool, said the wise man, is full of words, Eccles. X. 14. I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue, I will keep iny mouth with a bridle, Psal. xxxix. 1. An ancient herinis abused this maxim, for, after he had heard the first verse of the thirty-ninth psalm, he refused to hear the second, saying the first was lesson sufficient for him. The reader of this verse to him asked him many years after. whether lie had learnt to reduce this lesson to practice. Nineteen years, replied the herinits, have I been trying, and have hardly attained the practice. But there was some reason in the conduct of this hermit, though he carried the matter to excess, In order to speak well, we must speak but little, remembring always the maxiin of St. James, If any man seeni to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, this man's religion is vain, chap. i. 26.
In fine, the greal rule to govern the tongue is to govern the heart. Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life, Prov. iv, 23. In vain do you strive to prevent effects, unless you remove the cause. It is in vain to purify the streams, while the spring continues polluted. It is in vain to attempt a few forced actions, like those mentioned by the Psalmist, whose words were softer than oil, when wur was in their heart, Psal. lv. 21. It is extremely difficult to act long under constraint. The heart insensibly guides the tongue. Would you avoid rash judging, obscenity, calunny, fawning, all the vices, of which we have shewn the enormity? Begin with your own heart. There establish the love of God. Love piety, respect virque, and, talk as you will, you cannot but speak well.
Let us feel these motives, my brethren. Let us obey these Tules. Let us practise these duties. Let us blush for having so long lived in the neglect of them. Henceforth let us deVOL. IV.
dicate our voices to the praise of our Creator. Let us praise God. To praise God is the noblest of all employments. To praise God is the incessant employment of all the angels in heaven. To praise God must be our eternal exercise. Let us this instant, on the spot, begin to reduce this new plan of conversation to practice. Let us cry, with blessed spirits, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of hosts, and let these first fruits of holy conversation consecrate all the remainder of life. God grant us this grace. To Father, Son, and Spirit, be honour and glory for ever! Amen,
UR churches are houses of God; places where he
bestows his favours in richest profusion. Indeed, his omnipresence cannot be confined, heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain him, the whole universe is the theatre of his liberality. It is, however, in his churches, that he affords the most distinguishing proofs of his presence, · and opens his most magnificent treasures. Hence Solomon, · after he had erected that superb place described in the first book of kings, addressed this prayer to God, Alay thine eyes be opened toward this house night and day, even toward the place, of which thou hast said, My name shall be there. When thy people Israel shall pray toward this place, when they are snitten down before the enemy, when heaven is shut, and there is no rain, when there be in the land faminé, pestilence, and blasting, when they pray towards this place, when they spread.forth their hands towards this house, then hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling-place, 1 Kings viii. 27. 29, &c. Let us not imagine all these prerogatives were confined to the temple of Jerusalem. They are in our churches. - Always when we aşseinble in this place, we conduct you to the tribunal of God, and say to you, in the language of eternal wisdom, Ho, every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat, buy wine and milk without money and without price, Isa. lv. l.
To-day, Christians, this house changes its appearance. It is no more a superb palace, the seat of riches and abundance.
It is an alms-house. It is, if I mas be allowed to say so, a general hospital, in which are assembled all those poor, all those indigent widows, and destitute orphans, all those famished old people, who were born in your provinces, or who, through the calamities of the times, have been driven to your coasts, and permitted to reside here. What a sight! To-day God takes the place of man, and man that of God. God asks, and man answers. God begs, and man bestows. God set before us heaven, grace, and glory, and from his high abode, where he dwells among the praises of the blessed, he solicits your charity, and says to you by our mouth, Give alms of such things as you have.
What opportunity more proper can we have to preach charity to you? For several weeks these arehes have resounded with the greatest benevolence, that was ever heard of*. Your preachers have fixed your attention on that great sacrifice, by which men are reconciled to God, so that if we be so happy to-day as to touch your hearts, there will be a harmony between love and charity, between the Creator and the creature. The heavens will hear the earth, and the earth will hear the heavens, Hos. jj. 22. Heaven will say to the faithful soul, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world, John i. 29. and the faithful soul, properly affected with gratitude, will reply, O God, mit goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the saints, and to the earth, Psal. xvi. 23. and will pour upon the feet of Jesus Christ that ointment, which cannot be put upon the head of Christ himself. My brethren, assist our feeble efforts. And thou, O God, who art love itself, animate every part, every period, every expression of this discourse, so that all our hearers may become disciples of love ! Amen.
Give alms of such things as you have; these are the words of our text, the gospel of this day. We will not detain you in comparing the words of our translation with those of the original, in order to justify our interpreters. Some expositors think, the text is not an exhortation to charity, but a censure on the pliarisees for their notion of it. After the pharisees had obtained great sums by rapine and extortion, they endeavoured to conceal, yea to embellish their crimes by almıs-deeds. According to these interpreters, Jesus Christ only intended to condemn these infamous practices, so that instead of reading the words, as we do, give alms of
y The Weeks of Lent.
such things as ye have, we ought to read them, Ye give alms of such things as you have, and ye suppose all things are clean to you.
But this interpretation, which is in itself a striking truth, ought, however, to be rejected, as neither being agreeable to the scope of the place, nor the literal sense of the words, which are followed by a precept, nor to ancient versions, uor to the following words, all things SHALL BE clean to you, which carries in it the nature of a promise, and which must therefore be naturally joined to a precept.
Let us then retain the sense of our version, and let us take the words for an order of our master prescribing charity. He addressed this order to the pharisees, and in them to all christians. The pharisees were a class of men, who loved showy virtues, and who thought by discharging small duties to make amends for the omission of great and important ones. Jesus Christ reproves them in this chapter, l'e, pharisees, make clean the outside of the cup and the platter : but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. They tithed mint and rue, and all manner of herbs, but they neglected charity. On another occasion we have observed, that they resembled some modern christians, who put on the air of piety, lift their eyes to heaven, besprinkle our churches with tears, utter their souls in perpetual sighs and complaints, and incessantly cry religion! religion ! but who know charity only by the pain they feel when it is mentioned to them. Te, pharisees, make clean the outside of the cup and the platter : but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. But rather, rather than put on all these airs of piety, rather than affect an ignorant zeal, rather than practise exactness in trifles, give alms of such things as you have. Charity is the centre, where all virtues meet. O man, what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with the God? Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels, though I give my body to be burned, though I have als faith so that I could remove mountains, and, we may add, though I should receive the communion every day of my life, though I fast every week, though I burn with the zeal of a seraph, yet if I have not charity, I ain become usa sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal! Micah vi. 8. } Cor. xiii, 1, &c.
But these reflections are too vague, let us be more paiti. cular, We will divide this discourse into two parts. In