« PoprzedniaDalej »
sary to enable us to do our duty, by conveying to us new supplies of spiritual strength. These are the additions which the gospel has made to natural religion; forgive its injury. Our blessed Saviour saw that the hopes of nature were lost, therefore he brought to light again life and immortality: he saw that we were corrupted, not able to resist evil, and therefore he supplied the defect by the assistance of his holy Spirit; pardon his care, and do not think the worse of him or his religion, for the great provision he has made in it for your security.
These considerations may perhaps suggest to your thoughts what probable ground there is to hope for success in our endeavors to spread the gospel of Christ in the dark corners of the world ; and what is the true method of proposing it to the uninstructed part of mankind. But as I choose to decline this subject, and to leave it to the properer hands on which it is placed, I shall shut
up all with this petition: that God would hasten the completion of the prophecies relating to the kingdom of Christ; that he would give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession, that he may be his salvation to all people.
SUMMARY OF DISCOURSE VII.
PSALM CXXII.-VERSE 6.
Nothing places religion in a more disadvantageous point of view, than an opinion that the present peace and prosperity of the world is foreign to its ends and purposes. It is shown that a concern for the welfare of our country is not only a political but a religious virtue ; a care that becomes us not only as citizens, but as Christians : more particularly because religion is so connected with our civil rights, that there is no hope of saving it out of the ruins of our country. The psalm from which the text is taken turns wholly on two topics; the temporal prosperity of Jerusalem considered as the head of the civil government, in which the happiness of the whole nation was concerned ; and as the seat of true religion, as God's own city, on whose peace depended the security of that religion : these points enlarged on.
From this great authority in the text two considerations are brought home to ourselves : I. what reason we have on both these accounts to bless God for our deliverance from the late rebellion : II. what obligations we are under, from the same motives, to use our own best endeavors in perpetuating the blessing of this deliverance.
I. Some arguments there are which require rather a capacity of feeling than any great acuteness of judgment to apprehend them ; such as those drawn from a sense of pleasure or pain, from an experience of the conveniences or inconveniences of life: this position applied to the case in question. Had men a proper sense of the miseries of times past, it would teach them what consequences they might expect from any successful attempt against the present establishment, or what usage a protestant church would find, under the corruption and superstition of that of Rome. Reasons given for the exclusion of papists from the affairs of government. Historical account of the treatment which heretical princes have met with from the church of Rome.
Conduct of those who had courage and plain dealing enough to refuse their assent to the Hanoverian succession, and thereby to forego civil advantages, contrasted with the guilt of those who, after having bound themselves by solemn oaths and obligations, openly or secretly favored the rebellion.
II. Our obligation to perpetuate our deliverance considered. This obligation is but the necessary consequence of the duty which we are now met to perform. Thanksgiving is little more than a solemn mockery, if we feel no value for the deliverance; and in vain do we pray for God's assistance in any case, while we neglect the means of helping ourselves which he has put into our power.
How much the preservation of the establishment depends on the success of public councils, every body knows: what private men can do, they best know: many are well qualified by station and abilities to promote the interest of their king and country; and surely it is every man's duty to do whatever he thinks he lawfully may do, to serve these desirable ends. Unhappiness of the nation, froin its being divided into factions, dilated on. Evils of this state described.
Under such unfortunate circumstances there is more reason to wish for, than ground to expect, peace and unanimity at home. It is easy for a few designing men to fill the people with unjust apprehensions of their rulers; though his Majesty, in his wisdom and goodness, took at the very beginning the properest step to prevent this mischief, by declaring that he would always make the constitution in church and state the rule of his administration. Concluding exhortations and rules for quieting the angry spirit that is abroad, for suppressing false hopes, and allaying false fears.
Preached before the House of Commons at St. Margaret's,
Westminster, June 7, 1716; being the day of public thanksgiving to Almighty God for suppressing the unnatural Rebellion.
PSALM CXXII.-VERSE 6.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem : they shall prosper that love thee.
. THERE is nothing places religion in a more disadvantageous view than the opinion entertained by some, that a concern for the present peace and prosperity of the world is so foreign to all the ends and purposes of true religion, that a good man ought not to suffer his thoughts, much less his passions and affections, to be engaged in so worthless a subject.
The inspired writers have indeed, with repeated instructions, guarded us against the temptations of riches, honors, and pleasures, and prepared us to undergo the calamities and afflictions of life with firmness and constancy of mind. But what then? So does the general exhort his soldiers to bear with patience the fatigues of war, to despise the dangers of it, and in the day of action to press forward, regardless of life itself; yet still victory and triumph, and the sweet enjoyments of peace, are the end of war; and the soldier, though he must not fear to die, yet it is his business to live and conquer. Religion is a spiritual warfare, and the world is the scene of action, in which every good man will be sure to meet with enemies enough ; and it is not the end 'he aims at, but the opposition he meets with in pursuing that end, that makes it necessary for him to