« PoprzedniaDalej »
of life unto life, or of death unto death. Improve the ordinances of religion, and you will bless God when from heaven you look back upon this house; neglect them, and they will plead against you at the holy tribunal. Oh! it will be melancholy to have assisted in building this house; to have heard in it the offers of salvation; and then to be excluded from "that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens!" Be not satisfied, till you yourselves are living temples, in which God is both resident and adored.
But this is not all: in a few years this congregation will have entirely changed its appearance; other persons will occupy your seats; other preachers will address you from this desk. In the next generation, some will here be born to God; and some live and die without an interest in the Redeemer, who will here be offered to them. Generation will succeed generation before this building will be destroyed; and thousands through eternity will sing a more rapturous song of praise, from the remembrance of the blessings received in this place; and thousands utter a groan of deeper anguish when in the world of horrors they recall the salvation that was here urged upon them, but ungratefully, madly, refused by them. "How dreadful" then, and yet how lovely," is this place!"
Young persons! this church must soon be resigned into your hands: we always look on you with peculiar sensibility. There are some of you, (we testify it with delight,) whose early years are sanctified by vital piety; some, the hope of this flock, and the future pillars of this church, who under the influences of the Spirit are preparing for usefulness when the heads of the older followers of Jesus shall be moul
dering in the dust. On you may the dearest blessings of God Most High ever rest! May you enjoy the peculiar benediction of that Saviour who delights in the early convert! May your number be augmented, and your graces increased! and may you in the next generation be able to do more, far more for God than we have performed!
And now, most glorious God! we look to thee: to thee, the great Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we solemnly consecrate this house, and dedicate and set it apart for the pure preaching of thy word; for the administration of the sacraments; for the praises of our God; for prayer, for supplication, and for all the offices of devotion. May it be rendered glorious by the perpetual presence of Immanuel. May the fire of thy love descend from heaven, that all our sacrifices here offered may be accepted! Here may the thunders of thy word awake the careless; here may the balm of Gilead be applied to the wounded conscience; here may the blushing prodigal, penitent for his wanderings, be folded in the embraces of his Father; here may the believer enjoy communion, and feel the consolations, of the Holy Spirit! Let all dissention and hatred ever be excluded; and may this be the house of love and peace as well as holiness; may there be a long succession of faithful, wise, pious pastors; and may many, very many, be here born to God, and trained up for eternal life!
"This is now the house of God, and the gate of heaven; the Lord is here, and we know it."
I SAMUEL XXv. 10, 11.
And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now-a-days that break away every man from his master. Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?
SUCH is still the language of the avaricious man; such are still the excuses made by the insensible heart, when it seeks some pretexts to exempt it from relieving the wants of the unhappy. When we plead for the afflicted, Nabals are still to be found, who reply only by words of railing and contempt against the children of sorrow; only by representing the conferment of alms, and the support of charitable institutions, as an encouragement to indolence and vice; only by reminding us, that their wealth is their
* This Sermon was preached for the benefit of the Savannah Orphan Asylum.
own, and that they have a right to dispose of it according to their pleasure. To show you the base ness and criminality of such characters, to answer the excuses which they make against the exercise of benevolence, and to urge you to the performance of the opposite virtues, is the design of the ensuing discourse.
Say not that this is an unnecessary subject; that there are few Nabals among you; few that can close their hearts against the cries of distress, and the tears of helpless infancy: we know it; with delight we speak of your generosity. These children before me, fed, clothed, instructed by your bounty, are a living proof that you have hearts that can feel for others.
But, brethren! though we doubt not your benevolence, the subject will not be useless: it will confirm in their laudable conduct those whose kindness to the poor and the unhappy we have often experienced; it will guard our youth against the indulgence of that cruel, covetous spirit, which would render them curses to society, rob them of the esteem of the community, and deprive them of the sweetest enjoyments; and should there be a single Nabal present, perhaps, through the influence of the Spirit of grace and of love, his heart of stone may be taken from him, and a heart of flesh bestowed, which will induce him liberally to contribute to this important and interesting institution.
Before entering on the immediate subject of this discourse, it will be proper to give a brief view of the history with which the text is connected. David, at this period of his life, was pursued by Saul, who, from jealousy and envy, ardently wished his destruction. Wandering, a poor distressed exile,
among mountains, caves, and wildernesses, he was often reduced to the want of the necessaries of life. On such an occasion, he sent some of his followers to the wealthy Nabal, and in terms the most courteous and gentle, entreated his kindness. To this kindness he had indeed a just claim, since he had carefully protected the flocks and possessions of Nabal from the injurious assaults of others. But, instead of giving any assistance, instead of sparing to David a small portion of that expensive feast with which he was at this time gratifying his vanity and his appetite, Nabal only answered in the contemptuous and reproachful words of the text. "Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There be many servants now-a-days that break away every man from his master. Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men whom I know not whence they be?" Let us consider the frivolity of these his excuses.
I. Excuse made by Nabal: My possessions are strictly and properly my own, and I have a right to employ them as I please. "Shall I take my bread, and my water, and my flesh." This is also an excuse that we still hear daily presented by the covetous and uncharitable.
But common as is this excuse, it is not only demonstrably false, but also awfully impious, and strikes directly at the providence, the government. and the sovereignty of the Most High God, No! Your wealth is not your own: natural, as well as revealed religion, declares that you are only stewards, to whom God has given a certain portion of wealth and talents to be employed for him, and according to his pleasure, and for your use, of which you must