« PreviousContinue »
fearing that death, which is to put you in possession of so many blessings, you may contemplate it with holy joy, and say,
“ This is the auspicious moment which I have so long wished for, which my soul has been panting after, which has been the burden of so many fervent prayers: Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” May God in mercy grant it to us all. To him be honor and glory for ever. Amen.
ON NUMBERING OUR DAYS. *
PSALM Xc. 12.
So teach us to number our Days, that we may apply our hearts unto
HROUGH what favor of indulgent heaven,
does this church nourish in its bosom members sufficient to furnish out the solemnity of this day, and to compose an assembly so numerous and respectable? Through what distinguished goodness is it, that you find yourselves with your children, with your friends, with your fellow-citizens; no, not all of them, for the mourning weeds with which some of you are cloathed, plainly indicate, that death has robbed us, in part, of some of them, in the course of the year which is just terminated. But through what distinguishing goodness is it, that you find yourselves with your children, with your friends, with your fellow-citizens, collected together in this sacred place?
The preachers who filled the spot which I have now the honor to occupy, and whose voice resounded through this temple at the commencement of the last year, derived, from the inexhaustible fund of human frailty and infirmity, motives upon motives to excite apprehension that you might not behold the end of it. They represented to you the fragility of the organs of your body, which the slightest shock is able to derange and to destroy; the dismal accidents by which the life of man is incessantly threatened ; the maladies without number which are either entailed on us by the law of our nature, or which are the fruit of our intemperance; the uncertainty of human existence, and the narrow bounds to which life, at the longest, is contracted.
* Delivered in the church of Rotterdam, on New-Year's
After having filled their mouths with arguments drawn from the stores of nature, they had recourse to those of religion. They spake to you of the limited extent of the patience and long-suffering of God. They told you that to each of us is assigned only a certain number of days of visitation. They thundered in your ears such warpings as these : Gather yourselves together, yea gather together, O nation not desired; before the decree bring forth .... before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you, Zeph, ij. 1, 2. I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people : I will not again pass by them any more, Amos viii, 8: Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown, Jonah iii. 4.
How is it possible that we should have escaped, at the saine time, the miseries of nature, and the fearful threatenings of religion? And, to repeat my question once more, through what favor of indulgent heaven does this church nourish in its bosom members sufficient to furnish out the solemnity of this day, and to compose an assembly so numerous and respectable ?
It is to be presumed, my brethren, that the principle which has prevented our improvement of the innumerable benefits with which a gracious Providence is loading us, prevents not our knowledge of the source from which they flow. It is to be
presumed, that the first emotions of our hearts, when we, this morning, opened our eyes to behold the light, have been such as formerly animated holy men of God, when they cried aloud, amidst the residue of those whom the love of God had delivered from the plagues inflicted by his justice, in the days of vengeance: It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not: they are now every morning, Lam. iji. 22, 23. Except the Lord of Hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah, Isa. i. 9.
Wo! Wo! Anathema upon anathema ! be to bim who shall dare henceforth to abuse ..... But no, let us not fulininate curses. Let not sounds so dreadful affright the ears of an audience like this. Let us adopt a language more congenial to the present day. We come to beseech you, my beloved brethren, by those very mercies of God to which you are indebted for exemption from so many evils, and for the enjoyment of so many blessings; by those very mercies which have this day opened for your admission, the gates of this temple, instead of sending you down into the prison of the tomb; by those very mercies, by which you were, within these few days, invited to the table of the Eucharist, instead of being summoned to the tribunal of judgment; by these tender mercies we beseech you to assume sentiments, and to form plans of conduct, which may have something