Abbildungen der Seite

saw. --even the ignominious death of the Son of God himself!

These are reflections, which would have drawn tears from the eyes of an unfeeling savage:what sensations then must they have awaked, in the breast of the compassionate and tender Jesus, -himself a Jew,-himself the gracious messenger of heaven, whose' mercies she rejected,-himself the lamb, who was to be slain within her walls, -himself that guiltless victim, whose unexpiated blood was to draw down vengeance and ruin, upon her temples and palaces !

[ocr errors]

And how must his sorrow have been embittered by reflecting, that all these things were to come upon it, not through any unfortunate chance, or natural disaster, which even good men may sometimes suffer,—but through its manifold and crying sins, its whoredoms, its adulteries, its oppressions, and other great and flagrant enormities, which called down the just visitation of heaven!

What an aggravation, again, must it have been to his grief, to reflect, that there was a time, when she might have known “ the things “ which belonged to her peace;"—that there was a time, when the Almighty would have

“ gathered

gathered her children together, even as a hen

gathereth her chickens under her wings ;”. that there was a time, when he warned her by his prophets, and invited her to repentance, by his promises ;--but that these things were, now, hid from her eyes ;-that her doom was, now, unchangeably fixed ;--that nothing, now, remained, “but a certain fearful looking for. of

' judgment, and fiery indignation,” for all her sins, and “ for all the righteous blood shed upon

the earth, from the blood of righteous “ Abel, to the blood of Zacharias, son of Bara« chias, who was slain between the temple and " the altar!”

Such were, probably, the causes, which made the Son of God weep over Jerusalem, when he beheld it.-And, I dare say, your thoughts have anticipated me, in the application of these affecting words, to this great and flourishing kingdom.-It is a thought, which naturally arises from considering the fate of one once-mighty nation, to reflect a moment, what also may be the fate of another.

And would to God there was not too much room for the parallel; too much room for every one, that beholds this great and sinful nation, like Jesus also, to weep over it!—It is an un9

grateful grateful task, to hold up to view the crimes and follies of our fellow-creatures and fellow-subjects : as a private individual, I abhor the task : but ungrateful as it is, it must be done: where the danger is great, silence is guilt:--important, though unwelcome, truths, are not to be dissembled :-ill would it become the prophets of the Lord, to cry Peace, Peace, where there is no peace :--It was the curse of the Jews, to be lulled in a fatal security : but let it not be ours, who have their fate before us, for an example.

If, therefore, I lay open to your consideration, without disguise, a portrait of guilt, which will startle the feelings of humanity, the intention must justify the fact :-For, where diseases are dangerous and inveterate, severer remedies become necessary and commendable.

I will begin with what ought ever to be first in our thoughts, the service and reverence we owe to the God that made us. And in this, I am shocked to say, that we are, many degrees, worse than the Jews themselves. They had, indeed, lost the spirit and genius of their religion ; —they were blind and perverse ; ---they wasted their time in superstitious purifications and ridiculous ceremonies, unworthy of the exalted majesty of God. But then, the light they enjoyed


was originally small, in comparison of ours; and even that little had been gradually obscured by a long succession of ages, in which they had been left to their own guidance: and yet, after all, though they had lost the vital power, they, at least, retained the form of godliness : they sometimes thought erroneously, but they always both thought and spoke with reverence, of God and religion.

But have not we, who enjoy the glorious light of the gospel, the same, or even greater crimes to answer for, and with much greater degrees of aggravation? The beams of life and immortality, have, indeed, shone upon our hearts; but can it be denied, that they have also shone in vain? Do not Atheism and Infidelity stalk, with unblushing impudence, through the land, meet us in every place of resort, and insult our understandings, in every publication ? Does not a general contempt of religion run through the higher and lower ranks of men, and an avowed neglect of it through all ?

We are, indeed, the purest part of the purest religion, in our doctrines and discipline : we have been emancipated, by the blood of martyrs, from the galling yoke of papal tyranny, and papal superstition ; but what will this avail us, if our lives correspond not to the purity and freedom of the religion we profess! We may laugh, if we please, at the superstitious corruptions of the church of Rome : it is perhaps impossible not to do so : one must blush for the weakness of human nature, to see a poor zealot, kneeling at the shrine of a smoaky saint, or bowing with reverence, to a time-worn relique : yet, even something may be learnt from this misguided zeal, when it proceeds, as no doubt it often does, from a heart truly contrite and devout: it may justly reproach that coldness and indifference, which is too much seen amongst the generality of protestants. It is, no doubt, the perfection of religion, where zeal and knowledge are united: and would to God they were ever so united! But, if they must be separated, surely it will be no presumption to say, that God will sooner accept zeal without knowledge, than knowledge without zeal. And whether ours is not the latter case, no man, that weighs the state of religion amongst us, can one moment doubt. In the general commerce of the world, is there the smallest trace of it to be seen? Does it give firmness to the commercial contract, or inspire decency into the haunts of social resort? Is it tolerated among the polite, or named with respect among the vulgar? In short, do we behold any thing, but our churches


« ZurückWeiter »