Abbildungen der Seite

it be like a garden watered by thy heavenly hand, that thy tender shoots may grow, and in due time produce abundant fruit, to the eternal honour of thy most glorious name, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen,

[ocr errors][merged small]

Though this, I imagine, is the last address I shall ever have occasion to make to you, I will not de tain you long from your studies, nor encroach on the time allowed you for recreation. This is, to be sure, the first time that some of you have heard me; but I have a great many others to bear witness of the constant design of all my dissertations in this place. They will testify, that the intention of all my discourses was, “ that the form of sound words*," that is, the Christian doctrine, and consequently the fear and love of God, might not only be impressed, but also engraven upon your

hearts in lasting and indelible characters, and that you might not only admit as a truth, but also pay

the highest regard to this indisputable maxim, “ that piety and religion is the only real good among ment.” Moreover, that your minds might be the less incumbered in their application to this grand

* υγιαινόντων λογων τύπος.
ή ότι αν και μόνον εν ανθρώποις αγαθόν η ευσέβεια.

study of religion, and the more expeditious in: their progress therein, I constantly endeavoured, with all possible warmth, to divert you from those barren and thorny questions and disputes, that have infected the whole of theology: and this at a time, when the greatest part of divines and professors, and those of no small reputation, engaging furiously in such controversies, “ have split into parties, and unhappily divided the whole world*.” It was my constant practice to establish those great and uncontroverted articles of our holy religion, which are but few and clear; some part whereof are confirmed by the common consent of nations, and of all the human race; and all the rest by the unanimous voice of the whole Christian world. Of the first sort are those we have often advanced in treating of the being and perfections of the one supreme and eternal Principle, and the production of all things by him; the continual preservation and government of the world by his Providence; the law of God given to mankind, and the rewards and punishments annexed to it. The other class of the grand articles of religion are indeed peculiar to Christian Philosophy, but believed in common by all the professors of that religion. These are the great foundations of our faith, and of all our hope and joy, with regard to the incarnation of the Son of God, his death and resurrection for the destruction of sin, and consequently of death; his

* σχιζονται, και κόσμον όλον τέμνεσιν αθέσμως.

ascension into the highest heavens, with that same flesh of ours, in which he died, and his exaltation there above all ranks of angels, dominions, and thrones, &c.; whence we expect he will return in great glory, in that day, when he will be glorious in all his saints, and admired in those that believe. As many therefore as desire to receive him in this his last manifestation, with joy and exultation, must of necessity be holy, and, in conformity to their most perfect and glorious Head, sober, pious, upright, and live in full contempt of this perishing transitory world, their own mortal flesh, and the sordid pleasures of both : in a word, all the enjoy. ments, which the mean and servile admire, they must trample under foot and despise. For whoever will strive for this victory, and strive so as at last to obtain it, the Lord will own him for his servant, and the great Master will acknowledge him for his disciple. He will attain a likeness to God in this earth, and, after a short conflict, will triumph in the divine presence for ever. These are the doc. trines, which it is our interest to know, and in the observation of which our happiness will be secured. To these you will turn your thoughts, young Gentlemen, if you are wise; nay, to these you ought to give due attention, that you may be wise : these phantoms, we catch at, fly away; this shadow of a life, we now live, is likewise on the wing. Those things, that are without the verge of sense, and above its reach, are the only solid and lasting enjoyments. Why are ye fond of these earthly things, says St Bernard, which are neither true riches, nor are they yours ? If they are yours, continues he, take them with you*.' And Lactantius admirably well observes, that, “whoever prefers the life of the soul, must, of necessity, despise that of the body; nor can he aspire to the highest good, unless he despise advantages of an inferior kind. For the all-wise God did not choose, that we should attain to immortality in a soft indolent way, but that we should gain that inexpressible reward of eternal life with the highest difficulty, and severest labourt.” And, that you may not be discouraged, remember the great Redeemer of souls, your exalted Captain, hath gone


and we have to do with an enemy already conquered. Let us only follow him with courage and activity, and we have no ground to doubt of victory. And indeed it is a victory truly worthy of a Christian, to subdue the barbarous train of our appetites, and subject them to the empire of reason and religion ; while, on the other hand, it is the most shameful bondage to have the more divine part of our composition meanly subjected to an ignoble earthly

* Quid terrena hæc amplectimini, quæ nec veræ divitæ sunt, nec vestræ ? Si vestræ sunt, tollite vobiscum.

+ Quisquis animæ vitam maluerit, corporis vitam contemnat necesse est, nec aliter aspirare ad summum poterit bonum, nisi quæ sunt ima despexerit. Noluit enim sapientissimus Deus, nos immortalitatem delicate ac molliter assequi, sed ad illud vitæ eternæ iuenarrabile præmium summa eum difficultate, et magnis laboribus pervenire.

grace and

body. Now, this victory can only be secured by stedfast believing, vigorous opposition to our spiriritual enemies, unwearied watching, and incessant prayer, Let prayer be not only the key that

opens the day, and the lock that shuts out the night; but let it be also, from morning to night, our staff and stay in all our labours, and to enable us to go cheerfully up into the mount of God. Prayer brings consolation to the languishing soul, drives away the devil, and is the great medium, whereby all


is communicated to us. With regard to your reading, let it be your particular care to be familiarly acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures above all other books whatever; for from thence you will truly derive light for your direction, and sacred provisions for your support on your journey. In subordination to these you may also use the writings of pious men that are agreeable to them; for these also you may improve to your advantage, and particularly that little book of a Kempis, Of the Imitation of Christ*, “ since the sum and substance of religion consists in imitating the Being that is the object of your worshipt.”

May our dear Redeemer Jesus impress upon your minds a lively representation of his own meek and immaculate heart, that, in that great and last day, he may, by this mark, know you to be his, and, together with all the rest of his sealed and redeemed

* De imitatione Christi. + Summa religionis est imitari quem colis,

« ZurückWeiter »