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hath subsisted in time or will subsist in eternity, but what was pre-conceived in the counsels of his infinite intelligence. It is he, who alone, and for ever, can excite infinite sensations of pleasure or pain within thee. It is he, who can apprehend the soul of a tyrant, amidst the most gay and festive objects, among the most servile flatteries of a court, and, in spite of a concourse of pleasures, produce such horrors and fears, and exquisite torments, as shall change even a Belshazzar's countenance, trouble his thoughts, loose the joints of his loins, and smite his knees one against another, Dan. v. 6. And it is he also, who is able to divert a sensation of pain, amidst the greatest torments, yea, to absorb a strong sensation of pain in a stronger sensation of pleasure. He can make a martyr triumph, all involved in fire and flame, by shedding abroad the effusions of love in his heart, Rom. v. 5. the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and which keeps the senses, Phil. iv. 7.* that is, a peace which is superior to the action of the senses, and not to be interrupted by the exercise of them. It is he, who can enable him to celebrate a victory during an apparent defeat; who can overflow, in a sufferer's heart, the pains of martyrdom with the pleasures of paradise, and fill the mouth with shouts of triumph and songs of praise.
Speak, you martyrs of Jesus Christ, tell us what influence the infinite God hath over the soul ! Be you our divines and philosophers. What did
you feel, when penetrating through a shower of stones, you cried, Behold we see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God ? Acts vii. 56. What did you feel, when experi
* Our author uses the common reading of the French bible, which is garde les sens. The original word is used in the holy scriptures for reflection, Rom. vii. 25. and for sensation, James i. 23. The reason of our following the French reading in this place is obvious. Where the same reason does not oblige us, we have made it a law, in quotations of scripure, scrupulously to adhere to our English text.
encing all the rage of the cruel Nero, you exulted, We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God ? Rom.
But this is not the whole of the believer's joy. The expectation of arriving at great happiness by means of tribulations may naturally produce a patient submission to tribulations. But here is something more. We rejoice, saith St. Paul, in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, adds he, (weigh this expressive sentence, my brethren) not only so ; it is not only the hope of the glory of God that supports and comforts us; not only so ; but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope : and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. What did you feel, when your executioners, not being able to obtain your voluntary adoration of their idols, endeavored to obtain it by force; when refusing to offer that incense which they had put into your hands, you sang, Blessed be the Lord who teacheth our hands to war and our fingers to fight? Psal. cxliv. 1. What did you feel, when wrapping your heads in the few rags that persecution had left you, you refused to look at the worship of idols, and patiently submitted to be bruised with bastinadoes, condemned to the gallies, and chained to the oars ? What did you feel, when in that painful situation, you employed the remainder of your strength to look upward and to adore the God of heaven and earth? It is God who supports his creature amidst all these torments, and he alone can infinitely diversify and extend his sensibility. None but he can excite in the soul those ineffable pleasures, of which we have no ideas, and which we can express by no names; but which will be the objects of our eternal praises, if they be the objects of our present faith and hope. It is God, and only God, who can communicate happiness in this manner. None of this power is in the hand of man. Who art thou, spiritual creature, to be afraid of a man?
But, we add further, Who art thou, immortal creature, to be afraid of a man that shall die? The immortality of the soul elevates it above a mortal power, and renders supreme fear a just hom age to none but to that Being whose dominion continues as long as the soul continues to exist. Can we be such novices, I do not say in the school of revelation, but in that of the most superficial reason, as to confound the duration of the soul with the duration of life? Or rather, are we so expert in the art of going from the great to the little, from the little to the less, from the less to the least divia sible parts of time or of matter, as to assign an atom of matter so minute, or an instant of time so inconsiderable, that either of them would express the shortness of a mortal life in comparison of the duration of an immortal soul ? The most accurate teachers of logic and metaphysics forbid the use of the terms length, duration, period, in speaking of eternity. We may say a length, a duration, a period, of a thousand, or of ten thousand millions of ages: but if we speak accurately and philosophically, we cannot say the the duration of eternity, the length of eternity, the periods of eternity ; because all the terms that are applicable to time, are inadequate to eternity. No, no, you would attempt difficulties altogether insurmountable, were you to try to find a quantity so small as to express the shortness of a mortal life in comparison of the duration of an immortal soul. Not only the most expert mathematician is unequal to the attempt; but it implies a contradiction to affirm, that the infinite spirit can do this; because contradiction never is an object of in
power, and because it implies a contradiction to measure the existence of an immortal soul by the duration of a mortal life. It can never be said that a hundred years are the thousandth, or the ten thousandth, or the hundred thousandth part of eternity. The inspired writers, whose language was often as just as their ideas were pure, have told us, that life is as the withering grass ; as a fading flower, Isa. xl. 7. as a declining shadow, Psal. cii. 11. swifter than the rapid and imperceptible motion of a weaver's shuttle, Job vii. 6. They call it a vapor, James iv. 14. that is dissipated in the air; a dream, Psal. Ixxiii. 20. of which no vestige remains when the morning is come, a thought* that vanisheth as soon as it is formed; a phantom ť which walketh in a vain shew. But by all these emblems they meant to excite humility in us; but not to give us any ideas of a proportion between the duration of withering grass, fading flowers, declining shadows, the time of throwing a weaver's shuttle, of the dissipation of a vapor, of the passing of a dream, of the forming and losing of a thought, of the appearance of a phantom, and the eternal existence of an immortal soul. Such is the life of man! and such the duration of the dominion of a tyrant over an immortal soul ! a duration which is only a point in eternity. A tyrant is mortal, his empire expires with his life, and were he to employ the whole course of his life in tormenting a martyr, and in trying to impair his felicity, he would resemble an idiot throwing stones at the lightning, while in an indivisible moment, and with an inconceivable rapidity, it caught his eye as it passed from the east to the west.
But God is the king immortal, 1. Tim. i. 17. and the eternity of his dominion is sufficient, my
* Psal. xc. 9. Heb.
+ Psal. xxxix. 5, 6. Heb.
dear hearers, to demonstrate the truth of the text, and to fix all the possible attention of your minds on this question, Who would not fear thee, O king of nations ? The immortal king is the only fit object of the fear of an immortal soul. There is no empire immortal but that of God, no dominion unchangeable but his. When the soul enters eternity it will be subject only to the God of eternity: 0 my God, of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands: They shall perish, but thou shalt endure ; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment ; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end ! Psal. cii. 24. We must, of necessity, take up again the words, space, duration, period, which we just now discarded for their impropriety, when applied to eternity. During the periods of eternity, through all the duration of the existence of him, who is the same, and whose years shall have no end, the immortal God will for ever produce the happiness, or the misery of an immortal soul. His dominion over it will be eternally exercised in rendering it happy or miserable. The reprobate soul will eternally be the object of the avenging power of this God, for it will eternally be under the hand of its judge. The faithful soul will eternally be the recipient of the beneficence of the immortal God, who is the worthy object, the only object, of solid hope and supreme fear. Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell : yea I say unto you, fear him. Who would not fear thee, 0 King of nations ? Doth not fear appertain to thee alone?
III. Here, my brethren, could I think I had been preaching to marbles, and to rocks; could