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Our Saviour's compassion over this sinful city is but an emblem of his piety towards every sinner : And his conjuring it to repent, with so much affection, demonstrates his fincere defire of our conversion. But then the conduct of Jerusalem is too lively a picture of ours : We are as insensible of our sad condition, as she ; as rebellious to God's grace; as deaf to his invitations to repentance. St. Austin cries out: *'Tis a sight worthy of admiration to see God continually labouring for the repentance of a finner : He enlightens his understanding ; inflames his will; alarms his fears with the prospect of pains, his hopes with the view of pleasures. But then it is more strange, that we should resist these charms; that we should not let fall one tear to lament our sins, whilst he pours forth torrents to bewail them.
If my ftate deserves thy tears, O Saviour, they certainly deserve my own.
Thou knowelt the condition of a Ginner : Thou wilt condemn his vices, if impenitent; and crown his virtues, if penitent. Thou didst create the fire that will torment him: Thou knoweft its violence : Thou didft prepare the glory thy saints enjoy ; and therefore doft comprehend its value. In fine, both must be extraordinary ; because the return of a sinner causes tears of joy in the angels; and impenitence, those of forrow in thyself. O! let thy grief for my sins persuade me to detest them, and let me contribute to the joy of the faints and angels by a sincere conversion,
The tears of our Saviour teach us not only to deplore our own sins, but also those of our neighbour. It is certain, the quality of brother calls for tenderness, and the precept of charity for com
* Magnum speculum videre Deum occupatum pro te. S. Aug.
pasion : Their blindness deserves pity; and the dangers they are exposed to, tears. But we must not stand at a bare compassion ; but endeavour to help them out of the precipice. First, pour out tears to appease God's anger, and obtain mercy for them by works of charity and mortification, According to your circumstance, add good counsel, and pious instructions: remind him of the danger, and propose all those motives that charity Thaíl suggest. Oftentimes a pious conversation works more than a learned fermon; and an advice from a friend, than an exhortation from a priest.
O! how grateful to God is the conversion of a finner! He that contributes to this charitable work, to the best of his abilities, will never fall fhort of a blessing. Ged designs heaven for those, who lead others thither.
Thy labours here on earth, O God, to draw fouls to thyself, declare their value ; and the price of their delivery from bondage, thou didft pay upon the cross, manifests the love thou dost bear them! I can therefore do nothing more acceptable to thy majesty than to implore thy mercy for those, who stray from thy service, and to apply all my care to reduce them to a sense of their duty. I will use all my power to correct my inferiors, and all the means prudence shall fuggeft, and zeal infpire nie with, to reform my equals
. And when my labour proves ineffectual; I will have recourse to thee by prayers. The heart of every sinner is in thy hands, as well as those of princes. It is in thy power to turn those of stone into wax, and to draw tears of repentance from dry eyes, as well as streams of water from a rock.
Our Saviour entered into the temple, when he had deplored the ruin of the city ; and thence he whipt out the buyers and sellers. My house, says he, is a house of prayer, but we have made it a den of thieves. This not only condemns the practice of the Jews, who traded in their temple ; but also of all those Christians, who frequent the churches sometimes out of human motives ; and much more, if they are led thither by any criminal designs. The church is a house of prayer ; a place dedicated to the service of God, and consecrated to his honour : A place, where we ought to obtain pardon of past offences, not to be prophaned by new ones, We must therefore enter with respect, and not only keep an exterior decency, but an interior recollection. We must not entertain our thoughts with vain or secular affairs ; but adore that Majeity, who is more immediately present to hear our prayers, to receive our petitions, and to punish our irreverence. Permit me not, O God, to insult thee in thy own house, and to offer thee that disrespect, I dare not offer a prince, who has nothing different from myself but his quality. Thou art my God: To thee I owe my being; and from thee I expect my Salvation.
1. EPISTLE to the Corinthians, Chap. xii. Verse
2. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as je were led.
3. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus accursed : and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
4. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5. And there are differences of administrations, but the fame Lord.
6. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same Ged, which worketh all in all,
7. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
The MORAL REFLECTION.
HANKS be to God, there appear no more
idols in Europe ; they stand no more on altars to receive worship. So that the first verse of this epistle seems not to concern us.
Ye know that Je were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols. But tho' they concern us not in the literal fense, in a moral they do. For they advise us not to relapse into fin, when once we have renounced it, either by baptisın, or by a sincere repentance.
The object of every disorderly passion, is a kind of idol ; and when we embrace it, we pay an act of adoration, and place it on an altar in our hearts, tho' not in a temple: and, what is worse, after a folenn detestation, that is, after repentance, we fall into the same idolatry: we commit those sins so lately deplored, by doating on all those very objects that ensnared us.
Before we fall into new disorders, we should put to ourselves the Apostle's question, What fruit had ye in those that are past? Alas! what fruit can we reap
from sin, but a short satisfaction, and a long repentance ? but the forfeiture of our innocence, with that of heaven? Indeed, we promised ourselves some happiness; but how can we find it in our greatest misery? thorns cannot bear grapes, nor sin bring forth any felicity.
This we have experienced by frequent disappointments : why will we return to the same error? why will we suffer ourselves to be imposed upon by sense and passion ?
No, no, it is most true, O God, what St. Austin declared: we can find no happiness, when separated from thee by sin; nor feel any misery, when uni
ted to thee by charity. One day spent in thy fervice gives more content, than a thousand in riot. How many have learnt this by experience, and yet how few draw advantage from the knowledge ? We return to those dumb idols, ambition, injustice, and revenge, that have so often deluded us, that have promised pleasure, and regaled us with trouble, remorse, and shame.
We have often repented. Ought not the same motives, that perswaded us to leave the state of sin, with-hold us from relapsing into it? The fear of a sudden death, the severity of God's justice, the torments of hell, and the joys of heaven, moved us to forsake all criminal engagements. Are sudden deaths less frequent? Is God less severe ? Are the torments of hell more supportable, or the joys of paradise less valuable than they were ?
Alas! these remain the fame, but I am become less sensible. These things, that struck me then with horror, now make no impression. The custom of finning has wore off the foulness of sin; and my dotage on the present, all apprehension of the future. My state, O God, is desperaie, unless thou doft break those chains that fetter
The sin of Adam has plunged his pofterity into so desperate a weakness, that we cannot move one step towards heaven without the help of grace, which Christ purchased for us by his bitter death and passion. No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. And our Saviour tells us also, without his asistance we can do nothing. All that is virtuous in us, even our thoughts, is the effect of thy bounty, my God: but my offences are the product of my own malice. In this state of corruption, I enjoy a kind of liberty more fatal than slavery, i. e. I can offend thee, my God, but am unable