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lastly, in the prerogatives of martyrdom. These, if I may so express myself, are four jewels of his
1. Notions of shame and glory are not arbitrary, they are founded on the essence of those things, to which they are related ; on these relations they depend, and not on the caprice of different understandings. My first relation is that, which I have to God, it is the relation of a creature to his Creator. The duty of this relation is that of the most profound submission. My glory is to discharge this duty, and it is my shame to violate it. My second relation is that, which I have o men, a relation formed between beings formed in the same image, subject to the same God, and exposed to the same miseries. The duty of this relation is that of treating men as I wish they would treat me, or, to use the words of Jesus Christ, of doing to them whatsoever I would they should do to me, Matt. vii. 12. It is my glory to discharge this duty, and my shame to violate it, and so of the rest. These ideas are not arbitrary, they are founded in the nature of things. No mortal, no potentate hath a right to change them. If then the great regard me with disdain, when I answer to my relations, and discharge the duties of them, I will not be ashamed. The contempt, which this conduct brings upon me, falls back upon my despiser ; because shame is a necessary consequence of violating these duties, and because glory is a necessary consequence of practising them.
2. The martyrdom of morality is rewarded by the testimony of conscience, and by the ineffable joys, with which the heart is overwhelmed. While the tribunals of the great, condemn the christian, an inward judge absolves him, and the decrees of the former, are reversed by the latter. Our re
joicing is this, the testimony of our conscience. I suffer, nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, 2 Cor. i. 12. 2 Tim. i. 12.
3. The moral martyr is rewarded by the approbation of good people. Indeed suffrages will never be unanimous. There will always be in the world two opposite systems, one of virtue, another of sin. The partizans of a system of sin will always condemn the friends of virtue, as the friends of virtue will always condemn the partizans of sin. You cannot be considered in the same light by two such different classes of judges. What the first account infamous, the last call glory; and the last will cover you with glory for what the first call your shame. If you bę obliged to choose one of the two parties to judge you, can you possibly hesitate a moment on which to fix your choice? The prophet indemnified himself by an intercourse with the people of God for the injury done him by the great, I am, said he, a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts, Psal. cxix. 63. Suffer me to sanctify here the prophane praise, which Lucan gave Pompey; The Gods are for Cæsar, but Cato is for Pompey. Yes, the approbation of Cato is preferable to that of the gods! I mean those imaginary gods, who frequently usurp the rights of the true God.
In fine, The martyr for morality is rewarded by the prerogatives of martyrdom. It would be inconvenient, in the close of a sermon, to discuss a question, that would require a whole discourse: I mean that concerning degrees of glory: but, that, if there be degrees of glory, the highest will be bestowed on martyrs, will admit of no dispute. This, I think, may be proved from many passages of scripture. St. John seems to have taken pains to establish this doctrine in the Revelation ; He that over
cometh, and keepelh my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of a potler shall they be broken to shivers, chap. ii. 26, 27. this regards martyrs, and this seems to promise them pre-eminence. Behold I come quickly, hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out, and I will rorile upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, chap. iii. 11, 12. this regards martyrs, and this seems to promise them pre-emi
What are these which are arrayed in while robes ? and whence came they? These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, chap. vii. 13, 14, 15. This regards martyrs, and this also seems to promise them pre-eminence.
Christians, perhaps your minds are offended at the gospel of this day. Perhaps you are terrified at the career, which we have been opening to you. Perhaps you are inwardly murmuring at this double martyrdom.
Ah! rather behold the great cloud of witnesses, with which you are compassed about, and congratulate yourselves that you fight under the same standard, and aspire at the same
Above all, look unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith, who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, and who, as the same apostle, Paul, says, not only endured the cross, but also despised the shame. Hark, he speaks to you from the goal, and in this animating language addresses you, If any man hear my voice, I will come in to him. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne, Rev. iii. 20, 21. Happy you, if you be accessible to such noble motives! Happy we, if we be able to say to God, in that solemn day, in which he will render to every one according to his works; I have preached righteousness in the great congregation. Lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest ! I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart, I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation, I have not concealed thy loving-kindness! Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord! God grant us this grace. Amen.