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nature was at their service. Christ had only to speak and kind nature would yield whatever was required. To Peter, He said, “Go thou to the sea and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up. And when thou hast opened his mouth thou shalt find a piece of money ; that take and give unto them for me and thee.” He might have sent to the field as well as to the sea, to the plant as well as to the fish; in fact to anything in any part of nature, and He would have had whatever He needed. The miracle symbolizes this glorious truth; That nature is at the service of the good, and is ready at any time to yield to devout generous souls just as much as is required, and no more. Christ enunciated one of the most settled laws of His providential government, when He said “Give, and it shall be given unto you."
Brother, all nature will help thee to be just, generous, and magnanimous, in thy conduct towards society and the world. As she pours her bright beams and genial influences upon all, fans the breathing lungs both of the evil and the good with her waves of vital air, she helps thee to be generous by her example ; and as she is the ever-loyal liege of thy Great Master, she will help thee at His bidding, by yielding up of her treasures whatever thy love-expanding heart and liberal hand may require.
Great Nature, to great souls declares, .
Germs of Thought.
SUBJECT :-Horeb; or, Great Mercies from unlikely Sources.
“ Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink."--Exodus xvii. 6.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Twentieth. The principle, I take from this miraculous incident in the wilderness history of the Jewish people is, that great mercies often spring from most unexpected sources. What is a greater natural blessing than water ? and where is there a more unlikely place to find it than in a flinty rock ?
Let us for a moment direct you for illustrations of this principle to the two great provinces of human life :—the secular and the spiritual.
I. THE SECULAR DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN HISTORY WILL FURNISH ABUNDANT ILLUSTRATIONS OF THIS PRINCIPLE. By secular mercies I mean, whatever in intellectual discoveries, mechanical inventions, commercial enterprizes, social reforms, political movements, tend to promotė man's physical wellbeing as a citizen of the earth.
First : Does intelligence conduce to this end ? Undoubtedly knowledge tends to make man secularly happy. How often then do you find streams of intelligence gushing from the most unlikely sources. Demosthenes was a stammererwould you expect him to furnish the finest specimens of oratory ? Homer and Milton were blind-would you expect them to furnish the sublimest visions that ever charmed the souls of mortals ? Shakspere was the son of a butcherwould you expect him to furnish the most soul-quickening and revealing of all uninspired books ? Would you expect the art of printing, that has opened the fountain of know
ledge, at the door of every family of the civilized world, to have sprung from a poor mechanic in Strasburg ? Would you have expected the invention of manufacturing machinery, which has multiplied the resources of human comfort a hundred-fold, to have started from the brain of a poor barber in Yorkshire ? But examples of this kind, illustrating the principle that great mercies often spring from unlikely sources, are almost innumerable. Streams from flinty rocks.
Secondly: Do philanthropic institutions conduce to the secular well-being of man? Unquestionably. If you look to the origin of your Temperance Societies, your Asylums, your Provident Associations, &c., &c., all of which are streams to bless the world, you will find that they have for the most part sprung from the most unlikely sources—flinty rocks.
Thirdly : Does political liberty conduce to the secular well. being of man ? Undoubtedly yes. Who has won it for the peoples of the world ? Who shall win it for the Jews in Egypt? Would you have expected that the little babe found in the ark of bulrushes on the Nile was to become their deliverer? Who shall free Europe from Papal tyranny? Would you expect that the poor son of a miner, who sang ballads in the street for a livelihood, would become their deliverer ? Who shall deliver England from the tyranny of kingcraft ? Would you expect that a brewer in a little country town would be the man ? The political liberty of mankind has come mostly from unlikely sources. The waters have come from the flinty rock.
II. THE SPIRITUAL DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN HISTORY WILL FURNISH STILL GREATER ILLUSTRATIONS OF THIS PRINCIPLE. Here the principle appears in far more striking aspects :First: See it exemplified in the Spiritual Deliverer of
Is there to be found a system by which a sinful world is to be justified, made holy and happy; by which the power, guilt, and consequence, of sin are to be removed for ever from the world, and by which man and God shall be
again brought together in unbroken and delightful fellowship? This would be confessedly the greatest of all achievements. But how is it to be obtained ? Who is to fulfil this “desire of all nations ?” Go to Bethlehem and
will find a babe in the manger, the son of a poor carpenter, who grew up to be “a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief," and to die at last, a malefactor upon the cross. This is the Being that is to give the world these wonderful mercies ;—this is the rock from whence these streams will flow.
“This rock," says Paul, “is Christ "—is like Christ. How does it resemble Him? (1) In the value of the blessings which emanate therefrom-which are most needed and most adequate. The world needs them, and they are sufficient for the world. It resembles him (2) In the method employed to secure the blessing, the rock was smitten. Christ was smitten. “He was wounded,” &c. But the most striking part of resemblance is (3) In the fact under notice, the unlikelihood of the source.
That poor Galilean seems as unlikely to benefit the world, as that rock at first sight to allay the thirst of the Israelites for forty years.
Secondly: See it exemplified in the first preachers of the Gospel. Who are the men who are to bear the Gospel through the world? Where were the men selected from? The seats of statesmen or the chairs of scholars ? No. From poor fishermen. How are the great blessings of Christianity to be proclaimed to the heathen world? Go to that young man who is witnessing Stephen's martyrdom—who hurries to Damascus, &c.
Thirdly: See the principle exemplified in the missionary enterprise. Who is to bear the Gospel to the Heathen ? Carey, the shoemaker-Williams, the blacksmith-Moffat, the gardener, &c.
This subject suggests (1) Good ground for trusting God in the greatest difficulty. You may be famishing with thirst and there may be nothing before you but the dry and Ainty rock; but do not despair, God can turn the rock into a fountain. “Though you walk through the valley," &c. The subject serves (2) To remove all ground for glorying in your usefulness. God could make the meanest creatures do all and more than you can accomplish. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise,” &c. 1 Cor. i. 27, 29.
SUBJECT :—Christ in the House of Simon; or, the Technical
and the Spiritual in Religion.
" And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind himweeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him : for she is a sin. ner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors : the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty,” &c.—Luke vii. 36—50.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Twenty-first.
The Bible records with minuteness, events which the secular historian would either overlook or deem unworthy of his pages. The fluctuations of commerce, the discoveries of science, the progress of civilization, the revolutions of governments, the birth, movements, and death, of those who wield the destinies of empires, are the subjects seized with earnestness, and narrated with enthusiasm and eloquence by the mere annalists of this world. They have neither the faculty to discern, nor the heart to feel, the importance of those history-forming events, that are ever transpiring in the hidden world of mind. The religious emotion, the quiet thoughts, the earnest resolves, forming a crisis in the history of individual souls, and giving a new impulse and direction to humanity, they seldom if ever notice.