« AnteriorContinuar »
enough that the groans from that prison reach our ears? and that, through the medium of scripture, their language is conveyed to us? while they cry in ceaseless despair—“Oh! how have we hated instruction, and our heart despised reproof; and now we eat of the fruit of our own way, and are filled with our own devices; now he laugheth at our calamity, and mocketh, seeing our fear is come as desolation, and our destruction as a whirlwind!” Will not these mournful shrieks arrest your attention, and shake your purpose, ye thoughtless and profane! but will you rush headlong to the same ruin? and do you with desperate rashness demand to be “tormented in this flame?” Yet pause one moment—are you prepared to endure the worst? Have you asked yourselves the question which Isaiah puts into the mouth of the sinners and hypocrites in Zion, “Who amongst us shall dwell with devouring fire? Who amongst us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Before you risk your spirit for the fleeting allurements of time, and sacrifice your eternal interests to the gratifications of this transient life, consider how vast is its loss! Before you quite make up your minds that these things are “cunningly devised fables,” calculate your damage, should all this prove at length a tre. mendous reality!
Is “there a spirit in man?”
4. How DILIGENTLY ought it to be cultivatED! It is the happiness of man, that he has the power of increasing his talents, and enlarging the sphere of intellect, by diligence and by application. To the human spirit no boundaries can be prescribed. Has God given thee, O young man, extensive powers? Do not diminish them by sloth: do not destroy them by in
temperance: do not waste them in wanton expenditure: do not direct them to purposes offensive to God, injurious to society, and, in the event, destructive to thyself. Keep them as the sacred deposit of God. Hide not thy talent in a napkin. Bring it forwards for the service of religion, of humanity, and of reason. It will increase by use; and the approbation of God shall be thy reward.
Brethren, “now are we the sons of God, and it doth , not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He, who is our life, shall appear, we shall be made like him: for we shall see him as he is, and appear with him in glory.” The present state of the spirit, in its highest perfection of natural and religious culture, is nothing to the “glory that shall be revealed.” But the time presses on, when bending before the throne of God, it shall blaze forth, in the full perfection of its beauty and immortality.
Such is the scriptural account of the nature and destination of man; and we now make our appeal to you, whether it is not rational and animating. It sanctions all that experience teaches us respecting the natural powers of the mind. It leads us up in grateful remembrance to him, who bestowed the principle of life, at the first, and who continues to impart it through all successive generations. It enhances its value by asserting and proving its immortality. - It renders the man useful to society, in cherishing the love of goodness, and in superinducing hatred to vice, by unveiling the future destination of the spirit to eternal happiness as the free reward of piety, or eternal misery as the just judgment of sin; and thus furnishes a more powerful guard of virtue, and barrier against vice, than all the laws of society could impose and preserve.
. He, then, that is an enemy to Revelation, is an enemy to HMSELF. He that opposes religion, opposes his best interests. He is extinguishing, so far as he can extinguish, the light which is set to guide him home; and to absorb the feeble, inefficient ray of reason and of nature. He is refusing the only cup of consolation put into his hand to counteract the bitter draught of sorrow. He is rolling a great stone over the mouth of his own Sepulchre, and sealing it with his own seal, and making it as sure as he can in the hope (if annihilation can be a subject of hope to the human bosom!) that he shall sleep there for ever: but he shall find, to his utter dismay, that the angel of the Lord can roll away the stone, and that the mandate of heaven will rouse his slumbering dust. He is the enemy of MANKIND. For he is robbing society of the cement which holds it together: of the light which has illumined these latter days: of the source of its intelligence, of its happiness, of its consolations, of its best principles. And he who is the enemy of man, is the enemy of God; for HE is the Parent of the universe: the Friend of man; HE stamped human nature with his own image, and he loves it still. There is but one principle on which we can account for the hatred of the world against revelation; and that is—this very revelation asserted from the first, “the carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” And the very persecutions it has endured, are evidences of its authenticity: the very existence of skepticism, so far as it goes, is an unanswerable argument against infidelity —because it was foretold and accounted for, by the Bible itself, at the very moment of its promulgation.
One should have imagined that the gospel of Jesus, could have had no enemies. It breathes only peace. It has but one object—to promote the felicity of mankind. It sweetens every connexion of human life. It strengthens the cause of philanthropy. The only favor it entreats is, that men would love themselves; and while it pours a thousand blessings on the present transient existence, and lightens all the trials of the way, it shews wretched, erring man, “the path of life.” And yet every man's hand is lifted up against it! From its birth to the present hour, every age has blended all its wisdom and all its force, to crush Christianity. Had it required the man to sacrifice “his first born for his transgression, the fruit of his body for the sin of his soul”—who would have wondered that nature should rise up againstit?—Yet strange to say— the horrible religion of the gentiles, which actually did require this unnatural offering, was supported, and defended against Christianity, with vehement obstinacy. The rage of man, on the one side, exhausted itself in defence of altars on which their children had been immolated; and on the other, was directed against a religion which hastened to overthrow these blood-stained altars, and which said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven!”—Had it destroyed the peace and existence of society: had it scattered war and bloodshed over the earth: had it trampled on the dearest rights of human nature—why then, some reason might be given for the wrath of man against it. But it disseminates “peace and good will to man,” abroad upon earth, while it brings in a revenue of “glory to God.” We can take its most furious persecutor by the hand, when he raves, “Away with it from the earth!” and say, “Why? What evil hath it done?” And he shall be unable to assign a single reason for his conduct: unable to lay one sin to its charge: unable to prove that in any one instance it is injurious to society: unable to deny, that it has been productive of the most beneficial effects— that it has removed all the clouds of heathenism—that it has extinguished the fires through which wretched parents caused their chiidren to pass, and in which the fruit of their body was consumed—that it has given to the world a new and perfect code of morality—that it has thrown open the gates of mortality—that it has removed the bitterness of death—and that it has established, solely and unaided, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead: he shall be compelled to admit all this, and yet, without a single reason, merely from his natural enmity to it, he will continue to despise, to reject, and to persecute it! Humanity is concerned in the progress of this religion: Humanity raises her voice in favor of revelation, and entreats, “Rise up, Lord, let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thec, flee before thee!”