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WORLDS SENT OUT TO ILLUSTRATE THE PATH THAT MINDS SHOULD TAKE.
IN imagination I am sometimes thrown back to the period of creation when God spoke and it was done-when he commanded and it stood fast. And as I am stationed near the throne, and as I hear the order issued, Let there be light-let worlds be formed, and let infinite space welcome these monuments of creating power, I cannot wonder, then, angels should gaze upon the scene with untold amazement, and attune their harps to lofty song. Each sun, each planet, each family of worlds, as it sprung into being, received an impulse from the hand of its Creator, and sped its way into the orbit for which it was destined. And there it revolves in its own sphere, and revolves upon its own axis, and again revolves in blessed union with the whole family of systems, by an arrangement how complete, by an order how harmonious; and by a counterpoise of powers, which at once retains and impels it, how perfect! By the one, it would fly from its orbit, and wing its way for ever from the sphere in which it was stationed; and by the other, it would come into speedy collision with its fellow orb, and then with other orbs, till the ruin of the entire universe should be complete, and the chaos perfect. Oh, how amazing the system of creation! What a theme for song! How it displays the wisdom of the power of the incomprehensible Architect! Had the original impulse been greater or less, had it been differently apportioned, without that wondrous counterpoise which now balances the whole, this fair world of ours might have been whirled beyond the solar influence; might have been wafted into blackness and darkness, and been doomed to perpetual sterility, and perhaps to everlasting winter. But now, curbed and restrained, and its pathway marked out by the finger of God, he reserves it as the theatre for the display of his glory. Creation unfolds to us his wisdom and power; but these constitute only a part of his perfections. Would we discern his justice, his mercies, his grace, his love, we are directed to the cross. This is the sun and centre of a system infinitely more glorious than that which inspired the first anthem of the angelic choir. We can sing of creation as the cradle of our
being; but Redemption lifts our song to nobler strains. Countless myriads, washed in the blood of the Lamb, will participate for ever in those joys which are unalterable and full of glory, and behold, with unceasing and adoring wonder, the ways and the perfections of God, as unfolded in his everlasting covenant.
I now come to the application of these remarks. The impulse which was given to the world, in the original creation, not unaptly represents the effect of those instructions which are received under the parental roof, in the Sabbath school, and by the ministrations of the sanctuary.
Take, for instance, the Sabbath school teacher, and mark his attitude. He stands the director of immortal minds. He fits them for their destined course, and gives the impulse which propels them in their future orbit-not unerringly-because opposing powers, counteracting influences, a multitude of adverse attractions, all contend for the mastery, and form a mighty combination to impede and divert, and throw off those minds into other circles, where they will flash, and redden, and glare for a while, like wandering stars, and then explode, and be lost in the blackness of darkness for ever. Oh, what an attitude, that gives to a planet its impulse, and wafts it in its orbit, and balances the powers, which, while they curb and rein it within prescribed limitations, urge it on in regular and systematic progression. But the course of planets must cease after a few cycles of years. The whole system of worlds, when they shall have run their round, and answered the purposes of their destination, must perish. Nothing is doomed to live, to survive the general wreck, but the immortal mind. And as the impulse which that mind receives affects it throughout all its future being, oh, how mighty the enterprise, how solemn the responsibility, of giving it a direction which it must feel for ever. Better annihilate a world than impress upon mind a false character, and send it whirling in some irregular or eccentric orbit. Better that the brightest planet that shines should be hurled from its sphere, and sent lawless through the heavens, and be sunk in everlasting night, than for an immortal mind to receive such an impulse as would dash it, with maddening and unhallowed energy, against other minds, and mark its own pathway to ruin by the prostration of other spirits, which are also destined to live for ever. It is not the loss merely of a single soul; this were but a speck in the account; it may be a ruined generation. And this ruin may spread in a wider and still wider circumference, and roll on, from generation to generation, with an accelerated impulse, till it
is announced that time shall be no more. But whence its origin? It is traced to some unfaithful teacher in a Sabbath school--to some wrong direction there-the result of some unhallowed impulse, which this same teacher had received from some mistaken guide, and stereotyped to live through all the generations of men, down to the funeral of the world. What then is the attitude of the teacher? How can he take his station at the goal, and give the impulse, without spending a thought upon its amazing results? Every one that he sends forth into the world bears some impress which he has imparted, some character which he has given, and is better or worse, will soar higher in the realms of light, or sink deeper in despair, by having participated in his instructions, and received from him an onward impulse. Oh, that all teachers would remember their responsibility, and strive to send forth their entire classes in spheres of usefulness and duty here, that they may shine hereafter like the "brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever." And oh, when the teacher shall be able to trace the history of these immortal minds, which he put upon the track, and to know to what extent they have been shipwrecked and foundered, and sunk and lost, through the agency which he has communicated, I can readily conceive how he might wish that he had been a devil, rather than to have occupied the fearful position of a teacher of a Sabbath school, and there betrayed his trust.
I think this subject susceptible of still further illustration, from the various disposition of the worlds which God has made, the laws by which they are governed, the order in which they move, and the wondrous adjustments by which they are perfectly balanced in all their relative positions, and roll on, each in its course, and each contributing to the interest and harmony of the amazing whole. In imagination I have supposed, perhaps quite presumptuously, the throne of the Eternal to be the very centre of the universe, around which all worlds, and systems of worlds, perpetually revolve. And as my mind ranges from this centre, through the fields of illimitable space, it lights upon an untold multitude of objects that fill it with amazement. The number of these heavenly orbs, their varied magnitudes, their respective distances from each other, and from the common centre, and systems upon systems, beyond the computation of Angelic powers; each with a centre. of its own, yet each chained to all the rest with unseen but indissoluble bands, and all obedient to the impulse which first sent them careering in their respective orbits. Oh, what a theme for the most enlarged, and delightful, and profound contemplation!
I love to lose myself in the immensity of the works of God, and unite with the devout Psalmist in singing, "When I consider the heavens, the work of thy hand, and the moon and the stars that thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou shouldst visit him?"
But there is a grand centre in the moral as well as in the physical universe. In the revolutions of worlds, you will mark that no one stands in another's way-no one takes another's path-no one envies another its nearness or its remoteness from the throne, and none is displeased that others should have larger dimensions than they, or move in a more extended orbit, or shine with a more refulgent splendor. There is no collision between these heavenly orbs--no interference-no discord. What a lesson to the Church, and to the world! The grand fountain of impulse and attraction to the moral system, is God. The great love wherewith he loved the world, is the central influence which impels to every proper feeling, and every noble action. The love of God is the golden chain which binds together all the heavenly hosts; and as it is let down to earth and embraced by men, it unites the Church Militant, and the Church Triumphant, and the Angelic Choir, in one blessed and harmonious fraternity. The manifestation of the love on the part of God, is in the gift of his Son. He is the centre of the entire system. His Spirit, as in the original creation, first moulded, and then threw into their respective spheres, all who can lay any just claim to the endeared and ennobling appellation of saints. They bear His blessed image. They shine by His light. They move by his power, and, receiving their impulse from Him, they are borne onward with the greater velocity the nearer their approach to the throne. A brighter light also gilds their path, and a more dazzling glory. And oh, that the path of all were that of the just, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day!
But some Christians, with very eccentric orbits, will play the comet. Now they approach the centre of attraction, with amazing rapidity. They are the subjects of universal wonder: what a train marks their flight! What apprehensions are exerted lest they should come within the earth's attractions, as they do within its orbit, and burn up the world! And who knows but some comet may be commissioned to fulfil the decree of heaven, respecting the final consummation of all things? But they soon pass away, and as they recede, the light which they emit grows fainter, until they are lost to the vision, and are lost for years and for centuries, ere they return to excite wonder and apprehension afresh. So
with Christians, who dazzle and glitter and carry with them a train for a little season, and then fly off and abscond, and are forgotten. The unequableness of their movements, affords just cause for apprehension, lest they should prove wandering stars, to whom is reserved the mist of darkness. The alternations of intense heat and intense cold, how very uncomfortable! How the one completely unnerves the soul, while the other locks up its energies in the frosts of winter!
Other Christians, like planets, move in eccentric orbits; but in orbits slightly eccentric. They shine brighter, and are borne onward with greater rapidity at one period, than at another; yet not to such an extent as to elicit very marked attention. There is a regularity, and an order, and a harmony in all their movements, beautiful for simplicity, and commanding veneration; and as planets have a centre around which they revolve, so has the Christian; and Christians are moreover centres of influence and attraction to others. No one liveth to himself, and no one dieth to himself. No one is so feeble, or so insignificant, or so isolated, as to render his existence and character of no effect. He is the subject of influence. He exerts an influence, just as the earth attracts the moon, and the moon the earth. The system of nature, how beautiful, how harmonious! But not more so than the Christian system, in which justice and mercy meet together, and righteousness and peace embrace each other. And when Christianity shall be thoroughly established in the hearts of all; when its principles shall be thoroughly understood by all; and when its high and holy motives shall influence all, what a blessed concert there will be of feeling, of heart, and of action. There will be no collision, no strife, no discord-Ephraim will not envy Judah, nor Judah vex Ephraim. All will move on in harmony around their respective centres of influence, in larger of more limited spheres; and all will move on around the great sun and centre of the moral system, the Lord Jesus Christ, impelled by one motive-the love of God; and having only one theme for the employment of their harps through all the ages of eternity. And thus the great love wherewith he hath loved us, and given himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.