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rate their importance. They are the seed of character, and the soul of history. They lift the savage to a sage, and turn the sinner into a saint. They create the difference between the wild man of the woods, and the Newton of the stars. They are the pathway from the kingdom of darkness into the empire of gospel light—the steps by which a sanguinary persecutor rises to be a paragon of meekness, and an apostle of love. They are our masters. As they move, the world moves. The individual ideas sway the individual man ;-the national idea is the national sovereign. An ancient sceptic once referred this fair and million-formed universe to a fortuitous concourse of atoms, which through indefinite ages had been cou ing about the immeasurable fields of space.
We smile at this imbecility. But we are philosophic albeit in tracing up all that is fair and useful in the civilized world of man, to the ideas that have been floating about the fertile brain of humanity from the beginning! Our fleets and our cities, our mechanical ! inventions, our mercantile arrangements, our political systems, our social institutions; all the arts, in fine, that beautify and bless our lives, are but ideas that have taken form; plants that have sprung from the germ of thought. The world of modern civilization, like the Coral Islands, has been reared by the constant working of invisible powers.
But of all ideas to which men are subject, none are so important as the religious. The religious element in man appears to me the chief part of his nature. It is the essence of his being; not an attribute, but the stamina, the foundation of all his powers. It penetrates, underlies, and pervades his entire self; —the reason of his reasoning, the soul of his soul. Hence we find that under no impulse will he move with such potency as under this. Religious excitement will do what no other excitement can-enlist all the faculties on its side, and consecrate all the inner powers to its service. Let a man believe that he is doing God's service, and under the influence of that belief, what will he not do? He will fight with the desperate energy of a crusader, suffer with the indomitable
heroism of a martyr, and labor with the self-immolating spirit of an apostle. Whatever idea, therefore, moves to this extent, is the greatest and this idea is the religious. Other ideas will rouse certain faculties ;—some the intellect, some the imagination, some the emotions; but this the entire man. Other ideas act upon human nature, as the rays of winter upon
the soil ; under their influence only a few germs will be evolved and a few plants will grow ; but this, like the glowing beams of the vernal sun, will penetrate the deepest depths with its quickening energy, cause every seed-bud in nature to burst into life, and expand into fruitfulness. The mystic rod of Moses was not so mighty as the instrument the religious teacher wields. He lives nearest the heart of the world; he is up at the head-springs out of which proceed the issues of life. He turns and tinges the out-gushing streams; his hand is on the helm of the barque, on the mainspring of the machine. God give him light and help him to be faithful ! “ Clothe thy priests with salvation.”
True religious ideas, therefore, wherever proclaimed, are the chief blessings of the world. In Christian temples such ideas are brought to bear with all their force upon the human mind; by them men are made to feel their obligation to be truthful, virtuous, benevolent, and God-like; evil is subdued, hearts are changed, and souls are saved by these ideas. Christian temples therefore are the salt of the earth, they prevent society from becoming thoroughly putrid; they are the lights of the world, they throw their beams upon the hidden deeds of darkness, and make the workers thereof ashamed; they are to society what the tides are to the ocean, what the winds are to the atmosphere; they stir the mass and keep it pure ; the erection of every such place is the opening a new fountain in the desert, the kindling of
new light in the firmament.
IN BUILDING A CHRISTIAN TEMPLE WE EXPRESS THE
IDEA THAT PUBLIC WORSHIP IS TO BE PERPETUATED BY HUMAN INSTRUMENTALITY. It is an undoubted fact God leaves His
cause in a great measure to depend upon man. Why is this ? He could have written the doctrines of the Christian religion on the face of the broad beavens for man of every land to read ; he could have studded the globe with temples. Why has He not done so ? Because the effort required on our part is necessary to our spiritual training. I regard the secular subscriptions required for promoting the cause of religion as amongst the most important "means of grace." Professors have come to think of the means of grace, as consisting merely in hearing sermons, offering prayers, reading the Bible and attending devotional services ; rather than in selfsacrificing effort in the cause of truth and humanity. COLLECTIONS are regarded as evils which men endeavor to avoid as much as possible, rather than as means of spiritual culture which they should hail with gratitude and delight. The man who takes from his purse the full portion he can afford, and from pure motives lays it on the altar of God, secures for himself, by that very effort, more good than he could by the most eloquent sermon ever delivered.
Sermons may give ideas and make impressions, but unless those ideas and impressions take some practical turn, they have done us no real service. It is only as we translate good ideas and feelings into acts, that they really strengthen our characters and subserve our good. The man who contributes of his worldly substance, by that very act weakens the bonds that connect him with matter, and takes a step towards the spiritual and the divine. Hence as a rule we find, that the strongest and the happiest Christians are those who make most sacrifices for the cause of Christ. We have reason, therefore, to thank God, that He has left such work as the building of temples
Had the necessaries of life sprung spontaneously from the earth, so as to require no human labor, the physical energies of man would never have been developed. However large in stature he might have become, he would still have been but a babe in strength. Had knowledge come into our mind without the exercise of our faculties, we should never have known anything of intellectual force. In like manner had everything in religion been done for us, so that no demand would have been made upon our benevolent sympathies, we should be beings of morbid religious sentiment, and without any force or greatness of character. some of the ideas and sentiments expressed in the effort you are now making to build a temple for God.
SUBJECT :- The Universal Heaven of the Good, and the
Special Heaven of Man.
“In my father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”—John xiv. 2–4.
Analysis of Homily the four Hundred and Sebenty-fourth.
Things were now converging to a crisis in the life of Christ and in the spiritual history of humanity. The "hour was come ;"—the hour to which all past economies pointed, and the hour from which all future improvements in human history would derive their impulse and take their date. It is the last meeting of Christ with those few poor men, whom He at first called into His confidence, and made His disciples. He had taken them away from their avocations, social friendships, and secular duties, and wrought such a thorough change in their spiritual tastes, sympathies, and aspirations, that those things that once pleased them had lost their fascination and their charm. By joining Him they raised their country and
in fierce opposition against them. And now, the object of their supreme affection, their blessed guide and guardian, was about leaving them to the mercy of their adversaries. It was their last night with Him, and deep sorrow filled their hearts. Jesus knew their feelings, observed every billow of anguish that now surged through their hearts, and He mercifully condescended to administer the necessary relief.
6 Let not
your hearts be troubled," He says, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me,” &c. Every sentence of this last discourse of our Saviour is fraught with consolation. In all ages the heart of distressed piety has turned to these last words of Christ, and it has never turned in vain. They contain the tranquilizing influences of eternity; aforetaste “of the rest that remain for the people of God”; a rest into which all who now believe, may enter, and enjoy “a peace of mind that passeth all understanding." Christ presents, in this chapter, at least, two great considerations for their comfort. (1) He assures them that in the great universe of His Father there was prepared for them a blessed home; and (2) That although He must leave them, He would send to them the Comforter, who would continue with them always, even unto the end. The words of the text embrace the former consideration, and they lead us to consider : the universal heaven of the good, and the special heaven of man.
I. THE UNIVERSAL HEAVEN OF THE GOOD. This Christ represents as His “Father's house.” The old Temple was called His house; the Christian Church is called His house. He dwells in His people.
But here the reference is to some magnificent district of His great universe. Heaven is a place as well as a state. This is implied in the fact of its being tenanted, and is explicitly taught in the word of God. This place is sometimes represented as a garden, implying that it is the choicest spot in the creation ; sometimes as the city of God, implying that it is a scene of glorious social existence; sometimes as a palace, where the Infinite is on the throne, and holy intelligences are in loyal attendance; sometimes as an “inheritance incorruptible,” &c., and sometimes as the “third heaven," a region beyond the rolling atmosphere, and the starry vault. Here it is called a “ house." Three thoughts are suggested concerning this place :
First : That it is a scene of family life. “My Father's house.” Wherever that region is, all within its precincts are