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of Israel. He divided Jordan by his power, and established his colony upon the soil of his foes. He selected a few from the ranks of his people, and fixing their gaze toward the coming future, he drew aside the veil which concealed the latter days. They saw with prophet's ken a sufferer hang upon a cross. They saw the blood that gushed from his wounds. They saw the light that beamed from his soul, flashing through the earth and the heavens. Before the power that went out from the dying Christ they saw types and shadows fleeing away - pagan temples crumbling to dust ---souls by millions leaping from the chains of superstition into the glorious liberty of the sons of God - dynasties and kingdoms falling, rising, forming and partaking of a new, a strange, a potent life. They saw, and wrote, and shouted, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.” And he came as was predicted. This sinful world saw its Creator veiled in humanity ; saw him “without sid," the model of perfection; saw him assert by his miracles his sovereignty over nature's laws; heard the gracious words that fell from his lips; saw him die amid the convulsions of nature, and rise in triumph from the tomb. A risen Christ walked abroad in the midst of his foes, and mingled with his disciples, breathing kindness and consolation to their hearts. Sinners upon earth verily saw their Lord and Saviour ascending to heaven! What a demonstration of the reality of souls, and of resurrection-bodies --- of the spirit-world, and our relation to it! What displays of goodness bad passed before the eyes of men! What redeeming merit had been concentrated in his death! What triumph in the fulfillment of prophecy, and the demonstration of the whole Christian scheme! What wonder that the truth established amid such displays of love and power proves too mighty for the "gates of hell ?" "Thus was this great expedient, upon which all others depended, tried in the sight of angels and men.
But others were to follow. "I will send the Comforter" was his gracious promise to his desponding disciples—" I will send the Comforter" -- the glorious announcement to a world in anguish! And the Comforter came, but no mortal could tell the extent of the gist. He was light to the benighted—reproof to the obdurate --consolation to the sorrowing-sanctification to the impure! In short, a constant message from eternity, calling spirits away from this stranger-land to a congenial home in heaven--the might of God rescuing souls from the grasp of the Devil--a guide to immortality so bright with the effulgence of Divinity as to light up the path of the pilgrim through time and the grave to the land of the blessed.
And when Christ had gone, it was found that he had left behind him the elements of a holy fellowship, a spiritual brotherhood, a living church; that these, by their own celestial affinities, approached each other — combined and formed an imperishable unity, the outward manifestation of which was the kingdom of God on earth, visible to men. Thenceforward, as before, it should be impossible to say there is no God in history. His very habitation should be palpable to the senses, and his reign upon earth a living, distinguishable, powerful fact, to deny which, would be to assail all faith in verities, and resolve universal being into phantasms; and thus the church has stood, varying in her external forms, but indestructible in her essential being — a veritable theocracy in the midst of anarchy, despotism, and misrule — "the light of the world"-"a city set upon a hill."
This Divine institution included many of the gracious expedients relied upon by the Saviour, for the redemption of man. Her sacraments were not only signs and seals of the spiritual covenant between Christ and her members—they were monuments of her organization, her principles and her heroism. To this day they attract the gaze of a sinking world, as a light upon the shore does that of the tempest-tossed mariner. They defy the shafts of infidelity, and bless the world by their support and diffusion of Divine truth.
Her Bible had been early commenced. “Holy men of old wrote and spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." The Son of God took his place in the revelation. The apostles recorded their message, and the sacred canon closed. Like the death of Christ in relation to his atoning acts, this Holy Book is central in relation to the means of moral illumination; it is pure light directly from Heaven; it is God teaching by language ! declaring the attributes of his nature-the rights of his sovereignty-the rebellion of man, and the way of salvation! Appealing by law to his sense of duty — by threatenings, to his fears -- and by promises, to his hopes; addressing his reason by the loftiness of its truths, the force of its diction, the grasp of its literature, and the sublimity of its science - to his sensibilities, by the benevolence of its proposals, the energy of its pathos, and the power of its love. With these mastering qualities it is sent through the church into all the world, a Divine expedient for the salvation of the race.
Her ministry is appointed by Jehovah himself. They are men of like passions with ourselves, sent out to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. From the lips of our brethren, whose integrity we know, we hear intelligence from the spiritual world from the throne of grace -- from God, the Holy Trinity. From hearts imbued with a Saviour's love they proclaim mercy for sinners. By Divine authority they summon us to a holy life; they teach us how to glorify God; they offer us peace and triumph in death, and eternal happiness in heaven. From the sacred oracles they instruct
, convince, and persuade us. They “ warn us night and day with tears" to "flee from the wrath to come" -- to make our calling and election sure. What a gracious expedient is this!
And besides all these, the Redeemer will use the governments of earth for the purposes of his mercy. Monarchs and subjects, consciously or unconsciously, shall conspire to prepare the way for bis triumphant march. "The very wrath of man shall praise him;" the laws of nature shall obey his will: science shall bring her ample treasures, and lay them submissively at his feet. Surely the perseverance of Christ is varior arpedients.
4. It is against great difficulties. Sin, of course, in all its forms, stands opposed to the work attempted by the Saviour. With this Satanic influence is largely combined. "But there are four discouraging facts in the habits of men, which must be considered.
The first is the earthliness of sinners. However it may have been originally, it cannot be denied that there is at present a strong affinity between man and this lower world. To matter far more naturally than to spirit he looks for the relief of his woes, and the gratification of his desires. The "things that are seen, have far more power to attract and charm him than " the things that are not seen." Hence the acquisition of treasure here occupies much more of his attention than the laying up of treasure in heaven! What he shall eat, and drink, and wear absorb bim so completely, that he has no time to study how he may glorify God! Life here is so dear to him, that he will not inquire how he may prepare to die, nor what is the value to him of life eternal! Indeed, such is his exceeding earthliness, that the most powerful influences from above can only rouse him to a few moments' reflection upon the wants of his higher nature, when, like the needle to the pole, he turns at once to his worldly pursuits, and grasps his treasures with the tenacity of despair. This is no extraordinary development of fallen humanity. It is peculiar to no age, to no land. From as far back as the dark history of man can be traced, it has mastered his intellect, absorbed his sensibilities, and controlled his will. The Saviour has met it at every step, in his persevering attempts to “set judgment in the earth.” Hard, indeed, is the struggle by which it is overcome: ever and anon it rallies to the conflict; and after all the triumphs over it for near six thousand years, see what amazing strength it still possesses! Amongst the millions of earth, where moments are spent in spiritual employments, ages are devoted to earthly! For one who in thought, and feeling, and action, claims kindred with the skies, you meet with thousands who assert affinity to the earth. The perseverance of Christ is against all this, and still he is “not discouraged."
Next, the fondness for the ideal, in preference to the real. It is a painful fact that men are living, in the main, in an ideal world --are practicing upon themselves a gross and nearly universal fraud-exchanging, as sources of gratification, the Divine realities of time and eternity, for the phantoms of nature and sin. It is not the resources of his present condition, but of an imaginary future one upon which he depends for his happiness. No real form of home, or equipage, or power, is the model of his satisfied state. In any of these there is enough to offend his taste, to degrade his ambition, to cramp his genius, and, upon the great whole, to reduce him to a level with his fellows. He soon learns enough of the trials and defects and dangers of any man he knows, not to wish exactly his position, and hence, an ideal existence, the forms of which are constantly floating before him, absorbs his attention, and enlists his feelings. To obtain this, he practically throws away the realities which alone deserve his consideration, and can render him happy. Behold now the extremes of his folly and the greatness of his errors! Total depravity is his real condition, but high moral excellence his ideal. Enmity against God is bis real habit of mind, but high reverence for the principles of rectitude his ideal! Danger of eternal damnation his real state, but almost certainty of heaven his ideal! When the duty of repentance is urged home upon his conscience, his fancied security defeats the effort. Despite the real claims of reciprocity, he prefers the imaginary pleasures of injustice, fraud, and oppression! If the reality of the Divine favor be placed in competition with the ideal benefits of human, he prefers the latter--the unreal joys of sin to the sublime pleasures of holiness—the fancied glories of earth to the changeless glories of heaven!
Nations too run the round of dreaming life, and grasping the shadow lose the prize. The permanence and splendor of empire are placed now in the triumph of the monarch, and now in the elevation of the people--now in concession, and now in grinding to the earth all aspirants for liberty--now in the ignorance, and now in the education of the masses—now in peace and now in war. They seek relief from the evils of the social state at one time in action, at another in reaction—now in enacting, and now in repealing laws-now in constructing, and now in destroying constitutions--now in the stringent regime of a religious establishment, and now in the grossest licentiousness. They fly at one moment to universal faith, at another to universal skepticism. Thus they forget utterly the sovereign power of that simple truth,
Flappy is that people whose God is the Lord." This is the real —the defined, the rejected real, in which alone the imperishable honor of a nation consists.
This is a mere intimation of the formidable power of the ideal, as it has usurped the place of the real, in this raving, bedlam, headlong world. With the whole of it the blessed Saviour has had to contend for these thousands of years. He seeks to wake the soul of man from this bewildering dream—to arrest this wild search for things that are not, and confer eternal blessedness in the things that are. Now, by reflecting upon the vast results which would follow the entire devotion of the race to Divine realities, we shall extend our convictions of the immense power of fiction in preventing the establishment of justice in the earth. But how it exalts our opinion of the perseverance of Christ, to find that he is not discouraged, though the world he seeks to save constantly prefers a dream or a shadow to the richest gifts of his love.
Next a cold individualism presents itself in opposition to the benevolent purposes of the Redeemer. In man's intended state, he is the brother of bis fellow.man. His heart beats in unison with the great heart of humanity. He forms a willing, happy part of one grand and perfect whole. He needs the universal life of that social system which God designed, infinitely more than that system needs him. Had the fall left so much of Jehovah's work untouched, how speedily might the renovating life run through the mass. But under the action of sin, the selfish element has risen above the social ! The individual has reached an importance far exceeding the whole race! How will an act or scheme affect me is the great question, not how will it affect the world. If God commands us to feed the hungry-to educate the ignorant to send the gospel to the beathen-to give the Bible to the world, the sufferer must bear bis anguish, and the messenger of salvation must delay his errand of mercy, until, with the exactness of num. bers, it can be ascertained how it will affect the comforts, the luxuries, the honor of the individual! Alas ! how frequently will even the suspicion of danger here give the negative to the most importunate demands of human wretchedness. And though sin. ners are perishing by thousands, and though the voice of Jesus is calling in tones of melting love, and beseeching earnestness for help to rescue the purchase of his blood, the most capricious demands of the individual must have the preference. The world must move on to perdition until it is perfectly compatible with the temporal interests—the personal convenience—and imagined honor of the individual to send them the word of life! Let any man, if he can, repel this degrading charge. Let him prove the aspersion false: he shall have our gratitude. But he cannot. His search for vindicating facts will show him mind in all its energies, running out into the world's extreme, taxing man and beast, water, earth, and air, for selfish purposes, and demanding large revenues of praise for the favors it has yielded by the way, to importunate want. But against all this the Saviour perseveres. The salvation of the world must be achieved though it be done in detail. "He will not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judg. ment in the earth.”
Finally, we notice the misdirection of the philosophical spirit. Philosophy is a real want and a natural result of humanity. And could it from the beginning have exerted its strength in tracing the relation of man to God-of men to each other, and the relation of all phenomena to their final moral causes; bad it summed up all its discoveries in the practical and the good, what immense power it would have wielded for the benefit of the race.
But now see it satisfied in tracing the relations of one particle of matter to another-its position, self—its aim, science—its
scope, creation with God and eternity omitted, or only casually mentioned-and its results, infidelity! What system of philosophy, physical or metaphysical, has the Bible for its stand-point--the glory of God for its object--eternity for its sphere, and the salvation of souls for its final cause ? Alas! the very tendency which God designed to lead immortal spirits to himself has borne them far from him. It has expended itself in false and impracticable theories for the relief of human woes. It has generated a pride of opinion which scorns to obtain a knowledge of the essential good from the meek and lowly Saviour. The defeats of ages have