صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

O, which of you would be the man to have this testimony borne against him. when the dead, small and great, are gathered before the Lord?


I think it quite unnecessary to add more in regard to the school which now solicits support. It has been so long established, and it has so proved its character as an admirable institution, that I abstain from enlarging on its merits, because they are generally conceded, and because therefore the setting them forth, as it might imply doubt, would only tend to disparage it. I only remark, that you are not to confound this school with an ordinary charity school. It has a higher character, and therefore your contributions should be proportionably liberal. This society boards, clothes, and educates, fifty-one girls, taking the entire charge of them, until old enough for service. It thus differs widely from the common parochial schools; and we trust you will mark your sense of difference by a more than common bounty. Our appeal to you is based on the solemnities of the judgment. This our assembling will not terminate when a few minutes hence this vast audience will be dispersed. Sabbaths die not, and sermons die not: they pass away, but only to be traced in the great register of God, and to revive when the trumpet-blast awakens the dead. Again we tell you, that the judgment will be conducted in righteousness, that God may be justified when he speaks, and clear when he judges. Such is the character of the trial, of which each amongst us must necessarily be the subject. Righteousness: so that nothing shall escape the Judge, and nothing impose on the Judge, and nothing embarrass the Judge. If found in Christ, there is no adversary that can accuse us; if not members of the Mediator, no power that can absolve. Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men: would that we could persuade you! We mean not merely persuade you to be liberal this day to poor children, who, unless succoured by such institutions as that for which we now plead, may go defenceless to the judgment, and have nothing to shield them against the out-break of wrath. We mean not merely this: the great way to make you care for others is to make you care for yourselves. If solicitous to be yourselves found in Christ at the judgment, why you cannot be indifferent to the condition of the multitudes by whom you are surrounded. And, therefore, we again say, would that we could persuade you! Is there no voice from the "great white throne "-nothing startling in the opened books, no eloquence in the blast of the archangel-nothing terrible in the doom, "Depart, ye cursed"-nothing beautiful in the words, " Come, ye blessed?" I cannot deal with you if you are insensible to the argument of the judgment-seat. If you can go away, and be as worldly as ever, as indifferent as ever, as much the slave of sensuality, or ambition, or covetousness, now that you have beheld the Son of man coming in the clouds, and heard, as it were, your own names proclaimed, what can we say to you? If you can do what perhaps, many of you have often done before-refuse to contribute even a little towards supporting institutions, which labour to diminish the sum of human wretchedness, to instruct the ignorant, and reclaim the wandering-you can do this, now that you have seen the dead, small and great, stand before God, and marked how the neglected poor witness against the churlish and the selfish, and how careful a memorial is preserved of benevolence, and how liberal a reward is apportioned, what can we say to you? Indeed we feel that we have exhausted the moral armoury, we have no more energetic motives on which to rest our appeal. We can but pray for you, for there is yet room for prayer,

if any amongst you-though heartily do we trust the description is inapplicable -if any amongst you be utterly careless of his own soul, and therefore utterly neglectful of the souls of others-we can still pray that God would put sensibility into stone, and give you feeling enough to feel for yourselves, and then we shall not be without proof that you can feel for such destitute objects as the children who now throw themselves on your protection.



"We are so accustomed, from our earliest infancy, to believe implicitly the doctrine of the soul's immortality-it is taught us, I might almost say, in our cradles and so wound up with all the institutions of religion, and all the associations of life, that we pass into a comparative forgetfulness of its awful stature; and receiving it as a thing of course, overlook it as a truth of the most stupendous dimensions. We forget, amid the multiplicity of truth which even natural religion will now profess to put forth of a future state, that the proudest and most acute philosophy which ever arose amidst the wisest of heathen nations wrestled with strugglings which were mighty, but which were wholly ineffectual, to throw themselves into the deep regions which lay beyond the grave, and to snatch some fragments of knowledge which might be held up to the admiration and gaze of a world lying in ignorance. We forget that always, previous to the appearance of Christ on earth, and independent of the assistance of divine communication, there certainly have been men gifted above their fellows, who pondered deeply on futurity, and grappled with the mysterious shadows of some coming destinies; yet a luminous doubt was, after all, the very summit of their attainments, and a splendid conjecture the highest result of their most laborious searchings after truth. Even if human science had revealed with the general development of the fact, that man, frail as he seems and feeble, doth yet carry in himself a spark of celestial fire, which can no more be quenched than can that Deity which is the light of the universe: still, that bone should come again to bone-that the dust which is scattered to the winds of heaven shall be compounded once more, into shape and symmetry, and that the rude heaps of the charnel house shall resolve themselves into living forms-that corruption shall put on incorruption, and mortal put on immortality-O, there never would be philosophy which could master this: it was above it—it was beyond it: and while familiarity with the truth takes off something of the strangeness of the marvel; yet I pray you to remember, when you see a grave prepared, and the coffin lowered, and the tears of the mourners almost dried up by the brilliant thought that the body of the brother or sister which they thus commit to so cold a custody shall not only moulder or waste away, but shall stir at length in its narrow home, and throw off, as with a giant's strength, the ponderous burthen of the sepulchre, and come forth with that body glorified and purified which is now encompassed with all the dishonours of death-when, I say, you behold a spectacle like this, a spectacle which would be deemed a most unaccountable prodigy if it were not of common occurrence-O, it is the soul's loftiest triumph-a triumph over the wreck of all that is material and sensible—a triumph over bone, and flesh, and sinew, dislocated and decomposed and shattered;-then I pray you to give the honour alone where the honour is due, to ascribe the victory to the true and actual conqueror, and to remember that the Gospel of Christ is the Gospel of the resurrection; and that until the Redeemer appropriated the character to himself, there was never a being who could have dreamt in the wildest dream of enthusiasm of uttering such words as these I am the resurrection and the life."-REV. H. MELVILL, A.M.





"After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla ; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome :) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tent-makers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean : from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles."-ACTS, xviii. 1—6.

MEN of different tastes visit foreign countries, or read the history of their ancient cities, with very different views and sentiments. The traveller who visits in person or imagination the ancient cities of Greece and Rome, goes, generally speaking, to inspect the monuments of art which those extraordinary people have erected. He talks of the "breathing statues," the "speaking canvas," the lofty columns, the splendid temples, the vast buildings, the remains of ancient grandeur compared with the productions of modern art, which raise his admiration of the advance of the former. The statesman and the legislator view these cities in a very different manner: they inquire what progress they made in municipal and civil government; they can fight all their battles over again; they view the heroes passing before them in all their former grandeur, and look at the processions of their consuls and legislators. The literary man takes a different view from these. "Shew me;" says he, "their writings; let me see their shady groves, their porticoes, their rostrums; and by these let me measure the intellect of that extraordinary people." The Christian need not be a stranger to any of these views; but there is one view which claims pre-eminence over them all. He inquires what progress they made in religion; what they obtained by all their searchings into the secrets of nature, in the knowledge of the true God, his character, and his worship, and his purposes respecting them. He is equally surprized and grieved to find, that all their wisdom in this respect is turned to folly. He sees them displacing the true God, and bowing to a variety of deities of their own creating, bowing down to stocks and stones, the work of their own hands, offering homage to their fellow men, and to the most contemptible creatures, and performing their service with the most abominable obsequies, and the most cruel and sanguinary rites. He perceives their fallen, and degraded, and ridiculous notions of religion, forming a deep contrast with their attainments in every other department. Their bright natural light is associated with the deepest and blackest religious



darkness and thus he observes them proceeding from generation to generation, and from age to age, through a long period of time, without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world, going through life forgetful of him, and entering eternity to encounter his wrath. "Merciful God," he says, " by this fact thou teachest me the vanity of human wisdom to find out thee; thou impressest me with the value of the divine revelations of the Gospel; as the morning chases away the night, so this dispels the thick darkness that envelopes the nations. O may it speedily shine more extensively, till every vestige of the former darkness be removed, and all the nations of the world walk in the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, as it shines in the face of Christ Jesus."

These remarks have been suggested by the record contained in the chapter before us, and in the preceding chapters, of the labours of St. Paul in ancient Greece, during his second apostolical journey. When we last discoursed to you on these topics, we found the apostle at Athens, pointing out to the infatuated people before the judges of the Areopagus, the folly of their superstitions, and calling on them to worship the true God who made the heavens and the earth and all things, and Jesus Christ whom he had appointed to the office of Saviour and universal Judge. He saw them fail to receive the Gospel through the pride of their hearts; and though he produced converts in almost every other place, he produced none at Athens, or at least with very few exceptions. Finding, therefore, that there was nothing more for him to do in that celebrated city, he sent Timothy and his companions, who had joined him, back to Thessalonica, to comfort the church formed by his previous labours, and himself departed to Corinth, another celebrated city of Greece, the metropolis, indeed, of that province, and famous as having two celebrated harbours, one to the Eastern, and the other to the Western part of the world. There, as was his custom, he entered into the synagogue, and proclaimed to the Jews and the proselyte Gentiles, the great truths concerning Jesus Christ, but with various, and comparatively little success. As, however, he stayed here for a considerable time, and his labours were accompanied with extraordinary circumstances, we must dwell a little on his visit to this place, as it became the means of laying the foundation of that church there, which afterwards became celebrated, not only for its gifts, but, alas, for its disorders and irregularities, and to which he wrote two epistles, directed to them, contained in the New Testament. It will be for the purpose of understanding those, as well as magnifying the grace of God in him during his labours at this place, that we pause and meditate on Paul preaching the Gospel.

Many of you, I believe, are acquainted with the history of Corinth. You may know that about a century and a half before the birth of Christ it was conquered and laid waste by the Romans, but being a maritime city it quickly recovered a portion of its former celebrity, became crowded with inhabitants, loaded with wealth, and degraded with dissipation. It cultivated, however, the fine arts: oratory, rhetoric, and eloquence, were especially in great repute: one of their most favourite gods was the god of eloquence. It was celebrated for its skill in art: who has not heard of Corinthian columns? Even to this day, in our country, they are imitated and admired, and will probably be so, for their simplicity and beauty, to the end of time. But it was given over to voluptuousness. I say all in a word when I say, that, in this respect, it was

« السابقةمتابعة »