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In urging, therefore, renewed efforts to remove that evil, I urge not the mere education of letters, as a thing to lay stress upon for its own sake, so much as the education of principle. I agree with those who profess that they have no faith in the efficacy of Mechanics’ Institutes alone, or even of primary and elementary schools alone, for building up a virtuous and well-conditioned peasantry. There must be also the lessons of piety; and in the absence of those lessons, they can no more perform the functions of training a people in real morality, than skeletons can perform the functions of living men.
The self-called liberalism of the day, or the pride of lettered wisdom, may undervalue and may deride this assertion; but still I repeat it, that it is with the Christianity of our towns and our villages, that this country must stand or fall. I grant that the force of inward integrity may still do what it did in the days of pagan Italy and Greece. Some master spirit may arise among us, as it arose among them, whose name shall still live in the hearts of future generations. But we may be assured, that it is the power of God, and the power of godliness alone, that can reclaim our population in the length and in the breadth of it. It is that power alone which can shed a moral bloom, and a moral fragrance, over the wide expanse of society. It is only by this, I believe, that we can withstand the assaults of infidelity amongst our fellow-countrymen.
It is no argument against it to say, that these alleged objects sometimes appear to fail : it is no fair argument against it to say that these proposed effects are oftentimes not manifested: for what system is there to which imperfection does not cling? And what system is there, which, however apparently perfect in itself, may not be marred by the indifference of its teachers ? Observe, we are not to form our opinions upon its merits, upon any partial, upon any insulated cases, that may fall within the sphere of our own knowledge. Those cases may, perhaps, make a strong impression on our minds, and may tend to warp and pervert our judgment. But we ought to guard against that partial judgment : we ought to take into our account the whole of what it has done and is doing. Therefore we are not to be limited or restrained in our course of Christian generosity, upon any impartial, upon any fictitious or supposed error that has fallen under our own notice.
Neither is it any fair argument to urge, that the individual exertion of any one present is small, and therefore useless : for it one of the many advantages possessed by institutions of this kind, that while the efforts of the individual are, and must be partial, are likely to be abortive, and oftentimes mistaken, if you carry out that same idea in support of such societies, the strength of the aggregate becomes the strength of each individual who supports it; and you feel that you are casting your bread upon the waters, not to be swallowed up, but to be found again after many days. You feel that every offering that you make, is given thankfully in the spirit of faith, in the spirit of that eager anxiety that prompted Andrew to come, and bring his brother Simon to the knowledge of Christ ; you feel that all Christians who are linked with you in the same work are strengthening your hands, and you strengthening theirs. You feel that as you have one hope, one calling, having one Lord, one faith, one baptism; so are your souls working out the work of that blessed Saviour by one and the same means of union. You feel that you are working out that, not in your own strength, not in your own wisdom, but by a humble, cordial, earnest co-operation with those who wish well to our Zion, who pray for the peace of our Jerusalem.
And if you look upon that mass of population that surrounds you; if you take into your view the efforts there made by the great powers of evil to pervert and poison that mass ; if you look to the temptations which this city holds out daily and hourly to the infant mind; if you look forward to the danger that there is among the people, of their giving way to those temptations, of their falling into those snares ; if you look to the catalogue of crimes, and see what shame, what reproach they cast on a Christian land ; and then feel, that in institutions like this, you are doing what in you lies to diminish that burden, to introduce light and health into that mass which would otherwise be poisoned and dead: you surely then will not go forward in the work with any spirit of niggardly or of selfish feeling. And more than this, you will feel, that at no time can you be absolved from carrying on that work : for just as you have heard, in the morning lesson, of the plague that went through Israel's people on account of Israel's sins ; so you will remember that the sins committed by God's people in our own day, produce among them, it may be, not always the physical plague, of consuming sickness; but it produces that which is more consuming still—a moral pestilence; it produces a morbid corruption of the heart, that makes both soul and body ruined in God's sight for ever. Therefore, to stay that moral pestilence must be the work of the Christian here, just as in the former case, we know that nothing stayed that plague but the intercession of the great High Priest ; we know that it was he who put in incense, and made atonement for the sins of the people; that it was he who stood between the dead and the living ; and that it was he who thus stayed the plague. And from him, whose heart is not carried on to the contemplation of the greater than Aaron, to that “great High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec," who stood, and still stands, between the dead and the living, to make intercession for us at the throne of God; he having put on incense—not the perfumes of moral or of human intercession, but having put on the incense of his all-atoning merits; by these did he once make atonement on Calvary for the sins of the whole world; by these does he still plead for his people at the throne of grace; and by these are you invited to draw near, with a full heart, and in full assurance " that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need."
The same intercession, then, would we implore, when we seek to stay the moral pestilence; and we feel that we are staying it, if we carry out into the infected mass the knowledge of Christian love. We know we are staying it, if we shed over that rude chaos of sin the Spirit of Christ. We know that as the Spirit of Christ brought light, and order, and loveliness into the first creation, 80 will the spirit of his life, if shed abroad in the heart, bring there love, and joy, and holincss. It is, therefore, that work to which we are summoned; it is that duty to
1 which we are bound; it is that work of mercy at which we should rejoice. That work, then, my brethren, is yours this day. I ask you to join in it, because I feel that the hands of those who now support it, faithfully and truly, need your help to the very uttermost. I ask it earnestly, therefore, feeling that the Christian heart will feel, and the Christian hand will give. ask it, not for the sake of earthly wisdom or earthly pride, but I ask it in the name of Christ, and for the sake of Christ. I ask Christian men to fulfil the Christian law of Christian disciples-to bring their poor brethren to the knowledge of that samo Christ, to the glory of that same Redeemer.
CHRIST'S AGONY AND BLOODY SWEAT IN THE GARDEN.
REV. J. RUDGE, d.d.
HAWKCHURCH, PALM-SUNDAY, APRIL 12, 1835.
"And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.-LUKE, xxii. 44.
WERE I to represent to you, my friends, any real case of individual distress, or were I to describe even any afflicting scene of fictitious suffering, there are few amongst you whose sensibility would not be excited, either by the simple detail of the one, or the highly-wrought picture of the other. It is admitted on all hands, whatever differences of opinion exist as to the causes in which it has originated (and it is out of my province to hazard a judgment on such subjects), that the present times are pregnant with great and overwhelming distress, and that they afford instances without number of persons who are reduced from comparative affluence and comfort to a state of beggary and ruin. I might select one of these hapless instances. I might ask you to view a father, with whom domestic peace and competency were once familiar, now plunged into the lowest abyss of deprivation and want, and destitute even of the commonest conveniences and supports of human existence. I might, and without any violation of truth, represent his wife and children looking up to him for that support, and crying to him for that bread, of which he has no longer the means of extending the one, and supplying the other. He is penny less-he is powerless. Ah! where is the heart that would not melt-that does not melt? Your very looks your very silence prove at least that your hearts melt at this case of paternal agony and anguish. You have tears to shed, you have sympathy to tender for the sufferings of a father. His distress is no fiction of the brain, but real and heart-rending. Now let me once more read the text to you: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground." Of whom speaks the Scripture this? Who was in an agony? Some ideal character? or was it some real sufferer? Was the man-was it the God, Christ Jesus? Then, then is the prediction of the prophet realized, and in his language, I ask ye, "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. From above he hath sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them."
My brethren, from the course of the services of this day it must be sufficiently apparent what the theme is, to which your thoughts should be led, and upon which your devotions should be employed. And what is that theme? The agony
the bitter passion of Him to whom the text refers, and of whom the prophet speaks. In a word, this is the first day of the Passion Week; and as I am one who hold in the highest reverence and esteem this ordinance of the National Church, I have felt it my duty not to let its periodical return pass without reminding you of it from the pulpit, and offering such an address as is appropriate to a season so solemn, and to a week so holy. How do you inean to employ it? As much, permit me to express the hope, in religious duties as possible. Business must have its claims upon you, I admit; but pleasure none. Give then to God as much of your time as practicable. Make some little sacrifice; and believe me, if there be a wil, there will be found a way, ever among those who are the most engaged and immersed in this world's pursuits and business, of abstracting the mind from temporal things, and of employing it a little in heavenly ones. Then keep holy the week, by attending the morning prayers of the Church, and keep the fast. Is the sacrament to be administered? Receive it; and let a “ Thus saith the Lord," banish scruple, and dissipate prejudice. I am one of those who think that none can ever err by receiving the sacrament. And why? Because it is the word of Christ. “Ye are my friends, if ye do what I command you." Search the Scriptures, and obey the Lord, and not man; obey Christ, and not yourselves.
I now proceed, in the strength of my gracious Master, to open the text, and to accompany my explanation of it with such remarks as, I trust, will be improving to your views, and satisfactory to your minds.
The blessed Redeemer, having finished his intercessory prayer, came down with his disciples from the Mount of Olives into the valley below, in which was a field called Gethsemane. Through this field flowed the brook Cedron *, on the other side of which there was a garden, commonly known by the name of the garden of Gethsemane. Into this garden our Lord entered with his followers ; of whom we have reason to think, from the account of St. Mark respecting the tragical scene that was there acted, that he left most of them at the garden-door within, to watch the approach of Judas and his armed band, and that he took with him only Peter, and James, and John, who had been the witnesses of his transfiguration on Mount Tabor, to be now also the witnesses of his passion in the field of Gethsemane. Here “ he began to be sore amazed, and very heavy; and said unto them, my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." The prospect of the sufferings to which he was about to submit, was so full of horror and dismay, as to cause him to fall into a sore and a bloody agony, and in the bitterness of his soul to utter the sorrowful language of the text. Now it was that he sustained those grievous sorrows in his spirit, by which, combined with those that he endured on the cross, he suffered as a sin-offering, and thereby procured an atonement for the plague of the people, and the redemption of sinners. His unparalleled sufferings, now rushing like some overwhelming torrent upon him, he prepares to meet.
And how? He fell down on his knees, and engaged in the sweet and soul-sustaining exercises of prayer and devotion. For this purpose, that, apart from men, he might hold andistracted communion with God, he had retired from his three favourite disciples; and having withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, he kneeled down
So called, either because cedars grew on its banks, or from Kedar-darkness,
and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me." St. Matthew says, that “ he fell on his face and prayed, saying, O my Father, if
0 it be possible, let this cup pass from me." The expression of St. Mark in detailing this memorable transaction, is somewhat different. He describes him as falling on the ground, and praying that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. From these accounts, which are in substance the same, it would appear, that our Lord first kneeled and prayed; then, in the vehemence and fervour of his earnestness, he threw himself prostrate on his face, and bent his sacred body to the earth. His prayer was so vehement and fervent, that he prayed himself into an agony: yet it was accompanied with due expressions of perfect submission and resignation to his heavenly Father's pleasure : for he immediately added, “ Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." His human nature being now burthened above measure, he found it necessary to retire, and pray to be delivered from the grievous sufferings that were then accumulating and pressing heavily upon him, and from that dreadful wrath, with which he was now so sorely amazed, and so totally overwhelmed.
And here for a moment let us pause; and without dwelling upon the passion, the sympathy, and the tears of contrition, which the sufferings of the man of sorrows should excite within us, let us reflect upon the instruction which his conduct, at this eventful period of his life, teaches. My brethren, in this life, ye shall each of you have tribulation. Like the Saviour, ye have your brook of Cedron to pass over, and in the language of the Psalmist, to “ drink of the bitter waters of the brook in the way," Psalm cx. 7. Ye have your cross to bear, and your affictions to suffer ; your Red sea of difficulties to encounter, and
your Jordan of trials to experience, and you must journey through the valley of Baca, ere you can arrive at the gates of Zion, and enter into the land of Canaan. And is this a truc account of your present state and condition ? Then assuredly it behoves you to make this world a kind of school in which your minds
may be attempered and disciplined for the various trials to which you will be exposed, and the innumerable difficulties and temptations with which you will be surrounded. And if there be a spot, in which the proper temper to bear and conquer them can be taught, it is in the garden of Geth
Behold your Saviour! In the hour of his trial, and in the season of his agony, his communion was with God: his comfort and his strength were in prayer.
ye like-minded : and learn from him these improving lessons, and, in every respect, to copy his manner, when you engage in the private devotions of the closet, or in the public worship of the temple. “ He kneeled down and prayed.” This prostration of the body is most appropriate to the place, and most becoming the worshipper, in the presence of his God.
But waiving these considerations, its sanction and its authority is the conduct of Christ. “ He prayed thrice.” In other words, let your petitions be importunate : let them be repeated, not thrice only, but at every convenient opportunity of every day of your lives. Are not your hearts a temp!e? If a temple, surely therein religious service should be performed, and daily oblations be offered, “He prayed earnestly.” You should be “ fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." A cold and heartless formality in prayer, that will God despise. The example of Christ instructs you to be earnest in religion ; and one of his servants, an apostle, tells ye that, “ to be zealously affected in a holy cause,” that