Imágenes de páginas

ments were forthwith put an end to. It is at the bidding of your collective will to save those countless myriads who are brought to the regular and the daily slaughter, all the difference between a gradual and an instant death. And there is a practice realized in every-day life, which you can put down —a practice which strongly reminds us of a ruder age that has long gone by ;-when even beauteous and high-born ladies could partake in the dance, and the song, and the festive chivalry of barbaric castles, unmindful of all the piteous and the pining agony of dungeoned prisoners below. We charge a like unmindfulness on the present generation. We know not whether those wretched animals whose still sentient frameworks are under process of ingenious manufacture for the epicurism or the splendour of your coming entertainment, we know not whether they are now dying by inches in your own subterranean keeps, or through the subdivided industry of our commercial age, are now suffering all the horrors of their protracted agony, in the prison-house of some distant street where this dreadful trade is carried on. But truly it matters nought to our argument, ye heedless sons and daughters of gaiety . We speak not of the daily thousands who have to die that man may live; but of those thousands who have to die more painfully, just that man may live more luxuriously. We speak to you of the art and the mystery of the killing trade—from which it would appear, that not alone the delicacy of the food, but even its appearance, is, among the connoisseurs of a refined epicurism, the matter of skilful and scientific computation. There is a sequence, it would appear—there is a sequence between an exquisite death, and an exquisite or a beautiful preparation of cookery; and just in the ordinary way that art avails herself of the other sequences of philosophy, -the first term is made sure, that the second term might, according to the metaphysic order of causation, follow in its train. And hence, we are given to understand, hence the cold-blooded ingenuities of that previous and preparatory torture which oft is undergone, both that man might be feasted with a finer relish, and that the eyes of man might be feasted and regaled with a finer spectacle. The atrocities of a Majendie have been blazoned before the eye of a British public; but this is worse in the fearful extent and magnitude of the evil—truly worse than a thousand Majendies. His is a cruel luxury, but it is the luxury of intellect. Yours is both a cruel and a sensual luxury: and you have positively nought to plead for it but the most worthless and ignoble appetites of our nature.

But, secondly, and if possible to secure your kindness for our cause, let me, in the act of drawing these lengthened observa

tions to a close, offer to your notice the bright and the beautiful side of it. I would bid you think of all that fond and pleasant imagery, which is associated even with the lower animals, when they become the objects of a benevolent care, which at length ripens into a strong and cherished affection for them—as when the worn-out hunter is permitted to graze, and be still the favourite of all the domestics through the remainder of his life; or the old and shaggy housedog, that has now ceased to be serviceable is nevertheless sure of its regular meals, an a decent funeral; or when an adopted inmate of the household is claimed as property, or as the object of decided partiality, by some one or other of the children; or, finally, when in the warmth and comfort of the evening fire, one or more of these home animals take their part in the living groupe that is around it, and their very presence serves to complete the picture of a blissful and smiling family. Such relationships with the inferior creatures, supply many of our finest associations of tenderness, and give, even to the heart of man, some of its . simplest yet sweetest enjoyments. He even can find in these some compensation for the dread and the disquietude wherewith his bosom is agitated amid the fiery conflicts of infuriated men. When he retires from the stormy element of debate, and exchanges, for the vindictive glare, and the hideous discords of that outcry which he encounters among his fellows, when these are exchanged for the honest welcome and the guileless regards of those creatures who gambol at his feet, he seels that even in the society of the brutes, in whose hearts there is neither care nor controversy, he can surround himself with a better atmosphere far, than in that which he breathes *; the companionships of his own species. Here he can rest himself from the fatigues of that moral tempest which has beat upon him so violently; and, in the play of kindliness with these poor irrationals, his spirit can forget for awhile all the injustice and ferocity of their boasted lords. But this is only saying, that our subject is connected with the pleasures of sentiment. And therefore, in the third and last place, we have to offer it as our concluding observation, that it is also connected with the principles of deepest sacredness. It may be thought by some that we have wasted the whole of this Sabbath morn, on what may be ranked among but the lesser moralities of human conduct. But there is one aspect, in which it may be regarded as more profoundly and more peculiarly religious than any one virtue which reciprocates, or is of mutual operation among the fellows of the same species. It is a virtue which oversteps, as it were, the limits of a species, and which, in this instance, prompts a de

scending movement, on our part, of righteousness and mercy towards those who have an inferior place to ourselves in the scale of creation. The lesson of this day is not the circulation of benevolence within the limits of one species. It is the transmission of it from one species to another. The first is but the charity of a world. The second is the charity of a universe. Had there been no such charity, no descending current of love and of liberality from species to species, what, I ask, should have become of ourselves? Whence have we learned this attitude of lofty unconcern about the creatures who are beneath us? Not from those ministering spirits who wait upon the heirs of salvation. Not from those angels who circle the throne of heaven, and make all its arches ring with joyful harmony, when but one sinner of this prostrate world turns his footsteps towards them. Not from that mighty and mysterious visitant, who unrobed Him of all his glories, and bowed down his head unto the sacri. fice, and still, from the seat of his now exalted mediatorship, pours forth his intercessions and his calls in behalf of the race he died for. Finally, not from the eternal Father of all, in the pavilion of whose residence, there is the golden treasury of all those bounties and beatitudes that roll over the face of nature, and from the footstool of whose empyreal throne there reaches a golden chain of providence to the very humblest of his family. He who hath given his angels charge concerning us, means that the tide of beneficence should pass from order to order, through all the ranks of his magnificent creation; and we ask, is it with man that this goodly proviSion is to terminate—or shall he, with all his sensations of present blessedness, and all his visions of future glory let down upon him from above, shall he turn him selfishly

and scornfully away from the rights of

those creatures whom God hath placed in

dependence under him? We know that the

cause of poor and unfriended animals has

many an obstacle to contend with in the dis.

ficulties or the delicacies of legislation. But

we shall ever deny that it is a theme be.

neath the dignity of legislation; or that

the nobles and the senators of our land

stoop to a cause which is degrading, when, in the imitation of heaven’s high clemency, they look benignly downward on these humble and helpless sufferers. Ere, we can admit this, we must forget the whole economy of our blessed gospel. We must forget the legislations and the cares of

the upper sanctuary in behalf of our fallen species. We must forget that the redemption of our world is suspended on an actos jurisprudence which angels desired to look into, and for effectuating which, the earth we tread upon was honoured by the foot. steps, not of angel or of archangel, but of God manifest in the flesh. The distance upward between us and that mysterious Being, who let himself down from heaven's high concave upon our lowly platform, sur: passes by infinity the distance downward between us and every thing that breathes. And He bowed himself thus far for the purpose of an example, as well as for the purpose of an expiation; that every Christian might extend his compassionate regards over the whole of sentient and suffering no ture. The high court of Parliament is not degraded by its attentions and its cares in behalf of inferior creatures, else the Santtuary of Heaven has been degraded by its counsels in behalf of the world we occupy, and in the execution of which the Lord of heaven himself relinquished the highest seat of glory in the universe, and went forth to sojourn for a time on this outcast and accursed territory.





THE following Sermons are of too miscellaneous a character to be arranged according to the succession of their topics, and they are, therefore, presented to the reader as so many compositions that are almost wholly independent of each other. Two of the Sermons treat of Predestination, and the Sin against the Holy Ghost. There are topics of a highly speculative character, in the system of Christian Doctrine, which it is exceedingly difficult to manage, without interesting the curiosity rather than the conscience of the reader. And yet, it is from their fitness of application to the conscience, that they derive their chief right to appear in a volume of Sermons; and I should not have ventured any publication upon either of these doctrines, did I not think them capable of being so treated as to subserve the great interests of practical godliness. The Sermons all relate to topics that I hold to be strictly congregational, with the exception of the thirteenth and fourteenth in the volume, which belong rather to Christian Economies, than to Christian Theology—to the “outer things of the house of God,” rather than to the things of the sanctuary, or the intimacies of the spiritual life. I, perhaps, ought therefore to apologize for the appearance of these two in a volume of Congregational Sermons, and yet I have been led by experience to feel the religious importance of their subject, and I think that much injury has been sustained by the souls of our people, from the neglect of obvious princiF. both in the business of education, and in the business of public charity. I ave, however, more comfort in discussing this argument from the press, than from the pulpit, which ought to be kept apart for loftier themes, and which seems to suffer a sort of desecration when employed as the vehicle for any thing else than the overtures of pardon to the sinner, and the hopes and duties of the believer.


The Constancy of God in His Works an Argument for the Faithfulness of God in His Word.

“For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thy ordinances: for all are thy servants."—Psalm crix. 89,90, 91.

IN these verses there is affirmed to be an afterwards. And then, as if to perfect the

analogy between the word of God and the works of God. It is said of his word, that it is settled in heaven, and that it sustains its faithfulness from one generation to another. It is said of his works, and more especially of those that are immediately around us, even of the earth which we inhabit, that as it was established at the first so it abideth

assimilation between them, it is said of both in the 91st verse, “They continue this day according to thine ordinances, for all are thy servants;” thereby identifying the sureness of that word which proceeded from his lips, with the unfailing constancy of that Nature which was formed and is upholden by his hands. 371

The constancy of Nature is taught by universal experience, and even strikes the popular eye as the most characteristic of those features which have been impressed upon her. It may need the aid of philosophy to learn how unvarying Nature is in all her processes—howeven her seeming anomalies can be traced to a law that is inflexible— how what might appear at first to be the caprices of her waywardness, are, in fact, the evolutions of a mechanism that never changes—and that the more thoroughly she is sisted and put to the test by the interrogations of the curious, the more certainly will they find that she walks by a rule which knows no abatement, and perseveres with obedient footstep in that even course, from which the eye of strictest scrutiny, has never et detected one hair-breadth of deviation. t is no longer doubted by men of science, that every remaining semblance of irregularity in the universe is due, not to the fickleness of Nature, but to the ignorance of man—that her most hidden movements are conducted with a uniformity as rigorous as fate——that even the fitful agitations of the weather have their law and their principle— that the intensity of every breeze, and the number of drops in every shower, and the formation of every cloud, and all the occurring alternations of storm and sunshine, and the endless shiftings of temperature, and those tremulous varieties of the air which our instruments have enabled us to discover, but have not enabled us to explain—that still, they follow each other by a method of succession, which, though greatly more intricate, is yet as absolute in itself as the order of the seasons, or the mathematical courses of astronomy. This is the impression of every philosophical mind with regard to Nature, and it is strengthened by each new accession that is made to science. The more we are acquainted with her, the more are we led to recognise her constancy; and to view her as a mighty though complicated machine, all whose results are sure, and all whose workings are invariable. But there is enough of patent and palpable regularity in Nature, to give also to the popular mind, the same impression of her constancy. There is a gross and general experience that teaches the same lesson, and that has lodged in every bosom a kind of secure and steadfast confidence in the uniformity of her processes. The very child knows and proceeds upon it. He is aware of an abiding character and o in the elements around him—and has already learned as much of the fire, and the water, and the food that he eats, and the firm ground that he treads upon, and even of the gravitation by which he must regulate his postures and his movements, as to prove, that infant though he be, he is fully initiated in the doctrine, that Nature has her laws

and her ordinances, and that she continueth therein. And the proofs of this are ever multiplying along the journey of human observation: insomuch, that when we come to manhood, we read of Nature's constancy throughout every department of the visible world. It meets us wherever we turn our eyes. Both the day and the night bear witness to it. The silent revolutions of the firmament give it their pure testimony. Even those appearances in the heavens, at which superstition stood aghast, and imagined that Nature was on the eve of giving way, are the proudest trophies of that stability which reigns throughout her processes—of that unswerving consistency wherewith she prosecutes all her movements. And the lesson that is thus held forth to us from the heavens above, is responded to by the earth below; just as the tides of ocean wait the footsteps of the moon, and, by an attendance kept up without change or intermission for thousands of years, would seem to connect the regularity of earth with the regularity of heaven. But, apart from these greater and simpler energies, we see a course and a uniformity every where. We recognise it in the mysteries of vegetation. We follow it through the successive stages of growth, and maturity, and decay, both in plants and animals. We discern it still more palpably in that beautiful circulation of the element of water, as it rolls its way by many thousand channels to the ocean—and, from the surface of this expanded reservoir, is again uplifted to the higher regions of the atmosphere—and is there dispersed in light and fleecy magazines over the four quarters of the globe— and at length accomplishes its orbit, by falling in showers on a world that waits to be refreshed by it. And all goes to impress us with the regularity of Nature, which in fact teems, throughout all its varieties, with power, and principle, and uniform laws of operation—and is viewed by us as a vast laboratory, all the progressions of which have a rigid and unfailing necessity stamped upon them. Now, this contemplation has at times served to foster the atheism of philosophers. It has led them to deify Nature, and to make her immutability stand in the place of God. They seem impressed with the imagination, that had the Supreme Cause been a being who thinks, and wills, and acts as man does, on the impulse of a felt and a present motive, there would be more the ap ce of spontaneous activity, and less of mute and unconscious mechanism in the administrations of the universe. It is the very unchangeableness of Nature and the steadfastness of those great and mighty processes wherewith no living power that is superior to Nature, and is able to shift or to control her, is seen to interfere—it is this which

seems to have impressed the notion of some blind and eternal fatality on certain men of loftiest but deluded genius. And, accordingly, in France, where the physical sciences have, of late, been the most cultivated, have there also been the most daring avowals of atheism. The universe has been affirmed to be an everlasting and indestructible effect; and from the abiding constancy that is seen in Nature, through all her departments, have they inferred, that thus it has always been, and that thus it will ever be. But this atheistical impression that is derived from the constancy of Nature, is not peculiar to the disciples of philosophy. It is the familiar and the practical impression of every-day life. The world is apprehended to move on steady and unvarying principles of his own; and these secondary causes have usurped, in man's estimation, the throne of the Divinity. Nature in fact is personified into God: and as we look to the performance of a machine without thinking of its maker, so the very exactness and certainty, wherewith the machinery of creation performs its evolutions, has thrown a disguise over the agency of the Creator. Should God interpose by miracle, or interfere by some striking and special manifestation of providence, then man is awakened to the recognition of him. But he loses sight of the Being who sits behind these visible elements, while he regards those attributes of constancy and power which appear in the elements themselves. They see no demonstration of a God, and they feel no need of him, while such unchanging, and such unfailing energy continues to operate in the visible world around them; and we need not go to the schools of ratiocination in quest of this infidelity, but may detect it in the bosoms of simple and unlettered men, who, unknown to themselves, make a god of Nature, and just because of Nature's constancy; having no faith in the unseen Spirit who originated all and upholds all, and that, because all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. Such has been the perverse effect of Nature's constancy on the alienated mind of man: but let us now attend to the true interpretation of it. God has, in the first instance, put into our minds a disposition to count on the uniformity of Nature, insomuch that we universally look for a recurrence of the same event in the same circumstances. This is not merely the belief of experience, but the belief of instinct. It is antecedent to all the findings of observation, and ma be exemplified in the earliest stages of childhood. The infant who makes a noise on the table with his hand, for the first time, anticipates a repetition of the noise from a repetition of the stroke, with as much confidence as he who has witnessed, for years

together, the invariableness wherewith these two terms of the succession have followed each other. Or, in other words, God, by putting this faith into every human creature, and making it a necessary part of his mental constitution, has taught him at all times to expect the like result in the like circumstances. He has thus virtually told him what is to happen, and what he has to look for in every given condition—and by its so happening accordingly, he just makes good the veracity of his own declaration. The man who leads me to expect that which he fails to accomplish, I would hold to be a deceiver. God has so framed the machinery of my perceptions, as that I am led irresistibly to expect, that every where events will follow each other in the very train in which I have ever been accustomed to observe them—and when God so sustains the uniformity of Nature, that in every instance it is rigidly so, he is just manifesting the faithfulness of his character. Were it otherwise, he would be practising a mockery on the expectation which he himself had inspired. God may be said to have promised to every human being, that Nature will be constant—if not by the whisper of an inward voice to every heart, at least by the force of an uncontrollable bias which he has impressed on every constitution. So that, when we behold Nature keeping by its constancy, we behold the God of Nature keeping by his faithfulness—and the system of visible things, with its general laws, and its successions which are invariable, instead of an opaque materialism to intercept from the view of mortals the face of the Divinity, becomes the mirror which reflects upon them the truth that is unchangeable, the ordination that never fails. Conceive that it had been otherwise— first, that man had no faith in the constanc of Nature—then how could all his experience have profited him? How could he have applied the recollections of his past, to the guidance of his future history? And, what would have been left to signalize the wisdom of mankind above that of veriest infancy? Or, suppose that he had the implicit faith in Nature's constancy, but that Nature was wanting in the fulfilment of it— that at every moment his intuitive reliance on this constancy, was met by some caprice or waywardness of Nature, which thwarted him in all his undertakings—that, instead of holding true to her announcements, she held the children of men in most distressful uncertainty, by the freaks and the falsities in which she ever indulged herself—and that every design of human foresight was thus liable to be broken up, by ever and anon the putting forth of some new fluctuation. Tell me, in this wild misrule of elements changing their properties, and events

ever flitting from one method of succession

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