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Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
The kingdom of God is the theater and the asylum of hope it is never delusive there. In that sphere it is "as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high-priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec." The world of redemption is thronged with objects of desire, and enriched with the rewards of obedience. Hope rises to the contemplation and anticipation of them, and fires the soul with unquenchable ardor in their pursuit. It fortifies with patience and animates with exertion all its faculties, to obtain "the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
6. In this category of moral forces we assign a place to the law of sanctified reciprocity. The effect of it on the character and condition of the Christian is a proof of its intensity and its value. It is "the bond of perfectness"
which unites into one vast brotherhood the whole Church of the living God, identifying each with all, in the contest for victory. When one approaches the gate of the kingdom, he is solitary and desolate; he leaves the world of sin and sinful men behind him; he needs new sympathies, new affections, and new associations. When he enters, Christianity brings him into instant contact and companionship with "the general assembly and Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven-with the spirits of just men made perfect," and with all on earth who are making "their calling and election sure." He is surrounded with their presence, supported by their fellowship, encouraged by their example, and assisted by their prayers. What a wealth of
advantage is comprised in the communion of saints! What a moral force resides in the collective strength of the household of faith!
7. The Christian system includes amongst its vital forces a special arrangement to meet the emergencies of the Christian life. It does not precipitate us into the arena of duty and of danger, and abandon us to the perils of the strife: it subsidizes in our behalf the aid of divine grace, and the interposition of divine providence. The life of faith is a struggle exhausting in its labor, and a battle fearful in its conflict. God is not so much a spectator of our fortunes as an omnipotent Friend in our distress-working in us of his good pleasure, and enabling us to work out our salvation. He hastens to our relief. His seasonable assistance is one of the constitutional provisions of "the world to come," in order to secure our ultimate success. We may, therefore, "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
8. It subordinates to its benevolent purposes the angelic power-the ministry of the unfallen angels. Throughout their celestial gradations they are rendered subservient to the welfare of the saints, and perform official functions in their behalf. If we cannot define their functions, we are acquainted with their office and relations: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" Every member of the imperial hierarchy, from the highest archangel to the lowest functionary in their resplendent ranks, contributes the measure of his capacity to promote the salvation of the children of God. Do they not fan our fevered brows with ambrosial plumes? Do they not whisper cheering words in the hour of dismay? Do they not rush into the breach, to protect and to rescue, in the moment of danger? Are not our departing souls "carried by angels into Abraham's bosom?"
9. Finally, "the world to come" is pervaded by the ex
ecutive power of the divine administration. It is a perfectlyorganized government, over which Jesus Christ himself presides. It is plenipotentiary, self-subsistent, and self-sufficient. It will take care of itself and of its subjects, and will survive all obstacles. It will redeem all its pledges, and will indemnify the losses sustained in its service by an "eternal weight of glory."
These, my brethren, are some of "the powers of the world to come, whereof we speak"-some of those moral forces which enter into and augment the plenitude of resources which pertain to the kingdom of grace, and which it employs to facilitate, and to secure for us, "an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Our theme to-day is fertile in conclusions.
It defines the position of man in the scale of being. He is the paragon of the creation, the heir of two worlds, and the connecting link between them. How magnificent is man, viewed in his relations to the visible and invisible universe! How he towers aloft, as he stands revealed in the light of that manhood and monarchy with which God has endowed him!
It shows the interest awakened in the heavenly places in his behalf. He is the focus of a thousand merciful contrivances; he is the object of an amazing system of agencies to rescue and to raise him to the platform of a majestic maturity and a glorified immortality; he is the center of a circle radiant with divine benedictions, and replete with benevolent instrumentalities.
Our subject foreshadows the grade of moral culture which awaits his earnest concurrence. What transformations, what purity, what dignity, will crown his faithful exertions! The chief of sinners may become the elect of God. The soiled mantle of earth may be exchanged for the clean and
white linen of the saints, and he may walk the streets of the New Jerusalem as a king and a priest unto God for
It behooves him to place himself in contact with the divine apparatus prepared for his benefit. He must invoke its power, and adjust himself to its salutary influence. He must arouse himself to the greatness of his destiny, and assert his manhood in the achievement of it.
Our subject defines the responsibilities of those who are engaged in the education of youth. The cultivation of the intellectual nature must recognize and respond to the cultivation of the moral nature. We have seen the divine arrangements for the one: we must adopt corresponding methods for the other. The robustness and completeness of the human character consist in their harmonious combination. There must be no antagonism between them; otherwise, the result will be a distortion, and not a model.
Our subject indicates the legitimate career of this great institution. This is neither the time nor the place to eulogize its munificent benefactor: that commendation will be deferred until to-morrow. The VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY arises under the auspices of Christianity-amidst the prayers and blessings of the Church. It must vindicate its vocation by fidelity to its claims; it must link its fortunes to the plastic "powers of the world to come." The Church must settle, in the seats of learning, the true correlation between science and religion, and rescue Christianity from the charge of incompatibility with the higher culture of humanity. A great vocation this-a grand problem to be worked out! Happily, we enjoy to-day the evidences of this design. Christian services anticipate the scholastic inauguration; Christian ideas and Christian faith assert their prerogatives in advance; and side by side with halls of literature and science stands this beautiful Christian
temple, to offer a sanctuary and an asylum to Christian truth.
Our theme evinces the inexhaustible grandeur of Christian thought. Rapid as is the advancement of natural science, and brilliant as are the discoveries of human research, the progress and development of Christianity transcend them all; for, while the one unfolds the wonders of the natural world, the other discloses the glories of "the world to come," and elicits the rapturous exclamation, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
God grant that the benefits of a solid education in science and literature, imparted in this institution, may be consecrated by the experience of a sound conversion, and by a growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ! "Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
After the Sermon was sung the following Dedication Hymn (tune, Duke Street):
Father Almighty! hear our cry!
Sovereign of all on earth, on high:
Eternal Wisdom! Light have we
Let the refulgent rays divine
On our poor darkling spirits shine!
Fountain of Love! Without thy grace
Earth is a dreary, cheerless place:
Thy all-comprising peace impart,
Spirit Divine, to every heart!