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concerning departed worth. “ It is the homage due to it, whenever it rises to such a height as to render its possessor an object of general attention, to endeavour [however humble the effort] to rescue it from oblivion : that when it is removed from the observation of men, it may still live in their memory, and transmit through the shades of the sepulchre some reflection [however faint] of its living lustre. By enlarging the cloud of witnesses, by which we are encompassed, it is calculated to give a fresh impulse to the desire of imitation; and even the despair of reaching it is not without its use, by checking the levity, and by correcting the pride and presumption of the human heart.”
His great and primary superiority was a clear and powerful understanding, more distinctive than creative, which spurned from it all the trifles and circumstantials of any case, on which it was employed—which apprehended speedily, and fastened closely, on its essential merits and different bearings—and which advanced to the decision it was to give, with unhesitating promptitude and determined firmness. Questions, by which ordinary minds would have been baffled or perplexed, soon yielded to the penetrating sagacity and acute discrimination which he brought to bear upon them, and with which he forthwith examined and finally settled them. And uniting, with the exercise of these qualities, the extensive knowledge and accumulated experience of which he was possessed (and which he applied with no less skill than accuracy), the conclusions at which he arrived, and the opinions which he formed, were both sound and impregnable.
His mental pre-eminence was not allied to the excursions of imagination, nor to the meretricious refinements of mere taste. To these he made no pretensions ; yet was he neither indifferent to their charms, nor destitute of relish for their finest and most classical displays. And though his peculiar walk lay in those departments where solidity of reasoning and strength of judgment are required, to the most extensive acquaintance with the common law of the land, in which he is said to have been unequalled since the days of " Holt' and of ‘Coke'], he united the more attractive accomplishments of one of the most elegant scholars of the age. And when to all this we add the operation of those moral principles, under the government and control of which he seems to have placed the whole conduct of his understanding, and the decisions of his judgment, we must have such an impression of the influence of his intellectual character, as to feel that in losing him, his country has lost one of the ablest, wisest, and most useful of men. His mantle has fallen ! may an Elisha pick it up! and a double portion of his spirit rest upon his successor!
But he was not merely the man of talent,' not merely the aspirant of professional pre-eminence,' [a character too frequently devoid of either greatness or goodness of heart.] No! he looked abroad on society and the world—took an interest in the fortunes and comforts of his fellow-men, however mean (if meanness can be implied in absence of wealth with absence of vice) and obscure their callings—and felt the various obligations and endearments by which one human being is bound to another.
I must not venture into the domestic circle [sacred at this moment by the depth and freshness of its sorrow]-I must not speak of him as the husband, father, and master, and tell you how much he loved among his own, and how much and how dearly he was beloved.
But I may speak of him, as not devoid of a patriot's spirit. He was proud of his country. He gloried in its eminence and privileges. He stood for its independence. He prayed from the heart, that God might save the king, and bless the people;' and make this empire the seat of true religion, of sound learning, of unlibidinous liberty, peace, and happiness. He felt an interest in every thing by which its real welfare could be affected; and conceiving that no judicial office could make him an alien from any thing which could work his country's weal, or his country's woe, he was bold to express [“ through evil report, and through good report”] his sentiments on all topics of vital importance.
I may speak of him, as a man of enlarged philanthropy, who mourned for the darkness and degradation of his species, and who rejoiced in whatever was done to diffuse the blessings of intellectual culture, moral purity, and Christian doctrine. · I may speak of him, as the friend of the poor: and how many in this community can bear witness to me, when I say that this friendship was invaluable. It was liberal—it was active—it was unostentatious—it was unwavering and constant. And they who enjoyed it, enjoyed a treasure: for there was both the willingness and ability to bestow the most substantial assistance, and a suavity and modesty of manner, which breathed the noble feeling—that the giver was as much honoured as the receiver.
I may speak of him as a Christian, “ whose faith stood not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God”-as a Christian [unlike indeed to some modern religionists, all impulse, all emotion, all experience, all profession] who silently, faithfully, and habitually embodied his knowledge, his principles, and his hopes in his daily conversation and walk : adding, according to the apostolic injunction, to his “faith, virtue—and to virtue, knowledgeand to knowledge, temperance--and to temperance, patience and to patience, godliness—and to godliness, brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness, charity.”
In a word—I may speak of him [as Addison spoke of the great Lord Somers] as of one “who was as solicitous to shun applause, as he was assiduous to deserve it—as one, whose friends have reason to rejoice in the abundant splendour and usefulness of his life—as one, whose enemies can gather from his death nothing to serve them as a ground of triumph-as one, who exhibited at all times that sereneness and calm confidence of soul, which belong only to the man,
66 Whose yesterdays look backward with a smile,
Nor, like the Parthian, wound him as they fly."
And now, brethren, though many and immediate inferences necessarily present themselves on this mournful occasion to the mind of the preacher, I purposely forbear-from indulging in them; thinking it better to leave it with your own hearts, and approved affection, to make the appropriate application of what I have been permitted to state. Nevertheless you will allow me to remind you, that while there are few, who are not, at some season or other, conducted to the house of mourning, we have at the present time entered it more especially to learn the emptiness of all this world can bestow-rank-honour-power—wealth ; and there to discern the omnipotent hand of Him, who “ BRINGETH PRINCES TO NOTHING, AND WHO MAKETH THE JUDGES OF THE EARTH AS VANITY.”
i Sermon DELIVERED BY THE REV. DR. RAFFLES, OF LIVERPOOL. Psalms, xcvii. 2.-" Clouds and darkness are round about him :
righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.”
“ CLOUDS and darkness are round about him :" If I were to stop here, if this were all I declared to you of a supreme being, what an imperfect, what a terrible idea you would have of God! how would you shrink from that darkness, which you could not penetrate, and those clouds which only wrapt the character you were anxious to know, and in which you are so deeply interested, in bewildered and distressing obscurity? Your condition would be that of the miserable Pagan, who is feeling out for God, if haply he may find him. And if I had paused here, if this had been all that God had condescended to reveal of himself, it would only have been in harmony with your conduct; you are too prone to cherish these imperfect ideas of God; you suffer them to influence your conduct; you dwell, obstinately dwell, on the dark side of the representation; you only look upon the darkness and the gloom; you will only listen to the thunder and the clarion; and if any light break upon the dismal scene, it is the lightnings chat dazzle, and the fire that consumes; and under the impreszion, the agonizing impression, of such views of the Deity, you requently exclaim, “ his terrors make me afraid, his mercy is clean gone for ever, and he will be favourable no more.” But there is neither wisdom, nor truth, nor integrity, in such imperfect and partial conceptions of the Deity. No! there is a holy congenial radiance beaming from the darkness of the cloud; and though clouds and darkness are round about him, yet righteousness and judgment are the habitations of his throne.
My brethren, the scriptures give us the most sublime representations of the Deity; and if there were no other proofs and comparisons than the pure, and coherent, and majestic delineation which is furnished in these pages, of the government and character of God, the obscene and monstrous mythology of the heathen would be sufficient to stamp upon these oracles the impress of an Almighty hand. I say the delineation which they give of the character and government of God, for the sacred writers are too wise to attempt to describe an essence which is purely spiritual; they only give us such information concerning the mysterious and inexplicable modes of his existence as is necessary to our right understanding of those relations, which he bears to us in the economy of providence and redemption. We never rise from the study of this book with an evidence in our minds that God cannot be as it represents him ; on the contrary, there is a consciousness within which even the most vain and careless observer must feel, that every representation is correct and true, and even that which is beyond the utmost grasp of our reason to comprehend, still commends itself to our reason as in harmony with every just idea of a being who, because of his infinity, must be beyond the grasp of a finite mind; and who is, therefore, in his arrangements, plans, and operations, mysterious and inexplicable to his creatures. Will the pride of reason and vain philosophy allow and acknowledge that there is most of God where we can least comprehend him, and infinite when he surpasses our finite and degraded intellects? “ Who by searching can find out God? who can find out the Almighty to perfection ?" and yet, Christian, where you cannot trace him, you may trust him with an unwavering confidence; with an unhesitating faith ; for the basis of his throne is “righteousness and judgment,” though the superstructure may be obscured, which shadows the summit where he sits concealed in the darkness of eternity. “ Clouds and darkness”—I feel the majesty of the terms! the words I utter thrill through my brain ! 66 Clouds and darkness are round about him; righteousness and judgment are the habitations of his throne.” Let us endeavour to elicit and illustrate the great truth asserted in our text, and to draw from it those practical lessons which it is calculated to afford. First, then, we are to elicit and illustrate the great truths contained in the text: “ Clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” God is a spirit, and when we read such language as this concerning the Deity, we must not suppose he has a bodily shape, a local habita
tion, a material throne, or that he dwells in pomp and splendour obvious to the senses of his creatures. We must not suppose that he has confirmation and figure, parts and passions, such as we have; no, though he sometimes assumes these material splendours, they are no part of Deity. Though he has sometimes spoken with an audible voice, the organs that uttered the voice were not the organs of Deity. Nothing that belongs to matter can attach to him; and if it were possible for us to conceive of pure, essential, all persuading, unlimited spirit, then we could have a just conception of thc Deity. But we cannot: it is to us with spirit as it is with eternity; and we could no more conceive of a Being, whose capacities and whose presence are unlimited, than we can conceive of a period that neither had beginning nor end. The moment we pass the threshold of these ideas, we plunge into a world, in which we are swallowed up and lost ! lost in the Godhead! lost in eternity! so that if it were not for these material representations, which are obvious to our senses, we should have no correct conceptions of the Deity, if clouds are the obscurity, and darkness is the concealment, in which he hides his purposes and plans from the idle and curious gaze of his creatures; and righteousness and judgment are those eternal principles of rectitude upon which his moral government proceeds, and by which, from first to last, he regulates the whole of his affairs. For I conceive that the passage is improperly rendered, “righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne”: the reading of the margin is better: “ the establishment of his throne”; for habitation has respect rather to being than to things; and the words are intended to convey to us the idea that finite rectitude is the principle of the divine government and the spring of all his conduct. Thus then the doctrine of the text is the mingled mystery and rectitude of the divine proceedings; and we shall appeal for illustration to the great scheme of human redemption and to the dispensations of his providence.
Ist. To the great scheme of human redemption.—And I love to treat this glorious subject thus : that we may see the wisdom of the wise destroyed, and the understanding of the prudent come to nought; that we may see the foolishness of God to be wiser than the wisdom of men, and the weakness of God to be stronger than the mightiest energies of the most exalted intelligencies. These Angels are lost! well may mortals fall and adore the mystery! There are abysses in it so deep, .so profound, that the prying eye of Gabriel cannot see the amazing depth, or measure the vast profound! mysteries into which the angels desired to look! How much is there in this great scheme of infinite justice and mercy that is dimly seen by mortals ; how much that mortals cannot comprehend, because of their finite capacities—much that God has not condescended to reveal at all! for clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” Our thought, brethren, with its strongest pinions, and