« AnteriorContinuar »
to life and his labours to the fine pursuit of tions of cast and of colour, and spreads its
augmenting the science, or the virtue, or ample regards over the whole brotherhood the substantial prosperity of his nation. of the species-a philanthropy, which atOh! could such a man retain all the ten- taches itself to man in the general; to man derness, and fulfil all the duties which home throughout all his varieties: to man as the and which neighbourhood require of him, partaker of one common nature, and who, and at the same time expatiate, in the might in whatever clime or latitude you may meet of his untired faculties, on so wide a field with him, is found to breathe the same of benevolent contemplation-would not sympathies, and to possess the same high this extension of reach place him still high- capabilities both of bliss and improvement. er than before, on the scale both of moral | It is true that upon this subject, there is and intellectual gradation, and give him a often a loose and unsettled magnificence of still brighter and more enduring name in thought, which is fruitful of nothing but the records of human excellence ?
empty speculation. But the men to whom And lastly, I can conceive a still loftier I allude have not imagined the enterprise flight of humanity-a man, the aspiring of in the form of a thing unknown. 'T'hey whose heart for the good of man, knows have given it a local habitation. They have no limitations-whose longings, and whose bodied it forth in deed and in accomplishconceptions on this subject, overleap all ment. They have turned the dream into a the barriers of geography-who, looking on reality. In them, the power of a lofty genehimself as a brother of the species, links ralization meets with its happiest attemevery spare energy which belongs to him perament in the principle and perseverance, with the canse of its melioration-who can and all the chastening and subduing virtues embrace within the grasp of his ample de of the New Testament. And, were I in sires the whole family of mankind-and search of that fine union of grace and of who, in obedience to a heaven-born move greatness, which I have now been insisting ment of principle within him, separates on, and in virtue of which the enlightened himself to some big and busy enterprise, Christian can at once find room in his which is to tell on the moral destinies of the bosom for the concerns of universal huworld. Oh! could such a man mix up the manity and for the play of kindliness tosoftenings of private virtue with the habit wards every individual he meets with-I of so sublime a comprehension-if, amid could no where more readily expect to find those magnificent darings of thought and of it, than with the worthies of our own landperformance, the mildness of his benignant the Howard of a former generation, who eye could still continue to cheer the retreat paced it over Europe in quest of the unof his family, and to spend the charm and the seen wretchedness which abounds in it; or sacredness of piety among all its members in such men of our present generation as -could he even mingle himself, in all the. Wilberforce, who lifted his unwearied voice gentleness of a soothed and a smiling heart, against the biggest outrage ever practised with the playfulness of his children and on our nature, till he wrought its extermialso find strength to shed the blessings of nation; and Clarkson, who plied his assihis presence and his counsel over the vi- duous task at rearing the materials of its cinity around him;-oh! would not the impressive history, and at length carried, combination of so much grace with so much for this righteous cause, the mind of Parlialoftiness, only serve the more to aggrandize ment; and Carey, from whose hand the him? Would not the one ingredient of a generations of the East are now receiving Character so rare, go to illustrate and to the elements of their moral renovation, and, magnify the other And would not you in fine, those holy and devoted men, who pronounce him to be the fairest specimen count not their lives dear unto them; but, of our nature, who could so call out all your going forth every year from the island of tenderness, while he challenged and com- our habitation, carry the message of heapelled all your veneration ?
ven over the face of the world ; and in the Nor can I proceed, at this point of my front of severest obloquy are now labouring argument, without adverting to the way in in remotest lands; and are reclaiming anwhich this last and this largest style of be- other and another portion from the wastes nevolence is exemplified in our own coun- of dark and fallen humanity; and are widentry--where the spirit of the Gospel has ing the domains of gospel light and gospel given to many of its enlightened disciples principle among them; and are spreading a the impulse of such a philanthropy, as car- moral beauty around the every spot on which ries abroad their wishes and their endea-they pitch their lowly tabernacle; and are at vours to the very outskirts of human po-length compelling even the eye and the testipulation-a philanthropy, of which, if you mony of gainsayers, by the success of their asked the extent or the boundary of its field, noble enterprise ; and are forcing the exwe should answer, in the language of in- clamation of delighted surprise from the spiration, that the field is the world-phi- charmed and arrested traveller, as he looks lanthropy, which overlooks all the distinc-l at the softening tints which they are now
spreading over the wilderness, and as he may be brought to meet the infidelity we hears the sound of the chapel bell, and as in have thus long been employed in combatthose haunts where, at the distance of half Img. It was nature, and the experience of a generation, savages would have scowled every bosom will affirm it-it was nature upon his path, he regales himself with the in the shepherd to leave the ninety and nine hum of missionary schools, and the lovely of his flock forgotten and alone in the wil spectacle of peaceful and christian villages. derness, and betaking himself to the moun
Such, then, is the benevolence, at once so tains, to give all his labour and all his congentle and so lofty, of those men, who, cern to the pursuit of one solitary wansanctified by the faith that is in Jesus, have derer. - It was nature; and we are told in had their hearts visited from heaven by a the passage before us, that it is such a porbeam of warmth and of sacredness.- What / tion of nature as belongs not merely to men then, I should like to know, is the benevo- but to angels; when the woman, with her lence of the place from whence such an in-mind in a state of listlessness as to the nine fluence cometh ? How wide is the coinpass of pieces of silver that were in secure custody, this virtue there, and how exquisite is the feel-iurned the whole force of her anxiety to the ing of its tenderness, and how pure and how one piece which she had lost, and for which fervent are its aspirings among those unfal-she had to light a candle, and to sweep the len beings who have no darkness and no en- house, and to search diligently until she cumbering weight of corruption to strive found it. It was nature in her to rejoice against ? Angels have a mightier reach of more over that piece, than over all the rest contemplation. Angels can look upon this of them, and to tell it abroad among friends world, and all which it inherits, as the part and neighbours, that they might rejoice of a larger family. Angels were in the full along with her--aye, and sadly effaced as huexercise of their powers even at the first in- manity is, in all her original lineaments, this fancy of our species, and shared in the gra- is a part of our nature, the very movements tulations of that period, when at the birth of which are experienced in heaven, “where of humanity all intelligent nature felt a there is more joy over one sinner that regladdening impulse, and the morning stars penteth, than over ninety and nine just persang together for joy. They loved us even sons who need no repentance.” For any with that love which a family on earth bears thing. I know, the very planet that rolls in to a younger sister; and the very childhood the immensity around me may be a land of of our tinier faculties did only serve the righteousness; and be a member of the more to endear us to them; and though household of God; and have her secure born at a later hour in the history of crea- dwelling-place within that ample limit, tion, did they regard us as heirs of the same which embraces his great and universal ladestiny with themselves, to rise along with mily. But I know at least of one wanderer; them in the scale of moral elevation, to bow and how wofully she has strayed from at the same footstool, and to partake in those peace and from purity; and how in dreary high dispensations of a parent's kindness and alienation from him who made her, she has a parent's care, which are ever emanating bewildered herself among those many defrom the throne of the Eternal on all the vious tracts, which have carried her afar members of a duteous and affectionate fami- from the path of immortality; and how sad. ly. Take the reach of an angel's mind, but, ly tarnished all those beauties and felicities at the same time take the seraphic servour of are, which promised, on that morning of her an angel's benevolence along with it; how existence when God looked on her, and from the eminence on which he stands he saw that all was very good-which promay have an eye upon many worlds, and a mised so richly to bless and to adorn her; remembrance upon the origin and the suc- and how in the eye of the whole unfallen cessive concerns of every one of them ; how creation, she has renounced all this goodlihe may feel the full force of a most affect-ness, and is fast departing away from them ing relationship with the inhabitants of into guilt, and wretchedness, and shame. each, as the offspring of one common Fa-Oh! if there be any truth in this chapter, ther; and though it be both the effect and the and any sweet or touching nature in the evidence of our depravity, that we cannot principle which runs throughout all its pasympathise with these pure and generous rables, let us cease to wonder, though they ardours of a celestial spirit; how it may who surround the throne of love should be consist with the lofty comprehension, and looking so intently toward us-or though the everbreathing love of an angel, that he in the way by which they have singled us can both shoot his benevolence abroad over out, all the other orbs of space should, for a mighty expanse of planets and of systems, one short season, on the scale of eternity, and lavish a flood of tenderness on each appear to be forgotten-or though for every individual of their teeming population. step of her recovery, and for every indi
Keep all this in view, and you cannot vidual who is rendered back again to the fail to perceive how the principle, so finely fold from which he was separated, another and so copiously illustrated in this chapter and another message of triumph should be made to circulate among the hosts of para- summation of their history in time, there dise-or though lost as we are, and sunk in should be such a movement in heaven; or depravity as we are, all the sympathies of that angels should so often have sped their heaven should now be awake on the en- commissioned way on the errand of our terprise of him who has travailed, in the recovery; or that the Son of God should greatness of his strength, to seek and to have bowed himself down to the burden of save us.
our mysterious atonement; or that the And here I cannot but remark how fine a Spirit of God should now, by the busy vaharmony there is between the law of sym- riety of his all-powerful influences, be carrypathetic nature in heaven, and the most ing forward that dispensation of grace touching exhibitions of it on the face of our which is to make us meet for re-admittance world. When one of a numerous house-into the mansions of the celestial. Only hold droops under the power of disease, is think of love as the reigning principle there; not that the one to whom all the tenderness of love, as sending forth its energies and is turned, and who, in a manner, monopo- aspirations to the quarter where its object lizes the inquiries of his neighbourhood, is most in danger of being for ever lost to and the care of his family? When the it; of love, as called forth by this single sighing of the midnight storms sends a dis-circumstance to its uttermost exertion, and mal foreboding into the mother's heart, to the most exquisite feeling of its tenderness ; whom of all her offspring, I would ask, are and then shall we come to a distinct and a her thoughts and her anxieties then wan-familiar explanation of this whole mystery: dering ? Is it not to her sailor boy whom her Nor shall we resist by our incredulity the fancy has placed amid the rude and angry gospel message any longer, though it tells surges of the ocean? Does not this, the us that throughout the whole of this world's hour of his apprehended danger, concen- history, long in our eyes, but only a little trate upon him the whole force of her wake- month in the high periods of immortality, ful meditations ? And does not he engross, so much of the vigilance, and so much of the for a season, her every sensibility, and her earnestness of heaven, should have been every prayer ? We sometimes hear of ship-expended on the recovery of its guilty powrecked passengers thrown upon a barba-pulation. rous shore; and seized upon by its prowling There is another touching trait of nature, inhabitants; and hurried away through the which goes finely to heighten this princitracks of a dreary and unknown wilder-ple, and still more forcibly to demonstrate ness; and sold into captivity; and loaded its application to our present argument. So with the fetters of irrecoverable bondage ; long as the dying child of David was alive, and who, stripped of every other liberty but he was kept on the stretch of anxiety and the liberty of thought, feel even this to be of suffering with regard to it. When it exanother ingredient of wretchedness, for pired, he arose and comforted himself. This what can they think of but home; and as all narrative of King David is in harmony with its kind and tender imagery comes upon all that we experience of our own movetheir remembrance, how can they think of ments and our own sensibilities. It is the it but in the bitterness of despair ? Oh tell power of uncertainty which gives them so me, when the fame of all this disaster active and so interesting a play in our boreaches his family, who is the member of soms; and which heightens all our regards it to whom is directed the full tide of its to a tenfold pitch of feeling and exercise; griefs and of its sympathies? Who is it that, and which fixes down our watchfulness for weeks and for months, usurps their upon our infant's dying bed ; and which every feeling, and calls out their largest sa- keeps us so painfully alive to every turn crifices, and sets them to the busiest expe- and to every symptom in the progress of dients for getting him back again ? Who is its malady; and which draws out all our it that makes them forgetful of themselves affections for it to a degree of intensity that nd of all around them; and tell me if you. is quite unutterable; and which urges us on an assign a limit to the pains, and the ex-to ply our every effort and our every exertions, and the surrenders which afflicted pedient, till hope withdraw its lingering parents and weeping sisters would make to beam, or till death shut the eyes of our beseek and to save him.
loved in the slumber of its long and its last Now conceive, as we are warranted to do repose. by the parables of this chapter, the princi- I know not who of you have your names ple of all these earthly exhibitions to be in written in the book of life-nor can I tell full operation around the throne of God. if this be known to the angels which are in Conceive the universe to be one secure and heaven. While in the land of living men, rejoicing family, and that this alienated you are under the power and application world is the only strayed, or only captive of a remedy, which if taken as the gospel member belonging to it; and we shall cease prescribes, will renovate the soul, and alto wonder, that from the first period of the together prepare it for the bloom and the captivity of our species, down to the con-| vigour of immortality. Wonder not then
that with this principle of uncertainty in | How will it go to aggravate the whole guilt such full operation, ministers should feel of our impenitency, should we stand out for you; or angels should feel for you; or against the power and the tenderness of all ihe sensibilities of heaven should be these manifold applications—the voice of a awake upon the symptoms of your grace beseeching God upon us-the word of salvaand reformation ; or the eyes of those who tion at our very door-the free offer of stand upon the high eminences of the celes- strength and of acceptance sounded in our tial world, should be so earnestly fixed on hearing-the spirit in readiness with his the every footstep and new evolution of agency to meet our every desire and our your moral history. Such a consideration every inquiry-angels beckoning us to their as this should do something more than si-company-and the very first movements of lence the infidel objection. It should give our awakened conscience drawing upon us a practical effect to the calls of repentance. all their regard, and all their earnestness!
On the Contest for an Ascendency over Man, among the Higher Orders of
" And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in
it."-Colossians ii. 15.
Though these astronomical Discourses when the soundness and the consistency of be now drawing to a close, it is not because her principles are brought faithfully to bear I feel that much more might not be said on upon it. Were the characters of modern the subject of them, both in the way of ar- science rightly understood, it would be seen, gument and of illustration. The whole of that the very thing which gave such strength the infidel difficulty proceeds upon the as- and sureness to all her conclusions, was sumption, that the exclusive bearing of that humility of spirit which belonged to Christianity is upon the people of our earth; her. She promulgates all that is positively that this solitary planet is in no way impli- known; but she maintains the strictest cated with the concerns of a wider dispen- silence and modesty about all that is unsation; that the revelation we have of the known. She thankfully accepts of evidence dealings of God, in this district of his em- wherever it can be found ; nor does she pire, does not suit and subordinate itself to spurn away from her the very humblest a system of moral administration, as ex- contribution of such doctrine as can be wittended as in the whole of his monarchy. nessed by human observation, or can be Or, in other words, because infidels have not attested by human veracity. But with all access to the whole truth, will they refuse this she can hold out most sternly against a part of it however well attested or well that power of eloquence and fancy, which accredited it may be; because a mantle of often throws so bewitching a charm over deep obscurity rests on the government of the plausibilities of ingenious speculation God, when taken in all its eternity and all Truth is the alone idol of her reverence; its entireness, will they shut their eyes and did she at all times keep by her atagainst that allowance of light which has tachments, nor throw them away when been made to pass downwards upon our theology submitted to her cognizance its world from time to time, through so many demonstrations and its claims, we should partial unfoldings; and till they are made not despair of witnessing as great a revoluto know the share which other planets have tion in those prevailing habitudes of thought in these communications of mercy, will they which obtain throughout our literary estaturn them away from the actual message blishments, on the subject of Christianity,
which has come to their own door, and as that which has actually taken place in · will neither examine its credentials, nor be the philosophy of external nature. This is
alarmed by its warnings, nor be won by the the first field on which have been success. tenderness of its invitations.
fully practised the experimental lessons of On that day when the secrets of all hearts Bacon; and they who are conversant with shall be revealed, there will be found such a these matters, know how great and how wilful duplicity and darkening of the mind general a uniformity of doctrine now pre in the whole of this proceeding, as shall vails in the sciences of astronomy, and bring down upon it the burden of a righ- mechanics, and chemistry, and almost all teous condemnation. But, even now, does the other departments in the history and it lie open to the rebuke of philosophy, philosophy of matter. But this uniformity
stands strikingly contrasted with the diver- paltry and provincial a system as infidelity sity of our moral systems, with the restless presumes it to be. And as I said before, fluctuations both of language and of senti- I have not exhausted all that may legitiment which are taking place in the philoso-mately be derived upon this subject from phy of mind, with the palpable fact that the informations of Scripture. I have adevery new course of instruction upon this verted, it is true, to the knowledge of our subject, has some new articles, or some moral history, which obtains throughout new explanations to peculiarize it: and all other provinces of the intelligent creation. this is to be attributed, not to the progress I have asserted the universal importance of the science, not to a growing, but to an which this may confer on the transactions alternating movement; not to its perpetual even of one planet, in as much as it may additions, but to its perpetual vibrations. spread an honourable display of the God
I mean not to assert the futility of moral head among all the mansions of infinity. I science, or to deny her importance, or to have attempted to expatiate on the arguinsist on the utter hopelessness of her ad- ment, that an event little in itself, may be vancement. The Baconian method will not so pregnant with character, as to furnish all probably push forward her discoveries with the worshippers of heaven with a theme such a rapidity, or to such an extent, as of praise for eternity. I have stated that many of her sanguine disciples have anti- nothing is of magnitude in their eyes, but cipated. But if the spirit and the maxims that which serves to endear to them the of this philosophy were at all times pro- Father of their spirits, or to shed a lustre ceeded upon, it would certainly check that over the glory of his incomprehensible atrashness and variety of excogitation, in tributes—and that thus, from the redempvirtue of which it may almost be said, that tion even of our solitary species, there may every new course presents us with a new go forth such an exhibition of the Deity, system, and that every new teacher has as shall bear the triumphs of his name to some singularity or other to characterize the very outskirts of the universe. him. She may be able to make out an exact I have further adverted to another distranscript of the phenomena of mind, and tinct scriptural intimation, that the state of in so doing, she yields a most important fallen man was not only matter of knowcontribution to the stock of human acquire-ledge to other orders of creation, but was ments. But when she attempts to grope also matter of deep regret and affectionate her darkling way through the counsels of sympathy; that, agreeably to such laws the Deity, and the futurities of his admin- of sympathy as are most familiar even istration; when, without one passing ac- to human observation, the very wretchedknowledgment to the embassy which pro- ness of our condition was fitted to concenfesses to have come from Him, or to the trate upon us the feelings, and the attentions, facts and to the testimonies by which it has and the services, of the celestial-to single so illustriously been vindicated, she launches us out for a time to the gaze of their most forth her own speculations on the character earnest and unceasing contemplation-to of God, and the destiny of man ; when, draw forth all that was kind and all that though this be a subject on which neither was tender within them--and just in prothe recollections of history, nor the ephe- portion to the need and to the helplessness meral experience of any single life, can fur- of us miserable exiles from the family of nish one observation to enlighten her, she God, to multiply upon us the regards, and .will nevertheless utter her own plausibili- call out in our behalf the fond and eager ties, not merely with a contemptuous ne- exertions of those who had never wandered glect of the Bible, but in direct opposition away from Him. This appears from the to it; then it is high time to remind her of Bible to be the style of that benevolence the difference between the reverie of him which glows and which circulates around who has not seen God, and the well-accre the throne of heaven. It is the very benevodited declaration of Him who was in the lence which emanates from the throne itself, beginning with God, and was God; and to and the attentions of which have for so tell her that this so far from being the ar-many thousand years signalized the inhagument of an ignoble fanaticism, is in har- bitants of our world. This may look a long mony with the very argument upon which period for so paltry a world. But how have the science of experiment has been reared, infidels come to their conception that our and by which it has been at length deliver- world is so paltry? By looking abroad ed from the influence of theory, and purified over the countless systems of immensity of all its vain and visionary splendours. But why then have they missed the con
In my last Discourses, I have attempted ception, that the time of those peculiar visito collect from the records of God's actual tations, which they look upon as so disprocommunication to the world, such traces portionate to the magnitude of this earth, of relationship between other orders of be- is just as evanescent as the earth itself is ing and the great family of mankind, as insignificant ? Why look they not abroad serve to prove that Christianity is not sol on the countless generations of eternity;