Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and happiness. For though there can be no happiness without pleasure-yet the reverse of the proposition will not hold true.-We are so made, that, from the common gratifications of our appetites, and the impressions of a thousand objects, we snatch the one like a transient gleam, without being suffered to taste the other, and enjoy the perpetual sunshine and fair weather which constantly attend it.' This, I contend, is- wwly to be found in religion in the consciousness of virtue--and the sure and certain hopes of a better life, which brightens all our prospects, and leaves no room to dread disappointmentsbecause the expectation of it is built upon a rock whose foundations are as deep as those of heaven or hell.

And though, in our pilgrimage through this world some of us may be so fortunate as to meet with some clear fountains by the way, that may cool, for a few moments, the heat of this great thirst of happinessyet our Saviour, who knew the world, though he enjoyed but little of it. tells us, that whosoever drinketh of this water will thirst again : -and we all find by experience it is so, and by reason that it always must be so..

I conclude with a short observation upon Solomon's evi. dence in this case.

Never did the busy brain of a lean and hiectic chymist search for the philosopher's stone with more pains and ardour than this great man did after happiness. He was one of the wisest inquirers into nature—had tried all her powers and capacities; and, after a thousand vain speculations and idle experiments, he affirmed at length, it lay hid in no one thing he had tried: like the chymists projections, all had ended in smoke, or, what was worse, in vanity and vexation of spirit. The conclusion of the whole matter was this—that he advises every man who would be happy, to fear God and keep his commandments.

, V.-On the Death of Christ. : THE redemption of man is one of the most glorious works of the Almighty. If the hour of the creation of the world was great and illustrious; that hour, when, from the dark and formless mass, this fair system of nature arose at the Divine command; when “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy ;"no less illustrious is the hour of the restoration of the world; the hour, when, from condemnation and misery, it emerged into happiness and peace. With less external majesty it was attended, but is, on that account, the more wonderful, that, under appearance so simple, such great events were covered.

In the hour of Christ's death, the long series of prophecies, visions, types, and figures, was accomplished. This was the centre in which they all met; this the point towards which they had tended and verged, throughout the course of so many generations. You behold the law and the Prophets standing, if we may so speak, at the foot of the cross, and doing homage. You behold Moses and Aaron bearing the ark of the covenant; David and Elijah presenting the oracle of testimony. tou behold all the priests and sacrifices, all the rites and ordinances, all the types and symbols, assembled together to receive their consummation. Without the death of Christ, the worship and ceremonies of the law would have remained a pompous but unmeaning institution. In the hour when he was crucified, “the book with the seven seals” was opened. Every rite assumed its significancy; every prediction met its event; every symbol displayed its correspondence.

This was the hour of the abolition of the Law, and the introduction of the Gospel; the hour of terminating the oid, and of beginning the new dispensation of religious knowledge and worship throughout the earth. Viewed in this light, it forms the most august era which is to be found in the history of mankind. When Christ was suffering on the cross, we are informed by one of the evangelists, that he said, “I thirst ;” and that they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it to his mouth. “ After he had tasted the vinegar," knowing that all things were now accomplished, and the scripture fulfilled, he said, “It is finished; that is, this offered draught of vinegar was the last circumstance predicted by an ancient prophet that remained to be fuifilled. The vision and the prophecy are now sealed: the Mosaic dispensation is closed. 66 And he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”—Significantly was the veil of the temple rent in this hour; for the glory then departed from bętween the cherubims. The legal high priest delivered up his Urim and Thumrim, his breastplate, his robes, and his incense : and CHRIST stood forth as the great High Priest of all succeeding generations. By that one sacritice which he' now offered, he abolished sacrifices for ever. Altars on which the fire had blazed for ages were now to smoke no more. Victims were no more to bleed. “ Not with the

blood of bulls and goats, but with his own blood, he now entered into the Holy Place, there to appear in the presence of God for us."

This was the hour of association and union to all the worshippers of God. When Christ said, " It is finished," he threw down the wall of partition which had so long divided the Gentile from the Jew. He gathered into one, all the faithful, out of every kindred and people. He proclaimed the hour to be come, when the knowledge of the true God should be no longer confined to one nation, nor his worship to one temple ; but over all the earth, the worshippers of the Father should " serve him in spirit and in truth." From that hour, they who dwelt in the cuttermost ends of the earth, strangers to the covenant of promise,” began to be brought nigh.” In that hour, the light of the gospel dawned from afar on the British islands.

This was the hour of Christ's triumph over all the powers of darkness; the hour in which he overthrew dominions. and thrones, « led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." The contest which the kingdom of darkness bad long maintained against the kingdom of light, was now brought to its crisis. The period was come, when as the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent." For many ages, the most gross superstition had filled the earth. « The glory of the incorruptible God was,' every where, except in the land of Judea, “ changed into images made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and beasts, and creeping things. The world, which the Almighty created for himself, seemed to have become a temple of idols. Even to vices and passions altars were raised; and what was entitled Religion, was, in effect, a discipline of impurity. In the midst of this universal darkness, Satan had erected his throne : and the learned and polished, as well as the savage nations, bowed down before him. But at the hour when Christ appeared on the cross, the signal of his defeat was given. His kingdom suddenly departed from him; the reign of idolatry passed away: He was 6 beheld to fall like lightning from heaven.” In that hour, the foundation of every Pagan temple shook; the statue of every false god tottered on its base; the priest fled from his falling shrine; and the beathen oracles became dumb for ever.

Death also, the last foe to man, was the victim of this hour. The formidable appearance of the spectre remained, but his dart was taken away : for in the hour when Christ expiated guilt, he disarmed death, by securing the resurrection of the just. When he said to his penitent fellowsufferer, 6 To-day thou shalt be with me in paradise," he announced to all his followers the certainty of heavenly bliss. He declared “ the cherubims” to be dismissed, and the 6 flaming sword” to be sheathed, which had been appointed at the fall “ to keep from man the way of the Tree of life.” Faint, before this period, had been the hope, indistinct the prospect, which even good men enjoyed of the heavenly kingdom.- Life and immortality were now brought to light.” From the hill of Calvary, the first clear and certain view was given to the world, of the everlasting mansions. Since that hour, they have been the perpetual consolation of the believers in Christ. Under trouble, they sooth their minds; amidst temptations, they support their virtue ; and, in their dying moments, enable them to say, " death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory ?"

SECTION I. ELOQUENCE OF THE SENATE. 1.-Speech of the Earl of Chesterfield, in the House of Lords,

February 22, 1740, on the Pension Bill. MY LO

IT is now so late, and so much has been said in favour of the motion for the second reading of the Perion Bill, by Lords much abler than I am, that I shall detain you but a very short while with what I have to say upon the subject. It has been said by a noble Duke, that this bill can be looked on only as a bill for preventing a grievance that is foreseen, and not as a bill for remedying a grievance that is already felt; because it is not asserted, nor so much as insinuated in the preamble of the bill, that any corrupt practices are now made use of, for gaining an undue influence over the other House. My Lords, this was the very reason for bringing in the bill. They could not assert, that any such practices are now made use of, without a proof; and the means for coming at this proof, is what they want, and what they propose to get by this bill. They suspect there are such practices, but they cannot prove it. The crime is of such a secret nature, that it can very seldom be proved

by witnesses, and therefore they want to put it to the trial, at least, of being proved by the oath of one of the parties; which is a method often taken in cases that can admit of no other proof. This is, therefore, no argument of the grievance not being felt; for a man may, very sensibly, feel a grievance, and yet may not be able to prove it.

That there is a suspicion of some such practices being now made use of, or that they will soon be made use of, the many remonstrances from all parts of the united kingdoms are a sufficient proof. That this suspicion has crept into the other House, their having so frequently sent up this bill is a manifest demonstration, and a strong argument for its being necessary to have some such bill passed into a law. The other House must be allowed to be better judges of what passes, or must pass, within their own walls, than we can pretend to be. It is evident, they suspect that corrupt practices have been, or soon may be, made use of, for gaining an undue influence over some of their measures : and they have calculated this bill for curing the evil, if it is felt; for preventing it, if it is only foreseen. That any such practices have been actually made use of, or are now made use of, is what I shall not pretend to affirm ; but I am sure I shall not affirm the contrary. If any such are made use of, I will, with confidence, vindicate his Majesty. I am sure he knows nothing of them. I am sure he will disdain to suffer chem: but I cannot pass such a compliment upon his ministers, nor upon any set of ministers that ever was, or over will be, in this nation ; and, therefore, I think I cannot more faithfully, more effectually, serve his present Majesty, as well as his successors, than by putting it out of the power of ministers to gain any corrupt influence over either House of Parliament. Such an attempt may be necessary for the security of the minister, but must always be inconsistent with the security of his master: and the more necessary it is for the minister's security, the more inconsistent it will always be with the king's, and the more dangerous to the liberties of the nation. To pretend, my Lords, that this bill diminishes, or any way encroaches upon the prerogative, is something very strange. What prerogative, my Lords? Has the crown a prerogative to bribe, to infringe the law, by sending its pensioners into the other House ? To say so, is destroying the credit, the authority of the crown, under the pretence of supporting its prerogative. If his Majesty knew that

« AnteriorContinuar »