Page images
PDF
EPUB

the cause of the Redeemer under foot; but it has only been in appearance. Like the fabled Phoenix, the church has risen from the flames, stretched her pinions for a loftier flight, dashed down the monuments which her foes had reared to perpetuate her overthrow; and gone on from conquest to conquest, spreading the glory of her Master, and promoting the happiness of men. Nor ought it to escape our recollection, that the word of our God has been assailed; but even heathens have perceived the influence of the sacred writings on the lives of Christians. And where the same spirit prevails, and while the cause of truth is dear to our hearts, the cause must prevail. The sentiment in the text may be illustrated and confirmed by noticing,

[ocr errors]

2. The utter failure of the opposition of Infidelity. The manner in which infidelity has stood in the way of the truth of Christ, is highly interesting in itself. It has varied the methods of its assaults; but, in all, it has only illustrated and proved the excellency of the dispensation of truth. Sometimes its opposition has been coarse, rude and vulgar. Pens deeply dipped in filth have assailed the holiness of truth. Low jests, loose ribaldry, obscene wit, have been hurled at the Christian's serious thoughts of God of Christ of death of eternity. The sophist's art, also, has been called in to oppose the system of truth; and that system by which the martyrs were upheld in death; that system which had triumphed over the attacks of Julian and Porphyry; that system which had stood successfully against the fury of the Cæsars; that system which had stood the test of eighteen centuries; that system which had taught so many thousands how to live and how to die; - that system has been assailed by the fine-spun theory of a Gibbon; and a finely-wrought syllogism was supposed to be powerful enough to destroy it! I would respect the man that, with fairness and candor, attempted to oppose the system of revealed truth; but when in a matter so serious, a matter which involves the everlasting interests of immortal men, I am met with a jest or a farce, and a quibble is converted into an attack upon the truth; a madman is to me the emblem of wisdom! In many cases, the poison has been mixed up with many sweets; the serpent lay concealed amidst beauteous flowers; and his fiery aspect, his forky tongue, and his deadly venom, were not perceived till it was almost too late. Yet, in reality, all these attacks have but established the truth which they were designed to overthrow. Christianity overthrown! My brethren, let us not fear investigation; let us not fear that there ever can come a time when the truth of God can fail. Fail! what have we been talking about? as if the truth of God were to fall before its foes! It cannot be; it is like a strong fortress on the summit of an everlasting rock;

some of her friends, through carelessness, have been entertaining suspicions that the fortress will be taken by storm, or that it will fall down; and they have brought to the foot of the rock a quantity of straw and sand to support it! The affected knowledge of the infidel, the bitter sarcasms, and the haughty sneers of the worldling, have swept away, as with a mighty gale, the straws and sands at the base of the rock; but what has become of the fortress? She has stood firm amidst all the storms; all her proportions are as fair as ever; her turrets still touch the skies; and there she stands, more glorious in the eyes of her friends, more terrific to the gaze of her foes! Let her stand by herself, and she will stand for ever. The declaration in the text may be illustrated, by adverting

3. To the blessed and delightful spread given to it in our day. We cannot contemplate, without considerable emotion, what has been done in the days in which we live. Since we first saw the light of heaven, what a wide diffusion has been given to the word of God! In regions shut up in the darkness of Atheism, or the gloom of superstitionover many such a land has the gospel of our God spread itself. Sometimes it has proceeded silently, and at other times visibly, in its course. In many a deep savanna, where nothing was once heard but the war whoop of the savage, has the cheering name of our Emmanuel been sung. Over many a plain where superstition only uttered her melancholy moans, has Christian prayer and Christian praise been heard, conveying delight to the hearts of men, and joy to the hosts of heaven. An infidel author, of base and execrable memory, undertook what he called an impartial view of Scripture, in order to demonstrate that it was not what it professed to be; and, after having gone through the books of the Old Testament, he concludes with this language of singular arrogance-"I have now gone through these books; gone through them as a woodman would go through a wood, with an axe, clearing his way as he went. I have cut them down, and here they are. The priests,.if they please, may stick them in the ground again; but they will never grow." It is now nearly forty years since the hand that wrote this has been buried in the dust; but the soul that indited the sentence has gone to take its stand at the tribunal of the just and righteous Judge; "the Judge of all the earth," who will assuredly "do right." Whether his body is buried in America or in England, I know not; but, O Lord, gather not the soul of thy servant with the soul of the wicked and profane! But let us return to the time when these prophets and apostles were said to be "cut down." Since that period, the British and Foreign Bible Society has multiplied these prophets and apostles by hundreds and by thousands! School Socie

They have taken

ties have risen up to put it in the power of hundreds and of thousands to read the prophets and apostles thus circulated! Since that time also originated Missionary Societies! the Church Missionary Society - the London- the Baptists - our own. All these have arisen, and by their active exertions have spread those prophets and apostles wider still! The prophets and apostles "cut down?" No such thing! They are planted on the banks of the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi; and there they are to be seen, vigorous and strong. "Cut down" the prophets and the apostles? No such thing! They have been planted upon the sun-burnt shores of Africa, and there they afford refreshment and shelter to the neglected children of the South. The prophets and the apostles "cut down?" Nothing of the kind. root on the populous plains of Hindoostan, and there they are diffusing their corrective influence on the poisonous systems which have hitherto prevailed in those populous climes. "Cut down" the prophets and apostles? No such thing. They are planted in the islands that speck the bosom of the Pacific Ocean; and they have been found congenial to the clime - purifying it from its numerous evils. "Cut down" the prophets and the apostles! Oh no, no! their roots have struck deep their branches have spread their tops touch the sky; they afford shelter for birds of every wing; they are continually yielding their fruit, and "their leaves are for the healing of the nations." "The word of our God shall stand for ever." This This may be illustrated further, if we

[ocr errors]

4. Advert to the fact that the dispensation of truth with which God has blessed the world is also the dispensation of the Spirit. If I prove that the Bible is in all your houses, and that it rests on your tables and your shelves, I prove but little,- a mere book is nothing. But this is a book of the Spirit—a book of inquiry. The word of our God is a living word it is not only a dispensation of words, addressed to the understanding and will, but a dispensation of the Spirit coming to the heart of man. If I wanted the proof of this, I would seek it among yourselves. Is there in this large and interesting assembly a man who ever felt the burden of a guilty conscience? one who ever mourned over the evils of his past life, and the evil dispositions of his own heart? Was it not, I ask, by some truth of the Spirit of your God? Was it not by some one single word, which entered as an arrow into your heart, and the poison of which drank up your spirits? It was. Or is there in this assembly one who ever knew what it was to receive the tokens of the forgiving love of God? one who can come nigh unto his throne who can call him Father by the Holy Ghost? one who ever felt the peace, the hope, the joy, the love, of the gospel springing up in the soul? I ask, Was

-

it not some dear, soul-afflicting word of our God-some gracious promise applied by the Spirit,- that brought thee into this happy state? Is there here a man who can resist temptation who can guard the door of his lips and his heart-who, in adversity, can rejoice - who, in a dark and cloudy day, can put his trust in his Father and his God? Was it not, I ask, because the word of our God was applied by the Spirit to the heart, carrying joy and gladness with it?

I am glad, exceedingly glad, that "the word of our God shall stand for ever." I find myself a poor worm of the earth, exposed to a thousand temptations and disasters exposed to a thousand circumstances of trial and danger, over which I have no control; I find that I am one of a multitudinous race of men; I find that this land in which I dwell is but a speck on the face of the globe; I find that this globe is but one in a system, of which it makes but a very small part; I find that system to be one of innumerable millions, scattered over the immeasurable regions of space. My heart, my poor heart, misgives me! I fear that I am lost amidst these myriads of beings that it is not possible for such a poor worm as I am to be remembered by the Lord of all! But "the word of our God shall stand for ever." That word declares" the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry." While he made the universe, and governs it too, he is not unmindful of the work of his hands. "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice." "The very hairs of my head are all numbered."

I perceive that life's day is rapidly hastening to a close. "The place that knows me now, will shortly know me no more." I feel that I have an intelligent thinking spirit within me; but whether it will return to the dust when my body dies, my reason cannot tell. But "the word of our God shall stand for ever." That word assures me that the souls of Abraham and Lazarus are in the abodes of the faithful; that the souls of the faithful shall live for ever.

[ocr errors]

I am going down to the dust! O king of terrors, I am not insensible of thy approach! The gloomy terrors of the grave are before me! I must go down to "the house appointed for all living!' But let me not be dismayed; the word of God assures me, and "the word of our God shall stand for ever," —that all who are in the graves shall live again. "The hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth!" "Them that sleep with Jesus will God bring with him." And in the day when God shall come in glory," he shall change my vile body, and fashion it like unto his own glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself."

O, I am glad that "the word of our God shall stand for ever." I feel that I have been a sinner! The proudest infidel feels it. He felt it, who said, "I hate every body; I believe myself to be about the best of men; and I know how bad I am!" Yes; and as a Christian, with clearer light, I know that I have been a sinner. Yet let me not sink into despair! Let me not abandon myself to hopeless wretchedness! The word of God assures me,- and "the word of our God shall stand for ever," "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world." "Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man ;' "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

[ocr errors]

SERMON XXII.

THE TRANSLATION OF ELIJAH COMPARED WITH THE
DEATH-BED OF ELISHA.

BY REV. HENRY MELVILL, D. D.

"Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash, the king of Israel, came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." 2 KINGS Xiii. 14.

ELISHA, as you will remember, succeeded Elijah in the prophetical office, having been with him at the moment of his being taken up into heaven, and having caught the mantle which fell from him, as he thus ascended unto God. Elijah and Elisha were both conspicuous by the power of working miracles, and by their efforts at withstanding idolatry and restoring throughout Israel the pure worship of God. It may not be altogether our part to institute a comparison between men so eminently endowed, or to pronounce as to one being more illustrious than the other; yet there is more recorded of Elisha than of Elijah. It would appear from the history of Elisha, that he wrought twice as many miracles as Elijah; as though the parting request had been literally complied with, and a double portion of the spirit of the ascending prophet had fallen on his successor. Neither is there anything related of Elisha, in which he would seem to have been blameworthy; and this

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »