« PreviousContinue »
gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him: for he spake and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought; he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” Psalm xxxiii. 6-11. These notes swell loftily as if from the harp ot cherubim; and you yourselves admit that while rapt seraphim repeat them, it is fit that every creature should add its own amen. But is it not like descending from a strain so elevated, when the psalmist, aiming to add another rapturéus note, exclaims, "blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah, and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance."
You cannot enter fully into the spirit of the psalmist: For it is a Christian nation with which providence has allied you: Christianity is the religion of the civilized world, and you have had intercourse with none who have not pro fited by its lights: Christianity has been for ages the religion of your fathers, and of almost every people with whom they have been connected. Two hundred millions of your fellow creatures call this the Sabbath of the Lord of Hosts; and though not one fourth of them are in attendance on the worship of the Most High; though not a fourth of them are awed by the declarations of his mouth; yet still Jehovah is their God, and the God of all their nation: they ac knowledge no other; and they never think of bowing at any idol's fane. You first opened your eyes amid the splendours of this heaven-descended light; you: drew your earliest breath in a Christian atmosphere; and like the light of heaven, and the ambient air, and every other permanent and common good, you think meanly of the blessing because you never knew the want of it, and because your minds are so familiarized with the sight of its diffusion.
Would you perceive how this theme towers amid all those ascriptions of lofty adoration? Then your thoughts must travel back through a period of almost three thousand years; and from your native-country, and from Christian Europe, they must be suffered to wing their way to that little strip of territory that binds the Mediterranean's extremest eastern wave. There take note of Solomon, the son of the psalmist David, surrounded by the elders and chieftains of all the tribes of Israel. Mark the solemnity and deep interest that sits on every countenance! Hear the thunder of their praises, when with universal voice they raise the sacred anthem, "arise, O Jehovah, into thy rest; thou and the ark of thy strength.” Take measure of that pile, whole turrets cleave the clouds, and the splendours of whose garniture have been the wonder of all ages. See that prince, who exacted homage from tributary kings, how in the sight of all the people he falls upon his knees, and spreads forth his hands, and professes himself the suppliant of a greater than Solomon, as humble a dependant, as completely a dependant, as the meanest of all creatures.
What mean those rites, that so abase the worshipper? To whom are they consecrating that stupendous edifice? No rites of cruelty and impurity are there. No monstrous idol, the terror and shame of man, rears its huge bulk within those sacred walls. This is a nation that has Jehovah for its God; and these people he has chosen for his own inheritance, He chose them for himself; "he shewed his word unto Jacob, and his statutes and judgments unto Yo rael.” And therefore it is that they consecrate a temple to the name of the Lord of Hosts. Look around now upon the nations under the whole face of heaven, and see if you can find one of them so blessed as this people. To none of them-no not one of them has the Eternal “shewed his word;" and destitute of a revelation from "the excellent glory," "his statutes and his judgments" are utterly unknown to them. In the temples of the heathen, Dagon and Ashtaroth stretch their scaly length; a man or woman in the upper parts, in the nether extremeties a serpent or a fish. And Moloch, "horrid king," impure and pitiless as Juggernaut's black idol, extends his molten arms to encircle the writhing victim,--the human victim roasting, literally roasting, in his grasp. Egypt, the mother of science, worships reptiles and vegetables: astronomic Babylon teems forth her learned multitudes to bow to graven images in the plain of Dura: in the east and in the west “darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people.” In the colleges of the priesthood, in the schools of philosophy, ignorance and impurity, and cruelty abound. Their deities are local, their power limited, their tempers unholy, their actions often devilish. Such in its best condition was the theology of paganism. Such it continued to be even after that the dispersion of multitudes of Jews, with the scriptures in their hands, among the pagan nations, had led the more reflecting of their scholars to attempt the correction of their corrupt mythology. Such it still is among nations wholly pagan. Every solemnity is a tissue of impurity: every temple a very charnal house: every fancied Deity like a "a goblin damn'd.”
tor, his holiness, his goodness, his all-controling providence, with abortions such as these!--Who will call in question the obvious bearings of these most dissimilar creeds and solemnities upon the individual feelings, social character and eternal destinies of men !And who, that can discriminate between the light and glory of a Jew. ish anthem and a heathen's orgies, will refuse to lift high his pæan with our psalmist: "Blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance”! Theirs was the religion that ele. vated the affections, expanded the mind, and ennobled the whole character: for the bible was their directory, and Jehovah was their God. Nor need we other proof that the inspiration of the Highest dictated the scriptures, than the simple fact that three thousand years--years which have unlocked ten thousand stores of science, and mightily furthered the march of human intellect,-have nevertheless added nothing to that knowledge of the Deity which David and Solomon could boast. Nothing but God's bible has ever conducted human footstep to the tem. ples of his holiness; or taught one of all the nations to cast their miserable idols to the moles and to the bats.
Children of the Gentiles,-You take Jehovah for your God. You acknowledge that "an idol is nothing." "But we fear that too many of you know but little of that bible which rescued your fathers from the dominion of those idols. You study the Deity whom you acknowledge but by reflected lights. You do not seem to be aware that they are reflected lights; that it was the bible shot the beam; and that the ideas which you have collected from the page of science, and from disquisitions on philosophy, the ideas which education made familiar to your childhood, the ideas which seem the spontaneous dictates of your reason,--You do not, we say, appear to be aware that all these are but portions of that heaven-transmitted beam, va. tiously and partially and dimly reflected, while it .darts in all its strength but from the page of inspiration. Thus you study the Deity by reflected lights, by partial lights, by insufficient lights, by lights which take their colouring from the nature of the object whence they are reflected, and depend alike for their momentum and their quantity on its suitableness or disposition to display any thing of God; and the light which has emanated directly from himself, and which alone has led the nations to discover in other things the impress of his Deity--that light, by which he professes to display himself, you neglect or undervalue, as teaching nothing of importance. Hence the discrepency between the God of modern philosophy and the Deity of the bible. Philosophy, Prometheus-like, has stolen her fires from heaven; but her imbecility prohibits her, and her perverseness disinclines her, from wielding the element in its native force and purity. To the bible delineations the dare not boast of adding any thing; but her audacity and impiety have taken very much away. Hence too your little reverence for the character of the Deity:--You de pot, no you do not, discern him as he is. Hence the disa regard with which you treat his institutions. Hence your inattention to the claims of his supremacy.
Come, then, and see the glory of the Lord of Hosts, whe brideth upon the heaven of heavens which were of old :" whose "excellency is over Israel, and whose strength is in the clouds.” Come learn from an age in which mind was in its infancy, and from a people whom you are accustomto regard as semi-barbarous, not what they had discov.