Page images
PDF
EPUB

not to desire to find. For the sake of God, think you ? No; I say unto you, but for your own sakes, that you may save the man within you, lest your animal nature gain the ascendancy. It was necessary that your ancestors should be compelled, like children, to do what was for their good. You should congratulate yourselves that you are no longer treated like children, by the Divine master who is educating you. Ye are men, and able to do that of your own free-will, which they were to do from compulsion. Your fathers gathered a double portion on the sixth day, that they might not want on the seventh. You, my more highly favoured friends, can during all the six days, be gathering manna for the seventh; and can thence on the sabbath, not only here in the sanctuary, but likewise in your domestic circles, feel yourselves higher beings in the scale of humanity. The sabbath is peculiarly the day on which you ought to look inwards, both to yourselves and to your families. sons and daughters; examine what advances they have made and are making, see what they are and what they will be, when you, my dear friends, stand by them no longer, but are gone to seek manna in other fields. It is on the sabbath that you can enjoy with your families, the intercourse of the soul, that communion of spirits, which, alas! is too rare a fruit, to many, a fruit entirely unknown. It is the sabbath and the sabbath only, which can bring this fruit to maturity. I am persuaded that if the rich and poor alike, would not permit the grasping world to rob them of this day, they would find its blessedness poured forth on every other day. You would then devote your refreshed energies to the right work, you would then learn to exercise and to value the virtue

Observe your

of temperance. This day would teach you to consider well, the right way of giving and distributing the blessings which you have received. This is the very knowledge which we so especially want, and for want of which, the world abounds in poverty in the midst of riches. The poor man would learn better the dignity which belongs to him as man, and would refrain from sighing and craving for the most perishable of all earthly things; and the rich man would know, for he would have time to learn that he is indeed little, if riches be his all, and that his wealth can be valuable, only in proportion as he uses it to a good end, according to the will of God. Then, 0 then, would rich and great, good fortune and good deeds, be synonymous terms. Behold, then my friends, it would not be known whether you were to be accounted blessed, for your riches or for your virtue. O God grant, that you and I may live to behold the approach of this blessed time!

Amen.

SERMON VIII.

THE SPIRIT OF THE MOSAIC RELIGION.

DEUTERONOMY iv. 5—10.

Holy, holy, holy art Thou, Lord of Hosts! The earth is full of Thy glory! Thy children would fain bear a part in this chorus, hymned by seraphim. Full of Thy glory was the earth on this day; for on this day didst Thou, holy God of Hosts, deign to commune with the children of clay, and impart to them the blessed instruction which raises them from the dust, bearing them aloft, even unto Thee, Thou All-merciful! Holy, holy, holy art Thou, Lord of Hosts ! the earth is full of Thy glory! All nature bears its part with us in this chorus of worship; for she forgets not to adorn herself, as for to-day's festival, presenting her buds and gay blossoms as a thank-offering for the great and sacred gift which Thou hast bestowed on man, the master-piece of Thy creation: and all who have known Thy name rejoice, and gladly exclaim with us, Hallelujah to the Most High !

Since that great day, we have known what we are, and to what we are destined; we know that we can look up to Thee, and worship Thee! We know how men

L

can and ought to think and feel, love and act; how they can become holy, and remain holy. O let all the blessedness of that day, all the blessedness of those instructions, be poured out upon us anew; grant that we may lay fast hold on it; grant that we may here on earth, form and prepare ourselves for heaven, and become ever fitter, worthier, to join one day in the blissful song of purified spirits. Holy, holy, holy is our God ! Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory, to all eternity! Amen.

Beloved hearers ! every festival consecrated by religion, suggests to the thinking man, as it comes, some one question, the answer to which contains, in itself, the original meaning and value of the institution. Thus, the festival of the new year brings with it the thrilling enquiry: • Pilgrim, what is the hour in thy day? Hast thou yet numbered the steps thou hast already measured on the path of life, and marked the seconds which the hand of time has traced on the dial of life?' The day of atonement beckons each of you aside, and asks: • Thou, who art preparing to reconcile thyself to thy God, art thou at peace with thyself, with thy brethren, with mankind ? Art thou one of those hypocrites, who think to flatter the Lord of heaven, in order that he may reckon less strictly with them on earth ? The Feast of Tabernacles directs your attention to the rich bounties of your heavenly Parent, asking : · Hast thou deserved these bounties? Wilt thou, too, show thyself ready to bless, by labouring for the temporal and spiritual welfare of thy fellow men ?' The feast commemorating the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, presents the question, Art thou really become free?

Are thy

conversation and actions such as beseem the liberated children of God? Or art thou still groping in the midst of Egyptian darkness and bondage ? Can you suppose that this day's festival, the festival of the giving of the law upon Mount Sinai, comes without its appropriate enquiry? O, my friends, it has many things to ask of you, many things that nearly concern your welfare, and the welfare of all belonging to you. But, as I have taken on myself to-day the character of its herald, I will include all these in one single question; that one, however, being full of meaning, and of the greatest importance to all of you, to all of you, yes, let me think so ! Let me take for granted, that the sacredness of the festival, and no other motive, has assembled you here. believe that ye are men, beings who know of higher things than the earth with her joys and her burdens. Let me not doubt that ye are Israelites in whose hearts that same heaven is still reflected, on which your forefathers gazed at this very hour, thousands of years ago. Deprive me not of the belief, that the memory of the fair morning whose dawn brought with it into the world the most glorious of all the gifts of spring, is presenting itself anew to your souls this day, without having lost a particle of its brightness and beauty.

Let me

Thousands of years have elapsed since the Lord appeared on Sinai, and that law was given us, which Moses delivered as an inheritance for the congregation of Jacob. During this long period, what an altered appearance has the world of human society assumed ! During this long period, to what very different, nay, even totally opposite views, have the inhabitants of the

« PreviousContinue »