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there is no such thing as genuine intellectual atheism. There is a God; but what is that God to us? Will He crush us, or will He bless us ? is He omnipotent love, or omnipotent hate? will He pardon my sins, or will He punish me? will He punish all ? if not, whom will He spare? will He save all ? if not, whom will He not save? These questions are very shortly uttered, but they are of intense interest and of difficult solution. Where shall we find an answer ? I open this blessed book. From its gleaming page I can speak of man, of nature, and of God in most consistent, clear, and encouraging terms. Man fell in Adam, but as a believer he is restored in Christ; wherever a sinner lives a Saviour is found; wherever sin has struck its mark there salvation is freely offered ; wherever Sinai stands, over against it is Mount Calvary; immortality has risen on mortality like a sunrise on night. Eternal life stands overhead an unsetting star; and the kingdom of heaven is now opened to all believers. Death is accounted for in all its aspects—sin is explained ; and the perplexed and tangled phenomena of nature are solved. Sorrowing sisters of Bethany, Rachel weeping for your children because they are not-your separations are temporal, your reunion is eternal. Eyelids closed to the light of day shall open again. Ears deaf to the accents of affection shall hear again glad voices and old familiar tones. Hearts cold and still in the grave shall yet be warmed with celestial fire.
The spell of death is dissolved—the seal on the
sepulchre is broken. Light shines on the griefs of the living and on the graves of the dead, and the desert places of the human heart already begin to blossom as the rose. The gospel alone explains all; it alone casts light
I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
Nature, too, is out of sorts; its whole head is sick, its whole heart is faint; but nature is not a castoff and abandoned thing. Those bursts of summer which in some favourable seasons we feel are memorials of a Paradise that has passed away ; but also the prophets and earnests of a brighter Paradise yet to be. The splendour of a summer sky, the music of woods, the beauty of gems, the fragrance of flowers are left us to keep our hearts from despair, and to preserve open the way from Paradise lost for the return of Paradise regained. Earth will be restored, and rise with the royal race that are on its bosom. Emancipated from the curse, it will drop its ashen garments, and put on its Easter robes of glory and of beauty; no tear to dim her eye, and no stain or scar upon her brow. Its groans will end in hallelujahs, its very deserts shall rejoice, and its solitary places shall blossom even as the rose ; and that wild wailthat plaintive minor we now hear, shall be transposed into the major key, and shall swell into that glorious jubilee in which God reigns, nature is restored, and man is forgiven.
Such is the revelation of truth, such are the inti
mations of heaven respecting what is about us, behind us, and before us.
God also is revealed in all His glory; not the granite deity of the Stoic, nor the Allah of the Moslem, nor the diffused vapour of the Pantheist, but a Person, a Father, our Father, our Father in heaven. His love throbs along every line of the parable of the prodigal son. He is seen there coming down to save, pardoning, taking home, rejoicing. The doctrines of the gospel are apples of gold in network of silver. It tells me of my sins, but only to let me see how they may be forgiven. It tells me that the gleaming sword is sheathed in the scabbard, and its edge no longer turned against me; that Sinai’s fires are quenched ; that the cherubim appointed to guard the gates of Paradise against all intrusion, and to repel the renegade and the apostate race, are turned into angels of mercy, ministering to them who are the heirs of salvation. Where, and in what land or language, are not the triumphs of this religion? Visit the pillows of the dying, the vigils of the sick, the hovels of the
poor, the houses of the dead, and see how many hearts it has composed to suffer, how many spirits it has strengthened to triumph. What a blessing, a shower of blessings, has this gospel been to individual hearts, to nations, to the world. Let Christianity be universal as the air we breathe, reaching to all heights, descending to all depths, and enclosing all space, and the whole world will be transformed, and all things will be made new.
The French nation -so courteous
at home, so brilliant in the arts, so brave in war needs but the Bible in their own tongue universally read, and inspired into their hearts, to be the first and noblest nation on earth. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
We turn, in the next place, to the evidence of its power. It is the power of God. The hurricane that sweeps the earth is power; the steamer that lifts her anchor on the shores of England, and in the course of ten days drops it on the sea-board of America, is power. When she steers through the breakers into the very teeth of the storm, and defies wind, and wave, and tide—she is power.
The railway train, with its speed, and its weight, and its mighty and its precious load, is power. But all these are the power of man, soon spent and easily overcome. But the gospel is the power of God. Vulgar power is visible, material power. True power is that which can pierce and touch the heart, and erect its trophies where man cannot come, and shed over the sphere of its action all that is beneficent and pure. Do you see that martyr in the midst of the flame; his brow serene, his eye bright, his heart at its normal beat ? What composes his spirit so? What stills his agony in such and so testing circumstances ?
The gospel, which is the power of God. Do you see that mother, Rachel weeping for her children, and she will not be comforted because they are not? What enables her, like the Shunammite of old, to say, “It is well with me, well with my child "? “ The Lord gave, and
the Lord hath taken away, blessed be his name.” It is the gospel, which is the power of God. Do you see that statesman assailed, caricatured, reproached, but firm and fearless, because seeking God's glory, inspired by the purest motives, trying to do his country good? What sustains him? The power of God. Do you see the missionary, leaving all that man loves, and facing all that man fears, in order to make known the unsearchable riches of Christ? What nerves and impels him? The power of God. Man's power is material, physical, and in all cases soon spent. God's power is cumulative-it touches the heart, lays its fears, enlightens the mind, pardons sin, saves the soul, keeps from falling, and adds to the dignity of man the grandeur and glory of the saint. It is the power of God to the Jew nationally. Saul the Jew rose from the cross of Christ Paul the apostle. It is still power to that character of whom the Jew is the type. Do you see some exclusive, anathematizing bigot, glorying in his own righteousness, proscribing all that do not agree with him, admitting no way to heaven except through his Church, and no salvation except in his communion ? His is the succession of the Jew in spirit, if not in the letter ; but such Jews as these have been brought to feel the power of God unto salvation latent in the glorious gospel. The ancient Greek, who 'scoffed at Paul, and derided his theology, and said they would hear him again upon these matters, bowed before the power of the gospel. Corinth, Athens, and other