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be, of pious parents, over whose in- cloth of hair, the worm that dies not, fancy a godly father hath watched, the fire that is not quenched-should and whose young years have been I array against them these terrible guarded by ihe tender solicitudes of things, and turn upon them the bata righteous mother-you may win to tery of the denunciations of God's yourselves a heritage of shame and wrath? Alas, alas, I should have no confusion, and go down, at the judg- moral hold on them with all this apment, into the pit of the unbelieving paratus of wo and destruction. They and scornful. Better, infinitely better might wrap themselves up in their would it have been, that your parents scepticism. They might tell me they had seen you coffined and sepulchred, had read too much, and learned too ere as yet ye knew evil from good, much, to be scared by the trickeries than that they should have nursed you, of priestcrast: and thus, by denying and nurtured you, to swell, in latter the authority of Scripture, they would days, the ranks of the apostate. Be virtually blunt all my weapons of atadmonished, by the subject which we tack, and show themselves invulnerhave this night discussed, to distrust able, because they had made themyourselves, and to depend on a higher selves insensible. There is nothing teaching than human. Difficulties there that the minister could do, save that are in the Bible: but they ought rather which Elisha the prophet did, when to assure, than make you doubtful of, speaking with Hazael : "he settled the divinity of its origin. And if you his countenance steadfastly, until he are assailed with sceptical objections was ashamed: and the man of God which you are unable to answer, have wept.” 2 Kings, 8:10. Who could the candor and modesty to suspect do otherwise than weep over the specthat a straight-forward and sufficient tacle of talents, and hopes, and affecanswer there may be, though you have tions, tainted with the leprous spots not the penetration to discover it. of moral decay, the spectacle of a Lay not the blame on the deficiencies blighted immortality, the spectacleof christianity, when it may possibly a glimpse of which must almost conlie in the deficiencies of your own in- vulse with amazement the glorious formation. The argument was never ranks of the celestial world—that of framed against the truth of our reli- a being whom Christ purchased with gion, which has not been completely his blood, whom the Almighty hath iniaken off, and triumphantly refuted. vited, yea besought, to have mercy Hesitate, therefore, before you con- upon himself, turning into jest the clude a sceptic in the right, just be- messages of the Gospel, denying the cause you are not able to prove him in divinity of the Lord his Redeemer, or the wrong. We give you this advice, building up, with the shreds and fragsiinply and affectionately. We see ments of human reason, a baseless your danger, and we long for your structure, which, like the palace of ice, souls. Bear with us yet a moment. shall resolve itself suddenly into a tuWe would not weary you: but speak- multuous flood, bearing away the ining on the topic of "things hard to habitant, a struggling thing, but a lost? be understood,” we feel compelled to Yea, if I knew there were one amongst dwell, at some length, on the scepti- you who had surrendered bimself to cism of the age. I can never dare the lies of an ensnaring philosophy, answer, when I stand up in this holy then, although I should feel, that, perplace, and speak to you on the truths haps even whilst I speak, he is pitying of our religion, that I address not some my credulity, or ridiculing my fanatiwho throw on these truths habitual cism, I would not suffer him to decontempt, who count christianity the part without calling on the congregaplaything of children, invented by im- tion to baptize him, as it were, with posture, and cradled in ignorance. their tears; and he should be singled And if I knew that even now there out-oh, not for rebuke, not for conwere such amongst you; if they were tempt, not for anger-but as more depointed out to me, so that I might serving to be wept over and wailed over stand face to face with the despisers than the poorest child of human caof our Lord—the thunder, the sack- lamity, more worthy of the agonies of mortal sympathy than he who eats the vanquished, minister to our assurance bitterest bread of affliction, and in that a wider sphere of being, a nearer whose ear ring mournfully the sleep- vision, and mightier faculties, await less echoes of a funeral beil. Yea, and us when the second advent of the Lord he should not leave the sanctuary till winds up the dispensation. Thus should we had told him, that, though there be the mysteries of the Bible teach us, at in the Bible "things hard to be under one and the same time, our nothingstood,” there is one thing beautifully ness, and our greatness; producing huplain, and touchingly simple: and that mility, and animating hope. I bow beis, that "the blood of Jesus Christ fore these mysteries. I knew that I cleanseth us from all sin.” i John, 1: should find, and I pretend not to re7. So that it is not yet too late: the move, them. But whilst I thus prosblasphemer, the scorner, the infidel- trate myself, it is with deep gladness oh, the fire is not yet falling, and the and exultation of spirit. God would not earth is not yet opening-let him turn have hinted the mystery, had he not unto the Lord, and confess his iniqui- designed hereafter to explain. And, ty, and cry for pardon, and a sweep of therefore, are my thoughts on a far-off joy from the angels' harp-strings shall home, and rich things are around me, tell out the astounding fact, that he is and the voices of many harpers, and the no longer a stranger and foreigner, but shinings of bright constellations, and a fellow-citizen with the saints, and of the clusters of the cherub and the serthe household of God.
aph; and a whisper, which seems not But we hasten to a conclusion. We of this earth, is circulating through the again press upon all of you the impor- soul, "Now we see through a glass tance of reading the Bible with prayer. darkly, but then face to face; now I And whilst the consciousness that know in part, but then shall I know Scripture contains "things hard to be even as also I am known.” 1 Cor. 13: understood” should bring us to its stu- 12. May God grant unto all of us to dy in a dependent and humble temper, be both abased and quickened by those the thought, that what we know not things in the Bible which are "hard to now we shall know hereafter, should be understood.” make each difficulty, as we leave it un
SERMONS PREACHED BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE.
The Author begs to state that he prints these Sermons in compliance with the wish of many Members of the University. Immediately after their delivery he received an address from the resident Bachelors and Undergraduates, headed by the most distinguished names, and numerously signed, requesting their publication. The same request was also made from other quarters. Under these circumstances the Author felt that he had nothing to do, but to regret that the Sermons were not more deserving of the interest thus kindly manifested, and to commit them at once to the press.
CANBERWELL, March 10, 1836.
THE GREATNESS AND CONDESCENSION OF GOD.
“ Tay kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and lifteth up all those that be bowed down.”—Psalm 145 : 13, 14.
What we admire in these verses, is that men be taught to view in God that their combining the magnificence of combination of properties which is afunlimited power with the assiduity of firmed in our text. It is certain that unlimited tenderness. It is this com- the greatness of God is often turned bination which men are apt to regard into an argument, by which men would as well-nigh incredible, supposing that bring doubt on the truths of Redempa Being so great as God can never con- tion and Providence. The unmeasured cern himself with beings so inconsid- inferiority of man to his Maker is used erable as themselves. Tell them that in proof, that so costly a work as that God lifteth up those that be bowed of Redemption can never have been down, and they cannot imagine that his executed on our behalf; and that so kingdom and dominion are unbounded; unwearied a watchfulness as that of -or tell them, on the other hand, of Providence can never be engaged in the greatness of his pire, and they our service. Whereas, no reason whatthink it impossible that he should up- ever can be derived from our confessed hold all that fall. If you represent Dei- insignificance, against our being the ty as busied with what they reckon in- objects whether of Redemption or of significant, the rapid impression is, that Providence-seeing it is equally chahe cannot, at the same time, be equally racteristic of Deity, to attend to the attentive to what is vast; and if you inconsiderable and to the great, to exexhibit him as occupied with what is tend his dominion throughout all genevast, there is a sudden misgiving that rations, and to lift up those that be the insignificant must escape his obser- bowed down. vation. And it is of great importance, It is on this truth we would employ our present discourse, endeavoring to can be nothing fairer than the expectprove, that human insignificance, as set ation, that he would provide for our in contrast with divine greatness, fur well-being as moral and accountable nishes no argument against the doc. creatures, with a care at least equal to trine of our Redemption, and none that exhibited towards us in our natuagainst that of an universal Providence. ral capacity. So that it is perfectly cre
Now a man will consider the hea- dible that God would do something on vens, the work of God's fingers, the behalf of the fallen; and then the quesmoon and the stars which he hath or- tion is, whether any thing less than dained, and he will perceive that the Redemption through Christ would be earth on which we dwell is but the soli- of worth and of efficacy? It is certary unit of an innumerable multitude. tain that we cannot conceive any posIt appears to him as though, if this sible mode, except the revealed mode globe were suddenly annihilated, it through the sacrifice of Christ, in would scarcely be missed from the fir- which God could be both just and the mament, and leave no felt vacancy in justifier of sinners. Reckon and reason the still crowded fields of the heavens. as we will, we can sketch out no plan And if earth be thus so insignifi. by which transgressors might be saved, cant an unit that its abstraction would the divine attributes honored, and yet not disturb the splendors and harmo- Christ not have died. So far as we nies of the universe, how shall we think have the power of ascertaining, man that God hath done so wondrous a thing must have remained unredeemed, had for its inhabitants as to send his own he not been redeemed through the InSon to die in their stead? Thus an ar. carnation and Crucifixion. And if it be gument is attempted to be drawn from credible that God would effectively inthe insignificance of man to the im- terpose on man's behalf; and if the probability of Redemption; one verse only discoverable method in which he of our text is set against the other; could thus interpose, be that of Reand the confessed fact, that God's do- demption through the sacrifice of his minion is throughout all generations, Son; what becomes of the alleged inis opposed to the alleged fact, that he credibility, founded on the greatness gave his own Spn that he might lift up of God as contrasted with the insignithe fallen.
ficance of man? We do not depreciate But it ought at least to be remem. the wonders of the interference. We bered that man was God's workman- will go all lengths in proclaiming it ship, made after his image, and endow- a prodigy which confounds the most ed with powers which fitted him for masterful, and in pronouncing it a myslosty pursuits. The human race may tery whose depths not even angels or may not be insignificant. We know can fathom, that, for the sake of benothing of the orders of intelligence ings inconsiderable as ourselves, there which stretch upwards between our- should have been acted out an arrangeselves and God ; and we are therefore ment which brought Godhead into incompetent to decide what place we flesh, and gave up the Creator to ignooccupy in the scale of creation. But miny and death. But the greatness of at the least we know, independently of the wonder furnishes no just ground Revelation, that a magnificent scene for its disbelief. There can be no was appointed for our dwelling; and weight in the reasoning, that because that, when God reared a home for man is so low and God so high, no man, he built it of the sublime and such work can have been wrought as the beautiful, and lavished alike his the Redemption of our race. We are might and his skill on the furniture of certain that we are cared for in our its chambers. No one can survey the temporal capacity; and we conclude, works of nature, and not perceive that therefore, that we cannot have been God has some regard for the children neglected in our eternal. And thenof men, however fallen and polluted finding that, unless redeemed through they may be. And if God manifest a the sacrifice of Christ, there is no supregard for us in temporal things, it posable method of human deliverance must be far from incredible that he —it is not the brightness of the moon would do the same in spiritual. There as she travels in her lustre, and it is not the array of stars which are mar- of a vast empire be delivered into his shalled on the firmament, that shall hands, we can scarcely expect that, make us deem it incredible that God amid the multiplicity of mighty affairs would give his Son for our rescue : which solicit his attention, he should ratber, since moon and stars light up find time for the duties of more ordiman's home, they shall do nothing but nary life. We feel that, engrossed with assure us of the Creator's loving-kind- occupations of overwhelming importness; and thus render it a thing to be ance, it is hardly possible that he believed—though still amazing, still should be assiduous in the instruction stupendous-that He whose kingdom of his children, or the inspection of his is an everlasting kingdom, and whose servants, or the visiting and relieving dominion endureth throughout all gen- his distressed fellow-men. But we neerations, should have made himself to ver feel that his greatness would be be sin for us, that He might uphold all diminished, if he were thus assiduous. that fall, and lift up all those that be We are ready, on the contrary, to adbowed down.
mit that we should give him, in a But it is in regard to the doctrine of higher degree than ever, our respect an universal Providence that men are and admiration, if we knew that, whilst most ready to raise objections, from he had his eye on every wheel in the the greatness of God as contrasted machinery of government, and his with their own insignificance. They comprehensive mind included all that cannot believe, that he who is so migh- had a bearing on the well-being of the ty as to rule the heavenly hosts can empire, he discharged with exemplary condescend to notice the wants of the fidelity every relative duty, and entermeanest of his creatures; and thus they ed with as much assiduousness into all deny to him the combination of pro- that concerned his neighbors and deperties asserted in our text, that, whilst pendents, as though he had not to expossessed of unlimited empire, he sus- tend his carefulness over the thousand tains the feeble and raises the prostrate. departments of a complicated system.
We shall not stay to expose the What would be thought of that man's falseness of an opinion which has estimate of greatness, who should sometimes found advocates, that, hav- reckon it derogatory to the statesman ing created this world, God left it to that he thus combined attention to the itself, and bestows no thought on its inconsiderable with attention to the concerns. But whilst few would hold stupendous; and who should count it the opinion in the extent thus announ- inconsistent with the loftiness of his ced, many would limit the divine Pro- station, that, amid duties as arduous as vidence, and thus take from the doc- faithfully discharged, he had an ear for trine its great beauty and comfort. It the prattle of his children, and an eye is easy and common to represent it as for the interests of the friendless, and incompatible with the confessed gran- a heart for the sufferings of the destideur of our Maker, that he should busy tute? Would there not be a feeling, himself with the concerns of the poor- mounting almost to veneration, toest of his creatures: but such reason wards the ruler who should prove himing betrays ignorance as to what it is self equal to the superintending every in which greatness consists. It may be concern of an empire, and who could that, amongst finite beings, it is not yet give a personal attention to the easy, and perhaps not possible, that wants of many of the poorest of its attention to what is minute, or compa- families; and who, whilst gathering ratively unimportant, should be com within the compass of an ample inbined with attention to things of vast telligence every question of foreign moment. But we never reckon it an and home policy, protecting the comexcellence that there is not, or cannot merce, maintaining the honor, and fosbe, this union. On the contrary, we tering the institutions of the state, should declare that man at the very could minister tenderly at the bedside summit of true greatness, who proved of sickness, and hearken patiently himself able to unite what had seemed to the tale of calamity, and be as acincompatible. If a man, for example, be tive for the widow and the orphan, as a great statesman, and the management though his whole business were to light