Зображення сторінки

for this is perhaps the only one in to be observed is, that there is a direct which it is at all strange that divisions contrariety between the maxims of the should be the produce of christianity. world and those of the Gospel. It is There is nothing about which men will impossible for a man to become a true not form different opinions: there is believer in Jesus, without being immescarce an opinion too absurd to find diately marked off from the great mass advocates; especially when, is true, it of his fellows. If the whole community would be advantageous; and philoso- went over with him to the discipleship phy, with its various schools, would of Christ, he would still have fellowbe as much a sword as christianity ship with all around, though widely with its various sects, is as much were different from that which he has heredependent on its theories. But, wav- tofore had. But when he goes over ing these and other obvious considera- alone, or with but few associates out tions, let us see how the sword comes, of many, he detaches himself, and that where there is no direct collision be- too by a great wrench, from the sotween heresy and orthodoxy. We stat- ciety to which he has belonged. Beed, as you will remember, in the intro-tween the world which still lieth in duction of our discourse, that christi- wickedness," and that little company anity is a system, requiring nothing who "seek a better country, even a but cordial reception, in order to its heavenly,” the separation is so broad bringing happiness to all the world's that Scripture exhibits the one as the families. The truth of such statement old creation, and the other as the new. will have been evidenced, if proof can The man who acts on the principle be required, by our foregoing examina- that he is immortal, belongs, we had tion of the effects of christianity on so- almost said, to a different race from ciety. We are warranted, by this ex- the man whose conduct seems to proamination, in asserting, as we have claim him without belief in the deathalready in part done, that, if the Gos- lessness of the soul. pel were cordially received by every And if christianity, when cordialindividual in a land, there would be ly received, thus detach the recipient banished from that land—we say not from all by whom it is only nominalall unhappiness, for a nation of righte- ly received, you can have no difficulty ous would still be a nation of fallen in understanding how it acts virtually men, and therefore lie exposed to sor- as a sword. The separation would be row and death-but certainly the chief as nothing, if it were only of that part of that misery which may be tra- kind which exists between the differced to the feuds of our race, and which ent ranks and classes of a community. confessedly constitutes a great fraction You cannot liken to a sword the causes of human wretchedness. The tenden- which separate the higher classes from cies of christianity are palpably to the the lower, because these classes, howproduction of thorough unanimity; so ever distant from each other in exterthat no one who studies the character nal advantages, are linked by many of this religion, or observes its effects ties; and their relative positions do even where partially established, can not necessarily produce hostility of fail, we think, to entertain the convic- feeling. But the case is widely differtion, that a nation of real christians ent when it is vital christianity which would be virtually a nation of affec. breaks into parties any set of men. tionate brothers. But if the tendencies The separation is a separation on prinof christianity be thus to the produc- ciples; so that the conduct of the one ing peace, we must suppose that there party will unavoidably reprove that of are in man certain counter tendencies, the other, and, therefore, excite an enand that the sword is forged from the mity which will be sure to show itself opposition between the two. Neither in some open demonstration. can we be at a loss to discover those We take the case before referred to, counter tendencies, and thus to ac- that of a family, one of whose memcount for the divisions and persecu-bers is a christian inwardly, whilst the tions to which christianity will be sure others are christians only outwardly. to give rise, even where men seem There may have been perfect harmony agreed on its articles. The great thing in this family up to the time at which vital christianity gained a place within its And if it be a consequence on the incircle. But, afterwards, there must, we troduction of vital christianity, that one fear, be interruption of this harmony; member of the domestic circle becomes the household can no longer present practically, if not in words, the rethat aspect of unanimity, by which it prover of the rest, it must also follow once won the admiration of every be that this one will incur the dislike holder. And the reason of this change of the rest, a dislike which will show may be readily defined. Whilst there itself in more or less offensive acts, was nothing but nominal christianity, according to the dispositions and cireach member of the family did his part cumstances of those who entertain it. towards countenancing the rest in at- Thus it is that christianity is turned tachment to the perishable, and forget into a sword. Admitted into the heart fulness of the imperishable, and was of an individual, it discovers itself in upheld in return by the united pro- his life, and so makes that life a calm, ceedings of all those around him. There but unflinching, rebuke of the unconmay have been great diversity of pur- verted, by its contrast with their own. suit; the several individuals may have But such rebuke must excite enmity embraced different professions, and in those who are its subjects. So that their respective tastes may have led the household is necessarily divided; them to seek enjoyment in uncon- and to christianity must the division nected channels. But forasmuch as be ascribed. "A man is set at varithey were all along one in the de- ance against his father, and the daughtermination of finding happiness in ter against her mother, and the daughsomething short of God, division upon ter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” earthly matters might well consist with The converted member, being secreta most cordial union, the agreement be- ly disliked, will, under some shape or ing perfect on the principle that this another, be persecuted by the unconworld is man's rest, and the disagree- verted; and thus the result is brought ment being only as to which of its sec- round, that the religion which Christ tions should be chosen for a home. propagated, though in its own nature But you will observe that, when vital peace, becomes, through clashing with christianity found its way into the opposing principles, a sword to the breast of one member of this house- family into which it gains entrance. hold, there must have passed a change, You will easily extend to a neighsuch as nothing else could have ef- borhood, or nation, the reasoning thus fected, on the position which he occu. applied to a family. Those who hold pied relatively to the others. His ac- the doctrines of the Gospel in their quiring a taste for religion, while the purity, and whose conduct is regulated taste of his companions is exclusively by its precepts, will unavoidably form for what is worldly, differs widely from a distinct party, to which Christ's words his acquiring a taste for music, whilst may be applied, "If ye were of the the taste of his companions is exclu- world, the world would love his own; sively for painting. The taste for paint. but because ye are not of the world, ing is not rebuked, as it were, by the but I have chosen you out of the world, taste for music; they may be called therefore the world hateth you.” The sister tastes, and the votaries of the principles on which the righteous act two may remain in close fellowship. are so repugnant to those which the But there is no congeniality, nay, there mass of men adopt, that to look for is the strongest antipathy, between a unanimity would be to expect the contaste for the things of heaven and a cord of darkness with light. So long taste for the things of earth. Hence as there is a native enmity in the heart the religious man, unavoidably, though to holiness and God-and this will reit may be silently, reproaches the ir- main until the nature be renewedreligious, with whom he is in habits of there lies a moral impossibility against family intercourse. His deportment, the unbroken peace of a community, exactly in the degree that it proves his composed of the righteous and the unaffections set on things above, passes righteous. They are men of different the severest censure on those whose natures, of different worlds: the one affections are set on things below.! party has been transferred to the king

[ocr errors]

dom of Christ, the other remains in the only, in conclusion, to remark how
kingdom of Satan. And since there strictly our statements harmonize with
must be war between these kingdoms, prophecies which delineate the final
a war which shall only then terminate spread of christianity. We have shown
when evil is expelled from this crea- you that it is simply because but par-
tion, and the works of the devil are fi- tially received, that christianity is prac-
nally destroyed, peace can pervade no tically a sword on the earth. Make the
province of christendom, unless that reception universal, and, in place of
province contain nothing but nominal, acting as a sword, christianity would
or nothing but vital christianity. Whilst bind into one all the households, and
there is nothing but nominal christiani- all the hearts of human kind. Thus the
ty, there is peace, the peace of death; tendencies of the religion are to the
whilst nothing but vital, there is peace, producing, and, when produced, to the
the peace of heaven. But whilst there preserving that glorious state of things
is a mixture, there will be necessarily which is yet promised in Scripture,
collision between the two; and, just when "nation shall not lift up sword
according to the character of the times, against nation, neither shall they learn
will that collision produce the flames war any more;" when "Ephraim shall
of a fierce persecution, or the heart- not envy Judah, and Judah shall not
burnings of a silent, but rancorous ha- vex Ephraim.” We can prove christi-
tred. Yes, christianity is the olive anity fitted for the universal religion:
branch; but it falls upon waters, which, we can prove also, that, if universal-
struck by any thing pure and heavenly, ly received, there would be universal
boil instantly up as though stirred by peace and universal joy, the millennial
a hurricane. Christianity is the dove; day of a long-troubled creation. It may
but it comes down to the forest where then even yet be a sword, but, oh, that
the ravenous birds and the unclean every heart were pierced by it, and
shelter, and the gentlest waving of its every family penetrated. Christianity
wing rouses the brood whose haunts may cause dissensions, and we lament
seem invaded. Christianity, in short, them as proofs of the frailty and cor-
is peace; but it is peace proposed ruption of our nature; but we would
to rebels with their weapons in their not exchange the dissensions for the
hands; and who knows not, that, if undisturbed quiet of spiritual lethargy.
one of these rebels accept, whilst the We know them to be tokens of life:
others refuse, the proffered boon. those where enmity is excited, godliness is
who adhere to their treason will turn making way. And, therefore, we will
upon him who takes the oath of alle- not say, in the words of the prophet,
giance, and treat him as basely re- "O thou sword of the Lord, how long
creant to the cause he has espoused? will it be ere thou be quiet? put up
We require, therefore, nothing but the thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be
confession that man, in his natural still.” We will rather say with the
state, is the enemy of God, and that, Psalmist to Messiah, "Gird thy sword
consequently, there must be direct con- upon thy thigh, O most mighty; and
trariety between his principles and those in thy majesty ride prosperously.”
first object of love. This having been but the hearts of the whole human po-
granted, you may take the case either pulation. Thus sheathed, the jubilee
of a nation or a family, of empires bro- year begins: the one sword, like Aa-
ken into parties and sects, or of house- ron's rod, swallows up every other;
holds where the flow of social chari- and the universal wound is the univer-
ties has been suddenly arrested; but sal health.
sufficiency of producing cause has been Let each of us remember, that, ere
assigned, to explain, without impeach- christianity can be to him peace, it
ing the tendencies of christianity, why must be to him a sword. The broken
our Lord's words have all along been and contrite heart” precedes the assur-
verified, "I came not to send peace, ance that we are accepted in the be-
but a sword.”

loved." "O Israel, thou hast destroyWe have thus examined our text un-ed thyself.” Where are there sharper, der different points of view, and have more cutting words than these, when

spoken by God's Spirit to the soul? more lacerate the spirit ? Teaching

but in me is thine help found.” What man that whosoever will may be saved syllables can breathe more of hope, of by a Mediator, what balm can be more comfort, of serenity? The sword chris- medicinal? May God grant unto all of tianity is that weapon which heals in us, that, being first stricken with a wounding : there is balsam on its point, sense of sin, we may be "justified by and, as it pierces, it cures. Teaching faith," and thus have peace with God, man to feel himself lost, what can through our Lord Jesus Christ.”



[ocr errors]

“And the Lord spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying, Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, un

to mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession; and die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was guthered unto his people."-Deuteronomy, 32: 48, 50.

The long wanderings of the Israelites to deliver them from bondage, and who were now about to be concluded. That had borne meekly with their insolence wicked generation, which had provoked and ingratitude during forty years of God by their murmuring and rebellion, danger and toil? It was the only earthhad been exterminated according to the ly recompense which the captain of Isdivine threat; and their children stood rael could receive, that, having been inby the waters of Jordan, waiting the strumental in bringing the nation to the command to go over and expel the Ca- very border of their inheritance, he naanites. The land, flowing with milk should behold them happily settled ; and honey, was actually in view; the and enjoy, in his old age, the beautiful land which had been promised to Abra- spectacle of the twelve tribes dividing ham, Isaac, and Jacob; and in order to amongst themselves the fields and the the possession of which by their de- vineyards for which their fathers had scendants, Egypt had been desolated longed. Or, if this were too much, and with plagues, and a mystic pillar of fire be must resign to those younger than and cloud had traversed the wilderness. himself the leading Israel to battle with It was a moment of great excitement, the possessors of the land, let him, at and of great triumph : many must have least, behold the rich valleys, the sunny looked impatiently on the river, which hills, the sparkling brooks; and thus now alone divided them from their he satisfy himself, by actual inspection, of ritage, and have longed for the permis- the goodliness of the heritage, the sion to pass this last barrier, and tread thought of which had cheered him in the soil which was to be henceforward a thousand toils and perils. their own. And who shall be more ex- But Moses, though there was to arise cited, who more eager for the crossing after him no prophet so honored and the Jordan, than the great leader of the faithful; though he had been admitted people, he who had been commissioned to speak face to face with the Lord,

and had received marks of divine ap- The commanů was obeyed without probation granted neither before nor a murmur. This man of God, whose since to any of our race-Moses had eye was not dim, nor his natural force sinned, and the incurred penalty had abated,” ascended to the top of Pisbeen, that he should not enter the land gah; and there did the Lord, miracuof promise. His earnest desire and lously assisting his vision, show him prayer can do nothing towards procu- "all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and ring remission of the sentence: he may all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, ascend Mount Nebo, and thence may and Manasseh, and all the land of Juhe catch a distant view of the spread- dah unto the utmost sea, and the south, ings of Canaan: but he shall not cross and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the Jordan, he shall not plant his foot the city of palm-trees, unto Zoar." on the long-desired Palestine. Strange This having been done, he breathed and apparently harsh decree! The sin out his soul into the hands of his Maitself had not seemed extraordinarily ker; and "the Lord buried him in a heinous; yet the threatened retribution valley over against Bethpeor;" but no is not to be escaped: lengthened and human eye saw this mysterious dissounvaried obedience can do nothing lution, and no man knoweth of his when set against the solitary offence; sepulchre unto this day." and the intercessor, who had so often Now we consider this as a very intepleaded successfully with God for the resting and instructive portion of sathousands of Israel, is denied the slight cred history, presenting in large meaboon which he ventured to ask for him sure material for profitable discourse. self. Look on the assembled congre- We design, therefore, to engage you gation : who doubts that there are ma with its consideration, and if the truths ny in that vast gathering, who have which we shall have to bring before done much to provoke the Almighty, you, be only those with which frequent who will carry into Canaan unsancti hearing has made you familiar, they fied hearts and ungrateful spirits? Yet will be found, we think, of such imshall they all go over the Jordan: they portance as to warrant their being ofshall all follow the ark, weighty with ten repeated. It will be necessary that sacramental treasures, as the waters we examine the sin of which Moses had divide before it, doing homage to the been guilty, and which entailed his exsymbol of divinity. None shall be left clusion from Canaan. After this, we behind but he who was first amongst shall have to consider the peculiar the servants of God, who would have circumstances of his death. There felt the purest joy, and offered the are thus two general divisions under richest praise, on entering the land which our subject will naturally rewhich had been promised to his an- solve itself. In the first place, we cestors. Aaron was already dead: this are to consider why God refused to father of the Levitical priesthood had allow Moses to pass over Jordan: in offended with Moses; and therefore the second place, we are to give our was he denied the privilege of offering attention to the narrative of his asthe first sacrifice in Canaan, and thus cending Mount Nebo, and there exconsecrating, as it were, the inherit- piring in view of the land which he ance of the Lord. And now must Mo- was not to enter. ses also be gathered to his fathers : he Now you will remember that, soon has been spared longer than Aaron, for after the Israelites had come out of he had been far more upright and obe- Egypt, they were distressed for water dient: he had been permitted to ap- in the wilderness, and were so inproach much nearer to the promised censed against Moses as to be almost land, yea, actually to come within ready to stone him. On this occasion sight; but the Lord is not forgetful of Moses was directed by God to take his word; and now, therefore, comes the rod, with which he had wrought this startling message, "Get thee up in- such great wonders in Egypt, and to to this mountain, and die in the mount, smite the rock in Horeb; he did so, and be gathered unto thy people; as and forthwith came there out water Aaron thy brother died in Mount Hor, in abundance. It is generally allowed and was gathered unto his people.” that this rock in Horeb was typical of

« НазадПродовжити »