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circulation. But where shall we begin? It would require volumes tó do justice to the subject.
Did our limits allow, we might trace its effects on literature. We might show that whenever Christianity was propagated among barbarous nations, the knowledge of letters was at the same time introduced. We might show, that as the reading of the scriptures is essential to Christianity, and as these were long confined to the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages, the knowledge of those languages was necessarily preserved in the church, and thereby the study of the ancient classics also promoted. That during the dark ages, literature, so far as it existed, was almost confined to the biblical scholars, and but for them would have perished. That since the revival of letters, multitudes who have blessed the world by their learning, and some of whom were among its brightest luminaries, were educated for the services of the church, and but for the scriptures would have remained unknowing and unknown. We might mention its effect on the common people in Christian countries, as wherever the bible is received, an ability to read its contents is deemed indispensable. We might mention, also, that thousands and hundreds of thousands of the children of the poor, rescued from utter ignorance by Sabbath schools, are taught to read that they may become acquainted with the bible; and thus be fitted for usefulness in society, as well as for happiness in heaven.
Can its effects on civil government be questioned! It teaches magis. trates that they are the ministers of God, appointed to be a “ terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well." It teaches the people to regard their authority as "the ordinance of God, not only for fear, but for conscience sake." Hence insurrections and massacres have been much less frequent in protestant Christian, than in heathen and infidel countries. It has infused its moral, humane, and benevolent spirit into the laws and institutions of states and kingdoms. It has given addi. tional security of their respective rights to all classes of the community. It has softened the rigors of war, and when its principles shall be universally adopted, will utterly exterminate this devourer of nations from the earth. In proportion as it has obtained in the world, it has taught its real disciples to regard all of human kind as their brethren, and it will ultimately cut every spear in sunder, and burn every war-chariot in fire. Yes, under its influence, accompanied by the power of the Spirit, the time will come when the earth shall no longer exhibit scenes of blood and carnagem" when nations shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks--when nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more, but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree, and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord haih spoken it.”
But it is on the social, the moral, and religious interests of mankind, that the scriptures exert their most benign influence. Need we evidence? Look at facts. The exposure of deformed or illegitimate infants-of aged and helpless parents, and the cruelties practised by the superior on the inferior orders of society, in many heathen countries, both in ancient and modern times, are matters of public notoriety. Several years since
we were told, that at least eighteen thousand infants were annually de. stroyed in China; and ten thousand every month in the single province of Bengal in India. The horrid sports and gladiatorial exhibitions, too, practised in ancient Rome, in the midst of all her boasted refinement and philosophy, are well known. Europe, by these means, is supposed to have sometimes lost twenty or thirty thousand lives in a month. But who does not know that wherever the holy bible has gained dominion, these and all like abominations have been done away, and the remembrance of them contemplated with horror. Nor has the effect been merely negative.
Christian communities have not only ceased to do evil, but learned to do well. In the benevolent spirit of the bible, how many asylums have they erected for the children of want and wretchedness—for widows and orphans—for the friendless and the helpless. How many hospitals for the sick and the maimed the halt and the blind-the idiot and the maniac.
What kind of misery have they not attempted to relieve? or what species of crime have they not attempted to reform?
These institutions and efforts of benevolence originated from the bible; and in vain do we look for their existence where its influence is unknown.
In the rites and forms of religious worship, its effects are not less obvious. Where, in the worship of the God of the bible, do you find such scenes as have been exhibited in the impure and the bloody superstitions of Africa and India, or such as historians and travellers have reported of all pagan nations, both ancient and modern?—scenes too often described to need a repetition. Beside rites the most obscene, penances the most severe, and self-immolations the most shocking and innumerable, it is a well attested fact that, in every part of the world, the blood of human victims has smoked on the idolatrous altars of the heathen. But wherever the bible has extended its empire, “the altars and the gods have fallen together in the dust.” Instead of the abominations of paganism, it has established the worship of Jehovah “ in the beauty of holiness. It declares in all his temples, “ God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
Need we allude more particularly to its effects on individuals? Here, indeed, its divine efficacy is immediately and gloriously displayed. When attended with the power of the Spirit, it urges home upon the inner man the resistless claims of the Almighty. It arrests the sinner in his career of crime, penetrates him with a sense of guilt, subdues him to the dominion of grace, and brings back his soul to God. Without regard to distinction or rank, it has carried its redeeming authority alike into palaces and cottages, and brought kings and peasants to sit together at the Savior's feet. Throughout every grade of character, from the selfrighteous Pharisee to the extortionate publican-from the heartless Stoic to the licentious Epicurean, it has multiplied its disciples, and made them one in humility, in holiness, and in happiness. “How many thousands,” says one, “ have felt its power, rejoiced in its influence, and under its dictates been constrained to devote themselves to the glory and praise of God. Burdened with guilt, incapable of finding relief
from human resources, the mind has here found peace unspeakable, in beholding that sacrifice which alone could atone for transgression. Here the hard and impenitent heart has been softened, the impetuous passions restrained, the ferocious temper subdued, powerful prejudices conquered, ignorance dispelled, and the obstacles to real happiness removed. Here the Christian, looking around on the glories and blandishments of this world, has been enabled, with a noble contempt, to despise them all for Christ. Here death itself, the king of terrors, has lost its sting; and the soul, with a holy magnanimity, has borne up in the agonies of a dying hour, and sweetly sung itself away to everlasting
Such, my hearers, are some of the effects of the book of God. Let me now say, in a brief review of the whole subject, 1. With what confidence we may consult the sacred word.
Time, that often effects such mighty changes in men and things, has effected no important change in the scriptures. He who at first gave them by inspiration of his Spirit, pure as their divine source, has graciously handed them down uncorrupted, still the infallible rule of faith. And who can but admire the wisdom and goodness of Providence displayed in the means by which they have been transmitted through so many generations, and in the midst of so many enemies, without the possibility of any essential corruption or alteration! Here, too, we see how that diversity of sentiment and of sect, which is often, in manifold ignorance, urged as an objection against Christianity, has been made to subserve an important purpose by creating and sustaining a successful guardianship over the standard by which every sect and sentiment is to be tried. Partly, at least, as the consequence of all this diversity, we now resort to the Law and the Testimony, in every question of faith or practice, with a confidence, as to the authoritative decision of heaven, no less firm than if we lived in the age of inspiration and listened at the lips of the Seer. No change has occurred to diminish an iota the import of the apostolic assurance, that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
2. What a debt of gratitude do we owe to God for the inestimable gift of his holy word. On all the ground we have gone over, at every step we have taken, we have found cause for thanksgiving. All that authorizes our commendation of the sacred volume; all that enhances its value in our estimation; all that constitutes its excellence-its doctrines—its revelations, holy, heavenly, divine—its promises, exceeding great and precious—the influence it exerts, renewing, transforming, elevating—the consolations it imparts, meeting the necessities of our case in the sorrows of this life, and opening the rapturous prospect of glory ineffable in the life to come: all conspire to lay a claim to our gratitude which no ingenuous heart can resist. Think how much you owe to the instrumentality of the Bible in your personal condition, in your domestic and social relations, and in the condition of your country exalted immeasureably above the condition of any Popish, Mohammedan, or Pagan country; and let the reflection inspire you with becoming sentiments of gratitude and praise to the Author of the Bible,
Again: Permit me, affectionately, but earnestly and solemnly, to ask, Do you beliere and obey the Bible, according to its unquestionable claims? Are you daily becoming wiser and better, holier and happier, in the use of it? These are interrogatories of personal, universal, and eternal importance. Admit them at the door of your consci. ence, and dismiss them not, I conjure you, till you are prepared to answer them, when you must meet them again, at the bar of God. This appeal is made without respect of persons—to the high and the low, to rulers and the ruled, to the learned and ignorant, to the rich and the poor; to all the scriptures are equally adapted—to all are equally ad. dressed—to all are equally important,—and let each remember that he must give account for himself in this matter to God. In view of all that is excellent in the book of God, of all that has been done for its uncorrupted transmission for your use-of all the time, treasure, and toil that are now expended for its universal diffusion and of the anxieties that the waking nations begin to manifest to receive and read it, what can you expect will become of you, if you neglect its great sal. vation!
Finally: The view that has been taken of the sacred word is adapted to inspire us with zeal in promoting its circulation among the destitute.
As we value the uncorrupted purity in which it has been preserved; the unequaled doctrines it contains; the literature it promotes; the authority it confers on magistrates; the rights it secures to subjects; the support it gives to government; the amelioration it effects in the state of society; the simplicity and spirituality it promotes in the worship of God; the morality it produces among all the classes of the community; and the redemption it brings to the immortal soul of the sinner,—we are called upon, as men, as scholars, as citizens, as philanthropists, and as Christians, to contribute our aid in the distribution of the bible.
Do you fear to entrust your money in this cause? Who but the God of the bible gave you your money? What are you but stewards of him? Who but the God of the bible gives prosperity or honesty to your debtors, or those entrusted with your money? Who but the God of the bible controls the elements where your property is? Who but the God of the bible gives you success in your trades, your merchandise, or your professions? All issues are in his hands, and hence the solution of the enigma, “ There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, and it tendeth to poverty.” Can you, then, obey the precept and believe the promise, “Cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt receive it again after many days?"
6. Hon. or the Lord with thy substance and with the first fruits of all thine in. crease, so shall thy barns be filled with plenty.” But why urge a consideration so much addressed to selfishness? May I not rather appeal to a more noble principle, to your benevolence? Is it not enough to remind you of the wants and woes of the world? Look over the
map of the world see how widely these wants and woes art spread and remember that the bible affords the only remedy.
BY HENRY R. WEED,
OF WHEELING, VA.
VISION OF THE LAMB.
A SACRAMENTAL DISCOURSE.
REV. 5:6. And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of
the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb, as it had been slain.
This is a part of John's vision, introductory to his prophecies record. ed in the subsequent chapters. As he looked up into heaven, a glori. ous scene was presented to his view. A door was opened in heaven; and as he looked within, he saw the throne of the eternal King; and he that sat upon the throne was in appearance 6 like a jasper, and a sardine stone; and there was a rain-bow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” The resplendent and transparent jasper is supposed to represent the perfect purity and unsullied holiness of the divine, na. ture--the sardine stone, which is of a red color, the avenging justice of God--and the rain-bow his covenant mercy, lle, moreover, saw, in orderly arrangement, round about the throne, four living creatures, and four and twenty elders, clothed in white raiment, and wearing crowns of gold. These are supposed to be the representatives of the ministers and church of the living God. And besides many other symbolical exhibitions of the invisible world, he beheld, with admiration, “ in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts (or living creatures, as it might be translated), and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns,” (well known emblems of power,)“and seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God,” (i. e. the manifold influ. ences of the Spirit,) " sent forth into all the earth.”
I need hardly tell you, my brethren, that by the Lamb in the vision, is meant the Lord Jesus Christ in his mediatorial character. He is often exhibited in the sacred writings under this figure; and according to its proper import, is a most appropriate object of our contemplation, when we are thus assembled to celebrate the sacrifice he made for our sins. Let us, then, in the
First place, inquire what the import of this figure is: why is the Saviour represented as a Lamb? The titlo may denote, 1. His meek
This is, even to a proverb, a distinguishing characteristic of the Lamh. · And who that has read the history that the evangelists have given of the Son of man, can have failed to observe how remarkably it was exemplified in his life. What indignities--what insults—what taunts and scoffs, were cast upon him! But no angry passion ever ruffied his bosom-no malignant revenge ever marked an action of his life. " When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, be threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteous. ly.” To Zion, it was proclaimed, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek and lowly.” And when he invites the weary and heavy-laderi to him for rest, he encourages their approach by the assurance that he is “ meek and lowly in heart."