Page images
PDF
EPUB

earned success.

There, too, bright visions of the future sphere open upon him, and excite a kindly feeling towards those who are to share in his prosperity.

Thus, his mind and heart expand together. He has 5 become an intelligent being; and, while he has learned to

esteem himself, he has also learned to live no longer for himself alone. Society opens, like a new world, to him ; he looks upon his fellow-creatures with interest and

sympathy, and feels that he has a place in their affections 10 and respect. Temptations assail him in vain. He is

armed by high and pure thoughts. He takes a wider view of his relations with the beings about and above him. He welcomes every generous virtue that adorns

and dignifies the human character. He delights in the 15 exercise of reason, he glories in the consciousness and

the hope of immortality.

LESSON CIV.-MACER PREACHING ON THE STEPS OF THE

CAPITOL AT ROME-WILLIAM WARE.

The crowd was restless and noisy, heaving to and fro, like the fiery mass of a boiling crater. A thousand exclamations and imprecations filled the air. I thought it

doubtful, whether the rage which seemed to fill a great 5 proportion of those around me, would so much as permit

him to open his mouth. It seemed rather, as if he would at once be dragged, from where he stood, to the prefect's tribunal, or hurled from the steps, and sacrificed at once to

the fury of the populace. Upon the column, on his right 10 hand, hung, emblazoned with gold, and beautiful with all

the art of the chirographer, the edict of Aurelian. It was upon parchment, within a brazen frame.

Soon as quiet was restored, so that any single voice

could be heard, he began. 15 “Romans ! the emperor, in his edict, tells me not to

preach to you. Not to preach Christ in Rome, neither within a church, nor in the streets. Shall I obey him ? When Christ says, 'Go forth, and preach the gospel to

every creature,' shall I give ear to a Roman emperor, who 20 bids me hold my peace ? Not so, not so, Romans. I love

God too well, and Christ too well, and you too well, to heed such bidding. I love Aurelian, too; I have served long under him; and he was ever good to me.

He was a good, as well as great general; and I loved him. I love

him now, but not so well as these; not so well as you. And if I obeyed this edict, it would show that I loved him better than you, and better than these, which would be

false. 5 If I obeyed this edict, I should never speak to you again

of this new religion, as you call it. I should leave you all to perish in your sins, without any of that knowledge, or faith, or hope in Christ, which would save you from

them, and form you after the image of God, and after 10 death carry you up to dwell with him, and with just men,

forever and ever. I should then, indeed, show that I hated you, which I can never do. I love you, and Rome, I cannot tell how much, -as much as a child ever loved a

mother, or children one another. And therefore, it is, that 15 no power on earth,-nor above it, nor under it,--save that

of God, shall hinder me from declaring to you, the doctrine which I think you need, nay, without which, you never can be happy. For, wliat can your gods do for you

I? What are they doing? They list you not up to them20 selves,—they push you down rather to hell. They can

not save you from those raging fires of sorrow and remorse, which, here, on earth, do constitute a hell hot as any that burns below.

I have told you before, and I tell you now, your vices 25 are undermining the foundations of this great empire.

There is no power to cure these, but in Jesus Christ.' And, when I know this, shall I cease to preach Christ to you, because a man, a man like myself, forbids me?

Would you not still prepare for a friend, or a child, the 30 medicine that would save his life, though you were

charged by another ever so imperiously to forbear? The gospel is the divine medicament that is to heal all your sicknesses, cure all your diseases, remove all your mis

eries, cleanse all your pollutions, correct all your errors, 35 and confirm within you

all
necessary

truth.
And when it is this healing draught for which your souls
cry aloud, for which they thirst even unto death, shall I,
the

messenger of God, sent in the name of his Son, to bear to your lips the cup, of which, if you once drink, you shall 10 live forever, withhold from you that cup, or dash it to the

ground ? Shall I, a mediator between God and man, falter in my speech, and my tongue hang palsied in my mouth, because Aurelian speaks ? What to me, O Romans,

is the edict of a Roman emperor? Down, DOWN, ACCURSED SCRAWL! nor insult longer both God and man.”

And saying that, he reached forth his hand, and, seizing the parchment, wrenched it from its brazen frame, and, 5 rending it to shreds, strewed them abroad upon the air.

LESSON CV. -DEATH A SUBLIME AND UNIVERSAL MORALIST,

JARED SPARKS.

No object is so insignificant, no event so trivial, as not lo carry with it a moral and religious influence. The trees, that spring out of the earth, are moralists. They are

emblems of the life of man. They grow up; they put on 5 the garments of freshness and beauty. Yet these continue

but for a time; decay seizes upon the root and the trunk, and they gradually go back to their original elements. The blossoms, that open to the rising sun, but are closed

at night, never to open again, are moralists. The seasons 10 are moralists, teaching the lessons of wisdom, manifesting

the wonders of the Creator, and calling on man to reflect on his condition and destiny. History is a perpetual moralist, disclosing the annals of past ages, showing the

impotency of pride and greatness, the weakness of human 15 power, the folly of human wisdom. The daily occur

rences in society are moralists. The success or failure of enterprise, the prosperity of the bad, the adversity of the good, the disappointed hopes of the sanguine and

active, the sufferings of the virtuous, the caprices of for20 tune in every condition of life, all these are fraught with

moral instructions, and, if properly applied, will fix the power of religion in the heart.

But there is a greater moralist still; and that is-DEATH. Here is a teacher, who speaks in a voice which none can 25 mistake; who comes with a power which none can resist.

Since we last assembled in this place, as the humble and united worshippers of God, this stern messenger, this mysterious agent of Omnipotence, has come among our

numbers, and laid his withering hand on one, whom we 30 have been taught to honor and respect. whose fame was a

nation's boast, whose genius was a brilliant spark from the ethereal fire, whose attainments were equalled only by the grasp of his intellect, the profoundness of his judgment, the exuberance of his fancy, the magic of his elo

35 quence."

LESSON CVI.-REFORM IN MORALS.DR. BEECHER. The crisis has come. By the people of this generation, by ourselves, probably, the amazing question is to be decided, whether the inheritance of our fathers shall be

preserved or thrown away; whether our Sabbaths shall 5 be a delight or a loathing; whether the taverns, on that

holy day, shall be crowded with drunkards, or the sanctuary of God, with humble worshippers; whether riot and profaneness shall fill our streets, and poverty our dwell

ings, and convicts our jails, and violence our land, or 10 whether industry, and temperance, and righteousness, shall

be the stability of our times; whether mild laws shall receive the cheerful submission of freemen, or the iron rod of a tyrant compel the trembling homage of slaves. Be

not deceived. Human nature in this state is like human 15 nature everywhere. All actual difference in our favor is

adventitious, and the result of our laws, institutions, and habits. It is a moral influence, which, with the blessing of God, has formed a state of society so eminently desir

able. The same influence which has formed it, is indis20 pensable to its preservation. The rocks and hills of New

England will remain until the last conflagration. But let the Sabbath be profaned with impunity, the worship of God be abandoned, the government and religious instruc

tion of children neglected, and the streams of intemperance 25 be permitted to flow, and her glory will depart. The wall

of fire will no more surround her, and the munition of rocks will no longer be her defence.

If we neglect our duty, and suffer our laws and institutions to go down, we give them up forever. It is

easy

to 30 relax, easy to retreat, but impossible, when the abomina

tion of desolation has once passed over New England, to rear again the thrown down altars, and gather again the fragments, and build up the ruins of demolished institu

tions. Another New England, nor we, nor our children, 35 shall ever see, if this be destroyed. All is lost irretriev

ably, when the land-marks are once removed, and the bands which now hold us, are once broken. Such institutions, and such a state of society, can be established

only by such men as our fathers were, and in such cir40 cumstances as they were in. They could not have made

a New England in Holland. They made the attempt, but failed.

The hand that overturns our laws and altars, is the hand of death, unbarring the gate of Pandemonium, and letting loose upon our land the crimes and the miseries

of hell. If the Most High should stand aloof, and cast 5 not a single ingredient into our cup of trembling, it would

seem to be full of superlative woe. But He will not stand aloof. As we shall have begun an open controversy with Him, He will contend openly with us. And never, since

the earth stood, has it been so fearful a thing for nations 10 to fall into the hands of the living God. The day of ven

geance is in His heart, the day of judgment has come; the great earthquake which sinks Babylon is shaking the nations, and the waves of the mighty commotion are dash

ing upon every shore. Is this then a time to remove 15 foundations, when the earth itself is shaken? Is this a

time to forfeit the protection of God, when the hearts of men are failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth? Is this a time to

run upon His neck and the thick bosses of His buckler, 20 when the nations are drinking blood, and fainting, and

passing away in His wrath? Is this a time to throw away The shield of faith, when His arrows are drunk with the blood of the slain ? To cut from the anchor of hope, when

the clouds are collecting, and the sea and the waves are roar25 ing, and thunders are uttering their voices, and lightnings

blazing in the heavens, and the great hail is falling from heaven upon men, and every mountain, sea, and island, is fleeing in dismay, from the face of an incensed God?

[ocr errors]

LESSON CVII.THE CHILD OF THE TOMB ;-A STORY OF NEW

BURYPORT.---WM. B. TAPPAN. The following fact is found in Knapp's “Life of Lord Dexter." Where WHITEFIELD sleeps, remembered, in the dust, The lowly vault held once a double trust; And Parsons, reverend name, that quiet tomb

Possessed, -to wait the day of weal and doom. 5 Another servant of the living God,

PRINCE, who, (bereft of sight,) his way had trod,
Unerringly and safe, life's journey through,
Now sought admittance to these slumberers too.

As earth receded, and the mansions blest 10 Rose on his vision,-"Let my body rest

« PreviousContinue »