« ForrigeFortsett »
REVELATION 11: 15. And the seventh angel sounded ; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.
Without a gracious revelation from heaven the race of man is irrecoverably lost in idolatry and sin. Without this, in vain are the combined forces of science, art, arms, commerce, wealth, and all other human means, to elevate man to the knowledge of God and the practice of true virtue.
Such a revelation it has pleased God to grant. Its light began to dawn immediately after the fall in paradise
. It is a kingdom of redemption, whose king is the Son of God, who appeared “when the fullness of the time was come,” according to the divine promise, to offer up himself in the cause of human salvation.
Should your present speaker deviate so far from the usual custom on this occasion, as to contemplate the subject of Military Institutions only as included in a more comprehensive theme, his apology is that it has been so ably discussed by his predecessors as to render its
particular consideration at present superfluous.
with your indulgence, to offer reasons for believing that, in response to the utterance of the seventh angel in our text, pure Christianity, the only religion congenial to free civil institutions, is destined to become the permanent religion of the entire human family ; and also to indicate the especial relation of our own country to this great event. I place Christianity in the van of the march of liberty, as pioneering rather than following true civilization, and as being at once both the parent and defence of all free institutions. My belief that all nations are to become civilized, elevated, refined, and to enjoy the inestimable blessings of liberty, is founded upon and precisely commensurate with my belief that pure Christianity is to prevail over the whole world.
My argument will be addressed to such as admit the truth and excellence of our religion, but are sceptical in regard to its success. It has been so long struggling with unsubdued foes ; such large portions of mankind are sunk in gross idolatry; so much individual and organized hostility “ against the Lord and against his anointed” still prevails on all sides ; and there is so much deeply-seated infidelity, both secret and avowed, even in Christian lands, that the wisest of men sometimes find their faith put to the test. They are tempted either to doubt that interpretation of the Scriptures which asserts the universal triumph of Christianity, or to question the absolute authority of the Scriptures themselves.
But we are of those who believe that, despite of all obstacles, this divine religion, pure and undefiled, is to obtain complete victory over the world.
I. It is my first object to exhibit the rational grounds for this belief
1. Christianity will prevail because it is TRUE.
Truth has a natural power over the human mind. Through prejudice and sin men may be induced to reject it, but in so doing they act against their proper nature ; in resisting truth they hold their minds in a forced state. Although error may seem for a time triumphant, steadily advancing truth overtakes it at last and lays an omnipotent hand on the intellect. In both the natural and moral world, truth is progressive, and always ultimately sure of its object.
Look for a moment at the resistance encountered by some of the truths of natural science; for instance, those respecting the solar system. Five hundred years before Christ, Pythagoras taught, in part, the true doc
this subject. But it was despised and rejected by men, and for But truth cannot die; nor can it be always restrained. We may as well attempt to chain the internal fires of the globe. When those fires seem to lie dormant, they are accumulating force for fresh action. So truth, when apparently ineffective, is preparing to shake the intellectual world, and to assume practical dominion
After the lapse of nearly two thousand years, the true doctrine of the solar system found another advocate. Copernicus published to the world that the sun is the centre of the system, that the earth moves round it and also on its own axis. Again was this truth assailed.
But was it finally defeated ? No. Truth has ample time to vindicate its claims, and it suffers nothing from delay. Another hundred years rolled by and Gallileo
He invented the telescope, and with the combined aid of mathematical and telescopic evidence, reasserted the truth. But the day of triumph still lingered. Truth's champion was imprisoned and his books were burned.
Another century passed, and Newton arose. His splendid discoveries in optics and his vast improvement of the reflecting telescope, combined with his towering mathematical genius to bring forth to the world, in bold defiance, this same despised and rejected truth. The conflict was long and severe, but every struggle gave new advantage to truth, and at length it compelled error to yield and prejudice to hide her face, while it marched resistlessly onward to take possession of the whole enlightened world.
Now the doctrines of Christianity being as true to the moral universe as those of Copernicus are to the natural, their final success is equally certain. There is in error a principle of innate destructibility; especially it cannot endure hard usage. It requires a peculiarly favorable adjustment of the elements; it needs the hothouse nursery of the selfish passions. And even patronage herself, with hands full of gold, cannot confer immortality upon it. Truth, on the other hand, survives by its own inherent vitality. Rough handling may for a time retard its progress, but cannot destroy it. It will live and thrive, even on bleak, wintry rocks, and amidst howling blasts.
For several centuries great ingenuity and labor were bestowed upon attempts to change the baser metals into gold; so have human devices been employed to make false systems of religion, such as Paganism, Mahommetanism, and various corruptions of Christianity, pass for truth. But these base metals cannot be converted into gold; nor can they always pass for it; for the human mind eventually detects imposition.
In virtue of the same influence by which commanding intellects carry their own generation forward in some truths, they often hold subsequent generations back from embracing others. A single illustration of this fact will suffice. Galen, the illustrious prince of the Greek physicians, flourished in the year of our Lord 130. He taught surgery as well as medicine, and was in advance of all his contemporaries. Truth and error were blended in his teaching, but his greatness gave such currency to his errors, that for centuries it was unpardonable presumption to question
any of his positions. This subsequently prevented men from arriving at the truth respecting the circulation of the blood.
At length Harvey arose. But even then mankind had scarcely reached a point of knowledge at which to cope successfully with the great name of Galen. History records, that “the promulgation of the truth by Harvey respecting the circulation of the blood, roused the attention of all Europe. The old professors, accustomed to pay a blind and implicit deference to the authority of Galen, which was now utterly subverted, and ashamed to confess that their whole life had been spent in teaching the grossest errors, took up in opposition to the author of these innovations. One