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New England continue to be an example to the world, of the blessings of a free government, and of the means and capacity of man to maintain it. And, in all times
60 to come, as in all times past, may Boston be among the
foremost and boldest to exemplify and uphold whatever constitutes the prosperity, the happiness, and the glory of New England.
My fancy has sometimes presented me with this picture of a faithful Sabbath school teacher’s entrance to the state of her everlasting rest. The agony of dissolution is closed, the triumph of faith completed, and the conquering spirit hastens to her crown.
Upon the confines of the heavenly world, a form divinely fair awaits her arrival. Wrapt in astonishment at the dazzling glory of this celestial inhabitant, and as yet a stranger in the world of spirits, she inquires, “Is this Gabriel, chies of all the heavenly hosts, and am I honored with his aid to guide me to the throne of God?”
With a smile of ineffable delight, such as gives fresh
beauty to an angel’s countenance, the mystic form re
plies, Dost thou remember little Elizabeth, who was in yonder world a Sunday scholar in thy class? Dost thou recollect the child who wept as thou talkedst to her of sin, and directed her to the cross of the dying Redeemer? God smiled with approbation upon thy effort, and by his own Spirit sealed the impression upon her heart in characters never to be effaced. Providence removed her from beneath thy care, before the fruit of thy labour was visible. The seed, however, had taken root, and it was the business of another to water what thou didst sow. Cherished by the influence of Heaven, the plant of religion flourished in her heart, and shed its fragrance upon her character. Piety, after guarding her from the snares of youth, cheered her amidst the accumulated trials of an afflicted life, supported her amidst the agonies of her last conflict, and elevated her to the mansions of immortality: and now behold before thee the glorified spirit of that poor
child, who, under God, owes the eternal life on which she has lately entered, to thy faithful labors in the Sunday School; and who is now sent by our Redeemer to introduce thee to the world of glory, as thy first and least reward for guiding the once thoughtless, ignorant, wicked Elizabeth to the world of grace. Hail, happy spirit! . Hail, favoured of the Lord! Hail, deliverer of my soul! Hail to the world of eternal glory! I can trace the scene no further. I cannot paint the raptures produced in the honored teacher's bosom by this unexpected interview. I cannot depict the mutual gratitude and love of two such spirits meeting on the confines of heaven; much less can I follow them to their everlasting mansion, and disclose the bliss which they shall enjoy before the throne of God. All this, and a thousand times more, is attendant upon the salvation of one single soul. Teachers, what a motive to diligence!
To this divine, this indispensable employment, every motive calls you, which can reach the heart of virtue, or wisdom. The terms, on which these blessings of the gospel are offered, are of all terms the most reasonable. You are summoned to no sacrifice, but of sin, and shame, and wretchedness. No service is demanded of you, but services of gain, and glory. “JMy son, give me thine heart,” is the requisition, which involves them all. Remember how vast, how multiplied, how noble these blessings are! Remember, that the happiness of heaven is not only unmingled, and consummate; not only uninterrupted, and immortal: but ever progressive. To this scene of glory, all things continually urge you. The seasons roll on their solemn course. The earth yields its increase, to furnish blessings to support you. Mercies charm you to their author. Afflictions warn you of approaching ruin; and drive you to the ark of safety. Magistrates uphold order, and peace, that you may consecrate your labors to the divine attainment. Ministers proclaim to you the glad tidings of great joy; and point out to you the path to heaven. The Sabbath
faithfully returns its inild and sweet season of grace, that
hasten to enjoy the reward of his infinite labors in an
universe of good, and in the glory, which he had with the Father before ever the world was.
Look at mighty Athens, and you will every where perceive monuments of taste, and genius, and elegance! Look at imperial, Pagan Rome in all her glory! You will behold all the grandeur of the human intellect unfold5 ed in her temples, her palaces, and her amphitheatres. You will find no hospital or infirmary; no asylum for the aged and the infirm, the fatherless and the widow; the blind, the dumb, the deaf; the outcast and the destitute. 10 How vastly superior in this respect is Bristol to Athens, is London to Rome. These, Christianity, are thy triumphs! These are thy lovely offspring! they all bear the lineaments of their common parent. Their 15 family likeness proves the sameness of their origin. Mercy conjoined with purity is the darling attribute of our holy religion. Its great Founder was mercy embodied in a human form. Those virtues which shone in him shone in 20 Reynolds also; though with a diminished lustre, when compared with his great original:—yet in a brighter lustre than in the rest of mankind. But whence, it may be demanded, came it to pass that this man rose so high, above the great mass of pro25 fessed Christians? The answer is obvious. The great mass of professed Christians are Christians only by profession. Reynolds was a Christian in reality. His Christianity was cordial—ardent—energetic. Not an empty name—a barren speculation; but a vital principle. 30 Vital Christianity is not so much a solitary beauty, as it is an assemblage of all beauty. It combines the wisdom of the serpent, with the innocence of the dove; the gentleness of the lamb, with the courage of the lion. It adds a charm to the bloom S5 of youth, and converts the hoary head into a crown of lory. It gives dignity to the palace, and brings heaven into the cottage. The king upon the throne is not so venerable by the crown that encircles his brow, as by the religion that renders him the father of his people, 40 and the obedient servant of the Sovereign of the world.
People of the United States—
Have you ever been invited to an enterprise of such grandeur and glory? Do you not value the Holy Scriptures? Value them as containing your sweetest hope; . . your most thrilling joy 2 Can you submit to the thought 5 that you should be torpid in your endeavours to disperse them, while the rest of christendom is awake and alert? Shall you hang back, in heartless indifference, when princes come down from their thrones, to bless the cottage of the poor with the gospel of peace; and imperial 10 sovereigns are gathering their fairest honors from spreading abroad the oracles of the Lord your God? Is it possible that you should not see, in this state of human things, a mighty motion of Divine Providence? The most heavenly charity treads close upon the 15 march of conflict and blood! The world is at peace! Scarce has the soldier time to unbind his helmet, and to wipe away the sweat from his brow, ere the voice of mercy succeeds to the clarion of battle, and calls the nations from enmity to love! Crowned heads bow to the 20 head that is to wear “many crowns;” and, for the first time since the promulgation of Christianity, appear to act in unison for the recognition of its gracious principles, as being fraught alike with happiness to man and honor to God. 25 What has created so strange, so beneficent an alteration? This is no doubt the doing of the Lord, and it is marvellous in our eyes. But what instrument has he thought fit chiefly to use? That which contributes, in all latitudes and climes, to make Christians feel their unity, to re30 buke the spirit of strife, and to open upon them the day of brotherly concord—the Bible! the Bible!—through Bible Societies! Come then, fellow citizens, fellow Christians, let us join in the sacred covenant. Let no heart be cold; no 35 hand be idle: no purse reluctant! Come, while room is left for us in the ranks whose toil is goodness, and whose recompense is victory. Come cheerfully, eagerly, generally.