Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the Bible, because they do not make the word of life the man of their counsel. How various and interesting are the subjects of divine revelation of things both new and old, of those which are past, and which are yet to come. The account of the conduct, condition, and designs of those invisible spirits, the holy and sinning angels, should most seriously affect us; for like them, and even with them, we are deeply interested. O the wonders, the beauties, and glories of the person, character, and offices of the

, Redeemer, the only Mediator between God and man! How sublime, and amazingly momentous the description of the general resurrection and great judgement day. In the word of God we have an interest vast as eternity; and to have a saving knowledge of its sacred truths, is to be an heir of immortal glory. Amen:

SERMON XIV.

zion's TRIALS AND PROSPECTS.

Psalm xlviii. 12.

Walk about Zion, and go round about her ; tell the towers

thereof. To hear of glorious achievements and important events, interests the mind of a human being. Many of the concerns pertaining to the human race, are in themselves of vast magnitude; and others become momentously interesting by their connexion with other beings, and their bearing on another world. Ancient and modern history is worthy the study and attention of man; both as it respects the rise and fall of nations, and individuals. The account of worthy heroes and interesting kingdoms, is calculated to please and elevate the human mind. Let us take a glance of two persons of rank, and notice some of the changes which they experienced.

In the year 1774, in which the Marquis de La Fayette was married, his estates are said to have been so great that his annual income amounted to ten thousand one hundred dollars. In the year 1776, he espoused the cause of America; as his mind, naturally elevated, was ever devoted to the cause of liberty. Though France little expected that the American colonies could maintain their declaration of Independence, he was willing to purchase and fit out a vessel at his own expense. He soon landed at Charleston, South-Carolina, where he presented General Moultrie with clothing, arms, and accoutrements for one hundred of his men, who were miserably clad. Being appointed by Congress to the rank and commission of Major-General in the army of the United States, he was permitted to take the command of two thousand young men, who being regularly disciplined, became the flower of the American army. They were equipped throughout at his own expense; and for his bravery, military skill, and successes, he had the confidence of his men, of Washington, and Congress. Being highly honoured, and having returned home in the time of the French revolution, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the national guards, and commander of all the militia in France. But shortly he is accused, and a price set on his head. He escapes from the army, and after many most degrading reproaches and insults, at last is delivered

up to the Austrian government, and confined in one of the cells of the prison at Olmutz. The sufferings of La Fayette in this dreary abode, brought him to the borders of the grave.

His confinement was five years; that of his wife and daughters, twenty-two months. If all the circumstances attending his imprisonment should be taken into consideration, a parallel case of injustice and cruelty could scarcely be found in the annals of history. Now let us turn our thoughts to his arrival and reception at NewYork, in the year 1824: Let us only contemplate his tour through the United States, and hint at the honours which he received from this nation; then enough will be told of him.

Again : In the year 1774, Louis XVI, ascends the throne of France. But, in a few years, the condition of the nation is so alarming, that the royal family are obliged to escape from Paris. They are taken and brought back, and suffer the most inhuman treatment. The king and royal family are imprisoned, accused, condemned, and executed. In the time of their arrest and confinement, they experienced the most cruel abuse. Their horrid execution is too affecting and shocking at this time to be related. What contrasts in the condition of Louis XVI. king

a

of France! Thus a cursory view of two personages has been taken, to show that not only the history of nations, but that of individuals, is often important and interesting

Still there is a history vastly more important, and infinitely more interesting. This is the history of the church, or a description of the trials and prosperity of Zion. Her king is the Lord of hosts; her dominion is an everlasting dominion; and all her subjects shall finally wear crowns of glory for ever and ever. Her chief tower is heaven; and all the angels of God are her guards. She is styled the perfection of beauty; for in her militant state, her subjects are the peculiar chosen people of her King; and in her triumphant state, they are the citizens of the new Jerusalem above. Well, then, may the Psalmist exclaim, Walk about Zion, and go round about her; tell the towers thereof.

In the early ages of the world, there were preachers of righteousness, among whom Noah was distinguished.

But religious instructers were chiefly Patriarchal, till the time of Moses. Then the Levites were the priests for the Jewish nation. Whilst Jerusalem was in splendour, the people were called upon to go round the city in solemn procession; and, while they joyfully praised and blessed the Lord, to mark all the towers, walls, and palaces, observing that not one of them had been in the least injured by her formidable invaders. This would tend the more deeply to impress their minds, and prepare them faithfully and diligently to preserve the memory of these interesting events, for the benefit of future generations.

But says Solomon, The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe. Before the advent of the Saviour, the Lord had not only a seed to serve him, but there were eminent patriarchs and prophets, who were Zion's watchmen; and pven the angels were her messengers and warriours,

Their tents were pitched in the midst of her; and frequently they fought her battles, and led her on victorious. But this subject will be chiefly confined to events which have transpired in the church, since the days of Christ and his apostles.

The darkest season was chosen for the appearance of the Son of God, the light and life of the world. The New Testament makes known the out pourings of the Holy Spirit, the persecutions and success of the church, during the first century. In the reign of Trajan, Ignatius was an important pillar in the church. Much did he encourage and strengthen christians, who were persecuted in diverse places. Polycarp was a bold champion for the defence of truth in his life; and his martyrdom was a bulwark for the support and propagation of Christianity. In his days, the holy martyrs sustained the most dreadful tortures for their faith in Christ; evincing indeed, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory, that shall be revealed in them. The name of Cyprian is distinguished in church history. He was a faithful servant of his Lord and master; and an ornament to the church. In Asia, one Maximus was brought before Optimus the proconsul, who inquired after his condition. I was born free, says he, but I am the servant of Jesus Christ. Are you a christian? Though a sinner, yet I am a christian. After persuasions and tortures, he was ordered to be stoned to death. Whilst the

persecution was raging with unremitting fury, Cyprian thus addresses the faithful: Heavenly things now succeed earthly; great things, small; and eternal, those that are fading. After a variety of exercises and toils amongst friends and open enemies, by having his head severed from his body by a sword, rested at length in Jesus the magnanimous and benevolent spirit of Cyprian of Carthage.

In the fourth century in the persecution under Dioclesian, edicts were published, by which men of the

« PreviousContinue »