« PreviousContinue »
ed by men the most hardened enemies of Christianity, when they have seen death before them, and realized what it is to die. Go where you will in our dying world, and consult the “saint, the savage, or the sage,” and you will find from the experience of them all, that faith in the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is himself the Resurrection and the Life, is the cnly power that can take from death its sting, and from the grave its victory. Grant, if you will for a moment, that the gospel is but a fable, our faith in it a mere delusion, and that our hope and joy from it are but a dream. What dream was ever like it? What
dream was ever so blessed? If we do but dream
in all that we hope and believe, whether living or dying, in mercy to us, let us dream on, let us dream for ever. The man that would awake us is our worst enemy. For when he has dispelled our dream, so joyous and heavenly as we find it, what has he to give us in its place but bitter despair?
Influence of the Bible on the intellect of Man.
John viii. 12.
I am the light of the world.
The language of the text is equally simple and grand. Like the “wise sayings” of old which were said to have come down from heaven, it contains "multum in parvo;" it has a variety of meanings which like the leaves of a flower, may be unfolded one after another, and yet are united by a
The words are used by the Saviour as referring to the various offices he fulfils in the works of creation, providence and grace. He is “the light of the world,” for it was he who, “in the beginning," when “darkness was upon the face of the deep,” commanded “let there be light, and there was light;" and from that first day of earth's existence, it is he who kindles the sun in the heavens every morning that it rises. He is also “ the light of the world,” for, when by our transgressions against heaven we had covered ourselves with the darkness of guilt and despair, and doomed ourselves to death, he “ brought life and immortality to light” by the gospel; and from the first ray of hope that gladdens the heart, up to that effulgence of glory which awaits the redeemed in heaven, we are in. debted for it all to the Son of God.
But it is to a different application of the words that I now call your attention. They ascribe to him another and farther office still, when they announce him as “the light of the world.” They declare him to be the author of whatever is clear and splendid in the world of mind and thought. Whether it be in man or angel, every faculty by which we can discover truth, can discriminate between good and evil, beauty and deformity, is derived from him. The enlarged domain of intellectual light which belongs to the unsinning seraphs in heaven, comes to them as his gift; it is a part of his image in which he created them; and when man by his fall from primeval innocence, had both destroyed the purity of his heart, and fatally im
paired the powers of his understanding; it is only as he comes under the influence of the remedial scheme by which men are brought from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto the living God,” that intellect becomes healthful and active, and the enlarged discoveries of truth and wisdom are made fully available in promoting the comfort and welfare of men.
This is what I now undertake to make good, and in doing so, I will present you with
A contrast between Christianity on the one hand, and Infidelity on the other, in their respective influences upon the cause of sound learning and knowledge in our world.
You will at once perceive how fitly this forms the next step in our proposed lectures on the connection between Science and Religion. On a previous occasion we took a review of learned men who have been the opposers of Christianity; and while we allowed them all due credit for their attainments in Science and Letters, we proceeded to show that their infidelity did not spring from their learning, but from causes far from honorable to the men themselves. We next brought up to view, ranks of the learned who have appeared as the advocates and ornaments of Christianity; and we showed that if the question is to be settled by the authority of names, no demonstration can be more complete than that which we have furnished.
But triumphant as the argument may be rendered by this comparison of men with men, I wish to carry it still farther. I wish to compare the systems as such, of these two opposite parties, and to show what have been their different agencies in the promotion of knowledge." By their fruits
ye shall know them,” is so plainly a maxim of sound wisdom, that opposers should not question it, though it is found in the Bible.
We will now endeavor to show what has been done by Christiani. ty in imparting a spirit for the cultivation of schol. arship and enlarged knowledge, and will then ask, what has been done by Infidelity for the same glorious cause.
In this connection it may be proper to observe, that a great distinction of Christianity from other systems of Religion, lies in its awakening and cherishing, in all its true disciples, a spirit of inquiry, a desire for increase of intelligence. Compare the