« PreviousContinue »
gathering storm of war from his country; or he may so misrepresent his sovereign in a foreign court, as to darken the political heavens at once, and bring down the tempest in all its fury. For his fidelity and success he may be rewarded with domains and titles, or if unfaithful to his high trust, he may be banished or beheaded for his crime. But weigh these interests, these rewards, these penalties, if you can, against the interests of the kingdom of Christ-the worth of the undying soul—the smiles, or the wrath of the Lamb-the heights of glory and honor and immortality,' or the unfathomable depths of shame and remorse and agony! Time here and eternity there! A feather in one scale, and the everlasting mountains in the other !
But no uninspired representation can do justice to the subject. Listen to the voice of God himself. “O son of man,
I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word from my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man thou shalt surely die ; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn fronı it, if he do not turn from his way, he shall surely die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul.' "Take heed unto thyself and to thy doctrine: continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and then that hear thee. If any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him, let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.' And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to right
eousness as the stars forever and ever.' Behold, I come quickly, hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.'
Men, brethren, and fathers !' Supremely important as the subject before us is, and inconceivably momentous as are its bearings upon the christian ministry and upon the dearest interests of mankind, I am sure you will permit me without an apology, to detain you a few moments longer, while I add some general and applicatory remarks. And,
1. How glorious is the kingdom of Christ, in its constitution, in its laws, in its administration, and in its peaceful advance to universal empire. Every great movement, every new conquest, every trophy reminds us, that it is not of this world. Its all-pervading spirit is the spirit of holiness, of love, of pure, disinterested benevolence. While the factitious glare of earthly monarchies conceals a vast amount of corruption and misery and crime, under an imposing exterior, the kingdom of Immanuel is all glorious within ;' and the emanations of this central glory will shine more and more unto the perfect day. As in the natural world, the empire of the sun advances just as fast and as far as the light shines, so it is with the Sun of righteousness. His dominion will become universal, just as soon as he shall irradiate all lands. Behold then, how his celestial beams already gild the spires of ten thousand temples dedicated to his worship. See how fast the light wings its way from one dark mountain to another. See how the shadows of death flee before it, as it glances upon the pagoda and the mosque; as it shines broadly upon the Islands of the Pacific, and penetrates the savage wilderness of our own country. Extend your view still further. See every valley of death illumined
-every moral desert reclaimed-every foul spirit cast out-every pagan altar thrown down-every nation and every tribe under heaven coming joyfully under the peaceful sceptre of Jesus! Then listen to numbers without number' of jubilant voices in every variety of human language, hymning praises to the Redeemer!
All this and more did the beloved disciple see and hear in the vision of Patmos. “And he,' (that is one of the seven angels,) carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God; and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it; for the Glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie ; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.'
2. How great is the honor, how exalted the privilege of those who are called and chosen and faithful, as 'ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.' What covetings will not men indulge, what sacrifices will they not make for a seat in the cabinet, for a nomination to a foreign court, or even some in considerable office under the dubious sunshine of executive patronage. How loth
are they to resign their places and how bitter are the envyings of their disappointed rivals. But what are such honors worth? Mark them well. The wind changes, and they are blighted. A frosty glance lights upon them, and they die. While you look at the gorgeous bubble, it bursts. Only breathe upon it, and it vanishes. The most powerful patron may go into exile or to the scaffold. The sovereign himself, on whose favor every thing depends, may suddenly change his mind or be dethroned, or be gathered to his fathers. Or even if no such adverse change should happen, the greatest favorite at court can live but a few years to enjoy his honors. And when death comes and tears them all off, what advantage will be have over the meanest slave, except, perhaps, to furnish a more sumptuous repast for the crawling expectants of the tomb ?
But not so the honor which cometh from God. Not so the chosen and faithful servants of Jesus Christ. The Prince whom they serve can never change his mind, can never be deposed, can never die. Of bis precious gifts and holy calling he never repents. The honors which he confers, he never plucks from any brow, which is worthy to wear them. And what more exalted priviilege can the most aspiring aim at, or even conceive of, than to be the chosen ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ -to be brought near the throne of his adorable Majesty - to be invested with office under him, as it were by bis own hand-to act always under his immediate inspection -to be cheered by his promises and sustained by his power--to be employed in building up, and extending the boundaries of his glorious kingdom? What honor can be compared with that, which raises a creature of the dust to fellowship with angels in ‘ministering to the heirs of
salvation'—which brings him into the very court of the mediatorial kingdom—which invests him with high and sacred titles --which clothes him with the dignity and authority of an ambassador---which, in every great conflict with the powers of darkness, places him near the person of his sovereign, and which points him to infinitely, higher and brighter distinctions in the coming world ? O it is enough! The brightest seraph could scarcely ask for
Who, then, that is called of God to the work of the ministry, and is fit to be employed in it, would resign bis office for the highest possible earthly promotion ? What favored minister of Christ, who loves his Master and loves his work, would exchange the cure of souls for the great seal at Westminster, or the white house' at Washington ? And on the same.general principle, how unseemly is it for a preacher of the everlasting gospel, even for a short time, to suspend his high and holy calling; to lay aside the sacerdotal office, or vainly try to carry it along with him, to the halls of legislation. I cannot indeed subscribe to that illiberal and anti-republican anomaly, in some of our state constitutions, which disfranchises the public teachers of morality and religion, by making them ineligible to any civil office; and I am sure the current bar-room declamation, in which they are represented as incompetent to assist in the management of civil affairs, must be despised by every liberal mind. But I know, at the same time, that many distinguished and enlightened civilians and decided friends of the clergy, are sorry ever to see them leave their quiet and consecrated spheres, and plunge into the collisions of a legislative assembly. And why should they? What have the servants of Him, whose kingdom is not of this