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Elijah at Horeb.
A PANORAMIC VIEW OF ZION.
At last a voice all still and small,
There is something striking, and peculiarly instructive in Elijah's interview with God at Horeb. The Lord passed by. But He was not in the strong wind, that rent the moun. tains, and brake in pieces the rocks; nor in the earthquake, that shook the mighty fabric of nature to its centre. not in the sheet of vivid flame that shot across the troubled sky; but his approach was betokened by “the still small poice.”
Living in an age distinguished by the din and noise of action, and surrounded by numbers who seem to have a passion for continued excitement, and who, in reference to thrilling sensations of some sort, like “the horse-leach's daughters, are ever crying, give, give,'* we have the more reason to read over frequently, and meditate profoundly upon this account of the Prophet's interview with the Most High.t To the class of persons above referred to, who are ceaselessly seeking for something of an exciting character, we can promise nothing very inviting in the present chapter. The view to which we design to direct the eye of the reader, is not one that will be likely to strike powerfully the attention of those who run
rapidly over each
group of objects, and never pause to study or consider their separate parts.
I would also remark that, in a panoramic delineation, no one ought to expect to behold individual objects with the same minute distinctness, with which they would be seen, were they viewed separately and by themselves. Hence, the head. ing of this chapter should not lead the reader to anticipate that any thing more than a cursory view of the principle towers, and bulwarks, and palaces of Zion will be obtained from this point. Or, in other words, he should not expect to find in this chapter any thing more than a brief notice of the prominent doctrines held by the Episcopal church; together with some account of her ministry, discipline, and mode of wor. ship. These are her towers, and palaces, and battlements. Let it be distinctly understood, however, that Christ is the only high tower to which we resort for eternal safety. The Prayer Book, which is full of Christ, we do indeed regard as one of Zion's strong bulwarks—the doctrines of grace, as her beautiful palaces—and Episcopacy, as a mighty bastion, to ward off the first assaults of radicalism and insubordinae tion, that disorder and misrule may not rush in like a flood, to destroy the harmony and mar the beauty of the whole scene. The view we purpose here to give to the reader will be spread before him by means of the continuation of the letter with which the last chapter was principally occupied. It will be recollected at the close of that chapter, the writer avowed the purpose of proceeding to a direct exposition of the peculiar features of the Episcopal church. The letter thus proceeds:
“I know of no way in which I can do this so well, as by giving you the substance of a sermon which I heard a few years since.
The circumstances under which I heard it were peculiar. It was in one of the vernal months, when the whole face of nature appeared clothed in the richest verdure, and the tenants of the grove sent forth a tide of melody, that seemed to make a fresh demand upon every passer by, to lift up his heart to God with new emotions of adoration and love, that I was privileged to make an excursion into the country to attend the consecration of a Church. The newly finished sanctuary had been erected by a farming commu nity, and stood in one of the sweetest spots I ever beheld.
The consecration of a church.
The sumñit of a fine swell of land which overlooked on the one side a beautiful bay, and on the other, a far extended landscape had been selected as the site of this house, which had been built to the Lord. The edifice itself was a small Gothic building, neatly finished, and now about to be set apart to the worship of Almighty God. It was a delightful spectacle on the present occasion, to see the congregation coming from every direction, wending their way to the house of God. The sanctuary was soon filled to overflowing, and the religious services commenced, which seemed more than ordinarily appropriate on the present occasion. I suppose you are aware that in the Episcopal church, it is customary to consecrate the house to the Most High as soon as it is entered: The first thing we do, after having crossed the threshold, is to take possession of the building in the name of the God of Israel. The consecration service is very impressive. By means of it, a deep solemnity was evidently spread over the minds of the whole assembled audience. The effect was increased by the ordinary liturgical service that followed. Sel. dom have I seen a congregation
apparently better prepared to listen to the preached word. The messenger of the Lord, who now stood up to address the attentive assembly, was in appearance, and intellectual power, no ordinary man. It would have feasted your soul even to have looked upon
him. With a form ere and manly, with hair white as the driven snow’and a countenance on which was written, in lines that could not be mistaken, an expression of meekness, and gentleness, and lamb-like submission, and burning love for immortal souls, he would have reminded you of John, 'the disciple whom Jesus loved :' And as he proceeded, you could not have refrained from thinking of Cowper's beautiful description
"There stands the messenger of truth: there stands
The Bishop of the Eastern diocese. Need I now mention the preacher's name? Have you ever seen the Bishop of the Eastern Diocese ? If so, I am sure you will instantly recognize the individual to whom this portrait belongs.
The edifice in which we were assembled, was, under God, the fruit of the labours of a pious and devoted missionary of the Episcopal church.—When he first visited this community, among whom he was now successfully labouring, he saw nothing but a wide moral waste around him on every side. The christian Sabbath was regarded as a holiday-Sunday Schools were unknown-vollies of prosane oaths rolled as fluently from the tongues, even of children, as “common household words,” and the victim of intemperance, with blistered lips, and blood shot eyes, stalked shamelessly abroad in open day.
“Amid this beauteous scene of nature, so full of moral in. struction, God seemed to have been forgotten. But the preaching of the cross of Christ among them, was like Ezekiel's prophesying in the valley of dry bones. Around the man of God there started up a company of men and women, created anew in Christ Jesus. A change was visible through the whole community. A general effort had been made to erect a house of worship. And now enquiries began to be put forth in relation to the scriptural claim which the different denominations of christians could urge in their own behalf. Most of the people assembled on the present occasion were but partially informed in relation to the peculiarities of the Episcopal church. The preacher, therefore, very judiciously directed the attention of his hearers to this point, while commenting upon the following text: Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. Ist Pet. ïïi. 15.
“ It pleased the adorable Author of our being,” remarked the venerable preacher, as he cast his eye around over the audience, “to create man after his own image: to distinguish the human race from the other creatures of this earth, by the gift of reason, and a moral sense of good and evil. By this gift of intelligence, we become moral agents, and accountable for what we are, and what we do. By a right use of reason, we are to conduct ourselves, to judge, and choose, and act. He who made us, accordingly treats us as reasona.
Giving a reason of our religious hope. ble creatures and as moral agents. The revelations of His word and all His precepts and ordinances are addressed to our understanding, requiring of us a rational homage-a reasonable service. In the text now read, we are commanded to be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh, a reason' of our religious hope. We should be ever ready and willing, frankly to converse with people on the subject of christianity: to tell them what we believe, and what has convinced us—what reason we have for our faith and hope.
Some, we may fear, are christians merely from education: they embrace or prosess the faith of their fathers; they unite with the church or denomination, and conform to the doctrine and mode of worship, in which they have been brought up, without much, and perhaps without any inquiry whether it is the doctrine which was once delivered to the saints; or whether their worship and discipline are according to primi. tive truth and order. They inherit the religion, as they do the estate of their ancestors, and because they do not doubt, they suppose that they believe it. From worldly interests, or from prejudice, or from some otherundue influence, men may, and in many cases, no doubt do become bigoted to some par. ticular persuasion. By the apostle, in our text, we are directed to avoid such evil. We are to make careful inquiry into the truth of what we profess and believe. When by searching the scriptures and the evidence of their truth, we are convinced that they are the words of God, we should endea. vor also to understand their true sense, what we are to be. lieve and what to do—that we may honor God and obtain salvation in Jesus Christ.
“And we are further directed to be always ready and wil. ling to communicate to others, our knowledge of God and hopes in Christ. Talking freely on the subject of our reli. gious hopes; of what God, in his mercy, has done to save our souls ; and frankly imparting to others what are our views and belief of religious truths, will be profitable to our selves as well as to them. We shall be mutually enlightened and strengthened. Many prejudices and wrong notions of what others think and what they teach will be removed. The want of this free and friendly intercourse among christians