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inspiring and exhilarating to our souls, there is something in it more gorgeous than the rainbow, brighter than the sun, more transporting than poetry ; I mean, what we are next to con : template,
II ITS NECESSARY TRUTH ; that is, we arrive at the sublime result, not by speculation, not by philosophy, not by any sagacity or wisdom of man; but by consulting the oracles of God.
What is inspiration, if it make not God the speaker in the text? The general meaning is definite and plain : and it is true, because the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. It is true necessarily ; because he cannot err, or change, or be deceived, or violate his own glorious veracity—to which he never saw a motive. Would he raise the pious expectations of his people, only to dash and disappoint them? How could his Spirit dictate the words, to his holy amanuensis in the court of Babylon, a brave specimen indeed of moral asbestos that he could so long and so well preserve his integrity there; how could the Spirit indite the text, unless it had been decreed in heaven, from all eternity, that this apostate world should be reclaimed to its duty and the favor of its God? This great globe that we inhabit, spinning noiseless on its axis, as it keeps its steady way annual around the sun, a part of the great clock-work of the solar system, is leagued physically with the throne of God, the holy architect of all; what we call the attraction of gravitation invisibly controlling it, according to the related harmonies of the planetary and the sidereal universe. Awful is its order, and unceasing its motion, progressive and rotary; grand and glorious and exact the perfection of its periods. And has it no sublimer league with the throne of God? The sin on its surface would induce us to suspect the contrary—that the curse of abandonment is to smite it, with the tangent described alone of the force centrifugal, flying like thought away from its peaceful and proper centre, till regions of interminable night and eternal winter, the blackness of darkness for ever, should alienate it from the holy universe, and sepulchre its being in the living
death of horror and despair. But the plan of our God is'gracious and everlasting. This very sinning globe of ours is to be increasingly the selected theatre of his own clustering wonders and prodigies of philanthropy.
For he whose car the winds are, and the clouds
He never will change his plan or fail in its accomplishment. What are obstacles to him? In his own time and way, they will all melt like mountains at his presence, fly like feathers before the spirit of the storm. He can move them in a way as easy, as he speaks of them. Is his style easy; is it full, august, and perfectly assured ? Is he perplexed, because we are, with the complications of his own work? Omniscience sees all things in perfect simplicity ; past, present, future; actual, possible, hypothetical ; desirable in any given degree, and in every conceivable relation, or the reverse as well. With him is no dubitation, no confusion, no failure, no mistake; and with him, no hurry and no tardiness, no delay or hesitation, no intermission or deviation ; but only steady, unchangeable prosperity, the ever operative and harmonious plans of infinite perfection, enthroned and regnant, by eternal right, in his own universe ; and for ends as admirable as the universe is vast, or as God is good and wise and happy, over all, blessed for ever.
The Lord of all, himself through all diffused,
There is such a thing as Christian optimism, the genuine beltistic system of God. All Scripture sings it to our souls, all events subserve its accomplishment, all nature expects its triumph, all heaven enjoys its everlasting glory. All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord, and thy saints shall bless thee. Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he, in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honorable and glorious ; and his righteousness endureth for ever. He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. The Lord shall rejoice in his works. Ascribe ye greatness to our God, the Rock. His work is perfect ; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. God acts always and every where. He does millions of acts, continually, and every moment, and for ever. Now, we ask, in reference to his acts, each of them, all of them, every part of the vast whole, within the measureless circumference of his own omnific agency, Is any thing he does, capable, as such, of melioration or improvement? Could he ever do it over again and do it better? Learns he wisdom from experience, the pupil of his own creatures ? Our position is, that whatever God does, whatever is identified with his agency, is, as such, as good as it can be, and so the best that can be done. This we mean by the bestness of his system, the proper optimism of our Christian theology. Applied to his administration, in that respect which our theme and text require, it raises our glorying in him, to the high tide of confluence with celestial exultation, the alleluias that reverberate through the arches and the cycles of eternity.
There is indeed a bastard and execrable optimism of scholastic infidelity, with which we desire to hold no communionthat which includes all our actions, and all our sins, as such, and makes them the necessary, and the chosen, and the preferred, means, in perfection, of the greatest possible good. This theory, suiting exactly Mirabeau, Condorcet, Voltaire, and other purblind enemies of God, not a few, we may not now pause to refute—but only to denounce, as both antiscriptural and positively impious, equally contrary to wisdom and to worship, equally a disgrace to intellect and an offence to integrity, equally a blunder and a crime ; not the less when perpetrated sometimes directly or indirectly even by preachers and divines.
To the thoughtful mind of the Christian, the desired consummation appears reasonable as well. He asks, Shall sin triumph on earth for ever? Is man to continue without redress, always, the maniac of sin, its voluntary and suicidal victim ? Is God to be dishonored and denied, on his own footstool, and in his own presence, here, without end and without vindication ? Is not the seed of the woman destined to crush the head of the serpent ? Shall not his advent succeed, in the utter eventual vanquishment of all his enemies; and this on the very field of their proud temporary triumphs ? He that committeth sin is of the devil ; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. And he shall not fail or be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth ; and the isles shall wait for his law.
However reasonable or desirable it may seem to us, we are not therefore to be wise without or above what is written. Whence, the argument of our text is to be viewed,
III IN RELATION TO FAITH, our cordial and steady confidence in God, or godly edifying ; which, says the great apostle, is in faith.
Now the edification of faith, the simple-hearted piety of faith, the conviction and the consolation of faith, differ in nature, from all the sparks that we have kindled, as they are also in degree infinitely superior. The substitutions of human deceit and pride, the inventions and philosophisms and speculations of men, no matter who, are vapid, childish, contemptible, in comparison. We desire, in all our religion, and especially in the work of missions, to walk with God, and so to live by faith, striving according to his working which worketh in us mightily; and this with no intermission, languor, or defection, to the end of our devout and fixed career. Yes, my honored and beloved brethren, holy servants of the only wise and true God, venerable fathers in Christ, who hear me; ye ministers of the living God, and under him the counsellors of his church, and the guardians of his glorious cause; and ye, our worthy colleagues of the laity, estimable brethren, intelligent and serviceable friends and helpers to the truth, we greet you with salutations of delight, as united rightly, that is, by faith, with us, in this glorious cause. Oh ! let it never be forfeited or betrayed by the wisdom of men, superseding or adulterating the wisdom of our God! It is only in his wisdom that we are wise, only in his light, that we see light. Let me pause here solemnlyand say, as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Now the way of the Spirit, is to lead us, through the excellent medium of his own word. We wait for his will, study and explore and ascertain it; and as known, we follow where he leads, doing his will, and feeling his grace, by faith by faith—by faith, I say, in God, and by faith alone. Faith makes feeling. Sensation follows faith, as faith follows. truth. Shall we run before our leader? Shall we travel without him? Shall we venture alone? Shall we teach him-in our arrogance; or learn of him only with sincere docility ? We glory justly in our adorable leader. Here our devotion is more than pythagorean, each of us
Unius addictus jurare in verba magistri-
In congratulating you all, as my beloved, honored, and devoted brethren, I can ask no pardon for expressly saying, that I include, among our worthiest auxiliaries here, the holy sisterhood of the churches ! We are glad to greet these elect ladies at this grand national anniversary of the missionary cause. Their influence is precious and essential and approved of heaven, not in prayers alone. Would God that I could address all their millions in our country at once! It does them good to attend here, and their faithful influence blesses us for it all the year. It is much their cause and the honors of the sex, that we promote. The scroll of the angel of missions, unfurled in his glory flight through the midst of heaven, is the magNA CHARTA also of the