« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
illustrious moment was that, when from non-existence there sprang at once into being this mighty globe, on which so many millions of creatures now dwell! No preparatory measures were required. No long circuit of means was employed. 'He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The earth was" at first "without form and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep." The Almighty surveyed the dark abyss; and fixed bounds to the several divisions of nature. He said "Let there be light, and there was light." Then appeared the sea and the dry land. The mountains rose; and the rivers flowed. The sun and moon began their course in the skies. Herbs and plants clothed the ground. The air, the earth, and the water were stored with their respective inhabitants. At last man was made after the image of God. He appeared, walking with countenance erect, and received his Creator's benediction as Lord of this new world. The Almighty beheld his work when it was finished, and pronounced it good. Superior beings saw with wonder this new accession to existence. "The morning stars sang together; and all the sons of God shouted for joy."
III. ON OUR SAVIOUR'S PREACHING.
BOTH Our Divine Master's matter and his manner were infinitely beyond any thing the world ever heard before. He did not, like the heathen philosophers, entertain his hearers with dry metaphysical discourses on the nature of the supreme good, and the several divisions and subdivisions of virtue; nor did he, like the Jewish rabbis, content himself with dealing out ceremonies and traditions, with discoursing on mint and cummin, and estimating the breadth of a phylactery. But he drew off their attention from these trivial and contemptible things to the greatest and the noblest objects the existence of one supreme Almighty Being, the creator, preserver, and governor of the universe;
the first formation of man; his fall from original innocence the consequent corruption and depravity of his nature; the remedy provided for him by the goodness of our Maker, and the death of our Redeemer; the nature of that divine religion which he himself came to reveal to mankind; the purity of heart, and sanctity of life, which he required; the communications of God's Holy Spirit to assist our own feeble endeavours here; and a crown of immortal glory to recompense s hereafter. The morality he taught was the purest, the soundest, the sublimest, the most perfect, that had ever before entered into the imagination, or proceeded from the lips, of man. And this he delivered in a manner the most striking and impressive; in short, sententious, solemn, important, ponderous rules and maxims, or in familiar, natural, affecting similitudes and parables. He showed also a most consummate knowledge of the human heart, and dragged to light all its artifices, subtleties, and evasions. He discovered every thought, as it arose in the mind. He detected every irregular desire, before it ripened into action. He manifested, at the same time, the most perfect impartiality. He had no respect of persons. He reproved vice in every station wherever he found it, with the same freedom and boldness; and he added to the whole the weight-the irresistible weight—of his own example. He, and he only, of all the sons of men, acted up in every the minutest instance, to what he taught; and his life exhibited a perfect portrait of his religion. But what completed the whole was, that he taught, as the Evangelist expresses it, "with authority,"—with the authority of a divine teacher. The ancient philosophers could do nothing more than give good advice to their followers; they had no means of enforcing that advice: but our great Lawgiver's precepts are all divine commands. He spoke in the name of God: he called himself the Son of God. He spoke in a tone of superiority and authority, which no one before had the courage or the right to assume; and, finally, he enforced every thing he taught
by the most solemn and awful sanctions-by a promise of eternal felicity to those who obeyed him, and a denunciation of the most tremendous punishment to those who rejected him. These were the circumstances which gave our blessed Lord the authority with which he spake. No wonder then that "the people were astonished at his doctrines," and that they all declared "he spake as never man spake."
IV. GOD THE AUTHOR OF NATURE.
THERE lives and works
A soul in all things, and that soul is God.
He marks the bounds which winter may not pass,
And, ere one flowery season fades and dies,
Who wore the plaited thorns with bleeding brows,
But shows some touch, in freckle, streak, or stain,
Their balmy odours, and imparts their hues,
Happy who walks with Him! whom, what he finds,
V. THE DYING CHRISTIAN TO HIS SOUL.
VITAL spark of heavenly flame!
Hark! they whisper-angels say,
The world recedes! it disappears!
O Death! where is thy sting?
VI. HYMN TO THE CREATOR.
THESE are thy glorious works, Parent of good!
To us invisible, or dimly seen
In these thy lowest works; yet these declare
Sure pledge of day, that crown'st the smiling morn
Of Nature's womb, that in quaternion run