Изображения страниц

not long ago been executed on a splendid scale by Dr. Chalmers, in his work upon political economy, in wbich he demonstrates with great power of argument and illustration the futility of all expedients, drawn from government and commerce, to renovate the social constituțion, establishing the supremacy of Christian principle as that which is alone sufficient for such a blessed consummation. Mr. Morgan, without entering on detail, bas very happily, and in a few words, cleared his way through the same obstacles; and as a specimen of the success with which he has executed this preliminary part of the subject, we quote the following

“ With another class of speculators it has been a favourite theme to represent the glory of the nation to consist in its commerce. 'Let the people be employed, they argue, and all will be well. Employment, it is admitted, is a great blessing. Commerce greatly elevates a people ; and I doubt not God intends it to be one day an instrument in his band for spreading the blessings of religion throughout the world. Still commerce is not a security to any nation. Many examples are upon record of a people famed throughout all the earth for mercbandize, having perished in the rain of their sins notwithstanding. Where are Tyre and Babylon, whose merchants filled the earth with their name and their oommerce? Their glory only hastened their downfall, for they were without righte. ousness. What has commerce done for our own land ? It has been its pride ; and yet it is not difficult to show that, by being abused, it has greatly contributed to its distraction and destitution. Has not this been the operation ? An enterprising merchant has planted himself in a chosen neighbourhood ; a gracious providence has prospered his labours, and he has extended his operations ; in the course of years a teeming population has risen around him, depending on him for their daily bread; but, in the midst of bis multifarious plans, it did not occur to him to provide for the literary, or moral, or religious instruction of his dependants; and hence, before he is aware of it

, he is surrounded by a popu. lation, ignorant, ill. affected, discontented, and ready for any change. The man who has nourished them is not unfrequently the prominent object of their hatred, and they conspire against him. And thus he finds that, while he thought he was raising around him an host of friends and grateful dependants, he has been nourishing a band of dissatisfied claim. ants. He could not expect it to be otherwise, for he neglected to infuse the one essential ingredient of prosperity, even righteousness. This is not an imaginary picture. This very process has prevailed in these countries, to an alarming extent. Scotland, once the glory of the Reformation, has almost sunk beneath the load which her own abused commerce has heaped upon her. Her towns have become cities of almost immeasurable extent; but, while God 'trade, it was for blessed her teeming po

was a canken unum and prosperous earthly speculation whieh righteousness' alone could destroy.

What, therefore, ought to have been her strength has become ber weakness. Thousands have, in many instances, been added to her population, without the addition of one church or minister of religion. Had the means of christian instruction kept pace with the growth of the population, the 'imérease of people and of commerce would bave been the increase of strength and glory. But because that was not the case, God bas permitted the very blessing to be turned into a curse; and he has taught the nations a wholesome lesson, that commerce, merely, will be neither & glory por a defence.”

The discourse next illustrates the nature of the righte. ousness by wbich a nation is exalted. This is described in general to consist in a universal change of principle and conduct, beginning in the regeneration of the soul, and influencing the entire deportment of every member of the community. It is then shown that righteousness thus regarded is the source of pational, as it is of individual prosperity. The particular blessings noticed, as included under it, are peace, industry, prudence, honesty, equity, sobriety, health, riches, honour, and influence.

After a brief, but satisfactory illustration of these particulars, it is further shewn, that to this means of national ameliora. tion, and this only, God has annexed his blessing; that the bistory of all nations, as of Judea, America, and Scotland, confirms the principle; and that with this are associated in the Scriptures all the glory of the latter day. The doctrine of the text being thus explained, the author proceeds to consider the agency employed by Sabbath-Schools, as eminently adapted to the promotion of that righteousness which exalteth a nation. Under this bead those peculiarities of plan and operation in the Sabbath-School system are brought forward, which give promise of its extensive influence in forming the principles and habits of the people. These are, the large proportion of the population enjoying the advantages of SabbathSchool Tuition—the description of persons to whom this teaching is supplied—the character and number of the teachers-the simplicity of the means-their scriptural character-and the liberty which characterizes the entire arrangements. The whole is concluded by a number of impressive and solemn councils to those who are engaged in this most laudable sphere of labour. There are nume. rou8 passages of great value and importance in the dis. course which, did our space allow, we would oblige our readers by trapsferring to our pages. We must, at all hazards, make room for the closing admonition, as peculiorly seasonable in the present times.

". Leave the agitators of the land to utter their poisy and senseless speeches-leave the politician to devise his schemes, wise or upwise-do

[ocr errors]

you teach, teach, teach--teach the truth, and you shall possess the land. • Blessed are meek, for they sball inherit the earth.' I am the more ur. gent in exciting you to this duty, because, at the present time, there are many temptations, to the young men of the country especially, to engage themselves in the restless politics of the day; an evil, as f think, much to be avoided. For what is commonly the history of a person who gives himself to such an employment? The first effect is usually discernible upon himself. His mind becomes the seat of uneasy, impatient, and ungoverned tempers, while towards those who cannot fall in with his political views he becomes severe, malevolent, and unforgiving. At the same time he is becoming to others an object of dislike, and sets himself up as a mark for obloquy and reproach. Commonly, too, the accompaniements of bis political life are the neglect of his ordinary business, and the production of intemperate and other evil habits. The most superficial glance at the life of those who have given themselves up to our town or country politics, is a sufficient proof that they have lived to do good, neither to them. selves nor others. The reason is, that all they have ever been contending for is not worth the trouble. They have busied their lives upon some mere party polities, involving no sound or important principles of jurisprudence; and though all they have ever been fighting for were freely granted, it would scarce be worth receiving. It will be an evil day when the young men of the land are tempted to embark in so periless and profitless að enterprise. Let them exercise their rights and privileges as citizens, neither relinquishing the one, nor foregoing the other; but this may be done without throwing themselves into the scale with any political party, and fretting themselves in vain with their paltry schemes and unprofitable devices. O! how different the course of the young man who devotes his leisure to the duties of the Sabbath-School. The very employment exercises the most wholesome influence over his own heart and life, subduing evil passions, eliciting the best affections, and engaging him continually in doing good. He becomes an object of respect, or love, to those who know him. Instead of dissevering he is binding society together. And should God spare bim to devote a long life to such an exercise, instead of sinking into the grave with the execration of party spirit from those who were his political foes, he departs with the blessings and thanks of the many

whom he has profited by his benevolence. In his very employment be obtained the greatest amount of good to himself, and imparted the largest share of good to others. It may be truly affirmed there is no life more miserable or unprofitable than that which is spent in the petty politics of the day, nor any more truly blessed than that of the faithful, diligent, and humble Sabbath-School Teacher. Prosecute his work, and while you live you may be addressed in the language of Christ to his disciples, 'ye are the salt of the earth, ye are the light of the world.' And when you die you shall leave this testimony, 'having served his generation he fell asleep;' or, she bath done what she could." You will be in the number of them whose memory will be cherished as the friends of their country, having exalted it by righteousness.

“ And what shall be said to those who bear no part in this work of phil. antrophy and patriotism?' To say no more, they are forsaking their own mercies, leaving their country to the spoil of its foes, and excusing themselves by some vaio pretence, which the breath of God's judgment will

drive away

“Let us all, then, ask what we can do in so good a work. All can do something. It needs contribution, and prayer, and labour, He who can. not give one of these may devote to it the other. Let every man have a part in the work. Remember how Jerusalem was built again. And let us give ourselves, each and all, to this holy enterprise, until the last stone of the building shall be brought forth with shoutings, crying, grace, grace unto it, and the flag of triumph shall float upon the bulwarks of the land, bearing this inscription 'RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTETH A NA. TION' Amen."

After the manner in wbich we have introduced this ex. cellent and admirable production, we need not say more in its commendation. From the outline given of its con. tents, it will be seen that it contains as large a number of important facts and principles as could conveniently be wrought into the composition of a single sermon, all of wbich are stated with the characteristic clearness of the author, and enforced with his wonted earnestpess. We have often, in common with others, admired the lucid or. der and arangement which stamp a surpassing worth on Mr. Morgan's every-day discourses; and we could wish that others of his brethren in the ministry had more frequent opportunities of studying this, his peculiar excel. lency. The publication of a volume either of sermons or of skeletons, would perhaps be as valuable a boon as be could confer upon the community and the Presbyterian church. It might contribute to infuse a better taste among the people, on the one hand, and to introduce a superior style of pulpit preparation on the other. A capital defect in modern preaching has been, that it is vague, discursive, and declamatory. For want of a perspicuous arrangement, how often are both preacher and people groping in the dark, alike bewildered in their conceptions of the subject ! As a correction of this evil we would, if possible, hold up a better model of sermonizing, which, by its well-digested heads and divisions, would dispel the vitiated and baneful taste for pointless generalities of doctrine. We are persuaded that, however it may stop the flow of oratory, or curb the sallies of imagination, that system of preaching which proceeds upon a well-defined arrangement of points and principles is the best adapted for all the purposes of popular instruction. The period of the church when this system prevailed, was the best period in her history since Apostolic times. It was the Augustan age of British Theology, when, with a might and mastery peculiarly their own, the Puritans of England expounded the sacred oracles, leaving behind them, in their works and in their converts to truth and righteousness, an imperishable record of their ministerial fidelity and profound Christian experience. A return to their mode of pulpit exposition, avoid. ing their prolixity and the cumbrous minuteness of their arrangement, would be a happy indication of more pros. perous days. And oh! that our beloved church had many sentinels


her watch-towers of kindred sentiments with bim with whose name these observations are connected, that by their prayers, and preaching, and unwearied ministrations, they might recal the spirit of a former and a purer generation !

The perusal of this discourse bas suggested to ourselves the following reflections.

I. In the present state of society it is the duty of the church to make some provision, by which to indoctrinate ber future pastors in the principles of political economy, or, at least, in the moral and religious bearings of that science. It has been the custom to devote considerable attention in the theological class-room to the deistical controversy ; and much time is usually employed in copfalation of the splendid fallacies of Gibbon and of Hume. Nor do we blame the church for this arrangement, for it is well that her future champions should be armed at all points when they go forth to fight the battles of the truth. But more needs to be done to meet the exigencies of i bese times. The demon of infidelity bas assumed a different form, to suit the spirit of the age; and instead of lurking in the haunts and balls of genius, the foul leaven mingles with the general mass of the community, dictating such schedjes of national amelioration as have no reference to the providence or the word of God. The heresies wbich it engenders are rather of a practical than speculative kind. They are poured forth from the press, ar.d inculcated from the platform, while of their most ardent and admiring vonries many are to be found even in the sepate. house of Britain. There is a constant and growing tendency to innovation; and no sooner is any new theory of government or jurisprudence propounded by the leading spirits of the time, ihan it is eagerly embraced by their enthusiastic followers, as though, when reduced to practice, this were to constitute the summum bonum of national prosperity., Now in all this there is a latent principle of infidelity, inasmuch as there is no recognition of tbat righteousness which exalteth a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »