« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
to faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ, to holiness and to heaven. The day of grace shone, the smiles of forgiveness beamed upon his head. While this happy day lasted, God was reconcileable, his redeemer might be found, and his soul might be saved. The night had not then come upon him, in which no man can work.
Where is he now? His body lies mouldering in that cof. fin. His soul has ascended to God, with all its sins upon its head, to be judged, and condemned to wretchedness, which knows no end. Thy hand has hurried him to the grave, to the judgment, and to damnation. He affronted thee, and this is the expiation which thy revenge exacted.
Turn we now to the melancholy mansion, where, yesterday his presence diffused tenderness, hope, and joy. Enter the door, reluctantly opening to receive even the most beloved guest. Here mark the affecting group assembled by this affecting catastrophe. That venerable man, fixed in motionless sorrow, whose hoary head trembles with emotions unutterable, and whose eye refuses a tear to lessen his anguish, is the father who begat him. That matron wroung with agony, is the mother who bore him. Yesterday he was their delight, their consolation, the staff of their declining years. To him they looked, under God, to lighten the evils of their old age; to close their eyes on the bed of death; and to increase their transports throughout eternity.
But their comforts and their hopes have all vanished together. He is now a corpse, a tenant of the grave, cut off in the bloom of life and sent unprepared to judgment. To these immeasurable evils thou hast added the hopeless agony of remembering, while they live, that he was cut off in a gross and dreadful act of sin, and without even a momentary space of repentance, a remembrance which will envenom life, and double the pangs of death.
Turn thine eyes next on that miserable form, surrounded by a cluster of wretched and helpless children, see her eyes rolling with phrensy, and her frame quivering with terror. Thy hand has made her a widow and her children orphans. At thee, though unseen, is directed that bewildered stare of agony. At thee she trembles ; for thee she listens ; lest the murderer of her husband should be now approaching to murder her children also. She, and they, have lost their all. Thou hast robbed them of their support, their protector, their guide, their solace, their hope. In the grave all these blessings have been hurried by thy hand. If his affront to thee demanded this terrible expiation, what, according to thine own decision, must be the sufferings, destined to retribute the immeasurable injuries which thou hast done to them?
The day of this retribution is approaching. The voice of thy brother's blood crieth from the ground, and thou art now cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood. A mark is set upon thee by thy God; not for safety, but destruction. Dis. ease, his avenging angel, is preparing to hurry thee to the bed of death. With what agonies wilt thou then recall thy malice, thy revenge, and the murder of thy friend? With what extacies of wo will thy soul cling to this world ; with what horror will it quake at the approach of eternity! Alone, naked, drenched in guilt, thou wilt ascend to God. From him what reception wilt thou meet? From his voice what language wilt thou hear ? Depart thou cursed, into everlasting fire. And lo! the melancholy world of sin and suffering unfolds to receive thee. Mark in the entrance, the man whom thou hast plundered of life, and happiness, and heaven, waiting to pour on thy devoted head, for the infinite wrongs which thou hast done him, the wrath and vengeance of eternity.
At the close of the awful survey, cast thine eyes once more around thee, and see thyself and thy brother duel. lists, the examples, the patrons, and the sole causes of all future duelling. Were the existing advocates of this practice to cease from upholding it; were they to join their own efforts with the common efforts of man, and hunt it out of the world, it would never return. On thee, therefore, and thy companions, the immunerable and immense, evils of future duelling are justly charged. To you, a band of enemies to the peace and safety of man; a host of Jeroboams, who, not only sin, but make Israel to sin through a thousand generations, will succeeding ages impute their guilt and their sufferings. Your efficacious and baneful examples, will make thousands of childless parents, distracted widows, and desolate orphans, after you are laid in the grave. You invite pos
terity to wrest the right of deciding private controversies out of the hands of public justice ; and to make force and skill the only umpires between man and man. You entail perpetual contempt on the laws of man, and on the laws of God; kindle the flames of civil discord; and summon from his native abyss, anarchy, the worst of fiends, to lay waste all the happiness and all the hopes of mankind.
At the great and final day, your country will rise up in judgment against you, and accuse you as the destroyer of her peace and the murderers of her children. Against you will rise up in judgment all the victims of revenge, and all the wretched families whom you have plunged in hopeless misery. The prowling Arab and the remorseless Savage, will then draw nigh and whiten their crimes by a comparison with yours. They indeed were murderers ; but they were never dignified with the name nor blessed with the privileges, of Christians. They were born in blood, and educated to slaughter. They were taught from their infancy that to fight, and to kill, was lawful, was honourable, and virtuous. You were born in the mansion of knowledge, humanity, and religion. At the moment of your birth you were offered up to God, and baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. You were dandled on the knee, and educated in the school of piety. From the house of God you have gone to the field of blood ; and from the foot of the cross to the murder of your friends. You have cut off life in the blossom, and shortened to the wretched objects of your wrath, the day of repentance and salvation. The beams of the Sun of Righteousness, shining with lifegiving influence on them, you have intercepted; the smile of mercy, the gleam of hope, the dawn of immortality, you have overcast for ever. You have glutted the grave with untimely slaughter, and helped to people the world with perdition.-Crimsoned with guilt, and drunk with blood, Ninevah will ascend from the tomb, triumph over your ruin, and smile to see her own eternal destiny more tolerable than yours.
Extract from a Missionary Sermon, delivered 16th May,
1798, at Philadelphia, by Rev. WILLIAM STAUGH
TON, D. D. · CONTEMPLATE the influence of Christianity on literature. We are ready to acknowledge that learning contrasted with piety is trilling, and that God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the wise ; but we believe, that while religion prostrates the pride of pedantry, it promotes solid literary information. . What is literature? Is it knowledge in language? Ona ly the volume of inspiration teaches us the origin of their confusion. To be able to receive and convey ideas in several languages is so far from being contrary to the religion of Jesus, that one important evidence of its truth is the gift of tongues. Is it acquaintance with history? The Bible is the most ancient history, and is so full of allusions to the customs of different nations, that an able expositor must be a historian. Is it the knowledge of the Heavens? The man after God's own heart was a de. vout astronomer. Bind the sweet influence of Pleiades, loose the bands of Orion, and then prove that the contemplation of the stars, does not influence to humility and devotion. Does it consist in researches into nature ? The wisest of men spake of trees ; from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall. He spake also of beasts, and of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes. Our divine Lord refers us to the lilies of the field, and to the birds of the air, for lessons of wisdom. Is it acquaintance with moral philosophy? The New Testament contains a system of morals ; general as the connections of man, and pure
as the character of its author. Is it the knowledge of i belles-lettres ? Where are the human compositions which
equal the song of Moses, the psalms of David, the prophecies of Nahum, the prayer of Habakkuk, the revelation of John, the sermons of Jesus. In that sublime specimen of ancient composition, the 28th chapter of the book of Job, the patriarch represents the miner as setting an end to darkness, overturning mountains by their roots, and searching out all perfection; the stones of darkness and
the shadow of death. The subterranean cavity he forms, is termed a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen. The Providence of Jehovah is an obscure profound.
“ Deep in unfathomable minds,
Of never failing skill,
6 And works his sovereign will."
There is in them a way which no mortal knows, which angelic penetration hath not seen. A proof of this we may derive from the manner in which the literature of the ancients, and the New Testament itself, were preserved, when the barbarous nations laid waste the whole empire of Rome, Constantinople excepted.
Christianity is native wisdom ; superstition is imitative folly. Divine Providence had prepared the cloister of the monastery, a way the vulture's eye had not seen, for the security of monuments so valuable. But it was the superstition of Monks which gave being to monastic institutions ; it was superstition in the barbarians which made them venerate the cell and the temple. More than seven successive centuries, were ancient writings, sacred and profane, thus astonishingly preserved.
In the seventh century, Anglo-Saxons were as illiterate as American Indians, but their conversion enlightened their minds and promoted the interests of literature. Before that event, there was no such thing as learning, nor the means of obtaining it, in that part of Britain which they inhabited. Their ancient religion had a tendency to inspire them with nothing but a brutal contempt of death, or a savage delight in war. As long, there. fore, as they continued in the belief and in the practice of that wretched superstition, they seem to have been in. capable either of science or civility, but by their conver. sion to Christianity they became accessible to both. You know the application I wish to make of this circumstance to the people whose conversion is the object of your exertions and prayers.
Soon as the Gospel, at the reformation, began to spread ; soon as the chains of superstition were broken, science came forth from her cave, bound hand and foot,