« VorigeDoorgaan »
dren grow up unbaptized; and, therefore, without any visible connexion with the church of God? Is not this to despise our birth-right? I know there are those who are deterred from an open avowal of their faith and hope in the Redeemer, by scruples respecting their experimental acquaintance with true religion. To such, we would say; “ Then shall ye know if you
follow on to know the Lord.” But there are some who seem to. have little or no concern about their relations to God, to his church, or to eternity. If they were baptized in infancy, it is well; if not, it is of no great consequence; they eat, and drink, and play-forget the Rock that begat them, and the Lord that bought them ; they expend their labour and thoughts for that which satisfieth not, while the meat that endureth unto everlasting life is utterly neglected. Angels may desire to look into the mysteries of redeeming mercy, but the wicked care for none of these things. “Oye sons of men, how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing!” Turn ye, for why will ye die! Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. Why should you barter away heaven for a morsel of meat? As you would not join Esau in his sin and misery, or be numbered with the profane in the day of judgment, cleave to the God of Isaac; believe in Christ, and keep his precepts. God blessed Isaac, as he had blessed Abraham ; so, if you choose the fear of the Lord, he will bless you, and keep you by his mighty power through faith unto salvation : “ If thou seek him,” as says David to his son Solomon, “ he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever:” 1 Chron. xxviii. 9.
How affecting it is to see persons who have been born of pious parents ; who have been taught in the scriptures from childhood; and who have had all the advantages of a Christian education, growing up in sin, wholly neglectful of their relation to the church, and of their duty to the God of their fathers ! Whatever excuse may be urged by those who have been reared in ignorance, and led astray, from the womb, by the example of their natural guardians, the children of the visible church--the offspring of God's professing people, will surely be inexcusable, if they forsake the law and ordinances of the Lord's house, and pursue the paths of the destroyer. Let the rising generation consider this matter betimes. Dear young people, the goodness of Providence, anticipating your wants and foreseeing your danger, has placed you in the most favourable circumstances for securing an interest in redeeming love. Will you, then, O can you disregard the claims of gratitude--the grace of the Redeemer-and the counsels of parental solicitude for your eternal welfare? Are you bent on your own ruin? Are you resolved to press through all restraints, and make your way to
endless perdition, in the face of all that cloud of witnesses which attests the turpitude of sin, and the peace and pleasantness of wisdom's ways ? “O that they were wise that they understood this--that they would consider their latter end !" Let young people imitate the devout and contemplative disposition of Isaac; and they will find it greatly to their spiritual advantage. Let them retire frequently into the field, or the closet of sober reflection, and it will, with a Divine blessing, have a happy influence in discovering to them the vanity of the world; let them but consider seriously and repeatedly their latter end, and they can hardly fail to perceive the importance of preparing for death, and the solemn scenes of eternity. O young man, whose strong passions are hurrying thee on in the pursuit of pleasure, honour, or earthly gain, go sometimes and take a thoughtful walk “on the shore of that vast ocean (eternity) which you must sail so soon.” Think of the day of judgment, and of the general resurrection, and of the righteous and irreversible retributions of the world to come. Push your thoughts forward to that momentous period, when, at the sound of the last trumpet, “ they that sleep in the dust of the earth shall come forth, some to everlasting life, and, O tremendous reverse! some to shame and everlasting contempt.” See the countless millions of the human race starting into life; rising to immortality; and looking up to the descending Judge, with unutterable sensations of joy or grief, expecting from his lips the final sentence which is to fix their doom for ever; and while the awful scene is full and vividly in view, ask yourself whether you are prepared to meet the Judge of quick and dead, and to give up your account with joy, and not with grief.
“When rising from the silent tomb
Discourses, delivered in the College of New Jersey; addressed
chiefly to the Candidates for the First Degree in the Arts: with Notes and Illustrations, including a Historical Sketch of the College, from its origin to the Accession of President Witherspoon. By AshBEL GREEN, D. D. LL.D. President of the College. 8vo. pp. 419. Philadelphia, published by E. Littell.
The office of President of a College, is certainly one of the most important and responsible that can be sustained by a man. Those who bear this office in our country are generally clergymen, who, of course, independently of their academic station,
have a weight of responsibility quite sufficient for the most able, diligent, and active individual. But the clergyman who is placed at the head of an important literary institution, sustains a great addition to this weight of responsibility. His is the mighty task, not only to be a spiritual guide, which, of all employments under the sun, is the most difficult, the most interesting, and the most momentous; but to be the guide of those who, in their turn, are to guide and teach others. It is his daily employment to develope the talents, to form the habits, to enrich the minds, to direct the emulation, and to mould, as far as man can do it, the moral and religious character of those who are to go forth and become the leaders of their fellow men, and to fill those various ecclesiastical and civil stations, in which they will become, extensively, blessings or curses to the church and the world. In short, while the ordinary pastor is engaged in labours which bear the social and eternal interests of men by a sort of retail operation, the reverend head of a college or university, is engaged in services io which, if he be successful, he is preparing benefactors to society by wholesale. He does not live an hour the consequences of which are indifferent. We may say, without extravagance, that every word, and look, and counsel, is pregnant with the future destiny of multitudes. If he be unskilful, or unfaithful, he is every day poisoning society in its most precious fountains; if the reverse, he is continually training and forming those, who, by sound principles, pure example, and active exertions, are to become ornaments and blessings to their species; and some of them to assist in forming others, and they again others, in turn, to the latest generations.
Under these impressions, it was with no ordinary interest that we took up the volume before us. The reputation which Princeton College has long sustained; the peculiarly interesting character of the audience to which these discourses were delivered ; and the high standing of the preacher, served at once to raise our expectations, and to increase our solicitude in entering on the perusal. We have not been disappointed. The venerable author has been long known to the religious public as one of the most excellent and eminent men in our country; and it can hardly be doubted that any thing from his pen will attract a degree of attention in some measure commensurate with his character. We think we can venture to assure our readers, that what is here presented will not be found unworthy of his high reputation; and that they will rise from the perusal of the volume not a little gratified that such moral and religious instruction is dispensed in the Chapel of Nassau-Hall.
We are sensible, indeed, that the public taste is not partial to printed sermons; and that a new volume of them, at the present day, must have an uncommon share of merit, to command any considerable degree of public attention. Such merit, we think, the Discourses before us really possess; and we shall think less respectfully of the religious community than we have been accustomed to do, if they do not meet with a reception more than usually favourable. It is, indeed, very seldom that a volume of discourses of so much sterling merit, issues from the press in any country.
Those who have perused the publications heretofore made by Dr. Green, (which, we may remark by the way, his friends have always been disposed to wonder and to regret were so few in number, and so small in bulk,) will know the kind of excellence which is to be expected in the series of Discourses which form the present collection. They will expect to find every where orthodox and decisively evangelical sentiments; ardent piety; deep, clear, and comprehensive views of the subjects treated; good sense; orderly and systematic discussion; strongly marked judiciousness; rich matter, expressed in neat, perspicuous, nervous language ; always manly, dignified, and impressive; and sometimes rising to genuine and elevated eloquence. And all these will be found in the Discourses before us; not, indeed, in the same degree in every discourse, but in all to a very respectable extent, and in some of them in an eminent degree.
The sermons contained in this volume are nine in number. The subjects selected for discussion are remarkably well adapted to the audience, and the purpose of the preacher. The following is a list of them : The Union of Piety and Science; on Acts vii. 22, connected with Acts xxii. 3.-God acknowledged directing the Path of Duty; on Proverbs iii. 6.- The Good Man's Protection and Support; on 1 Peter iii. 13, 14.--The Word of God the Guide of Youth; on Psalm cxix. 9.--Christian Integrity explained and recommended; on 2 Corinthians i. 12.— Å Plea for Early Piety; on Ecclesiastes xii. 1.--The Man of False Honour; on Mark vi. 26.-- The Devout Man; on Acts x. 2.
The First Discourse, on the Union of Piety and Science, is an able and excellent one. The preacher shows in a very clear and forcible manner, “ that it is the union of piety and science which perfects, as far as it can be perfected in this world, the nature of man:” that this union“ is calculated to preserve both piety and science from abuse, and to carry each to its highest point of improvement:" that “this union happily enables those in whom it is realized, to correct the errors and prevent the mischiefs of those in whom this union does not take place :” and, finally, that “when science is united with religion, the latter is most adorned, recommended, and promoted in the world at large.” Under the second of these four heads, the following excellent and well expressed sentiments occur :
“Pious men, without learning, know that learning is too often possessed without piety; and as mankind are extremely apt to undervalue, or to affect to despise, what is not among their own acquisitions, learning itself is frequently depreciated, even by good people who have never acquired it; especially if they have become, in any degree, the leaders of others. They are jealous of learned men; jealous of their superiority ; jealous exceedingly that they are not real friends to religion; and jealous, above all, that these men will not be the patrons of some fond notions of their own. But if a man of learning appears who is confessedly and eminently pious ; who, it is acknowledged by all, considers religion as superior to learning itself-superior to every earthly object and consideration; whose holy life and ardent labours in the cause of Christ have put him above all suspicion ; this man they will hear ; to him they will listen; to him they will grant their confidence: he can manage them; he can correct their errors, reform their extravagances, and persuade them to yield to reason and receive instruction. In a word, if they have not become lost in fanaticism, he can form them to just views and conduct, in regard to religion : And as only such a man can produce this effect; so, to be capable of producing it to be capable of preventing or arresting such a deluge of evils as often springs from enthusiasm, deserves to be esteemed among the best and highest of human attainments. Of these attainments our own Dickinson and EDWARDS* were illustrious examples. Among the very first men of their time, in this country, for intellectual strength and furniture, they were still more distinguished for piety than for learning. In their day enthusiasm appeared in the church to which they belonged. Few other men could gain an audience of the deluded; but these men obtained it, because the reality and eminence of their piety were questioned by none. They spoke and wrote so as happily to correct the spreading evil, and the good which they effected was great and lasting.
“In like manner, only pious men of distinguished science can be fully prepared to encounter those who turn science against religion. But for a few men of piety, who are scholars of the first order, it is impossible to say what would be the limits of the mischief, which learned infidels, heretics and formalists, would do to religion. It would seem as if they would soon destroy all confi. dence in holy scripture, and all the belief of Christianity which is founded on argument; that they would have all men of liberal minds and pursuits on their side; all youth of aspiring views; all fashion and all power.' We know, indeed, that this they will never fully achieve ; because we know that the church of Christ is founded on a rock, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail. But although, in every respect, the power is all of God, by which his cause in the
earth is effectively maintained, yet it is our duty carefully to con. sider and assiduously to employ the means, which he has appointed, and which he ordinarily blesses, for the attainment of this end. And since miracles have ceased, by which, at first, Christianity was sustained and extended, in opposition to al the learning, wit and power of man, it appears that science is the chief instrument, by which religion is to be defended against its learned, malignant and potent adversaries. When the Christian champion, with ge. nius, erudition and truth, all in his favour, goes forth against this embodied and embattled host of darkness, it recoils-it is disconcerted, discomfited and defeated. Its learning is combatted by better learning ; its argument by stronger argument; its eloquence by higher eloquence; its wit by keener wit; its misrepresentation and sophistry, by the luminous and resistless display of truth. It is driven off the field of its own choosing. It shifts and varies its position a thousand times, and still in all it is met, faced, and put to the worse. The cause of truth constantly gains by the conflict, till, at Jast, she triumphs gloriously: And the thousands who always go as repu. tation points, follow truth because she triumphs, more than because they have examined and measured her weapons, or beheld and been subdued by her charms. They are preserved, however, from the camp of the enemy, and may eventually be trained into good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” p. 13.
See Note B at the end of the volume. Vol. II.-Presb. Mag.