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canonized, as worthy as they ; those whose names stand as monumental exemplars on the page of the Bible, with names no less pure written only in the Lamb's book of life ;
strangers on the earth," in these crumbling garments of clay, are invited to be fellow-citizens with them all.
But there are conditions. We must give up our selfishness, we must give up every shape of sin. We must leave behind our spiritual sloth and our sensual excess. We cannot accept the invitation so long as we regard this as our true home; so long as our most valued interests are concentred in the world ; so long as the visible earthly scene, with its comfort and pleasure, with its gain and honor, yea, or its friendship and love, seems to us the only solid reality. We must have faith in that higher state before we embark for it our heart's treasure, as Columbus had faith in this western world before he risked all to reach it.
But, in fine, whether we have or not the peculiar and lofty feeling expressed in our text, it is obvious to you, that not only a feeling is expressed in it, but a fact. As a matter of fact, our position is that of
strangers on the earth.” Have we not just arrived here ? Are we more than very partially acquainted with the place we are visiting ? Even to a child's question, respecting many things, must we not frankly answer, that “we are strangers," and cannot tell ? Is not the conveyance preparing, which is to take us away from the spot where we have transiently alighted ? Have we not seen our companions carried out ? Will it not soon be our turn to follow ? Let us not, then, be blind to the fact, if we are dead to the feeling. Let us be neither blind nor dead. But, if we suffer ourselves so to be, ah! the immutable reality!- the fact will not thus be negatived, or the feeling finally kept off.
“ Yet a few days, and thee
Thou shalt lie down
The sons of men,
“ So live,” says our subject to us, cultivate such sympathies with the departed “ wise” and “good, ” that, when the body goes to mingle with theirs in the dust, the soul may meet theirs in the heavens, not as an alien and a stranger, but as a fellow-citizen and a friend.
NATURE, CONSCIENCE, AND REVELATION, DECLAR
ING GOD, DUTY, AND DESTINY,
Rom. i. 20. FOR THE INVISIBLE THINGS OF HIM FROM THE CREA
TION OF THE WORLD ARE CLEARLY SEEN. Rom. ii. 15. WHICH SHOW THE WORK OF THE LAW WRITTEN IN
THEIR HEARTS, THEIR CONSCIENCE ALSO BEARING WITNESS. Rom. ii. 16. - IN THE DAY WHEN GOD SHALL JUDGE THE SECRETS
OF MEN BY JESUS CHRIST.
In the text, chosen out of several closely related verses, are indicated the three great sources of religious knowledge, - Nature, Conscience, and Revelation. The apostle, writing to the Romans, who were members of the great Gentile nation, citizens of the world more than any others whom he addressed, undertakes a larger account than elsewhere of the whole subject of religion. He is led thus to consider the particular light dispensed respectively in the three directions already named, - Nature, proclaiming God in his “eternal power;" Conscience, while echoing that proclamation, enjoining also duty; and Revelation, while re-echoing God and duty to the soul, disclosing still further human destiny.
God, Duty, and Destiny — these are the great words severally spoken to man by Nature, Conscience, and Revelation. It becomes us to receive each and all these messages, through the three divine voices that convey them, into grateful and obedient hearts. There is still among religious believers considerable difference of opinion as to the relative offices and effects upon human life of these three, nature, conscience, and revelation. But, if we effectually learn from the first of God, from the second of duty, and from the third of our destiny, we cannot be misusing any one of them, though the provinces they relatively occupy should never be exactly defined.
Nature speaks to us indeed, above all things, of God. Unless our hearts are hard and insensible, we cannot stop with the outward scene, with the bloom and plenty, with the order and splendor, of the earth and the heavens: we must seek for the invisible Cause. Nor have we to seek long or far. We are so made as to recognize the necessary existence of a Superior Power and Wisdom to account for what we behold. We may look at the sun and moon, and shining host of the firmament, that beautifully divide the hours between them in the lofty sky, or we may survey the smallest flower that opens its leaves and diffuses its fragrance at our feet, and equally they declare to us God. His name is written on the immense arch of the universe, but just as distinctly on a spear of grass or an insect's wing. His intelligence is proved by the revolution of the planets, but just as clearly by the sap that ascends in a plant, or the blood that circulates in our own veins. The thunder, the cataract, the roar of the winds and waves, is his voice, but none the less the hum that rises from the myriad happy tribes of animated life. Verily, nature speaks of God, shows his abode in the immensity of space, and alike in the little sparkling crevice of the rock, which only the microscope can detect. God is the sound that seems to reach our ear, as we regard any single part of the creation, but at once returns from the opposite part, and, like a word shouted in the echoing gorges of the mountains, reverberates in a million endless repetitions above and below, before and behind us. So that, were we left to the religious influence of nature alone, did not the voice of conscience prescribe duty and prompt us to action, our own existence would be well nigh overpowered, swallowed up, and lost in the Divine. Yet, though thus re-assured by the dictates of responsibility in our own hearts, by the admonitions of the spirit that is in man, our existence would still seem precarious and ready to disappear, but for the light cast by revelation on human destiny.
The instructions of nature, grand as they are, and reinforced though they may be by the reflections of our own moral faculty, do not satisfy. They proclaim God, and the soul responds duty, obligation, to this Mighty and Eternal One; but the thought of God himself and of duty is not enough to give peace, without some idea also of a future destiny. That idea a few minds of peculiar cast and temper may seem to themselves to gather from outward emblems and inward musings; but it cannot so rise to any