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by vulgar ambition, the way to sovereignty was now open before him ; " but his kingdom was not of this world,”—and it was probably the sudden disappointment of their hopes which made this fickle people so readily yield themselves instruments to the wicked devices of their rulers, and prompted, perhaps, the same voices which had uttered these words of exultation and devotion, to cry out in a few days afterwards, “ crucify Him, crucify Him." Yet the good seed had been sown. A form of excellence had presented itself to the eyes of men which could not speedily be forgotten; that Holy Voice which had taught them as with the authority of Heaven, continued still to vibrate on their ears—and the first sound of his Resurrection was eagerly received, and the first call to Repentance smote them at once to the heart. They now were ready to open their eyes to the delusion which had misled them; to look forward to a Heavenly Kingdom
66 which cannot be moved,” and to see in that very crucifixion, which they had wickedly abetted, the Sacrifice for their sins, and in that Resurrection which was preached to them, the earnest of their immortality. There cannot surely be any view
more striking of the hold which the Gospel has upon the human mind-of its power, “ by honour, and dishonour-by evil report, and good report,”—to win the affections, and to command belief; and we might almost conclude without any farther inquiry, that a Religion which could thus rise from the very bosom of destruction with redoubled power and activity, was never destined in any future age to lose its authority over the hearts of men.
II. If, however, nothing more had ensued, if Christianity had in no long time vanished from the world, these circumstances, however astonishing, might have been ascribed to some singular enthusiasm. But proceed in the history,examine, in the second place, the progress of the Gospel from this first beginning to the present time, behold its long contest with the powers of the world, with “spiritual darkness in high places,” when it had its ground to maintain against the idolatry of the nations, the philosophy of the learned, and the violence of rulers, -behold it ever advancing, in opposition to these trials, till at last it displaced the idols which were marshalled against it, and seated itself on the very throne from which the mandates of persecution had been issued. In an after period, when that Imperial Throne was shaken, and the Barbarous Nations rushed in upon the fallen majesty of Rome, while the forms of civil order were swept away, the triumph of the Gospel was only more conspicuous; and it now became the religion of those conquering “multitudes,” whom no human authority could over-awe. It was in this dark period, as you know, that the most astonishing dominion over the minds of the human race was established, which the world has ever witnessed,-a dominion founded indeed on superstitious corruptions of Christianity, but which yet exemplified the mighty power of the principle that pervaded them, and which we scarcely treat with fairness, when we try it by the maxims of our own times, rather than with a reference to the state of society in which it
This mysterious Power was likewise destined to be shaken ; but the light which poured in upon the human soul, and melted the fetters in which it was entangled, only threw brighter beams upon the Gospel; and “multitudes” now joined in the song of triumph, who
added the powers of reason and Philosophy to the sentiments of faith.
III. Such, my brethren, was the triumphant aspect of the Gospel for a long period after the Reformation. Perhaps in our day, it has appeared under somewhat a different aspect. The Hosannas to the Son of David may have seemed in many instances to cease, and the inquisitive spirit of the age may have too often been inclined to ask—“who is this?” more in the spirit, of cavil, than of anxious inquiry. The scene of the humiliation of the Son of God, seemed once more, as in the history before us, to follow his triumph; He was again, too often, made the object of impious ridicule; and seemed to be crucified anew, by the madness and fury of his enemies. Some even of the distinguished men of the age, were too ready to prophesy that the period of the fall of Christianity was come; and the “ multitude” themselves, were expected to join once more, like the populace of Jerusalem, in the splendid scheme for the destruction of
every thing that is great and glorious in man. The madness of that period, thank God, has passed away! The awful convulsions of the world,
have contributed to restore even this worst species of enthusiasm to a better temper of mind ; and now, as a third subject of inquiry, I ask you to consider what has been the effect of all these bad exertions, and whether they have left the world less Christian than they found it ? I hesitate not a moment to say, that, on the contrary, Christianity has advanced in its progress through this disastrous period; and that greater triumphs seem to await it than it has ever yet known among men. The temporary Humiliation which seemed to cloud its glory, is fast giving way to a new Resurrection: the Sun of Righteousness is once more pouring his beams of healing among the nations,-and multitudes that were faithful in secret, and multitudes that are praying for the renewal of their Faith, after having sadly felt the bitterness of that Cup of Sorcery of which they had been tempted to drink, are once more joining in the Hymn of Triumph, “ Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord ;” and are ready, with one accord, to say, when they are required to name the Master whom they serve,—“ Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee !”—These views, I am sensible, have been very imperfectly stated,