Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

strange that the said service hath been omitted on the present occasion. To this I am instructed, by the Right Rev. Bishop and Pastor of this Church, to answer-That, although such a service was, with a pure, a pious, and patriotic design, proposed by a Convention of our Church some years ago, yet it was never received into general use; nor did it ap pear that any other religious denomination of Christians in the Union, were disposed to follow the example, or to make a similar provision for commemorating the day. This, however, would have had but little weight with us, if it had been considered by the members of our Church as a religious rather than a political institution. But being convinced by the remarkable scarcity of worshippers, which attended the Service, on former returns of this day, that the multitude were too much drawn off, by the external parade of shews and rejoicings, from an attention to religious duties (except when the day fell on Sunday)—what was originally introduced as a proposal, is now omitted in an authoritative Liturgy established by the late general Convention of our Church. The religious observation of the day, however, will always be encouraged, as it is on the present occasion, when a similar disposition shall call for it.

I proceed now to consider more fully that Spiritual Salvation, which Almighty God, after having made bare his holy arm," to rescue us from temporal calamity, hath promised to extend "to all the ends of the earth."

By this Salvation, as mentioned in our text, I need scarcely observe to a Christian audience, that we are to understand the knowledge and practice of

the blessed Gospel of Jesus Christ; to which is an nexed not only the promises of temporal happiness in this life, but the rich reward of eternal happiness in the life to come. To be convinced of the sufficiency of the blessed Gospel, for the great purposes of this mighty Salvation, is the chief wisdom of man. For therein is contained that wisdom, which is of God; that true knowledge, without which all else, that is called knowledge, is nugatory and vain! The further we carry our inquiries into the works of Nature and Providence, the more we are convinced of their greatness, and our own insufficiency to comprehend them: the length, the breadth, and the depth, far out-measure our scanty line, without deriving help from on high. We find many things of the utmost importance for us to know, which yet baffle all our efforts, and elude our most eager researches.

The creation and various revolutions of the world which we inhabit, the fall and redemption of man, the last judgment and an eternal world to comethese are grand and interesting concerns, in which no wisdom of our own could instruct us, unless the Lord had been pleased to reveal himself concerning them.

Can we, then, neglect or despise that heavenly system of truth, by which he hath made himself known to us in those great points? Shall we not rather take it to our bosoms, search into its depths, and reverence it as containing the words of eternal life; as being the richest legacy which heaven could give, or man receive?

In all the majesty of truth, and beauties of holiness, the blessed Gospel delivers to us those laws, by which we are to live here, and be judged hereafter. Containing doctrines the most rational and sublime, precepts the most benevolent and salutary, a stile the most rich and powerful, in all the variety of language and colouring, and sharper than a twoedged sword-this heavenly book was given to purify the heart and affections; to enlighten and exalt the understanding; to awaken and guide the conscience; to confirm our hopes and remove our fears; to banish ignorance and superstition; to cast down the idols of the nations; to mitigate or destroy lawless power; to check the rage of barbarism; to humanize the hearts of men, and call them off from a vain dependence upon external worship and ceremonies, to a trust in the living God; obedience to his moral laws and the voice of conscience within; repentance for past offences; an acceptable, rational and elevated devotion of heart, a longing after immortality; an exaltation to the life of angels, the joy of God, and happiness unspeakable and full of glory!

All our other Knowledge, all that is called Philosophy, will avail us but little, without the divine finishing of this wisdom of the spirit of God, which teacheth all things. "For whether there be tongues they shall cease, or whether there be [human] knowledge it shall vanish away." But the sublime knowledge of the Gospel will be forever new. It will lead us to that Salvation of God, promised in our text. It will be the endless subject of our inquiries

and of our praises, and will constitute a Philosophy, the Marvellous of which Eternity cannot exhaust, nor the longest periods of duration bring to decay.

Such, then, being the nature and end of the Gospel of Christ, how triumphant is the assurance given in our text, that "the Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations" of this immense continent, and that His promise hath gone forth "to these ends of the earth," that they "shall see the salvation of God," and exult in the full blaze of Gospel-day!

The prospect opens, it extends itself upon us; and the whole analogy of things aids the interpretation of Prophecy. Turning our thoughts to the ways of Providence, as recorded in sacred as well as profane History, and pondering upon the fate of Christian States and Empires-how they have, in their turns, enjoyed the pure light of the Gospel and all its blessed concomitants-true Liberty, equal Laws, security of Property, Wisdom, Magnanimity, Arts and Sciences, and whatever can adorn or exalt human nature-how they have flourished or decayed, according to the due use or corrupt abuse of those mighty blessings; while we mark the progress of Religion and Civilization through the Old World, and impartially examining the prophecies which relate to the coming in of the fulness of the Gentiles," and extending “their glory, like a flowing stream," to the ends of the earth, compared with the circumstances, in which we now stand-Surely, on such a review, we are justified in cherishing a strong Hope, a wellgrounded Persuasion, that the day hath already

dawned, (nay that its meridian is near at hand) when "all the ends of the earth" shall, with us, behold the salvation of our God.

With the sun, those mighty blessings still pursued a western course, till they reached the utmost verge of the old world-that Ultima Thule, from whence many of us and our fathers sprang. Long did they illumine that favoured land, and while they shone in noon-tide glory there-(O memory, why starts the involuntary tear?) while they shone in noon-tide glory there-at the time ordained by God, our fathers crossed the vast ocean. They brought the Bible, the blessed Charter of their Salvation, in their hands, and therewith the rudiments of learning and science, dispelling the long, long, night of darkness in which these American regions were involved; and laying the foundation of a new and glorious æra in the Gospel progress, onwards towards the Setting Sun. A radiant morn of light and happiness then dawned upon this benighted land, yielding the joyous earnest of a future resplendent day. That dawn was, however, overcast; the morning loured and our sun was hid in clouds for a while; but, blessed be God, he was not commanded, for our unworthiness, to revert from his destined course, and measure back his former way. The clouds were dispersed, our Sun broke forth with renewed vigour, sending forward his bright beams to the farthest west, and calling all "the ends of the earth" to behold the salvation of our God.

To speak without further metaphor, the goodness of the Almighty, supporting the inhabitants of these

« VorigeDoorgaan »