Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

days, as well as His ascension to heaven—these facts rest, as far as we know, upon the credibility of the evangelists and apostles only; but they are related in a manner which shows that the writers were particularly acquainted with all the facts and circumstances of the case, and hence knew them from the testimony of their own senses. Beside, if we have succeeded in establishing the truth of the narrations respecting His birth and death, we are perfectly safe in concluding that they have spoken the truth respecting His resurrection. And as this is one of the most important items in the Christian faith, it became them to establish it beyond the reach of controversy. This, allowing the truth of the New Testament, they have triumphantly done ; and thus set the seal of eternal truth upon the entire narrative of our Savior's miracles, death, and glorious resurrection from the dead.

The grand conclusion to which we come, from this view of the subject, is this :—That having arrived at satisfactory evidence of the truth of the facts recorded in the sacred Scriptures, it follows most undeniably that they were given by Divine inspiration—that signs and wonders were wrought, as therein related; for they cannot speak the truth at all, without speaking Divine truthnor yet utter a solitary fact, without recognizing the Divine Hand in its production, or at least, in permitting it, in some sense, to exist. As they profess to speak in the name of Jehovah-under His inspiration-and to record His doings—to proclaim the miracles which He wrought-so, if they speak the truth in any sense, then we must admit all that they say, and also in the sense in which they meant to be understood. To say that they speak the truth, and then deny that they thus speak in the name of God, &c, is a most manifest contradiction. There is, therefore, no medium between admitting that the Scriptures were given by the inspiration of God, as they profess to have been, or rejecting them altogether as a true and faithful record. The facts, doctrines, and precepts, therein contained, must be Divine, or they are false. They must be the one, or the other.

We say, therefore, that, allowing to the inspired writers the credit which is generally awarded to other historians of undoubted truth, we have allowed that prophecies were delivered—that miracles were wrought--that the dead were raised-and that Jesus Christ not only died, and rose from the dead, but that He shall also come again to judge the world in righteousness—all these things being clearly revealed, and plainly set forth as articles of our faith. See, then, upon what an immovable rock the Christian stands! Let the billows of error beat against him never so furiously, they cannot wash him from this firm and immutable foundation. And having arrived to this conclusion, we are bound to believe the facts and doctrines contained in the book of revelation, however mysterious or incomprehensible they may appear to human judgment, because they come to us with all the weight of Divine authority, and with all the influence which Divine inspiration can exercise. The poet therefore required nothing unreasonable when he said,

• Believe, and show the reason of a man.'

For the Methodist Magazine, and Quarterly Review.

JUDGMENT FOR THE OPPRESSED; A sermon, preached in the Wesleyan chapel in Vestry-st., New-York,

on the 4th of July, 1834, in behalf of · The American Colonization Society,' by Rev. Joseph Holdich.

(Published by particular request.) • The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed,'

Psa. ciii, 6. Nothing is more important than to maintain a constant belief in the government of Heaven, and to keep up in our own minds the remembrance of the connection between God and his providences. We are aware that there is an impious philosophy at work in the world that would exclude the Divine agency from all human affairs, and by an act of profane divorce separate the Deity from the world that He has made. Into such secrets, however, we have no desire to come, and to such assemblies our honor shall not be united. Believing in God as a Being of infinite perfections, whose absolute intelligence,-knowing the end from the beginning, and comprehending all causes with their effects,-is adequate to all enterprises, who is overpowered by no magnitude, who is not perplexed by multitude, nor eluded by even insignificance, we must acknowledge Him as the Ruler of the affairs of our world, and the Arbiter, directly or indirectly, of all human destinies. These sentiments are not contradicted by the seeming inconsistencies around us. If the proud for a season are seen to go on prosperously in their career, it is for the accomplishment of some hidden purpose of Divine benevolence. If the wicked perplex us by their undeserved successes, and excite in us a doubting or cavilling temper, when we go into the sanctuary of God we understand their end;' that the Almighty sets them purposely in slippery places' for their probation, but that. He reserves them for a day of judgment;' and, if they are unfaithful and impenitent, • will cast them down to destruction. If some are oppressed and afflicted by the cruel and tyrannical, we learn that it is God who suffers it for a season, that they may learn to commit their way unto Him, who • will give them the desires of their hearts, and bring forth their righteousness as the light, and their judgment as the noon day.' Surely then the Lord reigneth. Let the earth rejoice ; let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof.' For although clouds and darkness are round about Him, yet justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne.'

Our doctrine is exemplified by the event we have this day assembled to celebrate. The success of the American revolution can surely be regarded only as an actual illustration of the sentiment contained in our text. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.'

Our first remark, therefore, shall be,- I. That the independence of the United States is, in a special manner, the work of God.

This impression seems to be sealed on every page of the history of these transactions. There was, at the commencement, every discouragement to encounter, and scarcely any thing to promise success. There was a want of almost every thing that was necessary, according to human judgment, for the enterprise-of every thing, except heroic spirits. For soldiers, they had to drill raw recruits, or to govern refractory militia ; for officers, they were obliged to select men who had scar

arcely seen a battle ; for arms and ammunition, they had to trust for what Heaven would send them; and for money, we need only name the continental paper. To crown all, there was a want of that, which, in such a cause, is, of all things human, most necessary to insure success, unity in counsel. Various interests and temperaments, as might be supposed, occasioned different judgments about the project. Nor was the spirit of disunion entirely allayed during the heat of contest; for it attempted to effect what would have been a death blow to the cause of freedom, the removal from command of America's greatest boast, and the world's chief admiration.

Turn to the opposite view, and the difficulties are not diminished. She had to contend against the first nation in the old world ; a nation which held at command the most ample resources. rienced officers, numerous and well disciplined armies, flushed with the memory

of former victories, and pledged to support their pretensions to military eminence, were the opponents of raw militia and unschooled generals. It was against Great Britain, in the very zenith of her power, revelling among the laurels gathered under her previous monarch both in the eastern and western worlds, that this nation had to contend. An infant against a giant; a pigmy against a mammoth. Such, indeed, was the disparity between th two nations; and so obvious to all, that when Virginia's favorite orator* first dared to breathe the word “revolt, it was some time before it was quite settled whether he should be regarded as a patriot, a rebel, or a madman !

To what then, under these circumstances, are we to ascribe the success of the American cause, but to the might of the Divine Arm. • It was the Lord's doing, and marvellous in our eyes.' The truth is, oppression had been carried too far. The sympathies of Heaven were enlisted, and stirring up all the energies of deathless spirits, and embarking the hearts of noble and daring men in the cause, effi. ciency was given to their counsels, and success to their arms. let America ever remember, that the Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed,' to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will.'

* See Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry,

Old and expe

Buty

We are now led to consider,
II. The benefits which have resulted to this nation from that event.

These are exceedingly multiplied and various. Among them we may name the increasing light of science, the advancement of the arts, the improvement of the soil, the culture of the mind; in short, all the blessings of social and intellectual, as well as political life, are closely connected with this event. We have every reason to believe, that none of these would have been enjoyed to as great an extent as they now are, had not this been made a free and independent nation. For if it should be urged, on the one hand, as we are aware that it sometimes is, with no little plausibility, that, by a continuance of the connection between this and the mother country, we should have derived greater benefit from her larger experience, and more advanced state of improvement-should have drawn more largely upon those resources which have been accumulating for ages; yet, on the other hand, we may reply, that the burdens and disabilities under which this nation groaned were such as to counterbalance all those apparent advantages, and render her incapable of profiting by them. Nor should it be forgotten, that the continued vassalage of this country would have necessarily drained off her wealth, talent, and genius, and have kept her for ever low in the scale of being. England must have necessarily been the great theatre of action for all subjects of the British crown. The refinement and luxuries of the aristocracy would have drawn off the wealthy, the liberality of patronage would have attracted genius, and the eclat of the court would have allured the ambitious. England, in short, would have been considered home,' as it was until the revolution ; and the charm of that name alone would have still had a powerful influence over all hearts. This land would have been chiefly the resort of adventurers, who had a fortune to make, or a character to retrieve ; and having attained their end, would have withdrawn to figure nearer to the seat of royalty. Few would have domesticated themselves in the provinces, except such as could not do otherwise ; and although there might be many among them of elevated worth and intellect, yet, crippled as they must have been in their powers and resources by the causes above named, it would have been impossible to have raised this country to any commanding position among the nations of the globe.

But we now evidently see the benefits resulting to this nation, in the following partieulars :

1. In her independence.

Resting on her own basis, whatever she does or gains is for her own glory and aggrandizement. Whatever improvements are made, or wealth acquired, or talent developed, is for her own advantage and elevation. While dependent upon another power, she was but tributary to its glory and celebrity. The independence was a removal, at once, of this check upon improvement, and the application of a mighty stimulus to patriotic hearts and expansive minds. Of course a new impulse was given to enterprise-a dormant spirit was roused; and it has sped its way over the land, until to enumerate its consequences would be endless.

2. In the freedom of her government. We see her now governed by her own peculiar laws ; laws enacted by her own representatives; and those representatives elected by the free and spontaneous votes of the people, affording a just and impartial representation of the country. A legislature thus chosen must be amenable to their constituents, who are the free citizens of the country; and the ballot box renders the verdict for or against their official demeanor. And although there may be abuses in this system, as must be the case in every thing earthly, yet they are seldom serious, and always remediable. And this, we apprehend, is much more than can be said under the rotten borough system of the mother land; in which one man, in many instances, having gained all the real estate of a borough into his own hands, elects, by his single vote, a member, and sends him to represent in parliament the interests of the community or of his patron, as his interests may prompt, or his conscience perchance direct.

3. In her exemption from the excessive taxation, which is necessary to maintain an expensive and corrupt government. Such a taxation must, in every nation, eat up the fruits of the poor man's industry, and impede the advancement of society.

4. In her general improvements, which are a consequence of the above. It is true, the more refined works of intellect and taste have not made as great advances as could have been wished. But in the substantial materials of a nation's prosperity she has gained rapidly upon her compeers; and, in some things, outstripped them. Her public buildings and private residences, for neatness, classic beauty, and simple elegance, are justly admired. Her internal improvements, her rail-roads and canals, are an astonishment. But what nation in the world has not seen, or heard of, and admired her ships and her. steam boats ?

5. In her religious liberty.

No preference is given to one sect, at the expense of the rest, in the laws and government of the land. Every Christian denomination is not only tolerated, but protected in their rights, and in the free exercise of their religious belief and worship. Thus all are placed on equal ground; and as no one is specially fostered by the state, and made to feel its independence, so no one is inordinately depressed and discouraged. To all the field of usefulness, in every class of society, is equally open; and a spirit of friendly and pious competition is encouraged.

6. In her religious prosperity.
This has, no doubt, resulted, in a great measure,

from her religious liberty. The freedom of action enjoyed by the Churches—the dependence of the ministers upon their flocks for support—the mutual influence of the Churches upon each other, producing what, we trust, has been in the main a godly strife, and a salutary provoking of one another to good works-have produced the most happy results. Ministers have been excited to greater diligence; Churches have been spirited up to higher. enterprises ; individual Christians have been stimulated to nobler deeds. Hence we have seen the multiplication of Churches, the spread of revivals, the establishment of liberal and enlarged charities. Our benevolent and charitable institutions have been and are efficiently sustained, and have called forth some of the brightest instances of splendid charity in modern days. It was in this

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »