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earth for the purposes of his mercy. Monarchs and subjects, consciously or unconsciously, shall conspire to prepare the way for his triumphant march. “ The very wrath of man shall praise him ;” the laws of nature shall obey his will: science shall bring her ample treasures, and lay them submissively at his feet. Surely the perseverance of Christ is various in its expedients.
4. It is against great difficulties.- Sin, of course in all its forms, stands opposed to the work attempted by the Saviour. With this, Satanic influence is largely combined. But there are four discouraging facts in the habits of men, which must be considered.
The first is the earthliness of sinners. However it may have been originally, it cannot be denied that there is at present a strong affinity between man and this lower world. To matter far more naturally than to spirit he looks for the relief of his woes, and the gratification of his desires. The “ things that are seen, have far more power to attract and charm him than " the things that are not seen.” Hence the acquisition of treasure here occupies much more of his attention than the laying up of treasure in heaven! What he shall eat, and drink, and wear absorb him so completely, that he has no time to study how he may glorify God! Life here is so dear to him, that he will not inquire how he
may prepare to die, nor what is the value to him of life eternal! Indeed, such is his exceeding earthliness, that the most powerful influences from above can only rouse him to a few moments' reflection upon the wants of his higher nature, when, like the needle to the pole, he turns at once to his worldly pursuits, and grasps his treasures with the tenacity of despair. This is no extraordinary development of fallen humanity. It is peculiar to no age, to no land. From as far back as the dark history of man can be traced, it has mastered his intellect, absorbed his sensibilities, and controlled his will. The Saviour has met it at every step, in his persevering attempts to “set judgment in the earth.” Hard, indeed, is the struggle by which it is overcome: ever and anon it rallies to the conflict; and after all the triumpbs over it for near six thousand years, see what amazing strength it still possesses! Amongst the millions of earth, where moments are spent in spiritual employments
, ages are devoted to earthly! For one who in thought, and feeling, and action, claims kindred with the skies, you meet with thousands who assert afiinity to the earth. The perseverance of Christ is against all this, and still he is “not discouraged."
Next, the fondness for the ideal, in preference to the real. It is a painful fact that men are living, in the main, in an ideal worldare practicing upon themselves a gross and nearly universal fraud -exchanging, as sources of gratification, the Divine realities of time and eternity, for the phantoms of nature and sin. It is not the resources of his present condition, but of an imaginary future one upon which he depends for his happiness. No real form of home, or equipage, or power, is the model of his satisfied state.
In any of these there is enough to offend his taste, to degrade his ambition, to cramp his genius, and, upon the great whole, to reduce him to a level with his fellows. He soon learns enough of the trials and defects and dangers of any man he knows, not to wish exactly his position, and hence, an ideal existence, the forms of which are constantly floating before him, absorbs his attention, and enlists his feelings. To obtain this, he practically throws away the realities which alone deserve his'consideration, and can render him happy. Behold now the extremes of his folly and the greatness of his errors! Total depravity is his real condition, but high moral excellence his ideal. Enmity against God is his real habit of mind, but high reverence for the principles of rectitude his ideal! Danger of eternal damnation his real state, but almost certainty of heaven his ideal! When the duty of repentance is urged home upon his conscience, his fancied security defeats the effort. Despite the real claims of reciprocity, he prefers the imaginary pleasures of injustice, fraud, and oppression! If the reality of the Divine favor be placed in competition with the ideal benefits of human, he prefers the latter—the unreal joys of sin to the sublime pleasures of holiness—the fancied glories of earth to the changeless glories of heaven!
Nations too run the round of dreaming life, and grasping the shadow lose the prize. The permanence and splendor of empire are placed now in the triumph of the monarch, and now in the elevation of the people—now in concession, and now in grinding to the earth all aspirants for liberty-now in the ignorance, and now in the education of the masses—now in peace and now in war. They seek relief from the evils of the social state at one time in action, at another in re-action--now in enacting, and now in repealing laws-now in constructing, and now in destroying constitutions—now in the stringent regime of a religious establishment, and now in the grossest licentiousness. They fly at one moment to universal faith, at another to universal skepticism. Thus they forget utterly the sovereign power of that simple truth, “ Happy is that people whose God is the Lord.” This is the real—the defined, the rejected real, in which alone the imperishable honor of a nation consists.
This is a mere intimation of the formidable power of the ideal, as it has usurped the place of the real, in this raving, bedlam, headlong world. With the whole of it the blessed Saviour has had to contend for these thousands of years. He seeks to wake the soul of man from this bewildering dream-to arrest this wild search for things that are not, and confer eternal blessedness in the things that are. Now, by reflecting upon the vast results which would follow the entire devotion of the race to Divine realities, we shall extend our convictions of the immense power of fiction in preventing the establishment of justice in the earth. But how it exalts our opinion of the perseverance of Christ, to find that he is not discouraged, though the world he seeks to save constantlyprefers a dream or a shadow to the richest gifts of his love. Next a cold individualism presents itself in opposition to the benevolent purposes of the Redeemer. In man's intended state, he is the brother of his fellow-nan. His heart beats in unison with the great heart of humanity. He forms a willing, happy, part of one grand and perfect whole. He needs the universal life of that social system which God designed, infinitely more than that system needs him. Had the fall left so much of Jehovah's work untouched, how speedily might the renovating life run through the mass. But under the action of sin, the selfish element has risen above the social! The individual has reached an importance far exceeding the whole race! How will an act or scheme affect me is the great question, not how will it affect the world. If God commands us to feed the hungry-to educate the ignorant-to send the gospel to the heathen-to give the Bible to the world, the sufferer must bear his anguish, and the messenger of salvation must delay his errand of mercy, until
, with the exactness of numbers, it can be ascertained how it will affect the comforts, the luxuries, the honor of the individual ! Alas! how frequently will even the suspicion of danger here give the negative to the most importunate demands of human wretchedness. And though sinners are perishing by thousands, and though the voice of Jesus is calling in tones of melting love, and beseeching earnestness for help to rescue the purchase of his blood, the most capricious demands of the individual must have the preference. The world must move on to perdition until it is perfectly compatible with the temporal interests—the personal convenience—and imagined honor of the individual to send them the word of life! Let any man, if he can, repel this degrading charge. Let him prove the aspersion false: he shall have our gratitude. But he cannot. His search for vindicating facts will show him mind in all its energies, running out into the world's extreme, taxing man and beast, water, earth, and air, for selfish purposes, and demanding large revenues of praise for the favors it has yielded by the way, to importunate want. But against all this the Saviour perseveres.
The salvation of the world must be achieved though it be done in detail. “He will not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth.”
Finally, we notice the misdirection of the philosophical spirit. Philosophy is a real want and a natural result of humanity. And could it from the beginning have exerted its strength in tracing the relation of man to God-of men to each other, and the relation of all phenomena to their final moral causes ; had it summed up all its discoveries in the practical and the good, what immense power it would have wielded for the benefit of the race.
But now see it satisfied in tracing the relations of one particle of matter to another-its position, self—its aim, science-its scope, creation with God and eternity omitted, or only casually mentioned—and its results, infidelity! What system of philosophy, physical or metaphysical, has the Bible for its stand-pointthe glory of God for its object-eternity for its sphere, and the
salvation of souls for its final cause? Alas! the very tendency which God designed to lead immortal spirits to himself has borne them far from him. It has expended itself in false and impracticable theories for the relief of human woes. It has generated a pride of opinion which scorns to obtain a knowledge of the essential good from the meek and lowly Saviour. The defeats of ages have not sufficed to teach it discretion-to check its wild and visionary schemes for dispensing with regeneration, and expelling God from the universe.' Of the radical misdirection of the philosophical spirit, no other proof is needed than the fact that it does n't end in faith. The legitimate tendency of all true philosophy is to simple faith—faith in God, in the Bible, in the Redeemer, in heaven and hell. What then can be said of that which levels its shafts at the mediatorial throne, and defies the power of Jehovah ? No just understanding of its evils can be possible to us. Its worst manifestations are not in systems formally elaborated and set forth. It infuses its deadly poison into the secret thoughts of men. It penetrates the very foundations of virtue. It artíully insinuates itself even into the sacred desk, and from the very watch-towers of Zion, holds friendly intercourse with her vilest foes. But still the Saviour is not discouraged. Regarding these as mere specimens of the barriers in his way, I am sure it must be conceded his perseverance is against great difficulties.
4. It is long continued.--If for twenty years the father strives to reclaim his prodigal son, he is deemed a model of forbearance. But if, for the whole of the time, this child of Belial should use every opportunity to insult and revile that father; if he should repay every act of his love with violence, and still no word of severity should escape the paternal lips, but entreaties and tears of affection should respond to this rage, till life itself yields to grief, what language could express the astonishment of the world at such God-like patience? But what is the endurance of filial ingratitude for a score of years, or for a century, compared with the perseverance of Christ in his mediatorial work? All the ingratitude of men, and the rage of demons, for near six thousand years, have not been enough to drive him from the seat of mercy. Every wave of corruption that has dashed against the throne has been answered by a smile! Every word of blasphemy, by the language of tenderness and love! Generation after generation has risen in fiercesi war against the Son of God, laughed, and wept, and cursed, and died! But the next generation has found him there with his hands of compassion extended to receive them! The vilest sinner that shall be born upon earth will find him on the mediatorial throne, waiting to hail him with the offer of mercy as he vents his rage against the Lamb of God. The fury of hell has assaulted his position in ceaseless storms, since the first look of compassion was cast upon a ruined world, but there he remains in the fullness of infinite merit--in the calmness of unlimited power in the intelligence of omniscient wisdom, and in the activity
of exhaustless love. And he will remain until the trump of judgment shall sound. Verily the perseverance of Christ in its action, is righteous in character, various in its expedients, against great difficulties, and long continued.
III. THE PERSEVERANCE OF Curist IN ITS TRIUMPHS. 1. The triumph indicated.—By prophecy, by the nature of Christ, and by the mode of his action." And the Lord God said unto the serpent, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." “ And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots : and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord : and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord : and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears : but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked."--Here the fact of triumph is clearly indicated. To doubt it must therefore be infidelity.--The nature of the triumph is set forth in the following glowing imagery: “ And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them." - Here is the triumph of the moral over the physical. The strength of the lion shall yield to the influence of the little child! The dominion of " the earthly ” must come to an end, and the ascendency of the spiritual be complete. The triumph of the real over the ideal. Righteousness” and “ faithfulness,” the two great realities, shall gird the Redeemer, and the vast fictions of sin and infidelity must disappear before him.The triumph of the social over the selfish. The wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the child and the asp, all mingling in perfect harmony, symbolize the social state, under the peaceful reign of God's Messiah. And the triumph of the true over the false, " for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” The knowledge of the Lord is the soul of truth, the sum of philosophy, the centre of science. The earth filled with the knowledge of the Lord must therefore secure the universal prevalence of truth, the right direction of the philosophical spirit, and the purification of every department of science. This, in general
, is the triumph of Christ, indicated. To understand, in any adequate degree, these sublime indications, we must study with deep penetration every prophecy of the Bible, every attribute of the Son of God, and every development of his history, -a study which may well engage the master-minds of the race. However intense and glowing may be our visions of Messiah's reign, a deeper understanding of its Divine indications