« ElőzőTovább »
must render them more so. Such is the momentous personal interest which we have in the theme, that we should pause before it till our souls themselves become concentrated faith ; till time is annihilated, and heaven and earth are wrapped in the blaze of millennial day.
2. The triumph progressive.—The purposes of God did not include the immediate conquest of the world. There are reasons to believe the true nature and destiny of man did not admit of it. Nor were the triumphs of Christ all reserved for the final period of his reign. They commenced with the first fact of redemption, and every additional fact was a triumph over all the obstacles opposed to its occurrence; and the series of facts which make up his history, have indicated the progress of his victories. These facts, heralded by prophets, have astonished the world by their striking significance and miraculous power.
Principles have also been gradually developed, which have grappled with their antagonists in the presence of sinners. Atonement by sacrifice has appeared against inexorable doom-Divine influence against human obduracy--pardon against the enormity of sin-life against death-holiness against depravity-liberty against fate—and finally, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," against adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcrast
, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” Long and severe has been the contest between these mysterious forces. To the eye of man it may have appeared doubtful on which side victory would turn. But by universal consent it ought to “ turn on the Lord's side," and this itself is a triumph.
But the triumph progressive may be traced in the application of these great principles. Mark it in the individual -At the earliest dawn of reason the attempt is commenced to rescue him from the ruins of the fall. Conviction for sin, and a sense of duty to God, are among his first impressions. These gracious influences increase from year to year, but there are no indications of surrender. Indeed, the depravity of his nature gathers strength from opposition, until from his outward vileness it begins to be feared that he is left “ to believe a lie, that he might be damned." But at length his attention, his whole intellect, is conquered. His heart and his will yield to the sway of an invisible power, and you may hear him say
Nay, but I yield, I yield
I can hold out no more;
And own thee conqueror." A new and glorious life springs up within him. But he gradually discovers his remaining depravity, and it is probably long before this is totally removed, and the triumph in his entire nature complete. Even then the war is not ended. He can resist no worldly allurement-no temptation, but by that faith which
transfers the battle to the Saviour. His power conquers every foe, even death itself, and the soul, emancipated, finds its home at last in the bosom of God. This is an outline of his engagements with the world, and of his gradual triumphs over it. Early in its history he set in motion a train of expedients for its recovery from ruin. Long darkness brooded over it, but the Saviour was not discouraged. He triumphed in the salvation of individuals. He triumphed in the deluge. He triumphed in Egypt. He triumphed in Palestine at the tomb of Joseph-in Germany—in France-in England-in America ; and at this moment his triumphs are spreading "from sea to sea,” and “from the rivers to the ends of the earth.” Progressive civilization-progressive Christianity, is all the triumph of Christ. It is true, there is still a vast amount of iniquity upon earth. Sin rages with fearful malice, but the energy of Christ must conquer in the future as it has done in the past. His gracious expedients are developing power that must be irresistible. Not a principle of evil, not a style of sin exists but what has been overcome. Can any man point to grosser darkness than has yielded to the glorious beams of the Sun of Righteousness—more savage fury than that which his presence has tamed-viler sinners than have been already subdued, or deeper pollution than his blood has washed away? The world, then, in effect, is already conquered. being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him; having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and puwers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
3. The triumph complete.--This is revealed partly to experience, but mainly to faith. The principles, and many of the facts involved in the final triumph have been graciously given to our own enjoyment. We know what is meant by the conquest of love. We have only to take the facts of a sinner saved by grace, and suppose them carried directly out into all the world, to have a tolerably distinct idea of the triumph of the Saviour accomplished. The power of faith enlarges the conception, and increases the brightness of the scene. The moral is to triumph over the physical—the real over the ideal—the social over the selfish-the true over the false.
We may now pause and contemplate the results of these mighty changes. In every part of the world the facts and forms of matter shall lose their control over the affections of men, the spiritual shall subdue the earthly, and the whole living race shall be absorbed in the glory of God. All ideal and visionary schemes will be lost in the richness and power of Divine realities : all cold and degrading selfishness merged in one grand and glorious Christian fellowship. Love—“ perfect love,” will fill every heart, beam from every eye, break from every tongue. Every one,
from the youngest to the oldest, shall be moved by the same rich, overflowing benevolence that gushes from the heart of the Saviour. The pilosophical spirit will have turned all its energies toward God and eternity. Minds with quickened power will rush out into every field of science to gather new truths, to illustrate the character of God and the reign of Messiah. In the light of indications clear to faith, even from our present standpoint, we may see much of the glories of such a triumph. What relief from the evils that now crush our enfeebled spirits—from the dismal night of infidelity-from the cruel injustice that wrongs our fellow-men-from the fell impurities that invade the sacredness of virtue—from the fearful oaths and blasphemies that break upon our ears. But let us extend the view :- What purity in the church in that bright day-what holy spirituality, what unity and power-what universal knowledge of the Scriptures-what clearness and force in preaching-what growth in grace-what bursting joy and shouts of triumph and hallelujahs will rend the heavens. Governments will have found their legitimate final cause in the greatest good of the whole. What relief, then, from the intrigues of designing men—from anarchy and oppressionfrom vicious laws and defective administration. Harmony in feeling, in purpose, in action, will have emancipated the science of government from its only embarrassments. Kings and queens shall become nursing fathers and mothers in Israel. And in very deed “the nations and kingdoms of this earth shall become the nations and kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.”
From another stand-point we shall better see the moral beauties of a redeemed world. 'Removed to the heights of glory we shall look out upon the new creation, and in shouts of joy swell the loud anthem of praise that rolls up from every land beneath the
Another scene of amazing grandeur will <pen at the judg. ment; when the vast generations of man shall await their doom from the lips of the Redeemer; when at his terrific sentence the wicked shall “ depart into everlasting fire”—and at his joyous command the righteous shall “enter into life eternal." "Then shall the triumph be complete.
1. From the whole it appears that the Saviour has deserved to conquer. His infinite merit, his unlimited power, his unfailing wisdom and exhaustless love are worthy of the triumphs indicated. His unwearied exertions for the lapse of ages, amid the revilings of his foes, have richly earned the victory. With what intense interest do we gaze upon him, as by the light of revelation he stands revealed--the mediator-in his toils and sufferings-in his entreaties and prayers, now in heaven; making the vast preparations which atonement requires; now on earth, proclaiming salvation-agonizing, dying—and again in heaven, betwixt guilty man and flaming justice, pleading for time, and moving the vast instrumentalities of redemption to save the souls of men. We watch every movement with deepest anxiety-tremble when victory seems doubtful, and rejoice with unutterable joy as he triumphs in the fearful strife.
2. Chiefly we would urge the vast power of the Saviour's example. We are soon weary under the burdens of the churchsoon discouraged when we see how hard a world this is to save. We ask with intense concern, “Is his mercy clean gone for ever; doth his promise fail forevermore ?” But let us listen to the answer of the holy prophet : “ He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law.” How severe a rebuke to our alarm, our discouragements! While Jesus remains upon the mediatorial throne, shall we yield under the pressure of difficulties? While he prays for his enemies, shall we abandon them? God forbid. At every instant of despondency, in every moment of defeat, let us remember the perseverance of Christ-righteous in its action, various in its expedients, against great difficulties, and long continued. If the church would receive its impulse from the action of Christ-if his mind were infused throughout the mass of bis disciples, what indomitable energy, what unconquerable resolution, what glorious triumph would mark her career.
3. How strong is the encouragement from the assurances of success. If we are inclined to despair, let us look at the triumph indicated, the triumph progressive, and the triumph complete. It must utterly destroy our unbelief to master these great and glorious truths. Nay, it must create A BURNING ZEAL to coöpsHIS LABORS, TO
PERSEVERANCE, AND SHARE HIS TRIUMPHS. May God grant for Christ's sake.
BY REV. S. D. BURCHARD, Pastor of Thirteenth - Street Presbyterian Church, New York.
THE PAST AND THE PRESENT.
“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on
eagles' wings and brought you unto myself.”—Exodus 19: 4.
Tuis passage has reference to the interposition and care of God's providence over the children of Israel. It is highly figurative. As an eagle bears her young upon her wings, so God had carried his people on the uplifted wing of his providence. Amicted and oppressed, he had inter, osed for their deliverance. He had shielded them amid persecution and peril. He had discomfited and confounded their enemies; had declared his interest in them by miracle and manifestation. The pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night; the miraculous supply of food and wa
ter; the defeat and destruction of their oppressors, are all illustrious examples of the Divine protection and providence.
A striking analogy may be traced between the children of Israel and our forefathers—the early settlers of this favored land. They too were oppressed and afflicted, and not permitted to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience.
At length they escaped from the land of cruel and oppressive laws, and came to this Western continent—the home which Providence had provided for them. Like the Israelites, they were sent into the wilderness to be educated, by danger and trial, for a noble destiny. Like the Israelites, they were compelled to do battle with the heathen and idolatrous tribes around them ; but, like the Israelitus, they were folded beneath the wing of a kind Providence. His ruling hand was as apparent in bringing our forefathers to this country, when yet a waste wilderness, and protecting them amid the perils of savage men, as it was when he led the Israelites out of Egypt and opened to them a passage through the Red Sea. If we study the features of their history, and the dealings of Divine Providence with them, we shall see how striking is the analogy, and how affectingly appropriate is the text to us as a nation. Or if we look back to the early history of this country, and contrast it with the present-if we compare its physical, political, educational, and religious aspects, then and now, we shall see how God has borne us, as on eagles' wings, and brought us to this land of heritage and blessing.
The Past and the Present then, is the theme to which we propose to call your attention. And, in the contrast and review, we hope to find abundant occasion of gratitude to God.
I. Let us, in the first place, contrast the past and present as pects of our country in a natural or physical point of view. If we go back to the landing of the Pilgrims, we see a band of heroic men and women driven by oppression from their altars and their homes in the old world. Like the Israelites, they had dared the waste of waters, the tempest and the cold, in search of a country, where God had planted the wilderness, as the place of their worship, and reared the mountain as the altar on which to offer their humble and acceptable sacrifice. They wanted no ecclesiastical architecture, no cathedral pomp of pillars and fret. ted vault, to impress them with religious awe. The broad, allbrilliant arch of heaven was their chosen temple, and the soft gush of bird-song was music more grateful to their taste than the chanted vespers of an ignorant and idolatrous service. God had kindly sheltered their little bark, as it plowed its feeble way onward through waters, which scarcely before had bathed with foam the prow of an emigrant ship. Like a lone bird, weary and wounded with its fierce battle with the storm, that bark, deeply freighted with the fathers and mothers of a great nation, folded its sails upon a new and inhospitable coast. We see this tempestworn ship lying there, so desolate upon the dreary shore; a few Indian fires sent up their dismal smoke in the dense forest; a few