תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

with grief. Behold him without guile, condemned for an impostor ; without sin, sustaining the punishment due to all the sin that ever was committed. He was wounded, but it was for our transgressions ; he was bruised, but our iniquities bruised him. He carried our sorrows, because he bore our sins in his own body on the tree. There love regained what pride had lost; and the wound made in our nature by the fruit of the tree of knowledge, was healed by the leaves of the tree of life. The gates of Paradise were again unbarred, and the kingdom of heaven opened to all believers.

To combat the vain wisdom of the Greek, and the self-justifying arrogance of the Jew, the apostles were sent forth.

“ The Lord gave the word ; great " was the company of those who published it.” The Philistine held not David in greater contempt than was poured upon them by the Scribe and the disputer of this world. But they went to the attack, as David did, " in the name of the Lord of hosts ;” and therefore the spear and the shield were of no account against them. God was with them, no less than with Israel before Jericho. Again the trumpet sounded; the walls again fell flat. The strong holds of false knowledge could not stand before the Gospel, and human imagination was soon captivated to the obedience of Christ. Blasted by the lightning of inspired eloquence, the arm of false philosophy withered and lost all its hold on the minds of men. Then kings with their armies did flee and were discomfited. They were assembled against the church, as clouds, in black and dark array, portending her utter destruction; but at God's rebuke they fled; at the voice of his word, more powerful than the thunder in the heavens, they passed by together. They saw the effects of it, and so they marvelled; they were troubled, and hasted away. They acted the parts assigned them for a time, and then disappeared from the stage for ever. The Roman empire wondered to see itself Christian; to see the cross exalted in tri. umph over the globe, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ. But what was it that gained this victory over the pride of earth and hell? What, but the same allsuffering, and therefore all-subduing, charity, which taught the disciples of a crucified Jesus, after his ex- . ample, to endure all things for the salvation of their brethren? Inspired with that love, they counted all things which the world could give thein but loss, that they might win souls to Christ. They renounced all riches but the riches of grace; they sought nó pleasure but that of doing their duty; and thought it honour sufficient to serve God. Labour, with persecution, they chose for their portion on earth, and looked for their advancement with their Master in the kingdom of heaven. The lamp, kindled in their hearts by the celestial fire of charity, never went out; the many waters of affliction could not quench it, neither could the floods of persecution drown it; and when the fury of the oppressor broke the earthen vessel that contained it, then was their victory, like that of Gideon, complete.

If, in the last place, we view the unity of the primitive church, as opposed to the sad divisions and

distractions since produced by heresy and schism, it will appear that charity built up that solid and durable edifice, so different from the airy, fantastic structures of men puffed up in their fleshly minds. As at the formation of the church the Spirit descended upon the disciples, when “they were all “ with one accord in one place,” so, in like manner, after more were added to them, it is remarked, for our instruction, that “the multitude of the believers “ were of one heart and one mind.” The spirit of unity knit all the members together, insomuch that if one member suffered, the rest sympathized with it, and the honour of one was the glory of all. Each had its distinct office in a due subordination, but all conspired to preserve and support the body, to which all were necessary: and thus they " “ him in all things, who is the head, even Christ, " from whom the whole body, fitly joined together, " and compacted by that which every joint suppli“eth, according to the effectual working in the mea

sure of every part, made increase of the body to “the edifying itself in love."

Wherefore, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses to the truth of both propositions contained in the text, all the inhabitants of heaven, and the generations of men, and the spirits in the infernal prison, being engaged on the side of one or other of them, what remains, but that we endeavour to escape the punishment by avoiding the crime of those who bear a mournful testimony to the truth of the former, and that we aspire after the reward by copying the example of those who joyfully

grew up into

attest the certainty of the latter. It is our happiness to live in a University, endowed by the liberality of founders and benefactors for our improvement in knowledge. As such she has long flourished; and her renown has gone forth into all lands. Long may she so flourish, even to the years of many generations, and lift up her sacred towers as long as the sun and the moon shall endure, above all her enemies round about; never reduced to the necessity of subsisting upon her former reputation, but still reaping a fresh harvest from the learning of her children! Upon them all eyes are turned. The advantages they enjoy of devotion, solitude, leisure, and a mutual intercourse of study-advantages extolled and envied by all but such as have neglected to use them-loudly call upon them to be ever vigilant, and most exceedingly zealous for the interest and honour of their common parent; to see that she decline not with a declining world, nor become infected with the corrupt and erroneous principles of a licentious and ungodly age; but that she follow after such a knowledge as may profit, and use that knowledge aright unto edification. For if even the knowledge that can save works destruction, unless brought into action by charity, what shall we say, in the day when we are judged, should we be found to have laboured after a knowledge that cannot save? . Our founders (let it never be forgotten) were the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the friends of mankind; and if ever the glory of the one and the good of the other directed the actions of any men, they certainly were the motives of planting these illustrious seminaries of truth and piety. Let the knowledge that tends to promote this blessed end, such a knowledge as charity may employ to the use of edifying, be, therefore, the grand subject of all our studies, and the daily entertainment of our most serious thoughts. This wisdom is the principal thing, therefore let us get it; and with all our gettings, let us get this understanding. And, wben in the well-spent hours of a studious retirement we shall have secured the inestimable treasure, let charity go forth and disperse it abroad; for so the blessed saint of this day, having been trained to knowledge in the school of solitude, was called forth to action upon the theatre of the world. Sequestered for a season from the scenes of vanity and iniquity, he passed his first years in the recesses of the desert, under the discipline of the Holy Ghost, the tuition of angels, and in conversation with God by meditation and prayer. But when in the providential disposition of men and things, the day came for his “ showing unto Israel,” then he brake forth like a stream from the bowels of the earth, or the sun from a cloud, to refresh the thirsty soul with the glad tidings of the Gospel, and enlighten the world with the glorious truths of the kingdom of heaven; hereby showing us, that knowledge and charity between them make up the character of a minister of Christ. Charity cannot edify without knowledge, nor will knowledge edify without charity. Let our retirement, therefore, resemble that of the Baptist, that our manifestation also may be like his, and that as our charity abounds in knowledge, our knowledge may not be unfruitful in charity. So shall

« הקודםהמשך »