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PSALM xlvi. 10.
“BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT I GOD: 1
BE EXALTED AMONG THE HEATHEN, I WILL BE EXALTED IN THE EARTH.”
The lessons taught us in this psalm are brief, but weighty. They are chiefly these—the stability and security of the church under the covenanted tutelage of Almighty God, contrasted with the fluctuations and restlessness of the surrounding world, changing in its social and national appearances—one wide theatre of convulsion and overthrow, likened to the wild and frantic sea, when tempest-wrought, or to the solid earth when torn with inward throes, and uplifted by volcanic forces from its quiet ; even its massive mountains are uprooted, and hurled as avalanches into the abyss of angry waters. This imagery, so bold and sublime, is expressly used to represent to us the condition of nations in times extraordinarily eventful. “ The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved.” Again, the scenes of belligerent nations rise before us ; the bow, the spear, the chariot, the whole array and panoply of mighty hosts eager for the contest,
and flushed with hopes of victory, stand before us; their masses drawn out in lurid pomp, their compact and solid phalanxes, their intrepid mien, their shouts of defiance; man intermingled with man, foot with foot, while death riots in this field of blood, as the genius of the scene, high upon his “pale horse," and hell follows him. The presence and the sovereignty of God are in this instance brought out with great effect. He utters his voice only, in dread rebuke, and the earth melts beneath the avenging oracle. He is beheld above the huge hosts of combatants in the gory field. He is higher than any of the legendary divinities, whom poets of old fabulously enthroned as guardians of states, or the lords of battle. “ He breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in sunder, and burns the chariot in the fire.” His desolations are beheld in the scourge of wide wasting wars, in the issues of all tumultuous action, in the dissolution of polities, and the shifting apportionment of earth's territories amongst its various races--the preponderance of some and the debasement of others, as Egypt, to be exalted no more in the rank of nations. “Come, behold the works of the Lord."
The application of religious principles to public events is the duty here commanded; by the sudden and wonder-working efficacy of causes usually regular, however potent, sweeping on in a career of change and desolation with unchecked fury, like the earthquake, or the storm, before which all nature bows and staggers, as if her mighty pillars were yielding to the blows of an unseen hand, quivering and agonized, as in her very mortal throes, the types and precursors of the last dread day of God.
To this duty Christian people are now summoned, by more than a trumpet's blast. The sounds of the ocean's waves wax louder, and louder, in our ears. The waters of many people lift up their voice-“the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." The earthquake repeats its shocks, till a whole continent reverberates with its force. Mountains, in the forms of thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, are rocked on their basements, or are hurled from their eminency, to be lost in the waterfloods of popular anarchy. The long truce of the destructive elements has been portentously broken, and their momentum seems to be proportionate to the time and profundity in which they have slept. It seems, as if a more than thirty years deep peace, was but the gathering of the demon energies of war, and for the accumulation of resources, which would triumph in an instant, when once called into action. No living man, nor even one of the generations already gathered to their fathers, has witnessed events, with their forecasting shadows, bearing any parallel with those, ushered in by a few brief weeks of the current year. Wars, and rumours of wars, on
a scale ever so extended, or in characters of the tragic ever so terrible, were material and vulgar concerns, surface irruptions on society, and involving only surface interests, compared with these. The whole spirit of society is revolutionized, and its framework dashed to pieces, by forces long collecting, but instantly summoned to do their work. It is, as if a whole continental territory had suddenly shifted place under the feet of its nations, or a new conformation, agreeably to geological speculations, were being superinduced upon the sunk strata of the old. It looks just now, as if the world were waking from long oblivion, to some newly discovered objects, or modes of being, entering, as with a sudden birth pang, on some fresh career of life—as one possessing powers, of which he had yet to learn the use-a capacity to translate himself into some vacant portion of the universe, or to expatiate in his old abode, as if but newly born. Venerable institutions, such as time had made hoary and honourable, are disdained, as the baubles of childhood, the appendages of the nursery. Kings are cast down, as the mighty from their seats. Crowns perish as garlands in the grasp of popular fury; or, if spared, only survive as fiefs from the sovreignty of the people. Order ceases in uproar, Law cannot be overheard, amidst the din and bray of civil discord, while Justice seems about to drop both her balances and her sword together. The gradations of society fast disappear, and the foundations of the social structure are in no small danger of being overturned, and ploughed up. The vast social mass, is with comparative exceptions, in a state of fusion, everywhere prepared to take new moulds, and to be recast, and consolidated, by the hand of time, and the will of man.
We do indeed now behold, “what desolations he hath made in the earth.” The work of ages has been done in a day-the chaotic state marvellously induced, as the conclusion of unnumbered social epochs-and the rudiments of a new political creation are prepared, in the confluence of the mightiest elements of mind contained in the whole wide world. It is Europe that gives law and destiny to the world. Asia is decrepit, America is in her childhood, Africa in savagism. Europe is in full age, her civilization is normal to the entire planet, her tribes are the masters of entire humanity. All of worth contained in the residue, is a derivation of her greatness, a redundancy of her plenitude, a reflection of her glory. Her arts, and arms, her literature, philosophy, commerce, enterprize, are the treasury of the globe. Her sons bear sway in all lands. Her ships whiten every sea, and swell in every gale. It is Europe, that colonizes the waste, peoples solitude, multiplies cities, and pours the tide of social energy to the ends of the earth. The regeneration