Imágenes de páginas

the swelling corn ripening on its slender stem would point him to heaven.

I have been speaking of the mercy of God as exhibited in a general way in the almost every day occurrences of life. I should now wish to draw your attention to the particular object for which we are this day assembled within these walls. It has been the custom of all good men, in every age of the world, when they have been delivered from any threatening calamity, or rescued from any impending danger, to " praise the Lord for his goodness," and to declare, in the great congregation, "the wonders that he doeth for the children of men." Need I call your attention to that frightful disease which has so lately, and so severely visited this town and neighbourhood? every individual in this assembly must be tremblingly alive to the mercy of GOD in being spared amid the wreck of mortality-in being yet alive when hundreds have fallen on his right hand, and on his left. Never, perhaps, can history point to a time when an alarm so prevalent and universal, excited the feelings of the inhabitants of this country, as when that disease first made its appearance on our shores. All classes of persons, from the peer to the peasant, from the rich and mighty to the poor and impotent, regarded it with wonder and alarm, and shared alike in the general consternation. The temples of the land were crowded day and night by a people anxious for the safety of themselves and their families; and many were the public and private prayers that went up to the Lord of Lords to petition him to withdraw from our land that awful sickness. "What meaneth this?" was the language of thousands. The answer by some was because "the Lord was wrath with his people." Yet it cannot be denied that " others mocked." Nevertheless, I will venture

to affirm that every individual in this country, from one extremity of the kingdom to the other, in some measure, participated in this terror and alarm. We beheld it approaching us nearer and nearer; step by step it proceeded on its mission, marking its course by devastation and death. From town to town, and village to village in rapid succession it came on its way, till it arrived in our own neighbourhood, and commenced its devastation with unexampled fury on the borders of this town. Never can you forget the laudable exertions that were made on that occasion. Never can you sufficiently appreciate the benevolence and generosity of those, who came seasonably in their labour of love, to the comfort and relief of the sick and dying. Immense (perhaps unparalleled) were the contributions that swelled the coffers of charity: unanimous the assistance and co-operation of all ranks and classes of persons. Cold must be the heart, and insensible to every kindly feeling, that could see a whole nation sympathising in that suffering and distress ; could witness from east and west, from north and south, from the farthest extremity of this island, the hand of charity extended to the seat of sickness, and yet feel no emotions of gratitude and love. I feel a delicacy in performing this part of my duty, as it is more than probable I may be addressing some, whose friends and relatives have been attacked by this relentless destroyer, and gone down to the grave amid the general destruction. There may be, in this congregation, some whose memory even now turns to those whom they loved on earth, but who have been swept away by the torrent of devastation into the ocean of eternity. Many were the families that witnessed in their bosom scenes the most agonizing and heart-rending-many were the

brows on which rested in its wildest horror the darkness of despair-and many were the tears that flowed for the misery of others. Oh! with what breathless anxiety did you then listen | to the repeated tales of woe, when day after day you heard with an aching heart of some neighbour of your own, torn-suddenly torn-by the destroyer from his family, and numbered with the thousands of its victims. Your town presented to the view scenes of mortality-mortality in its most frightful form; while ever and anon the tidings of some recent attack, some unexpected visit, of this fell destroyer were told by agitated tongues, and felt by sorrowing hearts. These have passed away. The voice of joy and gladness is once more beard in your streets. The bustle of industry arouses the careless ear. The labour of the mechanic is resumed. The fearful and throbbing heart returns to its accustomed beat. Your families, to many of you, have been mercifully spared from this almost unprecedented calamity, your domestic endearments amid this general wreck of destruction have been wonderfully continued. The morning of light and life arises upon the deadness and darkness of night. It seems as if the "Lord was entreated for the land, and that the plague was stayed" amongst us. It seems as if the anger of Jehovah has been turned away from us, and that the rays of divine mercy have once more broken in upon the horizon of gloomy wrath.

and gracious being who inhabiteth eternity with the Psalmist of old, "If his wrath be kindled, yea but a little ;" and how feelingly should we add—“ blessed are all they that put their trust in him!" The loving kindness of the Lord should lead us to the great fountain of mercy and salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. From that source has flowed from ages back, even through eternity's immeasurable space, rivers and floods of compassion. To him, then, to the Saviour of the world, let the lips be turned to prayer. To him let the acceptable incense of a grateful heart ascend. Let the knees be bent in adoration to their God.

The mercy of GOD in sparing us, while so many have fallen violently, and sunk prematurely, into the grave, should teach us the alarming uncertainty of life, and lead us to repent


Short may be yet, to many of us, the scanty remnant of the years that are left; few may be the days ere we are engulfed in the tomb. Silent are the hours that are carrying us on their wings to the traveller's last home, the wanderer's rest: swift are those moments that are hurrying us to that bourne, from which none return, and where " the angel of repentance never enters." Yet time still remains. Days, and months, and years have passed away, yet "the Lord is long suffering to usward, and not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." He still wishes for the happiness and salvation of all his creatures. He still waits to be gracious, he beckons to the weary soul to flee to him and be at rest. Oh! then, " turn unto the Lord your GOD

The mercy of God in withdrawing from us this grievous disease-in rescuing us from its pestilential attacks when it raged at our very doors; in preserving us still alive when thou-while he may be found; call ye upon sands, the victims of its fury, have been gathered suddenly and awfully to the tomb, should have a salutary effect upon the hearts of all. Oh! how truly may we say, of that good

him while he is near," and thus turning, and thus calling, the God of heaven will abundantly pardon.

The mercy of GoD should lead us, likewise, to a deep humiliation, not

only for national, but individual, sins. | shall rise to the resurrection of life,

That all "have sinned and come short
of the glory of GoD," is a truth en-
graven on the heart of every indivi-
dual before me. We find rebellion
against GOD entombed in the inmost
mind, we see it stamped in legible
characters in the world around us;
we hear of it in the every day occur-
rences of life. Still-still we are en-
treated to bend the stubborn heart;
to "look unto the rock whence we are
hewn; to come to the Lord Jesus
Christ in humility and godly sincerity.
Soon we know not how soon-the
day of probation to each and all of
us must draw to a close; the sun of
mercy must set for ever, The awful
glories of the last judgment will soon
be unfolded, when the humble and
penitent enquirer, the sincere follower
of Jesus Christ shall be eternally re-
warded. The hour is fast approach-
ing when every veil shall be torn
aside, and "they that have done good

and they that have done evil to the
resurrection of damnation." Where-
fore, brethren, by the eternal GOD, I
beseech you, "give diligence to make
your calling and election sure."
"Repent, therefore, and turn to the
Lord to-day, whilst it yet may be
called to-day, lest any of you be
hardened through the deceitfulness
of sin :-cast away from you all your
ungodliness that ye have done: make
you new hearts and a new spirit, for
why will ye die, O house of Israel?”
"And do thou, O merciful father,
who hast made all men, and hatest
nothing that thou hast made, but for-
givest the sins of all them that are
penitent; create and make in us new
and contrite hearts, that we, worthily
lamenting our sins, and acknowledg-
ing our wretchedness, may obtain of
thee, the God of all mercy, perfect
remission and forgiveness, through
Jesus Christ our Lord."

A Sermon,



Exodus, xx. 4, 5.-Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not how down thyself to them, nor serve them: for 1 the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

THE signification of this command- | it directed against the worshipping of ment is, not to prohibit the imitative a material object as a deity, since this arts, such as painting and sculpture, is provided against in the first comsince Jehovah himself commanded mandment, which forbids man to have Moses to make the cherubic figures any other GOD except Jehovah. But which overshadowed the mercy seat the object of worship having been rein the holy of holies, and, at a sub-gulated in the first commandment, sequent period, commanded him to this second seems to be intended to make a serpent of brass. Neither is regulate the mode of worshipping

him, namely, the prohibiting the use of material representations. For this commandment GOD, who delights in receiving the intelligent service of his creatures, has been pleased to communicate the reason; namely, that he is "a jealous God"—that is, cautious lest the honor and service due to him alone should be alineated from himself and bestowed upon any thing else. He, also, menaces the violation of this commandment by announcing a rule of his conduct, that "he visits the sins of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation ;" and encourages obedience to it by declaring, that "he shows mercy unto thousands in them that love him, and keep his command-rest, have usually regarded him as ments." residing in the highest region of the

commandment, it means the worship of the one only true God by the use of symbols. Mankind have, in every age, acknowledged some beings superior to themselves to whom they have ascribed the possession of greater or less perfections, and whom they have styled their deities. These imaginary beings they have, no doubt, in general begun by believing to be either spiritual, and therefore not discernible—or else to be so far removed from the earth as not to be visible owing to their distance—or as rarely, if ever, becoming the object of the human senses. Thus, those of mankind who have believed in the existence of one deity, superior to all the


First place. To state the genU

In attempting to illustrate this pre-heavens, or the inaccessible summit cept, I shall endeavour in the of a mountain; inferior deities they have considered as occupying the atmosphere, far removed, however, from the sight of mankind; and those departed heroes whom they have raised to the rank of divinities


Thirdly-CONTEMPLATE THE THREA- they have believed to be assembled

in some distant and celestial empire.




"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thy self to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy GOD am a jealous GOD, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

In the first place, I shall endeavour TO STATE THE GENUINE NATURE OF IDOLATRY. It has been previously intimated that, as prohibited in this

Although mankind have inferred the existence and history of these supposed beings, either from the phenomena of the universe, or they have believed them upon the authority of ancestors, it seems nearly certain that they have uniformly considered them as real beings, very different in their own nature from those effects in the air, the ocean, and the earth, which they have ascribed to them; in a word, as intelligent, real personages. Accordingly there is reason to think, that the belief in different supposed deities, is first in the order of ideas, and more ancient in the history of mankind than the use of images. In the inspired history of mankind before the deluge there is no mention whatever of any material representation, either of the true, or of any false

many of the heathens themselves had no images of their deities. It is asserted by the ancient historian Herodotus, that the ancient Persians had none. It is stated by Plutarch, another historian, that the first Romans had no images, for the first one hundred and seventy years; and further, that Numa the second Roman King forbade the people to represent GOD in any form, either of a man or any other animal; and accordingly he adds, "they had neither any painted nor engraved figure of him for the first hundred and seventy years, but temples void of any image or shape, thinking it impious to liken a superior nature to inferior ones, and impossible to attain the notion of GoD otherwise than from the understanding." Varro, a Roman historian, living very nearly upon the latter times of the Roman empire, after having recorded the same fact, that the founders of the Roman empire worshipped the gods during the first hundred and seventy years without any visible representation, says, "and had they never had any, their religion had been purer;" for which amongst other evidence he brings that of the Jewish people, and scruples not to say in conclusion, "that they who first set up images of the gods in the several nations lessened the reverence of their countrymen to-operations except those which are wards them, and introduced error." thus connected with material things, It is also stated by Herodotus, that the that their difficulty arises to imagine Egyptians claimed the invention of or retain the imagination of a spiritimages as an honour. From these ab- ual or unseen Being. It seems to stract considerations, and from these require, even in a mind educated in historical statements it appears evi- these perceptions, a very considerdent, that the belief in the existence able effort, in order to sustain them and attributes of superior beings ex- for a long time together, as all peristed among mankind, long before the sons will attest who have found device was adopted of representing to their most abstract perceptions imthe senses their supposed forms, attri- perceptibly clothing themselves in butes, perfections, or offices, by images. representations, and have felt the tendency of the perceptions of the mind, to assume the semblance of

GOD. In the early ages of the world | images into the worship of the true or of false gods is to be ascribed. The proximate cause may not impossibly be, the natural difficulty which the human mind sustains in the apprehension of an invisible object. It is evident that all the ideas possessed by mankind, even those which are most abstract, may be analyzed, and traced down to their admission in the form of sensible ideas, through one or other of those five senses, through which we receive the knowledge of the qualities of the material creation. It is also evident, that by far the greater proportion of all the mental intercourse of man is with the material world. The vast majority of the human race, in all ages, are almost totally occupied in the impressions that are made upon the sight, the touch, the taste, the smell, and the hearing. The employment of contemplating the impressions thus made on the senses, and the combination of them into new ideas, being the employment of that comparative small class of the species, the poets, the philosophers, and the thinkers of every order. But even in the case of the latter, the origin of all their mental materials is the impression made upon the bodily senses. It is owing to the fact that the bulk of mankind have scarcely any mental


It is, however, interesting to inquire to what causes the introduction of

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