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fabricks of pagan philosophy, which spread almost instanta. neously through the civilized world in opposition to the prejudices, the pride and the persecution of the times, which has already had the most beneficial influence on society, and been the source of almost all the melioration of the human character, and which is now the chief support of the harmony, the domestick happiness, the morals and the intellectual improvement of the best part of the world-will you believe, I say, that this system originated in the unaided reflections of twelve Jewish fishermen on the sea of Galilee, with the son of a carpenter at their head? Or will you admit a supposition, which solves all the wonders of this case, which accounts at once for the perfection of the system, and the miracle of its propagation, that Jesus was, as he professed to be, the prophet of God, and that his apostles were, as they declared, empowered to perform the miracles, which subdued the incredulity of the world.
I appeal to you, ye departed masters of pagan wisdom, Plato, Socrates, Cicero, which of these alternatives is the most rational, the most worthy of a philosophical assent? Your systems have passed away, like the light clouds, which chase one another over the hemisphere; but the gospel of Jesus Christ, the sun of righteousness, pursues its equal and luminous career, uninterrupted and unobscured. Surely, if a miracle of the New Testament is incredible, what will you say of the enormous faith of a man, who believes in that monster of improbability, which we have described,, the simply human origin and progress of christianity?
On the importance of Christian faith.-BUCKMINSTER.
THE value of christian faith may be estimated from the consolations it affords.
Who would look back upon the history of the world with the eye of incredulity, after having once read it with the eye of faith? To the man of faith it is the story of God's operations. To the unbeliever it is only the record of the strange sports of a race of agents, as uncontrolled, as they are unaccountable. To the man of faith every portion of history is part of a vast plan, conceived, ages ago, in the mind of Omnipotence, which has been fitted precisely to the
period it was intended to occupy. The whole series of events forms a magnificent and symmetrical fabrick to the eye of pious contemplation; and though the dome be in the clouds, and the top, from its loftiness, be indiscernible to mortal vision, yet the foundations are so deep and solid, that we are sure they are intended to support something permanent and grand.
To the skeptick all the events of all the ages of the world are but a scattered crowd of useless and indigested materials. In his mind all is darkness, all is incomprehensible. The light of prophecy illuminates not to him the obscurity of ancient annals. He sees in them reither design nor operation, neither tendencies nor conclusions. To him the wonderful knowledge of one people is just as interesting, as the desperate ignorance of another. In the deliverance, which God has sometimes wrought for the oppressed, he sees nothing but the fact; and in the oppression and decline of haughty empires, nothing but the common accidents of national fortune. Going about to account for events, according to what he calls general laws, he never for a moment considers, that all laws, whether physical, political, or moral, imply a legislator, and are contrived to serve some purpose. Because he cannot always, by his shortsighted vision, discover the tendencies of the mighty events, of which this earth has been the theatre, he looks on the drama of existence around him as proceeding without a plan. Is that principle, then, of no importance, which raises man above what his eyes see, or his ears hear, or his touch feels, at present, and shows him the vast chain of human events, fastened eternally to the throne of God, and returning, after embracing the universe, again to link itself to the footstool of Omnipotence?
Would you know the value of this principle of faith to the bereaved? Go, and follow a corpse to the grave. See the body deposited there, and hear the earth thrown in upon all that remains of your friend. Return now, if you' will, and brood over the lesson, which your senses have given you, and derive from it what consolation you can. You have learned nothing but an unconsoling fact. No voice of comfort issues from the tomb. All is still there, and blank and lifeless, and has been so for ages.
You see nothing but bodies dissolving and successively mingling with the clods, which cover them, the grass growing over the spot, and the trees waving in sullen majesty
over this region of eternal silence. And what is there more? Nothing?-Come, faith, and people these deserts! Come, and reanimate these regions of forgetfulness! Mothers! take again your children to your arms, for they are living. Sons! your aged parents are coming forth in the vigour of regenerated years. Friends! behold, your dearest connexions are waiting to embrace you. The tombs are burst. Generations, long since lost in slumbers, are awaking. They are coming from the east and the west, from the north and from the south, to constitute the community of the blessed.
But it is not in the loss of friends alone, that faith furnishes consolations, which are inestimable. With a man of faith not an affliction is lost, not a change is unimproved. He studies even his own history with pleasure, and finds it full of instruction. The dark passages of his life are illuminated with hope: and he sees, that, although he has passed through many dreary defiles, yet they have opened at last into brighter regions of existence. He recals, with a species of wondering gratitude, periods of his life, when all its events seemed to conspire against him. Hemmed in by straitened circumstances, wearied with repeated blows of unexpected misfortune, and exhausted with the painful anticipation of more, he recollects years, when the ordinary love of life could not have retained him in the world. Many a time he might have wished to lay down his being in disgust, had not something more than the senses provide us with kept up the elasticity of his mind. He yet lives, and has found that light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright
The man of faith discovers some gracious purpose in every combination of circumstances. Wherever he finds himself, he knows that he has a destination—he has, therefore, a duty. Every event has, in his eye, a tendency and an aim. Nothing is accidental, nothing without a purpose, nothing unattended with benevolent consequences. Every thing on earth is probationary, nothing ultimate. He is poor perhaps his plans have been defeated-he finds it difficult to provide for the exigencies of life-sickness is permitted to invade the quiet of his household-long confinement imprisons his activity, and cuts short the exertions, on which so many depend something apparently unlucky mars his best plansnew failures and embarrassments among his friends present themselves, and throw additional obstructions in his waythe world look on, and say, all these things are against him.
Some wait coolly for the hour, when he shall sink under the complicated embarrassments of his cruel fortune. Others, of a kinder spirit, regard him with compassion, and wonder how he can sustain such a variety of wo. A few there are, a very few I fear, who can understand something of the serenity of his mind, and comprehend something of the nature of his fortitude. There are those, whose sympathetick piety can read and interpret the characters of resignation on his brow. There are those, in fine, who have felt the influence of faith.
In this influence there is nothing mysterious, nothing ro, mantick, nothing of which the highest reason may be ashamed. It shows the christian his God, in all the mild majesty of his parental character. It shows you God, disposing in still and benevolent wisdom the events of every individual's life, pressing the pious spirit with the weight of calamity to increase the elasticity of the mind, producing characters of unexpected worth by unexpected misfortune, invigorating certain virtues by peculiar probations, thus breaking the fetters which bind us to temporal things, and
From seeming evil still educing good,
And better thence again, and better still,
When the sun of the believer's hopes, according to common calculations, is set, to the eye of faith it is still visible. When much of the rest of the world is in darkness, the high ground of faith is illuminated with the brightness of religious consolation.
Come, now, my incredulous friends, and follow me to the bed of the dying believer. Would you see, in what peace a christian can die? Watch the last gleams of thought, which stream from his dying eyes. Do you see any thing like apprehension? The world, it is true, begins to shut in. The shadows of evening collect around his senses. A dark mist thickens and rests upon the objects, which have hitherto engaged his observation. The countenances of his friends become more and more indistinct. The sweet expressions of love and friendship are no longer intelligible. His ear wakes no more at the well-known voice of his children, and the soothing accents of tender affection die away, unheard, upon his decaying senses. To him the spectacle of human life is drawing to its close, and the curtain is descending, which shuts out this earth, its actors, and its scenes. He is no longer interested in all that is done under the sun.
O! that I could now open to you the recesses of his soul; that I could reveal to you the light, which darts into the chambers of his understanding. He approaches the world, which he has so long seen in faith. The imagination now collects its diminished strength, and the eye of faith opens wide.
Friends! do not stand, thus fixed in sorrow, around this bed of death. Why are you so still and silent? Fear not to move-you cannot disturb the last visions, which entrance this holy spirit. Your lamentations break not in upon the songs of seraphs, which enwrap his hearing in ecstasy. Crowd, if you choose, around his couch-he heeds you not -already he sees the spirits of the just advancing together to receive a kindred soul. Press him not with importunities; urge him not with alleviations. Think you he wants now these tones of mortal voices-these material, these gross consolations? No! He is going to add another to the myriads of the just, that are every moment crowding into the portals of heaven!
He is entering on a nobler life. He leaves you-he leaves you, weeping children of mortality, to grope about a little longer among the miseries and sensualities of a worldly life. Already he cries to you from the regions of bliss. Will you not join him there? Will you not taste the sublime joys of faith? There are your predecessors in virtue; there, too, are places left for your contemporaries. There are seats for you in the assembly of the just made perfect, in the innumerable company of angels, where is Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and God, the judge of all.
"All things are of God."-MOORE.
THOU art, O God, the life and light
Of all this wondrous world we see;
Are but reflections caught from thee.