Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

the privileges of our city here below, do our advancing steps towards the eternal world serve constantly to remind us, that here we have no permanent dwelling. The aggregate of days that have passed by us, the yearly seasons, the scenes of life, and periods of age, since we came into possession of our privileges-since we first knew our dwellings, walked our streets, and entered our sanctuaries, and heard the words of God-are so many advances towards eternity; and tell, as they thicken on the path we leave, how soon we reach the close of our pilgrimage, and enter upon unknown worlds.

We have another constant memento of the fact, again, in our inability of prolonging our continuance in the world. We have constant notices around us of our frailty, and inability to continue to ourselves our present privileges for the future. Even in the city of our privileges below, do we see ourselves hurried on, by an unseen hand we cannot control; the almighty Guide who conducts us seems unwilling we should stay; the God of our spirits, who goes with us, designs we should have our settled dwelling in eternity; and soon he will bring us to the gates of the city, and, at the bidding we cannot resist, must we take our leave of it for eternity. Around us, every thing is betokening his design of our departure, and our inability to prolong our stay. The frail hold we take of every earthly possession tells that our grasp on none is for eternity. We are hurried on from object to object, before we can call any thing ours. We meet friends, but, while we cling to them, the unseen hand of Providence tears us away from their embrace. Beauty we would linger here to admire, but, while we look, the grace of the fashion of it perisheth. Power just takes us by the hand, and bids us adieu to greet a successor. Fame crowns us with her wreath, but, while we feel the rising flush of joy, she plucks it off to sport with others. Wealth comes to feast us, and roll us in his car of pleasures, and, while accepting his proposals, he dismisses us to tempt some other pilgrims on their way to eternity. The un

seen band of Providence thus tears us away from object after object, to show that here is not our rest, and that our hold on earth is frail and giving way. Around the city of our habitation, too, are the messengers he sends to warn us of this approaching departure. Decay stands with tottering limbs and feeble breath, and lisps to us, with dying lise, that we draw nigh the gates of our habitation, and soon will leave it for eternal worlds. Diseasesbusy messengers-fly here and there, to tell us of our frail abode, and whisper in our ears “ eternity.” Death, armed with resistless power, stands with his commissions, and their unknown dates, to lead us out of our residence below, and bar on us its gates forever. Every where in the city of our abode are we reminded, that we have not the power to prolong our stay in it, and that soon we shall leave its privileges, its dwellings, its streets, its sanctuaries, its Scriptures, its busy throng, for eternity.

There is another means reminding us constantly of this fact—the voice of God. In the city of our habitation below, God has published his glories, his statutes, his offers of pardon and assistance, for our use as sojourners here, who are passing to eternity. He, the infinite Being, who is from everlasting to everlasting himself, has conferred on us an existence, that is to continue and grow up by the side of his, through everlasting ages. He has beheld us, in the first stages of our being here, engaged in unrighteous rebellion against his authority, and bent on neglect of his glories; and, moved with pity, sent his everlasting Son to atone for our guilt, and to call us to repentance, and his Holy Spirit to indite his will, and influence us to obedience. In our habitation we have his word; here temples are erected for his service; a day is appointed by him for men to assemble; ministers commissioned to teach ; and they who love his name speak to one another and to their fellow-men of his designs. Wherever we go, then, the voice of God is reaching us, and re-echoing the truth that we are beings whose final dwelling-place is eternity, and who have here no continuing city. The bible, wherever it meets our eye, reiterates the voice of God, that we must die and rise again in other worlds. In - each reproof of conscience, his awful voice is heard to

speak a reckoning day in eternity. In each act we do for God or for his kingdom here, his voice of love whispers of eternal joys. Each revolving Sabbath, with its pealing bells, and open sanctuaries, and solemn rites, bears on its hours his voice, that warns us of an abode in heaven or hell. Each sermon is the call he makes to hear his voice to-day. In each season of prayer we hear him say, that we have not reached our home-that we are pilgrims here. From the throne of glory, on which he will sit in judgment, and assign us our dwelling in eternity, the Savior now sends down the voice of monition; and while it rolls round the world we dwell in, ten thousand messengers echo back the voice to our ears, that “ here we have no continuing city.”

[ocr errors][merged small]

Wayland. Let us pause for a moment, and inquire whether, in addition to its moral efficacy, the BIBLE may pot exert a powerful influence on the intellectual character of man.

And here it is scarcely necessary that I should remark, that of all the books with which, since the invention of writing, this world has been deluged, the number of those is very small which have produced any perceptible effect on the mass of human character. By far the greater part have been, even by their contemporaries, unnoticed and unknown. Not many a one has made its little mark upon the generation that produced it, though it sunk with that generation to utter forgetfulness. But after the ceaseless toil of six thousand years, how few have been the works, the adamantine basis of whose reputation has stood unhurt amid the fluctuations of time, and whase impres

sion can be traced through successive centuries on the history of our species.

When, however, such a work appears, its effects are absolutely incalculable ; and such a work, you are aware, is the Iliad of Homer. Who can estimate the results produced by this incomparable effort of a single mind! Who can tell what Greece owes to this first born of song Her breathing marbles, ber solemn temples, her unrivaled eloquence, and her matchless verse, all point us to that transcendant genius, who by the very splendor of his own effulgence, woke the human intellect from the slumber of ages. It was Homer who gave laws to the artist; it was Homer who inspired the poet; it was Homer who thundered in the senate; and more than all, it was Honer who was sung by the people; and hence a nation was cast into the mould of one mighty mind, and the land of the lliad became the region of taste, the birth-place of the arts. Nor was this influence confined within the limits of Greece. Long after the sceptre of empire had passed westward, genius still held her court on the banks of the Ilyssus, and from the country of Homer gave laws to the world. The light, which the blind old man of Scio had kindled in Greece, shed its radiance over Italy, and thus did he awaken a second nation to intellectual existence. And we may form some idea of the power, which this one work has to the present day exerted over the mind of man, by remarking, that “nation after nation, and century after century, has been able to do little more than transpose his incidents, new name his characters, and paraphrase his sentiinents.”

But considered siinply as an intellectual production, who will compare the poems of Homer with the Holy scriptures of the old and new testament. Where in the Iliad shall we find simplicity and pathos, which shall vie with the narrative of Moses, or maxims of conduct to equal in wisdom the Proverbs of Solomon, or sublimity, which does not fade away before the conceptions of Job or David, of Isaiah or St. John. But I cannot pursue this comparison. I feel that it is doing wrong to the mind which dictated the Iliad, and to those other mighty intellects on whom the light of the holy oracles never shined. Who that has read his poem has not observed how he strove in vain to give dignity to the mythology of his time? Who has not seen how the religion of his country, unable to support the flight of his imagination, sunk powerless beneath him? It is the unseen world, where the master spirits of our race breathe freely and are at home; and it is mournful to behold the intellect of Homer striving to free itself from the conceptions of materialism, and then sinking down in hopeless despair to weave idle fables of Jupiter and Juno, Apollo or Diana. But the difficulties under which he labored are abundantly illustrated by the fact, that the light, which he poured upon the human intellect, taught other ages how unworthy was the religion of his day, of the man who was compelled to use it. "It seems to me," says Longinus, “ that Homer, when he ascribes dissensions, jealousies, tears, imprisonments, and other afflictions to his Deities, hath, as much as was in his power, made the men of the Iliad gods, and the gods men. To man when afflicted, death is the termination of evils; but he hath made not only the nature but the miseries of the gods eternal.” If then so great results have flowed from this one effort of a single mind, what may we not expect from the combined efforts of several, at least his equals in power over the human heart? If that one genius, though groping in the thick darkness of absurd idolatry, wrought so glorious a transformation in the character of his countrymen, what may we not look for from the universal dissemination of those writings, on whose authors was poured the full splendor of eternal truth? If unassisted human nature, spell bound by a childish mythology, have done so much, what may we not hope for from the supernatural efforts of pre-eminent genius, which spake as it was moved by the Holy Ghost.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »