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receiving the amount of it, should break out into expressions of aslonishment at the consequences of presenting it? We should say, “Surely, this person is no merchant, or man of business : if he were, he would know that there is nothing strange in what astonishes him; he evidently did not expect such results, or they would not so much surprise him; if he understand the transaction of business in general, it is plain, that in this instance he either suspected the genuineness of the draft, or the solvency of the bank." Now is not much of our surprise, on receiving answers to prayer, liable to similar remarks? May not the experienced Christian, who lives much in prayer, and is strong in faith, say, Surely, these persons must be strangely under the influence of unbelief; for they plainly, either doubted the truth of the promises they pleaded, or the power of God to perform them. Now since by our unbelief we lay ourselves open to such censures as these, is it surprising that our prayers in many instances are apparently unheard and disregarded ? No: it is exactly what might have been expected; for our Lord says, “ according to your faith, be it unto you."
But there are some things requisite, in order to the consistent exercise of unshaken faith, which must be mentioned ; lest from forgetting them, our faith degenerate into presumption. we offer, must not only be for promised spiritual blessings, but it must be offered in the name of Jesus. To advert to Him in our supplications, as the being for whose sake alone we plead, will destroy that unbelief which originates in conscious guilt and unworthi
Often do we feel emotions which may be thus expressed : Alas! it is but presumption for me to pray and expect a blessing. I am so deeply sinful—so utterly unworthy. But what then? Have we forgotten that our prayers are not presented in our own name, but in that of Jesus?" Our unworthiness presents no obstacle to the fulfilment of the promise, for it is in Christ that the promises are Yea and Amen. The promises are drafts payable to the bearer, without reference to his own unworthiness or guilt; and they are honored because of the wealth and credit (i. e. righteousness) of Him in whom they are Yea and Amen.
Again, The prayer we offer must be fervent, or we cannot consistently expect acceptance. God has said, not only that every one that seeketh findeth ; but that to find Him we must not expect, till we seek him with all the heart. Jer. xxix. 13.
Perseverance, also, must characterize our approaches to God, if we would exercise confidence of acceptance; for the exhortation is, “Continue in prayer." Paul besought the Lord thrice, thus exemplifying in himself what he requires of others; namely, to pray “ with all perseverance." Eph. vi. 18. Watchfulness, also, must characterize our devotion.
“ Continue in prayer, and watch in the same.” Obedience to this injunction will prevent that unseemly surprise which was before adverted to, when our prayers return to us in blessings.
If we thus pray, and for such blessings as above mentioned, we may believe ihat we shall receive them. Let us then be “ strong
in faith, giving glory to God." Let us no longer bewail unbelief as an infirmity, but deplore it as a sin ;-let us say with the man in the Gospel, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." If all the sincere followers of Jesus would exercise that measure of faith in their supplications, which the word of God warrants; if they would come with boldness to the throne of grace, and plead God's promises with becoming confidence; how soon would the wilderness and solitary place be glad for them, and the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose ! How soon would heathenism and superstition be overthrown, and the missionaries of the cross and ministers at home, say of the crowds of genuine converts to righteousness, “Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows ?” How soon would the day arrive when
“One song shall fill all nations; and all cry
AN INAUGURAL ADDRESS DELIVERED IN THE CITY OF WASHING-
D. PRESIDENT OF THE COLUMBIAN COLLEGE.
In our last number but one, we commenced some remarks on this Address. We have since obtained permission to insert it entire in our pages; and in thus laying it before our readers, we are confident that we shall highly gratify them, and the most effectually recommend a subject of incalculable importance.
I STAND before you as a public character. The station which I occupy, will, doubtless, give some additional influence to the sentiments which I may advance. This consideration inspired me with a deep' sense of responsibility, and made me anxious to select a subject, which would be best suited to the present occasion. I might have chosen to address you upon the importance of classical learning; upon the circumstances in our country, which are peculiarly favorable to the progress of science and literature; or upon the connexion between the general diffusion of knowledge, and the stability of elective governments. But these topics I have declined, and have taken for my theme, The Business of Human Life.
To gain a correct knowledge of this subject, and to act accordingly, will secure our welfare, not simply during our short probation, but during our endless existence. What then is the business of human life? In reply, I would say, that it is, in its highest design, to acquire that education in knowledge, and to form that character, which will qualify us for a future state of happiness. Before I present the proof of this sentiment, I will define what I mean by education. By this term I mean the right application of
that whole combination of means, which are appointed to be enployed upon man, to give health and vigor to his constitution, dignity and grace to his manners; to develop and mature his intellectual powers; to subdue his evil propensities; and to train him up in the habits of morality and religion. As man possesses soul and body, and as he was formed to exist in two worlds, and in each of them has specific duties to perform, his education should be adapted to his complex character, and to his respective theatres of action. In order to fit him for his present station, he needs a healthy and vigorous constitution, a mind strengthened by study, and enriched by various knowledge and experience, and a heart of inflexible integrity, and yet tenderly alive to the highest welfare of his species. In a word, that man is the best educated, who possesses the greatest physical strength, the richest stores of wisdom and knowledge, and a paramount disposition to employ all his talents in honoring God, and in multiplying the sources of human enjoyment. Think not that because I have directed your attention principally to the future state, that I wish to encourage indifference to this life. Instead of doing this, I would say that the objects of this world were designed to excite our attention and gratitude; and that a faithful discharge of our relative duties here on earth, is one of the best preparations for the world to come. But that it should be our grand concern to acquire that knowledge, and to form that character, which will fit us for a state of blissful immortality, I shall support by two comprehensive arguments.
1. The mental endowments of man indicate, that he is designed for another and more lasting state.
2. All the appointed means of instruction and discipline are actually adapted to exert such an influence over his mind, as is best calculated to fit him for a future world of glory.
My first argument ought not to be deemed unsound; for in many other cases, we learn the end and uses of things from a knowledge of their properties. The wing of the bird, and the fin of the fish, determine the element and the manner, in which they are to be employed. An inspection of the delicate and specific structure of a watch, will teach us, that it is formed, not to be thrown among the toys of children, but to be carefully kept to mark the passing hours of time. The limbs and the organs of the human body, so readily indicate the end of their formation, that even children infer, that the feet were designed for motion, the hands for labor, and the eyes for seeing. By the same mode of reasoning, we can, with equal certainty, decide for what purpose man was called into existence. What, then, are the properties of his mind, which teach us that he was formed for a second state of being?
Man is endowed with that insatiable curiosity, which all the wonders of this globe will not satisfy. Anxious to gain a knowledge of other worlds, he patiently studies the exact sciences, to enable himself to explain the phenomena of the heavenly bodies. When he has completed his calculations in the solar system, he by
the aid of powerful glasses extends his researches into new tracts of space; and determines the magnitude, the distance, and the orbit of some planet, which revolves in the fields of ether far beyond his unaided sight. His memory preserves the fruits of his studies and experience. Reason guides him to a knowledge of some of the sublimest truths respecting the works and attributes of Jehovah. By the aid of imagination, he can form from the stores of his simple ideas unequalled models in arts and manners, and read with delight those works of fiction, which paint before him specimens of excellency and glory, which far transcend any thing that can be found in real life. In this way he becomes dissatisfied with his present state and acquisitions, and is excited to make renewed efforts after higher attainments, under the animating hope, that in some future period he will realize all these creations of fancy. By the possession of a mind susceptible of religious truth and feeling, he is enabled to discover some of the moral glories of the divine character, and is constituted a religious being.
In addition to these endowments, man possesses native and undying aspirations after enjoyments, more durable and satisfactory, than any which this earth can yield. His restless soul is perpetually searching after some new delight, and struggling, as if anxious to escape from its mortal prison, to wing its upward flight to more congenial skies. Such a mind can nerer be satisfied with temporal good; it needs an inheritance suited to its nature, and immortal as the joys of heaven. But this it can never find in foreign objects. Outward possessions do not constitute substantial wealth. True riches belong to the mind, and consist in those internal graces, which qualify man to find his supreme felicity in the habitual discharge of his temporal duty, and in fellowship with divine excellency.
His Creator has not only endowed him with these exalted powers, but he has opened before him an unlimited field of improvement, and surrounded him with motives to put forth all his powers in the pursuit of knowledge. Now it is only upon the supposition, that man is destined for a state of endless duration, that the wisdom and benevolence of God are manifested in this reciprocal relation between the mental attributes of man, and his external means of instruction and discipline. For, if he be made to exist only for a few days, then both the powers of his mind, and his means of knowledge are far too exalted, either for his greatest usefulness or enjoyment. Should you now be assured, that at death you are to sink into eternal oblivion, would you not be prompted to inquire, why then have we been formed with an undying curiosity to know more of the works and character of God, than what is compatible with our present advantage? Why has he spread out before us a boundless prospect? Why has he strewed the paths of science with increasing allurements, if death is so soon to put a final period to this delightful career of knowledge? Has he lifted the veil from the enchanting scenery, merely to make us mourn, that it must be quickly covered again in everlasting darkness? Why have we those strong powers of reason and imagination, by which
we can gain that view of the greatness and glories of creation, which makes this earth dwindle to a point, and casts an air of burlesque over the whole scene of human affairs ? Is the altar, which conscience has reared in honor of Jehovah, soon to be demolished, and the fire of human devotion to be eternally extinguished ? Why this native longing after immortality ; this instinctive horror at the thought of annihilation, if our short stay here bound the period of our being? True, it may be said, that these passions and powers prompt and assist man in his noblest efforts; and that, therefore, they subserve the best external interests of human society. But if man is soon to perish forever, would not a merciful God have taken care to prevent any detraction from his momentary enjoyments, by making him incapable of anticipating such an ignoble destiny? If there be no good for the upright after death, and no evil for the unjust, could not the Creator have supported his throne, without awakening a deceptive fear of future retribution ? and could he not have promoted the moral happiness of man, without palming upon him the delusive hope of heaven? How could we vindicate an earthly monarch, who should educate his son in the best manner to qualify him to inherit his crown and dominions, when it was his purpose to degrade him to the rank of a peasant ?
As the endowments of man thus plainly suggest the end for which he was formed, so, in the second place, all the appointed means of education are actually adapted to exert such an influence over his mind, as is best calculated to qualify him for a future state of being.
In this life our Creator is conducting upon man a process of education upon an elevated scale, suited to his exalted rank, and to his future destination. The works of nature furnish exercises adapted to all the grades of mind. Some of them are sufficiently hard to task the greatest powers; and others so easy as to invite the efforts of humbler talents. The world is the temple of God, and man is the priest of nature, ordained, by being qualified, to celebrate religious service, not only in it, but for it. Placed in this temple, to enjoy the benefits of divine teachings, man appears truly great, the offspring of Jehovah, and the candidate of an unfading crown of glory. Whoever attentively reflects upon the tendency of those instructions which God is imparting to man, must perceive that they are pre-eminently calculated to strengthen his intellectual powers; to purify his heart, and to expand it with benevolent affection; and to strengthen his expectations, that he is destined for a state of immortality. This truth is evident from the character of those manifestations, which God has given of all his attributes. Does the astronomer wish to elevate his soul by witnessing great displays of wisdom and power, let him take up the best telescopes, and bring into his field of vision the countless host of fixed stars.
Let him consider them all, as so many mighty globes of fire, forming the centres of new clusters of worlds like the sun in the solar system; let him then permit himself to be borne on the wings imagination, till he reaches the most distant Ост. 1829.