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fables were imitations of the truth. The shadow is proof that there is a substance.
The universality of some kind of religious worship or belief—the tenacity with which most men hold to their religious dogmas, and even the excesses committed by religious zeal, bigotry, and superstition, are deemed a strong proof of the reality and vast importance of religion. There is in man a religious sense that recognizes, at the bottom of all this, the earnest desire of his soul for happiness, for communion with God, for participation in the divine nature as its true birthright. This anxious longing of man's spirit to pass the gulf which separates his God-derived soul from its glorious Creator-this ardent wish, even though to himself unconscious of its full import, to secure that union with God, the Father of all spirits, which alone can renew human nature—though ignorant of the way to accomplish it, still struggling forth amidst superincumbent masses of error, delusion, falsehood, superstition, and unbelief, and aspiring after that heart-healing, soul-vitalizing power, which Christianity only reveals, is justly regarded as a proof of the truth of the gospel.
The way for the introduction of Christianity was prepared by the co-working of supernatural with natural elements. The natural development of the heathen world had prepared them for the new light which emanated from Judea. The whole history of the Jews was preparatory to the coming of the Messiah. It was emphatically, in every sense, the fullness of time, when God made the highest manifestations of Himself to man by His Son, who was the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and the fullness of the ineffable Godhead." The Messiah was born King of the Jews, whose political life was a theocracy, and a type of the Kingdom of God. He was the culminating point of all Jewish light and glory; and as the particular typifies the universal—the earthly, the celestial-so David, the monarch who had raised the political theocracy of the Jews to the pinnacle of glory, typified that greater monarch, in whom the Kingdom of God was to display its glory.* Christ sprang from the fallen line of royal David, just as the sceptre was departing from Judah, and the lawgiver from between his feet.
In the minds of both Jews and Pagans there were many gross errors about the coming and character of the Messiah, but neither their unbelief nor their erroneous faith, made void the truth of God. The all-wise Creator working good out of evil, sometimes uses men's errors to lead them to a knowledge of the great truths of salvation. Superstition often paves the way for faith, and incredulity itself becomes the handmaid of the sublimest piety. Oppression prepares the way for liberty. Moses came when the tale of bricks was doubled. So He who maketh the wrath of man to praise him, and restraineth the remainder of wrath— who raiseth up
* See Neander's great work, Life of Christ, p. 19.
one and casteth down another—and whose right it is to reign, has condescended to the plans of men in training them for civil and religious liberty. God has often condescended not merely to the feelings and thoughts of men, but even to their failings and their prejudices, not to approve of them, but to use them as a means of bringing men to the truth. “God," says Neander, “condescended to the platforms of men in training them for belief in the Redeemer, and meets the aspirations of the truth-seeking soul even in its error.” The longings of the whole world for a Saviour—the earnest expectations of both Jews and Pagans, that a deliverer would come, were rays of light streaming from the invisible world, which on other subjects and in all other ways was unfathomable darkness. These rays found their embodiment in the Star of Bethlehem, which pointed to the Sun of Righteousness then risen upon the world for its universal illumination.
In patriarchal times in the Hebrew commonwealth-in the earliest forms of Pagan governments in the best days of Greece and Rome, Divine Providence gave some pledge and earnest of better things to come.
The great idea of man is redemption—from sin-through the Messiah, and from ignorance, slavery, and every evil, as a fruit and consequence of his redemption from sin. The two greatest days in the annals of the human race, are the day of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the day of Representative Republicanism. And as all the previous history of the world was a preparation for the one, so also it was for the other. The longings of mankind for republican institutions, whether embodied in poetry, devotion, or romance, whether uttered by Plato or Sir Thomas Moore, were streamlets of light foretelling the luminary that was to appear in the fullness of time. All past history—the thousands of years, and the hundreds of generations that have passed, have all been in order to and co-laborers for the present. The results of their labors in their best forms, are the representative republics of our day. The way for the development of the model of representative republicanism, was most wondrously pre. pared by the traditions, longings and aspirations of the ancients, by the discovery of this continent, and by the precise time of the discovery, and the circumstances, condition, internal and external, civil and religious, of the nations that discovered and colonized in the New World, and especially in the times and characters that Providence ordered for the settlement of the English colonies in America.
As in the original creation, the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light—there were faint streamings of light over the immense chaos: but no sun until afterwards the Almighty collected the gleamings into a great globe of light, and set the sun in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the
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earth, and to rule over the day and over the night. So the Ineffable, in tracing out with his finger this globe, and in writing its history, when as yet none of its stupendous events “ were fashioned, being imperfect"-reserved this continent to be the firmament of the sun of human Freedom, into which should be gathered and condensed all the hopes and aspirations of bards and prophets, and of all devout and earnest true-hearted souls, who have loved their race and labored and prayed for their emancipation from error and sin. It is in the teachings of Revelation, that the world is to be filled with the glory of God; in the institutions of modern civilization, which are chiefly the effects of the Gospel, and are necessary in order to the fulfilment of its glorious mission on the earth-in the promises, prophecies, and coming glorious realities of Messiah's reign, that we see the unfailing hope of Republics, and the undying elements of their perpetuity.
In all ages and in all countries, wherever the faintest effulgence of liberty has gleamed upon the soul, there has been earnest striving after its plenitude. True liberty, under constitutional forms, the sole passion of the generous heart, is the only treasure worthy of being coveted. Its victories are those of intellect and not of brutal force; its principles pass not away, but are eternal. It holds all men to be brothers-recognizes no legal authority but that of responsible magistrates, no moral superiority, but that of virtue. Such liberty is destined to see pass before it, the stormy flight of absolute empires, like those clouds that dim for a moment the purity of a serene sky, and will at no distant day, see disappear before her triumphal march, all custom-house barriers and secret tribunals, all prosecutions for political offences, all aristocracies, monopolies, close corporations, standing armies, censorships of the press, of schools, and of religion, and in a holy alliance in the name of Right, Independence, and of a common interest, and of civilization, tranquility, happiness, and religion, will confederate national congresses, confer for the amicable settlement of all national differences, and the sword shall perish forever.
LIBERTY, which has been the midnight meditation of the sage, and the inspiration of the poet, and the long desired Messiah of those that have been sitting in chains and darkness for ages, and for whose almighty avatar the very tombs of the past have cried out, bas at last descended from heaven upon the earth to redress and embellish it; to be the life of commerce, and the inspiration of the fine arts, the first aspiration of youth, and the sublime invocations of old age, and the path way to fadeless glory. And after that she shall have broken the chains of ignorance, meanness, covetousness, superstition, error, and bigotry; liberty will lead forth her illuminated procession with palm branches, amid hymns of glory to attend the last and eternal funeral of civil and religious despotism. AMEN.