« PrécédentContinuer »
the bottom of his heart, principles of love to thee; but now ravished with transports of joy, because he is entering an æconomy, in which he shall always
be submissive, and always faithful. What shall I say to you, my dear brethren, to incline you to piety, if all these grand motives be without success? If the words of my text, if the voice of an Apostle,—what do I say, the voice of an Apostle? If the sun darkened, if the moon changed into blood, if the stars fallen from heuven, if the powers of heaven shaken, if the heavens passing away with a great noise, if the elements dissolving with fervent heat, if the earth consumed with all that is therein, if the universal destruction of nature and elements be incapable of loosening and detaching you from the present world.
It is said, that, some days before the destruction of Jerusalem, a voice was heard proceeding from the holy place, and crying, Let us go hence, let us go hence.* My brethren, such a voice addresses you. We ground our exhortations to day, not on the destruction of one people only; we preach (if I may be allowed to say so) in sight of the ruins of this whole universe : Yes, from the centre of the trembling world and crashing elements, a voice sounds, Let us go hence ; let us quit the world; give our hopes more solid bases than enkindled worlds, which will shortly be burnt up. And then, pass away heavens with a great noise, consume elements, burn earth with all thy works, perish universe, perish nature, our felicity is above all such catastrophes, we cleave to the God of ages, to God who is the source of existence and duration, to God before whom a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years. () Lord, of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth, and the hea
* Josephus de Bell, Jud. lib. vi. cap. 31.
vens are the work of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure ; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment ; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou, thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee, Psal. cii. 26, &c. God grant we may experience these great promises! To him be honor and glory, Amen.
The Dmnipresence of God.
Psalm cxxxix. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.
Whither shall I go from thy spirit or whither shall I fee
from thy presence ? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there : If I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me : even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day : the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
posed end of preaching to-day with efficacy, Christians, it should be to shew you God in this assembly. Moses had such an advantage, no man therefore ever spoke with greater success. He gave the law to the people in God the legislator's presence. He could say, This law which I give you proceeds from God: here is his throne, there is his lightning, yonder is his thunder. Accordingly, never were a people more struck with a legislator's voice. Moses had hardly begun to speak, but, at least for that moment, all hearts were united, and all Sinai echoed with one voice, crying, All that thou hast spoken we will do. Exod. xix. 8.
But in vain are our sermons drawn from the sacred sources : in vain do we say to you, Thus saith the Lord: you see only a man; you hear only a mortal voice in this pulpit; God hath put his trek
sure into earthen vessels, 2 Cor. iv. 7. and our auditors estimating the treasure by the meanness of the vessel, instead of supporting the meanness of the vessel for the sake of the treasure, hear us without respect, and, generally, derive no advantage from the ministry.
But were God present in this assembly, could we shew you the Deity amongst you, authorizing our voice by his approbation and presence, and examining with what dispositions you hear his word, which of you, which of you, my brethren, could resist so eminent and so noble a motive?
Christians, this idea is not destitute of reality : God is every where; he is in this church. Vails of flesh and blood prevent your sight of him ; these must fall, and you must open the eyes of your spirits, if you would see a God, who is a spirit, John iv. 24. Hear our prophet , hear his magnificent description of the immensity and omnipresence, of God. Whither shall I go from thy spirit ? or zohither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there. If I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea : even there shall thy hand bead'me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me ; even the night shall be light. about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
In a text less abundant in riches, we might make some remarks on the terms spirit and presence ; but we will content ourselves at present with indicating what ideas we affix to them, by observing, that by the spirit and presence of God, we understand God himself. I know, some divines discover
great mysteries in these terms, and tell us that there are some passages in scripture where the word presence means the second person in the most holy Trinity, and where the term spirit is certainly to be understood of the third. But as there are some passages where these terms have not this signification, it is beyond all doubt that this, which we are explaining, is precisely of the latter kind. However, if any dispute our comment, we shall leave them to dispute it; for it would be unjust to consume that time, which is dedicated to the edification of a whole congregation in refuting a particular opinion. The other expressions in our text, heaven, hell; the wings of the morning, a figurative expression denoting the rapidity of the light in communicating itself from one end of the world to the other ; these expressions, I say, need no comment. The presence of God, the spirit of God, signify then the divine essence: and this assemblage of ideas, whither shall I go from thy spirit ? whither shall I fee from thy presence ? means, that God is immense, and that he is present in every place.
But wherein consists this immensity and omnipresence? If ever a question required developing, this certainly does: not only because it presents to the mind an abstract subject, which does not fall under the observation of the senses, but becanse many who have treated this matter (pardon an opinion which does not proceed from a desire of opposing any individual, but only from a love to the truth) many who have handled this subject, have contributed more to perplex, than to explain it. We may observe, in general, that, unless we be wholly unacquainted with the history of the sciences, it is impossible not to acknowledge, that all questions about the nature of spirits, all that are any way related to metaphysics, were very little understood