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HUMBLE BEGINNINGS. In retrospecting our course, and in collecting documents connected with the history of reformation principles, amongst the few memora. bilia of early beginnings I have yet extant the exordium, or a part of the exordium and some of the details of a discourse pronounced under an oak, eight miles from our present residence, in the month of June, 1811, (2d Lord's day, I think,) with a special reference to the organization of a new church, founded on the New Testament alone, and meeting for the first time to commemorate the Lord's death statedly on every Lord's day. The table was spread in the woods, and some sixty or seventy disciples, gathered oịt of various denominations, had assembled to show forth the Lord's death, covenanting with each other to follow the truth, the whole truth of Christianiiy, whithersoever it might leal us, without regard to former prepossessions, manners, or
We were all then Pedobaptists, and in our mode of preaching and teaching more textuary and formal than we have since learned is either scriptural or advantageous to speaker or hearer.
Our text was as singular as the circumstances were novel; but I cannot recollect from any reflections or memoranda what association of ideas could have selected such a motto for a sermon, except the strong conviction then entertained that we had got hold of the great principles of ecclesiastical union and communion on which all real Christians of all denominations, might, could, and certainly would one day unite.
I cannot now give much more than the exordium, with two or three points of emphasis in the discourse. Indeed, so far as we can now judge or recollecı, the details not being written ont, the exordium was the best part of the discourse, and the most apposite to the text we had selected and to the occasion which called it forth. We had then been in the public ministry of the word only wear. The text
1* le Christian institution
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was from the words of Bildad"If thou art pure and upright, though thy beginning was small, (we read it be small,] yet thy latter end shall greatly increase." Job viii. 7. "THOUGH THY BEGINNING BE SMALL, YET SHALL THY LATTER END
GREATLY INCREASE." Eyery thing has had beginning. There is but one Being in the Universe that never began to be. Froin everlasting to everlasting He is the Self-Existent. His name is JEHOVAH. "I am that I am" indi. cates his awful and mysterious existence.
Beginnings are usually small, and sometimes weak. It is seldom easy to antic pate the ending of any thing from its beginning. There is no established ratio between beginnings and endings, by which we could compute the probable result of any undertaking. These stately oaks, under whose wide-spreading boughs we now sit, sprang from humble acorns. These little rivulets, which meander through these deep vallies, are sometimes the origin of mighty rivers. The Euphrates, the Nile, the Mississippi, and the mighty Amazon are to be traced to some gurgling rill or “babbling brook," issuing from a mountain spring as their true and proper source.
Could you ascend to the origin of the King of Rivers, you would find at the foot of some projecting cliff, oozing from a gravelly bed, a little current whose whole channel an infant's, hand might cover or an infant's foot obstruct; yet as it percolates from rock to rock down the mountain's side, its channel both widens and deepens, ii}l after the accession of nıyriads of tributary streams, wending their circuitous ways through innumerable vallies, irs swollen tide carries far into the ocean its mountain freshness, bearing upon its widely extend. bosom whole fleets and navies-at once the treasure and defence of a aation.
As from the summit of the Alps, or the Appenines, a single handfu. of snow displaced by the falling of a single branch from some humble shrub, commences its downward march, and if unobstructed in its path as it descends the mountain side, at every revolution its diameter increases till it lifts up acres at a single turn, and in the magnitude of a dreadful avalanche rushes into the plain, overwhelming flocks and herds, hamlets and villages, with their astonished inhabitants, in one common ruin.
Thus, too, from Carmel's luxuriant tnp the Prophet saw in the far distant verge of the western sky a little cloud, not larger than the human hand—a "bull's eye" looking from the deep, raising itself from the chambers of e setting, sun; and as it rose it spread its lowering hos
he heavens, till, shrouding the skies in the
sable garments of night, it began to pour its river torrents on the lands of Israel, already parched with more than a three-years' drought; till, as in Egypt, when the Nile retires, the land of the chosen tribes is verdant and full of promise of an abundant harvest.
And thus, too, sprang up the ancient Empires of the world. There was a Nimrod, or some other mighty hunter, a little chief, great in his little clan, around whom the spirit of adventure or some impending danger gathered the neighboring hordes. Allured by some great interest, or impelled by some strong fear, in "one league offensive and defensive joined,” they set out on greai enterprizes; and as success inspired their courage and rewarded their toils, less and less respectful of human rights and wrongs, they advanced from conquest to conquest, till in the lapse of a few centuries a colossal empire, consolidated in all its parts, bestrode the earth and became the wonder of the world. Thus arose the gigantic empires of Assyria, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
But to approach still nearer the ground which we occupy to-day, looking into things moral and ecclesiastic, we will readily discover the same principles at work, and observe the same laws controlling the progress of things religious and moral; sometimes, indeed, eso hibiting the same wonderful results attendant on the humblest beginnings.
Joseph was sold by his own brothers a slave into Egypt. For thirteen long years'a forlorn and wretched stranger, he seems to have known nothing but a series of misfortunes, which left him at length a prisoner in an Egyptian dungeon. But the time for his enlargement at length arrived, and from the dark cells of a dismal prison he suddenly rose to be governor of all the land of Egypt. famine in the land of Canaan compelled his brethren to visit the corn magazines which their brother, by his divine wisdom, had accumulated for their salva. tion. In its progress it brought old Jacob and his seventy descendants into the land of Ham. He found a comfortable home for his numerous household in the fertile plains of Goshen. There they continued 10 multiply and increase, till in two hundred and fifteen years they became an object of envy, jealousy, and dread to the reigning dynasty of this then great and mighty people. The Pharaohs forgot the kindness and fidelity of Joseph, and most cruelly oppressed and ridiculed his people. Despite of all this, they continued to increase uniil, from some seventy souls, in about two centuries Moses led out about three millions of people from the iron house of bondage to the borders of the long covenanted land of promise.
And what shall we say of the beginning of the Christian institution itself? Nothing in human history compares with this. An obscure and humble virgin, a feeble branch of David's family, was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter; himself, too, a descendant from the same stock, as humble and as weak as was his beloved Mary, the daughter of Eli.
After their espousals, by the operation of that Spirit that raised up Eve out of the side of Adam, the body of Jesus was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. The child is born in a stable in the city of Bethlehem, and enjoyed his first sleep in a rough and cheerless manger. His earthly kindred were all poor, feeble, and obscure. Feeble, too, were his beginnings: a few comparatively uneducated Galilean fishermen become his companions and only assistants in founding a kingdom on earth that was to endure as long as the sun, and to be diffused through all the kindreds of the earth. Thiriy full years of his short and eventful lite had already passed before he had selected a single stone for the foundation of that great superstructure of grace and glory of which he was to be the only efficient builder and maker,
After his iniroduction to Israel, and after many discourses and innumerable miracles, he had collected only a few scores of followers, amongst whom but twelve were made conspicuous.
He and they, during more than three years of incessant labors and toils-notwithstanding all his supernatural and divine powers, succeeded in forming a very humble commencement. A few scores, even at the end of his lise, composed the household of faith. But after his resurrection and ascension into heaven, and the descent of the Holy Spirit, the cause fully commenced its operations, and muliitudes flocked to the standard of the crucified Messiah. It spread through Judea, Galilee, Samaria, Syria—passed through proconsular Asia-followed the Euphrates through Armenia Major-coasted the Euxine and Mediterraneanvisited the Islands—seized upon Egypt, Greece, and Italy-penetrated Arabia, Ethiopia, and the Islands of the Atlantic-subdued innumerable cities from Jerusalem to Rome; and, indeed, visited every place of note in all the Roman Einpire in less than half a century from its first promulgation.
When again, through the defection of ile Eastern church and the apostacy of the Western, an age of darkness and superstition had well nigh extinguished the lamp of immortality and restored the idolatrous genius of Pagan Rome, with its barbarous customs, to the christianized throne of the Cesars; when the last lingering rays of the Christian hope, in some faint resemblance of its original simplicity and power, gleamed on Europe's western mountains and islands, and feebly enlightened the deep vallies along the western extremities of the Eastern Continent; when the Man of Sin reigned with undisputed sway oxor the temporal and spiritual destiny of mankind, a Saxon Monk was raised up with the sword of the Spirit in liis hand, and stood up against all the usurpations and encroachments of that colossal power; and though impotent were his beginnings and slow his progress for a few years, still he persisted, and still he conquered, til at lengih, within the single term of his own evenisul lile, kings and their kingdoms came to his aid, and Protestantism redeemed its many millions from the ignorance and tyranny of the most hear:less and intoleranı despoi. ism that ever insulted the human ear with the words religion, morality and truth.
It must, however, be confessed that Protestantism, while it repudiated many of the forms of error and many of the more repulsive abomi. nations of Popery, and while it acknowledged the all and the alone sufficiency of the Bible for faith, piety, and morality, neither carried out in practice to iis legilimale and proper extent its hatred of the former, nor its admiration of the laiter; insomuch that the spirit of the Roman despotism still exerts an undue influence over the lives and actions of many who boast loudly and long of their deliverance from its sorceries and enchaniments.
The creed-making and creed-dictating passion is now as strong and vigorous amongst the Protestant tribes as it was in the most popular councils and canons of the Roman hierarchy. The sword of Protestant magistrates has learned to serve at the altar of religion; and what the canons of the church could not achieve for Protestant ihrones, the cannons of their armies and navies have secured to their incumbents. Meanwhile, the purest and the best portions of the Protestant communities are fully inspired with the spirit of schism, of faction, and of proselytism, and little allowance is made for any diversities of intellectual endowment, for the developments of years, or the peculiarities of early education. The same theories, admissions, and covenants are exacted from all, under the pains and penalties ef escision.
We, for example, convened on this hill, have been refused admission to the Lord's table by our nighboring Presbyterian congregations. For what reason? For any doctrinal error or immoral practice? No such imputation. Why, then, are we proscribed? Because we ab. jured the Westminster Creed as the foundation on which a church of Ohrist should be built. We will not say that it is “THE SYSTEM of truth contained in the Holy Scriptures”-no more, nor less. We indeed make no specific exception to its dogmas or assumptions. We are content to say, that if it be true or if it be false, it ought to be repudiated by all who love the peace and union of Christ's people. If it be true as the Bible, and if it teach the same thing, it is to be rejected