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if, in all his life, there was one virtue; in his moral character, one trait which can afford satisfactory evidence of God's approval, this, be sure, you will find sculptured in conspicuous characters on his monumental marble; and even there not half so deep, not half so imperishably, as on the hearts of surviving kindred.
One thing alone can prepare any for their last account. It is not rank, it is not honor, it is the belief and the practice of the Gospel of God. That which is highly esteemed among men, furnishes no passport to the presence of Divine Majesty. There is but one method of salvation proposed for any, for all. To be humble before God, is greater than to be exalted among men. To practice the duties of religion ; reverently to walk with God; to be a penitent, sincere disciple of Jesus Christ; this, the world themselves being judges, is of paramount consequence in the hour when deathi comes to terminate this earthly existence.
As an evidence of this, I have adverted rather to the convictions and admissions of men themselves, than to the explicit teachings of inspiration. When we open the word of God, the only thing which we find revealed therein, is our relation to a future and endless life. And the inquiry which the word and Spirit of God urge upon our consciences in view of death always is, am I myself prepared for the solemn transit? Feeling as I do the propriety of these demonstrations of respect towards our chief magistracy, great is my fear amid it all, that outward show, the solemn pomp of sorrow, the requiem and the march, will divert the thoughts of many from those internal communings with death, judgment and eternity, which the visitations of Providence are adapted to create. And to-day, amid the thonghtfulness and calm of the holy Sabbath, I stand here to ask each one of my dear hearers whether he is himself prepared suddenly to be removed from the scenes which now absorb his attention to the solemnities of his final account. An impetuous current is fast bearing our bodies to the grave; whither, whither are our spirits tending? Is the great question decided or not, whether they have yet received a direction towards the city and the throne of God? Has the sting of death, which is sin, been extracted ? Have we committed our souls unto the Conqueror of death and the grave ? Have we trusted in Him who is the resurrection and the life ? Have we fled for refuge and hope to Him who will occupy the throne of judgment, whose smile amid the world's convulsions will be life, whose frown will be despair and death? A satisfactory answer to inquiries like these, can alone sustain and calm in the hour when the world recedes, and its glory fades on the rayless eye. To be a true christian is the only thing which will avail when the dead, small and great, shall stand before the throne of God, and the character of each awaits its irreversible destiny. What then, in the words of the Son of God, is a man profited if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?
BY REV. PROF. H. P. TAPPAN,
OF NEW YORK.
HUMAN AGENCY IN TIIE EVANGELIZATION
OF THE WORLD.
One of the series on the Conversion of the World, delivered in the
Central Presb. Church, New-York.
“Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I,
except some man should guide me?"-Acts, 8: 30, 31.
Four thousand years passed away after the fall of Adam before Jesus Christ appeared in our world. Why was his coming so long delayed? During this long period the oracles of God were confined to one small nation shut up within the mountain fastnesses of Pa. lestine. Why were they not published universally? Eighteen hundred years have passed away since the advent of Jesus Christ : during this period gross darkness has not only overspread the greater part of the nations, but also the nominal and visible christian church ; at the present day two-thirds of our race remain unevangelized; and even the so-called christian nations are not governed by christian principles; and what is still more sad and remarkable, the congregations and churches organized, and statedly meeting for christian worship, are, and profess to be, but in part converted to the spiritual dominion of Christ. Since God is omnipotent, and so benevolent as to be called "love" itself, why has he not expelled darkness and sin from the earth, and given a universal and complete triumph to the religion of the cross? If it be said that God has entrusted the work of evangelizing the nations to human agents, and they have proved unfaithful,—then the inquiry arises, Why has he entrusted it to such agents—why have not his benevolence and omnipotence united to speed the work by direct interpositions, or at least by adequate agencies ?
There are two answers which may readily be given to these inquiries, according to the spirit in which they are made.
First, if they be made in the spirit of the unfaithful servant who was entrusted with the one talent, and refused to turn it to any profit, but went and bid it, because he believed his Lord to be an “austere man," and unjust in his requirements,—then we may reply, “out of thine own mouth" art thou answered and judged.
The facts which give rise to these inquiries, are facts which all alike admit; nay, they are facts which, if they involve difficulties, involve them in relation to natural religion as well as in relation to christianity; since natural religion, in affirming the omnipotence and benevolence of God, is also called upon to reconcile these difficulties with the palpable and continued ignorance, sinfulness and wretchedness of the world. If, then, either in relation to christianity or to natural religion, you are disposed to regard the Almighty as an austere being, and if you deem that he might have made a better world than the one in which he has placed us, or might have more speedily relieved it of the evils whích oppress it, and that infinite benevolence must stand committed to such ends and endeavors; remember that the world is as it is, and that all speculations of this nature, and all murmurings against the constituted order of things will not alter them in the least degree; and that therefore the wisest course, on your own principles, will be to propitiate in the best way you can the favor of this infinite and dreaded Being ; to discharge most exactly and perseveringly those duties of truth, mercy, and justice which he iniperatively demands, and which are seconded by your own conscience; and especially if, notwithstanding all that may appear irreconcilable with perfect goodness, he has condescended to show to you in particular decisive marks of most gracious favor, it is both prudent and right to embrace these with an earnest and faithful heart, and to put them to a wise and reasonable use, that you at least may meet happily an account, to which it is not unjust that you should be called. “What if the oracles of God were given anciently only to one small people, you do not live in the ages of this destitution. What if two-thirds of the world be yet without the Gospel, you have the Gospel. What if God do not by his omnipotence at once convert the world, and change the earth into a paradise of sinless and immortal beauty, you have made to you the plain and faithful offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ; you have the most excellent precepts of duty clearly laid down, and the promise of heavenly and most efficient aids and influences. To become a righteous man is the safest, wisest, and happiest course at all events. To become just such a character as Christ has expounded in his teaching, and exemplified in his life, is a glorious attainment. To devote yourself to those labors of benevolence which the Gospel imposes, will be a wise and useful life—infinitely better than the stale repetition of the pride, foolery, and sensuality of the world; it will be a twofold blessedness—blessing him that gives and him that takes; it will lead the soul gently and promisingly down to that dark grave which none can escape; and if there be a star of life and immortality to light up the dark cope of this world's gloom, and to guide us to the heaven we think and dream of, the rest which our wearied spirits long for, it is here -it is here ! 'in the faith and the duties of the Gospel.
Secondly, if the inquirer be a meek and humble spirit, afflicted with suggestions offensive to his piety, then to such a spirit a relief will be most readily afforded, by pointing to the actual and indisputable indications of the divine goodness in the benign masterdesigns of nature, the beautiful movements of a watchful and faithful providence, and beyond all, in the mission of the Son of God. Whatever be the difficulties which exist, the goodness which does appear is so vast and peculiar that it is impossible to reconcile it with malevolence, or even with a divine nature austere and capricious. Besides, if we but view it aright, the very tendency in our minds to represent whatever in the order of the world appears to conflict with perfect goodness, as incompatible with the idea of God, does in reality form the most solid evidence that God cannot be otherwise than perfectly good, notwithstanding these apparent discrepancies. By supposition we look into nature, and with a critical eye we detect discrepancies; we look into the divine reveJation, and with a critical eye we here also detect discrepancies. We remark, how can this, and this, exist under the government of an omnipotent and infinitely benevolent being? Can an omnipotent and perfectly good being permit the convulsions of nature, pestilence, and death? Can such a being allow sin to enter the world, or delay the advent of the Saviour four thousand years, or let the world remain unconverted for more than eighteen centuries after this advent, through the inefficiency and unfaithfulness of the agents to whom he has committed the trust of publishing the Gospel ? But what does this questioning and this critical judge ment imply? Have we then in our minds such a bright and transcendant idea of what God must be, that we can decide upon the order of nature, and the great moral movements unfolded in the Scriptures ? Are we thus impelled by the very constitution of our being to demand in both, the realization of an archetype of infinite beauty and excellence, and to say of one form of creation, and one movement of providence, this is worthy of God; but of another form, and another movement to ask, How can this accord with perfect goodness united to omnipotence? And who gave us this elevated constitution of being, and kindled within us this bright and transcendant idea of what God must be? Surely it was God himself. Has he then revealed himself in the reason and conscience of man as he is and must be, and in creation and providence as he is not and cannot be ? Has he given us the innate and necessary power of knowing him, only that in his works and in his moral administration we might be enabled to spy out his deficiencies and to see how unlike he is to himself? Has he constituted us merely to reverence and adore an idea, but to turn away in disappointment and sorrow from the reality? No, no, it cannot be; our earnest questionings respecting the apparent discrepancies in nature and in God's moral government, prove that we have within us the perfect idea of a perfect God; and from the very constitution of the reason, as a faculty of the necessary and the absolute, God must be what reason affirms him to be. This inward teaching is God's own awful and melodious voice; the affirmation of the great I AM from the depths of the eternity which he inhabiteth, throwing its undulating notes into every mind in the widening circle of being. In the great truth affirmed here we cannot be mistaken. But we look out upon creation with eyes that observe only a few phenomena, and which do not pry into all the mysterious laws, agencies, and final causes of this stupendous nature : and we read the leaves of providence as a deep lore written in the language of heaven, wherein are revealed to us glimpses of a glorious signification and many clear and precious truths, but which nevertheless, in the introduction and the consecutive parts, has not yet been clearly construed in every passage, on account of its great reach of thought and its marvellous richness; and of which the peroration is reserved to be read in another world with eyes unbedimmed, when in the light of God we shall see light. God hath so made us that we can think of him only as infinitely wise and good, and we are ready to start up in alarm whenever anything presents itself which seems to conflict with this deep conviction; but when we reflect that the creation and the moral government in which we notice the discrepancy are His creation and government, we know that it must be only an appearance which, on account of the feebleness of our penetration, and the point of view at which we are placed, we are unable to explain. Our questionings and doubts respecting that which we see, can be accounted for only by admitting the great truth to exist in the reason which they appear to assail, and thus are self-destroyed, or rather are transmuted into a form of the most glorious and stable evidence. I doubt and question what I see, because I know most surely what God is; but the moment I reflect upon what he is, doubts and questionings cease, because what I see proceeds from him, and cannot be inconsistent with his nature. Thus may the meek and humble spirit repose peacefully on the convictions of its innermost and truest being, and bide its time until it shall know even as it is known.
But, nevertheless, it is not forbidden us to exercise all our powers of thought, and to avail ourselves of all the means of inquiry within our reach, to clear up, as far as we may, what is obscure; and that we may be enabled even now to see the bright footsteps of omnipotent love amid all the convulsions of nature, the conflicts and tumults of nations, the apparent delays of providence, and the feebleness of the appointed human instrumentalities.
1. One of the great principles in the ordering of the universe is that of PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT. No form of existence is presented at once complete and perfect. There are perfect elements of being and perfect laws, but not perfect and complete developments. The forms of vegetable life have their germination, their