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lands, and in the heathen world. They who doubt that mighty revivals of religion may exist in large cities and towns, doubt in the face of all history, and belie all the records of the early propagation of their religion.
III. Having thus endeavored to ascertain the sense of the Redeemer and of the apostles in regard to the importance of special efforts for the conversion of cities and large towns, I proceed, in the third place, to remark, that that importance is seen from the fact that vast wealth is concentrated in those places, and that the purposes of christianity require that that wealth should be consecrated to the Redeemer. When I speak of this, I do not mean, of course, that the principal wealth of any community is in such places. That must lie scattered over vast surfaces, and be in many hands, in order to maintain cities and large towns. But I speak of that wealth which is concentrated in the hands of the comparatively few; of the wealth which is available for the purposes of christian benevolence; of the wealth which has the principal power of corrupting or saving, of destroying or blessing the world. This world is to be converted to God, and it is in vain to attempt this without large and liberal benefactions. To a great extent, the large sums needed for that object must and will be derived from the dwellers in cities. It is there that we expect that money will be freely given; whether it be for christian charity; for schools, and colleges, and seminaries of learning; or whether it be for political purposes, for the patronage of fashion and vice, for the maintenance of the theatre, or for the support of profligacy and atheism. The effect of true religion is to lead men to consecrate their property honestly and wholly to God; nor can there be any true religion where this is not done. Now one has only to cast an eye over the large cities and towns of this land, to see how important it is that the mighty power of the Gospel should be felt there in constraining the rich to devote their property to God. Let him a moment reflect on the abuses of that property; on the immense sums which are expended in luxury of living; in splendor of dwellings, equipage, and apparel ; in intoxicating drinks; in the patronage of the theatre and various corrupting forms of amusement; and it will be no difficult matter to see how important it is that the influence of religion should be felt in the cities of our land. It may seem startling, but it is probably true, to say, that all expenses of the various benevolent Societies in this land for the propagation of the Gospel in the heathen world, would be more than met by the annual expenses in one of our large cities for the single article of intoxicating drinks. In the city of New York, during the last year but two, it is ascertained that the amount paid to support its four theatres was more than was contributed by all the benevolent Societies in this country for the spread of the Gospel. That wealth now all goes to corrupt and destroy the morals, the peace, and the souls of men. It is in cities eminently that its debasing power is felt. It is there that it alienates the soul from God, and opens fountains of corruption before the unwary and the young. It is there on every hand that we see its abuse to purposes of infamy; there that it eminently resists the Gospel; and there that it sustains the empire of Satan on earth. It is there that foreigners—dancers and actors—who come to debase and corrupt the young with the lax notions of morals which prevail in the licentious capitals of Europe, are chiefly found. And while I speak of this, it is not less important to make another remark on the necessity of revivals of religion in cities. A large portion of that wealth is held by the members of the christian church, and it is a fact, that the constantly-recurring objects of christian benevolence are sustained by a very few men out of the many hundreds who are members of the churches. To re-convert those who are in the church; to teach them the true value of property, and the true intent of the Giver in bestowing it on them; to show them "a more excellent way” than to hoard it or to expend it for luxury and magnificence; and to impress on their hearts, as a great vital principle, that all they have belongs to God, and to him alone, is now one of the most desirable objects of christian benevolence, and one of the chief things to be accomplished by the agency of the Holy Spirit in our land. O if all the wealth in these cities were truly consecrated to God, what desolate fields of heathenism are there in the wide world which would not soon smile under the blessings of the Gospel ? what desert and solitary place is there that would not bud and blossom as the rose ?
IV. The talent concentrated in cities and large towns is a fourth reason why special efforts should be made for their conversion. Before I am through with what I wish to say on this head, I shall not be suspected of a design to flatter the inhabitants of such places as being in general superior to all the rest of mankind in intellectual strength or in solid attainments. I have passed three-fourths of my life and one-third of my ministry in the country; and I have endeavored to observe the comparative amount of intellect and good sense in the two situations. When I speak, therefore, of the talent in cities as a reason for special effort for their conversion, or to show their importance, I by no means wish to be understood as affirming that the inhabitants of cities are pre-eminently distinguished for what Mr. Locke calls “large, sound, round-about sense.” do not mean that there is, in general, more power to appreciate a solid argument or close reasoning; or that there is a better acquaintance with the Bible; or a higher appreciation of the maxims of sound morals; or more patient reflection on the duties of life; or more attentive contemplation of the relations which men sustain to their Maker; or a higher power of detecting sophistry, or of pronouncing on that which is characterized in public discourses by mere sound, or by false and shallow attempts at reasoning. And to apply my remarks to the immediate subject before us, I by no means mean to say that the mass of people in this land in the country are not as fully able to appreciate good preaching as their more favored and perhaps envied city brethren. Nor do I mean to say that the hurry and bustle of a city life is as well adapted to train men for patient thought; or that the kind of education which the mass of those in the so-called more elevated ranks in cities receive, peculiarly qualifies them for the office of judging of the truths of religion, in comparison with those who have been trained in what are esteemed the humbler walks of a country life. The truth is, neither situation in itself makes men qualified for patient and sound reflection, neither situation makes them of course fools. Alike in city and in country in this land, there are multitudesit is the condition of the mass of the people—who are endowed with good sense, with sober views, with patient thought, and with appropriate education, to fit them to understand the truths of religion, to weigh well its evidences, and to appreciate a sensible argument when a sensible argument is urged; nor do I know that one siluation can claim priority over the other.
It is true, moreover, that the talent in a city is often greatly over-rated; and I do not mean to say that the Saviour or the apostles ever sought a city because they supposed the mass of intellect there was more elevated or cultivated than elsewhere. It is true that ministers often over-rate the amount of talent in a city, and that they sometimes evince an anxiety to be city pastors—which is any thing but a commendation of their own discernment, or their qualifications for the office, or of their power of judging of the place where true happiness is to be found-for, I take it, the brightest picture of happiness in this world is in the image of a much loved and venerated pastor in the quiet retreats of a country parish. It is true, also, that there is sometimes a fear of a city congregation and of a city dwelling-which operates much to prevent a faithful application of the truth—as if splendid apparel was necessarily connected with profound intellect; or sofas, and ottomans, and marble mantels, and well laden centre-tables necessarily implied cultivated minds; or gay and gorgeous equipage conferred the power of criticising profoundly and judging correctly of moral subjects. The truth is, that patient thinking, long-cherished recollections of an apt illustration or a solid argument, and just appreciation of a sound discourse, are often found most perfectly in the farmer who is all the week at his plough, and not in the whirl of fashion and business of a city life; a life where with the scenes of business of Monday morning are obliterated all the arguments, and illustrations, and impressions of the previous day.
But while this is true, it is true, also, that in this land and in all others the talent that most decidedly directs public opinion, and that acts with most power on the public mind, is found concen
trated usually in cities and large towns. The most decided and influential talent in Judea was undoubtedly found in Jerusalem; the most profound intellect in Greece was in Athens and in Corinth; the most mighty minds in the Roman empire were concentrated in Rome itself and in the surrounding towns and villas. It was from these centres that the power of talent-more then than now-at the bar, in the forum, in the senate-chamber; the power of talent in philosophy, in the drama, in eloquence, and in song was diffused throughout the world. Such, though to a less extent comparatively, is the case now. The principal talent in the medical and legal professions will seek cities and large towns as the places where it may be exercised to advantage—whether the purpose be gold or fame. Science and literature, for obvious reasons, will be found there; and the talent which seeks to influence great masses of mind; to direct public opinion; or to rise to sudden affluence and fame, will flow to such centres. All this is obvious and indisputable; and it is as obvious and indisputable, that it is desirable that special efforts should be made that that talent should be converted to God. It is not that the soul of a profound philosopher, or of a man of eminent legal attainments, or of a man distinguished in the medical profession, or of a man distinguished for science or eloquence, is of more value, or cost the Saviour more pangs to redeem it, than their humblest client or patient, or the most unlettered man in the cottage of poverty; but it is that that talent is endowed with higher power for good or evil, and that its influence must be wider spread in promoting or retarding true religion.
V: I add, as a fifth consideration, the fact that cities and large towns are places where strangers resort in great multitudes, and that revivals of religion are specially needed there for their conversion and for a healthful inoral influence on their minds. It will be recollected that in our text the Saviour directs his apostles to begin the work of preaching the Gospel “at Jerusalem." Turn now to the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and you will see at least one reason why this direction was given. The feast of Pentecost was near, and on that occasion it was arranged by the Redeemer, that the Holy Ghost should descend in the first great and glorious revival of religion. Yet on that occasion we are told there were dwelling (or sojourning, XATONU GŪVTES) at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” Acts, 2: 5. "Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites,” we are told were there; "and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians.” Acts, 2 : 9–11. It was not without design that the Gospel was to be first proclaimed with power, and that the Holy Ghost was to descend when these strangers were there. What would be the obvious effect of their conversion ? The
Gospel would soon be borne by them to the farthest part of the then known world. Those strangers were soon to disperse and return to their homes—just as the flitting multitudes do that sojourn in this city for a little while for business or for pleasure. But the Saviour saw that if those multitudes were brought under the influence of a revival of religion ; if while they were in Jerusalem they were led to embrace the true Messiah; if while there their minds were directed to the eternal welfare of the soul, and they should return to their homes imbued with the spirit of the Gospel, the effect would be immediate almost on the remotest portions of the world. How different would be the influence on the destiny of mankind from what it would have been had those “strangers” been invited by the professing christians to splendid entertainments and parties of pleasure; or had they been introduced as distinguished strangers often are in our cities now—and I fear sometimes by professing christians too—to theatres, or invited and tempted, as they are now, to drink deep of the intoxicating bowl!
What would be the effect on the strangers that crowd this city of a continual revival of religion here? What would be the effect on their minds and hearts if they should be constrained to feel when they enter our houses of worship, that the Spirit of God was there as he was in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost? What would be the effect if in their transactions of business here they should find all our merchants or even all our professedly christian merchants-governed only by the pure and holy principles of the Gospel ? What would be the effect, if, when they are invited to our dwellings, they should see the decanter banished from every side-board and every table, and the style of living regulated by a conscientious regard to the will of Christ; and the Gospel, the whole Gospel, and nothing but the Gospel controling us in our dwellings? What would be the effect if one mighty and far-pervading revival of religion here, like that on the day of Pentecost, should make the visiters to the theatres so few that they would be closed, and should make it disreputable for a stranger or a citizen to patronize a place of corruption and infamy? How soon would the effect be visible in the extremity of the land and the world! To see this, let these facts be borne in mind : (1.) Great numbers of strangers are in all our large cities, at all times, from every part of our land and the world. I preach the Gospel every year to many hundreds of such persons; and probably I am not exceeding the truth when I say that the aggregate of such persons is considerably more than the number of my regular hearers. To a great extent this is true of all other pastors in this city and in other cities. I trust and believe that the effect of their worshipping with us has not had an unhappy influence on their minds (if I may use the language of Paul as descriptive of what I mean) while they have been “beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ;" (Col. 2:5;) and I have