Obrazy na stronie

conceivable ties binding together man and man. Yet the estrangement and want of acquaintance are familiar; and it would not be difficult to explain it; but the fact itself is all that is needful to our purpose now. All know that neighbors are often strangers; and that the mere fact of worshipping in the same church edifice, or of sitting down at the table of the same Master, does not of necessity produce acquaintanceship, and create bonds of sympathy and love. Almost unavoidably, different ranks of life, even in the church, keep separate from each other; often there is a melancholy coldness and distance that is chilling to a stranger, or to a warm-hearted christian; and while there may be, and usually is, no bad feeling, and no root of bitterness, yet there is the want of that intimate acquaintanceship, and that strong common sympathy which Christ contemplated when he prayed for his disciples "that they all might be one," and of that actual and active love which he contemplated when he commanded them to "love one another, as the Father had loved him," and which was so striking among the early christians when the heathen persecutors were constrained to say, "Behold how these christians love one another!"

Now revivals of religion are not caused by mere sympathy; but, as I have endeavored in a former Lecture to show, they call into action some of the most powerful and pervading sympathies of our nature. They are closely connected with the fact that God has grouped men together into families, circles of friendship, neighborhoods, and churches. They are intimately connected with the fact, that when one part of the social circle is affected, either by joy or grief, the emotion kindles from heart to heart, and family to family, and circle to circle, until the whole community is pervaded by a common feeling. And where in a community there are, if I may so speak, independent strata of society, it often happens in a revival that one is affected and not another; where all have common sympathies and feelings, all partake of the common emotion. That this should be found in a country population where men are, in general, on the same level; where every man knows his neighbor, and is accustomed to sympathize in all his wants, and woes, and joys; where difference of rank never separates them; and where the joy of conversion will strike a responsive cord throughout the community, is not to be wondered at. That such might not be the case in the population of a city, and especially in a city church, I shall not deny. I speak only of the fact as it actually exists.

I can never, while "life, and breath, and being last, or immortality endures," forget the time when God was pleased to bless my labors in a most remarkable and extensive revival of religion in a large country congregation. I had at its commencement some five hundred members of the church, and near five hundred families that were nominally connected with my charge, covering a region of country nearly ten miles in diameter. For more than a hundred years the Gospel had been faithfully preached there, and with eminent success. Revival after revival had crowned those labors;

and since the days when God so blessed this land under the ministry of Whitefield, Edwards, and the Tennants, scarce ten years had elapsed in which there had not been a revival there. At the time I speak of, a simultaneous impression was produced, under the ordinary preaching of the Gospel, on the entire community. It was a state of increasing seriousness, and of attention to the preaching of the Gospel. There was an unusual spirit of prayer; a deep anxiety on the part alike of the pastor and of the church members for the salvation of souls. The emotions deepened, until the heart became full; and all in the community were willing to converse on the subject of religion. Scenes of amusement and pastime gradually gave way to the deep business of religion; no voice was raised in opposition; no noise, no disorder characterized the places where men had assembled to ponder the great question of their salvation. On all the extended community an influence had come down silent as the sun-beams, and gentle and refreshing as the dews of heaven. There was deep sympathy in all that community; a calm, subdued, serious, and holy spirit of conversation, which showed that the "God of peace" was there.

Who can doubt that if such a power were to descend on the population that occupies the same extent of territory here;-if the same heavenly influence should pervade the two hundred thousand here that pervaded the comparatively few hundreds there; and if the same deep inquiry were to exist here on the topics pertaining to our eternal welfare;-if the effect were to be seen in closing the places of sinful amusement, in directing the steps of the guilty to the house of God, and in bringing out the lost and loathsome victims of crime, and lust, and disease, to the light of heavenly day; and in filling the mansions of the rich and the gay with the sweet peace of religion, and of holy communion with God, who can doubt that such a scene would be in accordance with man's exalted nature, and would be a spectacle on which hovering angels would look with wonder, gratitude, and joy? But, alas! tens of thousands here are far away from any such heavenly influence; thousands sneer at the name of revivals, and perhaps some hundreds of professed christians would have no sympathy in such a work of grace.

III. I mention as a third obstacle resulting from the nature of a city organization, the fact that wickedness is concentrated, organized, and embodied there. If there is any peculiar guilt on earth, it will be found there. If there is any that can exist only by combination and alliance; any that depends on confederacy and organization; any that shrinks from the light of day, it would be found in the large capitals of the world. If there is any crime peculiarly dark, deep, offensive, loathsome in the sight of heaven, it will be found, in such places. If Satan has any strongholds which he fortifies with peculiar care, and guards with peculiar vigilance, they are the large cities of the world. In all ages they have constituted, as they do now, the principal obstructions to the spread of religion;

and many, many a city has been doomed to destruction by God on account of its consummate wickedness, and because there was no other way to maintain his religion here below, than to sweep it with the besom of his wrath. So it was with the cities of the plain-in the time of Abraham the principal barriers to the progress of righteousness, and the very sewers of iniquity. So it was with Babylon-the proud oppressor-doomed to ruin irretrievable and eternal, on account of its pride, cruelty, and opposition to God. So, as has already been remarked, Christ found the principal obstructions to his preaching in Chorazin, in Bethsaida, in Capernaum, and in Jerusalem. There was consummate wisdom in the plan of the builders of Babel when they said, "Go to, let us build US A CITY and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven;" (Gen. 11:4;) for the very object of building a city was to contravene the Divine purpose, and to set God at defiance; as it would seem, almost, had been often the design in the great cities of the world.

Since that time, it would almost seem as if the design for which they had been founded had been to concentrate evil, and oppose religion on the earth. Tacitus long since described Rome as the colluvies gentium—the sink of nations-a description, the truth of which no one will doubt who is familiar with his history, or that of Gibbon. Dr. Johnson in a similar manner characterized London.

London! the needy villain's general home,
The common sewer of Paris and of Rome!
With eager thirst, by folly or by fate,
Sucks in the dregs of each corrupted state.

All that at home no more can beg or steal,

Or like a gibbet better than a wheel;

Hiss'd from the stage, or hooted from the court,
Their air, their dress, their politics import;
Obsequious, artful, voluble and gay,

On Britain's fond credulities they prey.


That beautiful poet, too, who perhaps never erred in describing the characters and customs of men, or of society-Cowper-has told us what a city is in the following lines:

Thither flow,

As to a common and most noisome sewer,
The dregs and feculence of every land.
In cities, foul example in most minds
Begets its likeness. Rank abundance breeds
In gross and pampered cities; sloth, and lust,
And wantonness, and gluttonous excess.
In cities, vice is hidden with most ease,

Or seen with least reproach; and virtue, taught
By frequent lapse, can hope no triumph there
Beyond the achievements of successful flight.

I do confess them nurseries of the arts,

In which they flourish most; where in the beams

Of warm encouragement, and in the eye

Of public note, they reach their perfect size.

Such London is, by taste and wealth proclaimed
The fairest capital of all the world,

By riot and incontinence the worst.

TASK, B. 1.

On this fact, in regard to cities as they have always existed, it would be needless here to dwell. Beautiful as they often are; rich, splendid, magnificent; the home of refinement, of courtesy, and accomplishment; the seats of science, and the nurse of the arts; I add, too, with thankfulness to God, the home often of deep piety and rich and liberal-hearted benevolence; yet they are the home, also, of every kind of infamy, of all that is false and hollow, and of all that fascinates, allures, and corrupts the hearts of men. There are found men of all nations, colors, characters, opinions. There men of splendid talents live to corrupt by their example and their influence; there unbounded wealth is lavished to amuse, betray, and ruin the soul; there are the vortices of business and of pleasure that engulf all; and there are the most degraded and the worst forms of human depravity.

I speak here particularly of sins of combination and alliance, of sins so allied and interlocked that nothing can meet and destroy them but the mighty power of God in a revival of religion; sins which stand peculiarly opposed to the prevalence of religion. The infidel in the country village usually stands almost alone. He may gather a few disciples; but their character usually testifies to the nature of the opinions held, and prevents the extension of the evil. In this land, a frowning public opinion usually rests on him and his doctrines. But in this city, he may make as many converts as he pleases. He may always find enough to gratify his vanity as a leader; always find enough to enable him to brave public opinion, and to keep him in countenance. The man of profaneness in the country village is usually almost alone. He mocks and curses his Maker with few to countenance him, and the burning lens of public indignation usually meets him wherever he goes. If he has a few companions they are known, and their known character is a sort of check on the extension of the profaneness. But not so in the city. If he chooses to curse his Maker, he can do it when he pleases, and be sustained by as many as he chooses. If he prefers to do it on the wharves and in the gutters, he will find enough there to countenance him; if he chooses to do it in the streets, alas, he may find a patron every where, and can scarce turn a corner without being greeted by a fellow-laborer in the work of cursing. If he prefers to think that it is an accomplishment for a gentleman, he will find gentlemen enough-so called, --who will keep him in countenance. In the country village or neighborhood the licentious young man is known. His character is understood; and he is usually a solitary monument of infamy. There is no organization for the purposes of licentiousness. The deed of wickedness is solitary, marked, hated. But what shall I say of a city-of all cities? Who can guage this evil there, and report to us the estimate? Who can acquaint us with the organizations designed to prevent impurity of life and

licentiousness of morals? Who can take any accurate census of the actual number of abandoned females; who of this far greater number of abandoned men-young and old-who are living in gross violation of the laws of heaven? Every great metropolis of the world in this respect bears a striking resemblance to Sodom; and it is matter of amazement that every great city does not meet its righteous doom. I might go over the whole catalogue of crimes that are marked on the calendar of human guilt, and we should find them all concentrated, organized, consolidated in our cities and large towns. There foul and offensive exhalations rise from the receptacles of human depravity; there volumes of curses roll up toward heaven; there the seducer practises his arts to inveigle the young; there tens of thousands riot in intemperance and curse their Maker; there multitudes practise all arts of fraud and infamy; and there Satan, knowing the power of cities in all the surrounding regions, has established his strongholds, and fortifies and guards his possessions with all that skill and art can do.

Now, it is not so much to affirm that the proportion of the wicked in cities is greater than in the country, that I have dwelt on this point; it is to fix the attention on two or three features of the fact directly bearing on the subject before us.

One is, that sin exists here in combination and alliance. It is not dissocial and solitary. It is united, and interlocked, and interwoven with numerous customs of society. The point of my remarks, therefore, is, that sin in cities presents a solid front to the Gospel of Christ. It is kept in countenance. It resists the Gospel, confident that it may be resisted. Hence the necessity of revivals of religion. O what shall ever meet and destroy this combined and consolidated wickedness, but the power of the Spirit of God descending on the whole community in answer to the prayers of christians, and inclining these ten thousand alienated hearts to seriousness and to God!

Another feature is, that the arrangements for sin in a city peculiarly contemplate the young. Well does the enemy of God know that the church looks to them for its increase. Its hopes are these. Its prospects of purity, fervor, and of the final conquest of the world, are these. Cast an eye now over a city, and ask for whom are the institutions of sin, licentiousness, and intemperance designed? Who are to be the victims? Who is to sustain them? Not much care is shown to propitiate the aged. Age has few passions that can be excited; and it is either fixed in principle beyond the hope of being seduced to profligacy, or it is already corrupt and ruined. An old man must soon leave the stage of action, and, whether virtuous or vicious, his opinions cannot long influence the world. Not so the young. There are passions in youth that may easily be enkindled; there are alluring arts that may readily be made to decoy them; and the wicked

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