Obrazy na stronie

others. There is no truth more assured, no maxim more common-place, than that it is utterly impossible to satisfy all. For human beings cannot see exactly by the same lights :they have not all the same mental endowments, and therefore necessarily measure events by very different standards. Some applaud what others censure with acrimony; and that which advances us in the good opinion of this person, will depress us proportionably in the estimation of that. Some are unable to guide the powers of reason to any right purpose, and thus suffer their passions always to command their judgment. Directed wholly by the blind impulse of imagination, by groundless prejudices and partialities, their course is usually the most peremptory and obstinate ; they are hardly capable of change or mitigation. Touch them, however involuntarily, , and you rouse the hornet's nest. Where they possess power, they will sting to the very soul ; where they have none, still are heard the murmurings of their fretfulness, the impotent hum of their discontent, and the restless flutter of their tumid fancies. Some discover cause of enmity in the prosperous condition of their neighbours. Cain abhorred his brother, because God preferred his offering. The kindred of Joseph were mortally offended because of their father's partial love for the first-born of his favourite Rachel, Saul was enraged with David, because his gallant exploits drew on him the joyful acclamations of the people. The Babylonian Princes maligned Daniel, simply because he enjoyed the favour of the King, and a dignity corresponding to his merits.

But the fatal rock on which peaceable intentions are inevitably shattered, and which no prudent steerage of our course can obviate, is the unreasonable pretension which admits no peace unless we will concur in practices at once unwarrantable and dishonest : such as either the express command of God, or the evident dictates of right reason, constrain us to avoid. Highly valuable as the good-will of our neighbours should be esteemed, there is yet a higher rate to be placed upon the favour of God, and on the satisfaction of a good conscience. And never can we be justified in gaining the one at the expense of the other.

But, my brethren, much of our private interests we both may and ought to sacrifice for the great blessing of mutual confidence and quiet. How calm the mind, how composed the affections, how serene the countenance of that man who neither meditates mischief against others, nor suspects it to be active against himself! How sweet his sleep! how contentedly he pursues “the even tenor of his way!” But, on the contrary, how utterly loathsome is a life of enmity! how intolerable the solicitude of days consumed in wrath and dissension! Who would not rather walk in smooth and unobstructed paths, than wander over wilds beset with briars, and thorns, and pitfalls ? Who would not rather sail with prosperous gales and under smiling skies, than be tossed at random over a tempestuous ocean? Who would not welcome the voice of harmony rather than the sound of discord ?

My brethren, permit me to conclude with the earnest hope, that what I have this day uttered may not be misapplied or misjudged. I have been actuated by one single feeling-by a most sincere desire to blunt the edge of rancorous hostility ; to soften at the warming flame of Christian love, the hard, unbending spirit of party zeal. I ask not, presumptuously, the surrender of opinion ; but that it should be possessed, with your souls in patience and in peace. I seek not, with indiscreet and desperate hardihood, to battle against the prejudices of mankind, but, with wellplaced confidence in the good sense of my hearers, I solicit them, not to support their prejudices by their passions—not to confound right with wrong—not to violate the sacredness of social order, nor the privileges of Christian charity. I exhort them to “ love God and honour the King ;" to follow the example of our blessed Lord and the injunction of His Apostle ; and," as much as lieth in them, to live peaceably with all men."




And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole ; and it

came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.-NUMB. xxi. 9.

A MORE remarkable instance of the waywardness, than that displayed by the Israelites in the wilderness, is not recorded in history. Under the evident and incontrovertible protection of the Deity, with miracles perpetually before their eyes, and with the memory of the past too vivid and too impressive to be driven into forgetfulness, they could murmur at every trivial difficulty, and rebel at every protracted deliverance from imagined danger! They wanted water ; and, heedless of their past sufferings in Egypt, they insolently inquired of Moses, why he had brought them out. When they passed, afterwards, through the land of Edom, and were "discouraged because of the way,” the insolent query was repeated; although, on the previous occasion, the rock had been struck and the water made to gush miraculously forth ! Quails, and manna for bread, were munificently rained from his bounding steed while furiously impelling it along, struck by the commissioned avenger. Whether clinging to the half-scaled rock or almost buried in the hot and suffocating heaps of sand, he feels the deadly gripe of his inexorable foe; and writhes in all the agonies of punished and despairing crime.

Tears and cries and prayers avail not; the noisy execrations of madness or the gasping moans of hopeless remorse!

In this extremity of wretchedness, they at length turned again to their God and bent in supplication to Him. “The people then came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against thee." That which all the earnest persuasions of the Jewish legislator—all the mercies of indulgent Heavenall the remembrance of past afflictions, had not been able to effect, the serpents signally achieved -the sting of justice admirably perfected! The ungrateful crowds now flock around their leader -now, on bended knee, implore forgiveness ; now, with dejected eyes and humbled heart, seek out a mediator between them and Heaven.

Pray unto the Lord,” they cried, “ that he take away the serpents from us.” Of him, whom they had scorned and calumniated, they are reduced to implore assistance ! Of him, from whom they had turned in anger and in hatred, they are compelled to solicit peace and love! The proud heart of ingratitude is lowered to the


« PoprzedniaDalej »