« ForrigeFortsæt »
almighty power? Or with such objects in view as the temporal and eternal happiness of the whole human species, would the heart, glowing with the love of God and man, hesitate to attempt even apparent impossibilities ? Nor perhaps does any thing which can intervene between the present juncture, and the consummation of which we are speaking, wear more of the appearance of impossibility, than once would have done that unbounded multiplication and distribution of the bread of life which now appears so perfectly practicable. At least then let us not be deterred from adopting this preliminary step towards perfection, which, if that be at all attainable, must be allowed to be indispensibly necessary.
With respect to the affairs of the world, they cannot, any more than the surface of its waters, long remain in a motionless state. Agitation is no less necessary to fulfil the salutary purposes of a superintending Providence. And which of us that has seen fifty or sixty years pass over his head, cannot perceive, since, his early days, not only an amazing advance in physical science, in arts and agriculture, but amidst convulsions which have shaken the political system to its centre, the permanent triumphs of civil, religious, and personal liberty? Away then with despondency! and let the glory to be revealed be kept stedfastly in view, animate our hopes, quick. en our endeavours, and put fervency into our prayers.
In these benevolent efforts for the bappiness of the world at large, our own country in itself almost a world) must necessarily occupy a principal share. Its widely-scattered and increasing population cannot but be very scantily provided with the means of knowledge, and be nearly destitute of opportunities
for religious improvement; inconveniences for which the general introduction of the bible presents the readiest and most eligible remedy. I would recommend to the perasal of such of my audience as may not have seen it, a very interesting report of the state of the western country in these respects, published last year by the Society, from which it will appear that there is very great scope indeed for the bumane interference of our citizens. The pleasing prospects which thus present themselves, of transmitting divine truth where it has been hitherto unknown or disregarded, and the satisfaction and gratitude commonly expressed at the opportunity now so kindly offered of enjoying its benefits, seem to announce the near approach, if not the actual arrival, of the day spoken of in our text, “ when the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness;" when the meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."
But we are warranted in looking beyond our own frontiers, with ardent longings for the breaking forth of light upon those dark places of the earth in which are the habitations and instruments of cruelty. Whose soul has not been harrowed up with the tales of horror which have lately been told! with deeds of enormity which I trust in God have been acted for the last time! How should we hail the period (O that it might speedily arrive!) when the arts of industry and peace might find their way among this wretched race! How soon would they be followed by the knowledge of letters, and an ability to converse with the things belonging to their present and future well
being! With what transports of joy would the Bible Society receive the message, “ Come over into the wilderness and help us !" Then indeed would the “parched land become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water; in the habitation of dragons, where each lay," there should be, not only “grass," but well-cultivated fields. teeming with abundant supplies of the necessaries, comforts and conveniences of humanised and civilised life; and the “ highway” that should be there, should be s called the way of holi. bess." Is there one who claims the title of Christian whose heart does not burn within him at the thought?
If I could prevail on myself to close a subject so animating with an unpleasant reflection, it would be this :
-Are we justified in entertaining any sanguine expectations from the measure now adopted, when we see how lamentably the scriptures, and the injunctions they contain, are disregarded by a great proportion of those who have thein constantly at hand, and have been bred up from their earliest years in an acquaintance with them? But let us dismiss the gloomy idea. Rather let us persuade ourselves that if a general interest can be excited in promoting the pious and liberal views of the Bible Society, none who are zealously earnest for the reformation of others can be indifferent or inattentive to their own. - Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?" Thou that makest thy boast of the scriptures, dost thou dishonour them by the breach of their precepts and treating them with neglect? God forbid, that through conduct like this on our part, his name should be blasphemed among the Gentiles ! Let us hope better things, even if we cannot rely on the best of motives. We are so much, in these days,
the votaries of fashion, and fashion is so variable, that we need not despair of its becoming fashionable to stady the bible-its real friends would be glad to see such a taste prevailing; and the effect would be beneficial if it reached no farther than the giving a turn from that fascinating, but pernicious, kind of reading, which leads the imagination astray after things that never did nor ever will exist; unfits the minds of our female youth in particular for the serious and respectable discharge of the most important relative duties of life, as well as for sustaining its trials with fortitude; and thus, through them, to whom in their earliest days the care of both sexes is committed, has a most unfavourable influence on society at large.
Finally, brethren, “I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all them who are sanctified” through faith that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.