« 前へ次へ »
cepts, and those that slight them, are compared to two men who build houses, the one upon a rock, the other upon sand. When he asks the woman of Samaria for drink, he expounds to her his heavenly doctrine, under the beautiful image of a well of living water.
His character was amiable, open, and tender; and his charity unbounded. The Evangelist gives us a complete and admirable idea of it in these few words: He went about doing good. His resignation to the will of God is conspicuous in every moment of his life; he loved, and felt the sentiment of friendship : the man whom he raised from the tomb, Lazarus, was his friend; it was for the sake of the noblest sentiment of life that he performed the greatest of his miracles. In him the love of country may find a model. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” he exclaimed, at the idea of the judgments which threatened the guilty city, “how often would I have drawn thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” Casting his sorrowful eyes from the top of a hill over this city, doomed for her crimes to a signal destruction, he was unable to restrain his tears. “He beheld the city," says the Evangelist, “and wept over it." His tolerance was not less remarkable : when his disciples begged him to command fire to come down from heaven on a village of Samaria, which had denied him hospitality, he replied with indignation, “ Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.”
THE DIVINE LOVE.
Encompassing, pervading, binding all The elements in one harmonious law Of beauty and sublimity. 'Twas thou, Bright aspect of the Holy One, didst move Upon the dark chaotic waters, ere Matter caught glory from the golden sun; And beauty sprung in rapture from the deep, With the new earth, all smiles : while all the host Of heaven, the stars, the planets, and the range Of suns unnumbered sung for very joy, And mingled with the everlasting spheres Triumphant melody. Yes, it is love, Boundless, eternal love that springs from Thee, Almighty Father, on the ruddy wings Of morning, with the blithe young lark in joy; Or on the evening's tranquil holiness. Giving the parting, fascinating beam Of the bright sun a milder charm, and pouring To the wronged heart a balm, and to the spirit Thoughts that eternity cannot annul.
And unto him who holds true faith within him,
Or the oft bleaching eye hath gazed upon,
The depths of nature, and the womb of earth,
Which calls thee to a forfeited estate,
LESSON VIII. IMPORTANCE OF RELIGION TO SOCIETY. Few men suspect, perhaps no man comprehends, the extent of the support given by religion to the virtues of ordinary life. No man, perhaps, is aware how much our moral and social sentiments are fed from this fountain ; — how powerless conscience would become without the belief of a God; how palsied would be human benevolence, were there not the sense of a higher benevolence to quicken and sustain it; how suddenly the whole social fabric would quake, and with what a fearful crash it would sink into hopeless ruins, were the ideas of a Supreme Being, of accountableness, and of a future life, to be utterly erased from the human mind. Once let men thoroughly believe they are the work and sport of chance; that no superior intelligence concerns itself with human affairs; that all their improvements perish for ever at death; that the weak have no guardian, and the injured no avenger; that there is no recompence for sacrifices to uprightness and the public good; that an oath is unheard in heaven; that secret crimes have no witness but the perpetrator; that human existence has no purpose, and human virtue no unfailing friend ; that this brief life is everything to us, and death is total, everlasting extinction; once let men thoroughly abandon religion, and who can conceive or describe the.extent of the desolation which would follow? We hope, perhaps, that human laws and natural sympathy would hold society together. As reasonably might we believe, that, were the sun quenched, in the heavens, our torches could illuminate, and our fires quicken and fertilize the earth. What is there in human nature to awaken respect and tenderness, if man is the unprotected insect of a day? And what is he more if Atheism be true? Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man. Appetite knowing no restraint, and poverty and suffering having no solace, or hope, would trample in scorn on the restraints of human laws. Virtue, duty, principle, would be mocked and spurned as unmeaning sounds; a sordid self-interest would supplant every other feeling, and man would become, in fact, what the theory of Atheism declares him to be, a companion for brutes.
It particularly deserves attention in this discussion, that the Christian Religion is singularly important to free communities. In truth we may doubt whether civil freedom can subsist without it. This at least we know, that equal rights and an impartial administration of justice, have never been enjoyed where this religion has not been understood. It favours free institutions, first, because its spirit is the very spirit of liberty; that is, à spirit of respect for the interests and rights of others. Christianity recognizes the essential equality of mankind; beats down with its whole might those aspiring and rapacious principles of our nature, which have subjected the many to the few; and, by its refining influence, as well as by direct precept, turns to God, and to Him only, that supreme homage which has been so impiously lavished on Papal power and dominion. Thus its whole tendency is free. It lays deeply the only foundations of liberty, which are the principles of benevolence, justice, and respect for human nature. The spirit of liberty is not merely, as multitudes imagine, a privilege, a jealousy for our own particular rights, an unwillingness to be oppressed ourselves, but a respect for the rights of others, and an unwillingness that any man, whether high or low, should be wronged, and