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adoring seraphim approaching the mercy seat in the "holy of ho. lies;" and a voice was heard, “ Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in."
God dwells upon the earth ; not as he dwells in sinless worlds ; not in universal clemency, nor in final rewards and punishments; nor yet does he reign in open vision. The light of his countenance is reflected through the appropriate medium of Jesus Christ and him crucified ; “ for him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” This method of divine goodness was typified under the law, and is realized under the gospel. We perceive its wonderful adaptation to our fallen world, though it opens upon us a field of theology which we are unable to explore. While “ angels desire to look into it," and ministers labor to comprehend it, it constitutes a theme of astonishment and admiration both to men and angels. • Great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
The eye which never flowed with the tears of repentance, and never glanced at the depths of Christianity, being wont to the mazes of skepticism, and used to wander and wonder among the constellations, is altogether disqualified for religious investigation. It does not, in fact, perceive why such an “humble portion of the universe as ours should be an object of those high and distinguishing attentions” which the Scriptures avow. Unbelief is the result of depravity, weakness, and wrong associations. Who is sufficient to compare, or duly estimate worlds but Him who made them? Who among the sons of men has traced their line of gradation, perceived their moral relations, or scanned the diversity of ends to which they are respect. ively appointed ? To all particulars of this kind the wise man places his “ hand upon his mouth, and refuses to answer.” I know not why a planet for its greater bulk should be inhabited by creatures of higher perfection-or how the comparative smallness of the earth should operate against the avowed greatness of its design. Among the works of God we often discern in figures of smaller magnitude a greater amount of skill
, and perceive in them marks of higher design than are found in the larger. God is pleased to reveal himself both in nature and providence in a manner unlooked for; and where reason is too feeble to perceive the motive and method of his operation, he often brings forth the most admirable effect.
Why may not earth sustain a more exalted relation in the scale of being than Jupiter, though the latter be fourteen hundred times larger than the former? So it may be; nor in the order of nature can any sufficient reason be found why our globe may not as well as any be a theatre of the most extraordinary transactions. But, under the light of revelation, though it were.a mere province of Jehovah's kingdom, we have indubitable evidence that he has here opened a plan of ope. rations to which the whole universe may look with interest, and receive instruction. This is a world of fallen souls; and it could be redeemed by nothing short of the sacrifice which was once offered on Calvary. Here the subject expands into a boundless prospect. We shall not enlarge, but merely repeat a remarkable passage which is often quoted from the " Night Thoughts" of Dr. Young :
“Knowest thou the importance of a soul immortal ?
Behold this midnight glory. Worlds on worlds !
Of unintelligent creation poor.” That God dwells on the earth is strikingly manifest in its physical productions. The laws of nature from age to age remain unaltered. They actuate and control the vegetable and animal kingdoms now, as they did five thousand years ago. They have no absolute being ; there can be but one self-existent Cause; this Cause produced them, and it constantly sustains them. The innumerable combinations of which the elementary particles of matter are capable, and the important results of such combinations as are seen in minerals, plants, trees, and animals, speak the superintendence of God, and astonish us with his infinite skill and goodness. The inspired writers neither teach the absence of God, nor attach a self-subsisting energy to his works. They speak of him as “upholding all things by the word of his power," and as ever present and active in the productions of nature.
God out of the whirlwind thus interrogates his servant Job, 6 Who hath divided the water.course for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder, to cause it to rain on the earth ?”
66 Who provideth for the raven his food ?” 66 Who hath sent out the wild ass free, whose house I have made the wilderness ?” 6 Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacock? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich ?" And thus the Psalmist :
:-- He sendeth the springs into the valleys which run among the hills”—“ They give drink to the beasts of the field; and the wild asses quench their thirst. Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praises upon the harp unto our God, who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.” “ He openeth his hand and satisfieth the desire of every living thing," &c.
The skepticism which calls in question God's regard for the minutiæ, and confines his attention to the prominent, reflects the highest dishonor upon his character. It sets him at variance with himself, by supposing him to have created many things which are beneath his dignity to govern. Heedless of the vital connections existing be. tween the smaller and the larger works of nature, it disowns the sentiment that
“All are but parts of one stupendous whole ;" and gives us no data by which we may acquire any satisfaction respecting the divine government. This species of skepticism over minds which are more remarkable for astronomical enthusiasm than for rational investigation has prevailed in some instances to an alarming extent. Christian writers have therefore deemed it providential, that, at about the time when the telescope was invented, “ which teaches us to see a system in every star,” the microscope was formed, which shows us a “world in every atom.” The presence of God in nature comports with his excellence; “ and his tender mercies which are spread over all his works” throw a supreme loveliness about him, and afford the highest satisfaction to his worshipers. To excite our confidence in his all-disposing hand, our Saviour says, “ If God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith ?” It is God's sunshine and showers that give life and animation. 'Tis he that mantles the fields and forests with verdure, makes the elements productive, and supplies the wants of every creature; he paints the flowers of summer, and ripens the fruits of autumn.
“ He giveth snow like wool, and scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes. He sendeth out his word and melteth them: he causeth his winds to blow, and the waters flow :"
“ He warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
Spreads undivided, operates unspent.” God dwells among men in a wise and wonderful providence; he exercises a particular and universal supervision over all the world, in which respect, though“ righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne, clouds and darkness are round about him.” It would be the extreme of weakness for a creature just sprung from nonentity, for short-lived man just waked into consciousness, to attempt the apprehension of such a profound and extensive government. If sin has occasioned all the disorder which we see around us and if it require infinite skill to counteract it, and to dispose of a world of depraved moral agents, it is of course impossible for a limited capacity to comprehend such an administration; and as it is not in our power to grasp the whole, so neither are we able to trace all the direct and relative bearings of a part. Even God's own people are not permitted to discern the tenderness of bio love in all the events that befall them, They are assured that all things shall work together for their good; but the method of their acceptance with God would not permit them, were their capacities adequate, to see the wonderful process by which all things so eventuate; nor does it allow them to be anxious about matters of this kind. Under the government of Christ we are destined to walk by faith, and not by sight; and it is certain death to live otherwise than by faith in the divine promises. God never reveals himself unto salvation when sought only by the power of reason. Nature and providence declare his existence; reason assents to his sovereignty ; but it is a penitential faith in our Lord Jesus Christ which makes God familiar to our thoughts, and brings us under the light of his countenance. In this way we become acquainted with him, and in no other can we retain the enjoyment of him. We must live in the constant exercise of faith. This will keep us humble in prosperity, patient in adversity, and perfect us in all the graces of the Holy Spirit. Is it not enough for us to know that the very hairs of our heads are numbered; and that He, in whom we have believed, and with whom we have intrusted our present and everlasting interests, is Emanuel, God with us, and is able to keep us unto everlasting life?
His language to all that trust in him is, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, she may verily forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands!" " When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned ; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
God dwells in his house of worship, and with his people when assembled in it. He took possession of the temple with visible signs and wonders; but that his presence should there abide was held under a conditional promise. The promise runs thus: “ I have chosen and sanctified this house that my name may be there for ever. If my people humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin”
"mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears shall attend unto the prayer that is made in this place. But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes—then will I pluck you up-and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight.” The house of worship, though desirable as to form, and elegant in its execution, is far less pleasing to God than is the humble soul who resorts thither for worship. Yes, though he calls the heaven his throne, and the earth his footstool, neither these, nor any other material habitation are answerable to his excellence, nor are they half so pleasing to him as the “contrite spirit that trembles at his word.”
God alone can hallow the place of his worship; and this he does when, in answer to prayer, he displays therein his saving grace among his people. The house remains dear to him only on account of the holy and effectual services which, from time to time, are performed in it. Here the holy Scriptures, like the ark of the covenant in the temple, find a proper and abiding residence; and in this sacred volume stand, in a thousand important connections, the significant appellations of its glorious Author. Among these is one assumed by himself as most expressive of his nature. To Moses on Mount Horeb he thus proclaimed and defined it: “ The Lord! The Lord God ! merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and will by no means clear the guilty,” &c. In the gospel sanctuary are set forth the divine character and the mediatorial reign of Christ-the elect are trained for immortality--the light of eternity dawns upon the soul, and the knowledge of the glory of God appears in the face of Jesus." “ And how dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.' Here God dwells in his ordinances, and makes them effectual. He lives in the public ministry, in the eucharistic feast, in holy bap. tism, and in sacred song.
As the church under the law was favored with his special presence, so is she under the gospel. Jehovah shrouds not his throne in thick darkness. He leaves not his people to grope after him in the mere works of nature, or to apprehend him solely in the letter of the Scriptures. No; glory to his ever blessed name, whenever his real worshipers appear in his sanctuary, he is himself among them!
“We are not strangers and foreigners; for he hath made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." The Spirit's influence on some occasions resembles a reviving breeze ; on others, the rushing of a mighty wind; and sometimes he is like a pillar of fire in our midst. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” 66 The Lord of hosts is with us ; the God of Jacob is our refuge." Amen.
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.
THE DUTY OF THE CHURCH TO THE WORLD;
A MISSIONARY SERMON.
BY REV. F. REED, OF THE N. Y. CONFERENCE.
Having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you," 2 Cor. x, 15, 16.
The Christian philanthropist, in casting his eye over the eight hundred millions of human beings who inhabit the earth, will have his attention -arrested more by the circumstances which distinguish their moral condition, than by any facts, however striking, which mark their political or physical state. For however important, in the estimation of casual and worldly-minded observers, may be the mere circumstances of their momentary existence; and however the difference which in these respects exists among different portions of the human family may be regarded as the most important that can exist ; yet, if we look upon men as moral beings, and subject to those influences which affect their moral character and future destiny, we shall lose sight of their mere earthly condition as undeserving a moment's thought. Their existence rises to an importance which no language can describe, and no human thought can estimate. The history of each is fraught with an interest which we may seek in vain amid the records of empires. Hence, in the judgment of our Saviour, it would profit a man nothing to gain the whole world, if the loss of his soul were to be the price paid for it. And hence, too, the atonement which was made for its recovery, though infinite in value, was not considered too dear a ransom. God has thus put the seal of his own estimation upon the priceless worth of every human soul. And in order that the purposes of infinite mercy might be fully answered, and man recovered from that loss and ruin which had been occasioned by sin, our blessed Lord commanded his apostles to proclaim the tidings of redemption to the ends of the earth, and urge, by all the considera. tions which the importance of their message furnished, the acceptance of salvation upon every human being.
If such then be the interest which the welfare of men has excited in the bosom of the Deity—and if their salvation is so important as to have called forth such astonishing displays of divine power and benevolence; and if, especially, it was the will and command of the Saviour that his gospel should be preached to all nations, why has that gospel, after the lapse of eighteen centuries, accomplished com.