« PreviousContinue »
own ignorance, and supply the want of real skill, by arrogant pretensions to some new discovery, or an affected singularity in the treatment of some common points. But not so the man of comprehensive knowledge. Not so the Preacher who has a clear and glowing view of his Master's Religion in general. He will not endeavour to divide and perplex mankind by vain and insignificant distinctions, but to unite and animate them all in the exercise of true vital and evangelical piety. He will not multiply notions, or delight to dwell on trifles, that tend to sow animosities and create confusions among the same species; but to enforce universal Virtue, and light up the lamp of heavenly Charity, to adorn and gild this gloomy vale of life. Such a one will first endeavour to obtain, for himself, just and elevated notions of the Supreme Being, together with a masculine devotion of heart, by approaching in frequent acts of contemplation to the fountain of all Grace; and what he himself is, he will strive to make others be. When he steps into the pulpit, he will carry no schemes or views thither with him, that are short of his Master's Glory. He will appear as one standing in the presence of the great Jehovah, glowing for the good of his species, and impressed with the vast consequence of eternity. On every subject, he will speak what he feels, and strive to make others feel what he speaks. But, in his more solemn addresses, when he finds it particularly necessary to reluminate the dying spirit of Freedom and Religion here on earth; or when the glorious prospects of a better world and the amazing Goodness of Redeeming Love are his theme, he will then be great indeed! He will seem all on fire. His very face will speak a soul of rapture. He will be borne along with a winged ardour of genius, pouring forth a torrent of sacred eloquence, which some will call enthusiasm; but, if it must be so called, it will be the noble enthusiasm of Truth and Reason—a pure and transcendent flame, bearing all down before it, and burning still clearer and stronger to the very last— The fallen and sinful estate of man; the Grace and Goodness of God; the wonders of his Love; Christ crucified; the Purity of His everlasting Gospel; Charity and Virtue; Righteousness, Temperance and a Judgment to come, together with an Eternity afterwards—who, my brethren, that has these subjects before him, would stoop to any thing of trivial moment, or disgrace them by a crude and unworthy management? May the God of heaven give all of us the grace of His Holy Spirit to manage them as we ought, and conduct us in every other part of our duty “ for the edifying the body of Christo.” Being possessed with a just conception of the dignity of our holy Profession, and a thorough veneration for the Saviour of the world; may we strive, in our several spheres, with an earnest contention of soul, for the establishment of genuine piety, and to make “his ways known on Earth, and his saving health among all Nations.” Amen!
.FIRST PREACHED BEFORE THE TRUSTEES, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE COLLEGE AND ACADEMY OF PHILADELPHIA, AT THE ANNIVERSARY COMMENCEMENT, MAY 1T61.
PSALM, ii. 8.
Ask of me and 1 shall give thee the Heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
A FULL explanation of this text, compared with sundry others that foretel the final conversion of the Heathen, and seem to have a particular reference to our situation on this Continent, hath been already attempted, before the Episcopal Clergy, in this province, at their late Convention.
Christianity, as then observed, was first revealed in the Eastern parts of the world. Like the sun, there • it rose; and, like him, advancing Westward through the nations, diffused Light, and Love, and Joy, wherever it came. At length, it crossed the vast Atlantic; and, in the settlement of these colonies, a way was opened for adding a large inheritance to the kingdom of Jesus, in the remotest parts of the West.
It is true that no great progress hath hitherto been made in this work. There is yet an immense depth of this continent, whose forlorn inhabitants never had any opportunity " to hear the glad tidings
VOL. II. XX
of Salvation;" and, of those who have been blest with such an opportunity, few, very few, have turned a listening ear to the joyful sound.
But " the promises of God in Christ are all Yea and Amen*." A careful examination of His revealed word hath thoroughly fixed our belief that the time will come when the Heathen around us shall be gathered into his fold, under the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls. Nay many auspicious circumstances in the present situation of things on this continent, already enumerated in the foregoing Sermon, give us reason to expect that the accomplishment of this event is now not far remote. And oh! what a triumphant consideration is this, to those who believe the Gospel of Jesus " to be the power of God unto salvation?"
Now, one of those circumstances, which was but slightly mentioned before, I have at present the most favourable opportunity of considering more at large. It is "the spirit which displays itself, through these American colonies, for the founding seminaries of Learning; and the great influence which the advance- • ment of the Sciences has on the advancement of Christ's Gospel."
In order to do justice to this subject, it will be necessary to give same account of the Human Sciences,' as well as of the sublime Science of Christianity; to shew the subserviency of the former to the advancement of thelatter, and thereby to engageyour continued favour and protection towards this infant Seminary.
• 3 Corinth, ii. 20
And that I may proceed with the greater precision and clearness, I shall recur to first principles.
If we consult the constitution of our nature, we shall find ourselves, in every pursuit, actuated by the desire of happiness; and determined to account every thing more or less valuable, as it tends more or less to that end.
Happiness, however, is a complex thing, compounded of many ingredients; and the road to attain it has its labyrinths and windings, not to be travelled, but with caution and foresight. For man, being made up of soul and body, sustains a double relation, and is capable of a double kind of pleasure; there being a variety of objects suited to the variety of his affections, passions and tempers, when in their sound moral state. His happiness, therefore, must evidently depend on making a right estimate of these objects, and maintaining this sound temperament of constitution; so as to pursue each of them with a degree of force commensurate to their respective values, or tendencies to give pleasure.
Hence, then, whatever enables a man to make a right estimate of things, and to frame his conduct accordingly, must be considered as an engine or mean of his happiness, and is to be valued proportionably. It follows, therefore, that those researches which bring him acquainted with himself, the ends, uses and measures of his several powers and movements, together with the ends and uses of the various objects with which he stands connected, must be a main spring of his happiness; and, in this view, may be denominated his true Wisdom, the first and