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Age, indeed, heightens the grandeur of the grandest objects. The bald hoar mountains rise in dignity, the voice of ocean sounds more sublime on her stormy shores, and starry heavens sparkle with brighter splendor, when we think how old they are; how long it is since that ocean began to roll, or these lamps of night to shine. Yet these, the first star that ever shone, nay, the first angel that ever sang, are but things of yesterday beside this manger, where, couched in straw and wrapped in swaddling clothes, a new-born babe is sleeping. "Before Abraham was," or these were, " I am," says Jesus. His mother's maker, and his mother's child, he formed the living womb that gave him birth, and, ten thousand ages before that, the dead rock that gave him burial. A child, yet Almighty God; a son, yet the everlasting Father, his history carries us back into eternity; and the dignities which he left, those glories which he veiled, how should they lead us to adore his transcendent love, and to kneel the lower at his cross to cry, Jesus! thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.—Colossians i. 16.
As I read my text, it appears to me plainly to assert and clearly to demonstrate, the doctrine of our Lord's divinity. Now the incarnation of God, more than any other truth in the Bible, is one of pure revelation. There are many other doctrines there, of which men, without any aid from inspiration, have arrived at a more or less clear conception; guided to the discovery of them by no other lights than those of reason and of conscience. Therefore Paul says, "When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another."
It will make this doctrine stand out all the more prominently as that great and sacred mystery which angels desired to look into, and at the same time serve, what I think an important purpose to direct your attention—
I. To some of those cases which illustrate the har mony between Natural Religion and our Christian faith. Such, for instance, is—
1. The doctrine of the being of a God. I do not need to open the Bible to learn that. It is enough that I open my eyes, and turn them on that great book of nature, where it is legibly written, clearly revealed in every page. God! that word may be read in the stars and on the face of the sun; it is painted on every flower, traced on every leaf, engraven on every rock; it is whispered by the winds, sounded forth by the billows of ocean, and may be heard by the dullest ear in the long-rolling thunder. I believe in the existence of a God, but not in the existence of an atheist; or that any man is so, who can be considered in his sound and sober senses. What should we think of one who attempted to account for any other works of beauty and evident design, as he professes to do for those of God? Here is a classic temple; here stands a statue, designed with such taste and executed with such skill, that one almost expects the marble to leap from its pedestal; here hangs a painting of some dead beloved one, so life-like as to move our tears; here, in Iliad, or iEneid, or Paradise Lost, is a noble poem, full of the grandest thoughts, and clothed in sublimest imagery; here is a piece of most delicate, intricate, and ingenious mechanism. Well, let a man tell me gravely, that these were the work of chance; tell me, when I ask who made them, that nobody made them; tell me, that the arrangement of the letters in this poem, and of the colors in that picture, of the features in the statue, was a matter of mere chance; how I should stare at him? and conclude, without a moment's hesitation, that I had fallen into the company of a raving madman or of some drivelling idiot. Turning away from such atheistic ravings about the infinitely more glorious works of God, with what delight does reason listen, and with what readiness does she assent, and with what distinct and hearty voice does she echo the closing words of the seraphim's hymn, " the whole earth is full of his glory!"
2. Such also is the doctrine that man is a sinner. Who needs to open the Bible to learn that? It is enough that I open my heart; or read in the light of conscience the blotted record of my past life. "I know and approve the better, and yet follow the worse," was the memorable saying of one of the wisest heathens; yet it did not need any superlative wisdom to arrive at that conclusion. Dr. Livingstone tells us that he found the rudest tribes of Africa, on whose Cimmerian darkness no straggling ray of revealed truth had ever fallen, ready to admit that they were sinners. Indeed, they hold almost everything to be sin which, as such, is forbidden in the word of God. Nor is it possible to read his clear statements on that subject, without arriving at this very interesting and important conclusion, that the ten commandments received from God's own hand by Moses on Mount Sinai, are but the copy of a much older law—that law which the finger of his Maker wrote on Adam's heart, and which, though sadly defaced by the fall, may still, like the inscription on a time-eaten, moss-grown stone, be traced on ours. See how guilt reddens in the blush, and consciousness of sin betrays itself in the downcast look of childhood! Even when they drink up iniquity as the ox drinketh up the water, and wallow in sin as the swine in the mire, there is a conscience within men that convicts of guilt and warns of judgment. Dethroned, but not exiled, she still asserts her claims, and fights for her kingdom in the soul; and, resuming the seat of lordly judgment, with no more respect for sovereigns than beggars, she summons them to her bar, and thunders on their heads. Felix trembles. Herod turns pale, dreading in Christ the apparition of the Baptist; while Cain, fleeing from his brother's grave, wanders away conscience-stricken into the gloomy depths of the forest and the solitudes of an unpeopled world. Like the ghost of a murdered man, conscience haunts the house that was once her dwelling, making her ominous voice heard at times even by the most hardened in iniquity. In her the rudest savage carries a God within him, who warns the guilty, and echoes these words of Scripture, Depart from evil, and do good. Stand in awe and sin not.
3. Such also is the doctrine that sin deserves punishment. Hell is no discover) of the Bible. In vain do men flee from Christianity to escape what their uneasy conscience feels to be a painful doctrine; one which, in their anxiety to lull conscience asleep, they reject as a doctrine of incredible horrors. If that is an objection to this book, it is an equally valid objection to every religious creed which man ever held and cherished. A great poet has represented with great power the cataracts and rivers, the rocks and glaciers, the hurtling avalanche and rolling thunders of the Alps, and those lovely valleys where summer, attired in a robe of flowers, seems sleeping at the feet of winter, as forming one great choir, and with their various voices all proclaiming, " God;" but it is not less solemn than true, it is no poetic fancy, but a plain strik