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it, it will not. It cannot be kept as a prisoner in the dungeon. It will look through its iron gratings. It will, at some time, be heard. It will one day scale the wall. There is as much difficulty in one's shining without purity and integrity as there was in the five foolish virgins making their lamps burn in which there
was no oil.
But with these elements everything helps the Christian. All laws, tendencies, providences, are his friends. Other minds are mirrors that reflect his light. His enemies, fearing that he may pour too much light upon iniquities that have ripened into institutions, strive to put it out. But their efforts only add fuel to the flame. The more they try to extinguish it, the higher it flames up. Every screen they raise to keep off the light becomes a powerful reflector of its rays. Not a few Christian heroes have been indebted to their enemies for rendering their light eminently conspicuous. Every note of alarm has been a trumpet tone, to call the multitude together to gaze upon the new luminary that has appeared in the moral heavens. As the incoming waves and tide raise the light ship, and thus enable the beacon to be seen at a greater distance, so the tide of popular indignation raises the moral light and causes its beams to extend over a wider sphere.
In the next place Christians are the light of the world, because they are the source of the beautiful in character, virtue, and holiness. Without light, what conception could we have of the beautiful in nature, of the variety in colors-of the exquisite combinations of light and shade in natural scenery. When the sun and stars are invisible, and we look out upon the darkness, all variety and beauty are lost in the intense gloom. A vivid imagination fills the deserted streets with midnight robbers and assassinsfills the black, mourning forest with wild beasts-fills the air with evil spirits. The door is hastily shut against the intense gloom, and we return, with thrills of joy, to the bright fireside. Night is the funeral of nature. The landscape-the beauty of flowers— the songs of birds seem entombed. The sighing of the winds is the funeral dirge. I do not wonder that many flowers close up as the sun sinks below the horizon, unwilling to waste their beauties upon the darkness. But on the return of the morning sun, they then open their arms to welcome his beams. The forests, mountains, valleys emerge from the darkness and seem almost created anew. Thus light is the source of beauty-the artist of nature. It makes of the whole universe a picture gallery through which the nations walk; where, according to the degree of taste and culture in the spectators, the mind is filled with delight and admiration.
Equally true is it that the church-I mean the living, genuine, shining church-is the source of moral beauty. There is found the beauty of holiness-of benevolence-of humanity and love. The beauty here is twofold in the character itself, and in the
effects of that character upon others. What is more attractive than holiness? What more highly adorns the soul? What renders it more Godlike? Here is true spiritual light filling the whole soul as the rays of the sun fill the solar system, rendering luminous all the moral faculties, producing harmony, faith, and love. Its fruits are as numerous as those of the spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, truth.
Then there is the beauty of benevolence, which is an ornament to any character-which makes man like his Creator. It clothes his existence with new splendor and new power. He feels the incoming of Divinity in his soul, and is made conscious of faculties and beauties which before were hid in the darkness of sin. He is like one entering a dark cavern with a torch, and is surprised and delighted by the sparkling stalactics, glistening gems, and scenes of enchantment that open upon his vision. One department seems arched with the most brilliant and costly decorations. Another is supported by columns of the most exquisite and beautiful workmanship. Another resembles a temple filled with the spirit of worship. Another is lined with galleries, as though assemblies of spirits gathered there for counsel and eloquence. In one is a pool-in another a lake, reflecting all the beauties of walls and ceiling the whole constituting a world of enchantment in miniature. Let the Christian thus, with the torch-light of truth, explore his soul, and he will make fresh discoveries with every advancing step. More than stalactic splendors will burst upon his view. He will discover mines of riches which he had no conception were in his possession. He will perceive that he is examining that upon which the highest Divine skill has been expendedthat which bears the nearest resemblance to the Deity. This internal world will seem more beautiful and attractive than the external-more abundant in its resources-rich in its treasures— potent in its forces.
But it is mainly in its influences on society that the beauty of this moral light is seen. Christ speaks of the church as the salt of the earth as well as the light of the world. It is the preserving as well as the producing power. It saves the race from utter apostasy. It prevents the darkness of heathenism from becoming universal. We speak not now of a formal church-of a dead church not of a denomination, but of the church universal and spiritual, of which Christ is the living Head, whose names are not on church records, simply, but are written in the book of life. And this not only preserves the good, but extends it. It is the source of civilization, national prosperity, free institutions, social blessings. As the light and heat of the sun produce the crops, which are the only real wealth of a nation-which create the commerce, build cities, start the wheels and spindles of the factory, give impetus to all departments of industry, so the moral light of the church produces the institutions which give prosperity and
favor to a nation. It purifies the literature, secures honesty and integrity as the basis of business transactions; establishes courts of justice, plants freedom, gives sacredness to domestic ties.
Compare the nations upon which this light shines, with those destitute of it. Who hold the national power? Who work the great agencies of nature? Who send ships to all climes? books to all tribes and tongues? missionaries to every continent and to the islands of the sea? How many thousands walk in this light who will not acknowledge its source! What multitudes every day reap its temporal benefits, who deride its authors! How many refuse to enter Christian churches, which, in reality, are beacon lights that have saved them from utter shipwreck, and now keep them from a state of barbarism! As God causes the sun to shine and the rain to descend upon the just and the unjust, so he causes this moral light to bless all classes-to pour its radiance over vast continents and attract millions to the glorious hopes of the Gospel.
Finally, as the natural light is formed of the various prismatic colors; which, together form the pure white light, so the influence of the church is the combination of various gifts; which, together, constitute its unity and its power. "He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors, and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ. However we differ in gifts, in station, in duties, we are still one; still have one Lord, one faith, one hope, and one captain. And we have one work before us; one great and glori ous mission. It is contained in the commandment, "Let your light so shine before men that others, seeing your good work, may be led to glorify your Father who is in Heaven.
The intellect was created as much to shine as the sun was: and benevolence, purity, love to God and man will bring art its light. The heroes of the past shine down upon us from the heights of glorious influence, producing perpetual day. Their suns never set. Their light is never dimmed. According to their several gifts, they influence and benefit different minds. Each is the centre of a system. From multitudes who have professed the Christian name, we have received no light. There are some stars said to be so distant and obscure that their light has never reached us. There are many in the church whose light has never reached us, and, probably, never will.
It is for us to decide whether we will add new stars to the moral firmament or allow our influence to be lost in darkness-whether we will waste our power, or pursue a career which will be like the shining light-shining brighter and brighter into the perfect day.
THE ELOQUENCE OF ST. PAUL.
"Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."—ACTS xxvi. 28.
This passage unfolds the grand secret of this great apostle's eloquence. It shows us the end and the power of his oratory. It madelit Pertinent, Practical, Persuasive.
I. It made it pertinent. He always spoke to the point. Of course his oratory is as various as the several occasions on which it was displayed. In order to attain his grand object, he knew it was necessary to adapt his style and manner to the condition of his hearers.
II. The apostle's object made his discourses practical. It has been justly remarked, that the preaching of St. Paul, more than that of any other apostle, was doctrinal. His great learning-his profound and discriminating intellect--as well as his inspired wisdom, qualified him for this.
III. The apostle's object made his eloquence persuasive. It would have this effect in two ways-indirectly by its influence on himself, and directly, by its own weight and solemnity on the minds of his hearers.
1. It had an influence on himself. It summoned and concentrated all the energies of his intellect, gave weight and stability to his judgment, interest to his countenance, earnestness to his gestures, and deep feeling to his utterance; imparting to his whole demeanor, an indescribable significancy. Every look, every gesture, would be as another tongue speaking things unutterable.
2. It would have a direct influence on the minds of others. The end for which he spoke, as we have seen, was not to amuse but to save his hearers. The object which actuated the apostle in bringing forward all the great truths and doctrines of revelation, rendered them doubly solemn and affecting.
The doctrine of human depravity, for instance, when presented not with a view to make out a system of divinity, but for the clear purpose of making men feel their depravity, and thus to lead them to the Saviour, would come home with dreadful interest. They would not probably retire extolling the preacher, or congratulating themselves on account of their orthodoxy; but condemning themselves on account of their sins.
Such was the devotion of the apostle to his object, that it could not be concealed. He compels you to look to the end he is pursuing, and not at him. This rises and is magnified, till it fills the mental vision, and you know not, and care not, by whose instru mentality the image is presented. It seems not to be St. Paul, but the Judgment which makes Felix tremble. Not St. Paul, but his
reasoning, which almost persuades King Agrippa. Not St. Paul, but the truth he declared, which made the Jews "cry out and cast off their clothes, and throw dust into the air."
It is true that the highest effect of eloquence is not to be attained by a single trait or characteristic of the speaker; but there is, to say the least, something noble, something truly affecting, to see a great man willing to forget himself; who, in his concern for others, is willing "to impart to them, not the gospel of God only, but his own life also ;"-who compels you by his own example to overlook the littleness of private interests, and fix your admiring eyes on scenes momentous as the judgment, and solemn as eternity. Such is a concise view of the eloquence of St. Paul. If the principles which we have laid down and endeavored to illustrate are correct, we have the foundation for several interesting remarks.
1. We see the reason why so many attend more to the preacher than to the truths he delivers. Louis XVI. once said to Massillon, "When I hear other preachers, I usually go home praising them, but when I hear you, I go home condemning myself." It is a lamentable fact, that the preaching of the gospel, which was ordained of God as the instrument of snatching immortal souls from perdition, should be converted into the mere instrument of charming their fancies. O, it is dreadful, to see an assembly of candidates for eternity, sitting for an hour to speculate on the preacher!-to watch his motions, to be delighted only with the melody of his voice, the smoothness and grandeur of his periods, and the sprightly images of his fancy !-and then carelessly retiring from the house of worship, remembering only what they never should have noticed, and praising what perhaps ought rather to be condemned-the manner of the preacher! But so it is.
2. We have a good standard of preaching. St. Paul is a model. In him we see what is the legitimate end of the ministry-to persuade men to become reconciled to God. We see, too, the best method of effecting this end. Preaching must be pertinent, practical, and persuasive. To conform to this standard, the minister must adapt his discourses to the condition of his hearers. Some he must win by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, others he must persuade by the terrors of the law. He must be practical. He must not preach to amuse himself or his hearers. He may have learning, but he must not preach to display it. He must preach doctrine; not as a matter of speculation, nor as a sectary to make proselytes te a party, or a system, but he must bring all his stores of learning, all his science and philosophy, and all the doctrines of revelation, to bear on the point of practice to make men bet
And above all, if he would be persuasive, he must have his heart in the work. He must feel like St. Paul, “wo is me if I preach not the gospel." He must look forward to that solemn scene, when he will meet them all at the judgment seat, where he and they will receive their final doom.