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of God? Charity cannot compass it, for no Christian charity can dispense with Christ and his authority.
It is idle to waive essential truth of God in order to conciliate the opposer. He will not thus be conciliated. Surrender the miracles, and he expects you to surrender the claims. Give up the penalty, and he adds, Give up the law. Tell him of “the power that makes for righteousness,” and he will say, How for righteousness? And when you have abandoned all but the duty of the soul to love God, John Morley replies : “ There are two momentous questions : first, whether there is a God, and, second, whether the soul is immortal ;” to which Tyndall adds a third : whether there is a soul except as an “hypothesis ” or “a poetic rendering” of certain inexplicable phenomena. Compromise on vital points is but another name for defeat.
Amidst the tumultuous upheaval of opinions we are called wisely to take and firmly to hold our position. God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, miracle, redemption, conversion, faith, holy living, a pure Church, a sound ministry, the sacraments, resurrection, retribution we are driven to defend, or we are driven to the wall. It may be thought we have fallen on specially evil times. But no : it is only the old and perpetual conflict. Truth is stronger to-day and has a better vantage ground and greater hosts of adherents than ever before. It is her progress that evokes her foes. She still lives in the midst of heathen forces — only that Epicurus now comes with his compound microscope and declares that he can find neither duty nor the soul. Zeno sweeps the heavens with his great telescope and affirms that nowhere can he see God or immortality. Paul's Corinthian has risen from the dead to ask, Are the dead raised? And the predicted “scoffers of the last day" are saying that “all things continue as they were.” The same old story that has been heard for eighteen hundred years is still courageously told, that Christianity is dying out; and it was part of Harriet Martineau's swan-song that “its overthrow is certain.” But its overthrow has always been like that of its Founder when they sealed him in a new-made tomb, or like that of his great apostle at Lystra, when he was stoned and left for dead, and rose up and went on his way, preaching and founding churches.
So we move on our way, charged with the same eternal principles of righteousness. Retreat and concession must have an end, or there will be no place to retreat to, and nothing left to concede. Nor shall we hold fast by silence and negations. Aggressions must be met by movements equally positive and aggressive. While we heed the warning to choose our positions with wise circumspection, and while we will evermore “speak the truth in love,” we will yet speak it out in round words and unfaltering faith, “the truth as it is in Jesus."
Young Gentlemen of the Graduating Class : I have addressed you to-day on this theme, because I recognize here one of the chief dangers of the day — the special device of the Adversary to ensnare young
men through their opinions and principles. He has in part withdrawn his troops from their formal encampment and scattered them through the fields of literature and science to poison the wells and fountains. His advocates lift their voice in the places of assembly with flattering words about ancient superstitions and the progress of the age. Innuendoes and bold assertions, sneers and commiserations, railings and wailings are among their weapons. Many an unproved assumption demands hospitality. Many an old crippled heresy sits by the wayside and begs for charity. Many an error dismembered in fair fight on the battlefield is limping round on its wooden legs and shouting “Bigotry!” But be not deluded. There is plentiful new light which is but old darkness. The eternal truth will always be ancient bigotry to the enemies of righteousness. No progress of the age will supersede the teachings of the Holy Spirit, or abate one jot or tittle from the claims of God. Then “buy the truth, and sell it not. For it is not a vain thing for you ; because it is your life.” And let the Lord Jesus Christ. be to you and each of you “the way, the truth, and the life.”
HIGH MORAL ALLIANCES.
BACCALAUREATE SERMON, JUNE 22, 1879. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. — NEHEMIAH 6:3.
THE true chameleon that takes the hue of the limb
he hugs is the human being. It is spoken in proverbs, it is recorded in history that his companionships determine and define the man. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise.”
But have we not a free will? Yes; and we use it largely by submitting ourselves to the forces that eddy round us and bear us on. Commonly we do not raise ourselves or change our whole course by the mere dead pull. We push forth our light bark into the current that sweeps by, and with it we too are swept along. Perhaps we choose the maelstrom ; and then we go round and round in narrower and narrower circles, and disappear in the vortex. It may be we drop into the still stream at Chippewa; and we hurry down the rippling waters, shoot the rapids, then leap the breakers and plunge the cataract. Or we can surrender to the grand equatorial current and the breath of heaven, to be borne over the ocean of life to the haven of God.
In the midst of these great rushing streams of influence it makes all the difference to us with which of them we associate our lives. The old patriot who speaks to us this morning was firmly held by the greatness and nobleness of his environments and his enterprise. He stood by the wall of his fathers and the temple of his God. Faithful and God-fearing men were around him. He was aglow with high schemes. He was building for the centuries. And when his enemies invited him to a rendezvous, thinking, he says, “to do me mischief,” he replied : “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down." And he adds : “ They sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.” The greatness of his purposes, pursuits, and principles withheld him from harm and held him to success. His great work has passed away, but his greater words are borne to us this morning with an imperishable significance. From his own experience he speaks to us of
THE ENNOBLING INFLUENCE OF HIGH MORAL AND
. See it first in the elevating power of a full and constant contact with great principles. Truth, divine truth, is the native aliment of the human mind. There is no earthly force like a great ideal vitalized in human souls. It is a magazine of combustibles which you may imprison, if you please, with the weight of the Andes. When the spark reaches it, it will crack the Andes and blaze forth in Chimborazos, or lift the whole coastline from its ancient level. Principles, which men have defied as abstractions or denied and decried as doctrines, have always shown a power over men proportioned to their breadth and depth. “Liberty,