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Jesus." For these themes are not to be dispatched by uttering the two words “God” and “ Christ.” They are momentous realities to be not only seen, but contemplated and studied and felt in this light and that light and the other light before we know them or adore them or love them as they are. A man does not take in Niagara as he rides over the Suspension Bridge on a railway train, though he might in a sense say he had “ seen the whole thing.” He must go to it, and spend hours upon it, from Table Rock and from under the sheet, from the one side and from the other, from the bottom and from the top; he must sail up to its foot in a little steamer and cross below in a little rowboat, and toil up the banks ; he must lie there by the hour and watch the waters as they come pouring and incessantly pouring. He must let his imagination loose and seem to see them pouring through the ages past and the generations to come, before he comprehends this one of the far-off workings of the great God. Much more is God himself to be contemplated, and pondered, and gazed upon, till, beholding as in a glass the glory of God, we are changed into the same image. So did Edwards ponder the whole character of God as he walked back and forth day after day in the grove at Northampton, or rose by night to minute down his deep thoughts of his Maker, till he seemed to himself like a “little flower opening its blossoms to drink in the light of the sun." And such he was. But he was
the giant oak of his day. Those disclosures of God, the great “doctrines of grace" on which he loved to think and to speak, and to which he gave his life, irradiated his soul, built up his strength, and made him a man of power who left his mark more deeply stamped for a century on the church of America than any other uninspired man. The profoundest thought was the ally of the highest piety. The Church has seen three other men of gigantic might and molding power since the apostles — Augustine, Luther, Calvin. They too were men who reveled in great principles. These were the rod of their strength and the wand of their magic. No uninspired man, perhaps, has by his preaching led more souls to heaven than George Whitefield. But of Whitefield says President Edwards, who knew and heard him, that certain vital truths or doctrines, which he specifies, were his “ darling subjects," which, says another of his hearers, he seldom omitted from a single discourse; and which he turned all blazing on men's hearts till they melted down. Thus he became a son of thunder and a son of consolation, whom neither bishops nor brickbats could overthrow. A strong man standing for eternal principles is a man who cannot be suppressed. A church that is filled and vitalized with God's word in all its breadth of scope is armed with that which He himself has said is sharper than a two-edged sword.
Few classes of men have so exhibited the power of daily contact with the highest themes as those men whose lingering influence, after the lapse of two centuries, so disturbed the peace of the slaveholder, and at vhom small men of the secular press still keep up
their whine – I mean the Puritans. While it was for the skeptic Hume first to assert the greatness of their work for the civil liberties of England, it fell to the lot of the deist Carlyle to declare the real grandeur of their character and their strength; and it was reserved for the brilliant Macaulay not only to portray the glory of their achievements but to trace that power to its
“They derived their character," " from the daily contemplation of superior beings and eternal interests"; and in glowing terms he has set forth how each aspect of the divine character was a strand in their cable of strength whereby they “roused the people to resistance, directed their through a long series of eventful years, formed out of the most unpromising materials the finest army Europe had ever seen, trampled down king, church, and aristocracy, and in short intervals of domestic sedition and rebellion made the name of England terrible to every nation on the face of the earth,” and those who laughed at them for their “uncouth visages” and “whining hymns had little reason to laugh when they encountered them on the field of battle.” And whenever Puritanism shall be thoroughly imbued with the same divine influences, when it shall go forth beaming with the very light of God, armed with the “sword of the Spirit," and strong in the power of prayer, its foes will have other occupation than to laugh or sneer.
We need to be brought face to face with those momentous realities which so filled the soul of the psalmist and the thought and life of Paul. These themes will never grow old. They can no more go out of fashion than Yosemite, Niagara, or the Alps. They shall never grow dull so long as a redeemed soul exists and eternity lasts. They form the heavenly food of the noblest lives; and it is the great question for our time how to bring them back once more and place them in men's hearts.
II. See the same principle illustrated in the elevating power of lofty purposes and great enterprises. From high thoughts come high aims, and from these spring noble achievements. The arrow shot at the tree top goes higher and farther than if shot at the trunk. The drippings of a large heart and life are richer than the full cup of a narrow soul. Some men's failures and defeats are grander than other men's successes and victories. The monk Schwartz discovered gunpowder while he searched for the philosopher's stone. When Columbus struck out a new path to the East Indies he found the West Indies and a new world.
So in the higher sphere they that have been bent on doing all they could have commonly wrought far more than they thought. The perfume of one alabaster-box has filled the air of Christendom for eighteen hundred years. Nothing in this world is so strong as selfforgetfulness, and nothing so weak in child or man, in State or Church, as selfishness. More soldiers would have given their lives for Florence Nightingale than for all the titled dignitaries of the French and English armies.
The consciousness of a high purpose and the alliance
to a noble work or enterprise seem to create a steady expansion in the capacity and executive power. A missionary physician, whose abilities were a laughing. stock to his brilliant fellow-student, became a skillful surgeon and a diplomatist. Mrs. Sarah Lanman Smith learned to talk of Christ to the Arab women in a few months, and Schwartz to the Hindus, it is said, in three weeks. Howard's errand of mercy seemed to raise him above all hesitancy and made him a clear will and a pure force. With him to judge, to decide, and to do were indissolubly bound together. In like manner the simple greatness of his aim and effort has erected a once obscure evangelist into a national force. These noble master purposes overmaster human infirmities. Such aims and enterprises surmount hindrances, and are the omen of success. When John Knox could pray, “Lord, give me Scotland or I die," God gave him Scotland. When Luther, warm in his great work, could say, “I would go to Leipsic if I had business there, if it rained Duke Georges nine days running,” the Reformation was born; it made no difference whether it rained Duke Georges nine days or Charles V forty years, striving against him all the while. And how many a man in private life has quietly grown into a steady power by the disinterestedness of his heart and life and the magnitude of his purposes ! Draw out a rich man in noble benefactions, and you do him more good than even the cause he helps; and how many a man has been led by his very benefactions towards the kingdom of heaven.