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with a single and a constant view to our present fallen and sinful state—that, as it regards the wicked, their designs may be thwarted—that, as it regards the righteous, they may be disciplined and prepared for a better state—and that, as it regards all, they may be continually reminded of the vanity.the sinfulness and the unsatisfactionness of all sublunary good.
As the wise disposes of all events God therefore destroys the hopes of men because those hopes are grounded upon an ignorant misconception of our own best interest, and of the true welfare of God's moral empire—and because our views of what is expedient or proper in any given circumstances are based upon narrow, selfish and partial and arrogant presumptions. The cause of all such disappointments is to be found, therefore, not in God but in man—not in the disorder of the divine procedure but in the short sighted policy of the creature ---who looks only to the means of his present gratification while God has regard to the permanent and best good of every individual and of all worlds.
We may therefore consider all sudden and overwhelming calamities and of the destruction of earthly hopes as intended to recall our minds to the solemn and too much forgotten fact that God reigneth and ruleth amongst the inhabitants of the earth as well as among the armies of heaven. Strange it is that any additional evidence should be necessary to impress upon our minds a truth in itself so sublime, and in the lustre which it throws over the whole creation so resplendent and glorious. Whether we look to the heavens—we behold in their order and beauty the glory of God-or to the earth we see in the whole system of its laws the evident impress of the divine wisdom and goodness. And yet, because of that very system by which all things are carried on--that certainty with which all events follow their respective causes—and that silence and stillness with which the movements of the divine providence are conducted—there is generated a sceptical unbelief in any presiding, intelligent, and governing mind. That very certainty and regularity in the affairs of men which are essential to the existence of any permanent society, and which God, therefore, in His infinite goodness has so generally secured, is made the reason for denying His existence altogether, for rejecting His interposition or control, and for living as atheists in the world.
Now it is to meet this sceptical tendency of the human mind to refer the uniformity of nature to some blind and unintelligent fatality or chance, and to direct the attention of His creatures to the numerous proofs of His assured existence and government, that God allows events to happen which baffle all human calculation, confound all carnal wisdom—and destroy all sublunary hopes. And just as the interest and attention of men are attracted to the study of astronomy and God's physical laws, by the occurrence of phenomena of a rare and unusual order; so would God invite the consideration of His creatures to the laws of His moral kingdom by some overwhelming and unanticipated calamity. God now addresses us through the understanding and not through the senses. He speaks as unto wise men and not any longer as unto children. He is no longer heard as by some audible voice-or seen as in some burning bush—or listened to as when He uttered His voice amid the thunders of Sinai-or made manifest, as when the man's hand paralyzed the awe struck monarch. But God is just as certainly most high over all the earth, the God in whose hand our breath is and whose are all our ways—now as he was in ancient times. But for proof that God is the one Law-giver who is able to save and to destroy, who maketh sore and bindeth up, who woundeth and His hands make whole—we are now to look--not for any supernatural, revelations, but to the extraordinary events of His daily providence. When we find Nebuchadnezzar in the very height of his glory admonished by a sudden obscuration of that glory, and when at the appointed time, with the words of exultation on his lips, we behold the might of his power and the honour of his majesty departing from him-we are required to believe with holy writ that the matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the Holy Ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men. Now just in the same way and by the same conclusions of necessary reason “the Lord is now known by the judgments which he executeth.” When we see, as in the case of the late emperor of France, one who may be regarded in comparison with hereditary princes as "the basest of men"—by a series of events which transcend all ordinary occurrence and which taken together appear to be guided by a supernatural influence, raised to that proud eminence where he shed terror upon all the nations of the earth. And when we behold this same individual after so many miraculous achievements and so many hairbreadth escapes, and at a time when his prospect of victory was brighter than on many an eventful day when his sun rose ascendant through the storm of an impenetrable darknesswhen we behold him thus humbled with defeat-seized as a prisoner-abandoned by his troops—and in the eye of the whole world bound as a victim to a lonely and barren rock of the ocean. Surely in this wonderful history the interposition of the Most High as ruler in the kingdom of men is just as necessary to account for the otherwise inexplicable phenomena as in the case of the Babylonish despot.
And similar therefore must be our conclusions from the reasonable interpretation of those daily occurring events which, from our inability to trace them up to their certain causes, or otherwise to explain, we term mysteries of Providence.
My brethren let me commend this fruitful subject of practical instruction to your most attentive consideration, both in its natural and individual application. Wonderful has been the history—unparalleled the progress—and glorious is the future destiny of this great republic. Plucked as a healthful branch from the most fruitful and luxuriant of all trees, by God's own hand it was planted in this untrodden wilderness. The dews of heaven have watered it-and God Himself, as the good husbandman, has watched over and preserved it. He prepared room before it, and did cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills are covered with the shadow of it and the boughs thereof are like the goodly cedars. She sends out her boughs unto the sea and her branches unto the mighty rivers of the West. This is the Lord's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes. The hand of the Lord was in all this and for our instruction and as an example to the world has God thus made bare His arm and declared His mighty works unto this people.
Let then this nation know and consider her origin—the source of her present greatness--the conditions upon which hang her coming destinies—and the consequent responsibilities under which she lies to acknowledge, fear and honor God. Let the Lord be known by the judgments which he executeth. Let him be recognized and adored as "the One Law-giver who is able to save and to destroy.” Let our minds be turned away from that atheistic and excessive idolatry which is by all parties, given to the virtues, the talents, the achievements, and the wisdom of man; and let us be taught that it is not by might, nor by power, nor by wisdom nor by the skill and cunning of man, apart and by themselves considered, but that it is by righteousness alone any nation is exalted, or permanently secured.
But we must forbear. The hope of man—the hope of all men—the vain hopes even of the good and the wise—all the hopes which centre as their object and their end upon the creature or upon any created good shall be destroyed.
Whether it be pleasure it shall vanish as the morning cloud and the early dew. Whether it be honour it shall burst like the bubble upon the stream. Whether it be fame it shall be found vain as the empty sound and false as the deceiving heart. Whether it be riches they shall take to themselves wings and flee away. Whether it be knowledge and learning these also shall perish. Whatever, in short, in the world or the things of the world may attract, and engage our hearts, shall be destroyed. Though apparently firm and well grounded as the everlasting hills yet shall they waste away was the crumbling mountain dissolveth, and the rock mouldeth away from his place.” Though the objects of our hopes may be enduring as the rocks and stones of the earth-yet
As the waters wear to pieces the stones from the land,
As their overflowings sweep the soil. So are the hopes of man consumed. Such, O man, is thy condition and destiny. Such is the unalterable nature of all sublunary hopes, and earth-born wishes. Brethren, let no man deceive you by vain and foolish fancies. Though your heart be hard as the nether mill stone. Though you stand in your pride like a mountain. Though you bare your heart against the divine vengeance as an invulnerable rock. Depend upon it you shall yet give way when it may be too late. In God's hand there is a hammer with which He can break even the rock in pieces and shiver the hardest stone. Your proud hopes shall perish. Your loftiest looks shall be brought low. Your most gorgeous palace, shall be overthrown and laid in the dust. The rays of darkness will come upon us all. The storms of adversity will burst in thunders upon your path, and you will know that the Lord He is God when He lays His vengeance upon you. For it is appointed unto all men once to die and after death the judgment.
But there is a hope which shall not be destroyed—which is stronger than mountains—more lasting than the everlasting hills—and more durable than stones themselves. The mountains may crumble and decay-the land yield to the wasting torrent—the stones themselves be overcome—and all earthly good perish—but this hope remaineth firm and abiding. It is the hope of the christian—the hope which is in Christ-the hope of the gospel—a good hope through grace. This hope is full of immortality and, in the measure of its promised blessings, past finding out. This hope is sure and it is steadfast. It is fastened by that chain of divine purpose and mercy which all earth and hell cannot sever, and it is anchored within the veil, in that rock of ages which shall remain when moon and stars and all else shall pass away.
It was this which arose as the star of Bethlehem upon that night of storm, and tempest, when the foundering bark of a nation's hopes, driven upon the rock, was battered by the irresistible breakers. The thought that our late president had been led to cherish the christian's hope—that he gave daily evidence of a change of feelings and of views—that his first act on returning to his presidential residence was an act of prayer—that his first purchase was a Bible—that his first determination was to profess the christian religion and enrol himself under the christian banner—this it is which sheds a ray of light over the otherwise impenetrable gloom of this dark dispensation and covers as with a celestial bow this destruction of the hopes of man.
I confess that to this hope my mind involuntarily and constantly turns when I bring to view the eventful transition of this honoured personage from time to eternity—and from the chief seat of executive authority on earth, to the bar of heaven's judgment before which all must alike stand. Nor do I at all doubt but that in that closing scene of his earthly drama however General Harrison may have thought upon the events of the past or upon the anticipated glories of the future -he turned away from all other considerations to this unspeakable gift of God to man. Insignificant to him were then the riches-the honour—the fame-that cometh from man. But infinitely momentous and important to him were the favour of God and the honour that cometh from Him. And while millions were ready to celebrate his happiness in his pre-eminent success—sure we are that to his mind the only desirable object of hope was the blessedness of that man whose sins are covered and to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity but imputeth righteousness without works.
Let him then though dead yet speak unto you my dying yet immortal hearers. Let his voice reach you from the eternal world, and by its loud utterance of the nothingness and vanity of all earthly hopes, and the transcended value of the hope of