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the physical constitution of that creature; if the fool should say in his heart, "There is no God," every pulse of that heart replies, "There is," and every atom of that vital organ adds, "He is thy Maker."
As the nature of the material witnesses differs, it follows of course that the manner in which they render their evidence will vary ac cordingly. In regard to some of them, the marks of design and be. neficence are so obvious that they may be said to be ever speaking for God, without solicitation,-the divine signature is visibly imprinted on their surface. In regard to others, the evidence lies deeper, and must be sought for patiently. In such cases, while the witnesses are under examination, while the investigation is proceeding from link to link in the chain of evidence, the ungodly sometimes unseasonably exult, and the timid and uninformed believer in revelation trembles for the issue. But he need not. Let him only wait confidently, as God does, till the examination be complete, till the inquiry has reached the last link of the chain, and that link will invariably be found in the hand of God.
Chemistry-once the stronghold of the skeptic-has long since discovered that no substance in nature is simple and unmixed; in other words, that every thing is in a made state,—that even the atom is an artificial, manufactured thing: so that an argument for God lies hid in every particle of which the globe is composed; and a witness is in reserve in every pebble we pass; and a final appeal is lodged for him in the elements, or first principles, of all things: thus demolishing the altar which skepticism had erected to the eternity of the world, and replacing it by an altar dedicated and inscribed to the divine Creator. So that, if we hold our peace, or withhold our homage, the very stones will cry out. Geology, the voice of the earth, the Pompeii of natural religion, the witness now under examination, a witness raised from the grave of a former world, is producing her primitive formations, to show that even they are in a made state, and her fossil skeletons, to show that they bear indubitable marks of having come from the hand of the one great Designer: leaving us to infer that, could we reach the foundation of the earth, we should find it inscribed with the name of the divine Architect-that, could we penetrate to the central atom of the globe, it would speak for God; and thus impelling us to erect, out of the wreck of a former world, a temple to Him who hath created all things new.
Astronomy leads us forth into the vast amphitheatre of nature, to gaze on ten thousand times ten thousand burning worlds: and are they not all witnesses for God? For are they not all in motion? This is not nature, but miracle. The first miracle was the production of matter; the second, to make that matter move. Its natural state is rest; but here are unnumbered myriads of material worlds in motion, out of their natural state, in an artificial, constrained, preternatural state. They are all God's witnesses. The stars in their courses fight against irreligion. Each of them, obediently followed, is a star of Bethlehem -a guide into the divine presence. Each of them rushes through immensity as a miracle and a messenger from God to the universe, proclaiming "There is a God, and the hand of that God is upon me: and all of them unite-yes, this is the real music of the spheres, the chorus of creation!-all of them unite in proclaiming his eternal VOL. IX.-April, 1838. 23
power and Godhead. In the estimation of the psalmist, the creation is a vast temple; and often did he summon the creatures, and join them in a universal song of praise. And John heard the chorus. The noise and din of a distracted world may drown their voices here; "But," saith he, "every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever." Thus nature, with all her myriad voices, is ever making affirmation and oath of the divine existence, and filling the universe with the echo of his praise.
But since the period of the creation, a new state of things has arisen, and a new order of witnesses has consequently become necessary. Sin has entered the world. Man has fallen away from his Maker, and has renounced the divine authority. To say, therefore, that there is a God, and that that God is wise, powerful, and good, is only to say, in effect, that there is ground for the greatest apprehension and alarm: for sin is a guilty impeachment of that wisdom, a hostile defiance of that power, and a wilful affront of that goodness. The question, therefore, now arises, What is the course which the of fended Majesty of heaven is likely to take toward us? What, under these new circumstances, are the new terms on which we stand with ́him? Will justice have free course against us? And, if not, what is to turn it aside? On this anxious topic, nature has received no instructions, and is silent. "The depth saith, It is not in me.' Clouds of gloom have gathered and settled into thick darkness around about his throne, and whether the light that will eventually burst forth from that gloom will be a fierce flash to scathe and destroy, or a genial ray to enkindle hope, nature could not foretell. By the introduction of sin, our condition had become preternatural, and the voice that speaks to us, therefore, must be supernatural. God must become his own witness.
And he did so. Breaking the fearful silence which sin had produced, and which might have lasted for ever, he spoke to us. And every accent he uttered was an accent of love. His first sentence contained hope for the world. He signified that it was his divine intention to save, and announced, at once, a coming Redeemer. Then God is love! The great question is answered-the grand secret has transpired, that God is love! And the world must know it. The vail which sin had raised between God and us has fallen-and, behold, "God is love!" And every creature under heaven must hear of it. The happiness of every man depends on his knowing it. "This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
But if the knowledge of the divine character be thus indispensable, how shall that knowledge be made most accessible and available? As nations multiply, and one generation succeeds another, how shall this sacred treasure be preserved and transmitted? Depravity will tamper with its holiness; who shall guard it from polluted hands? Penitence and fear will question its truth; who shall encourage them to believe it? Unbelief will dispute its authenticity; who shall bear witness for God? All will need it, for it is essential to salvation; how shall it be made accessible?
Now these questions had been anticipated by the eternal Mind, and
all these necessities provided for, in his purpose of instituting a church, a society of witnesses for God. The design of this divine institution, indeed, is twofold-partly, to promote the welfare of its own members, but principally to be a witness for God, an instrument of his mercy to the world. It is first a focus, in which all the light from heaven should meet, and all the sanctified excellence of earth be collected and combined; that it might next be a centre, whence the light of truth might constantly radiate, and pour forth in all directions over the face of the earth.
And, accordingly, the general remarks to which I would now solicit your devout attention relate to the following important positions:that the church of God is expressly designed, in its relative capacity, and as the depositary of the knowledge of salvation, to be his witness to the world; that in every age it has prospered or declined in proportion as it has fulfilled or neglected this special office; that its mo. tives and its responsibility for answering this end are greater now than at any preceding period of its history; and that this consideration should induce its members anxiously to survey its wants and its resources for answering that end: and may the divine Founder of the church be graciously present by his Spirit to aid our meditations.
First, then, I would illustrate the great truth that the church of God is expressly designed, in its relative capacity, and as the depositary of the knowledge of salvation, to be his witness to the world.
Passing by all the interesting illustrations of this truth which might be drawn from antediluvian and patriarchal history, let us confine our attention to the Jewish and Christian churches. And here, on view. ing these churches together, as parts of a great whole, we are instantly struck with the different ways in which they concur to answer their design as witnesses for God. The Jewish church was a local stationary witness; and the duty of the world was to come and receive its testimony: the Christian church is not local and stationary, but is to go to the world. The Jewish church was an oracle, and the world was expected to come and inquire at its shrine: the Christian church is an oracle also, but instead of waiting for the world to come to it, it is commanded to go into all the world, and to testify the gospel of the grace of God to every creature.
In accordance with this representation of the Jewish church, we find that it contained every prerequisite for answering its end as a stationary witness for God; nothing was omitted calculated to promote this object; its early history was a history of miracles, to excite the attention, and draw to itself the eyes of the wonder-loving world; its ritual was splendid and unique; its members were distinguished in character from those of every other community on the face of the earth; its creed, or testimony, was eminently adapted to the existing state of the world, for it proclaimed a God, and promised a Saviour; its members possessed a personal interest in the truth of the testimony they gave; and, what was especially important, its geographical position was central. That large portion of the earth whose waters flow into the Mediterranean, is the grand historical portion of the world as known to the ancients. Judea was situated in the midst of it, like the sun in the centre of the solar system. Placed at the top of the Mediterranean, it was, during each successive monarchy, always within sight of the nations; and its temple-fires, like the Pharos
of the world, were always flinging their warning light across the gross darkness of heathenism-protesting against idolatry, witnessing for the one living and true God, inviting the nations to come and worship before him, and foretelling the advent of One whose light should enlighten the world.
Thus studiously adapted, and divinely qualified to act as a stationary witness for God to the world, the Jewish church is called on in the text to appear in this its official capacity, and the idolatrous nations are summoned to Judea to receive its testimony. Ages had elapsed since that church had been called into existence, but still the worship of idols prevailed. Now, therefore, God is sublimely represented as determined to bring the great question to a close; his voice is heard issuing his mandate to all the nations of the earth, to all the idols and their votaries, to appear in Judea; and then calling forth the Israelites to give evidence in his behalf. Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears-the senseless idolators; let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: what god among them can show us former things? Let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified; or, if they cannot do it, let them hear me, and acknowledge that what I say is truth. Ye people of Israel are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I, even I, am God, and beside me there is no Saviour."
As if the Almighty had said, "It is high time to bring this great controversy to a final decision; let all my rivals come. And we are to suppose them assembling: Moloch, "besmeared with infant blood," and all the cruel gods of the Ammonites; Rimmon, Ashtaroth, and all the licentious idols of Syria; Baal, Dagon, Tammuz, and all the false deities of Phenicia; Apis, and all the monster-deities of Egypt. "Let them come from their fabled resorts in Ida, from the heights of Olympus, from the shrines of Delphos and Dodona, from their temples, groves, and hills,the whole pantheon,-the thirty thousand gods of heathen mythology, with all their retinue of priests and worshippers. And now," saith Jehovah, "having assembled, let them produce their witnesses to justify their conduct in receiving worship; and for this end, let them prove that one of their pretended prophecies was ever fulfilled. I am content to rest my claims on that single proof. Are they silent? Then let my witnesses stand forth; let the nation of Israel appear. Descendants of the patriarchs, children of the prophets, ye are my witnesses. Testify in my behalf before this assembled and idolatrous world. Read in their hearing the history of my conduct toward you, from the day that I brought you out of Egypt to the present moment, and they will be constrained to admit the fact of my existence, and the doctrine of my superintending providence. Tell them of all the miracles I have wrought in your behalf, and thus you will be a witness to my almighty power. Inform them of all your apostasies from me, and rebellions against me, and of the way in which I have borne with and pardoned you, and thus you will be witnesses to my infinite patience. Tell them of all the predictions which I have caused my prophets to utter, and of the literal fulfilment they have received,-and thus you will testify to my om. niscience. Take them, in solemn procession, to Sinai, and repeat the laws which I there proclaimed when the mountain trembled,—and thus you will attest my unspotted holiness and inflexible justice. Con
duct them to my temple on Sion, lift up the vail of my sanctuary, let them see for themselves that no image stands in my shrine, no human sacrifice bleeds on my altar, no licentious rites pollute my worship,and thus you will be attesting the unity and spirituality of my essence, the purity and mercifulness of my character. Forget not to assure them that I am no respecter of persons-that there is mercy for them -that, as I live, I will not the death of a sinner. Lead them to the altar of sacrifice, and, as the victim bleeds, say to them, "Behold, in a type, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." Tell them that to him have all my prophets given witness, and let them hear the glorious things which they have witnessed. Let my servant Isaiah stand forth and declare, that upon that sacrifice I have laid the iniquities of mankind,-that he is wounded for their transgressions, bruised for their iniquities, that the chastisement of their peace is upon him, and that with his stripes they may be healed,—that he shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied, for he shall save out of all nations a multitude which no one can number. Thus will you be my witnesses that I am God, and that besides me there is no Saviour."
Now such was the honorable office and the lofty intention of the Jewish church,-it was a stationary witness for God to the world; and the sublime scene described in connection with the text is only the figurative realization of that idea. Through each successive age of that church this divine mandate may be said to have been issued to the world, directing it to repair to God's witnesses in Judea. But the world heeded it not. Individuals, indeed, resorted thither from far-distant lands; but in all the regions whence they came, idolatry still reigned. The leading nations had, each in succession, come into contact with God's witnesses; but, so far from receiving their testimony, they went on worshipping their idol-gods, and even essayed to enshrine them in the very temple of Jehovah. Even the Jews themselves had lost the high and spiritual import of their own testimony. All things proclaimed that, if the world is to be enlightened and saved through the instrumentality of the church, another church must be set up, and another mode of witnessing be employed.
When the fulness of time was come, that church was set up. You know its heavenly origin, its aggressive constitution, and its early apostolic history,-all combining to prove that it was a new thing in the earth, a fresh witness for God. In another and a nobler sense
than before, God became his own witness. The Son of God, in person, assumed the office. In this capacity he had been predicted, "I have given him," said God, "for a witness to the people." In this capacity he came; and having traversed Judea in every direction, and found it hemmed in on all sides by the grossest idolatry, having found that he could nowhere step over its frontiers without entering the territory of an idol-god, having taken an ample survey of the world,-what was his estimate of its moral condition? He lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said-for he found that he could obtain no fit audience on earth-" O, righteous Father, the world hath not known thee!" And what, under these circumstances, was the course which ⚫ he pursued? "To this end was I born," said he, " and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth,"-to the full manifestation of God. And, accordingly, his acts demon