« VorigeDoorgaan »
phantoms which had filled its dreams. At this inspiring hour of human nature, what, let me ask, was the aspect in which the Gospel presented itself ? Did it timorously withdraw from view, and retreat with the other phantoms of the night ?—No, it led the march in the great conflict of reason-it threw off at once all its borrowed ornaments, and came forward in the naked severity of truth—“ the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God,” was waved once more as by the hand of cherubim, not “ to keep,” but to “
way of the tree of life”-the highest powers of genius and of learning felt themselves honoured in being permitted to gather up the crumbs from the table of the Almighty Mastermand, still more, the bread of life was profusely scattered abroad, and conveyed into the cheerless dwellings of ignorance and poverty.
These mighty effects are only yet in their progress. How far they may be destined to extend, it is not for man adequately to foretell. Yet here, too, there are grounds for probable conjecture; and, on some future occasion, I may request you to follow me in some observations on the probable appearances of the Gos
pel in the succeeding history of man. sent, the great day to which we are advancing, calls us back again to the cradle of the infant Saviour,--to that quiet domestic scene which was attended by the simplicity of shepherds, and which did not surely appear destined to be so deeply impressed upon every after scene of human nature. We have thrown a rapid view over some of the most striking of these scenes ; and in all their varying aspects of suffering or of splendour, of rudeness or of civilization, we have still beheld “ the star which went before us, till it came and stood over where the young child was.”—It is the glory of the Church to which we belong, my brethren, that She is the favoured Daughter of the Reformation, and She has produced, in every department of knowledge and inquiry, men second to none in wisdom, who, wherever they have seen that star, have opened the treasures of their hearts, and brought their offerings, and “ rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” And let us, too, rejoice; and whether we look back to the Faith and the Wisdom of those who have gone before us, or forward to the still greater glories of the Gospel which are yet approaching, when we come into the presence of “the young child,” let us present unto Him the gifts of humility and devotion; and with all the wise and the good of every age, “ fall down and
ON THE FUTURE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL."
MATTHEW, xiii. 31, 32. Another parable put He forth unto them, say
ing, The kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard-seed which a man took and sowed in his field; which, indeed, is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.
In these very remarkable and prophetic words, He, who first sowed the seed of the Gospel, has described the nature of that heavenly plant
* Preached on March 24, 1825, before the District Branch in Edinburgh, connected with the Society in England for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
which was to arise from it, and the extent and manner of its advancement. He represents its origin as apparently small and insignificant ; and what to all human apprehension could be more so, than the aspect which it bore, when He, and his few humble and unlettered disciples, went from place to place within the narrow region of Judea, and were listened to scarcely by any others than the lowest and most ignorant ? Was it to be expected, that a Religion which seemed to have so very mean a beginning, was to make any considerable progress, or to continue for any length of time? Yet in those moments of so little promise, its Divine Author had a perfect assurance of the triumph which awaited it; and while He was patiently committing this least of all seeds to the ground, He beheld in prospect the mighty Tree which was yet to overshadow the nations !
There never was, my brethren, in the whole history of mankind, a moment of stronger interest, than that which we are now contemplating, when the Great Sower of the tree of life was at this early point of his progress; and to us who have seen the wonderful produce, even if we could consider ourselves as spectators