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CONTENTS OF VOL. XXIV.
PAGL *DXIV.-God's Moral System Saperior to the Material...By Rev. R. S. Storrs, Jr., 7 DXV._Responsibility of Enjoying the Christian Ministry.....By Rev. Dr. Spring, 21 DXVI. --Becoming all Things to all Men..........By Rev. William Adams, D.D., DXVII.-The Sea giving up its Dead........By Rev. William R. Williams, D.D., 41 DXVIII. - The Scripture
Estimate of Philosophy..By Rev. George B. Cheever, D.D., 53 DXIX.Christ as a Mechanic..
.By Rev. William W. Patton, 64 DXX.-Robbing, God...
.By Rev. Edward N. Kirk, 77 DXXI.-Christian Union..
.By Rev. Stephen H. Tyng, D.D., 90 DXXII-Christ the Foundation
By Rev. John Dowling, D.D., 101 DXXIII.Our own Salvation—The Work and the Encouragement.
By Rev. M. W. Jacobus, 113 Power with God.....
...Editor, 123 DXXIV. - The Night no Time for Labor..
.By Rev. Edwin F. Hatfield, 125 DXXV.-Faith, Genuine and Spurious....
..By Rev. W. S. Leavitt, 141 DXXVI.—The Terms of Salvation ...
.By Rev. Pharcellus Church, D.D., 149 DXXVII.—The Place and Importance of an Individual ....By Rev. Albert Barnes, 158 DXXVIII. -The Weapons of our Warfare.....By Rev. Samuel Worcester, D.D., 173 DXXIX.-The Sufferings and the Glory..... ...By Rev. George Shepard, D.D., 190 DXXX.-The Doctrine of the Cross the Power of God..By Rev. Noah Porter, D.D., 197 DXXXI.-God's Voice to the Nation....
.By Rev. A. B. Van Zandt, 209 DXXXII. - The Resurrection of the Body.. By Rev. G. W. Blagden, D.D., 221 DXXXIII.-Duties of Heads of Households
.By Rev. Joseph F. Tuttle, 234 DXXXIV.–Just Men made Perfect...
.By Rev. George Potts, D.D., 245 DXXXV. -The Importance of Little Things..By Rev. William T. Hamilton, D.D., 256 One Thing Thou Lackest...
.By Rev. J. M. Sherwood, 267 DXXXVI.—Primitive Mode of Evangelization......By Rev. Clement Long, D.D., 269 DXXXVII.-- The Closing Year Contemplated and Improved.
By Rev. Henry T. Cheever, 286
* Corresponding with previous volumes
NATIONAL PREACHER. .
GOD'S MORAL SYSTEM, SUPERIOR TO THE MATERIAL.
BY REV. R. S. STORRS, JR.,
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH OF THE PILGRIMS, BROOKLYN, N. S.
* And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail."-LUKE XVI. 17.
The conception of the Material System is naturally accompanied in the mind by the impression of its permanence. Even the child perceives the solidity and hardness of the objects that surround him; and their power at once so absolutely to uphold and to restrict him, may well seem the evidence of their necessary duration. And as he comes to understand more fully the extent, and structure, and the history of the system, this first impression is naturally confirmed. As he learns how vast the Earth is,-not bounded by the horizon as he supposed, but bearing upon its mighty bosom islands, and realms, and empires, and continents even, with fathomless oceans poured round them as their drapery; as he examines the physical structure of the earth, and drives his drill into the granite bars that lock and interlock beneath its surface, or traces the ridges of rock and iron that stretch across it as its ribs of strength; as he follows backward the many generations that in succession have lived and labored upon its globe, and feels how changeless it has been through all their changes,-how absolutely it is now the same as when the Roman eagles traversed its surface, as when the temple of the Sun was standing in Palmyra, as when the hundred-gated Thebes stretched its stupendous front along the Nile; nay, as passing backward from even this computation he learns through what vast cycles and periods, and into what remote, impenetrable abysses, the researches of the naturalist seem to carry its duration :-and most of all, as rising from this view of the Earth, he learns to comprehend in some degree the magnitude of the System in which it is but part, and of that more sublime and awful structure in which our System itself is but a distant and unimportant province, the vestibule to the Temple ;-at each ascending step in this great series, the involuntary belief of the permanence of the Universe, still gathers within him ; the possibility of its dissolution seems unreal and incredible; and practically he feels, and he acts on the belief, that the pillars of Heaven shall not tremble, and the foundations of the Earth shall never be removed.
And this is a conviction against which argument seems vain. Science may teach him that there are forces at work whose tendency is to the destruction of the System. Astronomical records may show him that these forces have been disastrously active in the ages that are gone. A searching philosophy may even discover to him that where there is mutation there is not self-originated and necessary existence; and that therefore all the changes in the earth are so many evidences of its dependence upon sustaining power, and so many signs and marks of its probable dissolution. And Revelation may speak, with her authoritative voice, proclaiming the actual origin of the worlds, and their continued support by the hand of their Creator; showing that what we call the laws of nature are really but modes in which God acts, and therefore are liable to be at any moment suspended or reversed by his volition. And yet, in spite of all
, it is the practical conviction,--that upon which we act even unconsciously,—that this so solid earth on which we tread is permanent; that the infinite cope which arches above our heads as gloriously as when the shepherds watched it upon the plain of Shinar, must stand securely; and that, though here and there a part may fail, to crush the whole into nothingness would almost surpass the capacity of Omnipotent force.
It is therefore a striking and remarkable declaration which is recorded in the text; a declaration which grows upon us as we consider it, and which opens before us still wider views : that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of the law to fail. Clearly, and most impressively, it teaches us the ETERNITY OF God's Moral LAW, AND ITS SUPREMACY IN THE UNIVERSE. By no other mode of expression, by no other comparison or image, could this truth have been more vividly expressed, or more emphatically affirmed ; and it is this, of course, which I shall now consider. It is the essential Permanence of the Divine Law, and, as connected with this, the essential Supremacy of the whole Moral System above the Material, which I would bring as a reality to your thoughts this morning.
My first remark is, in connection with it:
I. That The PrinciPLES OF THE Divine LAW ARE ESSENTIALLY PERMANENT; ARE PERMANENT AND IMMUTABLE IN THEIR OWN NATURE.
That they are principles of truth and of rectitude, need not be argued. They are recognized as such, by the Conscience in the soul. They are shown to be such, by the fact that God proclaims
them. They are established as such, by the express and manifold declarations of Scripture.
And as the principles of Right and Truth, they are, in their very nature, unchangeable and everlasting. This is a point which it is difficult, perhaps, to prove; but only because in the effort to prove it is involved its assumption. It is, of course, impossible to construct an argument for any purpose, which shall not presuppose, as its primary basis, the reliableness of reasoning. But manifestly no reasoning can be reliable, unless the principles of truth are permanent and immutable; unless they are fixed, not arbitrarily, by a decree from without which is liable at any time to be revoked, but inherently, as in their nature eternally the same. So, too, it is impossible to judge the attributes of Right, without assuming its existence, as an absolute verity, to which these attributes indissolubly pertain; and thus we cannot demonstrate its eternity, without tacitly presupposing it. In relation to the proposition announced, therefore, it is as true as it seems paradoxical, that the difficulty of proving it is an evidence of its truth. It is not to be established by argument, simply because it is a primary fact, lying back of all argument, and to be practically assumed in order to furnish a foundation for argument.
But though we may not logically demonstrate the absolute permanence of the Truth and the Right, we have evidence of that permanence which is entirely conclusive. And that evidence is, in part, the immediate cognizance of the fact by the soul, and its more full and clear perception and more decisive affirmation of it, as it rises in nobleness, becomes more open and alive to spiritual impression, and more conversant with the Truth whose nature it considers. It is the prerogative of the soul, not merely to reason correctly from established premises, but at certain points to rise thus above reasoning, in the establishment of its premises; and to perceive intuitively those axioms in thought, those principles of truth, which precede argument, and in their nature transcend it; which, though beyond the grasp of the mere understanding,
“Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing." And in relation to these truths, the decision of the soul is as thoroughly to be trusted, it is as implicitly relied upon in practical concerns, as when its conclusions are the result of an obvious analysis. Indeed, its belief in these truths seems higher, even, and more affirmative, than in any others; because it partakes of the nature of vision, as distinguished from conviction; because in its perception of these, the soul acts, if we may so express it, in the totality of its powers; not merely in the use of the argumentative understanding. It is thus, for example, with the indestructible belief of the soul in its own personality; a belief out of which it cannot be forced, which is absolute knowledge more than belief, and yet which is not