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Reformation to be held up to view, with uncompromising fidelity. Our fathers shed their blood for the truth' as it is in Jesus. We, under any oppression, resolve by God's grace never to play the recreant. No, we will bind that truth to our hearts, we will labour with it to adorn our lives, and by it save mankind.
Be you, brethren, valiant for the truth. Whatsoever things are true, hold them fast, and exhibit them to the world. Try my preaching, and every other man's discourse by the touchstone of the word of God. Reject all preaching that does not square with it. A gospel without Christ, is lifeless, insipid prose. A discourse which detracts from the agency of the Spirit is not gospel ; it may be law; but it is “the law that killeth." A treatise which is neither law nor gospel, but a jumble of both, reject, even if it were preached by an angel. Such preaching will not be allowed of God. Hold fast whereunto ye have attained. Give yourselves to God, and all will be consecrated to his service. You will not require to be told of times and places-discretion will guide you, and as ye have opportunity ye will do good unto all men, especially unto those who are of the household of faith. Hold fast the form of sound words ; let there be no admixture. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews repudiated all unholy amalgamation of Judaism with Christianity; we likewise repudiate any alliance of the perversions of a past age with the simple truths of the Gospel, to be proclaimed in the present age. We have described your altar and your priest. We exhort you to offer to God, not your money, but yourselves, a living sacrifice which is your reasonable service. “ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Then, you can offer the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. You will do all the good in your power, and promote every act of charity to which providence directs you. And with the performance of such sacrifices, or Christian duties, (for that is the meaning of the original), God is well pleased.
Finally, Hold fast, and you will be rescued from danger. Christ says, “My sheep shall never perish, nor shall any one pluck them out of my hand." Christ will execute his purposes and secure your eternal interests. You profess to have embraced the Saviour ; then, ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life by depending simply on Christ by faith. Your Saviour, Jesus, is passed into the heavens to plead for you; then go boldly to the throne of grace, and cry for help; cry for succour under every sorrow, and for a supply to your every want. As his priesthood is unchangeable, so is his friendship. In all your afflictions he is afflicted ; and when he sees you in the furnace of affliction so polished as to reflect his image-for his eye ever-watches over you for good, and his arm is ever extended to rescue you, he will call you up to him, he will extricate you from all your trials, he will introduce you to his Father, and appoint you to a mansion in glory. Oh, our text is replete with hope, overflowing with comfort, and a stimulus to exertion. It is a warranty that we can indulge safely the largest possible amount of unfailing confidence ; in fact, that success is certain, and that heaven is ours. Oh, the Priest is now before the throne, performing the service of pleading for us in dazzling glory, which fills the tabernacle. Soon we shall be there, if faithful unto death ; then, we shall see him as he is. But his pleadings will then be over, and he will be on his throne with. out a temple, filling heaven's courts with his glorious Majesty : reigning King of kings and Lord of lords.
But Jesus, the Son of God, now our great High Priest to save, will soon be an all-terrible Judge to destroy. In his favour there is safety; but no where else. Flee to him, ye who deride him. Ye who say, "We will not have this man to reign over us.” Rather, make him your friend, your Saviour, your advocate, your all. Then, in life or death, in danger or in safety, you need fear no evil; having such “a great High Priest, that has passed into the heavens," where is your home.
The Preacher. .
THINGS TEMPORAL CONTRASTED WITH THINGS ETERNAL.
PREACHED ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON, May 2, 1858,
BY THE REV. HENRY MELVILL, B.D.,
IN THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF ST. PAUL, LONDON.
“of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed.”—Psalm cii. 25, 26.
What the Psalmist here does, and that too in very strong language, is to set in contrast visible things and invisible. To the visible he assigns the character of temporal—“They shall perish; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment." To the invisible he assigns the character of eternal_“Thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end." We shall make it our business to dwell on these two characteristics—of things which are seen as temporal, and of things which are unseen as eternal. There are two ways in which the contrast of the text may be made out. The earth and the heavens may be said to be appointed for a fixed time and then to vanish away; or if they are not thus transient our connection with them may come wholly to an end, so that they may have no permanence to ourselve whatever the period of their duration. It may be useful to consider under both points of view the temporary character which the Psalmist assigns to the material universe; we shall then be prepared to appreciate the description of the Creator as enduring while everything else shall decay and perish.
You have before you the record of a great appointment, including whatsoever is visible, and sentencing it to dissolution. The earth and the heavens must include all material things, and “they shall perish," is the comprehensive statement of the text. Is it, then, so, that the glorious and mighty fabric of the material universe is to last only for a time; that this solid earth, and those worlds upon worlds which we behold from its surface, have in them the elements of decay, and are at length to disappear from the firmament? Is there nothing permanent in all that stupendous machinery which rolls at the bidding of the Divine Architect? Have there only a few centuries, perhaps only a few years, to elapse, and then shall the whole be taken down, and star after star and system after system shrink into original nothingness? We must be careful that we do not overstrain the Psalmist's expression, or so interpret it as to do violence to other portions of Scripture. There may be much room for questioning whether there will be the actual annihilation of matter; whether even this earth is to be so destroyed that no vestige of it shall remain. It cannot be said that whatever is material will only be temporal; for we know, at least, that our bodies are not be annihilated, but that, having gone through certain processes, they are to be re-united to the soul, and remain in that re-union for ever. Without, however, supposing the actual annihilation of what we now behold, we may speak of the universe as destined to be destroyed, seeing that the systems which are to succeed to the present will be wholly different and wear all the traces of a new creation. It practically matters little or nothing whether matter is to be annihilated, or whether it is to be lost in new shapes and combinations, provided only that in either case there is to be so complete a removal of the existing system of things that the earth and the heavens may be said 10 “ Alee away before the face of him that sitteth upon the throne.” This certainly suffices to affix a temporal character to all that is seen, and therefore to vindicate the Psalmist's statement in our text. And upon this we would fasten your attention. We would have you regard the whole surrounding universe, massive and abiding as it seems, as destined to crumble into powder on some approaching day of terror and of wonder, to become as “the chaff of the summer threshing-floor” when the Lord shall arise in his majesty and sweep away evil from his empire. It is not because for century after century the heavens have been hung with stars, and planets in majestic march have performed their unvarying revolutions, and seasons have followed each other in regular succession, it is not on these accounts to be concluded that there will be no such interruption of the existing order of things as is supposed in the assertion of our text. This would only be to take up the language and argument of the scoffers whose appearance is predicted by St. Peter, and who are to exclaim, “Where is the promise of his coming ? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” The long unbroken continuance of the present economy is no proof that there is not to come a change : for “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day," and the sentence has gone forth-a sentence from which nothing material is excluded, a sentence on the mighty constellations of the firmament as well as on our own frail bodies, on the mountains, the forests, and the floods of this creation as well as on the insignificant insect, fixing limits to the duration both of the vast and the inconsiderable, the durable and the fragile; so that the immense universe, in all its departments, is to be turned at length into its own tomb, though the tomb, like that in which human dust must sleep, is to give up its dead, that they may be remoulded and reanimated. Wonderful contemplation! We have been accustomed to distinguish between what we count fleeting and what we regard as enduring, between the rock and the mountain, the flower and the moth. There are certain objects to which we are wont to ascribe permanence, and which enable us to assign dates and periods to less stable things, but which are not themselves exempt from decay. Who, as he gazes on the troop of glorious worlds which form the retinue of night, does not feel as though they were moving and bounding before him and around bim messengers from a past eternity and heralds of a future-mysterious visitants who have looked upon this earth whilst generation after generation has arisen and declined, and who will still shine serenely when children's children are gathered to the tomb? Upon much that is earthly we can see traces of decay, which almost prepare us to expect dissolution; but the heavens, with their brilliant and interminable throng of stars, appear for ever the same. No storms displace any portion of their lustre; history brings us no rumour of a change; and it seems hardly credible, that there is yet to be a day when even as the dry leaves drop from the fig-tree shall the hosts of heaven be shrivelled up and fall. But so it is; all, all is temporal; and I know not what is to give us so august and overpowering an idea of our God, or to put so impressively the mark of comparative worthlessness on every created good, as the assurance that whatsoever is seen has an appointed termination? Is it not, I ask, a confounding thought, that by a simple effort of his will the Almighty is to unhinge and dislocate the amazing mechanism of the universe, sweep away myriads upon myriads of stupendous worlds, and yet remain himself the great “ I am," the same when stars and planets fall as when, in far back time, they first blazed at his command? Who amongst us does not feel rebuked by the truth now presented to our attention, if indeed he be living in preference of the objects of sight to the objects of faith? Man of pleasure! go on delighting thyself with things which gratify the senses ; man of learning! continue to neglect the wisdom which is from above, and account thyself knowing because acquainted with certain laws and phenomena of nature; avaricious man! persist in digging for the gold, and consume thy days and nights in labours to become rich; ambitious man! still toil for distinction and spare no sacrifice which may gain a higher title; but know, all ye worshippers of visible things, that, immortal yourselves, you are cherishing as your portion what is finite and perishable. Appointed yourselves to an endless duration, ye place your happiness in objects which are to last for a time and then wholly to disappear; so that you must be left with all the soul's mighty capacities empty, without a shred of the material whence now ye seek your chief good. Yes, it is indeed a demonstration of the incalculable disproportion between the soul and those objects with which worldly men attempt to satisfy its desires, when we can write “perishable, perishable," upon all that is material; when, on the authority of the living God, we can predict a day “in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up;" when, in short, the flames of ove universal conflagration shall make good this emphatic declaration,—"They shall perish; yea, all of themi shall wax old like a garment."
But we observed to you that there was another sepse in which this declaration might be taken, regard being had to the shortness of our own lives rather than to the finite duration of all visible things. It may be that such a representation as we have just laid before you, however powerfully it may address itself to the imagination, is not the most calculated to weaken the hold which the objects of sight so readily gain upon the heart. It may be that you will feel, if not say—“The things which are seen may thus be only temporal; but they have existed for centuries past, and will probably continue for centuries to come, and where the duration is so immense there is nothing very affecting to the mind in proving that it is not eternal.' Let us descend, therefore, to lower ground, and meet you where, if there be not matter for such sublime contemplation, there is, perhaps, for what is more touching and more practical. Even if there were never to come the appointed change over the visible universe, if the sun were never to be extinguished or the earth to be consumed, ye cannot deny that so far as yourselves are concerned the things which are seen will be emphatically temporal. There comes a day, neither can it be a very distant day to any one in this assembly, wheu our connection with earth must be terminated by death ; when the sun must rise on us for the last time, though millions of cheerful eyes will hail his rising on the morrow. It is not that the stars will have been withdrawn from the heavens, that the mountains will have crumbled, the waters have been dried up: still shall the firmament be richly spangled, and still shall the landscape spread its varied beauty. But we shall be shrouded in darkness, and have no consciousness of the glory which still breathes and burns in creation. For a few days or weeks our decease may cause a void in the circle in which we have been accustomed to move; but even this will soon be filled, while in the great family and mechanism of nature there will be no effect produced by our being gathered to our fathers. The sun will shine as brightly, and the flowers bloom as sweetly, and the birds sing as cheerily. It is a very affecting thing to those who have just watched the last struggle of one whom they dearly loved to look out on the joyous face of nature, and to see that everything goes on unaffected by their loss. They do well to darken their windows;- the trees and the stars and the rivers have no sympathy with them; they wave and sparkle and foam as though it were nothing to the inanimate creation that the happiness of a household had been suddenly crushed.
But will ye not allow, that, forasmuch as there is to be this total separation between you and the things which “ waxed old like a garment," these things are to be called temporal, whatever their duration ? And since, however attractive, however desirable, however gratifying these things may be, it is unavoidable that our connection with them must be brief and our separation from them final, will ye not confess that it cannot be the part of wisdom to place our affection on them, and to devote our days to their acquisition?. Indeed, the simple consideration that we must soon die, and the sense that we can take nothing with us from this earth, ought to suffice to persuade us of the great madness of living to the present rather than the future. If we come down to any one of yourselves who is actually engrossed with worldly objects,