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“ of inequality between different nations ; “ the progress of equality in one and the
same nation; and, lastly, the real im“provement of mano.” These hopes will be realized, but not in the sense of the writer, in that day “ when the Mountain of the “ Lord's house shall be established in the top “ of the mountains, and shall be exalted “ above the hills, and all nations shall flow “ unto ito.” Then the kingdoms of this world will belong to Christ, and therefore constitute one empire: the distinctions which pride, ambition, and oppression have introduced among mankind, will be annihilated; and our race, in their intellectual and moral qualities, as also in their temporal condition, will be exalted to the highest state of improvement of which they are capable on this side of the
grave. From the representations which God has given us in his word of the glory of the latter days, we perceive that infidels, in their theory of the perfectability of our species, have not even the credit of originality: nay more; having borrowed the idea directly or
a Condorcet’s Philos. Outlines, p. 251. Phil. ed. b Isai. ii. 2.
indirectly from the Scriptures, with their usual ingratitude, they wish to conceal their obligations to that very volume whose authority they deny, and whose credit they seek to destroy. Though they are thus indebted for their theory to the word of God, the means by which they suppose this ultimate perfection of man will certainly be obtained, are all of their own invention. Without following them in their detail of these means, let it suffice to say, that they have endeavoured to account for effects without adequate causes. With the celebrated Gibbon, in his insidious attempt to account for the rapid spread of the Gospel by secondary causes, they, in their rage against the Lord and his Anointed, have ascribed to human exertions the omnipotence of the first cause. Leaving them to their own imaginations, let us recur to the sure word of truth, which is able to remove all doubts, and to lead us in the
way of righteousness. Therein we find the original, the present, and the future state of man clearly unfolded. At first, he was upright; then, he fell. To him as fallen, divine mercy revealed a way of escape from the righteous judgment of God.
The evolution of the whole plan, and its success in meliorating the nature and the condition of man, we find, from the information of the Scriptures and the records of profane history, have both been progressive. The progress has indeed, we grant, met with interruptions, some shorter and some longer in duration. Each interruption, however, has been succeeded by a clearer manifestation of mercy, and a fuller display of its power in the world. As Christ the Saviour is the substance of every such manifestation; as without him, so far as we know, there would have been no mercy for us; so it is by the knowledge of Christ which God has progressively imparted, that mankind have progressively improved thus far, and will continue to do so until the end of time.
Of this truth Christ himself gives us information and proof in the text, when he calls himself the Light of the world. He is that in the spiritual, which the material light or sun is in the natural, world. And as the material light shines brighter and brighter to the perfect day, so “ the Light of the “ world” has increased in splendour from
his appearance in the first promise, and will continue to increase until the glorious day shall come, when“ at evening time it shall “
be light°.” In this enlarged view of the Light of the world, we perceive his progress from the beginning to the end of his shining; a shining sometimes obscured by clouds, which hid him from the world, and then breaking forth with additional resplendency; ; but always communicating some benefit, shedding abroad invigorating and healthful influence in proportion to its clearness. He is thus “ as a bridegroom coming out of “ his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong
man to run a race. His going forth is “ from the end of the heaven, and his cir“ cuit unto the ends of it: and there is no
thing hid from his heat'.” Let us for our improvement now, I. Inquire how he is the Light of the world.
And, II. Follow his course, from his first ap
pearance, till he shall reach the meridian, the latter-day glory, shining brighter and brighter, and imparting corresponding blessings as far as his
a Zech. xiv. 11.
The consideration of these topics will prepare us for an application appropriate to this first day of the year“.
I. Our first subject of examination is the inquiry, How is Christ the Light of the world ?
In this inquiry the world is taken in its largest sense, as meaning the whole race of Adam, from the creation to the day when the heavens and the earth shall pass away with a great noise. Of the world, thus understood, Christ, according to his own declaration, is the Light, that is, the source of light, the Sun of righteousness. To understand fully the beauty and propriety of our Lord's figurative language, we must for a moment resort to natural science. Without entering into any thing even like a general view of her instructions on this subject, suffice it to say, merely for the purposes of present illustration, she teaches that the sun is the great fountain from whence flows the light of day, which enables us to see objects and pursue occupations necessary to our comfort and support; that his rays always produce heat, which change the bulk, state,
a Preached Jan. 1, 1813,