« ZurückWeiter »
DELIVERED AT THE REQUEST OF THE
ON THE 19TH OF JULY, 1839.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by ANDREWS
Norton, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
I ADDRESS you, Gentlemen, and our friends who are assembled with us, on an occasion of more than common interest; as it is your first meeting since joining together in a society as former pupils of the Theological School in this place. Many of you may look back over a considerable portion of time that has elapsed since your residence here.
In thus meeting with those in whose society we have spent some of the earlier years of life, recollections are naturally called up of pleasures that are gone, of ties that have been broken, of hopes that have perished, and of bright imaginations that have faded away.
Such recollections produce those serious views of our present existence with which religious sentiment is connected. They make us feel the value of a Christian's faith ; of that faith, which, where
decay was before written on all most dear to us, stamps immortality instead.
I see among you many, who, I know, will recall our former connexion with the same interest as I do, and whom I am privileged to regard as friends. As for those of you, Gentlemen, to whom I have not stood in the relation of an instructer, we also have an intimate connexion with each other. Your office is to defend, explain, and enforce the truths of Christianity ; and with the importance of those truths no one can be more deeply impressed than myself. So far as you are faithful to your duty, the strong sympathy of all good men is with you.
But we meet in a revolutionary and uncertain state of religious opinion, existing throughout what is called the Christian world. Our religion is very imperfectly understood, and received by comparatively a small number with intelligent faith. In proportion as our view is more extended, and we are better acquainted with what is and what has been, we shall become more sensible of the great changes that have long been in preparation, but which of late have been rapidly developed. The present state of things imposes new responsibilities upon all, who know the value of our faith
and have ability to maintain it. Let us then employ this occasion in considering some of the characteristics of the times and some of those opinions now prevalent, which are at war with a belief in Christianity.
By a belief in Christianity, we mean the belief that Christianity is a revelation by God of the truths of religion ; and that the divine authority of him whom God commissioned to speak to us in his name was attested, in the only mode in which it could be, by miraculous displays of his power. Religious truths are those truths, and those alone, which concern the relations of man to God and eternity. It is only as an immortal being and a creature of God, that man is capable of religion. Now those truths which concern our higher nature, and all that can with reason deeply interest us in our existence, we Christians receive, as we trust, on the testimony of God. He who rejects Christianity must admit them, if he admit them at all, upon some other evidence.
But the fundamental truths of religion taught by Christianity became very early connected with human speculations, to which the same importance was gradually attached, and for the proof of which the same divine authority was claimed. These speculations spread out and