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THIS great day of historic interest, made so by the proclamation of the President of the United States, appointing a day for fasting, humiliation, and prayer, to be observed by twenty millions of people, has no precedent in the annals of mankind, for a cause and occasion so remarkable and humiliating as this.

It was a spectacle of moral grandeur such as the world has seldom or never seen, and seldom, if ever, in this country or any other, has a national fast-day been more generally observed by the people, in the obvious spirit and meaning of such an ap pointment. We make this brief record on these pages, in connection with the dis courses of our present number, as a part of the history of this work.-ED. N. PREACHER.





"YEA, in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."-ISAIAH 26: 8, 9.

"And Jesus answering, said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilæans were sinners above all the Galilæans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."—ST. LUKE 13: 2, 3.

THE preacher commenced by observing that sin was always the object of God's displeasure, and that displeasure would surely be manifested in retributive adjudications and judgments of our Lord, in order to teach righteousness to the human race. We had read of the apostate angels, and of Lucifer and his host. Yet it is only in the developments of our own race, the life of the human species, that we were sure to learn all the truths appertaining to the complete working of the divine judgment. There were certain classes of sins that were sure to bring their own retribution in this life intemperance, sensual indulgence, excess of appetite, etc. entailed their own natural consequences and retributions; but there were other sins besides those, the judgments of which referred to another life. As to a nation, the punishment was dif ferent. A nation could not be judged, and sentenced, and pun

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*It is proper to say that this is only a brief and imperfect sketch of this excellent discourse, which we take from the New-York Times, to fill out our present number.EDITOR.


ished at the judgment-day; men were judged, not as families, nor as States, nor as organizations of any kind, but as individuals. With nations it was something more. They have an organic life longer than that of a single individual who represents them or who belongs to them. Pharaoh dies, yet Egypt continues, and Persia has an existence, although Darius and Cyrus are dead. Now, national acts were those which were performed by a nation's organ or representative, as well as those which were performed by the great majority of the people, and we have instances in the Scripture where a nation was made to suffer for the acts of its former king, or the sinful conduct of its people. After showing the distinction between the judgment on an individual and God's judgment on a nation, the reverend gentleman remarked that the life of a nation was long, and a brief space of it only transpired under our personal observation; we witness but one act in the drama, and the nation may be punished long after we have gone to our account. A nation is not destroyed in an instant, as a felon beheaded by one stroke of the hatchet; it may be in a thousand years that the judgment of God descends upon her, and she is punished for her sins in a revolution, an invasion, etc. have only to look at ancient and modern history for an exemplification of that. There is but one power that destroys a nation, and that is sin; and we could easily see the difference in the condition of nations which practiced righteousness and those which committed sinful acts. Look at the difference that existed between Christian Britain and Mohammedan Turkey. Britain had all the elements of secular prosperity, strength, salubrity, security of life and commerce, and also enterprise and energy, whilst Turkey remained still. This was a subject that might be elaborated upon, throughout all the annals of the world, and the same deduction drawn. We have numerous works on political economy, but they might all be condensed into the simple word, "sin," which was one of the most ruinous, wasteful, and extravagant causes of a nation's downfall. The preacher then referred to the several sins which debased a nation and its people-luxury, longing for wealth, extravagance, etc. and traced the downfall of nations to these causes. As "a nation sows so she would reap," was a true saying, and applicable to all the instances we read of in history. The reverend gentleman here eloquently expatiated upon the necessity of caution in interpreting the judgments of God, and in this connection referred to several portions of the Scriptures to show the danger of doing so. He then alluded to our country, and the causes of the present lamentable state of affairs; and speaking of the sinfulness of the age, he said we could not call the United States an idolatrous country, because a certain number of our Chinese population practiced idolatry; but the Chinese we would christen by that name, because idolatry was a prevalent

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custom in their country. Alluding to the sin of slavery, the preacher said that even if this was removed, yet we would not be without a great sin, and that was antagonisin to God. It was not the cotton-plant that made a nation, or accumulating wealth either. The prosperity of a nation did not consist in its form of government or the wisdom of its laws it was in its repentance, and the renewing of the human will to keep the laws of our divine Master. Where was the power short of that which is divine, and which only a merciful God can exercise, that can work such a change in human nature as will be the basis of a happy, prosperous, and permanent social organization? At the present time he considered there was a deep meaning in the words of the text, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." He hoped they would all repent, and teach their children to obey God's commandments. It was the only salvation for the country, and he impressed it upon them that sin was our worst enemy, and should be crushed.

After a lengthened and eloquent appeal to the congregation to be unceasing in their prayers to our Lord, to avert the calamity of civil war, and to obey his commandments, and walk in his ways, the preacher concluded by assuring the congregation that God would never forsake us if we only approached him with a repentant and meek spirit.

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Vol. IV.-New Series.] DECEMBER, 1861. [No. 12.-Whole No. 420.





"YEA, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are."-1 COR. 1: 28, (last clause.)

THIS clause contains a complete thought, and suggests to us a theme rich enough, large enough, to engage and reward our evening's meditation. It is proper, therefore, to single it out from the others with which it stands associated, and to make it the subject of our discourse. And yet, in so separating it, we must not sacrifice the peculiar significance and the added impressiveness which it derives from its position, or the light which is cast on it by its companions. It is the last of a series of clauses, of which each *Preached at Cleveland, Ohio, October 1, 1861, before the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, at their Fifty-Second Annual Meeting.

that precedes it prepares the way for it, and by natural progress leads the mind toward it. And it is only when we view it at the head of this series, as summing up and surpassing the previous clauses, that we precisely discern and wholly appreciate its scope and meaning.

"For ye see your calling, brethren," says the Apostle; "how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are." The foolish and the weak, the base and the despised things-it is only natural that from the last and lowest of these, the things which are noticed only to be contemned, the Apostle should step to the things which are not; that is, which have either no existence, except in germ or mere possibility, or certainly no existence that is recognized by mankind; which arrest no thought, excite no fear, and are not prominent enough to be scorned. And these things, he says, the Lord hath chosenthese things which seem still weaker than the weakest, and whose very being appears but a dream of the imaginative enthusiastTHESE things hath he chosen, to bring to naught the THINGS THAT ARE; the great institutions, establishments, forces, which mark or mold the constitution of society. He hath chosen them for this purpose, to the end that his name may be magnified by their agency, and his glory be revealed in their ultimate triumph. He is able to bring them to success and to victory, to human thought non-existent as they are, because his foolishness is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. And when it is done, no flesh shall be able to glory in his presence.

How complete is the climax to which we are brought, as we thus view the passage! How sharply discriminated from those that attend it, is the thought which is contained in these last words! And how fruitful and wide is the field which it opens to our survey! It is a thought, too, peculiar to the Gospel; and which for that reason the better befits an occasion wholly devoted, as this is, to conference concerning its further advancement.

That the "Things which are," at any time, in human society, however venerable, however strong, are always liable to be displaced by others, which were not in existence, or were not of recognized importance and power, when the former were established, but which subsequently and often suddenly are brought to development and mastery; that thus the aspects of society and history are continually changing, and each successive form of civilization is likely in its turn to give place to another, into whose life its own may be absorbed, but under whose differences

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