Page images


213 108



No. 49.


Vol. V.

Dr. Channing's Election Sermon.

392 118 416 119 30



34 52

[We cannot more appropriately commence the fifth volume of a work devoted to human improvement and the advancement of mental freedom, than by the insertion of the following admirable sermon by Dr. Channing. It is a discourse worthy alike of its author and of the pure and benevolent faith be advocates. Happy the country in which the words of truth and soberness" are tbus addressed by the faithful minister of Jesus to those invested by their fellow-citizens with influence and powerhappy the country in wbich those words are received by its great men not only without repugnance, but even with approbation.—Edit.]




A Sermon preached at the Annual Election, May 26,

1830, before His Excellency Levi Lincoln, Governor, His Honour Thomas L. Winthrop, Lieut.-Governor, the Honourable Council, and the Legislature of Massachusetts.-By William E. Channing.


IN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, MAY 26, 1830. Ordered, That Messrs. Russell and Blake of Boston, and Goldsbury of North Bridgewater, be a Committee to present the thanks of this House to the Rev. William E. Channing, for his eloquent, learned, and appropriate Discourse this day delivered before the several branches of the government, and to request a copy thereof for the press.

Attest,-P. W. WARREN, Clerk,

John viii. 31, 32, 36: “ Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye sball know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free,

shall be free indeed.” The Scriptures continually borrow from nature and social life, illustrations and emblems of spiritual truth. The character, religion, and blessings of Jesus Christ, are



often placed before us by sensible images. His influences on the mind, are shadowed forth by the light of the sun, by the vital union of the head with the members, by the shepherd bringing back the wandering flock, by the vine which nourishes and fructifies the branches, by the foundation sustaining the edifice, by bread and wine invigorating the animal frame. In our text, we have a figurative illustration of his influence or religion, peculiarly intelligible and dear to this community. He speaks of himself as giving Freedom—that great good of individuals and states; and by this similitude he undoubtedly intended to place before men, in a strong and attractive light, that spiritual and inward liberty which his truth confers on its obedient disciples. Inward, Spiritual Liberty—this is the great gift of Jesus Christ. This will be the chief topic of the present discourse. I wish to show, that this is the Supreme good of men, and that civil and political liberty has but little worth, but as it springs from and invigorates this.

From what I have now said, the general tone of this discourse may be easily anticipated. I shall maintain, that the highest interest of communities, as well as individuals, is a spiritual interest; that outward and earthly goods are of little worth but as bearing on the mind, and tending to its liberation, strength, and glory. And I am fully aware that in taking this course, I lay myself open to objection. I shall be told, that I show my ignorance

of human nature, in attempting to interest men by such refined views of society; that I am too speculative; that spiritual liberty is too unsubstantial and visionary, to be proposed to statesmen as an end in legislation; that the dreams of the closet should not be obtruded on practical men; that gross and tangible realities can alone move the multitude; and, that to talk to politicians of the spiritual interests of society as of supreme importance, is as idle as to try to stay with a breath the force of the whirlwind.

I anticipate such objections. But they do not move me. I firmly believe, that the only truth which is to do men lasting good, is that which relates to the soul, which carries them into its depths, which reveals to them its powers

and the purposes of its creation. The progress of society is retarded by nothing more, tban by the low views which its leaders are accustomed to take of human nature. Man has a mind as well as a body, and this he ought to know; and till he knows it, feels" it, and is deeply pene

« PreviousContinue »