Scotch-Irish in America
The Closing Service,
including the Sermon of Rev. John Hall.
Held at Exposition Building
on Sunday evening. Presided over by General Aiken and addressed by Rev.
Dr. John Hall and others.
General Aiken said:
Delegates to the
I beg to say to you and to
the gentlemen of the Committee who have assigned to me the duty of
presiding at this magnificent assemblage to-night, that I am deeply
grateful for the honor conferred upon me. There are times when the lips
fail to give expression to the sentiments of the heart and the thoughts
and words of the mind. That feeling is upon me at this moment. I thank you
with all my heart, and I trust that this grand building will be filled for
the glory of God.
The Rev. Dr. McCallister
then led in prayer. The 72d Psalm was then sung, after an exposition of
the lines by Dr. McCallister, beginning with "The city shall be
flourishing: her citizens abound in numbers like unto the grass."
Rev. Dr. Steele then read
the scripture, "Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered." After which,
prayer was offered by the Rev. Dr. McMillen.
The 146th Psalm, beginning
with the seventh verse, was then sung.
General Aiken here
announced that the Rev. Dr. John Hall would preach the sermon, adding,
"This is all the introduction of him that is necessary before an American
Dr. Hall then spoke as
My dear friends, I take
three words out of the Book of Psalms to bring to your attention this
evening. In the 96th Psalm, at the tenth verse, it is written, "Say among
the heathen, the Lord reigneth;" and at the beginning of the 99th it is
written, "The Lord reigneth, let the people tremble;" at the beginning of
the 97th it is written, "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice." I know
how difficult it will be for many of you to hear the words that are spoken
from this platform. I shall therefore endeavor to make my sentences brief.
I shall not attempt to preach the whole of the sermon. I shall point out
to you the lines that would be followed if it were proper to speak at
greater length, and I believe that many of you will be able to follow
these lines in your own way, and the spirit of God, I trust, will bless
both you and me with so much of the truth as is brought to our attention.
"The Lord reigneth, let the
earth rejoice." The style of that is impressive. It is concentrated truth.
It has sublimity. It is like the well-known words, "God said let there be
light and there was light."The words are interesting to us because of this
grandeur of style. The thought that is present is attractive. It gives us
a clear statement of the truth such as we can understand. It is concise.
It is emphatic. It is practical in the highest degree. It is not the
statement of an elaborate theory. It is simple. It is direct. It is
"The Lord reigneth, say you
to the heathen the Lord reigneth." That is the message that the Church has
to carry to the world. That is the message that the Hebrews were to give
to the Gentiles. That is the message that the Christian Church is to
proclaim to-day to all the nations of the earth. I think we can understand
in some measure how the Lord reigneth. Sometimes we speak about nature
reigning. Men say causes produce certain effects in a regular way, and
they believe they have found the law of nature; then they personify
nature, which is powerless; and the next tiling they do is to speak as if
nature were deified. Nature can not reign, nature can not rule, for God
rules nature and all things else. We can not understand the meaning of the
statement such as "Nature reigns." It is the God of Nature that is the
true reigning power. We can not understand the meaning of the statement
that chance should reign. Chance can not make worlds. It can not shape
things in order. It is the absence of law. It is disorder. It is anarchy.
If we leave our matters to chance our efforts and our lives would come to
nothing. It is impossible to think of the world being ruled by chance. In
olden times, when men had not revelation, they saw all sorts of forces in
seeming conflict with one another. They saw things happening that they did
not expect. They saw things happening that didn't seem to accomplish any
"The Lord reigneth, let the
earth rejoice." God is the spirit, infinite, eternal in his wisdom, power,
holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. You learned that when you were
children in the catechism. Now we can understand how this being can reign.
We look to the sun, moon, stars, and earth ; God made all these. He who
was capable of making them must have them within his reach. He is
omnipresent as well as omnipotent. As he is omnipresent and omnipotent, he
must be omniscient. He is omniscient, and reigns over all things ; reigns
and rules over the material world, just as we rule ourselves. Your will is
spiritual, and your muscles are matter; consequently the will reigns over
the man. It is the same with God and the material world. He rules the
beast of the field and the strongest and meanest of his creatures. God
rules them all. He has adapted some of these low creatures to the wants
and comforts of man, but these creatures are dependent upon the grass of
the field. The grass of the field is dependent on other influences, which
are dependent upon God himself. It is one power, therefore, that is ruling
over this material world. "The Lord reigneth over this world, let the
earth rejoice." There are many questions which come up which we can not
answer. We are asked why one land is fertile. Why is another land barren?
Why is the crop so beautiful in one place and wasted in another by storms
in the night? Many can discover secondary causes for all these things.
They can tell you about the secondary cause, but never the primary. They
can charge the changing of the weather to the changing of the course of
the gulf stream, but who caused the gulf stream to change its course they
do not know. There may have been excessive rains, but by whom were they
caused? Thus, to get at the first cause of all these things, we must fall
back on the text, "The Lord reigneth."
"The Lord reigneth, let the
earth rejoice." We can rejoice, for if we have any difficulties in this
dominion of nature we can carry the difficulty to God. The people may say,
"The Lord reigneth," why do we not have uniformity, and not this great
destruction of crops and other matter? If there was absolute uniformity in
God's nature it would be a terrible temptation to us at all times. We
would be too ready to say, "Of course this will occur," and "Of course we
will get this," and for this reason God has not absolute uniformity in
nature. Therefore, fellow-creatures, knowing God as we do, let us be
thankful that we have such a being to whom we can bear our trouble.
Kings, emperors, and other
rulers, are but secondary. "The Lord reigneth, and let nations tremble."
He builds up a nation, or breaks the power of the people, and every nation
ought to be glad that it has such a ruler to whom it can trace its
benefits. God does not break down a nation without cause. When he does so,
some will say its bad laws caused its downfall; but, my dear brethren, its
bad laws were of the secondary cause. You will ask why. Because God left
it to its sins, and did not direct its law-maker. Another nation guided by
Jehovah arises up, but it, too, would be cast down if God should desert
it. I speak with no disrespect of these rulers, but we must admit that
they are but as puppets in the hands of the Lord God omnipotent. He builds
up a nation, and makes the power of a people, and he is King over all the
world. If a nation wants to be happy, its mind must be directed by God the
same as the mind of an individual. Yet there is a vast difference between
an individual and a nation in the manner of receiving justice from God. An
individual who sins, and continues in rebellion against God, is often
allowed to live, and is even given prosperity and riches. He has another
life, and God can be vindicated when he leaves this earth. But there is no
eternity for a nation, and God must be vindicated on a nation here on
earth. Truly the Lord reigneth, and the godly nations and people may
rejoice, but well may the godless tremble. God made us a race, and because
he did we belong to him, but by the disobedience of one person many became
sinners. The entire race became sinful, and if God had left us to
ourselves well might we tremble, but he did not. He showed his gratuitous
mercy, and made his Son mediator between himself and the world, and he
manages the world for the benefit of his people. Christ did not supersede
the Father. He simply represented him. God gave him to us in his
gratuitous pity, and he is sovereign in the gift of the Sou. He has also
the right to take away that which he gave. Some are not satisfied with
their substance, and they want more, but Jehovah knows best, and can be
trusted with the affairs of this world over which he rules. Jehovah is not
responsible for the acts of men in this world. He made man responsible for
those acts by endowing him with an understanding. He gives the truth to
sucklings and to babes, while he holds it from the man. He does this in
his infinite wisdom. Some say that God makes the choice of nations for his
favorite people, but he is sovereign in that which he does with his
children, and does all for the best. The clouds and darkness about Jehovah
to us weak, sinful, and fallen creatures, are not his doings, but our own
sinful character, our short and crooked visions. He who trusts in him
shall have everlasting life. If you and I are in darkness without, we have
only to come to him for forgiveness. We should be thankful that we have a
God over us to guide and direct us. I never yet have met a Christian who
said, "I have accepted salvation of my own strength," but always have
heard him say, "He drew me to it, and I have been saved by God's grace."
There are two classes in
this world, the law-abiding, who are at large, and the criminals, who are
in the prisons of the state. They who accept the law of Christ shall be
like the former, and shall have that liberty which God promises to its
people. Those who despise it shall be in the eternal prison house which
God has provided for those who reject his word on this earth.
God invites you to come to
him, he speaks to you, and wishes you to trust him. He asks you as a
penitent to accept his grace offered by his gracious Son. If you do so,
you will not only be happy to-night, but for aye and forever. Let men who
despise him tremble, for his vindication is certain. Those who love him,
let them always be loyal to him and to his precepts. Tell the godless, the
guilty, to look to God, and rejoice over the fruits which you gather in
the great country of the redeemed in everlasting glory.
Dear friends, dear
brethren, dear countrymen, dear fellow-citizens, dear Christians, "The
Lord reigneth;" trust yourselves in his hands, and rejoice that you have
been brought into fellowship with himself, and with Jesus Christ, his Son
and your Redeemer. May God bless his word, and to his name be the praise!
Rev. Dr. Atkison, of Toronto, then offered a prayer, and was followed by
Dr. Bryson, of Alabama, who spoke briefly as follows:
In closing the scenes and
services through which we have been passing, it was thought wise that the
last evening should be set apart for the religious exercises, and you will
see the propriety of this in the address to which we just took such great
pleasure in listening. And, after all, what is human life without its
religious element? What is a nation unless that nation is imbued with the
principles of God's revealed truth. As has been said to us to-night by Dr.
Hall, "The Lord reigns." The Lord it was that brought into existence a
mighty race of men, and who will remain with them until that race shall
end. The Lord that has marked out the destiny of mankind, who has brought
into the government of men this mighty effort for the redemption of the
lost world. A few more years will pass, and those of us who stand here
to-day the representatives of truth will pass away. There are forces, my
friends, there are mighty forces, that are shaping the destiny of this
world. There are forces that are shaping the governments of every race on
earth, and nations and kingdoms are trembling for the issues that lie
before us. Come what may in the unfoldings of that appalling future, only
those who have been true to their God can face without fear the inevitable
of time and eternity. Be true to your God, be just, and you will be happy.
Hope in God, believe in God, trust in God, pray in God, work in God, and
you will be rewarded in eternity.
The people we represent
to-night are people who have been true to God's word, and were it not that
we owe a duty to ourselves, and a higher duty to our God, we would be
false to the good name that has been handed down to us by our forefathers,
were we not to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom and for
whom we must live. Let us, in parting, remember the lessons that have been
taught us; let us keep in our memories the words that have been spoken,
and the faces into which we have smiled in this Congress, that in years to
come the same noble impulses to which our hearts beat, as Scotch-Irishmen,
and as Christians, will ever be the source of our worldly deeds, that we
may teach to all the world, we of the North, of the South, of the East,
and of the West, a lesson embodied in the poet's lines:
"Behold how good a thing it
is, And how becoming well, Together, such as brethren are, In unity to
After the singing of the
133d Psalm, Dr. Bryson pronounced the benediction, and the audience was
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