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Proceedings of the Fourth Congress at Atlanta, GA., April 28 to May 1, 1892
Closing Religious Exercises at DeGive's Opera House


Sunday Afternoon, May 15, 1892.

Sunday afternoon in DeGive's Opera House, beginning at 3:30 o'clock, was held a religious service, illustrating the mode of worship, and typifying the peculiar phases of doctrine and faith which prevailed in the olden time among the Covenanters of Scotland and the Scotch-Irish Protestants of Ulster. A large and select congregation filled the parquet, dress circle, and galleries of the building and listened to the speakers, and when called upon participated in the services in a manner that indicated much interest in the simple and beautiful, yet solemn and impressive ceremonies that characterized the forefathers of the great majority of those present. On the stage were seated the officers of the Society and other distinguished visitors and prominent citizens of Atlanta.

Dr. Macintosh opened the services and presided during the ceremonies.

Dr. John S. Macintosh:
Through the kind courtesy of the local committee and the ministry of this city, I have been asked to take charge of the services of this afternoon. Our aim is to let you see in this service, so far as we can, how your fathers and your mothers, in the old land of their birth, and the land perhaps where some of yourselves were born, worshiped God. It will doubtless be an interesting study for the younger Presbyterians of Atlanta to know what was something of the form in which our forefathers drew near to God. They opened the service, first by an appeal to God that he might grant unto them his Holy Spirit, that they might worship Him in spirit and in truth. We shall be led to the throne of the heavenly grace in the prayer of invocation by Dr. Bryson, of Huntsville, Ala. Let us pray.

Rev. Dr. J. H. Bryson:
Our heavenly Father, we would come into thy presence at this hour lifting up our voices in prayer and in supplication to thee who art the author of all time, who art the source of all grace, on whom we are dependent for all the blessings we enjoy in this life, and for all the precious hopes of that life which is yet to come. Our Father, we invoke the presence of thy divine Spirit that it may qualify us in mind and in heart to approach thee as the great and living God. We come to thee as our father's God; we come to thee as the covenant-teaching God who hast said: "I will be a God to you and unto your children and your children's children after you, even unto many generations." O thou covenant-keeping God, we invoke thy presence to be with us at this hour and in this service, and may we realize that we are waiting upon the great God, and may our hearts and our minds, under the power of the Spirit, be qualified for the services of this hour. Guide us in every part of it, and may our hearts be lifted up in thankfulness and sincerity unto thee, and the honor of our redemption will we ever give unto God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and evermore. Amen.

Dr. Macintosh:
There were not many psalm books in the old meetinghouses at the beginning for our ancestors to use in the simple service of the Presbyterian Church; but they were all desirous of praising God, and that they might all sing, it was the custom, as the phrase went, "to line out the psalms." It was given out line by line. Commonly that was done by the chief singer or Precentor, as he was sometimes called, or the leader, as in other places he was termed. After some years of that use, a change came in, and two lines at one time were given out. There were some good men and women who thought that that was a serious and sad change, but the custom of giving out two lines continued in some of the old parishes of Scotland, and one or two very remote parishes in the North of Ireland —though the term "parish" was not native to Ireland, but, like many other things, was brought over from the Highlands—even to my own day. I have not infrequently conducted services in quiet meetinghouses, as they were called, where the Precentor gave out the psalm by the long or the double line.

The first song to be sung this afternoon is the one hundredth psalm. I will give it out in the double line; the other psalms will be sung in the usual way. We will sing the last psalm standing; the others will be sung by you sitting.

The congregation sang the one hundredth psalm.

Dr. Macintosh:
After the singing of the first psalm there came always the reading of Scripture, and one very remarkable feature, and one most desirable feature of public worship was this: that all the congregation, young and old, opened their Bibles at the chapter and verse announced, and finding the Scripture lesson to be read, every one followed devoutly the reading of the Holy Scripture.

I fancy that some of you can still see the old fathers and mothers marching along the road to the kirk with their old Bibles bound up in a clean pocket handkerchief, and a little sprig of Southern wood, or cither wood, as they would pronounce it, stuck in the end of the Bible. So they came to the house of God; and there they opened their Bibles and read with the minister silently and devoutly.

I am asked to read in the first Epistle general of Peter, the first chapter and beginning with the first verse. [This chapter was read.]

Dr. Macintosh:

Rev. Dr. Strickler, of Atlanta, will now lead us in prayer.

Rev. Dr. G. B. Strickler:
Our Father who art in heaven, again we do lift up our hearts unto the hills whence cometh all our blessings. We acknowledge our absolute dependence upon thee for every good and perfect gift. We pray that the influences of the Holy Spirit may now be granted us in such measure that our waiting upon thee shall be acceptable in thy sight and glorify thy great and holy name. Be with us in all the exercises of this hour. May thy blessing rest upon thy word as it has been read, and may thy blessing rest upon thy word as it shall presently be proclaimed in our hearing, and may that word be to us good; may it make us all wise unto salvation; and be with us in singing these sacred songs of Zion, and enable us to make melody in our heart unto thee, and be with us in the offering up of our supplications to the throne of grace, and may our prayers come up before thee as incense, and may the lifting up of our hands be as the evening sacrifice. So fit us for these solemn duties that now lie before us that we shall find it delightful to wait upon our God, and so that we shall all obtain a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of our salvation. Let thy blessing rest upon thine own people. We pray thee that thou wilt send them this afternoon, by thy servant, such a message as shall refresh their hearts, as shall confirm them in thy way, as shall strengthen them for more faithful performance of all the duties of life, as shall better fit them for thy service here and thy kingdom hereafter. We pray that thy blessing may rest upon all who are here present who are not yet thy people. Give thy word due force amongst them, and may it be glorified. We pray that thy word may have access to their minds and hearts. May it be a demonstration of the spirit and of power. Grant that a number may this afternoon be prevailed upon to accept of the offer of eternal life, as it is so freely made in thy word.

We pray that thy blessing may rest upon this Congress here assembled; bless all the members of it. We thank thee for all the grace that thou hast bestowed upon the race with which they are connected; we thank thee for all that thou hast done for them in the past, for all that thou art doing for them now; and we thank thee for all that thou hast made them; and we pray thee that their lives may have still larger measures of divine grace; that as the years pass on they may become purer and nobler, more consecrated, more useful, more influential in the world for good. We thank thee for all the evidence that thou hast given in the history of this portion of the human race; that thou art indeed a covenant-keeping God; that thou dost bless not only thine own servant, but thou wilt bless their children and their children's children from generation to generation.

We pray that thy blessing may rest upon our country; we pray that this coming together of these members of this Congress from all parts of our land, and the similar assemblies that are constantly being organized, may be the means in thy hands of bringing all parts of the country closer together. May all misunderstandings, all prejudices be removed, and may all the people of this great land be bound up together in the bonds of Christian confidence and affection, and may they all strive together for the establishment of God's kingdom and for the glory of his great and holy name.

May thy blessing rest upon thy servant who is now to speak to us in thy name. We pray that his own mind and his own heart may be fully under the influence of divine truth; that he may be able to deliver to us the message with which he is charged as thy servant ought always to be able to do; may he speak from the heart to our hearts, and may the message that he shall deliver to us be a message of life. Let thy blessing rest upon all these services, and while we wait before thee in this place may we have the consciousness that God himself is present, and that we are in the enjoyment of his favor. We ask for Christ's sake. Amen.

Dr. Macintosh:
Our ancestors had very small libraries. But there were two books which our fathers and our mothers were well taught and did understand. The one was the book of doctrine and the other was the book of devotion. The one was the Shorter Catechism, which they learned thoroughly at home; and the other was the Book of the Psalms, which they learned in the society meetings and in the sanctuary. The society meeting is what we should call our meeting for lecture and prayer, but it was generally held at some home, or rather in the homes of the congregation, moving around from point to point, and always the Psalm that was sung was expounded or enlarged, as the term was called, or made edifying as in some parts of Scotland and in two places in Ulster that I found it surviving on that plan, by being explained before it was sung. They had not much art either in their places of worship or in their songs. Indeed, for many years they had only what was called the twelve sacred tunes, and when there were added to those twelve sacred tunes others, there were old men and women who gravely shook their heads and felt sinkings of heart, for the beginning of the new things had come, and they were ready to write, "the glory has departed." However, they always sang with the understanding, whether it was with much art or not, and they always sang with their heart.

The song which has been selected, the one hundred and third Psalm, ought to be very dear to you all. It is historical and hallowed: historical for it is bound up with the history of your ancestors; it was the song and the sermon in the Lowlands of Scotland in many a pious cotter's and farmer's house after the harvest had been gathered in. It was the Psalm that was always sung when the Lord took any child of grace home and they gathered together to comfort their hearts over their dead. But it was especially the sacramental Psalm, and that makes it both historic and hallowed. It is bound up with those wonderful communion seasons when, in the glens and on the hillsides, they gathered sometimes from sixty miles distant, and spent day after day in worshiping, in holding what they called their "preparation services," and what we, in the North, sometimes call protracted services; I don't know whether you use that term here in the South. These were great revival seasons.

And then in partaking of the Lord's Supper our forefathers always seated themselves at a long table, which ran down the center and across the church, and as they would go out of their pews and take their places at the table and hand in " their tokens," this one hundred and third Psalm was sung; and for years and generations it was always sung to one grand old tune, "Coleshill." On two or three occasions, away in the Highlands of Scotland, I have been permitted to take part in the open-air sacramental season, and I have heard that grand old "Coleshill" roll, as the mellow thunder of believing hearts, over the heads that were gathered there, and away up the everlasting hills which took it up:

O thou my soul, bless God the Lord,
And all that in me is;
Be lifted up, his holy name
To magnify and bless.

This hymn begins and ends in the choirs of the sky and the chorus of the universe, for the adoring man has lifted himself on the wings of prayer, he has joined the hosts of God around the throne, he lets his soul ascend to him in praise. He first brings his spirit into touch with the Father of spirits. It is the essence of worship, it is the spirit of religion. He is a grateful creature, and the first outburst is to bless God. Man joins the seraph bands; his soul's aflame; the pure fire burns on the altar of his heart, and the sweet incense rises on a fragrant cloud.

You may hear the divine response: "Whoso offereth the praise glorifieth God."

Bless, O my soul, the Lord thy God,
And not forgetful be
Of all his gracious benefits
He hath bestowed on thee.

Benefits of divine favor, the grace of God. A hand that touched the needy creature brought them down to himself. How sweet this beginning of worship. The soul with God; the soul counting the good gifts of God; the soul able to see the mercies of the Lord. Grand and sweet it is to see these desires to make God glorious because he was so good; but when he gets closer to God, in the clear light of the divine presence, he begins to see himself truly, and the grateful creature bends at the throne of grace a confessing sinner.

All thy iniquities who doth
Most graciously forgive;
Who thy diseases all and pains
Doth heal and thee relieve.

A confessing sinner! yes, but one who flees from his sin with full apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus; one who turns from his iniquities unto God that he may gain deliverance from their power and have his soul restored; one who waits and longs to be freed from the sickness of his soul and bo made whole in Christ Jesus. To such an one the answer comes: "Thy faith hath made thee whole." But as he says thus, he remembers that God has dealt wisely, though sharply, with him, else he would not have had so clear a view of the sin as he now possesses, and he next recognizes God as his loving Father, who, just because he loved him so well, told him his faults, and chastened him as a father doth his son which he would have to come to bear his own likeness, and yet he knows when the lesson is learned the rod will be lifted and the confessing sinner and believer passes out into the sunshine.

He will not chide continually,
Nor keep his anger still;
With us he dealt not as we sinned,
Nor did requite our ill.

And as out into the sunshine he passes he gets a fair view of God. He sees how the mercy of God has risen until like the very heaven above him are the blessings of God building their arch, and he lies under the great firmament of mercy and lifts his larklike song of adoration:

For as the heaven in its height
The earth surmounteth far,
So great to those that do him fear
His tender mercies are.

So they are piled up year after year, layer over layer, these tender mercies of God. O the sweetness of God's grace, its tender mercies.

As far as the East is distant from
The West, so far hath he
From us removed, in tender love,
All our iniquity.

Sins forgiven, but may they not come back again? May we not again be led astray from God? No; east and west can never touch, and my soul, freed from the sin, can never be brought into contact with it again; "as far as east is from the west," and if you go from east to west the east is always further behind. That is our God-Let us then as grateful creatures, let us then as penitent sinners, let us then as trusting souls, let us then as those who know the mercy of God in Christ Jesus draw near to Him in song, and praise Him for the riches of his grace. Let us stand and sing these verses of the one hundred and third Psalm.

Dr. John Hall:
My dear friends, you have seemed to be earnest and united in the prayers we have addressed to God already, and I could not fail to notice also the heartiness with which you joined together in these praises given with the voice to God Almighty. Now it is my duty to bring a message to you from the Word of God. I know that many of you have already worshiped, and many of you will worship again, in God's house to-day. I do not think it is desirable that the sermon should be a lengthened one, and I do not wish to make what would be called a formal discourse.

I take for my text a phrase from the Bible with which you are all familiar: "The God of our fathers." It is used again and again in the book of Exodus; it is used again and again in the book of Ezra; it is used by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles, when he is making his appeal to the high priest, and when he says that "the God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." That is the phrase to which I turn your attention. It will be easy for you to keep it in your minds. Many of you know how strong the tendency is, in the present generation, on the part of those who are connected, as being from a common stock, to unite themselves together in various forms of enterprise. During this generation a great deal of attention has been called to what is commonly described as the Pan-slavic Union—the effort that has been made to unite the minds of multitudes, to bring together the races that are known as Slavs; scholars have been discussing the methods, politicians have been dealing with it. The hope has been that eighty or ninety millions of people coming under this general designation may be perfectly united together civilly and in sentiment. Those of you who have looked into history will remember how a common spirit and stock among the Saracens made it a comparatively easy thing to propagate the Mohammedan religion among them. The tie of blood was strong before the bond of religion came to be recognized. Within our own time, as many of you will recollect, the Teutonic races have been brought together in this way, leading to the perfect unification of Germany, and leading to a certain unification not only in the state, but to some extent also in the Church of that great nation. Anglo-Saxons, as you know, are comparatively easily kept together, in part by the circumstance that they speak one language. To any man that has attempted to be a teacher of his fellow-men there is a certain degree of encouragement in the thought that he is speaking in the language that is extending with so much rapidity over the globe. I have seen the statement made that twenty millions of people every year are added to the number of those who can use our common English tongue. It is spoken by millions on both sides of the Atlantic; it is extending in point of fact all over the globe; it is a means of communication like which I suppose the world has never had anything, combining within itself the elements of the Greek and the Roman forms of speech, themselves in their day also very prevalent. Whatever divisions, whatever varieties of thought and of feeling there may be, surely there will always be some element of cohesion and some basis of sympathy and agreement among the multitudes all over the world who are speaking with us the language of our fathers, what we now call the English tongue.

Not only is there this tendency to centralization on the part of a people of a common stock, but the same principle is manifesting itself in what may be called Church life. A good many years ago there was held a Pan-Anglican Conference, bringing together the brethen of the episcopal form of Church government from all parts of the world. The Presbyterian Church has its Presbyterian Alliance. The Presbyterians of the world will assemble by their representatives, God willing, in October next in the city of Toronto. I have never seen a more impressive meeting than one that I attended as a delegate from the Presbyterian Church at Washington, where the Methodist Churches of the world were represented in Christian convention. You know how our Congregational brethren have been meeting together the same way last autumn. All these are indications of a tendency to recognize certain sets of principles, and especially in the instances where blood, and history, and hereditary conditions and associations have had something to do in drawing together, and in keeping together, the people.

But brethren, you know that there is a parentage higher than human parentage; a parentage that is recognized where men can say: "Our Father who art in heaven." In the wisdom of the Bible we are taught to recognize this common parentage when it speaks of the "God of our fathers." We value our fathers, we are interested in their history, we respect their memories, and how fitting it is that this element in our nature should be taken and linked with our religious convictions and emotions, and that we should learn to use a phrase like this: "Your fathers' God," "the God of your fathers."

Now, my dear friends, what I propose to do is to indicate to you three or four lines of thought suggested by that phrase, which does not need explanation. Here is the first line of thought. I shall put it as a question: How did God come to be God of our fathers? How did he come to stand in this relation? Well, the answer is a simple one. He Himself made the movement. He Himself made the overtures. He Himself shaped the covenant of grace. Ho Himself took the first steps in the matter. In some cases heathen tribes and families have made an appeal to Christians to come to them and give them intelligence and instruction. There was no corresponding appeal from the human race to the Almighty to move in the matter. He did it in His grace, he did it in His mercy, he did it in His sovereign love. We understand how He sometimes sent educators to the heathen whom we have never seen and known, but for whom we have some pity and compassion. It is upon the same line that Jehovah took the first step to the position of " the God of our fathers." He moved toward them. That is not merely a a matter of doctrine, it is a matter of history. We speak of it as grace, sovereign grace. If there are any who do not like that phrase, let them bring us something that is better and more expressive, and we will take it up and keep it and be friends together; but there is a doctrine, there is a history upon which it is based. God moved toward the human race. The Roman nation, sometimes, when it conquered a piece of territory planted a colony and set up fortifications in order that it might hold the ground which it had won. Jehovah had no need to take a policy like that. In His infinite loving-kindness, in His tender mercy, in His pity for fallen man He "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "I will be a God unto you," he said, "and you shall be my sons and daughters."

In the next place, He gave light to our fathers; the coming of his Word gave light and life also. That Word came to the Hebrew people, and in due time passed on to the Gentiles. It was the means of divine communication with tribe after tribe and race after race, to believing Israelites, Greeks, Culdees, Hussites, and the Reformers over Germany and Switzerland, Puritans in England, Covenanters in Scotland, call them by what name you will—the great element of power in their history.. The word of life came and deposited itself, so to speak, under the power of his spirit in their hearts and they came to believe it, and believing it they came to know God as their father, and received him as the God of their salvation.

Further, in the next place, he drew them to himself, and in their coming to him they were made new creatures. "A new heart will I give thee, and a right spirit will I put within thee," he said; " Give me thine heart," he said by his son, "come unto me; " and when they came and gave their hearts, he made their hearts new. I would like to have children and young people to understand this. I remember a touching little story of a child, not very strong in mind, not very well acquainted with the world, but who had learned to love Christ and to pity the Christless. Some one had given that child a counterfeit dollar. The child did not know that it was counterfeit. The child heard about the heathen and about the need of sending the gospel to them and about money being raised for the purpose. The child took the counterfeit dollar to her mother and said: "Mother, won't you take that and give it for the missionary." The mother appreciated the good feeling of the child. She took the counterfeit dollar and put it away, and put a true and good dollar in its place and gave it to the missionary contribution. I tell you something like that, upon a higher scale, takes place When a sinner, believing the word of God, comes to him with his dead heart, his wicked heart, his corrupt heart, his stony heart, and God takes it and makes it a new heart, a spiritual heart, a holy heart, a fitting temple for the Holy Ghost to dwell in.

That God did for our fathers, and in doing that he brought them to the confession of himself: he brought them to recognize him, to own him, to take his name, to respect his law and his statutes so that they would be identified with him as he condescended to be identified with them. So they became new creatures in new relation to the King of kings and the Lord of lords; so they were disciples, so they were Christians, so they were God's children, so they became heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. I haven't the least doubt that I am speaking to some here who have not gone through that glorious process, and I make my appeal to them, though I wish I could do it with a thousand times more earnestness and power. My brother, my sister, you must come to God if you are to be his child and he your Father, in the same way. Believe his word, accept Christ, getting through his grace a new heart and a right spirit.

You will have it suggested to your minds that these were very good doctrines for our fathers in ancient days, but in this enlightened nineteenth century we have outlived these ancient prejudices and beliefs. Do not give any attention to that devil's lying, my dear brethren. There are many changes which have taken place. Take the lighting of our houses. They used to be lighted with the tallow candle, then there was a movement in favor of oil, then we got gas, now we have electricity in some places; but the sun in the heavens is the same as it ever was. Just so it is here. Changes are taking place among things that men can do, but the revelation of salvation is God's gift and God's doing, and there are no such changes taking place in it. There are some new uses of the power of the sun as illustrated by the photographer, but the sun is the same, and the Bible is the same, and the Son of righteousness is the same, and the Saviour and the salvation are the same; and if you would be God's children and have God for your father, you must come and be reconciled and saved and adopted and sanctified as our fathers were. There are certain things that people can do. You can raise the cotton and you can turn it into cloth; you can compose music; you can construct a piano, for example. But there are things that you cannot make. If you would have gold and diamonds, you must find them; they are God's metals, and it is so, dear friends, in relation to the great eternal truths that God has revealed. They are not of man's making; they are of God's revelation. Men like Sir William Hamilton and Dugald Stewart, like various scientists that are famous in our day—Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and men of that kind over the world—will tell you of things they have thought out, but what we are to believe and hold to is not what we have thought out, but what God has revealed, and we are to be believers in his word, acceptors of his testimony: kneeling at his feet, looking up to him with reverent hearts through Jesus, with the supplication: "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief." So, unreconciled soul! an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, now in the human family but not in the family of God, come through Christ, come to the throne of grace, come to God in Christ, and you will be where our fathers were, and you will know as your God the God of our fathers.

I want to suggest a second line of thought, for it is suggestion rather than explanation that I am now engaged upon. What was the God of our fathers to them? In the first place, he was the God of their salvation; again and again he revealed himself in that way. "I am God," he says, "and beside me there is no Saviour." He arranged the terms of the covenant, he gave his Son, he brought man to the Son, he sustained by his heavenly grace, he extended his mercy, he was the God of salvation of our fathers. I have seen in print and heard made by certain persons statements that would create this impression: that God stood by as a stern judge, ready to execute the sentence of eternal wrath, and that a more compassionate and tender person of the Godhead, even Jesus, came to interest himself in our behalf, and won over and induced God the Father to be merciful and compassionate. It is a misrepresentation of the truth of the Bible. God so loved the world that he gave Christ; it is not that Christ won him over to be a God of salvation; the God of salvation sent Christ his Son, and the Holy Spirit comes from the Father through the Son to make us new creatures. Listen to the teaching of God's word, and you will hear a voice in heaven: "My Son, gird thyself for the mighty task of saving fallen man, and I will give thee the heathen for thy inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Listen again to what is spoken on earth: "I came to do the will of my Father." Listen again to what is spoken from the cross: "It is finished." Christ is the agent and the representative of eternal love, the redeeming grace of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and when we think of what he is, and when we think of what the God of our fathers was to them, we may raise our voices and our hearts in the doxology: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost."

He was not only to them the God of their salvation: he was their refuge. An army or a military body, comparatively small, going into a strange territory would need to know something about how it can be protected, how it can be sheltered, how it can be kept together. God is the refuge of his people. There was good reason for Luther to render into German our forty-sixth Psalm, and to say: "God is our refuge and our strength, a present help in every time of trouble." When our fathers found Him there were many enemies, the world was then against them, political forces crushed them many a time; but the divine love helped them, it delivered them, it carried them safely through, it was ever present to aid and assist them. It would be a mistake for one to say: "He is invisible, we cannot see him, we cannot touch him, we have none of the evidences of our senses to assure us that he exists. How can we be sure that we have such portion in one who is invisible?" Put the question to yourselves in another way. Have you seen the mind that is in you? have you seen the conscience that is in you? When there has been a strong ambition filling your heart, did you feel it, did you see it, could you handle it? No, but it had become, notwithstanding, a real living force with you; and so God was to his people their portion, he was real to their faith, he was real in experience, they clung to him, they rested upon him, the devil and the world and the flesh fought against them, and many times seemed to put them down, but they remembered and were strengthened by him who is invisible. And I advise you, my brethren, believers in Christ, to let him be to you the God of your salvation; rejoice in him, let him be your protection and defense; you will be safe under his care. Let him be your portion and your inheritance forever. You may have a hard struggle in the battle of life, property may seem to be beyond your reach, what you thought you owned may be taken out of your hands, flesh and heart may faint and fail, but lean upon him, look to him, trust him, and you will be rich in the treasure that cannot be wrested from you; you will have an inheritance that is incorruptible, that is undefiled, that fadeth not away, that is reserved in heaven for them who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. That is the second line of thought suggested by the words "your fathers' God." We have seen that he came to be their God and what he was to them as their God.

Now I bring to your attention the third line of thought. In what ways did they acknowledge their obligations to this their God? And here I give the answer only upon the line that is suggested by the words "the God of your fathers." If he did so much for them, they were under obligations to him, and they recognized those obligations. One of the ways in which they did recognize these obligations was the effort to have their children also adopt him, to have their children his, even as they were. Now I can appeal to the experience of many who are listening to me. You remember the way in which your fathers used to warn you against the dangers, telling you of Christ and of salvation. Cannot you remember the times when the family, after the chapter was read from God's holy word, knelt down together and you heard your father's voice rising in prayer to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus? Cannot many of you remember your mothers' very gentle voices, their tender looks, their touching words, their appeals that sometimes stopped because the tears would come, their appeals to you to be Christians, Christian boys, Christian girls, in due time Christian women and Christian men? They knew the Lord, they knew how good he was, how much he was, how great he was, how happy it was to be in his service, and they testified their gratitude by seeking, to the best of their ability, that their children should be his, even as they were. They toiled upon the line of the education of their children, for they knew well how much turned upon the character, not only of the home but of the school, and the training of the elements that go to make character. How many times they made sacrifices that you might get the right kind of education! how many times the hands, the arms, the bodies of these parents were toil-worn that their sons and their daughters might have the best advantages and the noblest opportunities as they were setting out in life! Some of you can remember scenes that are stamped upon your memories indelibly in connection with the lives of your parents: your father or your mother. You hear them acknowledge their faults and confess their sins, and tell, perhaps, of mistakes that they had made, and errors in which they had been led, and then you listen to them plead with you and beseech you that you would be Christians, so that they and you might meet together in the life that is everlasting, in the home that is eternal; and from their efforts for generations to come was provided adequate and proper instruction. Looking over many of the states of the Union, the best and the earliest educational institutions were set up by God-fearing men that were by no means rich, but who were well educated. There were many noble men who, though they could not give a million for the establishment of a college or a university, could give their hearty cooperation, could give their personal labors and efforts, that could give their instruction, that could set an example, that could raise a certain amount of enthusiasm in those that feared God and loved their fellow-creatures: and we are inheriting the blessings to-day. From the district in which I was born came the Tennants, who did so much in this particular line; from that same district came the man whom many will recognize as the blind preacher, Waddell, whose touching words reached many hearts when he could no longer see their forms. Specimens these of your fathers who served your fathers' God, and who, in the ways that they deemed the best and the wisest, tried and toiled and labored that the generations coming after them should be the Lord's in like manner. It would be very easy to dwell upon this at greater length, but this is a line to which you have been directed already by many of the speakers during the past week, and I shall not take up your time in pursuing it further. I come now to the last line of thought that I want to suggest to you—namely, what is the practical influence that these things ought to have upon you and me? First of all, there is in them an appeal to our judgment. Our fathers were not enthusiasts, they were not imaginative beings, they were not carried away by sentiment. Sometimes in a friendly spirit of criticism, sometimes in the reverse, they have been described as hard-hearted, susceptible to prejudice, rooted in their convictions, and unwilling to take things simply because they had a degree of aesthetic charm about them; but I want you to bear in mind that these men were hard-headed, level-headed, cool, reasoning men. They believed God, they trusted Christ, they looked for the teaching of the Holy Ghost; they were not fanatics, and they were not fools, and though they were crushed in many places, they stamped their convictions not only upon their generation, but even upon the civil life of millions. Read Motley, read Bancroft, read others of our historical men, and you have the evidence that these your fathers believed in God. They trusted him, they rested on his forgiveness, their judgments were carried along, their affections were raised and set upon things above. Omissions of duty, times of forgetfulness, sins of ingratitude, conformity with the world, practical mistakes, all these can be charged against them, and they would be the first to admit their truth, but God was everything to them and they gave him intelligent, loyal, devoted obedience. These facts appeal to our judgment. I beseech you, dear brethren, cherish the same convictions, keep the same thoughts in your minds, submit yourselves to their sway, and be the reasonable, reasoning, loyal, faithful children and servants of the Lord God Almighty.

In the second place, these things appeal to our affections. How many times I have seen men and women passing over from this continent to another, taking the sea voyages. Why ? They are going to see their native land and see, perhaps, some of the relatives and kindred that still remain there. They have an affection for the things that are connected with them, though distant and past. You remember Eliza Cook's little poem in which she could not tear her heart away from that old armchair. "Mother used to sit in it, grandmother used to sit in it, I love it, I cannot tear my heart away from that old armchair." He had true political sentiment in his nature who gave us the language that you remember:

Woodman, spare that tree,
Touch not a single bough;
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'll protect it now.

That is human nature; these are human affections. Now I say, when we think of our fathers' God, what he was to them, how they trusted him, how faithful he was to them, let us appeal to our affections, let us love him, let us trust him, let us be loyal to him, let us make our fathers' God our God, and let us serve him in the spirit in which they sought to serve him.

"Ah but," says some one, "that is very well upon the plane of religious feeling and sentiment and so on. I have my own individuality and my own environments and my own way of looking at things, and I do not see the necessity for keeping upon these old lines." Young men are sometimes tempted to speak in this manner, and let me say a word to you. Every time that you allow a prejudice of this kind to enter your mind, what will follow ? You will become more and more disinclined to the truth; you will become more and more inclined to vacillation and error. Manifold temptations will come into your way: it will be a little more congenial to you to yield to those temptations: there will be a little less firmness in resisting them: charges you will hear brought against Christians, and you will be crudulous about them and ready to believe them; statements made to you in favor of Christians you will refuse to hear; you will begin to be skeptical, then the claims and arguments of agnosticism will come before you with a look of philosophy and advanced thinking about them, and you will be tempted to say: "There is the ground on which I stand." Then you will become an atheist, an infidel; then the sins and iniquities that you to some extent yielded to, yet in some measure held back from, will deaden your conscience and become your absolute masters, until you will live in Godlessness, live in Christlessness, and although the world may pat you on the back and applaud you, your life will be a miserable failure, and when you go out of this world it will be your condemnation not to be joined to the fathers that have gone before you, but be driven into everlasting exile with the sentence, "Depart, ye cursed!" I warn you against this doom. I beseech you in Christ's name to take the God of your fathers for your God, be loyal to him, be earnest in doing his will, and in the honest effort to do his will when it is clear light will come to you upon what is obscure. "If any man will do the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." Be practical learners, be disciples of Christ, sitting at his feet; learn of him and he will make you single-minded, he will make you sincere, he will make you patriotic, he will make you meek and lowly, he will make you holy and heavenly, he will prepare you to dwell in the assembly of the saints where our fathers, redeemed by the grace of God and sanctified by his spirit, see the King in his beauty and give him praise forever and ever.

These are the wishes of my heart as to you, dear friends, that are not yet in Christ. Come to him, trust him, confess him, stand with him, stand up for him, and one day you will stand at his right hand and he will say: "Come ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

Believers in Jesus, let me say one brotherly word to you. There are many of you who would stand up on the proper occasion and say: "Thank God for the parents I had; thank God for the influences they exercised upon me." Cannot some of you remember when, with a voice that could hardly be heard any longer, your fathers were repeating words like these: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me to lie down in green pastures; yea, though I walk through death's dark vale, yet will I fear no ill, for thou art with me." I have heard such, and so have you. I can remember when I was not much more than a boy, when I stood beside my father's deathbed, and when the last words that he was able to articulate wore, "joy unspeakable and full of glory." There are illuminated texts that are fixed in our hearts. Many of you, I dare say, have such that you love, so that your hope is to so love and follow this God of your fathers that when you are no longer here, the memory of you may remain behind, and leave a benediction to your children and children's children, so that in the days to come when they hear about the God of their fathers, your images will rise up before their minds, their judgments will be influenced, their affections will be engaged, their lives will be brought into loyal consecration to him who died that we might live—"the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God." May God then bless you and use you, and bless the "Word that is spoken to you, for his name's sake. Amen.

Dr. Macintosh:
We will now be led in prayer by Rev. Dr. Hawthorne.

Rev. J. B. Hawthorne:
O God who art our father, father of Benjamin and of Isaac and of Jacob, God of Moses and of the prophets, God of the apostles and martyrs, God and father of our Saviour, Lord Jesus Christ, we would have thee to be our God, we would have thee to be our Saviour, we would have thee to be our father. We bless thee, we adore thee, that thou didst manifest thyself to our fathers in the distant ages, that thou didst reveal thyself to them, not only as the God of the universe, the great creator and ruler, not only that thou didst reveal thyself to them as covenant-keeping, but that thou didst reveal thyself to them as a Saviour, that thou didst manifest to them that mercy which forgiveth sin and which redeemeth the soul from the dominion of sin. We thank thee, O God, for thy grace, for thy gifts, for thy only begotten Son, that thou didst so love this guilty and lost world that thou didst give him to die that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life. We bless thee that these tidings have come to us, and we bless thee for that dispensation of thy spirit which has inclined our hearts to receive them. Now, O God, we pray thee that we may profit by all the instruction of this hour. O help us to rejoice in all that that God did for our fathers, help us to rejoice that he gave our fathers strength to hold on to the truth which he revealed to them in the face of exceeding trial and under the pressure of great sufferings. Bless God that these men had convictions which they would not surrender even in the face of oppression and violence and persecution. We bless thee, O God, for the men who laid the foundations of the civilizations which we have to-day. We rejoice that they were God-fearing men and God-loving men, and we bless thee, O God, that we can see in all that is blest in the civilization of this and other lands the work of our fathers. God help us to preserve all that is good and pure in the civilization of this age, and transmit it to our children and our children's children, through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.

Dr. Macintosh:
The three psalms that have been selected for this service are all psalms that were dear to our fathers as they praised their God, and the psalm with which we close was one especially dear. It was bound up with their communion seasons and the communion table, but it was also bound up with the thoughts of their fathers and of their mothers, and it was the psalm in which they pledged themselves to do for God; and now as we sing it let it be with the pledge of our hearts that we will do for him whose words were the guide for the saints of God, and that we will follow in their footsteps who are now inheriting the promises, and that we will shape bur lives in conformity with the wisdom which he has spoken, and whose pursuit in the providence of God will lead to the city of Jerusalem.

We will rise and sing the one hundred and sixteenth psalm, and after that psalm has been sung the benediction will be pronounced by Dr. Hall.

Psalm one hundred and sixteen was sung as follows:

I'll of salvation take the cup,
On God's name will I call:
I'll pay my vows now to the Lord
Before his people all.

In God's sight dear is his saints' death,
Thy servant, Lord, am I;
Thy servant, and thy handmaid's son:
My bands thou didst untie.

To thee thank off'rings I will give,
And on God's name will call.
I'll pay my vows now to the Lord
Before his people all.

Within the courts of God's own house,
Within the midst of thee,
O city of Jerusalem,
Praise to the Lord give ye.

Dr. Hall:
And now may He who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the everlasting covenant make you perfect to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever, and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.


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