Robert Morehead.

A series of discourses on the principles of religious belief as connected with human happiness and improvement (Volume 2) online

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DISCOURSES.



JSERIES

OF

DISCOURSES,

ON THE

PRINCIPLES OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF,

AS CONNECTED WITH

HUMAN HAPPINESS

AND

IMPROVEMENT.

BY

THE REV. R. MOREHEAD, A. M.

OP BALHOL COLLEGE, OXFORD ; JUNIOR MINISTER OF THK
EPISCOPAL CHAPEL, COWGATE, EDINBURGH.



VOLUME SECOND.



EDINBURGH :

PRINTED BY GEORGE RAMSAY AND COMPANY,
FOR ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE AND COMPANY, EDINBURGH ;
AND LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND BROWN,
LONDON.



1816.

m



TO
THE RIGHT REVEREND

JOHN PARSONS, D. D.

LORD BISHOP OF PETERBOROUGH,

MASTER OF BALLIOL COLLEGE, OXFORD,
&C. &C. &C.




IS MOST RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,

BY ONE

WHO LONG HAD OCCASION TO ADMIRE,
WHEN THEY ADORNED HIS VIRTUES

IN THE

RETIREMENT OF ACADEMICAL LIFE,

THE VIGOUR OF MIND, THE TALENTS, AND THE LEARNING,

WHICH NOW SHINE WITH INCREASED LUSTRE,

IN THAT MORE CONSPICUOUS STATION

TO WHICH

THEY HAVE SINCE SO DESERVEDLY
CONDUCTED HIM.



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CONTENTS.



DISCOURSE I.
Characters of Religion in the present



MAEi, i. 1.

The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of
God, ........................ .. ........................................ Pagel

DISCOURSE II.
On Prophecy.

MARK, i. .

As it is written in the Prophets, Behold I send 'my Mes-
senger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way be-
fore thee. .............. .. ................................................ .18

DISCOURSE III.
On the Preaching of John.

MARK, i. 3, 4.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the
way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did bap-
tize in the wMderness, and preach the baptism of repent-
ance, for the remission of sins ...... ,.,.....,. ....... ...........37



Vlll CONTENTS.

DISCOURSE IV.

On the Commencement of the Ministry of
Jesus, j

MARK, i. 11.

And there came a voice from Heaven, saying, Thou art my
beloved Son, in tohom I am well pleased Page 55

DISCOURSE V.

On Miracles.

MAKK, i. a.

And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned
among themselves, saying, What thing is this ? What new
doctrine is this ? For with authority commandeth he even
the unclean spirits, and they do obey him 78

DISCOURSE VI.
The Gospel Preached to the Poor.

MATTHEW, xi. 5.
The poor have the Gospel preached unto them.... 93

DISCOURSE VII.

On our Saviour's Methods of Instruction.
MARK, ii. 13.

And he went forth again by the sea-side, and all the multi-
tude resorted unto him, and he taught them M ll6

DISCOURSE VIII.
On the Parable of the Sower, Sfc.

MARK, iv. 2, 3.

And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto
, them in his doctrine, Hearken, Behold there went out a
sower to sow t ,..,,..,,.,,,,,, t ,,..~..,,,*,,,,,,,,M t ,,,tn*tn>n>nl3(>
12



CONTENTS. IX

DISCOURSE IX.

On the Charity of the Gospel.

2 COR. xiii. 8.
Charity never faileth .\ ......Page 154

DISCOURSE X.

On Religious Retirement.

MATTHEW, iv. 1.
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness.... 1 67

DISCOURSE XI.
On Religious Meditation.

JOB, iv. 17.

Shall mortal man be more just than God ? Shall a man be
more pure than his Maker ?.......... , 181

DISCOURSE XII.
On the Moral Law.

EXODUS, xx. 1, 2.

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy
God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt,
and out of the house of bondage ........... 1<X>

DISCOURSE XIII.
On the Moral Law.

MATTHEW, xxii. 39-

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neigh-
bour as thyself .,.., 214

: . rj'i'.i ".'(.;. > . .o j .



DISCOURSE

On the Duties of tht Voting.

HEBJUtws, vi, |2.

Oi the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on or
hands Page 228

DISCOURSE XV.

.* v -,i ( >

On Religious Trust.

MARK, iv. 40.

And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful ? How is it
that ye have no faith ? 245

DISCOURSE XVI.

On CJiristidn Faith.

MARK, v. 36.

As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith
unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only be-
lieve '.............. '. .....263

DISCOURSE XVJL

On the Distinction of Ranks in Society.

ROMANS, xii. 4, 5.

For, as we have many members in one body, and all mem-
bers have not the same office ; so we, being many, are one
body in Christ, and every one members one of another.,.283

DISCOURSE XVlli.
On National Reformation.

: vrtj 0701 -''. -

JEREMIAH, x. 24.

Q Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger,
lest thou bring me to nothing...,.,.., M ,,,....,,,.......,,.,.,,29S



CONTENTS. Xt

DISCOURSE XIX.
On National Piety.

ISAIAH, ii. 22.

Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for where-
in is he to be accounted of? Page 315

DISCOURSE XX.
On National Freedom.

ACTS, xxii. 28.

And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained
I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free-born,.. 336"

DISCOURSE XXL

On the Rise and Character of Conquerors.
ISAIAH, xlv. 1, 4, 5.

Thus saith the Lord to Cyrus, whose right hand I have
holden, to subdue nations before him, and I will loose the
loins of kings, for Jacob, my servant's sake, and Israel
mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name. I am
the Lord, and there is none else ; there is no God beside
me ; I girded thee, though thou hast not known me....357

DISCOURSE XXII.

National Blessings and Afflictions.

PSALMS, Ixv, 1,2.

Praise waiteth for tbee, O God f in Sion, and unto thee shall
the vow be performed. O Thou that hearest prayer, unto
thee shall all flesh come.. 376



XII CONTENTS.

DISCOURSE XXIII.
On a Divine Providence.

MATTHEW, vi. 26.

Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they
reap, nor gather into barns ; yet your Heavenly Father
feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Page 389

DISCOURSE XXIV.
On t/ie Providence of God with respect to

T4T

Nations.

MATTHEW, vi. 26.

Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they
reap, nor gather into barns ; yet your Heavenly Father
feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they J...404

DISCOURSE XXV.

On the Stability of the Divine, contrasted
with the Instability of Human Power.

PSALMS, Ixii, 11.

God hath spoken once ; twice have I heard this, that power
belongeth unto God ..420

DISCOURSE XXVI.
On National Presumption and Despondency.

MARK, xiii. 7-

And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye
not troubled ; for such things must needs be ; but the end
shall not be yet 432

DISCOURSE XXVII.
On the Good Name of the Dead.

olai,' { ta ( J . t ... v<) ,

ECCLESIASTES, vii. 1.

A good name is better than precious ointment ; and the day
of death than the day of one's birth.... .........450



jf:i':/:ioji [ty* niv/ r>o;fa o



^ DISCOURSE i. ;^"; f '"-

ON THE CHARACTERS OF RELIGION IN THfi
PRESENT AGE. *



MARK, i. 1.

" The beginning of the Gospel of Jems
" Christ, the Son of God."

WE" have again, my brethren, reached
that season, when our attention is in a
more peculiar manner directed to the
consideration of the evidences and the
history of our religion; It is the wisdom
of our church every year to call our
thoughts to meditation on these subjects,

* Preached on the first Sunday in Advent 1811.
VOL. II. A



ON THE CHARACTERS OF

and, to those who can appreciate them
rightly, none can afford more interesting
or improving reflections. , .

We are, perhaps, too much in the habit
of considering Christianity as something
quite detached from every other hu-
man interest, or concern ; and while we
build upon it our faith in a future state of
existence, we yet seldom examine its sto-
ry and character with that ardent curio-
sity with which we commonly investigate
the political condition of mankind, either
in our own, or in distant times. Besides,
however, its influence on moral conduct
and religious belief, the study of our re-
ligion opens to our contemplation the
most singular train of events which has
taken place in the progress of the world,
and which, more than any other, has
had a lasting influence on the fortunes
and the temper of nations.

When we look to its origin, indeed, we



RELIGION IN THE PRESENT AGE. 3

discover but little, from which, the conse-
quences that have folio wed, could wellhave
been predicted. To those who are accus-
tomed to inquire into the complicated ap-
paratus of human policy, and to trace its ef-
fects upon the fate of mankind, there will
appear something very unpromising in the
simple characters and lives of our Lord
and his Disciples. This very circum-
stance, however, is particularly interest-
ing to every well-constituted mind ; and it
must be refreshing, at least, to turn away
our thoughts 1 , for a time, from the' dark
picture which the events of our own age
so constantly obtrude upon them, from
the proud and cheerless aspect of worldly
ambition and aggrandisement, to those
humble scenes, which, amidst all their
mighty consequences on the happiness of
the human race, both in the present and
in a future state of existence, were yet
transacted in the huts of fishermen, and



4 ON THE CHARACTERS OF

among the most unostentatious of the
sons of men.

The history of our religion is preserv-
ed, as you know, in four short narratives,
which have ever been regarded as the
composition of men who were themselves
eye-witnesses to the facts which they
relate, or at least were the companions
of those who had witnessed them. They
are written in a strain of remarkable sim-
plicity, and with all the internal appear-
ances of truth ; nor I suppose would any
doubts have ever been started against
their authenticity, did they not, along
with the more natural incidents, contain
an; account, likewise, of certain miraculous
occurrences, which " the reasoning pride"
of some ambitious philosophers has re-
presented as unworthy the belief of an
enlightened understanding. Upon this
subject I shall hereafter have occasion to
make some observations; but, in the



RELIGION IN THE PRESENT AGE. 5

mean time, it may be sufficient to say,
that if we are ever prepared to expect a
particular revelation of the Divine will, we
should likewise be prepared for something
miraculous in its history, since the very
circumstance of such a revelation is a
miracle in itself.

There cannot, surely, be any method so
good of acquiring an acquaintance with
the origin, the evidences, the nature, and
the doctrines of Christianity, as in study-
ing with attention those invaluable re-
cords in which these particulars are de-
tailed; and, accordingly, it has always
been considered as one of the most im-
portant duties of a Christian teacher,
to illustrate the obscurities, and to bring
forward the more important circum-
stances in these sacred books. The Gos-
pel of St Matthew has in this manner
been commented upon by a late very emi-
nent Prelate, and I doubt not, that, from



ON THE CHARACTERS OF

his pure and Christian instruction, many
of you have derived, both for yourselves
and for your children, very valuable prin-
ciples both of faith and of conduct. In
humble imitation of this excellent mor
del, it is my intention to deliver from
this place, during the season of Advent,
and occasionally in the course of the en-
suing year, lectures on a similar plan, on
the Gospel next in order, that of St
Mark : and if, in the inquiries into which
I shall thus be led, it may not be in my
power to add any thing of great import-
ance to the information of my elder hear-
ers, I yet hope that I shall be enabled to
say something which may seize upon the
attention of the young ; and, at that dan-
gerous period when sophistry is begin-
ning to perplex them with its delusions,
and pleasure to allure them with its
charms, may, under the influence of Di-
yine Grace, tend to assure them, that the



RELIGION IN THE PRESENT AGE. 7

true honour and happiness of human life
can spring only from the faith and the
practice of the Christian.

Before entering directly upon my sub-
ject, it may not be unimportant to take
notice of certain peculiarities of opinion
and temper, which prevail very generally
at present with regard to the Gospel.
At the period when the Lectures on St
Matthew, already alluded to, were com-
posed, a very fatal spirit of infidelity had
spread itself over the Christian world;
and, not confined to the higher and more
licentious orders of men, it had even
crept into the retirement of the cottage,
and was threatening to blight all the
hopes, and to wither the virtues, of the
human race. To counteract this de-
structive spirit, which had been aided,
alas ! in its progress, by men whose abi-
lities and endowments seemed to call
them to far nobler offices, was the chief



8 ON THE CHARACTERS OF

object proposed by the venerable author
of that publication ; and niuch good was
certainly effected by his Jabpurs, and
those of his coadjutors in the same field
of honourable exertion. Lessons, how-
ever, of still greater efficacy have since
been collected from the course of human
affairs ; and a voice more eloquent than
" the tongues of men and of angels," has
been heard amidst the storms that have
agitated the world. The rich and the
powerful have at length seen the danger
of unhinging those principles on which
the stability of society depends ; and the
poor have found nothing but additional
wretchedness, in the fancied illumination
which seemed to be opening upon them.
The progress of infidelity has, consequent-
ly been arrested, and the spirit of its
apostles either converted or subdued.
There are few men who are now desirous
to keep it alive, They who have them-



RELIGION IN THE PRESENT AGEc 9

selves but little religion, are yet ashamed
.of a cause which has been rendered fami-
liar to the lowest and most illiterate;
and accordingly, the ingenious writers of
the present day seldom venture to in-
dulge in any liberties with revelation,
which, at no distant period, was one of
the common topics upon which fashion-
able ridicule was displayed. The better
description of men among those whose
religious opinions were then unfortunate^
ly perverted, have now, I am persuaded,
no feeling of vanity in their emancipa-
tion from what they once supposed to be
mere vulgar opinion, but would very
willingly return again to the simple creed
of their fathers.

In this state of things, my brethren,
it is unnecessary, I apprehend, to make
elaborate replies to the cavils and the
calumnies of the unbeliever. It is al-
most sufficient, without making the sup-



10 ON THE CHARACTERS OF

position that systematic and professed
infidelity has ever existed in the world,
to state, with clearness and simplici-
ty, the grounds upon which Christian
faith is founded, and except, perhaps,
among a few young persons whose minds
are caught with the free aspect of scepti-
cal opinions, or among some individuals
of corrupt lives, we shall find men, for the
most part, rather willing to be convinced
of religious truth, than carried away by
any prejudice against it. The effect, how-
ever, of the spirit of infidelity which pre-
vailed so long, has been, I believe, to
render them, but too often, little acquaint-
ed with the real nature and grounds of
the Gospel. They rather think it true,
and wish it to be true ; but they do not
see very well what are the reasons for
belief, and often do not know what it is
they are to believe. To meet this state
of the public mind, all controversy ought.



RELIGION IN THK PRESENT AGE. 11

as much as possible, to be avoided ; the
most simple and natural views only of
revealed truth, to be adduced ; its im-
portance to be made sensible to the
feelings of every individual, and brought
home to " men's business and bosoms."
While the world, in general, have thus,
perhaps, become in some degree unac-
quainted with the true nature of religion,
in consequence of the long triumph of
infidelity, there have arisen, probably
from the same source, two other peculia-
rities Df very opposite characters. Many
men, shocked with the open deformity of
profaneness, have formed to themselves
a system of Christianity which seems to
wage war with all our most natural feel-
ings. Seizing upon certain views of
Scripture, to which they confine their
whole attention, they seem to think that
man, as he comes out of the hands of na-
ture, is solely detestable and wicked ;



1 ON THE CHARACTERS OF

that none of our affections or principles
of conduct are at all to be approved of,
unless they can stand the test of their pe-
culiar dogmas ; and, forgetting that the
Gospel is a religion of liberty, they nar-
row and depress all the vigour of the hu-
man understanding, and throw a melan-
choly cloud over all the images of faith.
As long as this spirit prevails, (and it
seems to be making no inconsiderable
progress,) Religion cannot be hailed as
the friend and companion of man, as his
affectionate guide through the dangers
and snares of his way ; but she will rather
seem to be the cruel task-mistress, who
drives him forward with her unrelent-
ing lash. With the view, therefore, of
fixing religion upon a right basis, no-
thing is of more importance than to point
out those aspects of the Gospel which are
animating and ennobling to human na-
ture ; and, surely, it is impossible to study



RELIGION IN THE PRESENT AGE. 13

with attention, and without some unfor-
tunate bias, the mild and unaffected
tenor of the sacred history, and not, at
the same time, to see that the utmost
purity is consistent with the most en-
tire absence of austerity ; and that it is
much less in severe doctrine, than in holy,
gentle, and charitable affections, that the
true spirit of Christianity consists.

There is yet, my brethren, another pe-
culiarity of a very different kind, which
has no small influence on the character
of religion in the present age. While,
from a , horror at licentiousness and in-
fidelity, one description of men have
thus entrenched themselves among the
darkest and most thorny doctrines that
have ever been engrafted on the Christ-

o

ian system others have thought, that
the only way of rendering Revelation
acceptable to men of enlightened and
liberal views, was to strip it of every



F4' ON THE CHARACTERS OF

thing that is at all impenetrable to hu-
man reason ; and in so doing, they
have indeed but too often " laid the
" axe unto the root of the tree," and
have not scrupled to hew down, indiscri-
minately) what have been accounted, in all
ages, the most fundamental truths of the
Gospel. It is certainly not to be desired,
that any obstacle should be put to the
freedom of inquiry ; and of this we may
be well assured, that all opinions which
are not built upon the basis of truth will
ultimately fall ; but there is a pertinacity
and narrow-minded dogmatism, fre^quent-
ly, among those who account themselves
the only enlightened Christians, which is
equally remote from the humility of the
Gospel, and from the true character of
philosophical research ; and which, more
than ' any other temper of mind, is ad-
verse to the discovery of truth. This
mode of investigation must not, there-



RELIGION IN THE PRESENT AGE. 15

fore, pass without reprehension ; and he
who really wishes to discover what Christ-
ianity is, ought to raise his mind above
the littleness of controversial petulance,
and the " oppositions of science, falsely

" so called."

V

Keeping in view, then, these peculiari-
ties of the times in which we live, I shall
make it my object, in the following dis-
courses, to state, with as much plainness
as I can, some of the leading evidences of
the Gospel, without entering into any mi-
nute examination of the objections which

have been made to them. I shall endeavour,

f

in particular, to point out the importance
of its doctrines and its precepts ; and I
trust it will sufficiently appear, even from
the imperfect observations which I can
hope to make, that while, on the one
hand, Christianity is a system above the
device of mere human wisdom, and con-
taining principles which man of his own



I

16 ON THE CHARACTERS OP



accord could never have reached, it is,
on the other hand, a perpetual spring of
light and joy, and, so far from imposing
fetters on the natural play of his powers
and affections, is the vital fire which gives
them energy and activity.

The day is at hand, my brethren, on
which the first rays of this beneficent light
broke upon the darkness of the world,
awakening in their rise the songs of An-
gels, and destined to enlighten in their
progress the eye-balls of the blind, to
penetrate the dungeon of the captive, and
to animate the labours of the poor, that
day which marks " the beginning of the
" Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
You are preparing, on that blessed day, to
encircle the altar of this mighty Saviour,
and have prayed for the grace of his Spirit,
that you may " cast away the works of
" darkness, and put upon you the armour
" of light. " " Wherefore, take unto you

12



RELIGION IN THE PRESENT AGE.



17



" the whole armour of God, having your
" loins girt about with truth, and having
" on the breast-plate of righteousness, and
" your feet shod with the preparation of
" the Gospel of peace : praying always
" with all prayer and supplication in the
" spirit for me also, that utterance may
" be given unto me to make known
" the mystery of the Gospel, that there-
" in I may speak boldly, as I ought to
" speak."



VOL. II. B








> *






IWrf ;Hft*rj&> tfh to ^fcj^o-u

DISCOURSE II

*flV&M~

N PROPHECY. *
^



';-
MARK, i. 2.

rHHH^ 4

'* ^4s ?7 is written in the propfcets, Behold
" / send my Messenger before thy face,
u which shall prepare thy way before
" thee"

THE Gospel of St Mark, upon the conside-
jration of which I am now to enter, contains
a very short summary of our Lord's his-
tory, omitting, for the most part, those cir-
cumstances, the relation of which is not of

* Preached in Advent.



ON PROPHECY. 19

paramount importance. In this view the
Evangelist enters at once upon the mi-
nistry of Christ, and passes over all those
interesting incidents of his birth and ear-
ly life, which are preserved in the Gos-
pels of St Matthew and St Luke. He
does not, however, omit to mention that
remarkable person who is introduced by
all the Evangelists, and whose previous
mission seems to have been of peculiar ef-
ficacy in " preparing the way of the Lord."
This preacher of repentance had been
foreseen by the ancient prophets, and ac-
cordingly St Mark points him out to us,
with great dignity, as coming to fulfil the
character which they had assigned him.
" As it is written in the Prophets, Behold
" I send my Messenger before thy face,
" which shall prepare thy way before
" thee. The voice of one crying in the
" wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the
M Lord ; make his paths straight. John



20 ON PROPHECY.

" did baptize in the wilderness, and
" preach the baptism of repentance for
" the remission of sins."

In these words we are, first of all, in-
troduced into that lofty system of prophe-
cy, which, from the beginning of the his-
tory of man, had been employed in diffe-
rent forms, and with different degrees of
illumination, to shadow out those import-
ant events which were now to be trans-
acted in the world. It is customary, as you
know, with the Evangelists to mark the
coincidences between the predictions of
the Prophets and the events which they
record. These are frequently so striking
that it is impossible to elude their force ;
and if, on other occasions, we are little
affected by them, the reason perhaps may
be, that our previous acquaintance with
the facts, renders us less attentive to those
nice shades of coincidence which must

have been peculiarly interesting to those

10



ON PROPHECY.



who had first studied the predictions, and
were anxiously looking for their accom-
plishment. From this circumstance, how-
ever, it may happen, that a direct proof
of the truth of Christianity, from the evi-
dence of prophecy, may have a compara-
tively feeble influence on the minds of
men in the present age ; and, while it is
certainly to those who will examine it, an
argument of great weight, yet it may not


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