“Sermon to the Medical Students,” Cherry Street Meeting, Philadelphia, February 11, 1849
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48 “Sermon to the Medical Students,” 1849 “Sermon to the Medical Students,” Cherry Street Meeting, Philadelphia, February 11, 18491 “Thee we reject, unable to abide Thy purity, till pure as thou art pure; Made such by thee, we love thee for that cause, For which we shunned and hated thee before. Then we are free. Then liberty, like day, Breaks on the soul, and by a flash from Heaven Fires all the faculties with glorious joy. A voice is heard, which mortal ears hear not, Till thou hast touched them; ’tis the voice of song, A loud Hosanna sent from all thy works; Which he that hears it, with a shout repeats, And adds his rapture to the general praise.”2 This inspired language of the simple and artless poet, arose in my mind, as the secret prayer was offered: “Oh Thou my voice inspire, Who touched Isaiah’s hallowed lips with fire!”3 Aware that, to many present, the opening of a meeting of this kind, without the harmonious note—the sacred hymn, would be, to say the least, novel; if, indeed, it would not divest it of the character of a religious meeting; and the service, of the nature of divine service;—aware also, that many are accustomed to the offering of prayer on their behalf; it is due to these to say, that some of us believe we may understand the sacred harmony and melodious note, arising in the soul—singing and making melody in the heart, without a dependence upon measured lines or the music of the voice; that we may no less in the secret of the heart, offer aspirations to Him who heareth the sincerely-devoted always, and maketh them “joyful in his house of prayer” without the intervention of words, or the aid of the priest or minister. Is not the time arrived, that intelligent, spiritually-enlightened minds, should have such free access to this throne of grace, as to render less necessary, in the assemblies of the people, the delivery of the oral prayer? The recommendation of Jesus—the beloved, the blessed of God—appears to be to this end. “Enter into thy closet, and there pray in secret.” Even while he bowed before the Father in outward prayer, he said: “I knew that thou hearest me always, but because of the people which stand by, I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” My prayer is that this occasion may be blessed, both to the hearers and to the speaker. That the hearers may be impressed with the importance of coming together for the consideration of their highest and best interests; and that the speaker also may be benefitted, by the deep impression that without divine aid, no good result can be expected or received. “Sermon to the Medical Students,” 1849 49 I have desired for months, aye, for more than a year past, this opportunity with you, my friends; those of you for whom this meeting was especially called. In walking the streets of this city, at this season of the year, and approaching the places where ye are wont to gather for your instruction, maternal desires have often flowed from a heart, touched with solicitude for young men, separated from the tender care, the cautionary admonition of parents, of a beloved mother or sister; that you may be preserved in innocence and purity, while surrounded with the allurements of this city—the many temptations to vice of almost every description. While I may not speak of the things that are done in secret—delicacy may revolt from an exposure of the “rioting and drunkenness, the chambering and wantonness,” that abound in our midst; due regard to the conviction of duty to invite you hither, will not allow me to be silent, and avoid an allusion to vices, of which some may think it, “a shame to speak.” I called you not here for any theological discussion. The religion we profess— the principles of Christianity we believe it our duty to inculcate, are not wrapped in mystery, or in the theories that are dividing and sub-dividing Christendom. In the view of many, the gospel is not preached, unless it embrace a certain scheme of salvation and plan of redemption. Faith in Christ has become so involved with a belief in human depravity and a vicarious atonement, imputed sin and imputed righteousness, that a discourse is divested of the character of gospel preaching, and regarded as...