You will remember, my brethren, that the disciples, dispersed abroad by the persecution in Jerusalem, wandered into the regions of Phenicia, and Cyprus, and Cyrenie, and Antioch, and that the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord." You will remember that when tidings of these things came to the ears of the Church at Jerusalem, they sent forth Barnabas to visit those countries, and especially the city of Antioch. The results of the visit, as you will remember, were most delightful, the brethren were comforted, a Church in its integrity was planted, a multitude embraced the faith, and Barnabas, finding the field widening and the work accumulating on his hands, returned to the west in search of Paul, and, with that Apostle, made Antioch his abode for a year. Be it, then, our purpose to ascertain the reason of the joy of Barnabas, when he came to Antioch, "who, when he came and had seen the grace of God, was glad."
He was glad to find those scattered brethren "holding fast their profession without wavering." You will recollect that it was about the day of Pentecost, the tenth day only after our Lord's ascension, when they were converted. Scarcely had they had time to know the Apostles by name, no time to fortify their minds in the defence of the new religion--the grave clothes yet lay folded in the sepulchre, the rock was yet red upon the mountain, the symbol of dishonor was yet stretching out its arms on Calvary--when they are warned [1/2] that they must fly. What had become of them, their brethren and the Church had never heard. Whether they had perished by the way, or were pining in dungeons, or wandering in the dews of heaven, no one could tell. So recently converted, their faith so novel, without pastors or teachers, without sanctuary or altar, they have returned, said the brethren, one to his farm, another to his merchandise, and all to the world. Many was the time that Peter, and James, and John, and Barnabas, and the rest, had wondered, with weeping and with prayer, what had become of the lambs, driven the day that they were born, from fold and shepherd, among the wolves upon the mountains. Year after year rolled on, and still no news of the loved and lost. It was not for eight years that tidings came to the ears of the Church at Jerusalem, that they had sought shelter in Europe and the Isles of Greece, in Syria and her distant capital, in Africa, and her inhospitable climes. Immediately the Church sent Barnabas, with their congratulations and their love. And who so willing or so fit to go as the Levite of Cyprus, who, by his noble charities in laying his entire estates at the Apostles' feet for the widow and the orphan, by the sweetness of his temper, had earned among the brethren, the name of Barnabas, the son of consolation.
What a joyful meeting after eight or ten years of separation and of sorrow! No apostate to Judaism, no backsliding to the world. The brow that was bathed on Calvary yet looking serenely toward heaven; the sign of the cross yet glittering in their foreheads; the winds high, yet their lamps burning; the night dark, but their fires blazing. It was more than Barnabas would have expected of frail humanity. He ascribed it to a higher influence: "Who, when he came and had seen the grace of God, was glad."
But the faith that was so remarkably conservative, was equally expansive, and was not a candle [2/3] to be put under a bushel or a bed. The messenger from the Church at home found that these men hack not gone to other countries to hide their religion or betray their weakness in having ever professed it, or their wretched vacillation in casting it off, but wherever they had gone, East, West or South, they had imparted their secret to the world. They should have taken warning, one might say, from what they suffered in Judea, to keep their secret to themselves and many cannot understand why we may not all keep our religion to ourselves. If religion be a periodical feeling, a spasmodic emotion, a nervous tumult of the man within, we know nothing more offensive than to obtrude it upon others. But if it be a daily life, breathing and beating in the counting-room as much as in the sanctuary, on the street as much as at the altar, in our recreations as much as at the Bible, you can no more hide it than you can hide a city on a hill. Religion is purity, sincerity, temperance, chastity, truth, charity, integrity: and if men be pure, sincere, temperate, chaste, truthful, generous, upright, you can no more hide it than you can hide the sun in the heaven. If a man's religion make him a good father, a good husband, a good brother, a good friend, a good man, good as his word, good like his Lord, how can he hide it? What is religion? It is not a galvanic action on a Sabbath day, under the machinery of lecturers and lectures that may make a wretched corpse stare wildly, and affect signs of life, but it is a true and natural, instinctive, a continuous life, that cannot breathe and beat today, and then for six days be suspended, and breathe and beat again the seventh--but breathes and beats, refines, reforms and transforms into the image of Christ, all days, all times, all seasons, all companies alike. Religion is a leaven that rests not till the whole is leavened; a life that is felt in every fibre of our complicated nature, diffusive, expansive, progressive, till the whole is made meet to [3/4] dwell with the saints in light. External Christianity is also an atmosphere seeking under all circumstances a pressage outward and expansive. It is like light, struggling ever to escape its confines, and darting its ray through every avenue, and door, and crevice. How could these men keep from the people of Antioch the resurrection, and demonstrated immortality? How could they, fresh from the sepulchre of Jesus, suffer their light to die in the darkness of the land of Ham? this trumpet of hope for humanity to be drowned in the orgies of Antioch? this spark of Judea's altars, to which tradition had turned the eyes of all nations, to expire on Cyprus amidst the waters of the western sea? No wonder the heart of Barnabas "was glad;" and it was gladdened to a still higher joy to find that the lives of these men, and the earnestness of their purpose had drawn others to their standard. Men had been converted, and that which lends fresh impulse to the joy and the song of the heavenly choirs, made glad the heart of Barnabas. The prayers of angels had been heard, the tears of angels had been dried, the harps of angels had been struck, the shining ones had been before him, hovering over this distant capital, rejoicing in the conversion of men living yesterday for the things that perish: to-day, for a demonstrated immortality. The seed which the harsh events in Judea had scattered like a stormy wind over the earth, instead of perishing, were springing up in distant climes, and under all suns and skies were bearing a luxuriant harvest. The coals which violent men and violent times had scattered from the quiet hearth at home, so far from expiring in their isolated state, were kindling other and yet brighter fires on vale and mountain in more distant places. Already the three continents, as our Saviour signified by the three measures of meal, were feeling the insinuating leaven, and the grain of mustard seed was spreading, sooner than they hoped, its healing boughs over the nations; and already the winged ones of heaving were lighting, and the song of the redeemed was warbling in its branches.
And now it is the turn of Barnabas to speak.--He tells them of the torn and bleeding condition of the fold in Palestine; of the widow and orphan that the scaffold and the sword had thrown upon the charities of the altar. Enough is said. Instantly the disciples at Antioch, poor and isolated as they were, sent Barnabas with relief to the brethren in Judea. Glorious Antioch! It was here the disciples were first called Christians. It was here, the proudest capital of the East, that a few exiled Christians opened a field wide enough to employ both Paul and Barnabas a year. It was here that Peter, long before he ever saw the Church at Rome, presided with the Apostolic sceptre seven years. It was here that for forty years the noble Ignatius succeeded the Apostle, adorned the Church in the East with his illustrious life, and when cited to Rome, to be cast to the wild beasts, as he put on his chains, first pressed them to his heart and kissed them. "These are my jewels," he cried; "now I beg to be a disciple; when the wild beasts shall be my sepulchre, I shall be with God."
And now, my brethren, instead of Syria and her capital, let us read California and her metropolis; and for Jerusalem our own Mount Zion in the East. How often have our brethren in the Judea we have left behind us, pondered and wondered what had become of us. How does our imagination group them, and paint their cheek with thoughtfulness and sorrow; they have heard--they have heard that instead of persevering in the faith, we have sold our birth-right for a mess of pottage; instead of winning believers to our side, we have ceased to be believers ourselves. They have heard that instead of light we have brought a cloud over the land; instead of blessing it with virtues, we, have darkened it with crimes; instead of ennobling it with [5/6] charities, we have blasted it with viciousness; instead of beautifying it with a population bland, affable and attentive to the courtesies of life, we have disfigured it with manners coarse, swaggering and vulgar; instead of adorning it with churches, we have dotted it with gambling rooms; instead of brightening it with schools, we have blackened it with prisons; instead of wakening the atmosphere to the echoes of prayer, we have made it loathsome with vile oaths and curses; instead of spangling our land with lyceums, we have shrouded it with grog-shops; instead of crowning it with altars, we have degraded it with scaffolds. They have heard that instead of teaching the Chinamen, the Indian, and the Kanaka a heavenly morality, we have pulled them down from the higher rounds of the ladder where they stood nearer heaven than ourselves; that instead of carrying the Bible to the tent of the red man, we have put into his hands the bottle and the rifle, and then proclaimed war against red men for white men's misdemeanor; instead of raising the poor pagan to civilization and law, we have even robed us in Indian costume, to avert suspicion of foul robberies and murders from Christian white men. They have heard that instead of the quiet Sabbath, it is the great day of traffic through the country, and of secret counting-room transactions nearly every where; instead of binding our children, like Samuel and Isaac, to the altar, children not a few are seen intoxicated on our streets, and scarcely a boy in the land who cannot mouth his terrific oaths; instead of decent rites of sepulture, four-fifths that die are huddled into the grave without Christian burial; that instead of statesmen who have the fear of an oath before their eyes, we have statesmen, so called, who might swear by the Koran, for any sanctity it imparted to their oaths; that instead of a treasury with its millions for public uses and charities, we have weighed ours down, through want of, public virtue, to a bondage [6/7] that the serfs of Austria or of the Czar would scorn. They have heard that instead of baptizing the Pagan in this distant Antioch, we have wiped the waters of baptism from our own brow; instead of the breastplate of innocence and shield of faith, we have thrown off the cumbersome armour, and put on the decorations of the savage, the bullet and knife; instead of being the progenitors of a virtuous and happy people, we have glided like serpents through the golden gate, and cast our slime over, this Eden of God:--yea, that public demoralization had progressed so far, that Satan blushed at the rapid strides, and now and then advanced a small step backward. Oh! it is enough to make angels weep, and, unless it were on a smaller scale, to make God repent again that he had made man, and to "draw a cloud of mourning around His throne." It has filled the furrows of our fathers' cheeks with rain, and they have cried " God save our son," and the babes at the mother's knee, "Oh God, bring back our father the same that he went away, that he may press us little ones once more upon his unstained bosom"!
Gentlemen, you all were Christians once; what has occurred to make you infidel? Have you been reading those defenses of the Christian faith, which have overpowered the intellectual giants of our race, and made your own Rousseau confess he had his "moments of conviction." Or have you been sitting at the feet of pure-minded men, whose learning has been directed to this tremendous theme? Or have you been waking the echoes of conscience, reason, thought, and immortality, and. asked them for their verdict? No; none of these. The foe has not entered through the gates; reason, thought, conscience, were barred against him but he has gone up over the broken-down breastwork of innocence. He sapped the walls, and stormed the citadel. You were profane before you were infidel; you were licentious before you were infidel; [7/8] you were a Sabbath-breaker before you were infidel. You had your reasons why the dead should not rise, before you hooted at the resurrection. The passions have gathered to a whirlwind, and because you cannot hear the still, small voice of the meek man of Galilee, you say "God has not spoken." I knew this would be so; while yet at Panama, and on our vessel's deck, in the deterioration that was increasing from day-to-day, I saw the cloud rising from the sea, no bigger than a man's hand, that was to darken our sky and deluge our land, and I used these words to our last congregation on that deck: "Then it will be too late to advise; you will avoid them that would advise you well, and the still, small voice of our holy religion will not be heard in the wild storm of passion that shall howl around you." No; it is not reason that has made you infidel. In California men do not reason, and California has no new light to throw upon the demonstrations of eternity.
Shall we be shaken by this state of things, which you will allow to be alarming, and which is in fact terrific, from the conviction that we are a Christian people, sent hither on a Christian mission? Were the Jews any the less on that amazing mission which was to illuminate all earth? or had dark Palestine any the less the cradle of the mysterious one pledged fifty centuries ago to Abraham, who was to wield the destinies of all generations, because tidings went before to Egypt that they had become enamored with a calf of gold, and demons kept their insulting jubilee around the camp, and but two out of two millions that left Egypt so much as ever entered into Canaan? No, brethren, no; as when we look upon the sky, and see the glittering hosts march and countermarch through the heavens, and are convinced that they obey the mandate of their Maker; so, when we see two hundred thousand men darkening the wide plain, or spreading the white sail over the wide sea, that they all may [8/9] be; here against a certain time, we cannot repress the feeling that this too is the finger of God. But it would seem as if the spirits of the air retreated before the sign of the Son of man had filled the very atmosphere with his legions, determined to make here their final stand upon this continent, and by spreading their black wings upon the air, to darken the star of empire on its westward way. I cannot believe that this destruction of our forces has been effected by natural causes: that the crimes perpetrated in this land have been the uninstigated promptings of the human mind. t can never believe that the amazing and unnatural profanity, which, after disgorging itself of its old oaths, labors to invent still fresher and unearthly blasphemies, is not the vial of some dark angel, shut out for his offensive breath from his companions, poured out upon the air: that the strange spreading of infidelity without an apparent cause is anything but the noiseless death-breath of demons hanging ever on the frontiers of advancing Christianity: A few old enfeebled Californians we met, and conquered, and thought it an achievement; what then have the spirits of darkness achieved, in laying the virtues and moral valor of two hundred thousand freemen and Christians in the dust?
Soon as we set foot upon their territory; they felt the wound; great Beelzebub, and Belial, and Mammon woke, and maddened by the thought, they poured their silent squadrons on our hosts, and our columns fell back and fled, and are flying, still, while the enemy hangs insulting on our broken rear. My heart beat high with fear. We could not raise the cry pro aris et focis, for fireside and altars we had none.
Swift as the post wheels sent the summons home that the laity in our towns were then ready, anxiously waiting for the priests with the silver trumpets to come and head our columns: we piped unto them, but they would not dance. The sects [9/10] poured in and reaped the fields; some day when half a century has been lost (it is lost already) the church, like another Ruth, will come to gather her gleanings.
But when I saw Mammon in his gorgeous trappings, pouring his legions from the caves and hills, and waters laden with gold, so that our very priests that bare the ark were tempted to trail their snowy vestments in the miners' dust, I saw the day was lost. Ever since then there lay the Christian bleeding, and wounded, with the marks of Satan on his soul. And, though under this reversed condition, we have implored our brethren at home the second time, they have not yet sent us a leader around whom to rally, in the power and authority of Barnabas. We have piped to them, and they have not danced; we have mourned to them, and they have not lamented: they have taken us for children sitting in the market, playing wedding and funeral by turns. And now when the flower of our army were dead, or dying around us, we heard that a gentler hand was on its way, to bathe the brow of the wounded, and wipe the death sweat from the body, which is the church--we waited for woman.
"Not she, with traitorous kiss the Saviour stung,
Not she denied him with blaspheming tongue:
She, when Apostles shrunk, could dangers brave,
Last at his cross, and earliest at his grave."
Our heart leaped with hope; yonder she comes with the wine and oil, the spices, and ointments, and myrrh, and aloes, on woman's benignant mission. See the cross on her brow! See the tear on her cheek! See bright angels wafting her along! Oh, California, lift up thy head, for thy redemption draweth nigh!
That the advent of woman has improved our condition, we thankfully confess. That she has not bettered it to the extent we had expected, we also sorrowfully own. That, with most rare exceptions, she has not shown the slightest interest in the [10/11] advancement of the religion that has lifted her above the ancient curse, we cannot conceal. As an index to the true state of things, look around you from Sunday to Sunday, in our houses of prayer--those asylums where we are endeavoring to keep alive the poor remnant that has thus: far survived the struggle. How few find their way to the sanctuary; how few are to be relied on as frequenters from principle of the house of prayer! Where are they on our Sabbaths and Sabbath nights? Let the bright fields, and groves and gardens,--no, a meaner temptation has sufficed,--let our miserable sand-hills and barren suburbs make answer; let the brutes that are not allowed the repose which Christianity provides them, speaking with man's voice, rebuke the inhumanity, and answer; let the viols, and the dances on our bays and rivers, make answer; let our public drawing-rooms, and great reception day in private, and our public places of Sabbath amusement, make the answer. I confess myself astonished, beyond all utterance. I confess myself disheartened--not for our cause, which lives when men and states are dead--but disheartened for poor California. What California wanted was mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. Alas, if when they come they do not answer the definitions we have known them by at home! They have gone too far. By throwing off religion., instead of commending themselves to men's honest praises, our worst men know the fact that they have lost among us that high esteem which it is woman's province to enjoy--that deepest veneration and worship, which it is woman's privilege to deserve and to secure. Make woman infidel, and your work is done!
I do not forget the Salomes and Marys that have brought the sweet spices to our sepulchre. I do not forget the daughters of Galilee that have stood by the cross in this trying hour. I do not forget that it was the wading of woman's feet through [11/12] storm and wind, and the toil of her hands through many a month, that has presented this day to Almighty God, at last,, a spacious and beautiful spot in the heart of our city for the resting of His ark among the habitations of men. To them we owe it that we can exclaim with David this day, "Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou and the ark of thy strength." For we may add with David, "So we heard of the same at Euphrata, we found it in the field of the wood."
But I speak of the death-blight that has fallen upon the sex generally in our land. I speak of Christian women who have come to this land, and in some instances have come and gone, without having been even so much as once within the house of prayer.
Does not woman know that it was Jesus of Nazareth that touched her chains, and raised her from her ancient sepulchre? Has she to be yet informed that by the rivers of Babylon, and the torrents of the Niger and Nile, on the banks of the Ganges and the Hoangho, in the harem of the Mussulman and the verandah of the Hindoo, she is cruelly atoning for bringing death and woe into this world. In Arabia; and Turkey, and Egypt, she is guarded in her harem, and is decapitated if she go unveiled, or look from her windows on the world. In Tartary and Thibet she is created, her masters say, to be their slave. In India she is not allowed, except where Christianity has touched her chains, to sit at the table with her husband and her sons and brothers;--she is often staked and lost on the gambling, table of the more refined gamblers; while it was the crowning merit of their religion, till the arm of England interposed, to be burned on the pile, or buried alive in the grave of her husband. Not an island in the sea, not a tribe in the deserts, not a black man in Africa, that did not regard woman with contempt. Nay, let woman who turns her feet from Christian sanctuary, remember that [12/13] in the temples of China and mosques of Arabia she is not permitted to offer prayers to some unknown God for her deliverance. When Christianity came, woman's chains dropped. No wonder the women of Judea followed Jesus--no wonder the women of Africa have said to the Christian missionaries, "If you are resolved to leave us, we will throw our bodies before your waggon, that its wheels may go over us." But the women of Africa shall rise in judgment against the women of California. Your hand is raised to smite Him upon the cheek; you weave for your Lord the purple robe!
But, gentlemen, I turn once more to you. You have said Christianity is a thing past and dead. No, let me tell you how it is, --a man's religion is the last thing to die; when that is' dead, he is 'dead indeed. And because you-have quenched the vital spark within you, you imagine that Christianity. is dead. Christianity dead! Bring me this political and social carcase, which, through infidelity and 'the loss of, sanctuary, and the loss' of sanctity of an oath, has become a stench in the world's nostrils, and let me breath into it the principles of Christianity, and you will see life, and health, and "beauty immortal awake from the tomb." Your remedy is Christianity, and you will find it out. If we could say to this dark land, "Let there be light," and the light of Christianity should again break over us--if we could say to the storm of human passions sweeping wildly by us, "Peace, be still,"--if we could say to this young but death bound daughter of our republic, "Young maid arise, and stand upon thy feet,"--if by the next post we could send word that our cities and villages were dotted with schools and churches; that our temples were thronged with men and women; that the horrid oath had ceased on our streets; that our deadly weapons had been buried in the seas; that the viol and dance, the hammer, and the traffic of the Lords' day Sports had passed away; you [13/14] would see capital pouring into this land, families worth having, settled among us, property acquiring a real and increasing value, and California become the praise of the whole earth. Christianity dead! No, no; she has travelled farther and made more conquests over languages and nations since this century began, than she had done for a thousand years before. Even the Jews begin to see that the slain man from the loins of Abraham wields the sceptre of the nations; and more of the nation have been baptised within thirty years, than had embraced the faith since the second century. In Berlin alone, three thousand have, within that time been converted; some thirty elevated to the chairs of Christian Universities, while in Constantinople it is said a great multitude are waiting some favorable crisis to avow their faith, while they that believe not, "tribe of the wandering foot," pursue you wherever you can fly, the living universal demonstration, that this light breaking on the world at the appointed hour, and not from England, or Greece, or Rome, but from dark Palestine, and from among the most benighted and degraded of the nations, is the promised seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David.
Christianity dead! No, no,--she may not lean her aching head upon your bosom, but she has her hand upon your shoulder, making you in California, what others were in Palestine, hewers of wood, and bearers of brick and mortar, until you have founded cities, and an empire for her son. It is an old decree of hers that we have been long obeying, and obey to-day. "God shall exalt Japteth, and he shall dwell in the tents of them." The child of Japteth, the Japetus of the Greek, the fathers of the race as far as the mythology of ancient Europe knew it, has not only succeeded entirely to the altar and the faith of Shem, the Greek taking the sanctuary from the Jew, but he has ever since been pushing his conquests and his colonies wherever the red man dwells.
 Christianity dead! Tell me what means, this mighty heaving of the nations, this roaring of the waves that surge and swell over the Christian world? It is that ever restless leaven Christ threw into the lump--it is a spark from the Christian altar, kindling the world into its final conflagration. It is a prominent declaration of Christ that he was the second Adam, come to restore the lost doctrine of the unity of the human family. Christ said, "In me there is neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian nor Scythian, nor bond nor free, but all mankind are brothers;" and this single ray, wandering through Europe, and reflected imperfectly in one , who is now the guest of our nation, has made his name the admiration and the glory of his times.
What are odd-fellowships and associations, and even socialism, but imperfect and half-way reflections of these mighty and world-embracing principles of Christ. Never did Jew or Greek call hated Roman brother, till they embraced at the foot of the cross,--never did Jew call Gentile brother, until Peter took Cornelius to his arms, and men of Ephesus fell weeping on the neck of St. Paul. Christianity has not yet begun to accomplish her destiny. She has not yet driven off the pestilential malaria of Infidelity and Paganism. She has been acting on the defensive, and has not had time to carry out her plans. But she will shake all nations more terribly than this; she has principles you never dreamed of, fraught with blessed results to rich and poor, that she and she alone is working. Even Infidelity believes the millenium she promises.
Yes, brethren, it is in obedience to her mandate that you have presented yourselves before her on these shores. She cast her eyes down the line of your interminable hosts, and shook her head, and said, as she did to Gideon, "The people are too many that I should deliver the enemy into your hands." It is not her way; she never saved [15/16] by a multitude,--she never made her way to victory by tramp of congregated legions,--she must first be crowned with thorns. The church in Antioch, the city of half a million, must be converted by a few wandering martyrs; and little as we dreamt that San Francisco should, through the infidelity of a few disheartened Christians, become to Eastern Asia what Antioch became to Asia in the west, the mother and model of an innumerable multitude of churches. It is the door to the nations; and will send forth her apostles of liberty and truth, in the spirit and order of St. Thomas, throughout that continent. A brighter day is coming; I know not when, I cannot say how near; but nations shall yet see the Agnus Dei wave in our banners on the mountains, and flashing from its folds the light of the cross on the coasts of Asia. Chinamen and Hindoos shall yet go back laden with the incorruptible gold; the voices of the sea shall join the harmonies of the land, and "the shout of the isles shall swell the thunders of the coast," in thy name, O Christ!