Sivut kuvina

eyes of men and angels ? The atonement made from infinite love by our Savior Christ; and the consequent love to each other which binds those who partake of it. Wherever Christianity goes, she establishes this memorial of the vicarious death of her Lord, and of the motive it affords for the love of each other. The doctrine of His deity and atoning sacrifice will never be lost from the church whilst the sacrament of these mysteries remains; nor will the charity of Christians ever be extinguished, whilst it continues to be reanimated by every succeeding celebration of these mysteries. That religion must surely be from God which carries such a banner before it.


But, lastly, these two points, thus prominently set forth, constitute, in fact, the true happiness of

Without pardon he can have no stable peace. The conscience is unpacified, the heart is at enmity with the ever-blessed God, the wrath of the Al. mighty rests upon him, the terrors of death and judgment impend, the immortal soul pines and sorrows in widowhood from the fountain of felicity.

In like manner, without the restoration of love to his fellow creatures he can never be at rest. Envy, variance, contentions, selfish passions, pride, hatred, malice, are a plague to the man in whose breast they reign, as well as to those who are the objects of them. His social nature is in desolation till holy love to his fellow creatures unites him again to his


The gospel, as we have seen, opens both these sources of happiness. It reconciles man to God in the atonement of Christ; it reconciles man to his fellow man by the love which that immense act of Christ's love to him excites.

Thus in the very centre point of Christianity, where all its doctrines and all its duties unite, man's happiness is as much consulted, as the glory of all the Divine perfections. And we have only to let love be more and more the sum of our religionthe love of God, the love of man-to be more truly and manifestly preparing for the world and region of love in heaven.



Acts xvii. 30, 31.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at ;

but now commandeth all men every where to repent. Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained ; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

We have already considered the most obvious and general character of Revelation as impressed on our Lord's sermon at Nazareth.' We have endeavored to illustrate the excellency of the gospel from its mystery being the object of heavenly contemplation.' And we have pointed out the connection of holy love to our fellow creatures with the great doctrine of atonement.

In these enquiries the first broad outlines of Christianity have been evidently seen to be full of benevolent design towards mankind.

The next question naturally is, Under what obligation are men placed to receive this scheme of


i Sermon I.

2 Sermon II.

3 Sermon III.

mercy? By what authority are they bound to obey the gospel ?

This leads us to consider, on the present occasion, the universal call to repentance given by Almighty God to man.

In discussing which, three points may be considered ; The times which are described as now passed; God's present call to man; The reason. Or, in the words of the text, The times of ignorance-Men now commanded every where to repent-Because God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness.

Nor will the benevolence of the gospel fail to appear in this topic also, as well as in the preceding. To give affectionate warning to man of his danger; to call him off intelligibly and authoritatively from his sins, the cause of all misery; and to “ bless him by turning him away from his iniquities,” is in the highest degree kind and beneficent. A false pretence to benevolence may, indeed, be set up by concealing from men the truth of their case ; but real compassion opens it first, and then provides a remedy.

I. What, then, is passed, now that an universal call to repentance is issued ? The text replies, The times of ignorance; that long period of blindness as to the true God and his acceptable worship, in which the Athenians, in common with all the nations of the earth, had fallen. For it was at Athens, the seat of learning and the arts, that St. Paul thus designated the times which preceded the gospel.

In what particulars this ignorance consisted, the apostle's discourse shows.

It appeared in men's worshipping an unknown God;" in their not knowing that God "created the heavens and the earth;" and that he “ dwelt not in temples made with hands," nor had “ need of any thing;" in not


knowing his over-ruling providence, nor the design of his appointment, that “men should feel after him and find him” in the works of creation, which testified of “his eternal power and godhead ;” in not knowing that in him “men live and move and have their being ;” and in consequently supposing that “ the Godhead is like unto gold or silver or stones, graven by art and man's device.

These things constituted, before the gospel, as they do now, times of ignorance. Wherever God in his glorious being and attributes is not known, there are times of ignorance. Wherever His creation of the world, his providence, his constant support of man, his government, his will, his redemption in Christ Jesus, and the final judgment which he has appointed, are unknown, there are times of igno


Tell me not of the glory of Athens. Tell me not of her learning, her science, her philosophers, her schools, her boasted civilization. Tell me not of her successes in the arts of painting, sculpture, architecture. Tell me not of Demosthenes, or Pericles, or Thucydides. Tell me not of her historical annals, her political institutions, her national glory, her court of Areopagus, her legislative assemblies, her superiority over the barbarous nations.

On these topics the apostle utters not a word. The times of Athens are times of ignorance, so long as the most momentous interests of man are unknown-his creation, his fall, his guilt, his responsibility, the way of his obtaining pardon, holiness and eternal life.

And it is thus we are to judge of the nations around us now.

These times then, which preceded the gospel, God is said in the text “to have winked at;" to have turned his face from ; to have acted as if he overlooked their state. As “the eyes of the Lord” are said to be over the righteous ;” and to be “on the land” of

[ocr errors]
« EdellinenJatka »