Sivut kuvina

like manner called enthusiasts. But the "works which they did, testify that they were also ambassadors of Christ," and "able ministers of the New Testament," preaching unto men the doctrine of life; of which, remote nations as well as our own, will bear witness at a future day.

For let us dispassionately contemplate the works that have followed the revival of religion in this country. We now stand at some distance, and can survey the object in all its parts; and in its just proportion. We stated these words to be.

1. An increased knowledge of the holy scriptures; producing

2. A cultivation of the principles of the gospel, and the practice of the virtues of subordination, loyalty, and contentinent.

3. The almost universal instruction of the poor: so that it may be truly said, “The poor have the gospel preached to them.'

4. The more general worship of God in our land.

0. The publication of the Bible in new languages; and,

6. The promulgation of christianity among all nations; to Jews and to Gentilos.

Are these works of darkness? Are they not rather the works which are called in scriptures "the fruits of the spirit?" Let a man beware how he arraigns or contemns those works which he may not perfectly comprehend, lest peradventure he should speak a word against the operation of God the Holy Ghost. · There are many at this day who say they believe in one God. These may be deists and others. There are many who say they believe in one God the Son, after a certain manner. These may be Socinians, and Pelagians. But the true criterion of the faith of a Christian at this day, is to acknowledge the continued influences of God the Holy Ghost. "By this shall ye know them.” For the apostle Paul hath said, "That no man can say that Jesus is the Lord

but by the Holy Ghost,” 1 Cor. xii, 3. And our Saviour hath said that the Holy Ghost shall abide with his church "for ever.” John xiv, 16.

But those who deny then ifluence of the Holy Spirit, will also deny the works of the Spirit. What more undeniable work of the spirit can be visible in the church of Christ than the sending forth preachers to preach the everlasting gospel to the heathen world? What nobler or purer work of righteousness can be imagined than the giving the Holy Bible to all nations and yet there are many who behold both undertakings with indifference, or even hostility.-Others there are who, professing a purer theology, cannot deny the truth and justice of the principle, but they argue against the way: they contend for the old way; as if a man should think to evangelize the world after the fashion of his own parish. They say they would conduct these new and grand designs after the old precedent, when the ruth is, there has been no precedent for what is now doing, in its present extent, for nearly eighteen enturies past. Christ and his Apostles establishedthe first and great precedent.

It may be expected that those who deny the continued influences of the Holy Spirit in the church, will deny that the present is an Era of Light.When Christ came, who was 'the light of the world," there were many who denied that any light had come. When the truth shone a second time at the reformation, there were many who perceived it not. though the bright beams of light at the present pe. riod far transcend those of the reformation, there are many who behold them not. They wonder indeed to see various societies, which have no connexion with each other, engaged in pursuing the same object. They behold men of different nations and of different languages, animated by the same spirit, promoting the same design, encountering the same difficulties, persevering with the same ardor, giving

and not receiving, expending money, time and labor, in an undertaking in which there is no self-interest; and all agreeing in one common voice, let there be light. All this they behold, and they wonder: but they do not believe. And thus it is written; “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you." Acts xiii, 41.

A violent but ineffectual attempt was made some time ago to impede the progress of this work. But the current was strong and deep, and these momentary obstructions served merely to increase its force. “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God,” Psalm xlvi, 4. No human power can stop its course. Many who are yet hostile to this undertaking will shortly join in it. We believe that the strength of the nation will soon be with it: and that all hope of resisting it, entertained by unbelieving men, will be disappointed. For the prophecy hath gone forth, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision. I will declare the decree: Thou art ny Son, I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy posses. sion," Psalm ii. 8.

It is of vast consequence to the purity and perpetuity of our church that those students who are preparing to enter it, should have just views on the subject. There is one fact which ought frequently to be illustrated to them, as being the foundation, on which they are to form a judgment on this and other parts of the divine dispensation. It is the following:

It is an undeniable truth, constantly asserted by scripture, and demonstrated by experience, that there have ever been two descriptions of persons in the ehurch. They are denominated by our Saviour, "ihe children of light and the children of this world;"

and again, the children of the wicked one, and the children of the kingdom.” Matt. xiii, 38. These different terms originate entirely from our receiving or not receiving that illumination of understanding which God, who cannot lie, hath promised to give to them that ask hiin. For if a man supplicate the Father of lights for his “good and perfect gift" with a humble and believing spirit; he will soon be sensible of the effect in his own mind. He will begin to behold many things in a view very different from what • he did before; he will devote himself to the duties of His profession with alacrity and zeal, as to "a labor of love;" and his moral conduct will be exemplary and pure, adorning that gospel which he is now desirous to preach. Another consequence will be this. He will learn, for the first time, what is meant by the reproach of the world. For men in general will not approve of the piety and purity of his life; and they will distinguish it by some term of disparagement or contempt.

I am aware that many who have supplicated the Father of lights for “the good and perfect gift," and who see, by the light that is in them, "a world lying in wickedness,” John v, 19, are yet induced to conceal their sentiments in religion, or at least, are prevented from assuming a decided character in the profession of it, from the dread of reproach. But they ought to remember that a term of reproach has now become so general, and attaches to so slight a degree, not only of religious zeal, but of moral propriety, that no man who desires to maintain a pure character in his holy office needs to be ashamed of it. *

* It is worthy of remark, that the names of reproach which men of the world have given to religious men, have been generally derived from some. thing highly virtuous or laudable.

Believers were first called Christians, as a erm of reproach, after the name of Christ. They have since been called Pietists, from their piety, Puritans from their purity, and Saints from their honliess. In the present day, their ministers are called Evangelical, from their desire to “do the work of an Evangelist." See 2 Tim. iv. 5. Thus, the evil spirit in the damsel who followed Paul, cried out, by an impulse which he could not resist, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew. unto us the way of salvation."

But there is another consideration for those who are ordained to be ministers of Christ, namely, that this reproach seems to be ordained as a necessary evidence in an evil world that their doctrine is true. For the offence of the cross will never cease. The apostle Paul'was accused of being “beside himself;" but his only answer was this; “Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God; or whether we be sober, it is for your cause,” 2 Cor. v. 13. And let this be your answer also.

If the minister of Christ give no offence to the children of this world," he has reason to suspect the purity either of his doctrine or of his practice.

On the other hand, a corrupt theology has no offence and no reproach. You have heard of a twofold darkness in the east. There is also a twofold darkness in the west. There is the darkness of infidelity, and the darkness of a corrupt theology. Infidelity has slain its thousands: but a corrupt theology has slain its ten thousands.

Let every student of the ology inquire whether the religion he professes bear the true character. Instead of shunning the reproach of Christ, his anxiety <ought to be, how he may prepare himself for that high and sacred office which he is about to enter.Let him examine himself whether his views correspond, in any degree, with the character of the ministers of Christ, as recorded in the New Testament. “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.” 1 Cor.

Act5 xvi. 1?. The most opprobrious epithet which the Jews thought they could give our Saviour, was to call him a Samaratin. “Thou art a Samaratin, and hast a devil,” John viii, 48. But our Saviour has given a permanent honor to the name, by his parable of "the good Samaritan "

The usual name of religious reproach at this day is Methodist; a term first used a Oxford, and derived from the Method, which some religious students observed in the employment of their Tivne So far it is an honorable appellation. It is now applied to any man of pure and unaffected piety, and is, in short, another term for a Christian. of the Methodists, Paley says, in his Evidences of Christianity, that in regard to peity to God, and purity of life, they may be coinpared to the priroitive Christians." The name Methodist in England was, sor a time, as disreputable as Royalist in France. And indeed there is an analogy in the character; for wethodism implies loyalty to the King of Kings." And Im happy to ada,in regard to that numerous body of our fellow subjects who are called by that name, that it also implies, after an experience of half a century, pure loyalty to an earthly sovereign.

« EdellinenJatka »