« AnteriorContinuar »
power of Satan unto God.' The saved from among men, were chosen to salvation from the beginning, through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth. They are born again, not of corruptable seed, but of incorruptable, by the word of God, which livetli and abideth forever-being begotten, by God, of his own will, with the word of truth.' And as the gospel is the means wbich God has appointed; so we have no reason to think He ever uses any other means to renew and sanctify mankind and prepare them to partake of the pure pleasures and join in the holy services of the beavenly mansions. How many Infants, or Idiots, God may sanctify without means, it is not for us to say. But those who liaye come to years of understanding, He is pleased to sanctify by means: ard he has given us no intimation of any other means, as appointed or used by Him, except the word of truth contained in the gospel. It was our Lord's prayer for his people, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth:” And it appears from the history of the world, that all other means of human device for turning men from darkness to light, from sin to boliness, frem idolatry to the service of the living and true God, have proved altogether ineffectual. But,
3. The gospel can have no saving effect upon those from whom it is hid. For though Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world,' and God may, on the ground of l.is atoning blood, consistently pardon all who are sanctified; yet it must be evident, that the gospel, holy as it is in its nature and tendency, can never be the means of sanctifying those who have never read or heard it, or those who misunderstand or disbelieve it. And as to those who know and believe, and yet hate and reject the saving truths of the gospel, it must, manifestly, be a savor of death, instead of life, to their souls, by hardening their hearts and fitting them for destruction, instead of preparing them for glory.'
Thus we see why those must and will be lost, from whom, during their probationary state, the gospel is hid: They are by nature in a lost condition, and the appointed and only means of salvation, has either not been used with them, or they have abused and perverted it to their own destruction.
The subject before us, thus imperfectly illustrated, naturally es.cites the following serious
REFLECTIONS. 1. What peculiar obligations to the distinguishing goodness of God, lie upon ibose who enjoy the clear light of the glorious gospel. While multitudes of their fellow-men inhabit the dark places of the earth and are perishing for lack of knowledge, they possess the holy scriptures which are able to make them wise unto salvation, and hear that word of truth by which it pleases God to save them that believe. Surely the lines have fallen to them in pleasant places.
The kingdom of God, with all its present privileges, and all its great and precious promises, is brought nigh them, and placed within their reach. This is owing to the sovereign goodness of God, who for vise and benevolent reasons, at present above human com
prehension, latli made them to differ from others equally needy, and not more unwortly. When one, thus favored with the means of salvation, casts his eye over the benighted regions of this world, and sees some still reading Moses, with a veil on their hearts—others turning over the absurd pages of the Koran--and others searching sor divine wisdom in the Shastor of the Brahman, or the Vedas of the Hindoo; if not void of gratitude, will he not exclaim with the devout Psalmist,“What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my rows unto the Lord now in the presence of his people.
2. What multitudes of our fallen race, are at this moment in imminent danger of being lost! It is supposed that far more than half of the human family have never scen a Bible, or beard the name of Christ. Two millions of Jews, “scattered and peeled,” read the Old Testament indeed, but without the key to its spiritual meaning, which they reject as a “cunningly derised sable:” they hear of Christ indeed, but only in the reproaches of their doctors, as blasphemer whom their fathers justly crucified. More than a hundred millions of deluded mer read only the Koran, and esteem Maliomet as a greater prophet than Jesus Christ. An equal number believe in the “ lying wonders" of the ‘Man of sin,' and receive the Scriptures only as glossed and wrested by the infallible Pope of Rome.
Of the hundred and twenty or thirty millions, who inhabit Protestant countries, in which the scriptures are acknowledged as the inspired and unerring word of God, many thousands remain willingly withont a copy of the sacred book, and many thousands more are unable to obtain the precious treasure, and still more thousands read and hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowl. euge." If to all these, wc add those numbers, who, with the Bible in their hands and the trumpet of the gospel sounding in their cars, remain ignorant of the truth through the blindness of their hearts, 'or knowing the truth, disbelieve it, or believing it, hold it in unrighteousness, never lraving received the love of it, that they might be saved--how many will there remain, from whom the gospel is in no sense hid? O, what countless multitudes of our fallen race, for whom Christ died, and whom the scriptures are sufficient savingly to enlighten, are at this hour, in imminent danger of losing their souls!
3. How weighty the motive set before Christians, to do what in them lies to disseminate the scriptures of truth and publish the gospel of Christ! It is often said, and justly said, that the gospel comprises the purest systein of morals ever presented to mankind-tends in various ways to promote the pecuniary interests of those who are influenced by its precepts-raises the weaker sex to the rank and honor to which they are entitled--and gives rise to rarious charities for the relief of the distressed: all this is true, and presents persua. suasive motives for the assiduous propagation of Christianity. But all this falls infinitely short of the grand, the absorbing, the overwhelming motive which the gospel itself presents, and throuve with
the weight of worlds upon the conscience and heart of cvery disciple of Christ." If our gospel is bid, it is bid to them that are lost.” Those, who are destitute of the gospel are perish: g for lack of knowledge; and if they shall ever see the light of divine truth and enjoy the means of salvation, it must be through the instrumentality of the benevolent efforts and pecuniary sacrifices of christians, who, as stewards of the mysteries of God, are commanded to "go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." How this motive must act upon the charity, the compassion, and all the tender sensibilities of every intelligent, benevolent christian! The souls of those who sit in darkness and the region and shadow of death, are as precious as
Suppose we were placed in their situation, and they in ours; what may we suppose they ougl.t to do for us? Does it not seem as if they ought to make strenuous exertions and submit to great sacrifices, to send us the word of life? Should we not think them chargeable with cruelty in the extreme, if through their negligence or perversness, they should leave us and our children to perish in ignorance and sin? What then is the golden rule?-"As ye would that men should do unto you, do ye eren so to them.”
4. How amazingly inattentive the christian world have hitherto been to the all-important object of disseminating the gospel! Their conduct has too generally betrayed either infidelity in believing that those may be safe froin whom the gospel is bid—or hypocrisy in prefessing to have the mind of Christ, while they cared not if their fellow-men were lost. How little the nominal followers of Christ have imitated their Master, who 'went about doirg good; ard though He was rich, yet for our sake became poor, that we through bis poverty might be rich! They could expend millions in prosecuting murderous wars to satiate their ambition, avarice or revenge --send slips to the ends of the earth for gold and slares; but to send the Bible and ministers to their needy brethren, they had no resources. That a better spirit bas prevailed to some extent, within the last thirty years, is matter of joy and thanksgiving: We would duly appreciate all that has been done by various societies iv Europe and America. The Bible has been translated into nearly two hundred of the the sand languages spoken by men, and some millions of copies have been printed and distributed. This is wellwonderful-noble! But still we must think that little has yet been done, or is now doing, compared with what needs to be done, and might be done, if the spirit of Jesus lived in all his professed disciples. Possibly three millions of dollars may now be expended annually by the Christian world, upon Bible and Missionary societies; about one twentieth part of the sum annually expended of late, in this country, for the purchase of strong drink, to corrupt the morals, and shorten the lives of the inhabitants: and yet we plead poverty and inability to furnish the funds needed to supply the destitute with the bible and preaching! Men and brethren, we need faith: we peed love: we need and borrels mercies!'
Under the former dispensation, the people could give about one Gifth of their income to support the institutions of religion.
Why cannot people do eren as much now?-The Dissenters in England pay tithes to the establishment, support their own ministers, and contribute large'sums to the Bible and Misionary societies. While our own ability is the measure of our duty, let the example of truly liberal christians, provoke us to love and good works; and abuse all, the example of Him, who went about doing good, and who requires his servants to deny themselves, and take up the cross, and follo: bim.
Finally, ho:v deeply it concerns those who are made acquainted with the gospel, to embrace and obey it. They are among the lost, whom Christ came to seek and to save. le now furnishes them in his providence, with the means of salvation, and invites them to come unto him and have life. Let them not receive the grace of God in vain; for it will be more tolerable for the heathen, in the day of judgment, than for those who have enjoyed the light of the gospel, aud' hated it because their deeds were evil.'-Ainen.
A prevalent opinion tending to prevent the union of
“Of all opinions, that which accounts for the diversity of religious sentiment and practice, by the alleged obscurity and deficiency of Scripture, is the most hostile to unity, as well as most injurious to t character of revelation. As long as it prevails among christians, present diversities may be expected to subsist. There is neither the authority of God, nor a probable hope of success, to stimulate the advocates of this opinion to exertion in the advancement of unity. Their example must tend to keep all parties in countenance, and to prevent them from examining the grounds of their peculiar views. Nen will not distract their minds with investigation, which is likely to terminate in the same uncertainty with "which it commences. Sball they be forward to encounter the odium attending change of religious sentiments, the resentment of a deserted party, or the loss of worldly interest, in favor of opinions, which, after all, may not be more scriptural than those which they renounce? If once, men can persuade themselves, that those who hold two opposite views may be equally right, or at least equally blameless on account of tbeir views, it will be po difficult thing to determine on the side of interest or popularity. The human mind was various ways of keeping itself in blindness, with respect to those things which it does not wish to see. If the scriptures are insuficjant lu direct us in any thing, it will be easy to suppose shem descient in any other, when it may suit our purpose.
“ The opinion to which we have adverted, having naturally caused many to despair of complete union being ever effected among christians, cxpedients have been invented to create barmony and co
operation among all religious sects, and thus to exhibit a kind of union independent of views, of the nature of Christ's kingdom, and of every part of social order. This has an air of liberality and enlargement of mind, and is therefore exceedingly popular. All parties may follow their interests or their prejudices in their religious associations, if they will but make nothing of those things in which they Jiffer one from another, and co-operate in some general plans of usefulness. They must not disturb each other, nor prevent the diffusion of the gospel, by disputes upon smaller matters.—This scheme is supposed by its advocates, to be among the noblest discoveries of modern times. They speak of themselves as a kind of religious Iluminati, superior to the narrow prejudices of those who contend for a perfect rule of social duty.—The most complete proof of enlargement of mind and religious candor, is to declaim against those who pretend to keep close to the scriptures.-Half a dozen sects, making a sacrifice of their peculiarities to show their union, in the main, would appear to be a more grateful spectacle to persons of these views, than to be hold the same perfectly united in one mind in the same religious fellowship. If this cannot be justified from the scriptures, they can point up to heaven, and tell us that the same thing takes place there.
This is the wisdom of man; and instead of producing real union, tends to retard that union which alone is valuable-a union founded in the knowledge of the will of God.”
From the Boston Telegraph.
It is well known, that parishes, religious societies, and even churches, are sometimes fond of new things, as the ladies are fond of new bonnets. This being the case, it is not strange, that such societies or churches should sometimes want a new minister. It used to be the fashion, to let ministers die, in the place where they were settled. But, this has become very unpopular. Ministers are not now, as formerly, very often settled for life; but, generally upon condition, that, either party giring six months notice, the sastoral or ministerial connection is liable to be dissolved. Now, this condition, we think, answers a very good purpose; because, if, on the one hand, we do not wish to go away, it makes us more cautious, and prudend, and careful to please the people, by smoothing off points, and preaching the truth in such soft and accommodating terms, as that nobody can reasonably be offended, or be disposed to drag us out of the city, and stone us, as they did the apostle Paul, for his imprudent plainness of speech. On the other hand, if any of us happen to have a louder call to go somewhere else, or an appointment to the presidency of a literary institution, we have nothing to do, but give the six months notice, and we are at liberty. For, it is seldom the case, that any of us do not consider it our imperious duty to listen to a louder call, by which I would be under