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produced by a bare preponderance of probabilities, which a critic, both shrewd and fair, may question and hope to invalidate. It results from evidence which an upright mind can no more evade, than an undistempered eye can be insensible to the light and heat of the sun shining in his strength.
2. What shall we say, then, of the disposition to oppose this religion? Its origin, tendency, and effects are all to be intensely deplored and deprecated. Let it obstinately adhere-then shall we carry our worst reproach into the hour of death, and from that hour walk in the darkness visible of our ultimate doom. “He that despised the law of Moses died without mercy. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God!"
3. The evidence of our attachment to revealed religion ought to be lucid and convincing, like that of the religion itself. Is it possible for us to believe its witnesses, and yet to displace them from our memories; or at any time to review their testimony, without assigning it our most reverential and grateful regard? But who recollects it sufficiently often, and with a mind duly hallowed by its influence? Its design is to subject and conform us to God, to consecrate all our faculties and feelings, to make us good in all our relations, and to prepare us for passing safely " through the valley of the shadow of death” into our last and best inheritance. Have we received it for these purposes? Is its power fixed in our hearts, and is its nature conspicuous in our actions! Well may we cry mightily to the only efficient Hearer of prayer, for continual supplies of wisdom and grace; so that “our work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God, even our Father,” may render us examples to all them that believe.” Then shall it be said, “How affectionate are they in the domestic scene, how kind in the neighbourhood, how honourable in the place of traffic, how constant, attentive, and devout in the sanctuary!'
4. Our holy religion, my brethren, that system of purity, piety, and love, which God has devised, and for the sake of which He has interposed so often, and so marvellously, awaits a magnificent consummation. Moses bas prophesied, Aaron has performed sacrificial rites, Paul has reasoned, and martyrs have sealed the doctrine with their blood. Our holy religion retained them all ; it retained them for us, and for millions more. We are deeply interested in their ministrations, characters, sufferings, and triumphs.
But, laying aside all reference to them, let us bow down before their Lord, " the Head of all principality and power.” “ He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” In his mediatorial course predictions were fulfilled, and types unveiled. He took the curse out of the law, and the sting out of death. From his Father and from Him proceeded the co-equal and co-eternal Spirit, deputed to make his cause victorious.
My brethren, Jesus Christ will again visit the earth. The angels will descend with Him, the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised, the judgment will be set, and the books will be opened. “Every eye shall see him. A thousand thousand shall minister unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand shall stand before Him."
Believers will then appear with Him in glory. No sin will defile them; they will experience neither want, nor pain, nor alarm, nor opposition. To all eternity, their abodes, their associations, their consciousness, their employments, will illustrate all the Divine perfections, as engaged to make them happy. Then, and not before, will be revealed the comprehensiveness of that memorable promise made to Jesus Christ, seven hundred years previous to his first advent, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” What, think you, must be the fulness and grandeur of that felicity which will satisfy so large and warm a heart, ever intent on exalting his redeemed and regenerated church from honour to honour, and from joy to joy? And who is he that can so penetrate to the mysterious travail of the Divine Mediator's soul, as to ascertain the extent of those pleasures which shall constitute a worthy recompense ?
Let us, my brethren, aspire to an interest in his love. It
passeth knowledge,” and yet he tenders it ; saying, “ He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” The scope of both Testaments; the advice, entreaties, and examples of God's servants ; the arrangements of his Providence; the institution of the Sabbath ; our sorrows, our joys, our mortality, and many a secret impulse from above ;-all these bid us aspire. They chide us for grovelling amidst mean and corruptible things; they exhort us to shake off the spirit of drowsiness and delay; they encourage an unlimited reliance on Him “who gave himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world.”
Shall their addresses have a slighter influence than those of scepticism? Shall we still virtually call for evidence beyond that with which Christianity is clothed? Let Scepticism herself, or rather, let the most desperate infidelity, speaking through one of her most gifted sons, reply. Indisputably,' says the infatuated Byron, the firm believers in the gospel have a great advantage over all others—for this simple reason, that if true, they will have their reward hereafter ; and, if there be no hereafter, they can be but with the infidel in his eternal sleep, having had the assistance of an exalted hope through life, without subsequent disappointment, since (at the worst for them) " out of nothing, nothing can arise,” not even sorrow.'
The evidence of revealed religion superabounds. If any thing remains to be added, it is an unreserved surrender to its authority, accompanied with an enlarged experience of its tendency to improve, sustain, and delight its sincere professors. Assuredly, the more deeply it penetrates, and the more widely it spreads, the better and the happier shall we become, till the demonstration of its truth and excellence constrain us, with grateful emotion, to say, “It is more than enough; scarcely could our satisfaction rise to a higher point, " though one rose from the dead." '
BY J. ELY.
Acts xxviii. 25—27.–And when they agreed not among themselves,
they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive : for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
It is not my intention to occupy your time by a discussion of the theological difficulty which presents itself in this passage. It cannot be denied that there is a difficulty, when Scripture seems to speak as if the agency of God were employed in hardening the human heart; but this difficulty admits, unquestionably, of satisfactory explanation. There are occasions when it would be proper and necessary to enter fully into the inquiry connecting itself with this point; and that, not merely in the divinity class, but in the great congregation. Yet the subtilties of such nice discussions would be unintelligible to some, and distracting to others; whilst they might give rise to speculations in the minds of those best prepared to entertain them, that would be more curious than profitable. My present design is wholly practical ; and all that I shall attempt, preparatory to the more practical elucidation of the text, shall be to compare the passage, as it is found originally in the prophet Isaiah, with the examples in which it is quoted by the inspired writers of the New Testament; and to offer such brief remarks as may serve to elucidate the design of the sacred penmen. The place in the book of the prophecies of Isaiah, referred to by the apostle, is that of the sixth chapter, in which the prophet describes the glory of the Lord as it appeared to him in vision, a glory asserted by the evangelist John to be that of Christ. Upon this occasion, Isaiah received a special commission for the discharge of the prophetic office, and his lips were touched with the living coal of the altar. But when he received this commission he was forewarned that he would address his message to a hardened, unbelieving people. This forewarning is couched in a form of speech not uncommon with the prophetic writers ;— that which it is foreseen will be the effect of the message on the people's minds, is described as if it were the express design of the message. The prophet is told to go, and “make the heart of the people fat, lest they should believe and be converted.” It would be easy to adduce other examples, in which the prophets are said to do that which they predict; but it is sufficient, in these brief explanations, to state the fact, without adducing instances.
The first quotation of this passage in the New Testament may be found in the gospel of Matthew, ch. xiii. 14. It is there · produced to illustrate the design of that particular mode of instruction which the Saviour adopted in his personal ministry among the Jews: the truths he taught were veiled in parable. By this application of the prophetic passage we learn, that it not merely foretold the unbelief of the Jews, but also indicated a judicial consequence of their unbelief.
Slighted privileges were to be diminished. Instructions that had been guiltily despised, were to be rendered more obscure. “Without a parable spake he not unto them.” In Mark iv. 12, and Luke viii. 10, the quotation is made in the same reference, and with the same explanation.
The passage is brought forward by the evangelist John, (ch. xii. 37–41) in another connexion, and with a further elucidation. The Jews having disregarded the miracles of Christ, it is said, “ Therefore they could not believe, because Esaias had said again, He hath blinded their eyes.” It cannot mean that the prediction prevented their believing ; but that, as the prediction had been delivered by infallible foreknowledge, it could not have been falsified by faet. Yet the additional idea of judicial abandonment seems to be conveyed. Not merely is the message, in just retribution, obscure ; but the unbelieving mind is left to its perversity, and this is equivalent to a judicial hardening of it.
A slight reference is made to the passage in the Epistle to the Romans, ch. xi. 7, 8. There the unbelieving Jews are said to be “blinded ;” and God is said to have “ given them the spirit of