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which Antichrist has perpetrated, in express contradiction to the commands of Christ, but according to what was clearly foretold by his apostles as a vile perversion of his holy religion: even as absurd, as to find fault with an excellent medicine, because a vile murderer had substituted a fatal poison in its stead!
Yet after all, christianity has done immense good to society, even among those who are not true chris. tians. Christianity, by subverting the system of gross idolatry, has terminated a variety of cruel and inhuman practices, and detestable debaucheries, which it sanctioned and protected. Far juster notions, not only of God and religion, but also concerning what is laudible or the contrary in the actions of men, have grown almost imperceptibly from the influence of ! christianity. It has fixed a vastly higher standard of morals, not only in the books of the learned, but in the general sentiments of mankind. It has driven in. to secret recesses such crimes, as before stalked abroad without shame. It has mitigated the horrors even of war; and removed savage cruelty, at least, from pub. lick diversions. It has given a consequence to the lower ranks in society, and to the female sex, to which they before were strangers. It has endowed hospitals, and multiplied publick charities; and given men in general a far deeper sense of their obligation to relieve distress, than they had before, or now have in heathen countries: and if it still fail of abolishing the slave-trade, it has entered such a protest against the abominable traffick, as all the annals of paganism cannot equal; and in many other ways it has vastly meliorated the state of the world
But where its truths are indeed believed, and its precepts obeyed, far more important and beneficial effects follow. Even in this land, while we must mourn over prevailing abominations, we cannot but be confident that there are tens of thousands, who truly repent of all their sins, and “ do works meet “ for repentance,” who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and are “constrained by love to live no longer " to themselves, but to him who died for them, and “ rose again;" who, after his example, and in obedi. ance to his command, walk in love, by love serve one! another, and so love even their enemies, as to perse. vere in attempting “ to overcome evil with good;” in short, who are “ taught by the grace of God, which “ bringeth salvation, to deny ungodliness and worldly " lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in “ this present world; looking for that blessed hope, " and the glorious appearance of the great God, and * of our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for “ us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify us “ unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good “ works.”—These are accepted in Christ, and made meet for the inheritance of heaven; and they are bright examples, shining as lights in the world, who, by their influence, endeavours, converse, and prayers, check the progress of vice and impiety, and communicate, as “ the salt of the earth," the savour of truth and holiness around them.
But where do we read, in the account of nations strangers to christianity, ancient or modern, of characters unequivocally answering to this remnant found in christian countries! And what would be the con
setv, hurressions of violet
sequence, if this genuine christianity should universally prevail in any nation; and all men should live as this remnant does, who are yet consciously very far from having attained even that measure of holiness to which divine grace has raised numbers of their fellow sinners? and what would be the effect of the gospel being thus believed and obeyed all over the earth, but universal piety, humility, justice, temperance, peace, and love? Wars, oppressions, frauds, slavery, licentiousness, and every species of violence and immorality, must cease of course: if the change were effected suddenly, it would still the madness of this turbulent world as entirely, as the Saviour's powerful words, “ Peace, be still,” silenced the stormy winds, and calmed the tempestuous billows: and whenever or by whatever means it shall take place, a state of felicity on earth, not much unlike that of heaven, will be the necessary consequence. For this we are taught by our Lord to pray in the first place, “Hallowed be “thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done in “ earth, as it is in heaven:” and surely, if we would not have our prayers condemned as hypocrisy, we should endeavour to promote this kingdom of our God and Saviour, by all the means in our power.
Contrast then, my christian brethren, the state of the world, as it has been bitherto, especially in heathen countries, with what it would be did our holy religion every where prevail; and while your hearts glow with gratitude for the peculiar blessings which you enjoy, and with fervent desires that the same may be communicated to all nations, and while these des sires are formed into earnest ejaculatory prayers for
the blessed change; you will be prepared for the se. quel of the subject.
II. Then, let us consider the duties in this respect incumbent on us, and enquire how far we have criminally neglected them:
And here it is necessary to be cautious, that we do not, by an indiscriminate statement, both fail of pro. ducing conviction; give occasion to rash and unwar. rantable attempts; and furnish opponents with plausi. ble objections, as if we wanted to induce men, by a disproportionate and romantick zeal in one particular, to disregard all other duties in pursuing the favourite object.
When our Lord said to his apostles, “ Go ye and “ teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the “ Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; “ teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I " have commanded you; and lo, I am with you al" ways, even unto the end of the world;" “ Go ye “ into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every “creature;” and “ that repentance and remission of “ sins should be preached in my name to all nations:" he certainly did not mean, that the apostles and primi. tive evangelists alone should be employed in this ser. vice; for they could only execute their commission for a very few years, and in comparatively a small part of the globe. No doubt therefore he intended, that the churches which they established, and the minis. ters who should afterwards be raised up, from age to age, should not merely stand on the defensive, and indolently keep the ground which had been gained; but should carry on an offensive war against the king
dom of darkness with persevering constancy. And so long as any part of any nation remains unconverted to christianity, the church militant ought, no doubt, to persist in this holy warfare, without indulging sloth, or fearing man, or regarding any secular interest, compared with the enlargement of the Redeemer's kingdom, “ of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” The work is the Lord's, but he carries it on by means and instruments: and it must therefore be our duty to use such means, and to seek for such instruments, as he employs and blesses; in order that, according to the predictions and promises of Scripture, “ Christ may “be a Light to the Gentiles and the Salvation of the “ LORD to the ends of the earth.”
The progress made in this respect during the first century was so great, that had the same holy ardour animated succeeding christians, every part of the world would long since have been evangelized. But alas, that disinterested, courageous, and patient zeal, and that deep compassion for perishing sinners, which actuated the apostles and primitive preachers of the gospel, gradually declined, till it almost expired; and then its feeble exertions were made to promote a cor. rupted gospel by antichristian means. So that it may be doubted, whether, all things considered, the king. dom of the Redeemer, during the course of above 1500 years, has not been contracted rather than extended. All the professed christians, of every name, do not at this day amount to one sixth of mankind; and what sort of christians most of them are is alas well known!
Whether therefore we consider the great ends for which the Son of God came into the world; or his