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Şect.V. much anxiety and wretchedness might
b e relieved, much despair and suicide might be prevented among us of this land, if the members of our church would but follow her direction, and as often as their minds were oppressed, and they could not quiet their own consciences, go “ to some discreet and “ learned minister of God's word, and “ open their grief, that they might re“ ceive the benefit of absolution, to"gether with ghostly counsel and ad66 vice.”
The wisdom and goodness of God are seen in his manner of proportioning his aids to the exigences of his people, and raising up reformers, when religion most needs their help, to revive the true spirit of it among men. If we view the state of things in Judea at two different periods, we shall soon perceive how seasonably Elijah was sent at one time, and John the Baptist, that fecond Elijah, at another. Each was an aera of distinguished corruption, but corruption of a different species. During the former, idolatry was the fashionable error, which had found it's way into the
court, court, and overspread the face of the Secr.v. church. The characteristics of the lat-m ter were, on the one hand, a pharisaical hypocrisy, a boast of moral rectitude, which existed only in theory, and a vain confidence in a law which nobody observed ; on the other, a Sadducean infidelity, opposed to the national faith and hope, denying a resurrection, and future state of retribution. Elijah reclaimed the people from the worship of Baal to that of the true God; John, called his hearers from unbelief, hypocrisy, and vice, to faith and holiness.
An ambassador of heaven, sent to preach truth to those who are captivated by error, and righteousness to those who are enamoured of fin, will never proceed far in the discharge of his trust, unless he be endued with a fervent zeal for the cause and the honour of him that sent him. Every holy person is not blessed with a spirit, any more than he is invested with a commission, to appear in a public capacity, to reprove rulers and kings, to look an angry world in the face, and overcome all the opposition it can raise against him. Zeal,
Sect.V. without holiness to support it, like a
meteor, will blaze and expire. Zeal, without knowlege to limit and direct it, will waste and destroy, like the element from the effect of which it takes it's name, when that has burst it's bounds, and rules where it ought to be in subjection. But when knowlege and holiness are first obtained, it is zeal which must quicken and diffuse them, as the sun doth light and heat, for the benefit of the universe. « Then stood “ up Elias the prophet as fire,” faith the son of Sirach, “ and his word burnt “ like a lampa.” And our Lord, speaking of the Baptist, gives this account of him, “ He was a burning and a “ shining light b.” His zeal was tempered with knowlege, for it gave light ; and his knowlege was actuated by zeal, for it was burning as well as fhining. His sermons came warm from the heart of the speaker, and therefore found their way to that of the hearer, which was inflamed by them with the love, as
a Ecclef. xlviii. 1.
John v. 35.
his understanding was enlightened with Sect.V. the knowlege of heavenly things.
Let us view and compare together the zeal of Elijah, exerted before idolatrous Ifrael afsembled at mount Carmel, and that displayed by St. John, when he saw the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism. . · For the sins of the people, and the iniquities of the prince, in the days of Elijab, heaven was closed over their heads, the blessings of rain and dew were withheld till the divine author of them should be again acknowleged, and famine stalked through the land, preaching repentance as she went. Ifrael felt the wound, but owned not the hand that inflicted it. The Almighty had constituted the prophet his vicegerent, and enjoined the elements to second him in the work of reformation. Abab and his subjects, instead of consulting Elijah about the removal of their calamities, regarded him as the occasion of them, and the sole « troubler of Israel.” At the command of God, he presents himself before the king, and tells him a See i Kings xvii, & xviii."
Secr.V. plainly, “ Thou art the man.” Ifrael is
convened at mount Carmel, and reproved.