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ced the loving kindness of the Lord. These are among the good things. What things must be set down as evil?
Because of swearing the land mourneth. Profane language is not the language of the sailor and of the soldier only; the privilege of using it is claimed equally, by the gentleman; and sometimes by his lady; and sometimes by the professor of christianity. Laws are enacted to prevent swearing, by the punishment of the swearer. Will laws ever be necessary to punish men for sweeping chimneys; or for daubing themselves with the mire, and uncleanness of the streets?
Intemperance is a crying sin, of which as a nation, we are guilty. If the tax gatherers could gather up all that is unnecessarily, spent, for the purchase of intoxicating liquor, all the demands of the government would be satisfied, and there would be much of the people's money in the treasury. Though this is a place, not noted for tippling practices, there is, probably, enough sold here, of various kinds of liquor, beyond what is useful, to amount to more than three times the compensation which I receive from the town.
The profanation of the Sabbath is a matter which deserves serious consideration. Though there are laws to prevent it, it is not prevented. To pass by other things, the mail is carried upon the Sabbath, not only with the countenance, but by the order of the government; and the stages are filled with passengers, who in riding follow their own dictates. Whether any thing of this is necessary in war, is at least very questionable; and, that it is not necessary in peace, is too apparent, to allow of a dispute. When piety takes the lead in our councils, proper regulations will be adopted. If the ordinary occupations of life can be suspended upon the sabbath, all communications respecting them, might be suspended likewise.
Duelling is another sin very common among us, and of which we have lately, had a peculiarly awful instance. Either the laws with regard to this enormity are deficient in their penalties; or the execution of them is dispensed with, from motives of false delicacy, and of false honor. If killing is murder when the act of killing is a premeditated act, ought not the duelist to be pursued as the murderer is, by
the officers of justice, and brought to the same disgraceful execution? How many lives would be saved were such a course to be adopted? The day may come when from motives of the purest benevolence, such a remedy may be prescribed for an evil, incurable by common means.
That slavery should exist in a land of freedom, and, that the slave trade should be carried on as it is, against the most positive prohibitions, calls for our humiliation. The national character is not sufficiently conformed to the principles, and spirit, of the religion of Christ, or such inhumanity could not be practised for thus runs the precept given to regulate our conduct one with another, Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them. There is no one who would be willing to be a slave and to be sold, and treated like the cattle.
To come home to our own affairs my brethren, how is it with us? We have shared in national blessings. Have we thankfully received them, and faithfully improved them? Is it not the observation of every one among us, who makes any serious observation, that it is, and long has been, a time of great stupidity with us? He cannot be thankful for any favor, who is not thankful for the unspeakable gift, for he cannot have a sense of obligation for a small favor; who has none for a great one. The work of God is going on in many places, and the kingdom of heaven has come nigh unto us. How are we affected by the prospect? In a time of distressing drought, when every green thing is withered, we anxiously watch the rise, and motion, of the clouds; and when we see the rain descending upon the territory of some neighboring people, we long to partake with them in the blessing of the shower. Are showers of grace of less consequence than showers of rain? May God grant us both; according as he shall see us to need.
MATTHEW xxiv, 14.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
WE can easily find what gives rise to that discourse of our Savior of which these words are a part, if we look back, and see how this chapter begins. And Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? This question of the disciples, and the predictions consequent upon it, of which St. Matthew gives us an account, are in substance recorded also by two other evangelists, St. Mark and St. Luke.
It is supposed by some, that the disciples meant by the end of the world, the termination of that dispensation; though the Greek is literally rendered in our translation, and though their ideas, if they had any, must have been very obscure concerning any dispensation different from the one under which they had lived. It is supposed by others, that the Jews, in general, and the disciples, because they were Jews, entertained an opinion, that the destruction of the temple, and the destruction of the world, would take place
at the same time, so durable the materials, and so firm the construction of the temple, appeared to them to be. If they could indulge such an opinion, their pride must account for it, for they knew that Solomon's temple had been destroyed. Upon this supposition however, their question must have a two fold reference, and it is apparent, that the answer of Christ to it, relates to two events, somewhat similar in their nature, but quite distant each from the other, in their accomplishment.
From the following passage we should not suppose, that he was speaking, at all, of the end of the world, but only of occurrences soon to be witnessed. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled. From this passage we may learn his primary meaning. But the transition was so easy, and natural, from the awful destruction of Jerusalem, and the Jewish community, to the dissolution of the world, that both are brought into view in the same discourse. For proof of this, what follows is thought to be sufficient. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light: And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds, with great power and glory: And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect, from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
To understand this subject the different accounts should be compared. It is attested beyond all dispute, that the gospel was preached throughout the Roman empire, and in every part of the world known at that time, before Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Jewish community broken up, and scattered. Thus the prophecy was accomplished, in one sense, almost eighteen hundred years ago; though not in the most important and extensive sense. With respect to its ultimate reference, it is not yet fulfilled, but looks to a future day for its complete accomplishment. My intention in taking up this passage is to endeavor to explain it, in its several parts, giving it that interpretation in which we ourselves are most interested, and considering the end here spoken of to be the end,
not of the Jewish community, but the end of human affairs, the end of the world.
What we are to take notice of, in the first place, is the gospel, which is here mentioned. We ordinarily, understand, by the gospel that history which the four evangelists have given us of the life of Jesus Christ. But the gospel was preached to Abraham, and of course it is far more ancient than the evangelical history; for that was not written until long after Abraham was dead. The import of the term gospel is good tidings, or glad tidings.
The expression which our Savior uses in the text is, This gospel. We know that this, and that, are very significant terms, and point out things either essentially, or circumstantially, different. St. Paul, writing to the Galatians, says, I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel; which is not another. Gospel was the name which had been given to that collection of doctrines which the false teachers had inculcated among the Galatian brethren, but it was a very different thing from the gospel which Paul had preached; and being deficient, in every particular, it was altogether undeserving of the same name. What good tidings, what tidings adapted to gladden the heart, can we find in that gospel of which the apostle speaks in such strong language of reprobation? The gospel which he preached himself will bear the closest examination; and the more we examine it the more sensible shall we be, that every thing contained in the name belongs to the system of doctrines with which it is connected.
There must be a God and that revelation which exhibits him in his true character, deserves to be called the gospel; because the knowledge of God is of all things the most important, and delightful. The gods of the heathen are vanity and a lie; and a mutilated character of the true God, that is a character which does not embrace all his attributes in one perfect assemblage, is no better. In what is said of God in the gospel with which we are favored, there is neither deficiency, nor redundancy; but every thing is as it should be; and if we understand it, we shall rejoice, and be disposed to say, Lo this is our God, we have waited for him!