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Preachers of the gospel will be necessary likewise; and as none can understand this business, who have not themselves been taught of God, and qualified by his grace, we have reason to expect, that the spirit will be poured out from on high, and that many will be converted to the faith. The scriptures abound with predictions upon which we may found such an expectation, and in those latter days of the world, there has been a wonderful fulfilment of these predictions. If tares should be found in the field, as doubtless tares will be sown in abundance, while we are warranted in saying, an enemy hath done this, we may add with equal assurance, he that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; and the good seed are the children of the kingdom. Though revivals of religion in general, are by no means to be compared with what took place at the day of pentecost, with respect to the steadfastness, and perseverance, of the
eat body of the subjects, we may see enough unless blinded by prejudice to induce us to say, This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Many new churches have of late been formed, and great accessions have been made to churches established in former years, and though the ages of the persons have been very various, the majority has been made up of the young including both sexes.
A graceless person, however otherwise endowed, is essentially deficient for the business of preaching the gospel; but the person who has grace, needs also information; and when miraculous gifts are not imparted, he must give himself to study, who would be an able instructer. It is necessary therefore, that those young converts who enter into the ministry should receive an education, and something more is requisite than in ordinary cases, for such as go into foreign countries. Of course we may look for an increasing attention to this subject. To supply the world with the Bible, in the many languages which are in use, and to furnish a sufficient number of persons duly prepared to preach it, great expense must be incurred; and for a considerable time at least, it must fall principally on christian nations. For means reliance must be placed upon the liberality of individuals, and the more systematic efforts of charitable associations. Selfish as this world is, since God has said,
the silver is mine, and the gold is mine, we may be sure he can fill his own treasury with the voluntary contributions of various descriptions of people.
But every country hus some kind of government; and before the gospel can be introduced any where, permission must be obtained of those who occupy the highest places of authority. Those that have turned the world upside down are come hither also, is language very natural to be used by heathen rulers towards christian teachers; and such may be the hostility of feeling, that the most prudent human management cannot overcome it. The case however is never to be viewed as hopeless. The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he turneth it whithersoever he will. Thus the greatest reluctance may be subdued; and the most violent opposition brought to nothing, by an overruling influence, altogether consistent with the freedom of moral action.
For this way a great door, and effectual, may be opened to let in God's messengers into the different kingdoms of the earth, even before the kings are themselves converted; for Cyrus issued his proclamation, giving permission to the Jews to return to Jerusalem, and rebuild their temple, though there is no evidence, that he ever renounced idolatry, and became a worshipper of the true God: and Constantine did so much to favor christianity, that his reign forms an era in the history of the church, and yet it remains a doubtful matter whether he was truly a child of God. But if rulers should in any way, and from any consideration be induced to suffer the gospel to be preached among their subjects, the preaching of it would be like casting seed upon a rock, unless the hearts of the people should be prepared by the grace of God to receive it. As God who sent Moses and Aaron to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage, sent them not in vain, but accomplished, through their instrumentality, his gracious and glorious purpose, so we may expect, that he will go every where with those whom he sends to preach his gospel, and crown with success all their sincere endeavors to build up his kingdom.
The fourth thing to be taken notice of is, that the preaching of the gospel is to be a witness unto all nations. We
are therefore to inquire what is the meaning of this expression. Witness, in the first place, will be exhibited against the wickedness of the nations, according to their different circumstances, as to principles, and practices. Concerning this matter we may suppose, that where the gospel does not give information, there is a great degree of insensibility.
The polytheism of the pagan world has been as tenaciously adhered to, as any system of religion, however rational and well founded; but when it comes to be examined in the light of truth, and brought to the test of the gospel, the stupid worshippers of idols will discover, that the object of their worship are vanity and a lie, and, that they that made them are like unto them, and their language will be, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit; shall a man make gods unto himself and they are no gods? It is surely among the things to be wondered at, that the reason of man should ever become so perverted, that visible things, the sun, the moon, and the stars, and even reptiles, and stocks, and stones, should be thought suitable objects of worship; but there can be no doubt of the fact. The language of Isaiah was applicable to his own times, and it is equally applicable now. And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire, yea also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it; and shall I make the res. idue thereof an abomination, shall I fall down to the stock of a tree.
If the worship of false gods consisted only in the prostration of the body, however criminal that might be, the criminality would be far less than it now is, for the sacrifices are to be taken into the account; and these are of the most detestable, and diabolical character; such as the burning of widows upon the funeral pile of their husbands; the drowning, and starving, of infants; and the destruction of a multitude of lives, in various ways; so that the ground is covered to a great extent, with the bo es, or with the bones, of the victims. We must be better acquainted with paganism to enter very minutely into a description of it, but we may
venture to say, that it abounds with flagrant impiety, and immorality, and, that the day is coming when this will be the judgment of all mankind concerning it.
The Mahometans make their prophet their idol, and the Koran their guide; and this system of religion, if it be proper to call such an imposture a system of religion, has been spread far and wide, by its sensual allurements, and by the victorious arms of its propagators. However disposed this description of people may at present be, to call those infidels who differ from them, the gospel bears witness against their wickedness, and there will be a time when they will be sensible of it.
Popery is a species of adulterated christianity, which, as well as Mahometanism, was set up in the beginning of the seventh century, and, like that delusion, it has covered a vast extent of territory, and carried away a multitude of people. Those who have embraced it have for the most part taken it for granted, being kept in ignorance, as the best. method to answer the purpose intended. When this ignorance shall give place to knowledge, and the Bible shall be read understandingly, by the people, Popery will appear in its true character, and with all its deformity,
The wickedness connected with popery may be seen in the Bible; and particularly in the second chapter of St. Paul's second epistle to the Thessalonians, from which I give you the following extract; Let no man deceive you by no means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth, and exalteth, himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. This Man of sin, this son of perdition, is not an individual, but the Pope, whoever he may be, or Popery, with all the falsehoods, and iniquities, which it embraces. If the papists worship the virgin Mary, they do what the wise men of the east never thought of doing, and if they go to the Pope for the pardon of their sins, this is a question which they have either never seen, or never duly considered, Who can forgive sins but God only.
The descendants of God's ancient people Jews and Israelites are so widely dispersed that perhaps there is scarcely a country upon earth which does not contain some of them; and differing from all other people, their sins are of a peculiar cast. You only have I known of all the families of the earth, says God by the prophet Amos, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. The history of this people we have from their first appearance until their final and complete dispersion; and we can see what blessings were bestowed upon them, and how they insulted and abused the Giver of them all.
They were delivered from the bondage of Egypt, guided, and guarded, through the wilderness, and established in the land of promise, where they had a goodly heritage. The miracles which were wrought in their behalf are too well recollected to require a particular recital. The Theocracy which was their first form of government, was a government administered by God; and such as no other people ever lived under; and when they rejected him, and clamorously demanded a king, that they might be like other nations, they were placed under a kingly government and prospered whenever they were in any measure obedient. God distinguished them by bestowing upon them a written revelation, and by sending his servants the prophets to in-struct them. This revelation they corrupted by mingling with it their own traditions, and these prophets they persecuted, and killed. In the fulness of time the Son of God appeared himself in the world, and came to this people, who on account of their covenant standing, 'might be called his own; but because he did not answer their expectations of the Messiah, because he did not ascend the throne of David, and wield the sceptre, setting them at liberty from the Roman yoke, and rendering them victorious over all their temporal enemies, they could see no form, nor comeliness, in him, but rejected him; procured his condemnation, and nailed him to the cross.
For all these acts of wickedness, and especially for the last, which crov ed the whole, they have been for many ages in a state of rejection; and what is the greatest of their evils, they have been ignorant of the cause. The preach