« PreviousContinue »
ing of the gospel among them is to be a witness to them, and so convincing will it be, by the accompanying grace of God, that the whole nation will mourn as Peter did when he went out and wept bitterly.
If the preaching of the gospel is to be a witness to all nations, doubtless it is to be, among the rest to the christian nations, and that on account of the wickedness which belongs to them. It is certainly a rule of equity, that much should be required of those, to whom much has been committed. It would be a long labor to make out a list of the
a sins with which christian nations stand chargeable. Our present enumeration will extend only to a few particulars.
Let us begin with false doctrines. Those only who embrace false doctrines will doubt of their existence, and of their circulation, for every thing must be false which will not compare with the standard of the scriptures.
There are those who pretend to believe in Universal salvation; and there are those who undertake to preach it from the Bible, taking insulated, and multilated passages, and putting upon them a forced construction. The first text which was used to inculcate this doctrine was, Thou shalt not surely die; and the first preacher who used it for this purpose was satan, lurking in the serpent; and with so much subtilty, and dexterity, did he manage, that he seduced our original mother, and brought ruin upon the world. The origin of this doctrine is sufficient of itself to render it, at least, suspected; for can it be supposed, that the father of lies would ever speak the truth; and especially, when endeavoring to accomplish an object so consonant with his own vicious and malicious propensities? We may add, that if this doctrine be true, revelation is unnecessary, for if all are to be saved, salvation is made certain to all, and revelation has nothing to do with it. We may add also, that if this doctrine be true, the Bible is full of contradictions, for it contains a multitude of passages so plain, and so decidedly against it, that the most ingenious sophistry, when it undertakes to explain them, like the counsel of Ahithophel, is turned unto foolishness.
We may mention also among false doctrines that whicii, differing in name more than in character, from the doctrine which we have now been considering, is sometimes called Unitarianism; sometimes Liberal christianity; and sometimes Fashionable religion. These names will not be objected to, because they are used to designate this doctrine by those who think favorably of it. As I have heard many say they do not understand this doctrine; and as I have had considerable opportunity, from books, and from conversation to become acquainted with it myself, I will attempt to make a brief statement of it.
Though there are some shades of difference, there is nothing essentially different, among those who embrace this doctrine; for they do not any of them acknowledge, that it is proper to honor the Son even as we ought all to honor the Father; nor do they believe in human depravity, as universal, and total; nor do they hold the doctrine of regeneration; nor do they admit that justification comes by faith; nor do they say any thing about religious experience, or what amounts to, taste, and see that the Lord is good, nor do they seem to be sensible, that there is any great difference in the conditions of men in the eternal world. If this is a fair representation, and I say, without any hesitation, that it is, more especially at the present time, must not this be false doctrine, and must it not be wicked to adopt it!
Observe what St. Peter has said about it in the second chapter of his second epistle. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies; even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. What are these damnable heresies which bring swift destruction? The apostle has not employed modern names, but he has written in language most definite, and descriptive, for they who deny the Lord that bought them, are the very persons who deny all the things which have been mentioned.
Other false doctrines must be past by for want of time to take notice of them. We shall now proceed to other matters.
Christian nations ought to have christian rulers; and such they may have when they choose for themselves, and when such rulers can be obtained. Though I admit that every christian is not fit to be a ruler, I maintain that neither is every infidel fit, if the same disqualifications be regarded in both; and that the preference should not be given to infidels when christians can be obtained equally well qualified, or at least, sufficiently well qualified, for the station contemplated.
We may imagine that there is a christian land, in which there are many candidates for the same civil office, and that a very important one; and, that when one of these candidates is singled out, as having a prominent claim to promotion, it is said, to distinguish him in a moral point of view from the rest, that his hands had never been stained with the blood of a fellow creature, slain in single combat. Whether it can be said, when a people are brought into such a dilemma, that they are aware of the difference between faith and unbelief, and are seeking for such men to rule over them as they ought to appoint, can hardly be made a question; for it is expressly commanded in the seventeenth chapter of Deuteronomy to the people of Israel, and of course to all other people, Thou shalt in any wise set him over thee whom the Lord thy God shall choose.
That such a blot as this is upon the character of the christian world, even where that character is the fairest, is too well known to require proof.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men, is an injunction binding, not only upon individuals, but upon nations likewise, and of course, all offensive war is strictly prohibited, and all war which is not absolutely unavoidable. Yet war has been a trade, in all ages of the world; and christian nations have had their share in it, and still keep their weapons of death, not for curiosity, but for use; and though they execute upon the gallows the individual who murders another individual, they call it a glorious achievement to obtain a victory, and to cover the field of battle with the slain. If malice prepense constitute murder in a man, why not in a nation? Whatever may be thought of the persons who compose the army of the victor,
or of the vanquished, the deeds of the nation are to be judged of by national motives.
God made the beasts to do our drudgery and placed us over them for this purpose; but he has not permitted one man to make a beast of burden of another, and to dispose of him as he might of lands, and chattels. Christian nations however, not satisfied with lawful commerce, make merchandise of men, and the number of those degraded beings who have been bought and sold, since this business was begun, is too great for any one to tell what is the amount of it.
In vain is it to plead the permission which the Israelites had to buy the heathen, and hold them as slaves, for we must show our permission to do the same thing, before the same thing will be lawful for us. An exception to the law does not destroy the general obligation of the law.
The things which have been mentioned will serve as specimens of the wickedness of different nations; and against those things, and against all wickedness, the preaching of, the gospel will be a witness.
The preaching of the gospel is to be, secondly, a witness to all nations, of God's purpose of grace, and love, to the world, in the gift of his Son. So much time has been taken up in the consideration of the preceding article, that this must be briefly discussed.
This witness will be given among other things in that glorious agreement which there will appear to be between the different inspired writers, and between all the parts of that revelation which is contained in the Bible. Then the language of David will be the language of mankind, Thy Word is true from the beginning. It is indeed a wonderful affair, that so many men; in so many ages; in so many places; in such different circumstances; and with such different mental cultivation, should be so harmonious; pointing to the same thing; and handling the same subject in such a manner, that though we want what they have all written for instruction, yet we may learn from almost, if not quite, any one, what is essential to salvation. The ancient dispensation was comparatively dark, but sufficiently luminous,, for God's people lived, and died, under it; and types, and
shadows, answered well their purpose. These types, and shadows pointed to Christ, and so did what the prophets wrote, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
The four evangelists who have written the history of our Savior's life, are so agreed, that no candid reader finds any thing to object to, and yet the history contains abundant proof, that there was no consultation between them in writing it. The epistles to the churches are not made up of discordant sentiments, but inculcate the same things, and and breathe the same spirit. No one who is sensible of this harmony, will attempt to account for it upon any common principles.
This witness will farther be seen when it shall be seen that God has, exactly fulfilling every prediction, actually founded Zion, that he has set up a kingdom which may be called a kingdom of righteousness, and his own kingdom, in the world. The church is, by the great body of mankind, considered as a society formed for secular, and sinister purposes, regarded with hatred, and scorn, and judged of by the most scandalous conduct of its most scandalous members. We expect the time to come when more candour will be exercised.
It will be seen hereafter and acknowledged, that civilization, and the arts, and the comforts of civilized life, are to be numbered among the fruits of christianity. It will be seen and acknowledged that christianity has done away the ferocity of the savage, that it has cured the knave of his dishonesty; that it has brought the debauchee to sobriety, and temperance; that it has terminated the feuds of the contentious; and made the advocate for war to seek the things which make for peace: and in fine that such a change has been effected by its influence in the affairs of men, that it ought not to be considered as the language of exaggeration to say, there are new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
But as he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself, so when the gospel shall be preached in such a manner as to be a witness to all nations, all who receive it, will find the witness in the altered state of their own minds, and hearts, and lives. They will find it true