« AnteriorContinuar »
kingdom and tongue and people. All these signs of the universal prevalence of Christianity we have seen; or if we look abroad through the world, we may now see. We have therefore every reason to expect, that the time is not very remote ; when the DOMINION of the Redeemer shall be extended FROM SEA TO SEA, AND FROM THE RIVER TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH-WHEN THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION SHALL PREVAIL THROUGH THE WHOLE WORLD, AND HAVE A GENERAL INFLUENCE ON THE CHARACTER AND CONDITION OF ALL
Our subject, my hearers, thus considered, furnishes lessons of warning, of consolation, of duty—of warning for the wicked, of consolation for the righteous, of duty for all. With a view to this division, and by way of im . provement, we observe ;
First ; Since Christianity is designed universally to prevail and triumph over all opposition; the wicked, who directly or indirectly resist its influence and oppose its progress, must either repent, lay down the weapons of their warfare, and voluntarily submit to the dominion of Christ ; or be destroyed. Certain it is, that they will not succeed in their wicked attempts. They cannot undermine the church of Christ; for it is founded on a rock. They cannot scale the walls of Zion; for they reach to heaven. They cannot pull down the Christian edifice; for it is a building of God, made of imperishable materials, erected and supported by an omnipotent hand.
The fate of all who have preceded in this work of opposition to the gospel, strengthens this solemn admoni. tion. The church, the spiritual kingdom, the pure religion of Christ has had its enemies from the beginning -enemies without and enemies within. It has been
openly attacked by the weapons of infidelity, and secretly assailed by the subtle and intriguing arts of hypocrisy. It has been smitten in the dwellings of its acknowledged foes, and wounded in the house of its pretended friends. In different ways it has been opposed by all the violence of unholy passions and all the policy of unsanctified reason. But what have all these efforts availed? What have the enemies of the Lord accomplished ? What are the fruits of their labor ? Nothing, but their own misery-nothing, but bewildering uncertainty and fearful apprehensions in this world, and in that, which is to come, “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power.”* In spite of all opposition, whether from the scribes and pharisees of old, or open enemies oflatertimes—whether from Judas, its first false professor, or hypocrites and apostates in succeeding genera. tions, Christianity has remained; while its enemies have risen in succession, labored in vain, died in despair and gone to their “own place.” If our doctrine be true; the same, or a worse, doom awaits those, who continue to followtheir example. For the higher the Sun of righteousness rises above the horizon, and the clearer and more ex. tensively the light of the gospel shines; the greater will be the guilt, and the more severe the condemnation, of those, who obstinately close their eyes and walk in darkness. What then are the enemies of the cross--the
opposers of the benign spirit of Christianity-the infidel, the hypocrite, the scoffer, the wicked of every description—what are they doing?
-Contending against Omnipotence! Working out their own destruction! “Treasuring up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath!”-Oh, the folly and madness of the impious man!
• 2 Thes. i. 9.
How fruitless are his labors; how vain his expectations, how wretched his end! We observe,
Secondly, Since Christianity is designed to prevail through the whole world; and since the time of its rapid progress and final triumph is probably near at hand, Christians have reason to rejoice. Our subject is certainly calculated to afford consolation and joy to all true believers, even in this season of trials, this time of darkness, this age of wonders. For although we have reason to expect, that still greater tribulations, than those, which have already come upon the world, will yet precede the universal reign of the Prince of peace; and that a still more extensive destruction of the wicked, than that, which is now produced by the desolating sword, will yet be made, to prepare the way for this mild reign of peace and righteousness; although we cannot doubt, that the removal of all obstructions to the pure and perfect influ. ence of the gospel will be attended with mighty revolutions and terrible devastations ;--- although we know in. deed, that those, who continue to oppose the truth, and harden themselves against correction—who tread under foot the Son of God, count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and do despite to the Spirit of grace*. who pervert the evidences, ridicule the doctrines, and disregard the precepts, of the gospel of Christ-who remain incorrigible at the period of his final triumph and universal reign-who cannot be made willing and obedient subjects of his government, even in the day of his great power--that these and all, who have gone before them in rebellion against his authority, will be bound in everlasting chains, and with the angels, who kept not their first estate, reserved under darkness unto the judg
• Heb, x, 29.
ment of the great day :*— Yet, when we take into view the subsequent peace, righteousness, and felicity, which will fill the earth-when we consider the multitude, the incalculable multitude, of all nations, kindreds, and tongues, who will then be redeemed from the power and condemnation of sin-when, in a word, we contrast the present condition of the world with what it will probably then be ; and compare the present small number of even professed Christians with the thousands of thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand, who will then rise in succession and occupy the boundless mansions of joy, which infinite love hath prepared ;-when we connect this bright prospect of divine glory, of redeeming love, of human felicity, with the limited clouds and dark spots, which intervene, the view becomes transporting ; and forgetting the partial evil, we rejoice with joy unspeakable in the universal good.—Who indeed can forbear to rejoice, while contemplating the approaching change even in the temporal condition of mankind ? Consider for a moment the cruel rites, the licentious precepts, and gloomy prospects, of Pagan superstition—the corrupt, sensual, and debasing, influence of Mahumedan imposturethe contracted, envious, and proud, spirit of Jewish bigotry--we may add, the cold, formal, unmeaning worship, and selfish morality, of perverted Christianity, of nominal Christians, of those, who feel and act, like heathens, in a Christian land ;-consider these things with the complicated misery, which they produce in the world; and then say, is not that change in the condition of mankind desirable, which will be effected by a universal propagation of the gospel, and a general prevalence of its pure, peacea. ble, humble and benevolent spirit ?-then say, must it
• Jude 6.
not be a source of consolation and joy to Christians, that the happy time is fast approaching, when “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord”*—when" at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”+—when Christian love shall dwell in every heart, and become the governing principle of human conduct ? - But what are all these temporal effects of the predicted change in the religious state of mankind, in comparison with its everlasting consequences
in comparison with the redemption of immortal souls-in comparison with the joy in heaven, which will result from the immense accession to the multitude of the heavenly hosts—in comparison with the glory and felicity of the redeemed, who will daily ascend in crowds from earth to heaven-whose increasing numbers through successive generations none can estimate—who (if we may be indulged in one probable conjecture) will finally so extensively replenish the regions of light and felicity, as to render the place of darkness and despair comparatively, as a speck in creation, and hell itself (to borrow a similitude) as the mere prison-house of the universe! This leads us to observe,
Thirdly, Since Christianity is designed to become the religion of the whole world, and have a general influence on the character and condition of all mankind; and since ordinary means will not be omitted in producing this predicted change, it is the duty of all, who have opportunity and ability, to become workers together in this divine employment. I say of all, though I know, that all do not feel and will not acknowledge the obligation. The infidel and the merely nominal Christian must experience