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which they derived from the teaching of his Spirit, made the presence of God among them no less manifest to the world, than when Christ had been with them in the body... But now, when the last Apostle was on the point of being called to his Lord, Christianity seemed completely to be launched upon the ocean of the world, to struggle against all the storms which might assail it. In that full sense in which Christ had foretold it, he was now to be manifested only to those who loved him; for the rest, neither sign nor wonder, nor teaching of infallible truth and unalloyed wisdom, would be granted to them any more. Behold us here, then, still in this state in which the Church of Christ for more than seventeen centuries and a half has been striving,-still seeing no sign from heaven, still vainly seeking amidst our difficulties and doubts for any living voice of infallible wisdom-yet still with heaven and hell close beside us every hour,--still the servants of Christ, whether we choose to follow him or no, and reserved to stand, whether living or dead, before his judgment-seat at his coming
Let us listen then, and bear ever with us in our inmost hearts the last words spoken by
our Lord, when he committed his Church to its season of trial : “ The time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Observe he says, the “ time is at hand,” and “I come quickly," although in the preceding prophecy the course of trials to which the Church would be exposed, is described as running through a long succession of ages. Undoubtedly to every reader of these words, in every age, the time is at hand, and his Lord is coming quicklyhis own time of watching, of trial, and of temptation, is passing away with every hour; and the longer we live, the shorter seems the period which we have lived through, and the space between our life and our death seems continually a more insignificant point in the midst of eternity. The use of the consideration of Christ's coming speedily, is to encourage the patient, and to give a timely warning to the careless; and for this purpose the speediness of our own departure from this world is the same as if the world itself were within
a few years to perish. But the more literal sense of the words of the text seems to imply that the end of the world was near at hand, when compared with the period that had elapsed since its first creation. Whether this be so or not, is certainly far beyond the reach of human foresight: but the exceeding rapidity with which society has been moving forwards in the last three centuries, seems to show that man's work of replenishing the earth must, in the common course of things, be accomplished before much more than two thousand years from the time of Christ's first coming shall have passed away.
But leaving this, let us consider the words left us for our instruction during the time that Christ is absent from us, be that time of greater or of less duration. “He that is
“ unjust, let him be unjust still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still.” Every year that we live, these words seem to me to acquire a more awful meaning. When we see iniquity abounding and faith waxing cold, when we see the most monstrous doctrines of ungodliness and wickedness uttered boldly in the very face of heaven,,we are apt to be surprised and somewhat disappointed that God does not at once assert his majesty, and that vengeance does not yet burst forth upon those who seem to delight in braving it. It is the impatient spirit with which the servants in the parable wanted at once to go and gather up the tares which the enemy had mingled with the good seed. But the answer given by their lord is substantially the same with the words of the text : “Let both grow together until the harvest." “ He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still.” God will not interfere with any show of his almighty power, either to convert the one, or to encourage the other. Once he has declared himself, and given to the world visible signs of his interference; but he does so now no
Since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the world; wickedness often prospers, and goodness is often oppressed: it seems as though God had left them both to stand or fall by their own efforts; and the only reason to make a man follow either good or evil, is because he loves the one in his heart, and hates the other. He that loves evil may go on unchecked and unterrified; he who loves good must love it for itself, or must follow it by faith in what he hopes will be
hereafter, though he can see no signs of it at present.
It cannot be too often repeated,—and never was the lesson more needed than at this hour,—that it is nothing but a thorough love of righteousness and goodness that can, with the blessing of God, keep our faith alive. To a good man, the evidence of the Gospel is abundantly satisfactory; to a bad man, it seems to have no force at all.
Unless our principles support our faith, our faith will not long uphold our principles. In times of outward
such as those which we have long experienced, nothing is more common than to see men of unholy lives, and with no real love of goodness, not only loud in the profession, but undisturbed in the belief of Christianity. Attacks upon their faith do not come in their way, or if they do, they are made only by a small and inconsiderable party, and are urged weakly and ignorantly. In this state of things, the defenders of Christianity have the public voice on their side; their arguments are applauded, and their victory is really complete; for it is gained over adversaries whose blows have been struck timidly and blindly, who have fought under the disadvantage of having the general