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ious children of Ham were the first corrupters of all nations of the earth, who had been educated in the true religion. Shem and Japheth were the most numerous, and best instructed branches of Noah's family, who had every advantage to maintain and preserve the true religion in the world, and had they been as zealous to promote it as Nimrod and his followers were to corrupt it, they would have preserved and handed it down, through all nations until the days of Abraham, and the time of Moses, when a written revelation was given. So that the name of heathens would never have been known in the world. But all men, like the Jews, were bent to backsliding, and loved error better than truth, and a false religion better than that revealed from heaven. The same love to errors and delusions still reigns in the hearts of both the heathen and christian world, which renders it so extremely difficult to maintain true religion where it is known and professed, and to carry and establish it where it is not known. All the nations from Adam to this day, have always had opportunities of knowing God and the way to eternal life, if they had only loved light more than darkness, and truth more than error and falsehood respecting divine and eternal things. To this cause Christ ascribed the spiritual blindness and ignorance of mankind. By their feelings and conduct towards the gospel, they are every where proving the truth of that religion, which they either deny or reject. They act out that depravity on which the gospel is founded, and which the gospel is designed to remove, and thereby demonstrate the necessity of divine revelation.
5. It is a strong evidence in favour of the religion epntained in the bible, that it has been so long preserv
ed in the world, notwithstanding all mankind could do to destroy it. Every nation united their exertions against it, all the while it was preserved by tradition, which was till the days of Moses, when God planted his church in Judea, in the midst of the nations, who viewed it as a speckled bird, and flocked around it to destroy it, until the christian church was erected; and ever since that day, Jews and Gentiles have been combined against it. But though the flames of persecution, from age to age, and from time to time, have been kindled around it and threatened to destroy it, yet it has never been consumed. It still lives, and flourishes, and spreads. This is the Lord's doing, and ought to be marvellous in our eyes. For it is a visible evidence, that it came at first from God, and has been preserved by his constant care and powerful protection. The friends of Zion have always had occasion to say to God as David did; “ If it had not been the Lord who
! was on our side, when men rose up against us : then had they swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us : then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.” Though other religions have been devised and propagated, by the power of the sword and arm of government; yet they have died one after another ; but the christian religion has lived, and spread, and triumphed over all opposition ; which cannot be accounted for by mere human means. It bears the stamp of a divine signature, and carries its own internal evidence with it to the understandings, and consciences, and hearts of all, who have candidly and impartially considered it. It is out of the power of learning, and reason, and criticism to raise a solid objection against it.
6. We learn from what has been said, the deploraable state, in which mankind in general have been involved for ages, and are still involved. A part of Europe, all Asia and Africa, and part of North and South America, are still sitting in the region and shadow of death, and perishing for the want of the gospel. About two thirds of the whole human race are now involved, either in the darkness of Paganism, Mahomedism, Judaism, or Popery, and destitute of a part, or the whole of the bible. None of them have the free use of the New Testament, which plainly contains the gospel of divine grace, which is able to make men wise unto salvation. Though some in some of these nations have well cultivated minds and a large share of human knowledge ; yet they either know not God, or have false conceptions of his nature, perfections, and designs. They have no conceptions, or false conceptions of the way of finding favor with God and securing the salvation of their souls, which are infinitely precious. Though they feel pleased with their religious errors and delusions, and fondly hope they will secure their happiness in a future state, if there be such a state ; and though they are without excuse for their moral blindness, ignorance, and prejudices ; yet they are to be pitied; for they are undoubtedly yet the nations that forget God, and must be cast off and perish, unless the gospel shall be carried to them, and they cordially embrace it. It is indeed, a dark mystery, , that God has suffered them so long to walk in their own way, without using such effectual means to enlighten and save them, as he always has had power to
use. But we have good reason to believe, that he will yet bring light out of their darkness, holiness out of their blindness, and happiness out of their misery.
7. This subject shows the great reason that christians have to expect, desire and pray for a better state of things in the world. They know that God has promised to give the Gentiles, as well as the Jews to Christ, for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession. They have reason to expect, therefore, that God will fulfil his promises to his Son, and bring all nations into cordial subjection to him. They have the same reason to desire, as to expect, that Christ will reign from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. For there is nothing but his reign or the prevalence of his religion, that can remove the natural and moral evils, which abound, depress and destroy the great majority of the human
Neither civilization, nor learning nor the arts of living, can meliorate the moral state of the world. These means have been tried in the most enlightened and refined parts of Europe and America, and failed of success. As nations have increased in these things, so they have sinned. Tyranny and oppression, wars and bloodshed, have prevailed as much in civilized, as in uncivilized nations, and produced as great natural and moralevils. Nothing but the pure gospelof Christ, has been an effectual remedy to reform, purify, and save any of the children of men. But so far as the gospel has had its genuine influence upon the hearts of men, it has never failed to transform them into the moral image of God, and prepared them to promote peace, liberty, holiness and happiness, to the extent of their power. There is reason to expect that the gospel will sooner
or later spread over all the earth, remove all tyranny and and oppression, idolatry and delusions, and every species of vice and immorality, and cause this dark, depraved world to become holy, peaceful and happy. And is not this as much to be desired, as expected ? And if to be desired and expected, is it not to be prayed for ? Christ has taught all his disciples to pray for it daily, by sincerely praying to his Father, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." But what will expectations, desires and prayers do, without correspondent exertions ? All christians in every part of the world ought to exert themselves, to promote the melioration of the natural, evil, and religious state of the ignorant, and deluded, and miserable nations, with whom they are surrounded and connected.
Our free, civilized, and gospelized nation has unhappily and sinfully been connected with the nations of Africa. We have in violation of every humane and religious principle, traded in the souls of men, bought thousands and thousands of Africans, brought them from their native country to this, and here subjected them to the hardest labor, the meanest drudgery, and most absolute slavery. Their sighs and groans have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and cried for mercy and deliverance to themselves, if not for vengeance on their oppressors. Though none of us, perhaps, have been personally concerned in this great iniquity, yet our nation has been and is concerned in it.--We cannot excuse ourselves, if we do not openly disapprove of it, condemn it, and use all proper means to put an end to it. A scheme has been devised and a **society formed, gradually to emancipate those who