« PreviousContinue »
against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their hands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." Mankind never feel indifferent towards any person, or object, that counteracts and defeats their desires, designs, or pursuits. No man, therefore, who is not indifferent to his own temporal, or eternal interests, can be indifferent towards the design, which Christ is pursuing, and which will deeply affect his interests both for time and eternity. Every individual of the human race will be just such as Christ's design requires, either rich or poor, either bond or free, either great or small, either high or low, either good or bad, either happy or miserable, through every period of his existence. "Think not," said Christ, "that I am come to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." And Jesus said again, "For judgment I am come into this world, that they who see not, might see; and that they who see, might be made blind." Christ in pursuing his great and benevolent design, bends the characters, the conduct, the conditions, and the interests of the whole world in subserviency to the interests of his own kingdom, and in opposition to the selfish characters, conduct, conditions, and interests of all who are against him. And will any selfish heart be indifferent to such a person, pursu ing such a design? Will not every holy heart be for him, and every unholy heart be against him?
3. Christ, in carrying on his great, comprehensive, and benevolent design, employs all mankind as instruments in promoting it. Christ has all power in heaven and earth, and is able to subdue all things to himself, and to cause every creature and object in this world, to be instrumental, some way or other, in affecting the great design he has constantly in view. He employed the winds and waves in his service. He made a fish furnish him with property. He claimed the right to take
from its owner a colt, to ride in triumph into Jerusa lem. He employed twelve men at first, and seventy more afterwards, to preach the gospel, before his death. And after his resurrection, he commanded and commissioned the apostles and all their regular successors, to preach the gospel to all nations, to the end of the world. And he still employs the hearts and hands and influence of all other men in his service. He governs supremely and absolutely in the moral, as well as in the natural world, and makes his enemies, as well as his friends the active and voluntary agents in doing whatever he sees necessary for them to do, to advance his cause and interest in the world. This was predicted of Christ under the type of Solomon, in the 72d psalm. "He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him, and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall bow down before him; and all nations shall serve him." Men are naturally very unwilling to serve any cause, or promote any interest, which appears hostile to their own. But the cause which Christ is pursuing is totally opposed to all the sinister views and selfish interests of mankind. They cannot, therefore, feel indifferent whether Christ shall succeed or not, in his great design, or whether he shall employ them, in acting for him against themselves. Had the builders of the ark known the design of building it was to prepare the way for their own destruction, they would never have struck a stroke to prepare it for the safety of some and the ruin of themselves. No sinner, who understands the design of Christ in the government of the world, can feel indifferent whether the design shall succeed, or whether he shall be an agent in effecting it. Accordingly, we find, that whenever and wherever Christ visibly succeeds in building up and enlarging his kingdom, none appear indifferent; but all that are not with him are against him; and generally not only feel, but speak
and act against him. Nevertheless, Christ causes them all to promote the very design they hate and mean to oppose. He makes the wrath of man praise him, and the remainder of wrath he always restrains. Christ has made all nations to serve him from the beginning of the world to this day, and will make all nations serve him from this day to the end of the world, whether they are willing or unwilling to serve him. And in the view and belief of this truth, no man is, or can be indifferent to his great design. I may add,
4. None of the inhabitants of the invisible world are indifferent towards the great and interesting design, which Christ has undertaken, and is determined to accomplish. They have all been acquainted with it, and understood the origin, nature, extent, and consequences of it, for nearly six thousand years, though it was not so early, or so generally known in this world. " Unto me," says the apostle, "who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church, the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he proposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." The execution and accomplishment of Christ's eternal purpose will deeply and eternally affect all good and all bad beings in the invisible world. The happiness of the holy, and the misery of the unholy angels will be vastly augmented by the accomplishment of the great work of man's redemption, through the mediation and government of Christ. He has employed, and will employ them all in the great work in which he is engaged. He has employed unholy angels in introducing and spreading sin and misery among all the nations of the earth. And he has employed holy angels in promoting holiness and happiness in the world, and in counteracting and defeating the designs of satan
and wicked men. While the holy angels have been with Christ, and acted with him and for him, and rejoiced in every instance of success and accession to his cause, and in every instance of his victory and triumph over his enemies; the unholy angels have been against him, and endeavoured to scatter abroad and ruin his church and kingdom. All the inhabitants of the invisible world are full of zeal for, and against Christ's design, and will never cease in their opposite and powerful exertions, until it is finally and fully accomplished. While all heaven and hell are not indifferent toward the design of Christ, can it be supposed, that any of mankind should be indifferent towards it, who are infinitely more interested in it, having all their eternal interests suspended upon it? No; far from it. The apostle John tells us, that he saw in vision men, angels and devils, all fiercely engaged in contending for it, and against it. "And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil and satan, who deceiveth the whole world. And I heard a loud voice, saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore, rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them." The great design of Christ is becoming more and more interesting and affecting to the whole intelligent universe, and they are all more and more engaged, either to promote it, or to obstruct it; nor is there a single in-dividual, who understands it, indifferent towards it. He that is not with Christ, is against him and his great and glorious design.
1. If none can be indifferent towards the design which Christ is carrying on, then none have any ground to imagine that they are neuters in religion. It is to be feared, that many, who live under the light of the gospel, wish to persuade themselves, that they are neither friendly nor unfriendly to Christ. They do not desire to profess any love to Christ and his cause; nor, on the other hand, do they desire to appear opposed to him or the design he is pursuing. They mean to be neuters in respect to religion, and neither promote it, nor oppose it. They see some very sensible and respectable persons professing to be with Christ, and to be engaged to promote his cause; and therefore, they wish not to counteract them. And they see some very 'vile and worthless persons openly professing to despise and oppose the cause of Christ, and they choose not to appear as belonging to their class. They endeavour to feel and appear to feel indifferent towards that cause, which some are so much for, and others are so much against. They determine to steer a middle course, and to act a neutral part. They choose to let religion alone, and pay no more regard to it than they find it necessary, in order to pursue their own business to the best advantage. If their character or interest requires them to attend publick worship, they will attend; or if custom requires them to pay an external respect to the sabbath, they will pay that respect; or if circumstances require them to read the bible, or even to pray in their families, they will do these things; or if they think it will be for their profit to support religion, they will support it. They are also resolved never to speak against religion, nor to appear to act against it. Is this a mere imaginary character? Is it not actually exhibited by many, who esteem themselves, and are esteemed very amiable, excellent, valuable persons? Neuters of this character are very numerous, and are willing to be considered as such by others. But though they may really think themselves to be neuters, and