Page images
PDF
EPUB

himself, that he inspired the prophets and apostles to write his predictions of future events. Miracles and predictions are the two fundamental supports of divine revelation. Were all other sources of evidence removed, these are alone sufficient to justify all who read the bible to believe that it came from God, and could not come from any other being in the universe.

5. It appears from what has been said, that the criminality of unbelief, has been continually increasing from Adam to this day. Though Adam was a believer in divine revelation; yet it seems that Cain was not. Though the patriarchs were believers; yet the great mass of mankind were unbelievers from Cain to Abraham. Though some of the seed of Abraham were believers till the coming of Christ, yet the rest of the world, and most of Abraham's descendants were unbelievers. Though there have been many individuals since Christ's day, who have been believers; yet the great majority of mankind still remain unbelievers. And the present unbelievers are of all others, the most inexcusable and, criminal for their speculative, and ex- · perimental unbelief. For they are acquainted with the predictions recorded in the bible, many of which have been signally fulfilled; and are now visibly fulfilling. A full blaze of light has been shining in their eyes all their days, which they have obstinately resisted. And there is nothing that aggravates so fast and so much as resisting the light of truth. Our Saviour says, "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." He said of the Jews, "If I had not come, and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen, and hated both me, and my father." And again he said, "Wo unto thee Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum: for if the mighty works which have been done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth

and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon and Sodom, at the day of judgment, than for you." Infidelity in Europe and America, is, of all others, the most aggravated sin, and will draw after it, the most aggravated condemnation. The bare knowledge of the bible, whether it be obtained by preaching, or by reading, will either save the believer, or condemn and destroy the unbeliever. All under the gospel are in the most favourable, and yet the most dangerous circumstances. They are shut up to the faith, and must either believe and be saved, or disbelieve and be damned. And how long God will allow them to live in this interesting state of trial, they know not. Their duty is plain, urgent, and infinitely impor

tant.

6. It appears from the nature and design of prophecy, that God will finally have the glory of all his works. For by his predictions and the accomplishment of them, it will appear that his heart and hand had been concerned in bringing about not only all the events that had been predicted, but all other events, which were inseparably connected with predicted events. It will finally appear, that God had as constantly and universally governed all events in the moral world, as in the natural world. So that all the holiness and happiness, which had been produced by the creation, the government, and redemption of the world, must be primarily and supremely ascribed to the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of God. Besides, the accomplishment of divine predictions will clearly discover not only the heart and hand of God in all events, but the heart and hand of every man, and of every intelligent creature, in what they had done, as instruments of fulfilling divine predictions. After Christ was glorified, his disciples remembered the prophecy that had been fulfilled, and their own free and voluntary conduct in fulfilling it. And this will be the result of all divine predictions after they are accomplished. When all the predictions contained in the bible shall have been fulAlled, they will show to the whole intelligent universe

what concern God had, and what concern his creatures had in bringing about all the holiness and happiness of heaven. And it is of infinite importance, that the character and conduct of man and of all other intelligent beings, should be fully unfolded. For both the conduct of God and of his creatures will finally contribute to the supreme glory of God. It was no dimunition of Solomon's glory, that he built the temple, by the instrumentality of his own servants. And so it will be no diminution of the glory of God, that he had employed the agency of his creatures, to accomplish his wise and holy designs. Hence it follows, that God will, by the accomplishment of his predictions, promote his own glory, and the good of the universe, to the highest degree.

7. It appears from the design of prophecy, that it will throw the weight of the whole intelligent universe in favour of the friends, and in opposition to the enemies of God. Every event which ever has taken place, or ever will take place, will promote the happiness of the righteous, and the final misery of the unrighteous. Every person in the world stands inseparably connected with all holy and unholy beings, and must feel the weight of their influence, in their favour, or against them. Individuals have always felt the influence of publick favours, and publick evils, in this world, and this will be the case in the world to come. The final state of the holy, will sensibly and eternally affect the state of the unholy, and the final state of the unholy, will eternally affect the state of the holy. This being true, it is the most serious and important question that every person can put to himself, whether he is holy, or unholy. When all God's predictions are fulfilled, it will fix all mankind in an unchangeable state of holiness and happiness, or in an unchangeable state of unholiness, unhappinesss and misery. Divine predictions now hang over the world, containing vials of mercy, and vials of wrath; and how soon their contents will be poured upon the world, we know not; but when they are, we shall feel them either in time or eternity.

SERMON III.

HERESIES.

1. CORINTHIANS xi. 19. For there must be also heresies among you, that they who are approred may be made manifest among you.

THOUGH the church of Corinth came behind no other church in respect to the variety and richness of spiritual gifts; yet they were unhappily divided in their religious sentiments, which produced unchristian animosities and contentions, which the apostle entreats them to lay aside. "Now, I beseech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment." Among other erroneous opinions and practices, he mentions, in the chapter that contains the text, their unworthy views and unchristian conduct respecting the sacrament of the Lord's supper. He says, "Now in this, that I declare unto you, I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear there be divisions among you: and 1 partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." Here the apostle first mentions divisions, and then also heresies; which plainly implies, that heresies are distinct and different from divisions. Though divisions in a church may flow from heresies; yet they may flow from other causes. Both divisions and heresies have been in the christian church from the begin

ning, and the text intimates, that they must still be in This then is the truth which now lies be

the church.

fore us:

That it is necessary, that there should be heresies in the church of Christ. I shall,

I. Explain heresies;

II. Show that they have been hitherto in the church of Christ;

III. Show in what sense it is necessary that they should be in the church of Christ; and,

IV. Show why they are necessary in the christian church.

I. Let us consider what heresy is. There are but two different opinions upon this subject. One is, that it means a schism in a church, or a bitter contention, which brings about an unhappy and unchristian separation. But the apostle in the text and in the verse before it, makes a distinction between divisions or separations, and heresies. After mentioning divisions, he adds, "There must be also heresies." By heresies, all denominations of christians mean such great errours and false doctrines, as they consider contrary to, and subversive of what they call the essential or fundamental doctrines of the gospel. The apostle, in his epistle to Titus, represents an heretick as a man who maintains and propagates corrupt and dangerous doctrines, and not as one, who is only contentious, and causes animosities and disputes in a church. "A man that is an heretick, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." An heretick avows his false and corrupt sentiments, so that the church have no occasion to prove that he is an heretick, but only to censure him for his heresy, he having condemned himself, by openly acknowledging and propagating his errours. The apostle gives the same description of hereticks in his epistle to the church of Galatia. "I marvel, that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel which is not another; but there be some

:

« PreviousContinue »