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as though the creature had a right to overwhelmed. Let any sober and candid think against the Creator.
inquirer only read such writers as Paley, If these negative positions be once ad- Leslie, Berkeley, Fuller, Chalmers, and mitted, what becomes of the authority-others, with that attention which the imthe doctrines-the promises the admo- mense importance the inquiry demands nitions—the denunciations, and all the -on whatever side the truth may lie sanctions of the word of God ? Moses and we safely leave him to form his own and the prophets, Jesus Christ and his judgment. No man ever seriously sat apostles, were all impostors, and Chris- down to investigate the evidences of tianity itself is a cunningly or a clumsily Christianity, with any degree of attention, devised fable. And yet these infidel senti- or with but a moderate share of candour, ments, or sentiments like these, are che- without rising from the investigation with rished by many who speak favourably of the full conviction of its divine origin; Christianity-who attend places of Chris- and no man ever yet rejected the gospel tian worship, both within and without the who had not a wicked reason for it, pale of the Established Church, and who which in the judgment of the Searcher of would feel themselves insulted and scan- hearts is worthy of everlasting condemnadalized if they were charged with infi- tion; and thus fully justifying the awful delity: yet the charge is too just; infidelity sanctions by which its claims are guarded is marked upon their brow, intermingled and enforced : “ He that believeth not with their intellectual system, and oozing shall be damned ;" He that believeth up in their language and conversation—not is condemned already, and the wrath in their habits and in their conduct; they of God abideth on him.” may be orthodox in their head, but they Unbelief, or the rejection of the Son of are infidels at heart. And when we con- God, is more inexcusable now, in professed sider St. Paul's definition of the faith Christians, than it was in the Jews who which hath the promise of eternal life, as persecuted and nailed him to the cross ; made in the eleventh chapter of the epistle for then he appeared as “ a man of sorto the Hebrews—that faith is the demon- rows,” in a form so humble as to disapstration of things not seen, and the sub-point all the expectations—the fond exstantial impress of the truth and of the pectations they had long cherished of the reality of things hoped for-for it renders temporal grandeur of the Messiah. With distant and invisible things as really in regard to the multitude, and even the Auential upon the heart and conduct as heads, of that nation, what they did though they were present and visible;- against the Lord Jesus was merely the when we consider the effects of this holy result of ignorance. “For if they had principle, as exemplified in the ancient known it, (says the apostle,) they would church, and described by the apostle in a not have crucified the Lord of glory." subsequent part of the chapter ;-and, Their ignorance, indeed, was wilful ; finally, when we compare these effects they shut their eyes, they closed their with the present state of things, either in ears, they hardened their hearts ; for this the church or in the world, we may well reason, their unbelief was inexcusable; ask, if the Son of man should even now and, therefore, wrath came upon them to come, would he find faith on the earth? the uttermost. But unbelievers in the Alas! alas! we have not faith even as a present day—that is, all who do not receive grain of mustard seed. Your infidelity is the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, absolutely inexcusable. All its strongest “ made unto them of wisdom, righteousarguments and its impertinent cavils have ness, sanctification, and redemption,” rebeen fairly and triumphantly refuted, on ject him in his glory and majesty, though the arena of controversy; and all its insi- exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour; dious sophistries have been detected and and many who deny the Christian exposed, beyond all recovery, a thousand faith do it wilfully, against the rational times; and all its advocates, of every conviction that he is both Lord and class have been baffled, confounded, and Christ. Inexcusable, then, is their unbelief, and fearful will be their con- |struction of Jerusalem; and the great obdemnation.
ject of the inspired author is to illustrate Nor has the arowed infidel, who scorns the malignant nature, and ruinous tenthe very profession of the Christian name, dency, of unbelief, either in an individual the least shadow of apology for his unbe- or in a nation; and thus to warn his counlief or his conduct: for, not to mention trymen of the calamity with which they the internal evidences of Christianity— were going to be visited for their rejection bearing the seal of divine authority im- of the Son of God. The Hebrews propressed on every page-he has not only fessing Christianity, to whom it was ad. the most unquestionable testimony of the dressed, and for whom it was immediately truth of what is revealed in the gospel intended, were violently attached to the history, but innumerable proofs, strong ceremonial law. Whilst some of them and incontrovertible, which could not be regarded it as eternally binding on the known to those who believed on Christ church, because of its divine appointwhen he was in the world ; such, for ex- ment, others pressed the observance of it ample, as arise from the literal accom- as necessary to justification and salvation. plishment of many illustrious prophecies They were, therefore, in imminent danger in the propagation of the gospel through of apostasy from the faith, and acting in the whole extent of the Roman world by disobedience to the Lord Jesus, in those the feeblest instrumentality—in opposi- days of vengeance which were near aption to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the proaching, by remaining at Jerusalem for eye, and all the inveterate prejudices of the sake of the temple service, when the the human heart—in opposition to all the city should be invaded by the Roman learning, and philosophy, and genius of army, instead of fleeing to the mountains the Augustan age—in opposition to the for safety in obedience to their Lord's persecution of kings and emperors, and command. The design of the apostle, their armies—and that, too, with a ra- therefore, is to warn them of this danger, pidity never before or since exemplified and the final consequences of unbelief and in any conquest attended with the con- apostasy from their profession, and of any fùsed noise of the warrior, and of gar- overt acts in disobedience to the Son of ments rolled in blood ; in the unparalleled God. And how did he do this? He did calamities that befell the Jewish nation at it by various arguments drawn from the the last siege of Jerusalem; in their dis- superiority of the gospel to the legal dispersion among all nations, and their mira- pensation; from the divine majesty of the culous preservation to this day as a dis- Founder of Christianity-as the brighttinct people from all the nations among ness of the Father's glory, the Creator whom they are scattered ; in the partition and Preserver of the universe—the Lord of the old Roman empire into ten king- of angels, and the object of their worship; doms; and, finally, in the rise and pro- from his ineffable condescension and love gress, and the begun overthrow of papal in assuming the nature of man, that in superstition, and Mohammedan delusion. that nature he might make reconciliation The infidel has either examined these for man's iniquities—from the dignity of evidences of the truth of our holy religion, his mediatorial character, as the great or he has not. If he has not, he is inex- prophet of the church by whom God hath cusable for his negligence; if he has, his spoken to us in the latter days; as the obstinacy can be resolved only into the King of Zion, the sceptre of whose kingenmity of the carnal mind against God: dom is a right sceptre, and whose throne and, in either case, his unbelief is inex- shall stand for ever-and as the Highousable, and his condemnation will be priest of our profession, a priest consetremendous.
crated for ever after the order of MelFrom the inexcusableness of infidelity, chizedec; from his superiority to Moses, mark, in the next place, its fearful malig- Joshua, and every other heavenly mesnity. The epistle to the Hebrews was senger, however exalted, whether human written only a few years before the de- lor divine; and, especially, from the transcendant superiority of his priesthood to hearken to him who spake on earth, (allud that of Aaron, and his successors in office; ing to the promulgation of the law from and on this branch of the subject, he leads mount Sinai,) how shall ye escape, if ye them amongst the altars, priests, sacri- refuse to hearken to him who now speakfices, and ritual observances, of that mag-eth from heaven: whose voice shook the nificent dispensation, which he shows earth, (at the delivery of the law,) but was preparatory only to a more glorious who hath now declared, I shake not the dispensation. This short statement con-earth only, but heaven also, (the political tains, in fact, an epitome of the whole of heaven of the Jewish nation.) If they that wonderful epistle, and upon these who despised the law of Moses, died arguments, the apostle proceeds to illus- without mercy, before two or three wittrate the horrid nature and the damning nesses, of how much sorer punishment consequences of unbelief, whether in an shall ye be thought worthy who have individual, or in a nation. Now, in the trodden under foot the Son of God, and guilt of this fearful sin, Great Britain is counted the blood of the covenant an undeeply involved. Her guilt, in this re- holy thing, and do despite to the Spirit of spect, has been accumulating for upwards grace.” This is the guilt involved in of a thousand years. Upon the same ar- unbelief. Again, we know who hath gument he founds the following admoni- said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” tory exhortations, which are equally appli- And again, “It is a fearful thing to fall cable to us--which apply with as much into the hands of the living God.” And force to us as they did to the Jewish na- again, it is written, “the Lord shall tion. Hear them; they are the practical judge his people.” part of the epistle to the Hebrews, of Brethren, this interesting epistle was which Luther said, “It is of as much im- the last alarm rung in the ears of the portance the church, as the sun in the Jewish nation by an offended and departheavens is to the whole world—the world ing God, before he poured out his wrath could do as well without the sun as the in the destruction of their city and temple church of Christ without the epistle to the last voice of departing yet lingering the Hebrews." “ Therefore, we ought mercy, before he closed the gates of salto give the more earnest heed to the things vation against them. May this loud alarm that we have heard, lest, at any time, we be heard, and this tender, perhaps the last should let them slip. If the word spoken tender of mercy, be received by the inby angels was steadfast, and every trans- habitants of the British empire ! gression and disobedience received a just Every blessing that God bestows upon recompense of reward ; how shall we man or upon a nation involves a degree escape if we neglect so great salvation ? of responsibility in exact proportion to its -which, at the first, began to be spoken magnitude. Let us, then, upon this prinby the Lord himself, and was afterwards ciple, examine the degree of guilt conconfirmed unto us by signs and wonders, tracted by this nation. Long has Britain and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy enjoyed the light of the gospel-the richGhost. Now is the accepted time, now is est boon the God of heaven ever bestowed the day of salvation.” You remember that upon a nation. Long has she been fathe vials of wrath were then about to be voured with the visible protection of a poured out on Jerusalem. “ Now is the national providence, and with a series of accepted time, now is the day of salva- wonderful and remarkable interpositions tion. To-day if ye will hear his voice, of the Divine favour. Witness the early harden not your hearts, lest he swear in introduction of the gospel to our forehis wrath that ye shall not enter into rest; fathers in the apostolic age, and, probably, and so much the more, as ye see the day by an apostolic minister. Witness the approaching. Take heed, brethren, lest number of burning and shining lights there be in any of you, an evil heart of which burned and shone in Britain, even unbelief in apostatizing from the living during the darkest ages of popery. WitGod. If they escaped not who refused to ness our early separation-such as it was from the church of Rome. Witness on the Gentiles when God shall visit the defeat of the Spanish Armada, effect them for the sin for which Jerusalem was ed not by human agency, but almost en- overthrown! tirely by the winds, and elements of na- Like Jerusalem, only a few years beture. Witness our deliverance, in a fore the cup of trembling and death was subsequent reign, from the attempts of a put into her hand, Britain has been highly gloomy tyrant to enslave both body and honoured in sending forth her missionamind, at the glorious revolution of 1680 ries to preach the gospel as a witness to -a revolution brought to pass without all nations; but, like Jerusalem, too, she the hazard of a single battle, and almost has rejected the only sacrifice, refused to without the shedding of a drop of blood. hearken to him that spake from heaven, Witness the declaration of rights and the neglected the great salvation, trodden act of settlement, in which our liberties under foot the Son of God, counted the were for the first time enrolled in a char- blood of the sacrifice as a common thing, ter, and stand, as we fondly hope, on an and done despite to the Spirit of grace, everlasting foundation. These are bright and thus incurred severer punishment pages in the annals of our country, on than the despiser of the law of Moses, which our forefathers wept with fond en- who died without mercy. Great indeed thusiasm, and of which they often spoke have been her privileges, and great and with exultation and joy as they were ac- manifold are the grounds of the Lord's customed to bring out their massive family controversy with her. While empires plate on great festive occasions. But the and continents, dense with population, formation of Bible and Missionary Socie- into which her adventurous sons have ties was reserved by the peculiar care of penetrated in commercial enterprise, have Providence, according to prophetical inti- been involved in moral darkness more mations, for these latter days, to adorn palpable than that which Egypt once felt, the concluding part of the reign of George the glorious light of the gospel has been the Third. If unto whomsoever much is shining upon her coasts, through the given of them much will be required—if clouds of her iniquities, in noon-day the guilt of sin be aggravated in propor- brightness. But, oh! how aggravated tion to the number and the magnitude of has been the criminality of those who, the mercies that have been received and amidst the glorious shining around them, abused, Britain has reason to dread the wilfully shut their eyes against the heafull weight of God's indignation. She is venly light! Oh, what a weight of guilt deeply involved in the guilt of those na- has been thus contracted! On what nations who refuse to kiss the sceptre of tional grounds, then, can we hope that Messiah the Prince, and which he will the cup of trembling shall not be put into break in pieces with a rod of iron like a our hands, when we are so expressly told potter's vessel—in the guilt of those na- by the God of heaven that all the kingtions who refuse to believe the gospel of doms of the world that are upon the face Christ, and who shall be destroyed with of the earth shall be made to drink of an everlasting destruction, when he shall it? “Ye shall certainly drink of it, as I be revealed with his mighty angels, in live, saith the Lord of Hosts.” And will flaming fire, taking vengeance; and if the not the justice of God be vindicated in sufferings inflicted on the Jewish nation the infliction of his righteous judgments -the seed of Abraham, the friend of God, upon this guilty nation? Yes, verily! and “still beloved (as the apostle tells Our contempt of his authority, in not us) for the Father's sake”—which is hearkening to the qualifications which his never said of the Gentiles-in their last word requires from those who are intrusted contest with the Romans, and especially with the administration of our public afin the last siege of their capital, were so fairs, and the sceptical indifference of our terrible as to make the ears of all them rulers in the regulation of their decisions that heard it tingle, how tremendous may according to the rules and precepts laid we not fear will be the calamities inflicted down in the Holy Scriptures, and in subserviency to the glory of God, bear witness | we drink of the cup of God's wrath, against us. The groans of our oppressed which shall be filled to the brim, when countrymen—the magnitude of our na- great Babylon comes up in remembrance tional debt, principally contracted in fight- before God. ing the battles of popery—the groans of
But it is not merely on the ground of our oppressed and enslaved colonial po- the guilt of our national policy that the pulation, whose united cries have entered justice of God will vindicate its honours the ear of the Lord God of Sabaoth, bear in the infliction of these awful judgments. witness against us. The guilt of our The corruptions of society in general are colonial systein, and the obscenity of idola- alarming in the extreme. Moral disease tries and the unnumbered murders com- of a deadly dangerous nature has overmitted in India, under the visible protec- spread the land. Witness the chicanery tion of the British government, bear of the law—the frauds and impositions in witness against us.
The incalculable every branch of trade, and the aggrava. multitudes of human beings whom we tion of our commercial iniquity as conhave butchered for the gratification of our nected with the colonial system. Because ambition, and the extension of our domi- of swearing, profligacy, drunkenness, and nions; in connexion with the corruption Sabbath-breaking, the land mourneth. of our hierarchy—the myriads of immor. Impurity and prostitution, perhaps accele. tal souls sinking into perdition, through rated by the Malthusian theory of poputhe unfaithfulness of ungodly men ap- lation, and by the sophistries of political pointed to the ministry for worldly and economists, have awfully increased, and political purposes, bear witness against are still increasing. Infidelity, worldly us. The reign of Antichrist herself, for mindedness, hypocrisy, fanaticism, phariwhose re-establishment we lavished blood saicism, antinomianism, licentiousness, and treasure, again admitted to national and a false liberality-ever ready to sacountenance, bears witness against a land crifice the authority of revelation at the which early among the nations escaped shrine of human reason-indicate too from her pollution and thraldom, and clearly that the power of vital religion has which early testified against her domina- obviously declined, and impurity seems tion, her blasphemies, and her usurpa- coming in like a flood. Where is that tion. Where is now the zeal which once deep penitent spirit, that holy zeal for characterized our opposition to her who Christ, that entire separation from the hath so often dyed her garments in the world, and the dread of its spirit and blood of God's dear saints? Where is maxims, lest the heart should not be right that purity from her contamination by with God, which so eminently distinwhich we were distinguished among the guished our holy men in former times ? nations? Where is that holy zeal that In the Established Church the clergy glowed in the bosom of Cranmer, Lati- are quibbling about tithes with their pamer, Bradford, and others, amidst the rishioners, and the parishioners with their flames of Smithfield ? Where is that clergy. The property of the church is tender affection which a grateful nation assailed on every hand with a violence once cherished to the memory of those and a perseverance, and is defended by martyred heroes, to whom she owes all the clergy with a tenacity and a vigour, her civil and religious liberty? While unknown in former ages; and the whole these things have been forgotten by the establishment seems to be reeling to its multitude as a vision of the night, the fall. In the dissenting interest many government has been employing the ener- congregations are dissatisfied with their gies of all Europe in support of the power pastors, and pastors with their congregawhich brought them to the stake. tions. Multitudes of churches are desti
The more intimate our connexion with tute of pastors, and multitudes of pastors that power the more deeply we are infect- are destitute of churches; and, through ed with that infidelity with which she is the whole dissenting interest, there seems tainted to the core—the more deeply shall la general movement from one end of the