Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

characterize every professor of the true religion, and which they so illustriously exemplified. To avoid an unusual trespass upon your time, I deferred the latter part of my subject for the present opportunity. And now, I hope with the blessing of God, to offer some reflections, observations, or inferences connected with the subject, in reference to the present state of religion in this great metropolis, and other very populous parts of the kingdom.

You, my brethren, who are accustomed to meet here, once in every seven days, for the worship of God, have all embraced the faith of Christ. The pardon of sin, justification through the righteousness of faith, and eternal blessings to the faithful in Heaven, are clearly revealed to you.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could not be better informed of God's mercies to man, than, with the Gospel before

you, you are, or ought to be. They could not have a surer prospect into eternity, nor a more lively hope of its glories, than is offered to you in the revelation of Jesus Christ. If, for their attachment to their religion, their


Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

zeal for the honour, and their fidelity in the service of God, they had a better insight into his purposes, than was 'common to the pious of their countrymen; if we admit that in an acquaintance with the typical meaning of the sacrifices and ceremonies of their law, in the knowledge of the future kingdom of the Mese siali, of the spiritual redemption of Israel, and of God's mercies in the promised covenant, they equalled the prophets and righteous men, who lived in their own or preceding times ; yet we cannot think they had a better understanding of the great scheme of man's salvation, and everlasting happiness, than is attainable to the Christian in the study of the Gospel. Therefore, my brethren, they could have no firmer ground of faith, no stronger motive to love and obedience, than we have. Allow me, then, to ask



think that, in similar trials, you, or the pious of your generation, would evince an equally devoted attachment to your religion whether like them you would undergo tortures or death, rather than conform with the worship of any false religion? or by any renunciation of your faith, dishonour your Almighty Father and


Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

all.gracious Redeemer? Perhaps you think this a very intrusive question, which you may be allowed to evade. You may say, we live in: happier times, and the Almighty is pleased not to put our faith to a test so severe. But, the professor of Christ, who will be accounted worthy of his final benediction, should hold himself prepared for privation, affliction, persecution. The word, which is sown in the heart of him, who is not so prepared, has taken no root : it had no depth of soil to quicken it. He is the person signified in the parable of the sower, who receiveth the seed into stoney places. He heareth the word, says our blessed Master, and with joy receiveth it; but, having no root in himself, when persecution and tribulation ariseth, because of the word, by and by he is offended. He is weary of his course, gives up the combat of faith, and fails of the prize that was set before him. The faithful follower of Christ must be ready and willing to take up his cross; if it be necessary for the honour of his name, and the maintainance of his religion. Certain it is the true religion in this country


Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man.

has enjoyed a long season of peace; and, I believe, it is a truth, which the enemies of the church will not deny, that, in proportion to its prosperity, it has cherished the spirit of toleration. All, that named the name of Christ, have been allowed to preach their peculiar doctrines in their own places of Worship, for the instruction of their followers; and no impediment has been opposed to the circulation, of their various and conflicting tenets, through the medium of the press, among any part of the British public. Even infidelity has not been molested, so long as its opinions were put forth with no evidence of a design to propagate error, or create mischief, and were addressed to the learned and judicious. For, the faithful minister of Christ, like his divine master, seeks to enlighten and direct, not to force and overpower, the understanding of man. Christianity is throughout a rational religion, rational as it is divine; and for the acceptation of its divine testimony, it appeals to the divine faculty of reason.

So long, therefore, as the publications of infidelity and scepticism were addressed to the

cultivated H

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Religious Faith the safeguard and consolation of Man,

cultivated and enlightened mind, they might be, and were, tolerated. They were then op

posed by equal powers, and there could be no apprehension for the issue of the contest; because that side, must prevail, which is sustained by truth, if it have light and understanding to embrace the truth. But, when the daring and unprincipled unbeliever not only avowed himself to the unwary and ignorant multitude, but put forth all his sophistry, and subtilty, and malignity, to seduce them from the faith,

seeking not to convince the reason, but to : move the turbulent and selfish passions of the heart, to efface every impression of religion, and loosen every moral obligation; to unfit them for the offices of social life, and take from them all means of peace here, with all hope of happiness hereafter; it was then necessary for the secular arm to interpose, to vindicate the majesty, and preserve the integrity, of the insulted, violated, and threatened laws, which never can survive the true and holy religion, upon which they are founded. The law is the bulwark of social right, and religion is the bulwark of the law. Take away the obliga

« VorigeDoorgaan »