fore any thing very considerable is accomplished. At length, the Messiah comes; and, like Joshua by Canaan, takes possession of the Heathen world. At first it seems to have bowed before his word ; and, as we should have thought, promised fair to be sub. dued in a little time. But every new generation that was born, being corrupt from their birth, furnished a body of new recruits to Satan's army : and, as the Canaanites, after the first onset in the times of Joshua, gathered strength, and struggled successfully against that generation of Israelites which succeeded him and forsook the God of their fathers; so, as the church degenerated, the world despised it. Its doctrine, worsbip, and spirit being corrupted, from being a formidable enemy, the greater part of it becomes a convenient ally, and is employed in subduing the other part, who buld fast the word of God and the testitaony of Jesus. Thus the war is lengthened out : and now, after a lapse of eighteen hundred years, we see not all things yet put under him. On the contrary, when reviewing our labours, it often seems to us that we have wrought no deliverance in the earth, neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. But let us not despair: we see Jesus upon his throne ; and as the Canaanites were ultimately driven out, and the kingdom of Israel extended from sea to sea; so, assuredly, it shall be with the kingdom of Christ.

The great disposer of events has, for wise ends, so ordered it, that the progress of things shall be gradual. He designs by this, among other things, to try the faith and patience of sincere people, and to manifest the hypocrisy of others. Hereby scope is afforded both for faith and unbelief. If, like Caleb and Joshua, we be for going forward, we shall not want encouragement; but if, like the others, we be weary of waiting, and our hearts turn back again, we shall not want a bandle, or plea, by which to excuse ourselves. God loves that both persons and things should appear to be what they are.

5. The promise was not accomplished, at last, but by means of ardent, deadly, and persevering struggles; and such must be the efforts of the church of Christ, ere she will gain the victory over the spirit of wretchedness with which she bas to contend. The Canaanites would not give up any thing but at

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the point of the sword. Hence the faint-hearted, the indolent, and the weak in faith, were for compromising matters with them. The same spirit which magnified difficulties at a distance, which spake of cities as great, and walled up to heaven, and of the sons of Anak being there, was for stopping short when they had gained footing in the land, and for making leagues with the residue of the people. Thus it has long been in the Christian church : the gospel having obtained a footing in the western nations, we have acted as though we were willing that Satan should enjoy the other parts without molestation. Every Heathen and Mahometan country has seemed to be a city walled up to Heaven, and the inhabitants terrible to us as the sons of Anak. And, even in our native country, an evangelical ministry having obtained a kind of establishment in some places, we have long acted as if we thought the rest were to be given up by consent, and left to perish without any means being used for their salvation! If God means to save any of them, it seems he must bring them under the gospel, or the gospel, in some miraculous manner, to them : whereas the command of the Saviour is that we go, and preach it to every creature. All that Israel gained was by dint of sword. It was at the expense of many lives, yea many thousands of lives, that they at last came to the full possession of the land, and that the promises of God were fulfilled towards them. The same may be said of the establishment of Christ's kingdom. It was by ardent and persevering struggles that the gospel was introduced into the various nations, cities, and towns where it now is; and, in many instances at the expense of life. Thousands of lives were sacrificed to this great object in the times of the apostles, and were I to say millions in succeeding ages, I should probably be within the compass of truth. But we have been so long inured to act under the shadow of civil protection, and without any serious inconvenience to our temporal interests, that we are startled at the difficulties which the ancient Christians would have met with fortitude. They put their lives in their hands, standing in jeopardy every hour : and, though we cannot be sufficiently thankful, both to God and the legislature of our country, for the protection we enjoy ; yet we must not make this the condition of our activity for Christ. He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. If

[ocr errors]


ever God prosper us, in any great degree, it will be in the exercise of that spirit by which the martyrs obtained a good report.

The above particulars may suffice to show the analogy between the two cases : ne object aimed at, the authority acted upon, the promise confided in, its gradual accomplishment, and the means by which this accomplishment is effected, are the same in both : I hope, therefore, the application of the one to the other may be considered as justified. II. Let us consider THE PROVISO ON WHICH WE ARE WARRANTED

If the Lord DELIGHT IN vs, then he will bring us into the land and give it us.

The term delight does not express that divine love to our souls which is the source of our salvation, but a complacency in our character and labours. Thus it is to be understood in the speech of David, when fleeing from the conspiracy of Absalom : If he say, I have no delight in thee, here I am : let him do with me as seemeth him good! He could not mean by this, If God have no love to my soul, I submit to be for ever separated from him : for such submission is not required of any who live under a dispensation of

ercy: but, If he approve not of me as the head of his people, here I am : let bim take


away, as it pleaseth him. The amount is, That if we would hope to succeed in God's work, our character and undertakings must be such as he approves.

1. The object which we pursue must be simply the cause of God, uomixed with worldly policy, or party interest. It has been insinuated that under the colour of disseminating evangelical doctrine, we seek to gain over the common people, and so to obtain, it should seem, an ascendency in government. * If it be so, we

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* To this effect were the insinuations of Professor Robinson, concerning the efforts of Mr. Robert Haldane and his friends, in a proposed mission to Hin. doosthan. The modest and dignified manner in which that gentleman repel. ted the accusation, and even forced his accuser to retract it, may be seen in his late excellent pamphlet on that subject. The Bishop of Rochester, in a late address to his Clergy, after representing the Socinians as aiming at this object, adds as follows: "Still the operations of the enemy are going onstill going on by stratagem—the stratagem still a pretence of reformation. But the reformation, the very reverse of what was before attempted. lastead

may be assured the Lord will take no delight in us. The work, in this case, must be altogether of man, and will come to nothing ; yea, and to nothing let it come. The desire and prayer of my

of divesting religion of its mysteries, and reducing it to a mere philosophy in speculation, and to a mere morality in practice, the plan is now to affect great zeal for orthodoxy ; to make great pretensions to an extraordinary measure of the Holy Spirit's influence; to alienate the minds of the people from the established Clergy, by representing them as sordid worldlings, without any concern about the souls of men, indifferent to the religion which they ought to tcach, and to which the laity are attached, and destitute of the Spirit of God. In many parts of the kingdom new conventicles have been opened, in great number; and congregations formed of one knows not what denomination.”

If the religion of Jesus must be reproached, it is best that it should be done in some such manner as this. Had the Bishop of Rochester preserved any regard to candour, or moderation, he might have been believed; as it is, it may be presumed there can be but little danger of it. None, except those who are as deeply prejudiced as himself, can, for a moment, imagine that the late attempts for disseminating evangelical doctrine are the operations of a political scheme, carried on by Infidels in disguise. A very small acquaintance with men and things must convince any one that the persons concerned in this work are not the same as those who affected to reform the church by reducing the mysteries of the gospel to “a mere philosophy in speculation, and to a mere morality in practice.” Men of that description were never possessed of zeal enough for such kind of work. We might as soon expect to see Bishop Horsely himself turn village-preacher as them.

In repelilog such language as the above, it is difficult to keep clear of the acrimony by which it is dictated. Suffice it to say, I am conscious that no such plan or design every occupied my mind for a moment: nor am I acquainted with any person whom I have ground to suspect any such thing. I know persons who are, as I believe, sinfully prejudiced against government, and of whose spirit and conversation I seldom fail to express my dislike : but I know not an individual whom I have any reason to think engages in village-preaching with so mean and base an end as that which is suggested by this prelate.

The picture which is drawn of the Clergy is, doubtless unpleasant ; and if applied to the serious part of them, far from just : whence it was taken is best know to the writer. I am inclined to think, however, that though he has represented it as the language of village preachers, he would be unable to prove such charges against them. There may be violent individuals engaged in village-preaching, who may take pleasure in exposing the immoralities of the Elergy: and if they have half the bitterness on the one side which this writer Vol. VII.


heart is, that all such undertakings, if such there be, may perish! The kingdom of Christ will never prosper in those hands which make it only the secondary object of their pursuit, even though the first were lawful ; and much less when it is made to subserve that which is itself sinful. But, if the divine glory be the object of our labours, the work is of God; God himself will delight in us, and every attempt to oppose it will be found to be fighting against God.

There is another way in wþich, I apprehend, we are in much more danger of erring: I mean, by an improper attachment to party interest. I am far from thinking it a sin to be of a party. Every good man ought to rank with that denomination which, in his judgment, approaches nearest to the mind of Christ : but this is very different from having our labours directed to the promotion of a party, as such. If so, we shall see little or no excellence in whatever is done by others, and feel little or no pleasure in the success which God is pleased to give them: but, while this is our spirit, whatever be our zeal, we are serving ourselves rather than Christ, and may be certain the Lord will not delight in us to do us good. The only spirit in which the Lord takes pleasure is, that which induces us to labour to promote his cause, and to rejoice in the prosperity of all denominations so far as they promote it.


discovers on the other; they are unworthy of being so employed. Whatever grounds there may be for such charges against numbers of the Clergy, the body of those who have been employed in preaching or reading printed serons in the villages, liave never thought of preferring them, but have confined their attention to the preaching of Jesus Christ.

I have no scruple, however, in saying, if reducing religion to "a mere phí. losophy in speculation, and a mere morality in practice," be subverting it, it is subverted by great numbers in the Church of England, as well as out of it. And where this is the case, it is the bounden duty of the friends of evangelical truth to labour to ivtroduce it, regardless of the wrath of its adversaries.

The suppression of "conventicles,” I doubt not, would be very agreeatoome men: but I have too much confidence in the good sense of the legiglature, to suppose that it will suffer its counsels to be swayed by a few violent Churchmen.

« VorigeDoorgaan »