« ZurückWeiter »
long course of years, without any support but what they derived from their religion; and yet, amidst them all, firm and unshaken, resisting every solicitation of sense ; struggling against natural infirmity; opposing the combined powers of prejudice, interest, and superstition ; rejecting, with a noble disdain, every overture of present ease and temporal advantage, and at last submitting with joy and transport to death and ignominy; animated with a firin persuasion of the heavenly truths they defended, and the glorious prospect of an eternal reward. Such examples as these carry with them irresistible conviction of the truth and practicability of the duties of Christianity; and, whilst its precepts -teach us what we ought to be, its examples still more strongly demonstrate what we may be.
And now then, if the Gospel be thus profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness ;--if it has recovered us from a state of ignorance, guilt, and corruuption ;-if it has given the purest and sublimest ideas of the divine nature ;--if it contains the most perfect rule and exemplification of all our moral and religious duties;if it promises the most powerful assistances in the discharge of them ;--if it opens a view of the noblest rewards, to animate our hopes and encourage our perse
verance: to what shall we attribute the erection and support of so glorious a fabric, but to the finger of God himself, signally displayed for the instruction and happiness of a world buried in savage ignorance and brutal corruption ? What shall we think of those, who would ascribe so wonderful and unheard-of a display of wisdom, illumination and eloquence, to the unassisted efforts and invention of a despised carpenter's son, and a group of illiterate fishermen, without any one prospect of advantage to them selves, or, rather, with every prospect before their eyes of certain death and inevitable torments? And, lastly, what shall we think of those unhappy men, who reject this life and immortality, who shut their eyes against the glorious light, whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us, and would bring us back from the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, to the dark conjectures and gloomy expectations of unassisted reason? What can we think, but that either they have not sufficiently considered these strong and irrefragable evidences of Christianity, or, what is more probable, that the God of this world, their corrupt lusts and passions, has so blinded their eyes, that seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not understand.
But, whilst with pity we look down upon these unhappy men, who reject the counsel of God against themselves, let us look up
gra titude to heaven for those blessings we enjoy. And the best way of shewing our gratitude is, by living agreeably to that light, which he liath given us. For, if we do in earnest endeavour to lay hold on that eternal life which is offered to us, --if we sincerely labour to walk as children of the light,—if to our knowledge we add temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity ;-we then shall answer his gracious purpose in delivering us from the power of darkness, and translating us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
But, on the contrary, if we are wicked or careless, -if we walk as other gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them,-our greater knowledge will be so far from being an advantage to us, that it will only serve to increase our condemnation. For, as it has been excellently observed, “ though we
certainly have the best religion in the world,
yet we as certainly are in the worst condition “ of all mankind, if that religion does not make
Be it our care, therefore, to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, having our loins girt about with truth, and have ing on the breast-plate of righteousness, and our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; that when Christ, who is our chief shepherd, shall appear, we may also appear together with him in glory, and be partakers of that blessed life and immortality, which he hath graciously brought to light through the Gospel.