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THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE.
Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.-(Mark xvi. 15, 16.)
In our last discourse we had entered on the consideration of the consequences of believing, and of rejecting the Gospel ; and here we took leave to say, that these consequences are no part of the thing to be believed. But let no one think that we do not firmly believe in them as consequences ; so far from this, we do most solemn. ly declare, that we do as heartily and sincerely believe in them as consequences, as we do in the glorious truth of the Gospel offered to our acceptance : they are the words of the living God.
That we might the better see the advantages of faith, we took a scriptural view of the mental and moral state of the world without it, and found the Gentile rejecting the knowledge of God, professing himself wise, but be. coming a fool ; and the Jew to be no better; that through him, the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles ; and that previous to faith, men were without hope, and without God in the world We also made application of the subject to ourselves, by asking; “ Are not we also, at least in some degree, guilty of the transgressions of former days?" Surely, neither Jew nor Gentile, previous to Christianity, had any means of knowing God, that we have not ; and yet how many are there in this day, who, if asked, what do you know of the existence or character of God ? would be greatly at a loss for a rational answer; and of those who would be thus embarrassed, are there not a few who fancy themselves much wiser than their fellows? Is it unjust in God, if in his administration of his government of the world, he gives such up to a reprobate mind, to fix their affections on things which can continue but a little while, which perish in the using; nay, which, even as respects this life, are often worse than useless My loved friends, if we prefer any thing to the truth of God; if we are even guilty of coveting any thing that it does not appear to be the will of God to give us, it is ido. latry. (Col. iii. 5.) In such case, what then are we better than they? (Rom. iii. 9.) Are we not, like the Ephe. sians before their conversion, without hope, and without God in the world? And why is the unbeliever without hope? Because he is without God, or, rather, the knowledge of God. Have we this knowledge? We trust we have ! for God has been pleased to manifest to us his attributes in the Holy Scriptures; and the Scrip. tures we find to be the candle of the Lord, by which we read the fair book of nature, or creation, and rejoice to find the God of nature and of
grace Thus enjoying this divine light, we cannot but be. lieve the glad tidings of great joy presented to us.
What, then, are we saved from by this faith? 1st. We are saved from the fear of future misery ;
for, to the penitent on the cross our Lord says, To. day shalt thou be with me in Paradise ; (Luke xxiii. 43 ;) or, as we would say, the garden of delights. To justify us in this mode of expression, we observe that in the Vulgate, or Latin translation of the Old Testament, (Gen. ii. 8,) the translation is paradisum voluptatis. See on this subject Calmet's Dictionary of the Bible, articles Paradise and Vulgate. Some have thought that this is the place where the souls of the righteous remain from death till the resurrection ;* but, whatever may be the truth in this matter, there can be no doubt of its being a place of happiness.
2d. We are saved from the fear of annihilation; a fear which, we think, must occasionally afflict the mind of him who has no knowledge of that life and immor. tality which are brought to light through the Gospel. (2 Tim. i. 10.) It is perfectly in vain for any one to say, I have long since, and for ever, rejected the doctrine of endless misery; is not the result, therefore, the as. surance of endless life? We answer, no ; for the rejec. tion of an error by no means implies the belief of the truth ; nay, could we collect together all the errors that ever passed in the world under the name of truth ; could we give to each a material form, and pile them to the very heavens, and at a stroke destroy them all, it would, at best, be but a negative good obtained; for it is not by the rejection of error, but by the belief of the truth, that we enter into rest. (Heb. iv. 3.) Wherever the providence of God has made it the duty of your speaker to advocate the truth of God, he has thought it
a duty to express this sentiment; and has added to it, that if the listing of his finger would make such Univer. salists of the world, he did not know that he would do so; and now he is pretty sure that he would not ; nay, he is not sure but it would, in him, be an offence before God. And why an offence? Because the bulk of mankind are under the evil influence of their passions, and may be restrained by the fear of suffering from the omnipotent power of God, whose existence and jus. tice they have not entirely forgotten; whom they dread, but do not love? Why then should we regret, that the infuriate passions of unbelieving man should be bound by the iron fetter of fear, until he can be restrained by the more powerful influence of faith, in the soft and silken cord of love ?
3d. We are saved from the slavish fear of death. There is indeed a natural attachment to life, which the Author of our being appears, for wise and good purpo. ses, to have fixed in all animated nature ; and we do not pretend to be without its influence; we are husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and brethren ; these are dear to us, and they ought to be so; to part with them without a sigh, would rather prove, that we were so hardened in heart that we were unfit for heaven, than prove resignation to the will of God. It is the slavish fear of death we are freed from. Now this fear is not so properly the fear of dying, as of being dead. This the believer has no fear of, for he knows that notwithstand. ing all his unworthiness, his life is hid with Christ in God; (Col. iii. 3;) and he rejoices in the victory which God hath given him over death and the grave, through our Lord Jesus Christ ; '(1 Cor. xv. 55–57 ;) and
therefore for him to depart is to be with Christ. (Phil.
4th. We are saved from the anxious solicitudes which so often destroy even the innocent pleasures of life, in the man who has no hope beyond the present state. How many live in the luxuries of life, and yet live in the constant fear that they will die poor? The believer knows that there is no want to them that fear God; that they that seek the Lord shall not want any good. (Ps. xxxiv. 9, 10.) He hath been taught that godliness is profitable to all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (1 l'im. iv. 8.) He hath heard the voice of his Divine Master reproving the anxiety of the world respecting food and raiment; (and this is all the physical enjoyment man can have in this life ;) he hath obeyed the divine injunction by seek. ing, and has found the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and finds the Saviour faithful to his promise, by adding all these things unto him. (Mat. vi. 24—34.) How.conclusive is the reasoning of Paul on the provi. ding care of God: he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things. (Rom. viii. 32.) How supremely good is God! How supremely blessed is the believer! God gives him all he needs ; what more can he desire ? He asks no return but confidence in the giver, and gratitude for the gift. He gives freely. He himself loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. ix. 7.) And shall we not love him, who not only gives us all things (that is) all that is truly good for us ? (and surely that man is insane who desires what is not good for him ;) but, above all, shall we not love him, who, without our