« AnteriorContinuar »
preparation for the enjoyment of them. It inculcates all the virtues of good citizens, and teaches a man both how to rule and how to obey ;“ how to be full” as well as “ how to be hungry ;' “ how to abound” as well as “how to be abased; how to do all things through Christ who strengtheneth him." What is there in the offices of life, which religion disables a good man to do? What is there that religion doth not enable him to do better? A Christian judge cannot take a bribe. Is justice likely to be perverted on that account ? A Christian cannot perjure himself. Is it necessary to the good of society that an administrator of justice should forswear himself; and is he a proper man to administer oaths to others? A Christian is not a blasphemer, a drunkard, or an unclean person. But are impurity, blasphemy, and drunkenness necessary to the offices of life? A Christian is taught by his religion to "flee things which drown men in destruction and perdition, and to follow after righteousness and godliness ;” and therefore his religion doth not send to deprive him of his natural birthrights, but, on the contrary, prepares him to enjoy them all. If the administration of justice and order in the world be got into such channels, that a conscientious Christian cannot follow them, the more the pity. Our religion comes to our aid even in this case, and teaches us - therewith to be content.” Mean while it calls us, and all within hearing, to fix our eyes on a future day, and inquire, “Who is this that cometh from” punishing " Edom ? Is he come to punish, or to reward me?
6 Who is this that cometh to stain his garments with” human 6 blood ?'' Is it any of you, tyrants of ancient history? Is it Nimrod, Pharoah, Assyrian, “ rod of God's anger," or you, Nebuchadnezzar, the “hammer of the whole earth,” you proud “axes and saws," and sharp instruments of cruelty, that “ magnified yourselves against him that shook you” over a guilty world, in mercy to provoke them to be virtuous and free; scourges of mankind! Is it any of you? No, your days had an end; the dead say of each of you, “ Art thou also become weak as we ? And the living say, “ Is this the man that made the earth to tremble ? that made the
world as a wilderness, an.l opened not the house of his prisoners ?" Men of this kind have often been clothed in vestures dipt in the blood of their fellow-creatures; and for what mighty cause? For a few acres of other men's land: for a vain title : for the 6 offence of a single word :" for a nothing. What future times may produce, who can tell ? To what degree of wretchedness vice may reduce mankind, who can say? No ancient shedder of human blood durst have carried his iniquity so far, had not luxury, debauchery, and poverty gone first to blind the understandings, and to tame mankind, who are naturally wild, savage, and not easily depressed and subdued. In this part of the world let us hope such a day far distant; but let us never forget, that like causes produce the same effects, and that people broke loose may be brought back to bondage by the same methods which brought slavery first into the world. Terrible as a tyrant is, he is not a self-created monster; slaves live first, and become the parents of all such. We should value the Christian religion, were it only considered in the light of a preservative from tyranny: and had we no more Christianity than what the Sermon on the Mount contains, that would be a sufficient preventive. “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ?"
66 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, trampling" on men in his fury," and “sprinkling their blood upon his garments,” and saying, " The day of vengeance is in mine heart? Is it “ Jannes or Jambres,” who “ withstood Moses," hardened Pharaoh, and taught him to persecute the Hebrews for saying " Let us go and serve God ?” Is it Zedekiah, who struck a Prophet on the cheek, because he did not say as he said, exclaiming, “ Which way went the spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee;" he who flattered two kings, a whole court, and a fine army into swift destruction? Is it Caiaphas, who insulted a whole board of privy counsellors, for deliberating on the justice or injustice of an action, and not attending simply to the question of convenience ? Is it one of the “grieyous wolves” that “ arose after the de
parture" of the Apostles, not sparing the flock? Is it “ Diotrephes, who forbiddeth men to receive the Apostles, and casteth them out of the church ?” Is it the “mother of abominations” that “ reigneth over the kings of the earth, drunken with the blood of the saints," and with “ the blood of the martyrs of Jesus ?” Is it any oppressor of religion and conscience of ancient or modern times? All are unjust and cruel : but there are degrees of injustice and cruelty, and the last are the worst. They in Egypt sinned against nature and reason. Those among the Jews sinned against an imperfect revelation: but among Christians oppression of conscience is a crime of the deepest dye. This crime came into the Christian church not by princes, but by their own teachers, who, availing themselves of the respect in which public instruction was held, stepped into the practice, called it an office of authority and power, altered instruction so as to make God plead for Baal, like death “ put all things under their feet," and like death they will be the last enemies that shall be destroyed;" they in this world, death at the resurrection. The love of Christians to their teachers is just, their zeal for public instruction is right: but it ceaseth to be 66 a zeal according to knowledge,” when it goeth so far as to put the judgments and consciences of Christians into their hands. If such projectors should 6 look to you for help, and wonder that there is none to uphold” a single notion tending to give them the mastery; if on the contrary, they should wonder to see you suspicious of teachers, and jealous of your liberty; if they should be astonished that you turn your attention to such little things; tell them, if you lose a single doctrine while you are free, you may find it again, but if you lose your freedom of inquiry, all is lost : tell them, that if the primitive church had not slept over these articles, no enemy, however willing, could have sown tares: tell them you have profited by the mistakes of others : tell them there is no heresy like that of dominion over conscience, which begins with anger and ends in a 66 vesture dipt in human blood.” 66 Who is this that cometh from Edom, travelling in the greatness of his strength, to tread down the people in his anger ?” This, this is “ Alexander the coppersmith,” born in the church, a Christian by prejudice, a trustee for the house, become rich by trade, and now Alexander would be “a lord over God's heritage !" Poor man! And do you think that a people who have had the courage to resist the most powerful and dreadful of mankind, who have “ gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name,” will ever have the meanness to submit their consciences to you? Go, and enjoy your prosperity in the world; but when you enter a Christian church, a place where “gold,” and “ silver," and “ brass” in the purse,” and “two coats,” and a pair of “ shoes” are objects of nobody's consideration, at least salute the house, and let the first word you say, be, 66 Peace be to this house.” If you say nothing else, at least prepare to answer this reasonable question, “ Com
peaceably?" and learn to reply, “ Peaceably : I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord, come with me to the sacrifice."
God forbid, my brethren, any of us should set ourselves up for defenders of the cause of Christ, except by reason, argument, and example! Every other method is sipful, contrary to the spirit of our holy religion, conveying suspicion of its goodness, and offering an insult to its power. It resembles making pillars to hold up the heavens, and if it does not always imply a deprav, ed heart; it does actually imply a weak, disordered head. Certainly it is just and right that sin should be punished; but to do this is a work assigned to Christ, as a part of his office as judge of the world. Let us hear how the apostle John, and the whole Scripture expound the Prophet Isaiah. 66 Who is he that cometh from Edom ?" It is “the word of God, called faithful and true.” His title is, “ King of kings, and Lord of lords." " Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine vat?' It is because he is obliged as “ judge in righteousness to make war,” and punish nations that rebel against Almighty God.
Wherefore is “ blood sprinkled upon
thy garments ?" It is because the day of judgment will not, like other calamities, spend' its force on herbage and cattle, and spare guilty man, but come home to his own person, 6 touch his bone and his flesh,” and “ hunt for the precious life.” Wherefore is the day of vengeance in thine heart ?”! It is because justice and virtue require it: because the wicked are past all amendment, and the righteous ought to be indemnified. 66 Wherefore art thou alone ??? It is because I alone am equal to the task; I only have wisdom, integrity, and firmness enough to execute a work so great. Wherefore “ of the people” are “there none with thee ??? The people are not with me in office : but they are with me by their approbation of Divine justice, and 66 armies follow upon white horses.” Wherefore is this day described by similitudes taken from worldly conquerors with fury in their hearts, and “ blood upon their garments ?” Because you are children in understanding, and have always accustomed yourselves to tremble at and avoid such calamities as these.
Methinks, Christians, I hear the Prophet say all this, and add in the language of another Prophet, “ Thus will I do unto thee, and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God.” Yes, the day will come, the prophecy must be fulfilled, “ heaven and earth shall pass away, but one jot or one tittle of the law and the prophets shall in no wise pass till all be fulfilled. Then every eye shall see him, and they also who pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” God grant you may all be prepared to “ meet him in the air, and so be forever with the Lord !" To him be honour and glory forever. Amen.