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character is as manifestly displayed, by what He has engraven on the human heart. To arrive at this knowledge, indeed, man must exercise his faculties; and so he must, when he contemplates the operations of nature; and both, without any deep research, or subtleties of science, will lead him to the conviction of the being and providence, the justice and goodness, and all the moral perfections of God.
Still, however, he has much to learn : the great, the most interesting question is still to be resolved—how offenders, for such we confessedly are, how offenders can appear before this righteous Judge, who will not without indignation behold iniquity; and by what means, if any means there be, he may be moved to pity and forgiveness. Here, reason and nature are at a stand. Reason and nature may begin the work ; they may reflect, and argue, and conjecture, and rise to some degree of hope; but hope, vague and indefinite, will not satisfy the anxious inquirer. He must arrive at certainty. To calm his restless mind, to dispel his apprehensions, and inspire him with confidence, he must have positive assurance of safety; he must see the seal, that ratifies his pardon.
This nature cannot show, That a Being, whose unalterable attribute is justice, will remit the penalty due to transgression, and in what terms he will remit it, can only be learned from his own declaration. Now this declaration, we, who preach the Gospel, maintain that he has actually made by Jesus Christ.
In the verse immediately preceding the text, the apostle proclaims, that, “ whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.” But how call upon Him, and by what name? An express revelation was not necessary to inform mankind that they are to pray; that they are to implore the invisible Being, on whom their fate depends here and hereafter. All nations have been sensible of this; all have had their religious rites; all have adopted some means, by which they hoped to propitiate the Deity : temples have been erected, and altars consecrated, and victims sacrificed; and they have invoked the Creator by the name of Jehovah, or Jupiter, or the Unknown God. But, till the coming of the Son of Mary, He was never worshipped, as He delights to be worshipped, “ in spirit and in truth ;" He was never called upon by that name, under that peculiar character, which alone
insures remission of sin; He was never addressed
“ the God and FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST.” “How could they call upon Him, in whom they had not believed ? and how could they believe in Him, of whom they had not heard? and how could they hear, without a preacher ?” Till Christ Jesus announced his commission from heaven,-till He established, by unquestionable evidence, his supreme authority, as the Son OF THE MOST High God, to forgive sin,—and, by his resurrection from the grave, proved himself to be “ the resurrection and the life” to all his followerstill this great era, when these mysteries were unfolded, there was, strictly speaking, no preaching, no hearing, no belief, no worship, no religion ; no religion, which could give assurance, absolute perfect assurance to the sinner, that he should save his soul from death.
We assert, then, that the belief of the Gospel is necessary to the calling upon the name of the Lord effectually; necessary to the salvation of the human soul. But let us not be misunderstood as limiting the goodness and mercy heavenly Father to the Christian world.
“ Hath God cast away his people ?"—the people whom He has not instructed ?-_“ God forbid." And
God forbid that the ministers of Him, who came " to preach peace to them that were afar off, and to them that were nigh,”—of Him, “who hath compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way,”—God forbid that the servants of this mild and gracious Master, should, with the ignorant presumption of bigotry, consign to perdition the multitudes to whom He has not been pleased to make himself known. No; I am firmly persuaded that the benefit of the Saviour's sacrifice will extend to many from the east and from the west, to many who never hear a Saviour's name while in this dark sojourn of ignorance and superstition ; I am confident that “other sheep, who are not of his fold” here on earth, He shall bring to the general assembly and church of the first-born in heaven, and they, as well as we, “shall hear his voice,”-the voice of pardon and peace,-in that decisive day, when He shall “ render to every man according to his deeds," and thenceforth, for ever, “there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”
But this is not our case. “ Have we not heard ?”_heard the words “which God spake, preaching peace by Jesus Christ ?" Yes, “ verily, their sound went forth into our land, their words
unto the end of our world.” We cannot say, “ How shall we believe in Him, of whom we have not heard, and how shall we hear without a preacher ?” To us, preachers have been sent ; we are perpetually entreated to hear : the arguments, the proofs, laid before us, demand our unqualified assent, our perfect belief; and belief must impel us to call upon the name of the Lord, that Lord “who hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.”
Yet, notwithstanding this promulgation, the religion of Christ is but partially known and partially received, even in the nations of Christendom; nor, perhaps, will it ever be so completely established, in the hearts and lives of men, as to stand in no need of those means by which it was originally propagated, and is still maintained; that is to say, by public teaching. “ How shall they call on Him, in whom they have not believed ? and how shall they believe in Him, of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent ?" There must be religious establishments: certain edifices