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Gospel opens to his view life and light eternal. How comes it to pass, then, that any are to be found, who are “slow of heart to believe” what is so indulgent to the wants, and congenial with the wishes of nature ? and whence is it that any can take offence at a covenant so full of grace and goodness ?-Alas! there is a passion in the human mind, very powerful, though very despi. cable, which is often the root of apostasy, and which works upon those who would be esteemed wise in this world, to deny “ the Lord that bought them.” This passion is vanity—a weakness, from which the wisest and the best are not wholly exempt; but where it takes entire possession of the heart, it leads to every species of folly, and sometimes to the madness of impiety.
Men of profligate principles and abandoned lives, come not under this description : They are rather afraid than ashamed of the Gospel, and shun and avoid it, as a robber or a murderer escapes from daylight, and dreads and hates what exposes him to detection and punishment: But many, especially among the young, not resolutely dissolute, not meaning to walk through life “after the council of the ungodly,” nor to stand constantly “in the way of sinners,” yet sometimes
affect to sit “ in the seat of the scornful." The ambition of being distinguished above the vulgar, and of seeming superior to common prejudices and received opinions, is very apt to prevail at an early age, when the stripling first launches out into the world. A small stock of knowledge is sufficient to set up the caviller ; a little reading supplies him with popular objections, a little intercourse with the profane furnishes him with frothy jests and indecent merriment; and thus armed, he goes forth, if not the determined champion of infidelity, at least the avowed freethinking philosopher; who will not be the dupe of priestly artifice, nor servilely adopt the creed of his forefathers, but try the truth by the test of ridicule. The mind of man is not only held in bondage by the arts of others, it sometimes forges fetters for itself; and, as it has been observed of the common liar, that he repeats his tale, till at last he confounds the distinctions of truth and falsehood, and believes it himself, so not unfrequently it happens to the sceptical disputant; who, at first, instigated only by the desire of distinction and applause, shoots far and wide his poisoned arrows, till, at length, they infect the hand that points them : he propagates
the delusions of the father of lies, till he becomes the dupe of his own perverted ingenuity, and makes final shipwreck of his faith. He is entangled in the cobwebs he had spun for others; and begins to think in earnest, that virtue and vice are imaginary distinctions, that right and wrong, purity and licentiousness, are made fit and unfit, laudable and disgraceful, by arbitrary appointment; and that all obligations of morality or piety are contrivances of human invention, the policy of statesmen, or the craft of priests. Nay—this has been the case, not only with youthful students and half-taught philosophers, but with men of much learning and superior abilities; who, forgetting that the most consummate human knowledge is but garnished ignorance, have been elated with the vanity of science, and losing sight of Christian humility, have soon parted from every other Christian grace. “A little knowledge,” we are told, “is dangerous,”– and none so dangerous as a smattering in metaphysical subtlety. All knowledge, if properly pursued, enlightens the understanding, and conducts to truth; but its first rays are very apt to dazzle and mislead. We must go on, or rest content, if we would be wise to any good purpose. A slender portion will make us selfopiniated, captious, confident, and sceptical : a full and copious supply renders us lowly in our own eyes, teachable, submissive, open to conviction; sensible how little we can gain by our own researches, and thankful for that instruction vouchsafed us from above.
We, who thankfully embrace the Divine dispensation of the Gospel, and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, have the concurring testimony of all the apostles in support of that faith, which is our health and our glory; and as the leading article of the resurrection of the dead to a future state of reward and punishment, is the great hinge on which revelation turns, the resurrection of our Saviour, the most convincing of all his miracles, is confirmed by such evidence, that it is wonderful any man can resist it. Nothing can be of so much moment to mankind, as to ascertain the fact that the dead shall rise; and this fact was indisputably established, when Christ, “ the first fruits of them that slept," ascended from the grave. By this, He gave us a demonstration of what had perplexed the most acute and penetrating among the philosophers of Greece. How are the dead
raised up?—how can they be raised ?—was the cry of the disputants of old. Jesus of Nazareth hath decidedly shown that it is not only possible, but certain, that the soul can be reunited to the same body. This long-contested point He set at rest for ever, when, at the gate of the city of Nain, He gave speech and motion to the corpse they were carrying to the place of burial, and restored to the widow the son “that was dead." He proved himself to be “the resurrection and the life," when at his voice, wrapped in the garb of death, Lazarus came forth from the tomb, in which he had been four days interred,—came forth, a living man ! But when the Lord himself, who died on Calvary amidst a concourse of spectators, rose triumphant from the house of corruption, “ leading captivity captive,” disappointing the worm of its prey, baffling all the preventive measures of his enemies, and completely verifying his own prediction, - what shadow of doubt could remain of His absolute dominion over that last enemy, who had “put all things under his feet ?" He had been publicly executed in the suburbs of a great and populous city,--his side pierced by the mortal spear,-his lifeless body taken down from the