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8thly. Every Christian, however long, or severely, tried in the present world, is here taught, that his interests are safe in the hands of GOD.
The trials of Noah were longer, and more discouraging, than those of any Christian. The support, the consolation, which was furnished to him by the objects of time and sense, by his friends, or by mankind, was comparatively nothing. All these things were against him. Even his own preservation was in many respects forlorn and comfortless. To anticipate the ravages of an universal deluge was a most melancholy employment. To behold the ruins of a world; to be an eye-witness of the destruction of all the race of Adam; to ponder the perdition, to which they were consigned in a future state of being; must have embittered deliverance itself, and spread gloom over his own merciful preservation. Still Noah himself was safe, and his family were safe; and all these distressing things were made to "work together for their good."
There are seasons, in which even good men will despond. All the waves of sorrow will seem to go over their heads, and the anchor of hope appear to lose its hold. Health will at times be impaired; the spirits will decay; friends will become cold, or die; the means of support will recede, or vanish; the world will become peculiarly hostile; Religion will decline; its professors will be comparatively few and lifeless; "the ways of Zion will mourn;" the house of God will "sit solitary;" and its glorious inhabitant will appear to have withdrawn his presence and his mercy. In the mean time, the passions and appetites of the Christian himself will regain their control; the world will recover its ascendancy; his energy will sicken; and his piety will sleep. Yet even then "the bruised reed" will not be broken, nor "the smoking flax" extinguished. "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, saith Jehovah that created thee; fear not; for I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by my name: thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the
flame kindle upon thee." "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me," saith the Saviour of men, "because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; to appoint unto them, who mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called Trees of righteousness; The planting of the LORD; that he may be glorified." No child of God is so hidden from the eye, so imperfect in his character, or of so little value in his sight, as to prevent him from being known, protected, sustained, and conducted finally to heaven. It is not improbable, that amidst all his sufferings dangers and discouragements, amid the enemies, by whom he was surrounded, and the hostilities, which he was daily called to encounter, the eminent Saint, whose character we have been investigating, was often ready to despond, and to feel that his burden was greater than he could bear. Yet he was safe: and the ruin, which overwhelmed a world, was unable to reach him. His case is that of every good man. Not one of those, who wear this name evangelically, will ever be forgotten. To all such men "the foundation of GoD standeth sure, and has this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." As his, they will be conveyed safely through life as his, they will be supported in death: as his, they will be remembered in "the resurrection of the just." "In his wrath he may smite them for a small moment; but with everlasting kindness will he have mercy on them.” Amen.
DUTY OF PREACHING THE GOSPEL.
GALATIANS i. 8, 9.
But though we, or an Angel from Heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again: If any man preach any other Gospel unto you, than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
In these words, we have St. Paul's estimate of the Nature, and Importance, of the Gospel, as preached by himself. Every reader of the Scriptures must have remarked the peculiar force of the phraseology, in which it is conveyed. "Even if we, or any man, or an Angel from Heaven, preach any other Gospel, than that which we have preached unto you; let him be anathema." Let him be separated from the church on earth; let him finally be separated from the church in heaven. A crime, on which so dreadful a sentence is pronounced, must certainly be enormous. On what is this enormity founded? On the nature of the Gospel, preached by St. Paul; the authority, with which it was communicated to mankind; and its comparative excellence, when examined with relation to any other Gospel. But if these considerations lay the foundation for the enormity of this crime, the Gospel, preached by St. Paul, must undoubtedly be possessed of singular and superlative excellence. Our time cannot be unprofitably employed in the serious consideration of a subject, so interesting to us and our fellow men.
The supreme importance of the Gospel, by which I intend the Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments, may be exhibited under the following heads.
I. It is an account of the Designs, and the Works, of God.
By these I intend those designs, and works, which are of peculiar importance in the divine system, and by which the divine character is especially manifested. Such are the Creation of the Universe; the Law, by which it is governed; the great Dispensations of Providence towards the race of Adam; the Establishment, and Preservation, of the Church; the Mediation of the Son of God; the Agency of the Holy Ghost in renewing the soul of man; the General Conversion of mankind to Christianity; the Resurrection; the Conflagration; the General Judgment; and the Final Retribution. These, it is presumed, will be readily acknowledged to be in the number of those designs, and works, by which the character of the Ruler of the universe is especially displayed to intelligent creatures; and in which what he is pleased to term his Glory is peculiarly exhibited. The importance of these Works will be readily acknowledged. The importance of the Gospel, considered as a Record of them, is visible in the fol lowing facts: that it is a true record, and therefore exhibits them as they are; that it is a record, dictated by infinite wisdom, and therefore exhibits them in the wisest and best manner; and that, as such a record, it possesses the power of spreading, and actually spreads, the knowledge of them through periods and places, remote from those in which they exist.
Some of these things took place, either before, or during, the several ages, in which the Gospel was written. These it presents to us in historical narratives. The remaining part was, at the termination of the sacred canon, and to a great extent is still, future. The several things, included in this division of scriptural subjects, it presents to us in the language of Prophecy.
If the Gospel had not been written; all these wonderful, and most interesting, things would have been concealed from the knowledge of almost all the human race, during their continuance in the present world. Of the Creation they would have literally
known nothing; but, as in the past ages of heathenism, would, at the present time, have been employed in amusing themselves with dreaming conjectures about this wonderful event; or in questioning, with Aristotle, its possibility; or in determining, with Epicurus, that the universe was formed by a casual concourse of atoms. Of the Deluge, Noah and his family would have had the only knowledge, possessed by man: while the great body of their descendants would have been left, for all their acquaintance with it, to doubtful, vibrating tradition. To the same dubious instruction must they have been indebted for their apprehensions concerning the Establishment of the Church, and concerning all the successive dispensations, by which it was preserved, distressed, or prospered, down to the days of the apostles. Of the Redeemer we should have heard, if we had heard at all, in some such manner, as we have heard of Pythagoras, Zoroaster, or Confucius; and regarded him as being, like them severally, the author of one collection of reveries in the region of conjectural philosophy. Of future events we should have had no ideas beyond the rovings of poetical imagination.
But the Gospel brings all these astonishing subjects to the knowledge of distant lands, and ages; and, interesting and amazing as the works and designs are in themselves, gives most of them their real consequence to the great body of mankind. By its aid we travel back, through sixty centuries, to the period when the world began; and become eye and ear witnesses of the wonderful work of Creation. We behold the Maker of all things descending from the highest heaven, surrounded with infinite glory; and hear his voice calling into being the formless chaos; the light with which it was first illumined, and the firmament by which it was overspread, as by an immeasurable curtain. The dry land, and the ocean, are at the same call separated before us: the earth is instantaneously clothed with the verdure, and beauty, of the spring: and both are peopled with millions of animated beings, fitted to enjoy that bounty, which supplies "the wants of every living thing." We behold, also, the sun lighted up; the moon commencing her wandering course; and myriads of stars