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God with one accord, and were all filled with the Holy Ghost. The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.” (So did the love of him in whom they had believed, constrain them to love one another!) “ Neither said any of them that-aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things com
So fully were they crucified to the world, and the world crucified to them! " And they continued steadfastly with one accord in the apostles' doctrine, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayer,” Acts
great grace was upon them all; neither was there any among them that lacked : for as many as were possessors of lands or houses, sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were scld, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need,” Acts iv, 31-35.
II. 1. Let us take a view, in the second place, of this Christianity, as spreading from one to another, and so gradually making its way into the world : for such was the will of God concerning it, who did not " light a candle to put it under a bushel, but that it might give light to all that were in the house.' And this our Lord had declared to his first disciples, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” “the light of the world;" at the same time that he gave that general comm
mand, “ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” Matt. v, 13-16.
2. And, indeed, supposing a few of these lovers of mankind to see
the whole world lying in wickedness,” can we believe they would be unconcerned at the sight, at the misery of those for whom their Lord died? Would not their bowels yearn over them, and their hearts melt away for very trouble ? Could they then stand idle all the day long, even were there no command from him whom they loved ? Rather would they not labour, by all possible means, to pluck some of these brands out of the burning ? Undoubtedly they would : they would spare no pains to bring back whomsoever they could of those poor" sheep that had gone astrav, to the great Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, 1 Pet. ii, 25.
3. So the Christians of old did. They laboured, naving opportunity, “ to do good unto all men,” Gal. vi, 10, warning them to flee frorn the wrath to come; now, now to escape the damnation of hell. They declared, “ The times of ignorance God winked at; but now he calleth all men every where to repent,” Acts xvii, 30. They cried aloud, Turn ye, turn ye from
ways; so iniquity shall not be your ruin,” Ezek. xviii
, 30. They reasoned with them of temperance and righteousness, or justice, of the virtues opposite to their reigning sins, and of judgment to come; of the wrath of God, which would surely be executed on evil doers in that day when he should judge the world, Acts xxiv, 25.
4. They endeavoured herein to speak to every man severally as he had need. To the careless, to those who lay unconcerned in darkness and in the shadow of death, they thundered, "Awake, thou that sleepest : arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light:" but to those who were already awakened out of sleep, and groaning under a sense of the wrath of God, their language was, “We have an Advocate with the Father; he is the propitiation for our sins.” Meantime, those who had believed, they provoked to love and to good works; to patient con
tinuance in well doing; and to abound more and more in that holiness, without which no man can see the Lord, Heb. xii, 14.
5. And their labour was not in vain in the Lord. His word ran, and was glorified. It grew mightily and prevailed. But so much the more did offences prevail also. The world in general were offended, “because they testified of it, that the works thereof were evil,” John vii, 7. The men of pleasure were offended, not only because these men were made, as it were, to reprove their thoughts :-"He professeth,” said they, “ to have the knowledge of God; he calleth himself the child of the Lord; his life is not like other men's; his ways are of another fashion; he abstaineth from our ways, as from filthiness; he maketh his boast, that God is his Father,” Wisd. ii, 13–16:—but much more, because so many of their companions were taken away, and would no more run with them to the same excess of riot, 1 Pet. iv, 4. The men of reputation were offended, because, as the gospel spread, they declined in the esteem of the people; and because many no longer dared to give them flattering titles, or to pay man the homage due to God only. The men of trade called one another together, and said, “Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. But ye see and hear that these men have persuaded and turned away much people. So that this our craft is in danger to be set at nought,” Acts xix, 25, &c. Above all, the men of religion, so called, the men of outside religion, “the saints of the world,” were offended, and ready at every opportunity to cry out, “Men of Israel, help! we have found these men pestilent fellows, movers of sedition throughout the world,” Acts xxiv, 5. “These are the men that teach all men, every where, against the people, and against the law,” Acts xxi, 28.
6. Thus it was that the heavens grew black with clouds, and the storm gathered amain. For the more Christianity spread, the more hurt was done, in the account of those who received it not; and the number increased of those who were more and more enraged at these
men who thus turned the world upside down,” Acts xvii, 6; insomuch that more and more cried oui, “Away with such fellows from the earth; it is not fit that they should live ;' yea, and sincerely believed, that whosoever should kill them would do God service.
7. Meanwhile they did not fail to cast out their name as evil, Luke vi, 22; so that this “sect was every where spoken against,” Acts xxviii, 22. Men said all manner of evil of them, even as had been done of the prophets that were before them, Matt. v, 11. And whatsoever any would affirm, others would believe. So that offences grew as the stars of heaven for multitude, And hence arose, at the time foreordained of the Father, persecution in all its forms. Some, for a season, suffered only shame and reproach; some," the spoiling of their goods;"
some had trial of mocking and scourging; some of bonds and imprisonment;" and others " resisted unto blood,” Heb. x, 34, xi, 36, &c.
8. Now it was that the pillars of hell were shaken, and the kingdom of God spread more and more. Sinners were every
where turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” He gave his children " such a mouth, and such wisdoin, as all their adversaries could not resist :" and their lives were of equal force with their words. But above all, their sufferings spake to all the world. They "approved themselves the servants of God, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours; in perils in the sea, in perils in the wilderness, in weariness and painfulness, in hunger and in thirst, in cold and nakedness," 2 Cor. VI, 4, &c. And when, having fought the good fight, they were led as sheep to the slaughter, and offered up on the sacrifice and service of their faith, then the blood of each found a voice, and the heathen owned, “ He being dead yet speaketh."
9. Thus did Christianity spread itself in the earth. But how soon did the tares appear with the wheat, and the mystery of iniquity work as well as the mystery of godliness! How soon did Satan find a seat, even in the temple of God,“ till the woman fled into the wilderness," and “the faithful were again minished from the children of men !" Here we tread a beaten path: the still increasing corruptions of the succeeding generations have been largely described from time to time, by those witnesses God raised up, to show that he had “ built his church upon a Rock, and the gates of hell should not (wholly) prevail against her,” Matt. xvi, 18.
III. 1. But shall we not see greater things than these ? Yea, greater than have been yet from the beginning of the world. Can satan cause the truth of God to fail, or his promises to be of none effect? If not, the time will come when Christianity will prevail over all, and cover the earth. Let us stand a little, and survey (the third thing which was proposed) this strange sight, a Christian World. Of this the prophets of old inquired and searched diligently, 1 Pet. i, 10, 11, &c: of this the Spirit which was in them testified: “ It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more, 1-4. “In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people. To it shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again to recover the remnant of his people; and he shall set up an Ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah, from the four corners of the earth,” Isa. xi, 10–12. “The wolf shall then dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. They shall not hurt nor destroy, saith the Lord, in all my holy mountain. For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea,” Isa. xi, 6-9.
2. To the same effect are the words of the great apostle, which it is evident have never yet been fulfilled. “ Hath God cast away his people ? God forbid.” “But through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles." "And if the diminishing of them be the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness ?” “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery: That blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved,” Rom. xi, 1, 11, 25, 26.
3. Suppose now the fulness of time to be come, and the prophecies to be accomplished. What a prospect is this! All is “ peace, quietness,
» Isa. ii,
and assurance for ever.” Here is no din of arms, no "confused noise," no“ garments rolled in blood.”
“ Destructions are come to a perpetual end: wars are ceased from the earth. Neither are there
any intestiné jars remaining ; no brother rising up against brother; no country or city divided against itself, and tearing out its own bowels. Civil discord is at an end for evermore, and none is left either to destroy or hurt his neighbour. Here is no oppression to make even the wise man mad; no extortion to grind the face of the poor ; no robbery or wrong; no rapine or injustice; for all are “content with such things as they pos
Thus "righteousness and peace have kissed each other," Psa. lxxxv, 10; they have "taken root and filled the land:” “righteousness flourishing out of the earth," and "peace looking down from heaven.”
4. And with righteousness or justice, mercy is also found. The earth is no longer full of cruel habitations. The Lord hath destroyed both the blood-thirsty and malicious, the envious and revengeful man. Were there any provocation, there is none that now knoweth to return evil for evil; but indeed there is none that doeth evil, no, not one; for all are harmless as doves. And being filled with peace and joy in believing, and united in one body, by one spirit, they all love as brethren, they are all of one heart, and of one soul. “Neither saith
that aught of the things which he possesseth is his own." There is none among them that lacketh; for every man loveth his neighbour as himself. And all walk by one rule, “Whatever ye would that men should do unto you even so do unto them."
5. It follows, that no unkind word can ever be heard among them, no strife of tongues, no contention of any kind, no railing or evil speaking ; but
opens his mouth with wisdom, and in his tongue there is the law of kindness.” Equally incapable are they of fraud or guile : their love is without dissimulation : their words are always the just expression of their thoughts, opening a window into their breast, that whosoever desires may look into their hearts, and see that only love and God are there
6. Thus, where the Lord omnipotent taketh to himself his mighty power and reigneth, doth he “subdue all things to himself,” cause every heart to overflow with love, and fill every mouth with praise. Happy are the people that are in such a case : yea, blessed are the people who have the Lord for their God," Psa. cxliv, 15. “ Arise, shine, (saith the Lord,) for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon
“ Thou hast known that I, the Lord, am thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer, the mighty God of Jacob. I have made thy officers peace, and thy exacters righteousness. Violence shall no more be heard in the land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls, salvation, and thy gates, praise.” “Thy people are all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever; the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.” “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory," Isa. 1x, 1, 16-19.
IV. Having thus briefly considered Christianity, as beginning, as going on, and as covering the earth ; it remains only that I should close the whole with a plain, practical application.
1. And first, I would ask, Where does this Christianity now exist?
Where, I pray, do the Christians live? Which is the country, the inhabitants whereof are all thus filled with the Holy Ghost ? Are all of one heart anu of one soul ? Cannot suffer one among them to lack any thing, but continually give to every man as he hath need? Who, one and all, have the love of God filling their hearts, and constraining them to love their neighbour as themselves ? Who have all “put on bowels of
mercy; humbleness of mind, gentleness, long suffering !" Who offend not in any kind, either by word or deed, against justice, mercy, or truth ; but in every point do unto ail men, as they would these should do unto them. With what propriety can we term any a Christian country, which does not answer this description ? Why then, let us confess we have never yet seen a Christian country upon earth. 2. I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, if
do account me a madman or a fool, yet, as a fool bear with me. It is utterly needful that some one should use great plainness of speech towards you.
It is more especially needful at this time; for who knoweth but it is the last? Who knoweth how soon the righteous Judge may say, “ I will no more be intreated for this people.” “Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in this land, they should but deliver their own souls." And who will use this plainness, if I do not? Therefore I, even I, will speak. And I adjure you, by the living God, that ye steel not your breasts against receiving a blessing at my hands. Do not say in your hearts, Non persuadebis, etiamsi persuaseris: or in other words, Lord, thou shalt not send by whom thou wilt send; let me rather perish in my blood, than be saved by this man!
3. Brethren, “I am persuaded better things of you, though I thus speak." Let me ask you then, in tender love, and in the spirit of meekness, Is this city a Christian city? Is Christianity, scriptural Christianity, found here ? Are we, considered as a community of men, so
16 filled with the Holy Ghost," as to enjoy in our hearts, and show forth in our lives, the genuine fruits of that Spirit? Are all the magistratés, all heads and governors of colleges and halls, and their respective societies, (not to speak of the inhabitants of the town,) " of one heart and one soul ?" Is "the love of Goả shed abroad in our hearts ?” Are our tempers the same that were in him ? And are our lives agreeable thereto ? Are we "holy as He who hath called us is holy, in all manner of conversation?"
4. I intreat you to observe, that here are no peculiar notions now under consideration : that the question moved is not concerning doubtful opinions, of one kind or another, but concerning the undoubted, fundamental branches (if there be any such) of our common Christianity, And for the decision thereof, I appeal to your own consciences, guided by the word of God. He therefore that is not condemned by his own heart let him go free.
5. In the fear, then, and in the presence of the great God before whom both you and I shall shortly appear,
pray you that are in authority over us, whom I reverence for your office sake, to consider, (and not after the manner of dissemblers with God,) are you “filled with the Holy Ghost ?" Are you lively portraitures of Him whom ye are appointed to represent among men ? " I have said ye are gods,” ye magistrates and rulers; ye are by office so nearly allied to the God of heaven! In your several stations and degrees, ye are to show forth unto us " the Lord our governor.” Are all the thoughts of your hearts, all