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ance, and command of men's passions, as well as the energy of God accompanying his words, no prophet could compare with him, Elijah not excepted, who appeared to live in him. Hence, though preaching in the most thinly peopled district of Judea, he was universally regarded : “ All Judea, and all the region round about Jordan,” went out to him, " and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. ers, rulers, and princes, paid him due homage. His disciples were numerous in Judea, and probably not few in the Roman provinces. Several years after his death, Paul found some of them in Greece, and referred to his ministry as an event well known to the Jews in Pisidia. The Baptist's ministry was short; but its object appears to have been marvellously accomplished: he prepared the way to Messiah among all nations.
That the ministry of Christ promoted the publicity of divine revelation, requires no proof. No event was of such importance to man, and none ever tended more to awaken the attention of all men. He was the true light, which coming into the world enlighteneth every man. To impart the mind of God was his daily employment. His manner of teaching was as well adapted to interest the passions of men, as his numerous and stupendous miracles were to convince all, that God was with him--that God was in him. His doctrines, and miracles, and his sufferings, were universally known: they reached the
ears of the Roman Emperor, as well as those of his subjects. To all who pretended ignorance of them, his own words formed a sufficient answer or reproof: “ I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort ; and in secret have I said nothing." Accordingly Paul appealed for the truth of his testimony concerning Christ to kings, as well as to their subjects. “ I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom I speak freely: for I am persuaded, that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
The labours of the disciples of Christ, conduct us to a still more remarkable period in the history of the publicity of Divine Truth. Public as Christ's ministry was, it was secret compared with that of his followers. 6. What I tell
in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the house tops." His commission to them was, “ Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature :” and their fidelity is conspicuous in their future exertions.
They were abundantly qualified to disseminate universally VOL II. - No. 11.
the truth. They continued in prayer, from the time of their Lord's decease, till the gift of the Holy Spirit called them to their work. The mighty change now produced in them, rendered them the only objects of attention in Jerusalem. In an instant, they spoke languages, which it is probable they, had never heard, and to which, it is certain, they were total strangers : they demonstrated ihat their Lord was risen from the dead, by an appeal to prophecy and facts, and by the performance of miracles, the inost astonishing: they proclaimed salvation to all through faith in their ascended Lord, and conferred on those who became bis disciples, miraculous powers, similar to those which they possessed themselves. Their fortitude and patience equalled their zeal and benevolence: no opposition retarded their efforts, no sufferings arrested them in their glorious pursuit, till death carried them beyond the reach of their enemies.
They commenced their labours at a most favourable time. The time of Pentecost, one of the great festivals was fully come, when multitudes of Jews and proselytes were assembled in Jerusalem, from every quarter of the Roman empire. When these strangers returned to their homes, they could not fail to relate the marvellous things which they had seen and heard. It is a conjecture, by no means improbable, that by some of those strangers - who had believed, the gospel had been introduced into many places of the Roman empire, very soon after its promulgation in Judea, and some years before they were visited by the Apostles-The subjection of the Jews to the Romans, was a severe punishment inflicted by heaven on that guilty people ; but it proved, through the di. vine blessing, the means of salvation to many. For in consequence of this, the Jewish religion was tolerated throughout the whole empire ; and it was a considerable time ere the followers of Christ were viewed in any other light by the Romans, than a contemptible sect of the Jews. Thus, the chief opposition from persecution, which Christians had to contend against, arose from the Jews, who had little power to wreak their vengeance on those whom they hated. Hence, the kingdom of heaven extended its influence over all the earth, ere the jealousy of worldly kingdoms was much roused. The tree of life had taken deep root in the earth, and spread its branches, and exhibited its fruits to the four winds of heaven, before it was shaken by tempests.
The national prejudices of the disciples of Christ detained them for some time in their own land ; but when illuminated by heaven, and taught by trying providences, they joyfully entered the heathen lands and panted io make all men partakers of God's salvation. They adopted every prudent mea
sure which tended to the publicity of the word of God. To whatever country providence directed their steps, they com, menced their labours in the most populous cities, and in places most generally resorted to by the inhabitants. They knew the divine excellency of the gospel, and they gloried to make it known to all. When the chief cities were once illuminated by the heavenly light, the inferior cities and the countries surrounding them would soon be taught to walk in that light. To accomplish this, the followers of Christ in every place assembled every sabbath to give all men an opportunity of hearing the word of God; and those fitted to instruct others went every where preaching the word. None of them were permitted at the hazard of the loss of eternal life, to conceal their knowledge of Christ, or attachment to him His awfully solemn warning sounded daily in their ears : " Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my
Father who is in heaven: But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I deny before my Father who is in heaven." Thus the disciples of Christ were as a city set on an hill that can. not be hid.” If any one, therefore, walked in darkness, it was because he hated the light. The first teachers of Christianity were solicitously careful, that all the societies of believers enjoyed the benefit of the sacred oracles. This is sufficiently evident from the apostolic epistles as well as from the testimony of historians of those times. Nor were the holy books committed into the hands of a few ; but granted to all, and read publicly in all their assemblies.
Thus public in their confession of the truth, and zealous and active in making it known to the world, they soon attracted the notice of the higher powers ; roused their jealousy and undeservedly provoked their hatred. They were determined in their adherence to the Lord Jesus, whom the Jewish nation abhorred as a blasphemer, and whom the Gentiles considered as an enthusiastic and malefactor. Their num. ber no sooner became considerable in any place than the national religious guides, Jewish Rabbies, and Gentile priests, sought their destruction: They represented them as athiests, the enemies of mankind, and succeeded in stirring up the civil authorities to consult their ruin. But the persécutions which they endured, instead of banishing the truth, tended more, perhaps, than all their labours to make it known. They were spectucles to angels and men: and whoever beheld them were inexcusable, if they continued ignorant of the will of God.
Great as was the opposition which they had to encounter, incredible as were the sufferings which they endured, they rose superior to all their foes. Their number multiplied exs ceedingly, in every part of the Roman empire, and after the lapse of a few centuries their friendship was as ardently sought by the supreme rulers, as their anihilation had formerly been. Emperors and magistrates, philosophers and priests, renounced their idolatries, and became the professed followers of Christ. And thus learning and power were devoted to communicate Christianity to the whole world. It is true, that unhallowed means were now too often employed to effect this; but it is equally certain, that professed Christians had not yet learned to conceal from men the truths of divine revelation, or force them to profess' a faith, the knowledge of which had never been imparted to them. And wherever divine revelation is known, there we may trust, men will joyfully receive its salutary blessings, at least, their unbelief and disobedience are without excuse.
The hints already thrown out, in this and the preceding papers, will, I trust, shew the special care of Jehovah, to promote by suitable methods, the publicity of his revelation. I may, perhaps, soon prosecute this subject ; but, in the meani time, beg leave to observe, that we have here a most important argument to recommend the sacred and glorious exertions of all societies devoted to disseminate divine truth: an argument which claims more consideration than it has yet received, or than it, perhaps can receive. “ Be ye imitators of God as dear children." "He has solicitously, uniformly, and constantly called the human race to his word; and thus demonstrated his oath: “ As I live, saith Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but rather that he turn and live.” How deficient have his servants been in following his example! How little have they cultivated mercy and compassion to their brethren! Alas! we have not been; we are not merciful 6 as our Father who is in heaven is merciful." Let us be zealous and repent. Earth and heaven loudly call on us to rouse from our slumbers. Many run to and fro, and knowledge is increased. Innumerable multitudes desire the knowledge of the Lord. « Arise,” then, 6 shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory (his delight in mercy) shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."
THE TIMES OF IGNORANCE UNDER DIVINE LIMITATIOTÉ.
In a former paper (see vol. I. page 314,) a few remarks were made upon the moral darkness in which the heathen world was enveloped, for many ages prior to the manifestation of Christ, who is “ the true light which lighteth every marr that cometh into the world." It is the object of the present: communication to shew, that the Lord never intended that the ignorance and error of former ages should be permanent. But having given a revelation of mercy to mankind, he designed in due time, to pour its radiance into the centre of Satan's empire, and diffuse its brilliant beams over the dark places of the earth, which are the habitations of horrid cruel. ty. And we even live to witness :
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Fraught with the treasures of redeeming grace.” While the Saviour tabernacled below, his labours were mostly limited to the land of Judea. The primary object of his mission was to seek and to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In this point of view, he was a Minister of the circumcision, see Rom. xv. 8. And he reserved the early honour to his Apostles, and Ministers of the word, “ to preaclı among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." For thus it was written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance, and remission of sins, should be preached in his name, among
all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. The Lord gave the Word, and great was the company of them that published it. Nor did they publish it in vain. For while many ran to and fro, knowledge was increased the hand of the Lord was withi them; and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Whether they addressed a horde of rude barbarians, or a polite assembly of civilized citizens, their doctrine was uniformly-repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Although during the times of ignorance God winked at the superstitious fooleries of their fore-fathers; yet now, matters were not to be allowed to move as formerly, in an undisturbed stream of corruption-even antiquity cannot justify iniquity, for God now commandeth all men every where to repent.
The above declaration describes the duty of ignorant, and impenitent sinners. All who have drunk at the unadulterated streams of divine truth, will allow, that “ for the soul to be without knowledge, is not good.” And it is even possible for a people with the oracles of God in their hands, to perish for lack of knowledge. Although knowledge has been under-rated