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tribulations. Yes, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort is our Father. The Son of God, the Almighty, ever present, and immutable Saviour, is our Saviour. The Holy Spirit, the dove-like, gentle, and pa. tient Comforter, is our Comforter. And with such a Father, such a Saviour, and such a Comforter, what shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid ? Fear! Afraid! Rather let us sing "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear The LORD is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" "Nor let us ever be so inattentive to our Lord's loving instructions, or so neg. lect his gracious warnings, or so forget his holy cautions, as for any trouble, trial, loss, or cross, to cause us to exclaim, “ I was taken by surprise."
Alas! what hourly dangers rise !
What snares beset my way!
And hourly watch and pray.
How oft my mournful thoughts complain,
And melt in flowing tears!
How strong my foes and fears!
O gracious God, in whom I live,
My feeble efforts aid;
Though trembling and afraid.
MAN'S TREATMENT OF GOD'S
REAL Christians have never been favourites of the world, and while it continues what it is, they never can be. “ The world will love its own, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you:” such is the testimony of the Lord Jesus. Nor can the pure and simple gospel be pleasant to the world, because it lays the sinner in the dust, and exalts God as supreme and sovereign. Let us not be surprised then, if we hear worldlings speak against the gospel, and traduce the Lord's people; for what the Romans told Paul is in a good measure true in the present day, “As concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against." Acts xxviii. 22.
This sect originated with Jesus, the hated Nazarene, who came into the world for its good, and to save his people from their sins. He gathered around him many, but they were principally the poor and unlearned. There was nothing in them, or about them, to recommend them to the proud and sensual world. They were begotten of God, born again, and made new creatures in Christ. They embraced the truth he taught, observed the precepts that he gave, and copied the ex. ample that he set. They loved his person, were concerned for his glory, and identified themselves with his interests. Their creed consisted pretty much in the facts, that man is a lost sinner, that salvation by works is impossible, and therefore it must be of
grace, or not at all. That the Lord Jesus came into the world to take the sinner's place, fulfil the law in the sinner's stead, and die as the sinner's substitute. That on account of what Jesus has done and suffered, pardon, peace, and reconciliation are preached to sinners, and whosoever believeth is promised everlasting life. That believers should profess faith in Christ, observe his ordinances, and make his will the rule of their lives. That they should love one another, serve one another, and if need be, die for each other. That believing in Jesus, doing his will, and seeking to glorify his name, they secure to themselves an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them. That as Christians, they should show their conformity to Christ, by loving sinners, doing good even to their enemies, and seeking by all means their salvation. By such hopes they were animated, by such rules they walked, and at such objects they aimed, and yet they were every where spoken against.
Their persons were spoken against, because they were generally poor and unlearned ; and because they poured contempt on the luxuries, pride, and honours of this world. They were treated as the offscouring of all things, unfit for society, unfit to live. Every one felt that he might reproach, revile, and speak against a Nazarene. For them, often, there was no protection, no law but to condemn them; and they suffered the loss of all things, and multitudes of them of life itself. And yet, like Israel in Egypt, the more they were persecuted, the more they multiplied and grew ; until at length they spread not only over the Roman empire, but nearly over the world. And, had they retained the simplicity of their lives, the spirituality of their minds, and the correctness of their creed, they would no doubt have encircled the globe. But at length they were courted by royalty, loaded with wealth, and became intoxicated with worldly honours, and then their glory departed. They drank into the spirit of the world, conformed to its maxims and customs, sought its approbation and applause, and so fell from their exalted station, and lost their real dignity.
Their doctrines were spoken against. They insisted upon the fact, that there is but one God, that in the Divine nature there are three persons, and that each person is truly, naturally, and eternally God. That man has sinned, and God is bound to punish, in order to manifest his justice, and maintain the honour of his law. That there is no escaping the punishment of sin, but by an atonement, for “ without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” That no atonement could be acceptable to God, except it were infinitely meritorious ; and consequently that no sinner could atone for his own sins, or redeem his brother, giving unto God a ransom for him. That in order to meet the case, God sent his own Son into the world, who taking human nature into union with his divine, undertook to answer for man's conduct, atone for man's sin, and suffer all the penal consequences of man's guilt. Consequently, that there is salvation in none other, but Je. sus; by nothing beside the perfect work of Jesus. Man, therefore, must be pardoned as a criminal, for another's sake ; must be justified as ungodly, through another's righteousness ; must be sanctified as a sinner, through another's agency; must, in a word, be saved as a pauper, wholly and altogether of grace. Such doctrines, laying as they do, man in the dust, and exalting the Lord alone, were highly offensive to the proud and haughty heart of man, and excited his animosity or contempt. It became necessary, there. fore, to suffer for them, or to dilute and accommodate them to the prejudices of the carnal mind. For a time, the former course was pursued, and the preachers and professors were driven out from human society wan.