Page images
PDF
EPUB

Israel, who would have pocketed the price of blood, and gone as he did, to seize, and bind, and sacrifice the Lamb of God. The foe had to wait, after he had whetted his teeth for the prey, till one, placed in the very presence of Truth itself, should become sufficiently hardened, through its perverted influence, to administer the betraying kiss, and sell his holy Master. So Julian had done the church far less injury, had he not been nursed in her bosom. It was there his heart acquired that hardness, and his conscience that obduracy, that qualified him to be the patron of that gross, and god-provoking idolatry, which kindled its fires so zealously about the saints of the most high God, and sent so many from the stake and the cross to heaven.

Ah, and before we leave this bloody spot, in search of other facts, all establishing the same truth, I would point you up to heaven, and tell you, that devils could be made, only in that pure and happy world !! It was there, right where God and the Lamb are unceasingly adored, that the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, was schooled, and disciplined, and equiped ;—for what ? for the greatest usefulness, and the highest honours, like that of Gabriel, had he proved obedient; but becoming a rebel, and carrying all his heaven-taught science with him down to hell; he was prepared to display a cunning, and a prowess, in deeds of wrong, that

!

have justly drawn upon him the epithet of the old serpent.

You may now pass down, from the emperial apostate, through the whole catalogue of baptized worldlings, and tell me, if one of them was restrained by his profession, from doing mischief to the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. I know that their initiation into her mysteries, and their unwarranted touch of her consecrated things, have led them to change their mode of warfare, and to attack her interests and her honours, in a covert and disguised assault, made in the night time, while men slept. There have been few open and avowed infidels, who have held their place within the enclosures of the church. But they have done none the less mischief, but the more, because they lurked in ambush. The foe who meets you in open day, you may vanquish far more easily, than he who comes under the covert of the black and dark night.

The thought I venture to urge, is, that the superior growth of depravity, acquired under the touch of sealing ordinances, through the perversions of a deceived heart, have made men the more inimical to the church of Christ, and the more desperate in their attacks upon her interests, and her honours. Hence some of the worst of men have come from the house of prayer, where they had been familiar with all the hallowed objects of piety. No young men have sworn more profanely, or gambled more desperately, or abused the scriptures more wantonly, or sneered at piety more contemptuously, than the wayward youth, who had been accustomed to bow at the family altar. Not that such cases are so common as the contrary; for a pious education, is the most promising path to heaven ; but when they do happen, they are noticed, and afford us awful proof that truth perverted, is more deadly in its effects than error.

Tell me if God has ever directed, that the church should tame her enemies, by placing them in her bosom? Is it thus that we tame the viper and the asp? If such would be the course of wisdom, we have not done half enough. The church should have no enclosures, no creed, no covenant, no watch, no discipline, no barrier that should operate to keep the vilest of men from entering her holiest places. Let us spread at once the net of a loose and superficial discipleship over the whole multitude of the ungodly, and thus, by a single effort, put a period to the church's long protracted conflicts, and save men the pain and the danger of doing mischief. But there is yet room to doubt whether God has prescribed any such means for taming depravity, or terminating the conflicts of his people ; and whether the church has not by this time-serving policy, multiplied her wars and her dangers.

Why will we not look about us, and see what testimony our eyes will furnish us. Who are the enemies of the church in the present day? Who lead in the attacks made on her ? who unsettle her

ministry? who dilute her creed? who abridge her rights? who rob her of her interests ? who, by setting at defiance her laws, and drawing upon themselves her tardy and hesitating anathema, distract her peace ? Ah, look once into the churches that are rent with division, and party, and strife; and tell me,

if in each case there is not some son of belial whom, like the serpent in the fable, the church had warmed in her bosom, but now has to feel the effects of his venom? Where in the churches is there division, and strife, and hatred, and there is no professor warm in the quarrel ? A single man, can go out infuriated from the sacramental cup, and spread a wider ruin than a score of abler men, about whom there have never been cast the sacred enclosures of the covenant. O, I wish I had not half the evidence I have, that I announce a solemn and sacred truth that ought to have been publicly announced far sooner. Whatever then a profession of godliness may do for unregenerate men, it does not curtail their power or disposition for doing mischief. I remark

2. An amalgamation of unregenerate men, with the church, does not increase their means of becoming holy and happy. No plea has been so popular, with those who have wished to push unregenerate men into a closer contact with sacred things, than that they are thus furnished with better means, and a fairer prospect of obtaining salvation. It has been the boast of some modern preachers, that under their ministrations, ungodly men are induced to quit the ranks of infidelity, and become christians. They have skill it seems, in rendering the gospel palatable, and men will receive it from them, who would have perished, before they would have received it at the lips of a harsh, and homely, and unfeeling orthodoxy. Not to stop now, to enquire whether these converts are not rendered tenfold more the children of hell, than previously to their having been discipled ; let me ask whether the means of grace used with them, are thus increased ? and whether their prospects

of heaven are thus brightened ? That same gospel, which would induce the unsanctified, without being renewed, to avow themselves believers; and thus teach them in the outset to utter a lie; would not be very likely to teach them much truth, after their being drawn within the covenant. And moreover, if an impression contrary to truth must be made to bring them to the house of God, or within the enclosures of a christian church, it is very doubtful, whether they would afterward listen seriously to the truth. The same pleasant song that charmed them at the first, must continue to hold them, or they would escape like the bird from the grasp of the charmer. They must have a gospel as false throughout, as was that first lesson, that induced them to quit visibly the fellowship of infidelity. And if so, they remain in all the darkness of their former state, with no more chance

« PreviousContinue »