Page images
PDF
EPUB

lived and died among the savage Indians j er to have been an idiot or a lunatic to the end of your days, than to have lived where the doctrine of salvation was published in your hearing, if you finally reject the counsel of God against yourselves!

vER

SERMON XXXIL

THE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL.1

Rom. x. r&.

—Their sound went Into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world.

•THE heavens declare the glory of God*. The grandeur of the arch over our heads, the number and lustre of the stars, the beauty of the light, the splendor of the sun, the regular succession of day and night, and of the seasons of the year, are such proofs of infinite wisdom and power, that the scripture attributes to them a voice, a universal language, intelligible to all mankind, accommodated to every capacity. There is no ipeech nor language where their voice is not • Ps. xix. i.

heard. heard. The combined effect of the visible works of the great Architect, presses a declaration upon the ear of reason—"The hand that made us is divine. We must, however, understand it of the ear of right reason. The loudest voice is unnoticed by the deaf. Thus it ought to be, and thus it would be, if man were indeed a rational creature, as he proudly boasts himself. That the fact in general is otherwise; that the bulk of mankind are no more affected by the works of God, than the beasts of the field: that the philosophers who profess to study them, so faintly discern, so frequently deny, the great first Cause of all, is a proof that fin has darkened and depraved the noblest powers of the foul, and degraded man into the state of an inattentive idiot. However the evidence, if it does not excite his admiration and praise, is abundantly sufficient to convict him of stupidity and ingratitude, and to leave him without excuse *.

This passage, taken from that sublime ode of David, the nineteenth psalm, is applied by the apostle to illustrate the character, and the progress of the still more wonderful dis

* Rom. i. 20.

Pty

play of the divine perfections, which God has made known by the glorious gospel. A variety of truths shine (like stars in the firmament) in the system of revelation. But principally Jesus the fun of truth and righteousness, the source of spiritual light and life, answers to the description there given of the material sun, His going forth is from the end of heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it, and there is nothing hid from his heat *.

But the fulfilment of the promises respecting Messiah's kingdom is progressive. So far as this prophecy has been accomplissied, the arm of the Lord has been revealed. It is his doing, and may justly be marvellous in our eyes. The truth of the prophecy will be proved by its final completion; which, though not likely to take place in our time, we may be assured that it cannot fail, for the Lord hath spoken it. And besides, we have a sufficient pledge and security for the whole, in what he has already done. It was hot necessary for the fulfilling of this prophecy, nor consistent with the tenor of many other prophecies, that the spread of the gospel should be instantaneous and uni* Ps. xix. 6.

versal on its first publication. Messtah is to rule in the midst of his enemies, till the appointed season, when all enemies shall be subdued under his feet. The gospel, the rod of his power, is so admirably adapted to the necessities of mankind, that the obstructions it has met with, must be ascribed to their wickedness and obstinacy. Not that they could resist the will of God. Had he intended to give it universal success from the beginning, the event would have been answerable. But it was his pleasure to conduct the dispensation of it, so as on the one hand to display his sovereignty, wisdom and power, and on the other, to afford a full proof of the depravity and alienation of the heart of man. This point is so much misunderstood and misrepresented, that though it is attended with great difficulties, especially if we give way to vain reasonings upon it, I 'shall venture in the present discourse to offer a few thoughts towards clearing the sub* ject, and vindicating (if the very attempt be not presumptuous) the ways of God to man.

When the Sun of righteousness, after a long night of darkness, arose upon the world, there appeared a strong probability that the

pro-.

« PreviousContinue »