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mine be compiled to wear the water And while perfecators, wissement : the body, seemed to weaker i v ei. tant, they increak the numivei 4rain, of the church triumphant.
To appearance the church. cice: often brought low. It was being time of the Reformation. Et denly was revived, and broke .... fun from behind a dark cloud of the gospel was diffuse.... most as at the beginning days. But protestant: "... by the far- rit, a predecef Beci .. . tianity
power of it denied and opposed. And to this day it remains a truth verified by experience, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus, muft, in one way or other, suffer persecution *.
Of late years the sanguinary spirit, which, under pretence of doing God service, destroyed his people by fire and tortures, is much subsided. We live in a time when great pretences are made to candour and moderation. We have reason to be thankful for our religious liberty, to the good providence of God. But, fo far as men are concerned, we are not indebted for it, to a just sense and acknowledgment of the right of private judgment, but to the prevalence of sceptical indifference and infidelity. The religion of the gospel was, perhaps, never more despised and hated than at present. We seem to be returning apace to the state of the primitive ages, when there were but two sorts of persons, christians and infidels. But notwithstanding all the arts and assaults of men, whether open enemies or pretended friends, the Bible is still extant, the gospel is still preached, yea, is still spreading. The . * 2 Tim, iii, 12.
Lord has always had a people, though they have been often hidden from the general no. tice and observation of men. He that hitteth in the heavens laughs his opposers to scorn, and maintains his own cause in defiance of them all.
Surely if this work was not of God, the united efforts of kings, councils, popes, philosophers, the great, the wise, the decent, and the profligate, must have overthrown it long ago. If a miracle be demanded in proof of christianity, behold one! Though the world has been raging and plotting against it, from its first appearance ; though it has been fiercely assaulted by those without, and Thamefully betrayed by many within, it still subsists, it still Aourishes. And subsist it shall, for it is maintained by him, who has the hearts of all men in his hands, and can controul or change them as he pleases. He can, and he will, suport and strengthen his people under all their sufferings. He can disappoint his adversaries by unexpected events, divide them among themselves, and so manage them by his providence, as to make them protect and promote the very cause which they hate. And whenever he pleases he can, as it were, from the stones *, raise up instruments to carry on his work, and to shew forth his praise. Therefore,
1. Let not his people tremble for the ark. Our eyes indeed should affect our hearts. It becomes us to be jealous for the Lord of hosts, to be concerned for the contempt and dishonour that is cast upon his government and grace, to be grieved for the abounding abominations of the day, and to pity and pray for obstinate sinners who know not what they do. But we need not fear the failure of his promise. His truth and honour are engaged for the success of his gospel, and they must stand or fall together. It is a cause dearer to him than it can be us. The manifestation of his glory in the salvation of sinners, by the doctrine of the cross, is the one great concern, for which the succession of day and night, and of the seasons of the year is continued, and the visible frame of nature is preserved. He will work, and none skall lett it. The kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Christ. The fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, and the dispersed of Israel shall return to the * Matt. iii. 9.
Lord their God, and be saved. These great events, to those who judge by an eye of fense, and according to the present state of things, may appear improbable or impoffible. But the Lord of hofts hath purposed, and who shall disannulit? His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back * ? :
2. Think it neither strange nor hard, if any of you are called to suffer for the sake of the truth. Think it not frange ; for thus it has been from the beginning. Think it not hard; for our sufferings are small, if compared with the lot of many who have lived before us. We are not called to resist unto blood. Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see such days of liberty as we are favoured with, but have not seen them.
3. Consider seriously, Who is on the Lord's fide ? His is the strongest side and must prevail. If you have yielded yourselves to him, and taken upon you his yoke, your best interests are safe, your final happiness is secured. Nothing can separate you from his love. You shall be kept by his power through faith, and no weapon formed against you shall prosper. But * Ifa. xiv. 27.