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i more refined, are no less contrary to the gof
pel, have a prevailing dominion and influence. What can be more deplorable, in the view of an enlightened and benevolent mind, than the general state of the Roman and Greek churches ! Where the traditions, inventions and doctrines of men, a train of pompous and burdensome ceremonies, a dependance upon masses, penance and pilgrimages, upon legends and fictitious faints, form the principal features of the public religion. Many nations are involved in this gross darkness, but they are not wholly destitute of the scripture ; some portions of it, are interwoven with their authorized forms of worship; and we cannot, with reason, doubt, but a succefsion of individuals, among them, have been acquainted with the life and power of true godliness, notwithstanding, the disadvantages and prejudices of their education. There are, likewise, amongst protestants, schemes of doctrine, supported by learning, and by numbers, which are not more conformable to the standard of the New Testament, than the groffest errors of popery; and yet, here and there, persons may be met with, who, by the aģency of the holy Spirit, enabling them to VOL. II. Ee
understand the scriptures, are made wiser than their teachers; and who, though still fettered by some mistakes and prejudices, give evidence in the main, that their hopes are fixed upon the only atonement, that they are redeemed to God, and are partakers of that faith which worketh by love, purifies the heart, and overco.neth the world.
3. I will go one step farther. The inferences that have been made, by some persons, from the apostle Peter's words, That God is no respecter of perfons, but in every nation, he that feareth bim, and worket b rigkteousness, is accepted with him *, are, undoubtedly, rafh and unscriptural. They would conclude from thence, that it is of little importance what people believe, provided they are fincere in their way. That the idolatrous heathens, even the inost savage of them, whose devotion is cruelty, who pollute their worship with human blood, and live in the practice of vices disgraceful to humanity, are in a very safe state, because they act, as it is supposed, according to their light. But if the light which is in them be darkness, how great is that darkness ! Such . . * Aets x. 3435. '
- a lax
a lax candour as this, tends to make the gofpel unnecessary ; if they who have it not, are, therefore, excusable, though they neither love nor fear God, and live in open violation of the law of their nature. The declaration, that without bclinefs no man fiali fee the Lord *, holds universally, and without a single exception. But if we suppose a heathen, deftitute of the means of grace by which conversion is usually wrought, to be brought to a sense of his misery, of the emptiness and vanity of worldly things, to a conviction that he cannot be happy without the favour of the great Lord of the world, to a feeling of guilt, and a desire of mercy; and that though he has no explicit knowledge of a Saviour, he directs the cry of his heart to the unknown Supreme, to this purport, Ens entium miferere mei, Father and source of beings, have mercy upon me! Who will prove, that such views and desires · can arise in the heart of a finner, without name? Or who has a warrant to affirm, that the supposition I have made is, in the nature of things, impossible to be realized ? But I stop—I do not often amuse you with conjecture. And though, for want of express warrant from scripture, I dare not give the sentiments I have now offered, a stronger name, than, probable or conjectural, I hope I do not propose them for your amusement. They will prove to your advantage and my own, if they are helpful to guard us against a narrow, harsh, and dogmatical spirit; and if, without abating our reverent submission to the revealed will of God, they have a tendency to confirm our views of his goodness, and the power and compassions of the great Redeemer,
the energy of that Spirit, which, Jesus is exalted to bestow? Who will take upon him to say, that his blood has not sufficient efficacy, to redeem to God, a sinner who is thus disposed, though he has never heard of his
* Heb. xii. 14.
SE RM O N. XLIX.
THE CHORUS OF ANGEL S.
Rev. v. 12. Worthy is the Lamb that was pain, to receive
power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength,
and honour and glory, and blessing ! TT was a good report which the queen of
Sheba heard, in her own land, of the wisdom and glory of Solomon. It lessened her attachment to home, and prompted her to undertake a long journey, to visit this greater King, of whom she had heard so much. She went, and she was not disappointed. Great as the expectations were, which she had formed from the relation made her by others, they fell fort of what she saw and heard herself, when she was adЕe 3