« PreviousContinue »
of peace in his hand to require and invite to a cheerful submission, and by the spirit of love and truth to convert and sanctify men to himself and his service. But after his goodness, long suffering, and patience have made the full trial of hu. man nature which his infinite wisdom had prescribed, he will not wait a day or an hour longer; he will not leave an enemy to dispute his sovereignty; to oppose or retard the progress and tri. umphs of his religion; to disturb the peace or defile the purity of his church and kingdom. In vain shall the heathen rage, the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us, for he that sitteth in heaven shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision.
Then shall he speak to them in his wrath and vex them in his sore displeasure; he shall break them with a rod of iron, he shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Thus shall his ene. mies be clothed with shame, but upon his head shall the crown flourish. He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. In his days shall the righteous, flourish, and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. Thus having made peace through the blood of his cross, shall he reign as Prince of Peace, reconciling all things unto his father, and unto himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And of the increase of his govern. ment and peace there shall be no end; upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.-Suffer me now to close this discourse with a few plain inferences.
In the first place, it follows from what hath been said, that the Christian religion is entitled to the best reception among men. It first began to be spoken by the Lord, and hath been confirmed unto us by them that heard him, God also bear. ing them witness both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will. Independent of miraculous attestations, even his doctrine and manner of teaching extorted the confession of enemies that never man spake like this man. The intimate knowledge of his disciples, increased to
them the evidence of his Divine mission, and hath transmitted to us a pure and perfect testimony. Well might they say, who with their own eyes beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, “We « have not followed cunningly devised fables, 6 “ when we made known unto you the power and « coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye “ witnesses of his majesty, for he received from “ God the Father honour and glory, when there " came such a voice to him from the excellent
glory, this is my beloved Son in whom I am “ well pleased. And this voice which came " from heaven, we heard when we were with him “ in the holy mount.”
Thus was ancient prophecy ratified, and future confidence directed and established; but the argument which our subject chiefly presses upon us, is that which arises from its intrinsic excellence and grandeur, and its visible moral effects. Can we contemplate the manifest design and tendency of Christianity, without ascribing to it a perfection of beauty, majesty, and goodness, which never belonged to any other system, which not only merits a preference of regard, but which justly commands reverent attention and eternal
wonder of the whole intelligent creation? Were ever such enlarged and exalted views given of the character and government of God? Were there ever such commanding majesty and laws? Such inviting beauty, such overcoming grace ? Can we attend to the ministry of reconciliation without admiring his love, his wisdom, his power, his holiness, his justice, his faithfulness? When we think how the person, character, and work of Christ, as the Redeemer of a lost world set these before us in full and glorious illustration; what a profusion of the richest and best blessings is poured upon us by his mediation and influence; how freely these inestimable benefits are bestowed; how fully they satisfy the heart; how much they are designed and calculated to produce and promote individual excellence and enjoyment, and universal goodness and happiness; do we not in these things recognize a true and Divine religion? Is it not then a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners? Behold now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.
Secondly, We are warranted to infer the honour and importance of Missionary zeal and ser
vice. These are evidently conformable to the Divine purpose, and precept, and promise; therefore are lawful. Gratitude obliges us to publish and recommend the goodness of God, and the grace and truth of the Saviour of the world; brotherly love requires our closest attention and most active exertions in advancing as far as we can the best interests of our fellow men. But the subject upon which we have been discoursing, urges these upon us not merely as duty, but the most important and honourable service in which we can engage. We have seen that it is the plan of God, his principal plan; he hath made every thing else subordinate to it. His own Son steps forward at his call, as the only person in the universe able and worthy to undertake and accomplish the reconciliation of heaven and earth. Not only hath he collected and shall he put into operation all the influences of nature and Provi. dence, but the personal agency and almighty energies of the eternal Spirit are requisite, and shall be employed to complete the universal restoration of human nature to the favour and image of God. Can that then be a little thing? Must it not be the greatest conceivable thing which stands forth with such distinguished pre-eminence