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IV. Almost every declaration of God's word, which has any reference to the heathen, proves that they are in a hopeless condition. Those who worship idols, and those who recognise no deity, are alike denounced as fit subjects for divine indignation.
Compare Rev. viii. chapter, 21st verse, with the ix. Psalm, 17th verse. Here “idolaters” are adjudged to “the second death ;” and “all the nations that forget God,” “to hell.”
If there be those among the heathen who do not worship idols, are there any who have not forgotten God? If we had time, other texts might be adduced of the same bearing.
It will probably relieve our minds of all perplexing misapprehensions on this subject, if we attend to the scriptural definitions of idolatry. It is no where represented as the unavoidable result of necessary ignorance, but every where as high treason against the one living and true God. The inspired volume furnishes us with the source from which it proceeds. “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge." - Romans i. 28. " Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God. But changed the glory of the incorruptible God, into an image,” &c. — Romans i. 21, 23.
The first act of idolatry in every nation, must have been an act of rebellion against Jehovah, for the perpetrator knew better. The children of these idolaters are not justifiable in following, so nefarious an example. Those who assume the iniquitous practices of their parents and leaders, are treated as equally guilty with those who originate these evils. “If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
Indeed, it is difficult to say how far the crimes and miseries of the heathen world are judicial visitations for sins. When the Israelites made a calf, and offered sacrifice to idols, it is added, “God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven." -Acts vii. 42.
V. God's uniform dealings with the heathen constitute a powerful argument against their final happiness. The sentence of extermination went forth against whole nations who did not acknowledge and serve him.
How universal the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, Babylon, Nineveh, Egypt, Edom, Moab, the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, Amale. kites, and others.
VI. Another argument of peculiar force, if not of absolute conclusiveness, is the unfitness of all the heathen for heaven. This single consideration has decided the minds of great numbers of Christians on this point; and how is it possible to escape this conclusion, when we read among the unalterable laws of God's kingdom, that “ without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”
- Heb. xii. 14. “ Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” — John iii. 3. Now that the best of the heathen possess this holiness - have been born again, who will affirm?
VII. My last argument against the theory that the heathen will be saved, is their own opinion after conversion. The first speaker who addressed us, expressed the common sentiment of those who have been enlightened. They speak of their friends who died before the gospel reached them, as unquestionably lost. Now this argument gathers force from the fact that the enlightened heathen are the best judges on this question. They can remember their previous condition. They can compare the light they enjoyed with the lives they lead, and they can examine both in the strong light poured upon them from the fountain of truth.
They would certainly be the last to form such a conclusion hastily, if the desires of their hearts were not overpowered by reasons which are still more irresistible. Such
appears to me to be the condition in which the word of God represents the heathen. Even allowing that many of the arguments which have been adduced are inconclusive, I would ask whether their combined power does not amount to a demonstration.
The question among the best men, is not whether many, but whether any of the adult heathen are saved. Even if it could be proved that a few of them are rescued from the destruction of the mass, it would scarcely relieve the dark shades of the picture. In any view of the subject, how unnatural appears the apathy, how shocking the cruelty of the Christian world! Through how many long centuries their ignorant fellow-sinners have been neglected, while the very life of their precious souls has been withheld from them!
What multitudes might have been in heaven, what myriads rejoicing in hope upon earth, if the gospel had not been kept from them-if the command of Jesus had been faithfully executed -if the common feelings of humanity had not been stifled! Oh, who is free from this guilt ? Who will henceforth dare to enter the ministry with the light which now beams upon him without a perfect willingness to go wherever his services are most needed ? And who will dare assume the vow of consecration to his Saviour's glory,at the sacramental board, without recognising in his influence, his substance, and all his talents, the means entrusted to him for the recovery of a ruined world?
The discussions of this day were too unedifying to be recorded. The subject was, the exciting theme of doctrinal and ecclesiastical distinction among evangelical Christians. There were those present who belonged to that party in every religious body, who are bigotted in their opinions, and restricted in their charities who favour Christi- . anity when connected with the advancement of their own sect; but seldom lend an effort to promote it in any other association. The principal part of the day was occupied by this class of speakers. The reason they severally assigned for not supporting foreign missions with energy, corresponding to the magnitude of the enterprise was, the paramount necessity of rightly directed labours at home. Each discovered so much error in some form or other among professed Christians, that neither knew how the world could possibly be converted, until the churches were purified. To those who had never visited Christendom, the whole discussion was a confounding paradox. It was impossible to reconcile what they witnessed