Page images

on its supposed decline. Effects similar to these, which were so successful on the Continent, are now making, not merely for the submission of our venerable church, but for the total destruction of religious principle. Those who seek to destroy the bonds which hold society together, in the hope of profiting by the general ruin, are aware that they cannot succeed whilst Christianity retains its influence.

dom, we are congratulating ourselves | every class, and is fed by periodical publications, especially by Sunday newspapers, as grossly wicked as those which deluged France in the days of jacobinism. Having lived in the neighbourhood of manufacturing establishments, I have had but too much occasion to lament the manner in which the operatives, as they are called, employ their hours of relaxation, espe cially the evenings of the Sabbath. Their neglect of divine worship, their contempt of every civil as well as religious institution, their powerful combinations for the intimidation of their employers, and the destruction of the public peace, but too plainly manifest the effect which has been produced amongst them. As yet, however, I fear that we witness but "the beginning of sorrows:" what results a short time may produce, if no effectual resistance can be made to this overspreading torrent of impiety, it is more easy to apprehend than to calculate.

At first, they contented themselves with declaring war against bigotry and intolerance, complaining of the unequal distribution of ecclesiastical revenues. But they now scruple not openly to avow their designs, and assault the citadel of our faith with the most atrocious blasphemies. Whilst persons, in the lower orders of society, have their minds poisoned by publications adapted to their capacity and flattering to their worst passions; compositions suited to the more refined taste of the higher orders are provided for the diffusion of the venom in a less gross but not less pernicious form. In England, as formerly in France, the fascinations of poetry, the charms of eloquence, the discoveries of science, are perverted for the recommendation of atheistic doctrines, and the reflecting Christian shudders when he hears virtuous females discussing the merits of productions with which they should blush to acknowledge an acquaintance. The impression produced by these machinations of our great enemy are already but too apparent. The speeches which have been recently delivered on various public occasions, sometimes even by ministers of religion, show that true Christianity has of late lost much of its influence, especially in that middle rank of society where it used to have its most strenuous supporters. The spirit, which has long prevailed in our great manufacturing establishments, is diffusing itself amongst workmen of

It is certain, that the enemies of Christ and his Gospel are full of confidence, and scruple not to express their triumphant expectations of the downfall of what they call superstition. In the mean time, what is the conduct of his professed disciples? What are they doing to arrest the progress of wickedness? Where are we to look for the zeal, the love, the unity of spirit, the purity of manners, the devotedness of heart to the cause of truth and righteousness, which the first Christians exhibited, and which ought even to distinguish those who lay claim to that hallowed character ?

Surely, brethren, the present is a time to call upon all sincere friends of religion to stand forward as its strenuous defenders. It is a time to urge the enquiry, "Who is on the Lord's side?" Be assured, there can be no safety now for those who slumber at their post. The careless soldier is but too likely to be surprised by his watch

“ Do you

ful enemy-and the sudden coming of to lay down our lives, if necessary, the great Captain of our Salvation, rather than deny our faith, or diswho, from his heavenly throne, ob- honour our profession? In these days serves the condition of every individual of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasamongst us will fill those with con- phemy, do we stand up as strenuous sternation who neglect their duty. defenders of the ark of God, account“Behold,” he says, “I come as a thief: ing His enemies our enemies, and preblessed is he that watcheth and keepeth pared to resist them to the utmost? his garments, lest he walk naked and Perhaps such questions may appear to they see his shame.” If the passage some to be dictated by that intolerance in which these words occur has been which is so abhorrent to the liberal rightly interpreted, the warning is spe- maxims of this candid age. “What!” cially applicable to the present period. they may be ready to say,

Let us then consider, SECONDLY, wish for the extermination of all who WHAT ANSWER CAN BE MADE TO THE have not embraced what you call true ENQUIRY OF THE TEXT, “Who is ON Christianity? Must we, like the Lethe LORD's side?" Perhaps many vites, gird on our swords and go may be ready to say, "Are not we who through the camp to execute the weekly assemble here to worship before Divine vengeance on our brethren?”– the Lord? Are not we, who have been most certainly not-far different is the baptized into his church, and have spirit of our religion. The kingdom of never deserted her communion?" Re- Christ is not of this world ; nor must member, brethren, that the wor- the policy of this world, nor the instrushippers of the golden calf, who pe- ments of this world, be employed for rished by the sword of the Levites, its defence. “ The weapons of our had been initiated by circumcision warfare are not carnal, yet are they into the covenant of Jehovah, and were mighty through God," for pulling members of the church which he had down the strong-holds of Satan, and established. We are often warned by repelling the assaults of his adherents. the example of those, who, having No: it is after the example of our great been delivered from Egyptian bondage Captain that we would maintain the through unbelief, perished in the wil. combat; he did not strive nor cry, derness. As the Apostle of old said, neither did any man hear his voice “All are not Israel who are of Israel.” lifted up contentiously in the streets ; So is it now-all who bear the name the bruised reed he broke not, the of Christ are not Christians in heart, smoking flax he quenched not, yet did all who are members of the visible he not send forth judgment unto vicchurch are not followers of the Lamb, tory. When his disciples wished to nor distinguished by the marks of his call down fire from heaven for the elect and peculiar people. For what destruction of the Samaritans who end were we signed with the sign of refused to receive him, he rebuked the cross at our baptism? Was it not them, saying, Ye know not what that we might be separated from the manner of spirit ye are of: for the world which lieth in wickedness? Was Son of man is not come to destroy it not in "token that we should not men's lives, but to save them.” Even be ashamed to confess the faith of for his murderers he implored forChrist crucified-should manfully fight giveness; and, after his ascension to under his banner against sin, the glory, converted one of the bitterest world, and the devil, and continue enemies of his Church into its brightest Christ's faithful soldiers and servants ornament. In like manner did his first unto our life's end ?"

followers combat, and finally vanquish Now, my brethren, let us seriously their heathen persecutors. ask ourselves, are we really separate overcame by the blood of the Lamb, from an ungodly world? Are we in no and by the word of their testimony, degree enslaved by its fashions, go- and they loved not their lives unto the verned by its maxims, afraid of its re- death." Let us imitate both his and proach ?' Have we refused to partake their example :-being reviled, let us of sinful pleasures ? Are we watchful not revile again ; being persecuted, let against every thing which might lead us not threaten; but“ in meekness inus into temptation? Are we prepared struct them that oppose themselves, if

“ They

God, peradventure, will give them re- | the saints in the Redeemer's coming pentance to the acknowledgment of the kingdom. truth.” Still, whilst we disclaim all It is very needful to controvert the harshness and intemperance, we must opinion, that the moral amelioration of assume a decided character-we must mankind may be effected by human not allow it to be doubtful whether we wisdom or exertions. Such was the are on the Lord's side, or on that of doctrine of the French sophists, who his enemies, but contend earnestly for taught their disciples to anticipate a the faith once delivered to the saints. philosophical millenium, in which na

Let those, then, who possess learn- ture was to be subdued by art, and ing and ability, employ themselves in vice to be expelled by argument, whilst exposing their sophistries who either universal happiness would be the reopenly or covertly assault the truth as sult of intellectual cultivation. I fear it is in Jesus. With respect to the that similar views have been entertaingross blasphemer, who daringly insults ed by some benevolent men amongst the majesty of heaven, argument will ourselves, and that the zeal which has indeed be unavailing. It has been of late years been manifested for the questioned whether the civil magistrate diffusion of knowledge amongst the should interfere in such cases, because lower orders, has been injurious rather prosecution may render the profane than beneficial, from the neglect of libeller more notorious, and conse- those means which alone can insure quently more influential. But, on the the Divine blessing. Whilst we have other hand, it may be urged, that if taught children to read the Bible, bave the rulers of a nation allow the au- we taught them to love it, to embrace thority of God to be publicly denied, its doctrines, to obey its precepts ? and his name reviled, they are in some Have they not sometimes become dissense partakers of the criine, and that gusted with that; holy book by our it consequently is their duty to restrain making its perusal a task rather than by judicial proceedings all open and a privilege? With respect to the knowavowed impiety. But my present ad- ledge so zealously diffused, has not its monition more particularly respects tendency been to dazzle rather than such assaults upon our faith as may be enlighten, to inflate with pride rather opposed by argument, for though the than to edisy by Christian charity? objections brought against it have been Had our growing population been repeatedly and most ably answered, trained up in the knowledge of them. it may still be a laudable exercise of selves and of their God and Saviour, literary talent to renew the refutation. learning their true condition as fallen New books are read when old ones are creatures, and their infinite obligations forgotten. That which Butler and to him who died to redeem them from Paley did in their day may perhaps be ruin; had the amazing love of God in done again, in some form more adapted Christ Jesus been continually presented to the taste and temper of the times. as a motive to love him supremely, In any case it may be shown, that all and to love one another for his sake; the ability and learning of the age are had they been taught not only to renot on the side of evil. But besides peat forms of prayer, but to speak for resisting the assaults made upon the the spirit of prayer and for Divine iloutworks of our faith, we must counter- | lumination; had the nature and obact those who seek to undermine the ligations of the baptismal covenant citadel. We must especially resist the been fully explained, and their whole progress of German neology, which training such as became to be making its way even

“The sacramental host of God's elect,' amongst some who profess to be de. fenders and expositors of Scripture. we should not witness the insubordinaWe must beware lest the foundations tion, the profligacy, the daring impiety, of truth be subverted, especially those which now alarm us. Let us humble which respect the divine and human ourselves before God for these our nature of our blessed Lord, the per- errors, guarding against the repetition sonality, agency, and gifts of the Holy of them, imploring his protection Spirit; the authority and privileges of against the threatened dangers, and the Church, the glorious inheritance of beseeching him to pour forth on our people the spirit of repentance and children and servants, and determined true conversion.


on the proper employment of that porIn vain shall we contend by argu- tion of the Sabbath which is not spent ment for the faith delivered to the in the sanctuary, and aimed at the saints, if we do not in our lives display exhibition of Christian graces in the its power. Alas! the most formidable intercourse of social life? objections of infidels against Chris. If it were merely as a matter that tianity are drawn from the unworthy respected your temporal interests, I lives of its proposed disciples. When might with great propriety enforce the idolators of human reason see those these duties, for most certainly nothing who call themselves worshippers of can save this land from universal God as selfish, as covetous, as earthly- anarchy but the revival of real godliminded, as sensual as themselves, ness. If, as a nation and as indithey cannot believe it to possess any viduals, we do return to Him from real efficacy, When I exhort my whom we have so deeply revolted, we country parishioners to an attendance may confidently hope that He will on Divine ordinances, I am often told | avert the heavy judgments hanging that they do not perceive those who over our heads and ready to descend attend to be better in their conduct upon us. But if we do not—if neither than those who neglect them: and the rulers, nor the nobles, nor the when the members of our London con- people of the land, will humble themgregations hasten from the house of selves to glorify the God of heaven, God to scenes of a wholly different then will He withdraw those restraints character—when their carriages are which keep the winds of revolutionary observed bearing them to the parks or tempest from blowing upon the earth, hurrying from street to street for a they will be let loose to destroy, and succession of unprofitable visits, will it every institution, every interest, every be believed that they have attended possession, will be involved in one with due seriousness unto the services common ruin. of the Church, or profitted by the in- Begin, then, I beseech you, as many structions of her ministers? Even as hear me this day, by rallying yourwhere anxiety is shown to follow selves under the banners of your cruafter good instruction, is this never cified Redeemer. Be not ashamed to done in a sectarian spirit? Do we confess his faith amidst a sinful and never find one minister set up as an adulterous generation; and take care object of admiration above another, that he shall have no cause to be some praising Paul, some Apollos, ashamed of confessing you as his dissome Cephas, but too few remember- ciples. Endeavour, next, to enlist as ing that the teacher is but the instru- many as possible under the same sament, and God the agent; that Christ cred standard. Let your own families is our only master, and that conformity and immediate connections be the first to him, and union with him, ought to objects of your care. Show them, by be the great objects both of preachers example, and, as opportunity may be and of hearers? My brethren, let us afforded, endeavour to convince them not deceive ourselves in this matter : by argument of the truth and excelif we would prove that we are truly on lence of Christianity. If power is the Lord's side, we must steadily walk given you to extend your operations as he also walked, and make his glory by writing, by public testimony, by the manifest object of all our actions. circulating useful publications, by Allow me, then, once more to appeal contributing to the support of holy reto your own consciences concerning ligious institutions, avail yourselves the evidence which your daily, con- with gladness of the means thus afversation gives of devotedness to him. forded you. I urged upon you, last Sunday, the Let it also be your study to produty of glorifying God, and called mote the spirit of unity amongst real upon you to consider your domestic Christians. I say amongst real Chrisproceedings. Have you done so? tians, or at least those whom, in the Have you reflected upon the import- judgment of genuine charity, we may ance of family religion? Have you esteem such. This is a very different commenced the instruction of your / course from that compromise of doc

trine, that habit of blending every | shade of sentiment, recommended by our modern liberalists. No, we must be strenuous in maintaining what we believe to be the truth, and willing to receive instruction concerning it from others. Yet may we bear with much contrarity of sentiment with respect to modes of discipline or worshipwith respect to any thing, indeed, that does not affect the vitality of religion. Acting upon this principle, we ought to cultivate brotherly love to the utmost, and make any personal sacrifices rather than prejudice or mislead the weakest of God's children. Towards the enemies of the truth, we must show no intemperate resentment; but, at the same time, must not hesitate to proclaim our uncomprising resistance to their erroneous doctrines and wicked practices. The sword employed against them must be the sword of the spirit-the defence which we must oppose to them must be the shield of faith-the armour with which we must clothe ourselves must be the armour of righteousness. In patience, we must, through divine grace, possess our souls, whilst the day of trial lasts; and that grace we must not cease to implore with all prayer and supplication in the spirit.


We need not, then, fear the utmost fury of our enemies. Whether or not GoD will permit them to have a transient triumph we cannot foresee; but of this we may be assured, that their triumph will be but transient, and will end in their complete discomfiture. The adversaries of the Lord shall be found liars, and be broken in pieces by his iron sceptre, like a potter's vessel. When the enemy shall come in like a flood" the Scripture assures us that "the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." The Church may be purified by judgments, but it shall not be destroyed. It may be cast into the furnace, but it shail come forth as gold. We have the word of Christ himself, that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Be of good courage, then, ye faithful followers of Jesus, for ere long you shall be more than conquerors, through him that loved you. Let it be your care to fight a good fight, to finish your course, to keep the faith, and you shall assuredly receive that crown of righteousness which the Lord is ready to give all those who love his appearing. If you keep the word of his patience he will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world to try all those that dwell on the earth. It is his voice, which says unto you," Behold I come quickly; hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out, and I will write upon him the name of my GOD, and the name of the city of my GOD, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh out of heaven from my God, and I will write upon him my new name."

Whilst we pray for ourselves, for our brethren, for our country, for our enemies, we ought to supplicate with peculiar earnestness for the ministers of God, who are bound to stand forward in the celestial warfare, that wisdom may be given them to understand, and courage to pursue the proper course, that they may be enabled to reprove rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine, to do the work of evangelists, to make full proof of their ministry.

It is thus I apprehend that we ought to answer the enquiry, "Who is on the Lord's side?" Thus that we must endeavour "to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand."

May that name be inscribed on each of us, my beloved brethren, for the sake of the same adorable Redeemer, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be ascribed all honour and glory. Amen.

London: Published for the Proprietors, by T. GRIFFITHS, Wellington Street, Strand ; and Sold by all Booksellers in Town and Country.

Printed by Lowndes and White, Crane Court, Fleet Street.

« PreviousContinue »