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Southern District of New-York, ss. E
dependence of the United States of America, JAMES EASTBURN & Co. of the said district, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as Proprietors, in the words and figures following, to wit: “ The Evangelical Guardian and Review. By an Association of Clergymen in New York.
Prove all things, hold fast that which is good. To the law and to the testimony"
In order that we may“ know what we ought to do,” it is necessary for us to possess an “understanding of the times."* Without such an understanding, we cannot rightly estimate the nature and effects of scenes which daily present themselves to our view, and invite our examination. Different events call for the discharge of different duties; and, therefore, it is necessary to know the character of the first, that thus we may rightly perform the last. In this important knowledge, the multitude in Christian lands, at all times, are lamentably deficient, and therefore suffer incalculable mischief in their best interests. They seem, as if by general consent, age after age, to have fallen into two prominent mistakes; which, as they pervert our judgments, always produce disappointment.
The first mistake is, that they view passing events in a light exclusively political; estimating their importance, and calculating their issues, upon principles of political science which has ever been, and in no age more so than the present, merely a system of expediency; without ascertaining, or even inquiring, how far these principles accord with the word of God. Christians themselves, it is to be feared, forget that they have
a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto” they ought to * take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place;"and
* 1 Chron. xii. 32.
+2 Pet. i. 19
floating down with the tide of popular opinion, are lost among the crowd of them that “regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.!*
The other mistake of the multitude is, that they attend only to the influence or effects which passing scenes have on political society. They look merely to the state of commerce, agriculture, manufactures; in a word--to their temporal interests. Amidst their solicitude for these, they forget those which are heavenly and of everlasting importance. Whilst they are regarding the events which occur in the world, that little company--the Church-the body of Christ, is forgotten. In spite of the wo denounced upon those who, being at ease in Zion, " are not grieved at the afflictions of Josepb," few are concerned for her welfare, or asking what effects passing scenes will have upon her state and prospects.
These two mistakes are inseparably connected together, and both mislead the opinions and feelings of the multitude. To attempt a correction of such ruinous errors, is the duty of every man who fears God and keeps his commandments. With this view, the attention of our readers is solicited to the relation which subsists between the Church and the world. The right understanding of this relation alone can enable us to form a just conclusion, at all times, of the events which we witness.
The Church is composed of those, throughout the world, that profess the true religion, together with their children. They constitute the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God; out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. The rest of mankind are the world ; without God, and without hope, dead in trespasses and sins. Between these two classes of persons, which divide the whole human family, there is a wide-a vast difference. The one, regardless of their duty and their interest, “ obey not the Gospel of God," rejecting His offers of pardon through Christ. The other manifest “ obedience to the faith," accepting the testimony of God, concerning Christ, for salvation. The one are yet in the
* Isa. v. 12.
world which “ lieth in wickedness," subjects of the prince of darkness. The other are gathered from out of the world, and formed into a separate community, of wbich Christ, the Prince of Peace, is the head. The one are under the power and condemnation of sin, being aliens from the family of God, and enemies of Him through evil works. The other profess to have hope towards God, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. The one, being children of disobedience, walk in darkness themselves, and have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. The other walk in the light, even as God is light, and have fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
Thus they are separated from each other in their temper of mind, in their habits of life, and their prospects for eternity. Yet still, being upon the same theatre of action and responsibility, and being brethren aợcording to the flesh, they mingle together in society; each, however, retaining their distinctive character; the one born after the flesh, and the other after the Spirit. This distinctive character, whilst it prevents them from agreeing together, or forming an alliance, unfolds to us the nature of that relation wbich the latter sustains to the former; though they are not of the world, they are in it: And constituting the house of God, as built by him, inhabited by his Spirit, and designed to show forth his glory, they hold a station
among their fellow-men, to the last degree interesting and important. On their account, the world is preserved from ruin; they afford evidence to the world of the truth as it is in Jesús; and constitute the central point, to which all the events of God's providence do point. The illustration of these three particulars, will explain, with sufficient clearness, the relation which the Church sustains to the world..
First. On aecount of the household of faith, the world is preserved from ruin. They constitute “the salt of the earth,»* and as such, prevent that corruption of it which would necessarily terminate in its destruction.
* Matt. v. 13.
Reflect for a moment upon its state, as produced by the fall, and you will readily perceive what its fate must have been long before now, without a corrective to prevent that fate. Then men became blinded in their understandings, depraved in their will, polluted in their affections, and disorderly in their lives. They were therefore fitted, by their degraded character, for every act of rebellion against God, and every provocation of his awful displeasure. Nothing could have prevented their everlasting punishment but the mercy of God himself. He having from all eternity foreseen the ruins of the fall, provided a remedy, through which these ruios might be again raised; and thus the mischiefs arising from sin, be retrieved. He entered into a covenant with his Son, by which he gave unto him a certain number, to be redeemed and eternally blessed by him. These are they who believe on his name, being constrained by his grace to honour him before men. They are a certain determinate number, gathered out of all nations, kindreds, and tongues.* Until they are collected in one, the world will be preserved; for out of the midst of the world they must be taken, and made heirs of life.
Thus they are the salt of the earth, in God's design of mercy. They are also, in the regard which God has to the work of his hands. He puts honour upon them in preserving them, and in making them the occasions of preserving others. Thus, we are assured, had there been ten righteous men in Sodom, God would have spared the city.f In the same spirit it is said, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much ;£ viz. to avert judgment, and to draw down the blessing of God. Indeed, the interest which real believers have with God, and the influence which they consequently possess in preventing evils and warding off judgments, can hardly be conceived, though it is deemed little by the multitude. On them, under God, the safety of a society or people depends, because on them the security of the world rests.
* John xvii. 2. compared with Rev. v. 9. + Gen. xviii. 32.
| James v. 16.