Imatges de pÓgina

hereby wilfully and designedly put asunder what God has joined,—the duties of the first and the second table. It is separating the love of our neighbour from the love of God. It is a plausible way of thrusting God out of the world he has made. They can do the business without him; and so either drop him entirely, not considering him at all; or suppose, that since "He gave things their beginning,

And set this whirligig a spinning,"

he has not concerned himself with these trifles, but let every thing take its own course.

21. On the contrary, we have the fullest evidence that the eternal, omnipresent, almighty, all wise Spirit, as he created all things, so he continually superintends whatever he has created. He governs all, not only to the bounds of creation, but through the utmost extent of space; and not only through the short time that is measured by the earth and sun, but from everlasting to everlasting. We know, that as all nature, so all religion, and all happiness, depend on him; and we know that whoever teach to seek happiness without him, are monsters, and the pests of society.

22. But after all the vain attempts of learned or unlearned men, it will be found, as there is but one God, so there is but one happiness, and one religion. And both of these centre in God. Both by Scripture and by experience we know, that an unholy, and, therefore, an unhappy man, seeking rest but finding none, is sooner or later convinced, that sin is the ground of his misery, and cries out of the deep to him that is able to save, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" It is not long before he finds "redemption in the blood of Jesus, even the forgiveness of sins." Then "the Father reveals his Son" in his heart, and he " calls Jesus Lord, by the Holy Ghost." And then the love of God is "shed abroad in his heart, by the Holy Spirit which is given unto him.” From this principle springs real, disinterested benevolence to all mankind; making him humble, meek, gentle to all men, easy to be entreated, to be convinced of what is right, and persuaded to what is good; inviolably patient, with a thankful acquiescence in every step of his adorable providence. This is religion, even the whole mind which was also in Christ Jesus. And has any man the insolence or the stupidity to deny, that this is happiness? Yea, that it

"Yields more of happiness below,

Than victors in a triumph know?"

23. There can be no doubt but from this love to God and man, a suitable conversation will follow. His "communication," that is, discourse, will "be always in grace, seasoned with salt, and meet to minister grace to the hearers." He will always "open his mouth with wisdom, and there will be in his tongue the law of kindness." Hence his affectionate words will "distil as the dew, and as the rain upon the tender herb." And men will know, "it is not he only that speaks, but the Spirit of the Father that speaketh in him." His actions will spring from the same source with his words; even from the abundance of a loving heart. And while all these aim at the glory of God, and tend to this one point, whatever he does, he may truly say,

"End of my every action thou,

In all things thee I see:
Accept my hallow'd labour now,
I do it as to thee !"

24. He to whom this character belongs, and he alone, is a Christian To him the one, eternal, omnipresent, all perfect Spirit, is the "alpha and omega, the first and the last." Not his Creator only, but his sus tainer, his preserver, his governor; yea, his Father, his Saviour, Sanctifier, and Comforter. This God is his God, and his all, in time and in eternity. It is the benevolence springing from this root, which is pure and undefiled religion. But if it be built on any other foundation, as it is of no avail in the sight of God, so it brings no real, solid, permanent happiness to man, but leaves him still a poor, dry, indigent, and dissatisfied creature.

25. Let all, therefore, that desire to please God, condescend to be taught of God, and take care to walk in that path which God himself hath appointed. Beware of taking half of this religion for the whole, but take both parts of it together. And see that you begin where God himself begins: "Thou shalt have no other god before me." Is not this the first, our Lord himself being the Judge, as well as the great commandment? First, therefore, see that ye love God! next, your neighbour, every child of man. From this fountain let every temper, every affection, every passion flow. So shall that "mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Let all your thoughts, words, and actions, spring from this! So shall you" inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.”

Dublin, April 9, 1789.

SERMON CXX.-Causes of the Inefficacy of Christianity.

"Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" Jer. viii, 22.

. 1. THIS question, as here proposed by the prophet, relates only to a particular people,-the children of Israel. But I would here consider it in a general sense, with relation to all mankind. I would seriously inquire, Why has Christianity done so little good in the world? Is it not the balm, the outward means, which the great Physician has given to men, to restore their spiritual health? Why then is it not restored? You say, because of the deep and universal corruption of human nature. Most true. But here is the very difficulty. Was it not intended by our all wise and almighty Creator, to be the remedy for that corruption? A universal remedy, for a universal evil? But it has not answered this intention: it never did: it does not answer it at this day. The disease still remains in its full strength: wickedness of every kind; vice, inward and outward, in all its forms, still overspreads the face of the earth.

2. Oh Lord God, "righteous art thou! Yet let us plead with thee." How is this? Hast thou forgotten the world thou hast made? Which thou hast created for thy own glory? Canst thou despise the work of thy own hands, the purchase of thy Son's blood? Thou hast given medicine to heal our sickness; yet our sickness is not healed. Still darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness the people, Yea,

"Darkness such as devils feel,
Issuing from the pit of hell."

3. What a mystery is this? That Christianity should have done so little good in the world! Can any account of this be given? Can any reasons be assigned for it? Does it not seem that one reason it has done so little good is this, because it is so little known? Certainly it can do no good where it is not known. But it is not known at this day to the far greater part of the inhabitants of the earth. In the last century, our ingenious and laborious countryman, Mr. Brerewood, travelled over great part of the known world, on purpose to inquire, so far as was possible, what proportion the Christians bear to the heathens and Mohammedans. And according to his computation, (probably the most accurate which has yet been made,) I suppose mankind to be divided into thirty parts, nineteen parts of these are still open heathens, having no more knowledge of Christianity than the beasts that perish. And we may add to these the numerous nations which have been discovered in the present century. Add to these such as profess the Mohammedan religion and utterly scorn Christianity; and five parts out of thirty of mankind are not so much as nominally Christians. So then five parts of mankind out of six are totally ignorant of Christianity. It is, therefore, no wonder that five in six of mankind, perhaps nine in ten, have no advantage from it.

4. But why is it that so little advantage is derived from it to the Christian world? Are Christians any better than other men? Are they better than Mohammedans or heathens? To say the truth, it is well if they are not worse: worse than either Mohammedans or heathens. In many respects they are abundantly worse; but then they are not properly Christians. The generality of these, though they bear the Christian name, do not know what Christianity is. They no more understand it than they do Greek or Hebrew; therefore they can be no better for it. What do the Christians, so called, of the eastern church, dispersed throughout the Turkish dominions, know of genuine Christianity? Those of the Morea, of Circassia, Mongrelia, Georgia? Are they not the very dregs of mankind? And have we reason to think that those of the southern church, those inhabiting Abyssinia, have any more conception than they, of "worshipping God in spirit and in truth?" Look we nearer home. See the northern churches; those that are under the patriarch of Moscow. How exceedingly little do they know, either of outward or inward Christianity! How many thousands, yea, myriads of those poor savages, know nothing of Christianity but the name? How little more do they know than the heathen Tartars on the one hand, or the heathen Chinese on the other !

5. But is not Christianity well known, at least, to all the inhabitants of the western world? A great part of which is eminently termed Christendom, or the land of Christians. Part of these are still members of the church of Rome; part are termed Protestants. As to the former, Portuguese, Spaniards, Italians, French, Germans, what do the bulk of them know of scriptural Christianity? Having had frequent opportunity of conversing with many of these both at home and abroad, I am bold to affirm, that they are in general totally ignorant, both as to the theory and practice of Christianity; so that they are "perishing,' by thousands, "for lack of knowledge,"-for want of knowing the very first principles of Christianity.

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6. "But surely this cannot be the case of the Protestants in France, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland. Much less in Denmark and Sweden." Indeed I hope it is not altogether. I am persuaded there are among them many knowing Christians; but I fear we must not think that one in ten, if one in fifty, is of this number: certainly not, if we may form a judgment of them by those we find in Great Britain and Ireland. Let us see how matters stand at our own door. Do the people of England, in general, (not the highest or the lowest; for these usually know nothing of the matter; but people of the middle rank,) understand Christianity? Do they conceive what it is? Can they give an intelligible account, either of the speculative or practical part of it? What know they of the very first principles of it? of the natural and moral attributes of God? of his particular providence? of the redemption of man? of the offices of Christ? of the operations of the Holy Ghost? of justification? of the new birth? of inward and outward sanctification? Speak of any of these things to the first ten persons you are in company with; and will you not find nine out of the ten ignorant of the whole affair? And are not most of the inhabitants of the Scotch Highlands fully as ignorant as these. Yea, and the common people in Ireland? (I mean the Protestants, of whom alone we are now speaking.) Make a fair inquiry, not only in the country cabins, but in the cities of Cork, Waterford, Limerick; yea, in Dublin itself. How few know what Christianity means! How small a number will you find that have any conception of the analogy of faith! of the connected chain of scripture truths, and their relation to each other! Namely, the natural corruption of man; justification by faith; the new birth; inward and outward holiness. It must be acknowledged by all competent judges, who converse freely with their neighbours in these kingdoms, that a vast majority of them know no more of these things, than they do of Hebrew or Arabic. And what good can Christianity do to these, who are so totally ignorant of it?

7. However, in some parts, both of England and Ireland, scriptural Christianity is well known; especially in London, Bristol, Dublin, and almost all the large and populous cities and towns of both kingdoms. In these, every branch of Christianity is openly and largely declared; and thousands upon thousands continually hear and receive "the truth as it is in Jesus." Why is it then, that even in these parts Christianity has had so little effect? Why are the generality of the people, in all these places, heathens still? no better than the heathens of Africa or America, either in their tempers or in their lives? Now how is this to be accounted for? I conceive thus: It was a common saying among the Christians in the primitive church; "The soul and the body make a man; the spirit and discipline make a Christian :" implying, that none could be real Christians, without the help of Christian discipline. But if this be so, is it any wonder that we find so few Christians; for where is Christian discipline? In what part of England (to go no farther) is Christian discipline added to Christian doctrine? Now whatever doctrine is preached, where there is not discipline, it cannot have its full effect upon the hearers.

8. To bring the matter closer still. Is not scriptural Christianity preached and generally known among the people commonly called Methodists? Impartial persons allow it is. And have they not Chris

tian discipline too, in all the essential branches of it, regularly and constantly exercised? Let those who think any essential part of it is wanting, point it out and it shall not be wanting long. Why then aro not these altogether Christians, who have both Christian doctrine and Christian discipline? Why is not the spiritual health of the people called Methodists recovered? Why is not all that "mind in us which was also in Christ Jesus?" Why have we not learned of him our very first lesson, to be meek and lowly of heart? to say with him in all circumstances of life; "Not as I will, but as thou wilt!" "I come not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me." Why are not we “crucified to the world, and the world crucified to us ?" Dead to the "desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, and the pride of life?" Why do not all of us live" the life that is hid with Christ in God?" Oh why do not we, that have all possible helps, "walk as Christ also walked ?" Hath he not left us an example that we might tread in his steps? But do we regard either his example or precept? To instance only in one point: who regards those solemn words; "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth?" Of the three rules which are laid down on this head, in the sermon on the mammon of unrighteousness," you may find many that observe the first rule; namely, "gain all you can." You may find a few that observe the second; save all you can:" but how many have you found that observe the third rule; "give all you can?" Have you reason to believe, that five hundred of these are to be found among fifty thousand Methodists? And yet nothing can be more plain, than that all who observe the two first rules without the third, will be two fold more the children of hell than ever they were before.

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9. Oh that God would enable me once more, before I go hence, and am no more seen, to lift up my voice like a trumpet to those who gain and save all they can, but do not give all they can. Ye are the men,

some of the chief men, who continually grieve the Holy Spirit of God, and in a great measure stop his gracious influence from descending on our assemblies. Many of your brethren, beloved of God, have not food to eat; they have not raiment to put on; they have not a place where to lay their heads. And why are they thus distressed? Because you impiously, unjustly, and cruelly detain from them what your Master and theirs lodges in your hands, on purpose to supply their wants! See that poor member of Christ, pinched with hunger, shivering with cold, half naked! Meantime you have plenty of this world's goods, of meat, drink, and apparel. In the name of God, what are you doing? Do you neither fear God, nor regard man? Why do you not deal your bread to the hungry, and cover the naked with a garment? Have you laid out in your own costly apparel what would have answered both these intentions? Did God command you so to do? Does he commend you for so doing? Did he entrust you with his (not your) goods for this end? And does he now say, "Servant of God, well done?" You well know he does not. This idle expense has no approbation, either from God, or your own conscience. But you say, You can afford it! Oh be ashamed to take such miserable nonsense into your mouths. Never more utter such stupid cant; such palpable absurdity! Can any steward afford to be an arrant knave? To waste his lord's goods? Can any servant afford to lay out his master's money, any otherwise than his master

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