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The floods were cut off. The waters were thrown asunder. Israel passed on dry land; and all was safe!
May the ministers of Christ, with a correct view of the present signs of the times, awake to duty and faithfulness, and cheerfully stand in their lot.
4. Proper caution in the induction of men into the Gospel ministry.
While a pious and learned ministry are to hold the first rank among the means of withstanding the Infidelity of the last days; unconverted and ignorant ministers are among the most fatal means of betraying the cause of Christ into the hands of Infidels. Hence the inspired caution, Lay hands suddenly on no man.
This holy office is to be committed only to "faithful men, who “shall be able to teach others also. Holding fast the "faithful word, (says the apostle) as he hath been "taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both “to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Surely none but men of grace, of abilities, and of good education, as well as of known and approved character, are adequate to this work. And none but such should be admitted to ordination, nor as candidates.
5. A faithful support and improvement of the regular administration of the Gospel; and avoiding erroneous and unknown teachers.
The enemies, aware that the administration of the Gospel is essential to the well being of Zion, and a prime bulwark of her defence, make this one of the first points of their attack. Their modes of attack are various. Where the way is prepared, the attack may be expected to be direct and decisive: as was the case in France, after the revolution. There the Protestant, as well as Catholic ministers were put to death in multitudes; or had to renounce their profession; or flee their country. In Holland also, after the French had gotten possession there, violence was used against the order of the Gospel. The people were forbidden to be called together, as had been usual, for Divine worship, by the ringing of bells. Ministers were forbidden to appear abroad in their distinctive dress. Yea, they were deprived of their salaries. Some of them were robbed of
great sums of money; and were confined in prison. Cloots, a leading member in the French national Convention, used to say; “Kings and priests are worthless things: they are despots and corrupters."* If the Roman Catholic priests were corrupters, the French made no distinction between them, and the most unexceptionable Protestants. The whole order of the Gospel they utterly abjured.
Where the way is not thus prepared for an open attack, the operations of Infidelity against the adminisstration of the Gospel, are more cautious, covert, and subtile; but calculated with vast design to subvert the Christian religion, by first overturning its faithful min, istry.
The native covetousness of the human heart is enlisted into this service. Many are induced to withdraw, or withhold the support of the Gospel ministry. Many under the name of teachers have artfully led the unwary to infer from the gratuity of some of Paul's missionary labors among the heathen, that the ministry of the Gospel is ever to be free of all regular expense: and that all ministers, who stipulate for their regular support in return for their being devoted to a people, are hirelings and impostors. This is a suggestion, than which nothing can be more opposed to the word of God; or injurious to man. It is a prime stratagem of hypocrisy, and of Infidelity. These words of Christ are perverted, and pressed into this service, Freely ye have received; freely give. In relation to the power of miraculous healing, which was superadded to the special commission of the apostles, our Lord gave them a charge; Freely ye have received, freely give. (Matt. x, 8.) i.e. Make no merchandize of this special Divine delegation. Men would give almost any sum to be healed. Take nothing.
But it is base wickedness to pervert these words of Christ into a prohibition to his ministers from asking their regular support. The words of Christ, which immediately follow, take this text out of the impostor's hands. “Provide neither gold,
* See Doctor Morse's Fast Sermon of 1799.
"nor silver, nor brass in your purses; nor scrip for “your journey; neither two coats; neither shoes; nor “yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat."
It is the express order of God, that those, who preach the Gospel, shall live of the Gospel; that people shall aid their support according to their several abilities; and that they shall do it to such a degree, as that their minister need not entangle himself with the affairs of this life, but may give himself wholly to the work of the ministry. When this support of the Gospel is covetously withholden, God charges the withholders with the sin of robbing him. (Mal. iii, 9.) And they may well expect judgments, delusion, and ruin in return. The support of the Gospel then, and a faithful attention and obedience to its administration, are a most important remedy against the innovating, Antichristian principles of these last days.
And a firm rejection of all erroneous and irregular preachers, is an important mean of withstanding the Antichristian principles of this period. And this is solemnly enjoined in the word of God. Relative to the last days, Christ commands; Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, and shall deceive many. Various predictions of the last days lead us to expect multitudes of false teachers. And that such will be most influential in propagating the Infidelity of that period. Peter, when about to predict the rise and agency of Antichrist, thus introduces the chapter. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. Here we find much at least of that Infidelity is introduced by what the apostle calls, false teachers. This term may probably here be viewed as a word of considerable latitude. It must comprise all, who are found in the active promotion of the Infidelity of this period; or of sentiments, that lead to it; whether they teach Atheism or Deism; or more
specious tenets under the notion of Christian doctrines; which yet are essentially erroneous: whether they do it with an express design to propagate Infidelity; or, be. ing given up to delusion and fanaticism, please themselves that they are doing God service: whether they propagate their tenets under the guise of politics, or religion: whether they act under pretence of a commis. sion from Christ or not; or whether their communica. tions be made in private letters, secret assemblies, a sermon, a volume, a pamphlet, a tract, or a gazette. All, who actively undertake to direct the public opinion, so as to propagate Infidelity, or sentiments, which in fact tend to it, whether they perceive this tendency, or not, are the false teachers in this passage of Peter. They, from soine motive, and in some forın, undertake to teach men; and they teach them falsehood, which tends to unhinge their minds, and to prepare them for skepticism and licentiousness. These false teachers of various descriptions are predicted to be abundant in the last days; men of confidence and impertinence, as well as of base design; and many of them so subtile, that if it were possible, they would deceive even the very elect.
Now the command of God is, that we should not be led by such persons, let them be of whatever profession; or let their zeal be what it may. “Take heed “that no man deceive you. Mark them, who cause "divisions contrary to the doctrine, which ye have learn"ed; and avoid them. For they that are such, serve "not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and "by good words and fair speeches deceive the learts of "the simple.
Here it may with great propriety be added, that to unite in the missionary exertions of the present period, is an important duty, and a powerful antidote against the Antichristian influence of our times. A great missionary work, a remarkable propagation of the Gospel, is to be effected. This is powerfully to aid the cause of Christ, under the darkness of Antichristian tyranny; and to bring forward the introduction of the Millennium. And to this work men are called upon to put a helping hand. While the Most High will carry it forward, he will do it through the instrumentality of the friends of Zion, and of those, whom he will graciously incline to this purpose. God will show that the silver and the gold are His. He will incline the hearts of his chosen to bestow a portion of their attention and property upon the missionary object. This object has thus been promoted within fifteen years, to a degree unprecedented since the days of the apostles. The formation of the London Missionary Society on the 21st of September, 1794, presented to the evangelized world a second Pentecost. Great numbers of Societies and associations have since been formed in different parts of what has been called the Christian world, to promote this most noble design, either in sending out missionaries; or in translating the Bible into the different languages of the heathen, and distributing this precious book among perishing millions. The particular and pleasing histories of these societies, the effectual doors opened, and the signal provisions and interpositions of Providence in the behalf of his servants, the people of God have perused with interest, pleasure, and wonder.
Ancient Divine predictions of this great event are express and striking. And they unite in fixing it about the present time. The Lamb appeared on the mount Zion, Rev. xiv, 1, at the reformation early in the sixteenth century. By and by, or after the Protestant cause had progressed through different nations for a convenient time, and the way was prepared, and the hour of God's judgment, in the subversion of the predominant power of Papal Rome, had arrived, the Angel of the missionary cause, (verse 6,) begins his "flight “through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting “Gospel to preach to them, that dwell on the earth, to "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people; “saying, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour "of his judgment is come; and worship him, that made “heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of “water."
That this sublime emblem predicts a remarkable, general, and efficacious propagation of the Gospel