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gion pleasing to men who wilfully aban“ don themselves to the power of sin. But “ does your refusal to hearken and obey " shake the truth of our doctrines and de“nunciations ? What if you do not be" lieve? Shall your unbelief make the faith < of God of none effect ? No. Wisdom “is justified of her children. They who “ labour to prepare their hearts for the re
ception of religion, shall glorify religion. “ Salvation through a crucified Redeemer, " which to your pride is a stumbling block, “ and to the pride of others shall appear “ foolishness; shall be welcomed by the « humble and contrite as the « and the wisdom of God. They who
are willing to hearken with the teachable spirit of children to the instruction of
heavenly wisdom, and with the affec« tionate earnestness of children shall con“ form their ways to her commands; they
shall adore the length and breadth and depth and height of the unsearchableriches “ of Christ: they shall justify the ways of “ their heavenly Father, who, while he
hideth his counsels from those who in “ their own fight are wise and prudent, “ revealeth them unto babes.” VOL, II
power of God
II. How shall we apply to our edification the lessons which this portion of Holy Scripture conveys ş
First: Let us consider it as a very unfa , vourable symptom of the state of our hearts if we discover in ourselves a propensity to cavil at religion ; and to impute blame to those persons, whether ministers of the Gofpel, or individuals among the laity, who by holiness of life and conversation, conspicu,ously demonstrate the power of faith.
Since the day when Christianity was promulgated, to raise false accusations against the servants of God has been a distinguishing feature in the conduct of the wicked. Some of the calumnies disseminated by the Jews against John the Baptist and against our Lord have recently been produced. From other passages in the Gospels we learn, that the encinies of Christ seized every specious occafion of loading him with opprobrio’s names and imputations ;
reprefenting him as an impostor, as a mover of sedition, as a conspirator against Cæsar, as a despiser of the Sabbath, as a blasphemer of the temple; as a confederate with Beelzebub. Spontaneously vanquished for a season by lies and the father of lies, Jesus Christ gives up the ghost. Malignity pur
fues his Apostles. Has she changed her weapons? Hear St. Stephen charged with speaking blasphemous words against Moses and against God. Hear Paul and Silas accused at Thyatira, as exceedingly troubling the city, and teaching unlawful customs. When they had escaped to Thessalonica, hear them again accused as men who had turned the world upside down. Behold St. Paul dragged before the judgement seat of the Governor of Corinth, on pretence that he persuades men to worship God in a manner contrary to the law. Behold him afterwards prosecuted before Felix as a pestilent fellow, and a mover of fedition throughout all the world. Examine his epistles. Do not you read many incidental proofs, that the preachers and followers of Christ had incessantly to contend with malicious falsehood ? Observe, him in one passage defending himself and his brethren against the sanderous imputation of holding the abominable maxim, that it is lawful to do evil that good may come. Mark him in others describing them as defamed, as labouring under dishonour and evil report, as accounted deceivers, as made a gazing-stock by reproaches, as reproached for the sake of Christ. Our Saviour had
forewarned his disciples, that men should falsely speak all manner of evil concerning them for his fake. Contemplate the punctual accomplishment of the prophecy. The anxiety with which St. Paul and St. Peter admonish and enjoin their hearers to provide things honest in the sight of all men ; to walk honestly in wisdom toward them that are without, towards the unbelieving Jews as well as Gentiles; to put to silence by well-doing, the ignorance of foolish men; to shew themselves pat. terns of good works, that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of them ; to maintain a good conscience, that whereas their enemies speak evil of them as of evil doers, all may be ashamed who falsely accuse their good conversation in Chris-Do not these earnest, these reiterated admonitions and injunctions exempt the Apostles from all sufpicion of wilfully provoking the tongue of calumny? Do not they evince decided folicitude, by patience and meekness, and the light of an irreproachable life, to guard Christianity from obloquy, and by the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit to lead men to glorify their Father who is in heaven through faith in the Lord Jesus?
Peruse the records of the early ages of the Church. You discover that there is scarcely any crime, however enormous, however improbable, with which the Christians are not charged by their enemies. Pursue the enquiry lower. You discern, whenever any Christians have distinguished themselves by opposition to prevailing corruptions, and by earnestness in genuine religion, an undeniable propensity in others to blacken their characters by misrepresentation and reproach. Now what has been the main source of that hatred to Christ and his followers, which has never ceased to vent itself, among other methods, in slander ? Hatred to the doctrine of Christ: hatred to that self-abasement which it inculcates : hatred to that holiness which it exacts. They who have resolved to love darknefs rather than light hate him whomolests them in their darkness, because they abominate the light by which their deeds would be reproved. They who supinely flumber on the couch of security endure not the man who disturbs their repose and torments them with warnings of the necessity of that exertion which they abhor. They who have sheathed themselves in self-righteousness detest the man who strips them of the