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and numerically one Person. So that, while the former denied the Person and Godhead of Christ, the latter would have rooted out the very being and testimony of the Holy Three in One, "which bear record in heaven;" and thus, if admitted, have reduced the gospel of salvation to a mere system of ethics.
I stay not to remark the many and various opinions which those leading heresies gave birth to. If we may credit history, numberless spurious professions of gospel arose about this time to harass the people of God; for when once a departure from the straight line of what is right hath taken place, there will always be as many semblances to counterfeit the truth like tinsel to gold, as there are persons to diversify each following his own imagination. I stay not to enquire further concerning this diversity. But I beg to call the attention of the spiritual church to remark with me, the watchful eye of our God over his church at that time, and the gracious method the Lord took to counteract and defeat those daring heresies. It was not later than the year of our Lord God, one hundred and ninéty, that the Lord rose up Tertullian, a glorious witness for the truth. This man of God contended for the Godhead of Christ, and the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and under the divine blessing he was made the honoured instrument of reviving both; and again placing them as they had been in the days of the apostles, the basis of the common faith.
I pause here to remark the same gracious superintendance in the present hour. In a country like our's, where the national establishment is Trinitarian, and where the temporalities of the church in point of revenue are so munificent, could it be supposed possible, yea, could it be believed, if matters of fact did not put it beyond the reach of question, that in the face of those who are paid so amply for watching over the spiritual interests of their solemn charge, bare-faced infidelity
should come forth at noon-day to deny the Godhead of Christ, and to impugn the sacred doctrine of the Holy Trinity? Blessed be our God, he hath not left us without a witness! There are yet a few names in Sardis; a few like Tertullian, even now, who can and do maintain the truth against all opposition. And what is still more in testimony of the faithfulness of the faithful God, the souls of the Lord's people are upheld by the Lord himself, and that "bread is handed to them in secret which none knoweth, saving he that receiveth it!" I appeal to the many of the choice of the flock in the spiritual church whom I am addressing, whether those gracious promises of Christ which he left his church are not in their daily receivings? Doth not Jesus prove his Godhead to your souls by his being with you, and manifesting himself to you otherwise than he doeth to the world? And doth he not as fully prove the being and love of the Holy Trinity in that of his coming, and the Father's coming, and making abode with you, and the Holy Ghost abiding with you for ever? Are these in the common and ordinary love-tokens of his grace? And do they not prove what I remarked before, that in all ages, however in outward dispensations the love of many may wax cold, the Lord hath a seed that serve him, over which the Lord himself watcheth, and doth and will preserve them from the general corruption and apostacy of the times?
There was a period in the succeeding century (or the following) to that of the age of Tertullian, in which the general profligacy in the contemning divine truths was so universal, that it is said but one single solitary individual could be found, in the person of Athanasius, that ventured publicly to contend for the pure gospel: no doubt there were many in private hid away, when Athanasius, like another Elijah, thought himself left alone and the same is the case in all periods in which,
like the flowers on the mountain, whose beauty and fragrancy are unseen and unnoticed, but by him who seeth in secret. The promise is absolute; the Lord hath in the worst times "a generation that call him blessed-the Lord knoweth them that are his." And when the Lord writeth up the people, many will arise from the east and from the west, and from all the periods of the several successive ages, to glorify the salvation of the Lord!
And if we come down to the time of the reformation in this kingdom, and from thence to the present era; every record in history carries but the same testimony, namely, the banner of scepticism and heresy unfurled through all the several generations as they succeeded each other; and the Lord's chosen few selected from the throng under him whom Jehovah, in his Trinity of Persons, hath "given for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people." But as the Holy Ghost taught the church to expect in the latter age more than ordinary opposition to the truth of the gospel, so we find it: the atmosphere is now clouded with the thick columns of darkness, which the several systems of infidelity have risen: and, like the locusts of Egypt which prevented seeing the face of the earth, none but the true Israel of God can see through the density and that our land should be made the seat of war for the great enemy of souls to form his theatre upon more than any other, scarce needs to be explained. Here is the meridian of the gospel; here in the scriptures of eternal truth God is truly known: here therefore, also, Satan will raise a fog to blind the eyes of them which believe not, "lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." It is said by naturalists, that the largest reptiles are found under the tropics: whether this be so or not, I stay not to enquire, but certain it is, that the greatest foes to the gospel are living where the Sun
of righteousness sheds his warmest and most beneficent beams. And as the church was admonished, that the adversary would come down "with great wrath, because he knew that he hath but a short time," we may expect that his last efforts will be his greatest; and, as it is in the natural world, so in the intellectual, the darkest part of night will be before the break of the everlasting day.
And what is the security of the Lord's people? Nay, it is the Lord himself; they have no other, they need no other; he is "as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” Isaiah xxxii. 2. And when under divine unction the spiritual church of our most glorious Christ is enabled to preserve in remembrance who and what Christ is, the glories of his Person, the greatness of his salvation, the infinite fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency of himself, and his finished work for his people, and their suitability for him, they to get righteousness in him, and he to get glory by them: under such spiritual views of our most glorious Christ, while through grace faith is in lively exercise in the believing enjoyment of them, his conquest over sin, death, hell, and the grave is felt in the soul; and the regenerated and redeemed child of God lives in the holy triumphs of his Lord, as though all things that offend were (and in which in truth they are) taken out of Christ's kingdom, Matt. xiii. 41. The apostle Paul blessedly expresses this (and so may every one like Paul, when having learnt the same) when praying to be brought more and more into the "knowledge of Christ, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings," Phil. iii. 10.
True it is, that without an eye to our most glorious Christ, if we look into what it is called by an unac
countable misnomer, the religious world, we behold a marvellous assemblage of things: and even among many from whom, according to their profession, we might have hoped to have found somewhat better, yet here we discover no less evangelical piety (so called) without gospel; and the religion of the bible without Christ. It is a day of masquerade indeed; and where, amidst an hue and cry for the conversion of the whole world, shall we look to find combined in one, the form and power of godliness? Under such existing circumstances the Lord plainly speaks to all his of the present hour, as the Lord did to his disciples of old when in the prospect of their exercises, "in your patience possess ye your souls,” Luke xxi. 12-19. For my own part, without aspiring to a greater insight into what is going on in the world than others, I see a needs be for the state of things exactly as they are: the Lord hath said, “I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve; yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth," Amos ix. 9. Here I rest with full assurance of faith; and am no more apprehensive for the blasphemies of one class, and the contumely of another, than "when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall." Yea, I find the opposers of the faith not unfrequently the means of doing good, in calling forth into action the graces which might otherwise lie dormant: and as the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen their weapons when fighting the Lord's battle, the same is now. 1 Sam. xvi. 20. It is well to brighten our armoury by collision with the enemy's when going forth in the strength of the Lord, and when “that strength is made perfect in our weakness.'
And now, brethren, I greet you in the Lord on the entrance of a new year! The Lord make it gracious to his people, and it will be blessed. Great events are