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and chiefly in relation to the solemn demand of our Lord. Here I humbly conceive, as truly with the people as with the priest, the question will be put, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
From the church, if we pass on to the universities, the supposed nursery for raising plants for the ministry in the Lord's vineyard, here we may expect the closest investigation will take place, to see that they are "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified," Isa. lxi. 3. That trembling sentence which the Lord Jesus hath left on record being in the minds of all, 66 every plant (said Jesus) which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up,” Matt. xv. 13. Time was, when in zeal for the Lord's glory and the weal of the reformed church, the several heads of houses in the colleges used such caution in receiving youth intended for the ministry, that none were allowed to matriculate but such as not only could give an answer to every man that asked him a reason of the hope that was in him, but also could shew a wellgrounded hope no less of a call to the ministry from the Lord. And I remember to have read in that diurnal paper, called, the Spectator,' a remarkable statement to this amount, of a youth who was first questioned as the most important point of enquiry, how long he had been a partaker in grace? The writer of that paper, being himself ignorant what grace or the new birth meant, condemned the measure: but, however unintentional on his part, he hath thereby proved the attention at that time paid in the universities to this most essential point of all learning in preparing for the ministry. How matters are conducted now in our universities on those momentous things, I know not; but as in both universities the same articles become the same standard of religion, and the same subscription is enjoined, common charity leads to the
hope that they are closely followed up, and the same discipline observed. Time will shew here, as well as in all other places-" When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?"
As I prosecute the subject, I come now to consider this solemn enquiry of the Lord as it relates to our dissenting brethren. I am well aware, that in referring to the state of faith among this very numerous and highly respected class of professors, I am treading on tender ground; and I shall walk over it most gently: but I should justly merit the reproach of the dissenter from the establishment, instead of conciliating his favour, if, in an address of this kind, I was wholly to pass him by in silence and inattention: so large a body as taken in one aggregate the dissenters form, certainly demand this respect. I have been taught to believe, that the preachers only within this little kingdom, according to the most moderate calculation, are not less than fifty thousand: such a phalanx, with their many congregations, cannot be uninterested in the great question of our Lord. And, however diversified by the different shades which mark one class from another, all and every one acknowledging the doctrines of gospel must, ultimately, be brought to the decision of the Lord's standard, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?”
And what a door of enquiry would it open, when passing over the scrutiny both of the establishment and dissenters, we could look in and make a calculation of what is going on by the amalgamation of both in the vast enterprise their joint forces are engaged in of converting the whole world. The question of our Lord must have an especial bearing to this extensive work, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" And the Holy Ghost no less hath given his divine statement on these, as well as all other matters, that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin!" Rom.
xv. 23.-so that if the act, be it what it may, is not done with a single eye to Christ, it is sin. Perhaps, it may be said, that according to this statement, all the high sounding deeds of thousands, which have filled the world with their praises on the score of charity, will come to nought! No doubt they will, if, when examined by this standard, they are discovered to be unfounded in the faith of Christ: nay, it is not enough to say that they will come to nought, for they will be considered as done in sin; for "whatsoever is not of faith is sin!" And on this issue what a reverse of circumstances will then take place! When many who have given largely to the various charities around, because a bountiful God hath first given to them largely of the good things of his providence, but had given without an eye to Christ, and therefore their very alms came under this character," whatsoever is not of faith is sin :" others, who had nothing but the prayer of faith to give, will be considered as the poor widow in the gospel was by Christ, as having given a costly offering, Luke xxi. 2. The solemn demand of the Lord comes home here, as before, enforced by every consideration, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
I shall not offend, I hope, if in presenting my new year's offering to the spiritual church of Christ, I venture to suggest to my brethren in the Lord, that, in the expectation of the Lord's coming, and especially in the uncertainty how soon the Lord may come, would it not be well to keep aloof from all controversy with each other on all parts of doubtful disputation? Such is our imperfect apprehension of divine things in this twilight of existence, that in a very general sense of the word, what the apostle said on one occasion may for the most part be applied to all," if any man thinketh he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing I yet as he ought to know," 1 Cor. viii. 2. and yet,
fear, if all the pamphlets with which the press teems in one short year furnishing subject for controversy were collected into one view, might not the regenerated child of God finish life before he had finished the perusal of half of them? And is it not to be feared, that the great enemy of souls seeks hereby to draw off the minds of the Lord's people from subjects of an higher nature, while alluring them to things that are not essential ?
We know that he hath been studying our nature for nearly six thousand years to discover the part that is most vulnerable in every character of the Lord's people: and we know also, from an authority that cannot be mistaken, that " while men sleep, the enemy soweth tares!" And is it not he that raiseth a dust to becloud their minds that they may draw the saw of contention over one another, which can neither bring glory to God, neither comfort to themselves? And is it not, to speak the least of it, a sad interruption to those sacred hours which through divine unction might be spent in retirement and abstraction from men to enjoy communion with the Lord? Is it not in such a frame every follower of the Lord would desire to be found at the Lord's coming, and not in unprofitable controversy at the grave when falling into it? I crave pardon for this freedom. Perhaps, as an old man going out of life, and the confines of another world now daily enlarging to my view, as I am losing my steps in this, the subject becomes the more interesting to me. And yet, I think, few among the Lord's chosen ones would desire to be found engaged in subjects of a controversial nature-"When the Son of man cometh to find faith on the earth!"
Brethren, farewell! Through grace we have entered the new year: but where is the sure proprietor of the morrow, to know that he shall live to finish it? And in the prospects of impending judgments, what is the se
curity of the Lord's people? Here it is, and here alone it is, and made known by God the Holy Ghost, namely, in the election of grace. When John, in vision saw that beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, it was proclaimed," that all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," Rev. xiii. 1-8. When, therefore, God ariseth to judgment, and the decree goeth forth, "begin at my sanctuary!" the limitation of destruction resteth here, "come not near any man upon whom is the mark,” Ezek. ix. 6. Here" is the holy seed which is the substance thereof!" Isa. vi. 11-13. Here is the cause of joy beyond the subjection of men or devils, Luke x. 17-20. Here is the day when " the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious; lo, every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem!" Isa. iv. 2, 3. The prophet thought himself a solitary individual, when the Lord had at the same time reserved unto himself "seven thousand in Israel;" even so now, said Paul, in his days (and we may say the same in our's) "even so now at this present time, there is a remnant according to the election of grace," Rom. xi. 1-5. Amidst all the cataracts to be poured out, and the storms and tempests every where gathering around, there is a nevertheless which bears the church through all," Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his," 2 Tim. ii. 19. And the answer which the Lord gave the prophet to his anxious enquiry, when, and how, and where these things should be, is in effect now given to the whole election of grace, go thou thy way, Daniel, till the end be; for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days!" Dan. xii. 13.