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AMONGST the many stupendous spectacles that are wont to surprise and amuse inquisitive minds, there seems to be nothing in the world sadder and more astonishing, than the small progress of the Christian religion. This I call a sad observation, because religion is a matter of the most weighty and necessary importance, without which it is not possible for an immortal soul to be perfected and made happy : I call it astonishing, because the Christian religion hath in itself such advantages of recommending itself to the minds of men, and contains such mighty engines to work them into a hearty compliance with it, and to captivate their reason to itself, as no other religion in the world can with any face pretend to. I do earnestly, and I suppose rationally and scripturally, hope that this great truth, those sacred oracles, will yet more prevail; and that the Founder of this most excellent religion, who was lifted up upon the cross, and is now exalted to his throne, will
draw more men unto himself: and this, perhaps, is all the millennium that we can warrantably look for. But, in the mean time, it is too too evident, that the
kingdom of Satan doth more obtain in the world, than the gospel of Christ, either in the letter, or power of it.
As to the former, if we will receive the probable conjecture of learned inquirers, we shall not find above one sixth part of the knowu world yet Christianized, or giving so much as an external adoration to the crucified Jesus. As to the latter, I will not be so bold as to make any arithmetical conjectures, but judge it more becoming a charitable and Christian spirit, to sit down in secret, and weep over that sad but true account given in the gospel, " Few are chosen;" and again, “ Few there be that find it;" being grieved, after the example of my compassionate Redeemer, “ for the hardness of their hearts,” and praying with Joab, in another case, “ The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be !”
It is not my present purpose, to inquire into the immediate causes of the non-propagation of the gospel in the former sense; only it is easy to guess, that few will enter in by the way of the tree of life, when it is guarded with a flaming sword !
And it were reasonable to hope, that if the minds of Christians were more purged from a selfish bitterness, fierce animosity, and arbitrary sourness, and possessed with a more free, generous, benign, compassionate, condescending, candid, charitable, and Christ-like spirit, which would be indulgent toward such as are, for the present, under a less perfect dispensation, as our Saviour's was, would not impose any thing harsh or unnecessary upon the sacred and inviolable consciences of men, but would allow that liberty to men, which is just and natural to them in matters of