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his Apostles established the first and great
It may be expected that those who deny the continued influences of the Holy Spirit in the Church, will deny that the present is an Era of Light. When Christ came, who was “ the s Light of the world,” there were many who denied that any Light had come. When the truth shone a second time at the Reformation, there were many who perceived it not. And though the BRIGHT BEAMS of Light at the present period far transcend those of the Reformation, there are many who behold them not. They wonder indeed to see various Societies, which have no connection with each other, engaged in pursuing the same object. They behold men of different nations and of different languages, animated by the same spirit, pro. moting the same design, encountering the same difficulties, persevering with the same ardour, giving and not receiving, expending money, time, and labour, in an undertaking in which there is no SELF-INTEREST ; and all agreeing in one common voice, LET THERE BE LIGHT. All this, they behold, and they wonder: but they do not believe. And thus it is written ; “ Behold ye despisers, and wonder, and pe. $c rish; for I work a work in your days, a $ work which ye shall in no wise believe,
“ though a man declare it unto you.” Acts xiii. 41.
A violent but ineffectual attempt was made some time ago to impede the progress of this work. But the current was strong and deep, and these momentary obstructions served merely to increase its force. 6. There is a river, " the streams whereof shall make glad the city 66 of God.” Psalm xlvi. 4. No human
power can stop its course. Many who are yet hostile to this undertaking will shortly join in it. We believe that the strength of the nation will soon be with it: and that all hope of resisting it, entertained by unbelieving men, will be disappointed. For the prophecy hath gone forth, “ He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh ; 66 the Lord shall have them in derision. I “ will declare the DECREE: Thou art my Son, “ I shall give thee the heathen for thine INHERI“ TANCE, and the uttermost parts of the earth “ for thy POSSESSION.
Psalm ii. 8. It is of vast consequenee to the purity and perpetuity of our Church that those Students who are preparing to enter it, should have just views on this subject. There is one fact which ought frequently to be illustrated to them, as being the foundation, on which they are to form a judgment on this and other parts of the divine dispensation. It is the following.
It is an undeniable truth, constantly asserted by scripture, and demonstrated by experience, that there have ever been two descriptions of persons in the Church. They are denominated by our Saviour, “ the children of light and the « children of this world;" and again, “ the 6 children of the wicked one, and the children “ of the kingdom.” Matth. xiii. 38. These different terms originate entirely from our receiving or not receiving that illumination of understanding which God, who cannot lie, hath promised to give to them that ask him. For if a man supplicate the Father of Lights for his “ good and perfect Gift," with a humble and believing spirit, he will soon be sensible of the effect in his own mind. He will begin to behold many things in a view very
dif. ferent from what he did before ; he will de. vote himself to the duties of his profession with alacrity and zeal, as to “ a labour of love ;" and his moral conduct will be exemplary and pure, adorning that Gospel which he is now desirous to preach.
Another consequence will be this. He will learn, for the first time, what is meant by the reproach of the world. For men in general will not approve of the piety and purity of his life; and they will distinguish it by some term of disparagement or contempt.
I am aware that many who have supplicated the Father of Lights for “ the good and per. s fect gift," and who see, by the light that is in them, “ a world lying in wickedness," (1 John v. 19.) are yet induced to conceal their sentiments in religion, or at least, are prevented from assuming a decided character in the profession of it, from the dread of REPROACH. But they ought to remember that a term of reproach has become now so general, and attaches to so slight a degree, not only of religious zeal, but of moral propriety, that no man who desires to maintain a pure character in his holy office needs to be ashamed of it. *
* It is worthy of remark, that the names of reproach which men of the world have given to religious men, have been generally derived from something highly virtuous og laudable.
Believers were first called CHRISTIANS, as a term of reproach, after the name of Christ. They have been since called Pietists, from their Piety, Puritans from their PURITY, and Saints from their HOLINESS. In the present day, their ministers are called EVANGELICAL, from their desire to “ do the work of an Evangelist.” See 2 Tim. iv. 5. Thus, the evil spirit in the damsel who followed Paul, cried out, by an impulse which he could not resist, “ These men are the
servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation." Acts xvi. 17. The most opprobrious epithet which the Jews thought they could give our Saviour, was to call him a Samaritan. 66 Thou art a Samaritan, and “ hast a devil.” John viii. 48. But our Saviour has given a permanent honour to the name, by his parable of " the "GOOD Samaritan."
But there is another consideration for those who are ordained to be ministers of Christ, viz. that this reproach seems to be ordained as a necessary evidence in an evil world that their doctrine is true, For the offence of the Cross will never cease. The Apostle Paul was accused of being “ beside himself;" but his only answer was this ; - Whether we be beside our. “ selves, it is to God; or whether we be
sober, it is for your cause.” (2 Cor. v. 13.) And let this be your answer also. If the minister of Christ give no offence to “ the “ children of this world," he has reason to suspect the purity either of his doctrine or of his practice.
On the other hand, a corrupt theology has no
The usual name of religious reproach at this day is METHODIST ; a term first used at Oxford, and derived from the METHOD, which some religious Students observed in the employment of their TIME. So far it is an honourable appellation. It is now applied to any man of pure and "unaffected piety, and is, in short, another term for a Christian. Of the Methodists Paley says, in his Evidences of Christianity, that in regard to piety to God, and purity of life, they may be compared to “ the primitive Christians.” The name Methodist in England was for a time, as disreputable as Royalist in France. And indeed there is an analogy in the character ; for Methodism implies Loyalty to " the King of kings." And I am happy to add, (in regard to that numerous body of our fellow-subjects who are called by that name) that it also implies, after an experience of half a century, PURE LOYALTY to an EARTHLY SOVEREIGN.