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avenged on such a nation as this. How easy would it be for him to set all men, in this land, every one against his neighbor, as he says he did to the people of Israel before the days of Zechariah? Where then would be our greatness, our peace and happiness as a nation ? What then would become of this empire ?
3. It is easy to see, in view of what has been said, that those are greatly mistaken, who suppose true religion is rapidly gaining ground. We have the clearest evidence, that the godly man is ceasing, and the faithful failing from this land. And if this be true, then it is certain the religion of the gospel is not on the increase. It is often said, however, that we live in blessed times, that the religion of Jesus Christ is making speedy advances towards universal empire. In support of this, we are often reminded of the many revivals which are taking place in our day. But if many of these revivals are radically different in their character from those of ancient days, which have always been considered genuine, then they furnish no evidence, that real re ligion is on the increase. In support of the same thing, we are sometimes reminded of the many religious tracts now in circulation. But it is acknowledged by good judges, that many of them do not contain one distinctive mark of Christian character. And it is allowed, that others contain dangerous and even fatal errors, being well fitted to deceive, delude and destroy the souls of men. How then can the efforts made to inculcate such things, be regarded as evidence that genuine religion is gaining ground? and especially when it is considered, that these are often read and taken as the standard, to the exclusion of the Bible? It is not my intention to condemn all the tracts now in circulation. Some of them are excellent and useful. But the greater part of them are certainly very far from the standard of religion, which God has been pleased to set up in the world. Should much of that, which now passes currently under the name of religion, be compared with this standard, we have reason to believe it would soon be found like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. We hence see the mistake of those, who suppose that real religion is rapidly gaining ground.
4. We have reason to expect, in view of the general aspect of things, that the day of darkness and trouble to the church is fast approaching. The Lord Jesus demands, “ When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?” This has generally been referred to his coming to destroy his enemies in order to the introduction of the latter day ;. and indicates, that vital religion will almost be banished from the abodes of man. In reference to that day, the apostle says: For the time will come, when men will not endure sound doctrine. Now if we may judge from the appearance of things, this time has already commenced. What unwearied pains are taken, and what incessant efforts and exertions are made to destroy the truth! John tells us, that, in those days, the witnesses for the truth will be slain ; when none shall be found, who will dare to come forward is the face of the most raging persecution, and vindicate the cause of truth for the space of three years and an half. In view of these days of trouble and darkness, God is represented as saying to his church:
Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doers about thee; hide thyself as it were a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.-Behold the Lord maketh the earth empty.” During this period of consterna. tion and dismay, when the Son is to rule his enemies with a rod of iron, is to be fought, according to the representation of the angel to John, the great battle of God Almighty : when his adversaries are to be destroyed, and the earth given to the meek, who shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. It appears, therefore, with great clearness, from the testimony of scripture, that there is to be, before the binding of satan for a thousand years, a season of great darkness and trouble to the church. And it appears, with great clearness, from the signs of the times, that this season is near, even at the door.
5. It is easy to discover, in view of what has been said, one reason why some of the peculiar truths of the gospel are so often said to be new. At first, the progress of error was slow. One step after another was taken ; one truth after another was abandoned, so that men became by degrees more lax in their views of Christian doctrine, duty and experience. But they still retained the name, which their fathers had used to designate the system of sentiments that they had embraced. In this course, things have been moving onward for seventy or eighty years past. Many call theraselves Calvinists, though they have long since abandoned the distinguishing doctrines of Calvinism, and taken the Arminian ground. It has so happened, therefore, that the few, who still adhere firmly to the leading features of the Calvinistic system, are often represented as believing new and strange doctrines. Hence what is so often said in relation to Hopkins and Emmons, has no foundation in truth. Much that is ascribed to them, as something new, is nothing more than a revival and clearer illustration of the doctrines which Luther, and Calvin, and all the Reformers believed, tanght and defended. And these are the doctrines which our pilgrim fathers brought with them to this land. It is true, Hopkins and Emmons have done much to revive, defend and illustrate the peculiar doctrines of Calvinism, which are gone so much into disrepute. And it is true, that they have reflected much light on some important subjects. But many of those views of truth, which are so often represented as peculiar to them, belong equally to all
the Reformers, and to our venerable forefathers. It is easy, there. fore to discover one reason why those who adhere to the Calvinistic system, are so often represented as the setters forth of new and strange things.'
6. It is evident, in view of what has been said, that there is, at this day, great danger of getting false hopes. Indeed, men are in the greatest danger of being deceived, and ultimately and eternally lost. How can it be otherwise ? since delusion and error, under various imposing names and forms, are spreading themselves so extensively ? since such lax views of divine truth, such loose notions of Christian duty, and such unscriptural views of religious experience are prevailing so generally in this land? The truth is, men love darkness rather than light. And since men are by nature wholly selfish, since they desire to be saved so as to escape suffering, and since they know that they cannot be saved without some kind of religion ; they are ia great danger of embracing any system of religion, which promises to carry them to heaven without a radical compliance with the humiliating terms of the gospel. And this is what every system of error and false religion engages to do. But all systems of this description are founded in selfishness. And as selfish religion is so common and fashionable at this day, men are in the greatest danger of falling in with, and embracing some one of the various, discordant and destructive systems of error and delusion, which are now abroad in the land. And hence they are in peculiar danger of getting false hopes, of being deceived, and ruined eternally.
7. It appears in the light of what has been said, that there is great and pressing need of a general and thorough reformation. Such a reform is needed in every part of the land. And unless we are soon a reformed people, we shall be ruined beyond the hope of recovery. Ercry step in the downward course, is carrying us forward with an accelerating motion and force. The morals of community need to be reformed; and we all know, that there are many things in the visible church, which ought to be done away immediately. Wherever we turn our eyes, and contemplate passing events, in connexion with the spirit of the times, and in the clear light of divine instruction, we are admonished of the imperious necessity of a general and thorough reform.
8. It clearly appears, in view of what has been said, that much as a reformation is needed, there is but little reason to hope for one. To hope for any thing, where there is no evidence to believe it can ever be realized, is a mere delusion. But what reason have we to expect such a blessing ? Every thing appears to be against it. The current seems to be set the other way, with an impetuosity, which defies all human effort. Besides, we have no reason to expect, that divine soyereignty will interpose in any way, which may supercede the use of
means. But the only system of means, which alone can be instrumental in effecting a thorough-going reformation and revival, is generally laid aside. And those means and causes are in operation, which are well fitted to help on delusion and error. So long, therefore, as things continue in their present course, there is little or no reason to hope for such a reformation and revival, as will save us from ruin.
9. How alarming the situation of impenitent sinners! They are exposed to danger on every side. They are naturally children of wrath, because children of disobedience. They love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil; and possess a heart deceit. ful above all things, and desperately, and totally, and incurably wicked. Their situation, therefore, under the most favourable circumstances, even under the very best instruction, is sufficiently critica!. and alarming to excite the compassion of such as possess one particle of pure benevolence. But how much more alarming does their sittation appear, when it is considered that delusion, and error, and false religion are holding out to them the promise of eternal life, while leading them forward, with all possible despatch, to the pit of destruction!
10. How gloomy the prospect of the rising generation! They are growing up unrestrained, and unaccustomed to subjection. Multitudes are forming habits, that will render them totally unfit to perform the various duties of social life, which must make them bad members of civil society. Children should be taught obedience from the eradle, in order to qualify them to exercise self-government, and be useful citizens in a republic. But this is the veriest trifle imaginable, compared with their eternal interests, which are so much neg. lected. How many will soon be acting their parts upon the grand theatre of life, upinstructed in the great doctrines and duties of the gospel-carried about by every wind of doctrine, and exposed to erery species of delusion! Indeed, the prospects of the rising generation are enough to make even an angel weep.
If. This eubject admonishes professors of religion to examine themselves, and to be up and doing. Self-examination is a work of great importance. Paul says, Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith. This is the first thing to be ascertained. Are we pleased with the sublime doctrines of divine revelation? Does the contemplation of them give us pleasure? Or does it give us unpleasant and painful feelings? Do we receive the words of God, because they are his, and because they are sure, holy and true ? Or do we reject them, as the Jews did, because they are not congenial with the feelings of our hearts? Do we continue steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine, remembering, that whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; while he that abideth in the doctrine
of Christ, hath both the Father and the Son ? Such only as acknowledge, and receive in the love of it, the truth, which is after godliness, and consent to the doctrine which is according to godliness, the Bible reckons among the children of God. It is highly important that professors know what they are ; and it highly concerns them to be up and doing-much is depending on them—their prayers and exertions.
12. Since the godly man is ceasing and the faithful failing, there is the greatest need for divine help. Nothing but the breath of the Almighty can roll back the current, and save the land from complete destruction. How appropriate then to our situation is the prayer of the Psalmist: “Help Lord; for the godly man ceaseth ; for the faithful fail from among the children of men." Amen.
REPLY TO ENQUIRER.
(SEE PAGE 144.) The communication of one so apparently candid and open to conviction as Enquirer, is certainly worthy of notice. The following extract, which appeared some time since in a pamphlet, may, perhaps, give some satisfaction to Enquirer, on the subject, which he calls op for investigation.' If, however, he should still think, that the sentiment which runs through the Calvinist's Creed, is 'repugnant to all our ideas of justice and goodness;' he is requested to show, in his next communication, how this sentiment 'impeaches the Divne holiness and justice ;' and how it "exonerates man from blame ;' and also how this sentiment can be expunged from the Calvinist's creed, consistently with the representations of the sacred writers. Editor.
THE CALVINIST'S CREED, On the subject of the Decrees and Agency of God. Extracted from a letter to a Methodist, in a Correspondence between a
Methodist and a Calvinist. Before I proceed to consider these objections, I think it may not be amiss to state explicitly what I do believe on this subject, as in your letter you ascribe some language to me which I did not use.
I do then believe, that the Lord hath made all things for himself; yea even the wicked for the day of evil. Pr. xvi. 4. I do believe, that "Of him, and through him and to him, are all things.” Rom. xi. 36. I do believe, that it is God, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Eph. i. 11. I do believe, that "There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. I. Cor. xii. 6. I do believe, that it is God which worketh in men both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Pbil. ii. 13. I do believe, that God says true, when he says, “I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these things.” Is xlv. 7. I do believe, that “The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord,” and that “as the rivers of water, he turneth it whithersoever he will.” Pr. xxi. 1. I believe, that when God's people were among the Egyptians, “He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.” Ps. cv. 25. I believe, that “The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go number Israel and