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ry where spoken against in names and terms of reproach; and represented as an ignorant and bigotted sect, who ought to be rejected and avoided by every religious society. It appears from the whole current of sacred and ecclesiastical history, that the prophets, Christ, the apostles and their successors in the ministry, who have preached the same pure doctrines of the gospel, that they preached, have always been considered and represented, by the great majority of mankind as propagators of error, delusion and heresy.
But though the doctrines of the cross have been so generally hated, opposed and misrepresented ; yet the faithful ministers of the gospel have never been afraid to avow their religious sentiments; and to preach them, plainly, before an unbelieving and frowning world. Paul was not afraid to acknowledge before the Roman governor and the whole Jewish council, that he embraced and taught the pure doctrines of the gospel, though he knew that they were everywhere spoken against and called heresy. He said to the elders of Ephesus “ Ye know from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons ; and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Peter and the rest of the apostles never shrunk from avowing their religious sentiments, though they knew, that both Jews and Gentiles viewed them as teaching most false, absurd and pernicious doctrines. And all faithful ministers, who imbibe their spirit and embrace their doctrines, are not afraid to avow their religious sentiments, though they know the world will reproach them for it. This leads me to show,
II. Why those, who preach the great and essential doctrines of the gospel are not afraid to avow their religious sentiments, which are so generally stigmatized with every approbious epithet.
I. One reason is, because they know they are true.
Paul knew, that his religious sentiments were true, because they were founded on the infallible word of God; and this knowledge gave him confidence to avow his sentiments before Felix, the governor, and the grand council of the Jewish Sanhedrim. “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way, which they call heresy, so worship 1 the God of my fathers ; believing all things, which are written in the law and the proph
The law and the prophets contained the whole of the Old Testament, which was the whole Bible, that God had then put into the hands of the Jews ; and which they, as well as Paul, acknowledged to be of divine inspiration. He told them, that he built his religious sentiments upon the Bible; and therefore knew them to be true : and he was willing to avow them before the world. He said to the Galatians, “I marvel, that ye are so soon removed from him, that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel : which is not another ; but there be some, that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that, which we have preached unto you ; let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God ? or do I seek to please men ? for if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel, that was preached of me, was not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” to the Corinthians, “ Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, we faint not ; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty ; not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully ; but by mani. festation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”
The apostle knew, that he bad derived his religious sentiments from the Old and New Testaments; and therefore he was not afraid to avow them and to preach any and every doctrine of the gospel, however displeasing to the human heart. Though the heart might hate them, yet
he knew that the understanding and conscience would approve them. On this ground he confidently said, “We also believe ; and therefore speak.” He was not afraid to speak what he believed and knew was divine truth. The apostle Peter also was not afraid to avow his religious sentiments, because he knew they were true. He says, “ We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his glory.” The great and essential doctrines of the gospel may be as certainly known by ministers at this day, as they were by the apostles ; and those who do certainly know them, are not afraid to profess and preach them, plainly and fully, though the offence of the cross has not ceased. Those, who know that the doctrines of the gospel are divinely true, know that they are no heresy; and therefore are not afraid to avow and preach them without the least hesitancy, or reserve, in their full latitude and extent.
2. Those, who preach the pure doctrines of the gospel, are not afraid to avow their religious sentiments, because they feel satisfied, that they may be completely maintained against all, who dispute, or deay them. Truth can be maintained and defended, but error cannot. Those, who know, that their religious sentiments are founded on the word of God, know, that they can be maintained and defended against all the learning, sophistry and subtilty of those, who dispute, or deny them. Plain and infallible arguments may always be drawn from the Bible, in support of the doctrines contained in it and in refutation of every false scheme of religion. Christ forewarned those, who embraced and preached the peculiar doctrines of the gospel, that they should be brought before kings and rulers, for his name's sake: but he told them for their consolation, “ I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay, or resist.” By faith in this promise and by confidence in the truths of the gospel, they preach, the apostles
were not afraid to meet the most ingenious and learned opposers of their doctrines, whether among Jews, or Gentiles.
"When there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines and Cyrenians and Alexandrians and of them of Cilicia, and of Asia, disputing with Stephen, they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
And while Paul waited for Silas and Timotheus at Athens, the most renowned city in the Roman Empire for learning and eloquence, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. “Therefore disputed he in the synagogue
with the Jews and with the devout persons and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoicks encountered him. And some said, what will this babler say ? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods : because he preached un.. to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is ?”
Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars-hill and demonstrated the being and perfections of God, and the duty men owe to him so clearly that he converted Dionysious, and a number of others. Paul also disputed against the Grecians, against Elymas, the sorcerer and against all, who opposed his doctrines in the school of Tyrannus. He always knew, that he preached the truth and was always confident, that he could support the truth against all the prejudices of the Jews and all the learning, philosophy, and eloquence of the heathen priests and sages. He was, therefore, always ready to confess, that he was a Christian and preached the true doctrines of Christ. And those ministers, who at this day understand and believe the true doctrines of the gospel and possess the spirit of it, feel satisfied, as Paul did, that they are able to meet and refute all gainsayers and opposers; and of course, they are not afraid to avow their religious sentiments fully and frankly.
3. Those, who preach the distinguishing doctrines of the gospel, are not afraid to avow their religious sentiments, because they view them as infinitely important. They view the great and fundamental doctrines of the gospel, as absolutely necessary to be known, in order to embrace the gospel and to understand and practice the duties of it, so as to secure the salvation of the soul. The duties of the gospel cannot be rightly understood and practised, without understanding the first principles of the gospel, upon which all its duties are founded. The apostles primarily and principally taught the great and distinguishing doctrines of the gospel, as the means of converting sinners and bringing them to exercise all the christian graces and virtues. Their most common mode of preaching was much more sentimental, or doctrinal, than what is commonly called practical. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, that it was his general practiceto preach sentimentally: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucis fied.” And he says, it was by this mode of preaching he became successful in converting sinners among Jews and Gentiles. “ For after that, in the wisdoni of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleas.ed God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them, that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Now thanks be to God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.--For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved and in them that perish : to the one we are a savour of death unto death : and to the other, the savour of life unto life. For we are not as many who corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in