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and faith must lift its wings, and soar on high, our spirit must be loosened from the thraldom of this clay, and mortality must be swallowed up of life, before we can attain the knowledge of those things which God has prepared for them that love him.
Before I close, I cannot but remark how delightful it is to look back and see how, from a remote period of time, the expectation of a resurrection, and the hope of a glorified body, were cherished by holy men. “I know,”
“I know," says Job, using the strong language of assurance which belongs to the disciples of Jesus Christ, “ I know that my “ Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the “ latter day upon the earth; and though after my “ skin worms destroy this body"—though it be consumed, and return to its dust-"yet in my “ flesh”-in the same raised and renovated body, restored to the soul, and made immortal-" shall “ I see God." And David had also so strong a belief of rising with a body, changed and made like to that of his Saviour, that he spake of the event as one that was sure beyond all doubt and contingency, when he exclaimed, “ As for me, I “ will behold thy presence in righteousness; and “ when I awake up after thy likeness, I shall be 6 satisfied with it."
My brethren, who, in our day, lives as if he believed these truths! Who lives as if he was an heir of immortality, a child of glory, a candidate
for heaven? May I not rather ask, Who believes the truths which we have considered ? For it would seem impossible, if they were duly believed, that we could see so much conformity to the world, so little regard for eternal things. But I pray you to bethink yourselves how reasonable these truths are, notwithstanding they are so high and glorious. I beseech you to think how their belief reconciles the mysteries of the present, otherwise inexplicable life; how it falls in with all our capacities, responds to all our fears, and satisfies all our hopes.
And I pray God that he will so press the reality of future joys upon the minds of us all, that we may have respect unto the recompense of reward; and seeing that we look for such things, may be diligent, that at the second coming of our Lord, we may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.
Motives for being Christians indeed.
ACTS xxvi. 28.
Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
This was the declaration of Agrippa, seated on his throne of judgment, to St. Paul, a prisoner and in chains, standing before him. The history, my brethen, is familiar to us all. We have often wondered at the folly, and pitied the indecision, of the misguided king. He was “ almost per“ suaded to be a Christian;" and from the moment when that declaration was extorted from him, down to the present time, there have been very few who have read or hearkened to the narrative of the transaction, who have not, in their hearts conceived, or with their lips expressed, the fervent wish of the apostle, that he had become altogether one.
Pity it were, have they thought, that one who had such opportunities of knowing the truth, who
listened to the convincing argument and impassioned eloquence of St. Paul, and to whom the kingdom of heaven was brought so near, should yet have refused to enter in, should, for some trifling and fleeting advantage, have preferred the world, have given up all that was valuable for endless ages, merely to indulge some earth-born passion, or acquire some perishing object of pursuit.
Fool and insensible have been a thousand and a thousand times written upon his character. But notwithstanding men have so universally agreed to condemn his fatal indecision, the world has never been wanting in similar examples. Many, alas! have wept over his fate, whom it had well behoved to weep over their own. For while they have deplored his doom, they have, by a similar indecision, sunk into it themselves. Indecision, more than direct opposition, his slain its thousands; and among the multitudes who are ready to condemn the course that Agrippa pursued, we might every day go to a large proportion and say, Thou, and thou, and thou, art the man.
There are three several persons, before whose judgment-seat St. Paul was brought, and to whom he preached, whose conduct is left on record for our instruction, and who might well stand as the heads and representatives of three very large classes of hearers in our day.
First there was Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia.
This man, who was the brother of the celebrated philosopher Seneca, and who is represented by him as a person of great wit and good sense, of a sweet and gentle disposition, and of much generosity and virtue, was yet one of those who choose to think all particular inquiries on the subject of religion unworthy of their regard. The laws of man he thought himself bound to execute, and see observed; but of what related to the law and worship of God he took no cog. nizance. The devotion which was due to the Most High, he considered a question of words and names, a speculative unprofitable discussion of doctrine, a thing about which enthusiasts and fanatics might agree, or differ, as they pleased. “ If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewd“ ness,” said he to the Jews, who, having made insurrection, brought Paul to his judgment-seat, accusing him of innovation in respect of the worship of God; if it were a crime against society and the state; or any thing contrary to the rights and peace of the community, and of which, therefore, I should officially be bound to take notice;
reason would that I should bare with you;" but as to the question of religion, it is, at best, one of creeds and dogmas; in the language of Festus on a similar occasion, it is a question of your own superstition ; therefore “ look ye to it, for I will s be no judge of such matters."
In dismissing their accusation in so summary