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The excellence of the most admired constitutions which have hitherto appeared in the world, has chiefly consisted in the balance of power being so distributed among the different orders of society, as that no one should materially oppress or injure the other. They have endeavoured to set boundaries to each other's encroachments, and contrived, in some degree, to counteract venality, corruption, and tumult. But all this supposes a corrupt state of society, and amounts to no more than making the best of things, taking them as they are. As things are, locks, keys, bolts and bars are necessary in our houses; but it were better if there were no occasion for them. I do not take upon me to say that things will ever be in such a state as that there shall be no need of these political precautions; but I believe they will be far less necessary than at present. If the Bible be true, the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea; the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; idolatry, and every species of false religion, shall be no more; the arts and instruments of war shall be laid aside, and exchanged for those of husbandry; the different tribes of man shall be united in one common band of brotherly love; slavery and oppression will cease; righteousness will be established in the earth; and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
But "Christianity has been tried," it seems, "and found insufficient." That it has not been as yet, sufficient to banish unjust wars from the earth, is true; and it were more than wonderful if it had, seeing it has never yet been cordially embraced by the majority, nor perhaps by the preponderating part of any nation. Nevertheless it has had its influence. This gloomy writer himself acknowledges, that the state of society in Euro e and America, that is to say in Christendom, is far preferable to what it is in other parts of the earth. Of the rest of the world he has no hope. Has Christianity done nothing in this case? That thousands in different nations are, by a cordial belief of it, rendered sober, just, disinterested, and peaceable; and that the state of society at large is greatly meliorated, has, I hope, been already proved.* To believe
then in the future accomplishment of the foregoing prophecies is only to believe that what is already effected in individuals will be extended to the general body of mankind, or, at least, to such a proportion of them as shall be sufficient to give a preponderance in
Moreover, the same book which declares that the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, has foretold, in great variety of language, the downfall of the Papal Antichrist, and that by means of the same powers from which its dominion was first derived. We have, in part, seen the fulfilment of the one, and live in expectation of the other. We are not ignorant of the evil designs of Infidels; but we believe that God is above them, and that they are only instruments in his hand in the fulfilment of his word. While, therefore, we feel for the miseries of mankind, occasioned by the dreadful devastations of war, we sorrow not as those who have no hope; but are persuaded that all things, even now, are working together for good: and, while we pity individual sufferers, we cannot join the whining lamentations of interested men-Alas, Alas that great city! On the contrary, we feel disposed to join the song of the heavenly host, Amen, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our Ged: for true and righteous are his judgments.-Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his bride hath made herself ready.
If, according to the doctrine of Bolingbroke, Volney, and other Deists, we knew no other source of virtue and happiness than selflove, we should often be less happy than we are. Our blessedness is bound up with that of Christ and his followers throughout the world. His friends are our friends, and his enemies our enemies ; they that seek his life seek ours; the prosperity of his kingdom is our prosperity, and we prefer it above our chief joy. From the public stock of blessedness being thus considered as the common property of every individual, arises a great and constant influx of enjoyment. Hence it is that, in times when temporal comforts fail, or family troubles depress, or a cloud hangs over our particular connexions, or death threatens to arrest us in a course of pleasing labour, we have still our resources of consolation. Affairs with
me are sinking; but he must increase.'—' My house is not so with God; but the kingdom of my Lord shall be established for ever. ''His interest sinks in this congregation; but it rises elsewhere.''I die; but God will surely visit you!' Such is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; and such the blessedness of those whose chief desire it is, that they may see the good of his chosen, that they may rejoice in the gladness of his nation, and that they may glory with his inheritance.
GOSPEL ITS OWN WITNESS, &c.
IN WHICH THE HARMONY OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION IS CONSIDERED AS AN EVIDENCE OF ITS DIVINITY,
IF Christianity be an imposture, it may, like all other impostures, be detected. Falsehood may always be proved to clash with fact, with reason, or with itself; and often with them all. If, on the contrary, its origin be divine, it may be expected to bear the character of consistency, which distinguishes every other divine production. If the scriptures can be proved to harmonize with historic fact, with truth, with themselves, and with sober reason; they must, considering what they profess, be divinely inspired, and Christianity must be of God.