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meritorious than the other. We are not informed that the rich man went to hell because he was rich, d for that the beggar went into Abraham's bosom because he was poor, and covered with sores.
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How beautiful, how glorious, how surpassing wonder, are the ways of divine wisdom. With dis God there is no respect of persons. He is equally dift ch Chr good to all. That gulf which divides between the believing Gentile, and the unbelieving Jew, is debeen signed for the ultimate good of both, and wisely iles he constructed to aid the cause of God's universal esgrace and love towards mankind. For this cause, the Redeemer of the world said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemeth good in thy sight."
The wisdom of heaven, unlike the wisdom of this world, never works against its own scheme of "reconciliating" both Jews and Gentiles, "unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." Eph. H. 16. And therefore it would not have seemed good to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to hide the things of the kingdom of the gospel from the Jews, if it were not necessary for the eventual accomplishment of their final reconciliation. But the wisdom of this world, which is foolishness with God, labours to prove, that those Jews who stumble at the stumbling stone laid in Sion, are cast off, to be received to favour no more. But St. Paul in the 11th of Romans, to which reference has been made, argues in a very different manner, as in verses 11, 12. "I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall, salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness ???
Such was the glory and beauty of this subject, in the view of this apostle, that when he comes to
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close the subject, which he seems to wind up in the 32d ver. in the following words, "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all," he seems to break out into an ecstacy, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearch able are his judgments, and his ways past finding
You have, kind hearers, most attentively listened to what has been offered on the subject under consideration; you have heard what is generally supposed to be the meaning of our text; you have heard arguments designed to disprove the common use of the passage, in which arguments it has been shown that the common sentiment which this pas sage is generally used to support, is repugnant to the scheme of the gospel. It has likewise been shown, that the connection in which this portion of scripture is found, gives no support to the com mon opinion; and you have heard arguments educed from the text itself, sufficient to refute the sen timent generally supported by it. And lastly, you have heard what your humble servant believes, beyond all reasonable doubt, to be the true sense and meaning of these words of our Redeemer, accompanied with such evidence from the context and other parts of the divine testimony, as seems to apply to the subject. Your duty remains. You will after all preserve an independence of mind sufficient to judge for yourselves.
As you will not rest your faith on my testimony, so you ought not to rest it on the force of mere tra dition. You ought to find something very direct and positive in proof of the general opinion, before you adopt it. For the doctrine of endless punishment has never yet been explained in a way to justify our Creator in the infliction of such punishment; and until it is, we should avoid charging him with that which is derogatory to his beneficent character.
EZEKIEL XIII. 4.
"O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the desert.
THE true prophets of God were few in Israel,' while the false prophets were numerous; and there seems to have been no small contest between them. As would naturally be expected, the many false prophets endeavoured to study the disposition of a perverse and wicked people, and accomty,modate their testimony in a way to suit their prejliudices, and improve their ignorance and superstition in the best manner, for their own emolument and popularity; while on the other hand, the few prophets of God were under the necessity of bearing testimony against the many, contrary to the corrupt traditions and dispositions of the people, whereby they rendered themselves unpopular and despised.
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FALSE TEACHERS COMPARED TO FOXES.
DELIVERED IN BOSTON ON THE THIRD SABBATH IN NOV. 1819.
The false prophets of Israel were to the people in their day, what false teachers are now to the Christian commonwealth. St. Peter has accommodated us with a comparison which justifies this. remark. He says-" But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their perni
cious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."
By this comparison, the Apostle signified the art and cunning which characterise the false teachers zi in the Christian dispensation, as well as the false prophets under the former. He says, "they shall privily bring in damnable heresies." That is, they will do this with great art and calculation. This d naturally brings the figure used in our text, to mind: "O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the desert." The fox is noted for his cunning; and with this quality he combines cruelty, being an animal which lives on prey
The first effort of false prophets and of false teachers, is to make the people, who are to be the subjects of their erroneous ministry, believe that t they are sent of God. Until this point is gained, the false teacher can entertain no favourable hopes of success; but he well knows that the mo ment he can make the people believe that God has sent him, he has little or nothing to fear, and that his advancement is secured. With those views, the false prophets and teachers.came to the people, with a most solemn account of being sent of God; they speak in God's name, and say, "Hear ye the word of the Lord, thus saith the Lord." It may be well for us to notice what Ezekiel says of the prophets in the chapter where our text is recorded. Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, hear ye the word of the Lord; thus saith the Lord God, woe unto the foolish prophets that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, the Lord saith; and the Lord hath not sent them; and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, the Lord saith it: albeit I have not spoken ?".
By this representation, we learn that the false prophets followed their own spirit, and not the spirit of God; they saw visions of lies, and not of truth; they pretended to come to the people in the name of the Lord, when he had not sent them, and when his word was not in their mouth. In all this, the artful cunning of the fox is evidently seen. If these prophets had told the people that God had not sent them, but that they would proph esy as well as they could, out of their own heart, the people would have paid but little attention to them, and perhaps none to their testimony. Thereruefore, in order to gain the confidence of the people, it was necessary to make them believe that they came in the name of the Lord, with his word and spirit..
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Now this is the method by which false teachers introduce themselves into their ministry, and imfanpose themselves on the Christian church as the ministers of Christ. Their first attempt is to make the people believe that God has sent them. To this end they bear testimony of themselves, and W say that they are sent of God. It is remarkable how such means succeed with the people. The false teacher tells his own story; he informs the people that he is solely devoted to their good, that his own interest is entirely out of the ques at Etion, that he would not have come to them if the command of the Lord were not on him so to do. Should a man of business be told by a stranger, that he had come a great distance to trade with him, but had not the least desire to gain any thing to himself by the traffic, that his only motive was to advance his interest, and to make him rich and opulent, there is not one in a thousand, perhaps, who would be deceived in this way. Every: dis-. cerning man, with a slight acquaintance with human nature, would at once be put on his guard by this manner of communication. But false teachers of religion spend a long time to learn the art of making the people believe that God has sent
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