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scoffers, mentioned in the text, to cast their poisonous arrows. We are now to expose the absurdity and impiety of such behaviour.
We shall first suppose them capable of sober. reflection; and then let us ask them, whether there be any thing in our holy religion, when properly explained, that is really ridiculous? Is there any thing ridiculous in the opinion that this universe, so amazing in its extent, so beautiful in its appearance, so harmonious in all its movements, is the work of some wise and allpowerful Creator? Is it unreasonable to suppose, that he who created all things by the word of his power, still guides and governs his own works by his everwatchful providence? From the notions which we are led to form of the glorious perfections of such a Being, is there any thing improper in all the offices of piety--in the highest love, reverence, and adoration in praying to him for his favour, and praising him for his excellent greatness? When men had abused the light of natural reason, and were almost universally sunk into ignorance and abominable delusions, is it absurd to believe that God should send a person into the world to recover them from this lost estate; to revive, and enforce by additional motives, the great duties of natural religion? Is there any thing extravagant in the opinion, that he who came upon this merciful errand, should be holy and harmless in all manner of conversation; that he should work many astonishing, and yet benevolent miracles in proof of his divine commission; that he should publish a clear and comprehensive set of laws for the conduct of our lives-laws founded upon the unchangeable nature of things--with one or two positive precepts, (at the same
time,) expressly calculated to strengthen the eternal obligations of morality; and at last, that he should give the highest proof of his integrity, by dying an ignominious death, to atone for the sins of the world; and the strongest assurance of our future resurrection, by rising himself from the dead? And, after such a representation as this, may we not conclude, that they who can debase themselves so far as to laugh at matters of such infinite importance, equally expose their folly and their wickedness?
There is commonly a distinction made between a moral and a religious man: and there are those who pretend to be very exact in the discharge of their respective duties to men, and yet neglect in themselves, and ridicule in others, every appearance of piety towards heaven. But, as there can be no true religion without pure morality; so neither can he be called strictly a moral man, who is defective in the duties that he owes more immediately to God. Do you not call him an immoral person who expresses no love nor reverence for a parent ; who is ungrateful to a friend and benefactor; and disrespectful and disobedient to his lawful superior? And is not he, therefore,
qually chargeable with immorality, who expresses no filial affection and respect for the great Father of all; who testifies no gratitude to him, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift; and stands not in awe of his authority, who created, and will judge the world ?
" And if in these most essential principles and “ duties of religion, there be nothing wild and extravagant; nothing weak and trifling; nothing, on the
contrary, but what is truly venerable and useful; he " that endeavours to make a jest of them, must render Von II.
“ himself contemptible; and gives a certain proof “ either of the weakness of his understanding, or the “ depravity of his heart.” · Should the doctrines of Christianity at last prove to be true-and the hardiest unbeliever will not pretend to say, it is impossible they should be so-how severe must be the condemnation of those who have prostituted their reason and their wit to blaspheme their Maker, and defame that religion which was sent down from heaven for the everlasting good of men !
Let not, therefore, my beloved brethren, the laughter of fools ever prevail upon you to sacrifice the blessed hopes of eternal life. “ Be ye steadfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, and you " will find that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” With a sincere and a candid mind, endeavour to learn the will of God; and when you know your duty, only think yourselves happy while you do it. And be assured, the more diligently you practise the precepts of your religion, the more thoroughly convinced will you be of its truth and beauty. Our Saviour has told us—" If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.”
“ Be not carried about with every wind of doctrine, * by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, where
by they lie in wait to deceive. But as ye have " received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: “ rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the “ faith as ye have been taught, abounding therein with
Be diligent in the performance of all the duties of our religion; those which are purely of a positive nature" the tithing of mint, and anise, and cummin; “ but more especially those which are of eternal obliga“tion, judgment, mercy, and faith; for these ought
ye to do, and not to leave the others undone. In all things show yourselves patterns of good works, that
they which are of the contrary part may be ashamed, “ having no evil thing to say of you."
“ God, who in time past spake unto the fathers by “ the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us “ by his Son.
And how can we expect to escape, if “ we neglect so great salvation! How can we suppose “ that every transgression and disobedience will not “ receive a just recompense of reward! Let it not be
your condemnation, that light is come into the “ world, and you have loved darkness rather than light. “ For it had been better for you not to have known " the way of righteousness, than after ye have known “ it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered “ unto you.” Be exemplary in the discharge of all the offices of benevolence and piety, which are en. joined by the word of Christ, and recommended by his perfect example. Pray without ceasing, in the solemn hours of retirement, and in the great congregation assembled for the purpose of public devotion. In every thing give thanks: in seasons of the severest temporal distress, habituate yourselves to rely upon the wise providence of that almighty Being, who can make the affliction of a moment work out an eternal weight of glory. Have your conversation in heaven, Walk by faith, and not by sight; and may the God of all grace make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you; that after you have done his will, you may, in duc time, receive his promise.
HOSEA xiv. 8.
Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I
have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir-tree: from me is thy fruit found.
THE prophecies of Hosea are chiefly directed to the ten tribes of Israel, who, under Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, had revolted from the house of David, renounced the religion of their fathers, and fallen into idolatry. The judgments of that God whom they thus despised, immediately pursued their crimes; and these chastisements of heaven are represented by the prophet as producing their due effect.
The tribe of Ephraim was the head of the ten revolting tribes, both on account of its numbers, and because within the limits of that tribe, Jeroboam had fixed the seat of his government. In the prophetic language, therefore, the term Ephraim is equivalent to Israel, as distinguished from Judah and Benjamin, who remained steadfast in their allegiance to their almighty Sovereign, the only living and true God.