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and light and darkness the same. Every thing that depresses the mind, is destructive of joy-every thing that is substantial, and exhilarates, ennobles, invigorates, and inspires the mind with kindly, complacent, and satisfactory sentiments and sensations, communicates joy. Now there must be a cause for every thing. Every effect must be in a complete subserviency to the relation that exists between cause and effect. Therefore, when a man's mind is exhilarated by strong physical stimuli as a cause, the effect can only exist while the cause operates, which is but for a moment, as it were; and must be succeeded by a corresponding depression, as soon as the stimuli ceases to act as a cause, and a reaction takes place.
Peace and joy go together, exist together, like wisdom and prudence. How appropriate is the declaration of the Psalmist "Great peace have they who love thy law, and nothing shall offend them!" That is, cause them to offend, in such a manner as to create an obstacle to their peace. But it is a joy in the Holy Spirit. There can exist nothing deserving the name of joy, in an unholy spirit. And the best of all reasons can be given for this-"Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile; for there is no respect of persons with God," (Rom. ii. 9-11.) Reader, this is the Gospel of ist-this is the teaching of "the grace of God, that bringeth salvation to all men," viz:-"That denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world," etc. (Titus ii. 11, 12.) But a blind, orthodox multitude, call this doctrine, and this teaching, Universalism; and stigmatize it as the doctrine of devils.
We have seen the temper and disposition, and state or condition of mind, that are characteristic of the kingdom of God, or of heaven. And the prayer taught us by our Lord Jesus Christ, contains a petition to our Father in heaven, that this state of mind may exist in earth, as in heaven. Let us consider the occasion of the Lord Jesus' speaking the words of our text.
"Then were brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven." And Mark (x. 13-16,) relates, that
"They brought young children to him, that he should touch them; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it he was much displeased; and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them."
Reader, there is a momentous truth taught in the declaration of the Lord Jesus Christ, viz: "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." There are clergymen who profess to be embassadors of Christ, who are proud of being designated by the appellation of, "sons of thunder." They are for "taking the kingdom of God by storm." They would force men into God's kingdom; giving them as a sole alternative, provided they will not yield their judgment at the summons of their clerical dictators, to be driven into Hell. It is all violence, clamour, "fire brands and death," to all who will not obey their commands, and believe their dogmas. And these pretended shepherds of the souls of men, frighten the timid; and occasionally produce mental distraction, that ends either in a confirmed lunacy, or in suicide, or murder.* How many mothers, excited to frenzy by the false dogmas, and impudent, and impious blustering of these spiritual incendiaries, have murdered their little children, to save them from a threatened eternal Hell? How different is the preaching of Jesus, and his apostles!†
What is it to receive the kingdom of God as a little child? Reader, I will reiterate my argument-The testimony says, "GOD IS LOVE.' ." Therefore, if God is love, the kingdom of God, is a kingdom of love! How, I ask, should a kingdom of love be received? As a timorous, trembling, fearful slave, receives the stripes of a cruel master? As a hypocritical parasite, receives the boon earned by flattery? As an ignorant boor receives a gift, without knowledge to estimate its value, or ability to acknowledge the gratuity? As a dernier resort, to escape an apprehended Hell; without a sentiment in union with the principles of the kingdom? No.
*There is a singular propriety in this use of the term lunacy; for the term is defined to be "a kind of madness influenced by the Moon !" And the Moon, is the parabolic metaphor of a corrupt church!
† See Vol. I. Sermon VI. The Good Shepherd."
There is another particular for our consideration: The kingdom of God is a kingdom of love-and God is our Father the kingdom of God, therefore, is not only a kingdom of love, but a kingdom in which a Father's love, is manifested. How sublimely, and beautifully appropriate, therefore, is the declaration of Jesus, to receive the kingdom of God; the kingdom of love; of a Father's love, as little children! How do little children, in the simplicity and innocency of their hearts, receive the affectionate care, protection and bounty, of their father? You must answerWith unbounded confidence; with joy and rejoicing. Hope sits smiling on their countenance-fear has found no entrance into their hearts-they repose, with perfect faith, in a father's love, and rejoice all the day.
A prophet affirms, "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD; and the fruit of the womb is his reward." (Psa. cxxvii. 3.) Again—“Behold, all souls are mine." (Ezek. xviii. 4.)
It is too disgusting to contemplate, or I would portray the bigot, rejecting God's heritage, and giving the souls, that JEHOVAH affirms are His, to an orthodox devil.
How different is the teaching of Jesus, of his Father, from the vagaries of bigots and fanatics! How gloomy is orthodoxy, singing, with pious grimace, the excrescences of a poet's imagination!
"Think, O my soul, that dreadful day,
Shall rend the sky, and burn the sea,
Reader, if no ill shall betide us, till the sea shall be burned, we shall fare well!
To the eye of reason it would seem, that men have exhausted the wickedness of their hearts, and their imaginations likewise, in their attempts to traduce the character and purposes of a God of love; and to represent the Great Father of all, as the cruel enemy of His offspring. Let the declaration of God's Son Jesus be read again, and again-"If ye then, being EVIL, know how to give good gifts unto your children, How MUCH MORE shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matt. vii. 11.) Would to heaven that this Divine interrogation was emblazoned, in characters of fire, on every orthodox pulpit in Christendom!
I am aware that it has at last, much to the credit of the
age we live in, become exceedingly unpopular to preach the abominable, and revolting dogma of Calvinism; of the endless damnation of all infants born of non-elect parents. The simple fact is, that God, in His providence, has so turned the hearts of a vast majority of the inhabitants of Christendom, that public indignation would burst in tones of thunder against the miscreant, who should now dare to insult an audience by the public avowal of this darling tenet of the Geneva reformer. Heaven be praised, that so much has been done to arrest the progress of the Hydra, Error; and open the eyes of mankind to catch a glimpse of the truth, as it is in Jesus. I will venture to predict, that the elements of TRUTH are now expandingthat the fabrick of error is tottering-that within a few, short years, a moral explosion shall scatter the horns of the Beast to the four winds of heaven. Which may God, of His infinite mercy, grant, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake. AMEN.
THE PARABOLA OF THE PROPHETS.
"And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.”
ZECH. XI. 10.
THE Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, has been designated by the great and distinguished Apostle Paul, as "The mystery of God's will;" and "The mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God." And the translators finish their translation of the verse, by adding, "who [God] created all things by Jesus Christ." (Ephes. i. 9; iii. 9.)* It appears from Paul's testimony, (also from other inspired writers,) that "The mystery of God's will," contained in, and promulgated by the Lord Jesus Christ- in his Gospel, was, until brought to light by Christ's Gospel, hidden; and had been hidden from the beginning of the ages or dispensations, until that time, in God, in His counsels, etc. The conclusion is irresistible, that all God's holy prophets, who testified" of the times of restitution of all things," were in the condition of the prophet Daniel, (xii.) to whom the book was sealed. And in Rev. v. 1-3, the sealed book
* The original term rendered world, (in Ephes. iii. 9,) is alwvwv, literally ages in the plural. (Dr. A. Clarke's eternities, in the plural!) The Greek Testament I use, is GRIESBACHII, Glasgow edition, 1817; and gives, for the translator's declaration, "God who created all things by Jesus Christ"--Đεw, tŵ rà távтa KríoavTI-(Theo, to ta panta ktisanti.) In Rom. i. 25, the translators say, "and served the creature (te ktisei) more than the Creator," (ton ktisanta.) The phrase "by Jesus Christ,' is not in the original. And the phrase "Theo to ta panta ktisanti," signifies, literally, God the Creator of all. Therefore the original signifies as follows: "The mystery, [or secret] which from the beginning of the ages hath been hid in God, the Creator of all."
Note-I have the London edition, Grk. Test. (JOANNis Millii, 1760,) which contains the phrase "by Jesus Christ," that has been rejected by GRIESBACHII as spurious, etc. This London edition also contains the 25th, 26th, and 27th verses, as in the Common Version, of Rom. xvi., that have been rejected as spurious by GRIESBACHII. Also, Matt. xxv. 13, last clause, wherein the Son of Man cometh;" rejected by Griesbachii.