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picion of any one of you in particular, I fear for you, because you carry about with you a body of sin, have warm passions, and are surrounded with numberless temptations. Yet I hope better things, than that you, who have set your hands to the plough, will ever look back. Great has been, and still is our satisfaction in you. And it will continue, yea, increase, provided you hold out to the end. Guard against self-confidence; and remember that your standing is on Christ, out of whose fulness you must receive, and grace for grace. For as the branch cannot bear fruit, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in him. And by virtue of constant sup
grace from Christ, your path will be like that of the just, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
Carefully attend to all the duties of the Christian life. Make much use of the living oracles ; neglect not the religion of your closets, neither forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is. Each of you should studiously endeavour to promote the religious society, in which you are at present happily united. If rightly conducted, by prayer, reading, and free con. versation on matters of experience, it may prove of special advantage to you. Watch over one another with all diligence, and reprove, if neces, sary, with meekness and love. Opposition you are to expect in your Christian course ; for “ he that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Endeavour to set your faces like a flint ; to be stedfast, immoveable, always bounding in the work of the Lord. In due time you shall reap, if you faint not. Verily, true re*
ligion is accompanied with present peace and con. solation. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Thus will you, having believed in the Son of God in a proper sense, rejoice in your youth ; your hearts will cheer you in the days of your youth : for “ the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Go on and prosper, and the Lord be
6 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among them who are sanctified.”
For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew
not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
THE best method, in my judgment, of determining with accuracy, how far the light of nature is sufficient to lead mankind to the knowl. edge of the true God and their duty to him, is, to attend to the condition of the heathen world : not of the most barbarous and ignorant, but of the inhabitants of Greece and Rome, at the periods when they were most celebrated for learning and refinement. Even then they were gross idolaand many
of their sentiments and practices were shocking to decency and common sense. I
* This and the two following Sermons were delivered in No. vember, 1790
f“The sports of the gladiators, unnatural lusts, the licentiousness of divorce, the exposing of infants and slaves, the procuring abortions, the public establishment of stews; all subsisted at Rome, and not one of them was condemned, or hinted at in Tully's offices. The most indecent revelling, drunkenness, and lewdness were practised at the feasts of Bacchus, Ceres, and Cybele; and their greatest philosophers never remonstrated against it.
“The heathen philosophers, though they have advanced fine sayings and sublime precepts, in some points of morality, have grossly failed in others ; such as the toleration or encouragement of revenge, slavery, unnatural lust, fornication, suicide, &c. For ex.
that with all their wisdom and learning, they quite mistook the nature of God and religion : hence divine revelation became absolutely necessary. " For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God.” The meaning is, that although “ the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, the world knew him not; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image ‘made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things."
It has been the method of the infinite God, both before and since the fall, to leave mankind to act out their own characters, and not to interpose until the necessity of his interposition became evident. Thus it was in the case of our first parents: he could have prevented their apostasy, but did not. After they had sinned, and were distressed with conscious guilt, he revealed to them ample : Plato expressly allowed of excessive drinking at the festivals of Bacchus, Maximus Tyrius forbad to pray, &c.
« Aristotle and Plato both direct that means should be used to prevent weak children being brought up. Cato commends a young man for frequenting the stews. Cicero expressly speaks of fornication as a thing never found fault with. Plato recommends a community of women, and advises that soldiers should not be restrained from sensual indulgencë, even the most unnatural species of it. Xenophon relates, without any marks of reprobation, that unnatural lust was encouraged by the laws of several Grecian states. Solôn, their great lawgiver, forbad it only to slaves. Diogenes inculcated, änd openly practised the most brutal last. Zeno and Cato both killed themselves.” Bishop of Carlisle's reflections on the life and character
of Christ, Appendix.
Jesus Christ, under the idea of the seed of the woman. And when the world was overspread with sin and ignorance, and by wisdom knew him not, having had the fairest trial, he was pleased, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. Let us
1. Account for Paul's use of this expression, u the foolishness of preaching.”
II. Ascertain what kind of preaching he had in view.
III. Prove that God hath been pleased to put the most distinguished honour on it, by making it the means of saving them that believe.
1. Our first inquiry is, why does the apostle use the expression, “ foolishness of preaching ?”
We are confident, my brethren, he does not speak in his own, but in borrowed language. He must have been a fool indeed, to have engaged in a service which he knew would reproach his own understanding. Rather he has respect to the common opinion of the Greeks, who are said to “ seek after wisdom;" meaning, the wisdom of this world. “We preach Christ crucified,” says this apostle, “to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” This single passage accounts for Paul's use of the expression. The preaching of Christ crucified was foolishness to the learned, unregenerate Greeks.
II. We pass to consider what kind of preach. ing it was, the apostle had respect to.
There are certain sentiments that the world can hear with patience and approbation; there