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gospel is "the word of reconciliation," ministers are ambassadors of peace, through the great Mediator between God and man. Into whatever house the apostles entered, they were directed to say, "Peace be to this "house :" and wherever we are sent, we go "preach
ing peace by "Jesus Christ." "He is our Peace, " he hath made peace by the blood of his cross;" and he hath pronounced a blessing on " peace-makers, as "the children of God."
When we embrace his Gospel, "being justified by "faith we have peace with God;" he imputes not to us our trespasses, but admits us into a state of reconciliation, and a covenant of friendship with himself; and, by the Spirit of sanctification and adoption, teaches and inclines us cordially to love him, and delight in his perfections, service, and salvation. Peace is the legacy Christ hath left his disciples. "Peace I "leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as "the world giveth, give I unto you.*" When our hearts are stayed on the Lord in faith and hope, he keeps them in perfect peace," and he imparts a peace of God which passeth all understanding," to possess and confirm "our hearts and minds by Christ "Jesus." A stable peace of conscience, in reliance on the immense and everlasting mercy of God, through the all-sufficient atonement and mediation of Christ; which will bear investigation, and flourish in connexion with deep humility, holy abhorrence of sin, and the strictest conscientiousness in all things; and an inward serenity and tranquillity of mind, in submis
* John, xiv. 27.
sion to the will of God and confidence in him, constitute this inestimable blessing.
The Lord hath also assured us, that "when our ways please him, he maketh even our enemies to "be at peace with us:" and his peace ruling in our hearts disposes us to follow peace with all men. The precepts, as well as the promises of Christ, ensure peace to all his true disciples. The most sincere, upright, disinterested, and harmless conduct, united with tender compassion, courteousness, and universal benevolence; a disposition to make concessions and reparations for all injuries, and to forgive and love our enemies in the most unwearied and generous manner, are expressly commanded by the Redeemer; and these are also "the fruits of the Spirit," who dwells in all true believers. The most exact attention to all relative duties, according to the regular subordination of families and communities, is also effectually provided for. If therefore, ail men should at once be made true Christians, answerable to the specimen shewn to the world after the day of Pentecost; nay, according to that lower measure of grace bestowed on thousands in this land at present: the effect upon human affairs would be as stupendous, as that produced on the boisterous winds and stormy waves, when the incarnate Son of God said, " Peace, be still, and there
was a great calm!" Wars and all concurrent and similar evils must instantaneously cease; and peace, equity, purity, truth, and love universally prevail; if all men were partakers of the Spirit of Christ, and obedient to his commandments.
But hath not he said, "Suppose ye that I am come "to give peace on earth? I tell you nay, but ra"ther division: for from henceforth there shall be "five in one house divided, three against two, and "two against three.*" To this it may be answered, that predictions of future events must be distinguished from commands, exhortations, and doctrines: and the latter, not the former, shew the real nature and tendency of the gospel. When a few persons are converted, and feel their obligations to love Christ more than father or mother, and to obey God rather than man; and yet many remain under the influence of " that spirit who worketh in the children of disobedience:" divisions will necessarily be the consequence. And when the mad passions of ungodly men take occasion, from Christianity, to vent themselves; and the distinction, between real believers, and nominal Christians, is overlooked: the tendency of the gospel must be mistaken. The opposition which the religion of Jesus has met with from the world; the wickedness that men have committed, under the guise of Christianity; and the inconsistencies and indiscretions of many pious persons, have produced lamentable effects. Hence persecutions and religious wars have been excited, by the professed disciples of the Prince of peace! Pious, or rather impious, frauds have been practised to subserve the cause of superstition or hypocrisy! Acrimonious controversies and divisions among professed Christians have been multiplied; and even serious persons
• Luke, xii. 51-53.
have been prejudiced against each other by a narrow and absurd bigotry. "Woe be to the world because "of offences! it must needs be that offences come; "but woe be to that man by whom they come !"
We must not, however, ascribe these things to Christianity, but to the want of it. If men were real Christians most of these evils would cease, and all of them would be mitigated: if men were consistent and judicious Christians, they would totally vanish. Even disciples too often "know not what spirit they are of;" and contend for the truths and ordinances of Christ, in a manner contrary to his precepts and example.
But it may also be observed, that all these effects spring from the depravity of the human heart as their native source; and if men had not this occasion of discord and selfishness, they would find some other. After all, the world has seldom been more wicked, in the worst ages and places distinguished by the Christian name, than at other times and in other countries: though unbelievers have bestowed more pains in exhibiting its wickedness. In general, the state of human society has been greatly meliorated by the gospel: for where have Christians habitually diverted themselves by such bloody spectacles, as the gladiatorial shows of the Romans? Where have pagans manifested such humanity to the poor, sick, and destitute; as is displayed in the expensive institutions common in Christian countries? Vices, branded with deepest infamy even in this licentious age, were patronized and avowed among the politest heathens. War itself has assumed a milder aspect since the es
tablishment of Christianity: and even Deists have learned from the sacred oracles, to denounce ambitious warriors; and to give the palm of glory to those who save men's lives, instead of those that destroy them. These effects have evidently been produced by the gospel, even on the minds of multitudes, who never believed it with a living and obedient faith.
Taking, however, our standard of Christianity from the scriptures; we are confident, that in proportion, as it prevails, it will produce "peace on earth," in all senses and in all places. We are also assured, that ere long the Prince of peace will possess the dominion over all nations as his willing subjects: and then they will beat their swords into plow-shares, and learn war no more. Well, therefore, might angels sing at the Redeemer's nativity, "Peace on earth!" A blessing inestimable in itself, long unknown, or scarcely known, among men: but now about to be vouchsafed by a gradual progress to all the nations of the globe.
For such blessings virtually communicated to sinful men in the person of Emmanuel, angels also ascribed "Glory to God in the highest."-The perfections of God are his essential glory, which is incapable of increase or diminution: but in his works he manifests this glory to his rational creatures, that they may contemplate, admire, and adore it; and he is glorified by them, when they delight to celebrate his praises. "The heavens declare the glory of God:" and his eternal power and Deity are clearly seen in all the works which he made. His providential care of the universe manifests his wisdom, good