Contents The Christian System
by Alexander Campbell
Index

CONCLUDING ADDRESSES.

CONTENTS

Address to the Citizens of the Kingdom
A Word to Friendly Aliens
Address to Belligerent Aliens


CONCLUDING ADDRESSES.

ADDRESS TO THE CITIZENS OF THE KINGDOM
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FELLOW CITIZENS:-

Your rank and standing under the reign of the Prince of Peace have never been surpassed - indeed, have never been equalled by any portion of the human race. You have visions and revelations of God - his being and perfections - developments of the depths of his wisdom and knowledge, of the counsels of his grace, and the purposes of his love, which give you an intellectual and moral superiority above all your predecessors in the Patriarchal and Jewish ages of the world. Secrets of God, which were hid from ages and generations, have been revealed to you by the Apostles of the Great Apostle and High Priest of your confession. - What Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses, David, Isaiah, Daniel, and all the Prophets, down to John the Harbinger, rejoiced to anticipate, you have realized and enjoyed. The intellectual pleasures of the highest and most sublime conceptions of God and of Christ vouchsafed to you, so far transcend the attainments of the ancient people of God, that you are comparatively exalted to heaven, and may enjoy the days of heaven upon earth. You have a book which contains not only the charter of your privileges, but which explains a thousand mysteries in the antecedent administrations of God over all the nations of the earth. In it you have such interpretations of God's past providences in the affairs of individuals, families, and nations, as open to you a thousand sources of rational and sentimental enjoyment from incidents and things which puzzled and perplexed the most intelligent and highly favoured of past ages. Mountains are, indeed, levelled; valleys are exalted; rough places are made plain, and crooked ways straight to your apprehension; and, from these data, you are able to form more just conceptions of the present, and more lofty anticipations of the future, than fell to the lot of the most highly-favoured subjects of preceding dispensations. And, indeed, so inexhaustible are the deep and rich mines of knowledge and understanding in the Christian revelations, that the most comprehensive mind in the kingdom of heaven might labour in them during the age of a Methuselah, constantly enriching itself with all knowledge and spiritual understanding, and yet leave at last vast regions and tracts of thought wholly unexplored.

But this decided superiority over the most gifted saints of former ages you unquestionably enjoy. Among all the living excellencies with which they were acquainted, they wanted a perfect model of all human excellence. Bright as were the virtues and excellencies of an Abraham, a Joseph, a David, there were dark spots, or, at least, some blemishes in their moral character. They failed to place in living form before their contemporaries, or to leave as a legacy to posterity, every virtue, grace, and excellence that adorn human nature. But you have Jesus, not only as "the image of the invisible God," "an effulgence of his glory, and an exact representation of his character;" but as a man, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sin, exhibiting in the fullest perfection every excellence which gives amiability, dignity, and glory to human character. You have motives to purity and holiness, a stimulus to all that is manly, good, and excellent, from what he said and did, and suffered as the Son of Man, which would have added new charms and beauties to the most exemplary of all the saints of the olden times.

Means and opportunities of the highest intellectual and moral enjoyments are richly bestowed on you, for which they sighed in vain: God having provided some better things for Christians than for Jews and Patriarchs. Shall we not, then, fellow citizens, appreciate and use, as we ought, to our present purity and happiness, to our eternal honour and glory, the light which the Sun of Righteousness has shed so richly and abundantly on us? Remember that we stand upon Apostles and Prophets, and are sustained by Jesus, the light of the world, and the interpreter and vindicator of all God's ways to man in creation, providence, and redemption. All suns are stars; and he that is now to us in this life "the Sun of Righteousness," in respect of the future is "the Bright and Morning Star." Till the day of eternity dawn, and the day-star of immortality arise in our hearts, let us always look to Jesus.

But it is not only the felicity of superior heavenly light, though that is most delectable to our rational nature, which distinguishes you the citizens of this kingdom; but that personal, real, and plenary remission of all sin, which you enjoy through the blood of the Lamb of God, bestowed on you through the ordinances of Christian immersion and confession of sins.

The Jews, indeed, had sacrifices under the law, which could, and did take away ceremonial sins; and which so far absolved from the guilt of transgressing that law, as to give them a right to the continued enjoyment of the temporal and political promises of the national compact; but farther Jewish sacrifices and ablutions could not reach. - This benefit every Jew had from them. But as respected the conscience, Paul, that great commentator on Jewish sacrifice, assures us they had no power. "With respect to the conscience," says he, "they could not make him who did the service perfect."

The entrance of the law gave the knowledge of sin. It gave names to particular sins, and "caused the offence to abound." The sacrifices appended to it had respect to that institution alone, and not to sin in general, nor to sin in its true and proper nature. The promise made to the patriarchs, and the sacrificial institution added to it, through faith in that promise, led the believing to anticipate a real sin-offering; but it appears the Jewish sacrifices had only respect to the Jewish institution, and, excepting their typical character, gave no new light to those under that economy on the subject of a true and proper remission of sins, through the real and bloody sacrifice of Christ.

The Patriarch and the believing Jew, as respected a real remission of sins, stood upon the same ground; for, as has been observed, the legal institution, or, as Paul says, "the supervening of the law," made no change in the apprehensions of remission, as respected the conscience. But a new age having come (for "these ordinances for cleaning the flesh were imposed only till the time of reformation",) and Christ having, by a more perfect sacrifice, opened the way into the true holy places, has laid the foundation for perfecting the conscience by a real and full remission of sins, which, by the virtue of his blood, terminates not upon the flesh, but upon the conscience of the sinner.

John, indeed, who lived at the dawn of the Reformation, preached reformation with an immersion for the remission of sins; saying that "they should believe in him that was to come after him." Those who believed John's gospel, and reformed, and were immersed into John's reformation, had remission of sins through faith in that was to come; but you, fellow-citizens, even in respect of the enjoyment of remission, are greatly advanced above the disciples of John. You have been immersed, not only by the authority of Jesus, as Lord of all, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, but into the death or sacrifice of Christ. This no disciple of Moses or of John knew anything about. This gives you an insight into sin, and a freedom from it, as respects conscience - a peace and a joy unutterable and full of glory, to which both the disciples of Moses and of the Harbinger were strangers. So that the light of the risen day of heaven's eternal Sun greatly excels, not only the glimmerings of the stars in the patriarchal age, and the faint light of the moon in the Jewish age, but even the twilight of the morning.

Your new relation to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, into which you have been introduced by faith in the Messiah and immersion into his death, verifies, in respect of the sense and assurance of remission, all that John and Jesus said concerning the superiority of privilege, vouchsafed to the citizens of the kingdom of heaven. You can see your sins washed away in the blood that was shed on Mount Calvary. That which neither the highly favoured John, nor any disciple of the Messiah could understand, till Jesus said "it is finished," you not only clearly perceive, but have cordially embraced. You can feel, and say with all assurance, that "the blood of Jesus Christ now cleanses you from all sin;" and that by faith you have access to the Mediator of the New Institution, and to the blood of sprinkling which speaks glad tidings to the heart. You have an Advocate with the Father; and, when conscious of any impurity, coming to him by God, confession your sins, and supplicating pardon through his blood, you have the promise of remission. You now know how God is just as well as merciful, in forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.

But superior light and knowledge, and enlarged conceptions of God, with such an assurance of real and personal remission as pacifies the conscience and introduces the peace of God into the heart, are not the only distinguishing favours which you enjoy in the new relation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, into which you are introduced under the reign of Heaven; but you are formally adopted into the family of God, and constituted the sons and daughters of the Father Almighty.

To be called "the friend of God," was the highest title bestowed on Abraham; to be called the friends of Christ, was the peculiar honour of the disciples of Christ, to whom he confided the secrets of his reign; but to be called "the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ," is not only the common honour of all Christians, but the highest honour which could be vouchsafed to the inhabitants of this earth. Such honour have you, my fellow-citizens, in being related to the only-begotten Son of God: "For as many as received him he gave the privilege of becoming the sons of God." These, indeed, were not descended from families of noble blood, nor genealogies of high renown; neither are they the offspring of the instincts of the flesh, nor made the sons of God "by the will of man," who sometimes adopts the child of another as his own; but they are "born of God" through the ordinances of his grace. "Behold how great love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!" "The world, indeed, does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, now are we the children of God. It does not yet appear what we shall be."

"Because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." And if sons, it follows you "are heirs of God through Christ" - the heir of all things. Is this, fellow-citizens, a romantic vision, or sober and solemn truth, that you are children of God, possessing the spirit of Christ, and constituted heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ of the eternal inheritance! What manner of persons, then, ought you to be! How pure, how holy and heavenly in your temper; how just and righteous in all your ways; how humble and devoted to the Lord; how joyful and triumphant in your King!

Permit me, then, to ask, Wherein do you excel? - nay, rather, you will propose this question to yourselves. You will say, How shall we still more successfully promote the interest, the honour, and the triumphs of the gospel of the kingdoms? Is there any thing we can do by our behaviour, our morality, our piety, by our influence, by all the earthly means with which God has furnished us? Is there any thing we can do more to strengthen the army of the faith, to invigorate the champions of the kingdom, to make new conquests for our King? Can we not increase the joy of the Lord in converting souls - can we not furnish occasions of rejoicing to the angels of God - can we not gladden the hearts of thousands who have never tasted the joys of the children of God?

In the present administration of the kingdom of God, during the absence of the King, he has said to the citizens, "Put on the armour of light" - "Contend earnestly for the faith" - "convert the world" - "occupy till I come" - "let your light shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father in heaven" - "that the Gentiles may, by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." He has thus entrusted to the citizens the great work for which he died - the salvation of men. Let us, then, brethren, be found faithful to the Lord and to men, that he may address us at his coming with the most acceptable plaudit, "Well done, good and faithful servants; enter into the joy of your Lord!"

Great as the opposition is to truth and salvation, we have no reason to despond. Greater are our friends and allies, and infinitely more powerful than all our enemies. God is on our side - Jesus Christ is our King - the Holy Spirit is at his disposal - angels are his ministering servants - the prayers of all the prophets, apostles, saints, and martyrs are for our success - our brethren are numerous and strong - they have the Sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the artillery of truth, the arguments of God, the preparation of the gospel of peace - our Commander and Captain is the most successful General that ever entered the field of war - he never lost a battle - he is wonderful in counsel, excellent in working, valiant in fight - the Lord of hosts is his name. He can stultify the machinations of our enemies, control all the powers of nature, and subdue all our foes, terrestrial and infernal. Under his conduct we are like Mount Zion, that can never be moved. Indeed, under him we are come to Mount Zion, the strong hold and fortress of the kingdom, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to myriads of angels, the general assembly and congregation of the first born, enrolled in heaven - to God the Judge of all - to the spirits of just men made perfect - to Jesus the Mediator of the New Constitution - and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaks such peace, and joy, and courage to the heart. Ought we not, then, brethren, "to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might?" If in faith, and courage, and prayer, we put on the heavenly armour, and march under the King, sounding the gospel trumpet, the walls of Jericho will fall to the ground, and the banners of the Cross will wave over the ruins of Paganism, Atheism, Scepticism, and sectarianism - Nil desperandum, te duce, Christe. If a Roman could say, "Nothing is to be feared under the auspices of Caesar," may not the Christian say, There is no despair under the guardianship of Messiah the King?

But, fellow-citizens, though clothed with the whole panoply of heaven, and headed by the Captain of Salvation, there is no success in this war to be expected, without constant and incessant prayer. When the Apostles began to build up this kingdom, notwithstanding all the gifts they enjoyed, they found it necessary to devote themselves to prayer as well as to the ministry of the word. And when Paul describes all the armour of God, piece by piece, in putting it on he says, "Take the Sword of the Spirit - with all supplication and deprecation, pray at all seasons in spirit, watch with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."

This was most impressively and beautifully pictured out in the wars of ancient Israel against their enemies. While Moses lifted up his holy hands to heaven, Israel prevailed; and when he did not, Amalek prevailed. So is it now. When the disciples of Christ, the heaven born citizens of the kingdom, continue instant in prayer and watchfulness, the truth triumphs in their hearts and in the world. When they do not, they become cold, timid, and impotent as Sampson shorn, and the enemy gains strength over them. Then the good cause of the Lord languishes.

It is not necessary that we should understand how prayer increases our zeal, our wisdom, our strength, our joy, or how it gives success to the cause, any more than that we should understand how our food is converted into flesh, and blood, and bones. It is only necessary that we eat; and it is only necessary that we should pray as we are taught and commanded. Experience proves that the outward man is renewed day by day by our daily bread, and experience proves that the inward man is renewed day by day prayer and thanksgiving. The Lord has promised his Holy Spirit to them that ask him in truth; and is it not necessary to our success? If it be not necessary to give new revelations, it is necessary to keep in mind those already given, and to bring the word written seasonably to our remembrance. Besides, if the Spirit of the Lord was necessary to the success of Gideon and Barak, and Sampson and David, and all the great warriors of Israel according to the flesh, who fought the battles of the Lord with the sword, the sling, and the bow; who can say that it is not necessary to those who draw the Sword of the Spirit and fight the good fight of faith? In my judgment it is as necessary now as then - necessary, I mean, to equal success - necessary to the success of those who labour in the word and teaching, and necessary to those who would acquit themselves like men, in every department in the ranks of the great army of the Lord of hosts.

Though the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual, they are mighty (only, however, through God, to the overturning of strong holds,) to the overturning of all reasonings against the truth, and every high thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and in leading captive every thought to the obedience of Christ. Let us then, fellow-citizens, whether as leaders or as private soldiers, abound in prayer and supplications to God night and day. If sincere, and ardent, and incessant prayers to God for every thing that he has promised; for all things for which the Apostles prayed were offered us by all the congregations, and by every disciple in his family and in his closet, for the triumphs of the truth, then would we see the army of the Lord successful in fight against atheism, infidelity, and sectarianism - then would we see disciples growing in knowledge and in favour with God and man. And is not the conversion of the world and our own eternal salvation infinitely worthy of all the effort and enterprise in man, seeing God himself has done so much in the gift of his Son and Holy Spirit, and left for us so little to do - nothing, indeed, but what is in the compass of our power? And shall we withhold that little, especially as he has given us so many and so exceedingly great and precious promises to stimulate us to exertion? Has not Jesus said, "The conqueror shall inherit all things" - that he "will not blot out his name out of the book of life" - that he will confess it before his Father and his holy angels - that he will place him "upon his throne, and give him the crown of life that shall never fade away"?

Rise up, then, in the strength of Judah's Lion! Be valiant for the truth! Adorn yourselves with all the graces of the Spirit of God! Put on the armour of light: and, with all the gentleness, and meekness, and mildness there is in Christ - with all the courage, and patience, and zeal, and effort, worthy of a cause so salutary, so pure, so holy, and so divine, determine never to faint nor to falter till you enter the pearly gates - never to lay down your arms, till, with the triumphant millions, you stand before the throne, and exultingly sing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honour, and glory, and blessing!" - "To him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb be blessing, and honour, and glory and strength forever and forever!" Amen.

A WORD TO FRIENDLY ALIENS.
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Whether to regard you in the light of Proselytes of the Gate, who refused circumcision, but wished to live in the land of Israel, to be in the suburbs of the cities of Judah, and to keep some of the institutions of the ancient kingdom of God, without becoming fellow-citizens of that kingdom; or whether to regard you as the Samaritans of old, who built for themselves a temple of God upon Mount Gerizim, held fast a part of the ancient revelation of God, and rejected only such parts of it as did not suit their prejudices - worshipped the God of Israel in common with the idols of the nations, from which they sprang - I say, whether to regard you in the light of the one or the other of those ancient professors of religion, might require more skill in casuistry than we possess - more leisure than we have at our disposal - and more labour than either of us have patience to endure. One thing, however, is obvious, that if, under the Reign of Heaven it behoved so good a man as Cornelius ("a man of piety, and one that feared God with all his house, giving also much alms to the people, and praying to God continually,") to "hear words by which he might be saved," and to put on Christ by immersion into his death, that he might enter the kingdom of heaven, and enjoy the remission of sins, and the hope of an inheritance among all the sanctified - certainly it is both expedient and necessary that you also go and do likewise.

Every sectarian in the land, how honest and pious soever, ought to bury his sectarianism, and all his other sins of omission and commission, in "the bath of regeneration." It is a high crime and misdemeanour in any man, professing to have received the Messiah in his proper person, character, and office, to refuse allegiance to him in any thing; and to substitute human inventions and traditions in lieu of the ordinances and statutes of Prince Immanuel. Indeed, the keeping up of any dogma, practice, or custom, which directly or indirectly supplants the constitution, laws, and usage of the kingdom over which Jesus presides, is directly opposed to his government; and would ultimate in dethroning him in favour of a rival, and in placing upon his throne the author of that dogma, practice, or usage which supplants the institution of the Saviour of the world.

It is to you, then, who, in the name of the King, are changing his ordinances, and substituting your own expedients for the wisdom and authority of the Judge of all, we now propose the following considerations: -

Every kingdom has one uniform law or institution for naturalizing aliens; and that institution, of whatever sort it be, is obligatory, by the authority of the government, upon every one who would become a citizen. We say it is obligatory upon him who desires to be a citizen to submit to that institution. But does not your practice and your dogma positively say that it is not the duty of an alien to be born again, but that it is the duty of his father or guardian to have him naturalized? Now, although many things are in common the duty of brother, father, and child, yet those duties which belong specifically to a father cannot belong to his child, either in religion, morality, or society. If it be the father's duty to "offer his child to the Lord," to speak in your own style, it is not the duty of the child to offer himself. It was not Isaac's duty to be circumcised, but Abraham's duty to circumcise him. If, then, it was your father's duty to have made you citizens of the kingdom of heaven, it is not your duty to become citizens, unless you can produce a law saying that in all cases where the father fails to do his duty, then it shall be the duty of the child to do that which his father neglected.

Again - if all fathers, like yours, had, upon their own responsibility, without any command from the Lord, baptized their children, there would not be one in a nation to whom it could be said, "Repent and be baptized;" much less could it be said to every penitent, "Be baptized, every one of you, by the authority of the Lord, for the remission of sins." These remarks are only intended to show that your institutions do, in truth, go to the subversion of the government of Christ, and to the entire abolition of the institutions of his kingdom. On this account alone, if for no other reason, you ought to be constitutionally naturalized, and be legally and honourably inducted into the kingdom of heaven. It is a solemn duty you owe the King and his government; and if you have a conscience formed by the oracles of God, you can have no confidence in God, nor real peace of mind, so long as you give your support, your countenance, example, and entire influence to break down the institutions of Jesus Christ, to open his kingdom to all that is born of the flesh, and to prevent, as far as you can, every man from the pleasure of choosing whom he shall obey - of confessing him before men - of taking his yoke - of dying, being buried, and raised with Christ in his gracious institution. If Jesus himself, for the sake of fulfilling all righteousness, or of honouring every divine institution, though he needed not the reformation for remission of sins which John preached, was immersed by John - what have you to say for yourselves - you who would claim the honours and privileges of the kingdom of heaven, refusing to follow the example of Jesus, and who virtually subvert his authority by supporting a system which would, if carried out, not allow a voluntary agent in the race of Adam, to do that which all the first converts of Christ did, by authority of the commission which Jesus gave to his Apostles?

Again - whatever confidence you may now possess, that you are good citizens of the kingdom of Messiah, that confidence is not founded upon a "THUS SAITH THE LORD," but upon your own reasonings, which all men must acknowledge may be in this, as in many other things, fallacious. Jesus has said, "He that believes and is immersed shall be saved;" and Peter commanded every penitent to be immersed for the remission of his sins. Now he who hears the word, believes it, and is on his own confession immersed, has an assurance, a confidence, which is impossible for you to have.

Let me add only another consideration, for we are not now arguing the merits of your theory, or that of any party: it is your duty, as you desire the union of (what you call) the church, and the conversion of the world, forthwith to be immersed and to be born constitutionally into the kingdom; because all Protestants, of every name, if sincere believers in Jesus as the Christ, irrespective of every opinion found in any human creed, could if they would, honour and obey his institutions, come into one fold, and sit down together under the reign of the Messiah. If all would follow your example, this would necessarily follow; if they do not, you have done your duty. In being thus immersed, all the world, Catholic and Protestant, admit that you are truly and scripturally baptized; for all admit that an immersed penitent is constitutionally baptized into Christ; but only a part of the professing world can admit that rite of infant affusion on which you rely as introducing you, without previous knowledge, faith, or repentance, into the family of God. Acquit, then, your conscience; follow the example of Jesus; honour and support his authority; promote the union and peace of the family of God; do what in you lies for the conversion of the world; enter into the full enjoyment of the blessings of the kingdom of heaven by confessing the ancient faith, and by being immersed in the name of Jesus into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, for the remission of sins. Then you may say as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, Although the Samaritans have a temple on Mount Gerizim, a priesthood, and the five books of Moses, "Salvation is of the Jews." Although the sects have the Oracles of God, human creeds, many altars, priests, and religious usages, the enjoyment of salvation is among them who simply believe what the Apostles wrote concerning Jesus, and who from the heart obey that mould of doctrine which the Apostles delivered to us.

In so doing you will, moreover, most wisely consult your own safety and security from the signal calamities that are every day accumulating, and soon to fall with overwhelming violence on a distracted, divided, alienated, and adulterous generation. If you are "the people of God," as you profess, and as we would fain imagine, then you are commanded by a voice from heaven, "Come out of her, my people, that you partake not of the sins of mystic Babylon, and that you receive not a portion of her plagues."1 If affliction, and shame, and poverty, and reproach, were to be the inalienable lot of the most approved servants of God, it is better, infinitely better for you to suffer with them, than to enjoy for a season all that a corrupted and apostate society can bestow upon you. Remember who it is that has said, "Happy are they who keep his commandments, for they shall have a right to the tree of life, and they shall enter in through the gates into the city!"

ADDRESS TO BELLIGERENT ALIENS.
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To him who, through the telescope of faith, surveys your camp, there appears not on the whole map of creation such a motley group, such a heterogeneous and wretched amalgamation of distracted spirits, as are found in actual insurrection and rebellion, in a mad and accursed alliance against the reigning Monarch of creation. In your lines are found every unclean and hateful spirit on this side the fathomless gulf, the dark and rayless receptacle of fallen and ruined intelligences, who, in endless and fruitless wailings, lament their own follies, and through an incessant night of despair anathematize themselves, and their coadjutors in the perpetuation of their eternal suicide. Yes, in your ranks are found all who wilfully reject the Son of God, and will not have him to reign over them; whether they are styled the decent moralist, the honest deist, sceptic, atheist, infidel, the speculating Sadducee, the boasting Pharisee, the supercilious Jew, the resentful Samaritan, or the idolatrous Gentile. All ranks and degrees of men in political society - the king and the beggar - the sage philosopher and the uneducated clown - the rich and the poor, who disdain the precepts of the Messiah, unite with you in this unholy alliance against the kingdom of heaven. You may boast of many a decent fellow-soldier in the crusade against Immanuel; many who, when weighed in the balances of the political sanctuary, are not found wanting in all the decencies of this present life; but yet look at the innumerable crowds of every sort of wretches, down to the filthiest, vilest matricide, who in your communion are fighting under your banners - stout-hearted rebels! - leagued with you in your attempts to dethrone the Lord's Anointed. If you boast of one Marcus Aurelius, you must fraternize with many a Nero, Domitian, Caligula, and Heliogabalus. If you rejoice in the virtues of one Seneca, you must own the vices of the ten thousand murderers, robbers, adulterers, drunkards, profane swearers, and lecherous debauchees, who have rejected the counsels of heaven, because the precepts of righteousness and life forbade their crimes.

If, then, my friends, (for I now address the most honourable of your community,) you boast that you belong to a very large and respectable synagogue; remember, I pray you, that to this same synagogue in which you have your brotherhood, belongs every thing mean, and vile, and wretched, in every land where the name of Jesus has been announced. What a group! Have you so much of the reflex light of the gospel falling upon your vision as to flush your cheek with the glow of shame when you look along the lines of your alliance, and survey the horrible faces, the ragged, and tattered, and squalid, and filthy wretches, your companions in arms - members with you in the synagogue of Satan - and confederates against the Prince of Peace! If you cannot blush at such a spectacle, you are not among them to whom I would tender the pearls of Jesus Christ.

What do you then say? "I am ashamed of such an alliance - of such a brotherhood; and therefore I have joined the Temperance Society - I belong to the Literary Club - and I carry my family regularly to church every Sunday." And do you think, O simpleton! that these human inventions, which only divide the kingdom of Satan into castes, and form within it various private communications, honourable and dishonourable associations, learned and unlearned fraternities, moral and immoral conventicles, change the state of a single son of Adam as respects the Son of God!! Then may Whig and Tory, Masonic and Antimasonic clubs and conclaves - then may every political cabal, for the sake of elevating some demagogue, change the political relations in the state, and make an unmake American citizens according to fancy, in despite of constitution, law, and established precedents. No, sir; should there be as many parties in the state, as there are days in a month, membership in any one of these affects not, in the least, the standing of any man as a citizen in relation to the United States, or to any foreign power. And by parity of reason, as well as by all that is written in the New Testament, should you join all the benevolent societies on the checkered map of Christendom, and fraternize with every brotherhood born after the will of man, this would neither change nor destroy your citizenship in the kingdom of Satan - still you would be an alien from the kingdom of the Messiah - a foreigner as respects all its covenanted blessings - and, in the unbiased judgment of the universe, you would stand enrolled amongst its enemies.

In character there are many degrees, as respects any and every attribute which enters into its formation; but as respects state, there are no degrees. In the nature of things it is impossible. Every man is either married or single, a brother, a master, a citizen, or he is not. Every man is either Christ's or Belial's; there is no middle power, and therefore no neutral state. Hence the King himself, when on the present theatre of war, told his companions to regard every man as his enemy who was not on his side. Amongst his professed friends, they who in works deny him, are even counted as enemies.

What a hopeless struggle is that in which you are engaged! Discomfiture, soon or late, awaits you. Have you counsel and strength to oppose the Sovereign of the Universe? Do you think you can frustrate the counsels of Infinite Wisdom and overcome Omnipotence? Your master is already a prisoner - your chief is in chains. The fire of eternal vengeance is already kindled for Satan and all his subjects. Mad in his disappointed ambition, and implacable in his hatred of him against whom he rebelled, he only seeks to gratify his own malice, by involving with himself in irremediable ruin the unhappy victims of his seduction. He only seeks to desolate the dominions of God, and to ruin forever his fellow creatures. Will you, then, serve your worst enemy, and war against your best friend?

But your rebellion can effect nothing against God. His arm is too strong for the whole creation. You cannot defeat his counsels nor stay his almighty hand. The earth on which you stand trembles at his rebuke; the foundations of the hills and mountains are moved and shaken at his presence. You fight against yourselves. God's detestation of your course arises not from any apprehension that you can injure him; but because you destroy yourselves. Every triumph which your inordinate desires and passions gain over the remonstrances of reason and conscience only precipitates you into deeper and deeper misery, matures you for perdition, and makes it essential to the good order and happiness of the universe, you should suffer an "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

What, then, infatuates you, that you should choose death rather than life, and prefer destruction to salvation? "I am not sure that the gospel is true; I love my companions, and cannot see any criminality in gratifying those passions and appetites which my creator has planted in my constitution."

You admit there is a God, your Creator; but you doubt whether the gospel is true! What an abuse of reason and evidence! Can you infer from any premises in your possession, that HE, whose creation man is, who has exhibited to the eye and ear of man so much wisdom, power, and goodness, in all his grand designs already accomplished, and daily accomplishing, in the heavens and in the earth, teaching men to sustain the present life, to anticipate the future, and to provide for it, has never intelligibly addressed him on a subject of incomparably more importance - his own ultimate destiny! That God should have been at so much pains to elevate man in nature - to furnish him with such an organization - to bestow on him reason and speech - admirably qualifying him to acquire and communicate instruction, on all things necessary to his present animal enjoyments; and, at the same time, to have never communicated to him any thing relative to his intellectual nature - never to have addressed him on the themes, which, as a rational creature, he must necessarily most of all desire to know; to have done every thing for his body, and for the present - and nothing for his mind, nor for the future - is, to say the least of it, the most improbable conceit that the most romantic fancy can entertain.

That the Creator could not enlighten him on these topics, is wholly inadmissible. That he could, and would not, is directly contrary to every analogy in creation - contradictory to every proof we have of his benevolence, an inexplicable exception to the whole order of his government: for he has provided objects for every sense - objects for every intellectual power - objects for every affection, honourable passion, appetite and propensity, in our constitution; but, on your hypothesis, he has only failed in that which is infinitely more dear to us, more consonant to our whole rational nature, and most essential to our happiness!! It is most contrary to reason.

But the folly of your scepticism is still more glaring when we open the book of the gospel of salvation. In the history of Jesus you have the fulfilment of a thousand predictions, expressed by numerous Prophets for 1500 years before he was born. These recorded prophecies were in the possession of his and our most bitter enemies, when he appeared, and are still extant in their hands. How can you dispose of these? All antiquity confirms the existence of Jesus of Nazareth in the times of Augustus and Tiberius Caesar. No contemporary opponent denied his miracles: they explained them away, but questioned not the wonderful works which he wrought. His character was the only perfect and unexceptionable one the world ever saw, either in print, or in real life; and yet you imagine him to have been the greatest liar and most infamous impostor that ever lived. You must admit him to have been the teacher of every thing moral, and pure and godlike - to have lived the most exemplary life - to have employed his whole life in doing good - while, to countenance your scepticism, you must imagine him to have been the greatest deceiver and most blasphemous pretender the world ever saw! Truly, you are fond of paradox!

His Apostles, too, for the sake of being accounted the offscourings of the world, and the filth of all society - for the sake of poverty, contumely, stripes, imprisonment, and martyrdom, you imagine travelled over the earth teaching virtue and holiness - discountenancing every specifies of vice and immorality, while telling the most impudent lies, and that too about matters of palpable fact, about which no man having eyes and ears could be mistaken! How great your credulity! How weak your faith!

And to consummate the whole, you admit that in the most enlightened age, and amongst the most disputatious and discriminating population, both Jewish, Roman, and Grecian, in Jerusalem itself, the very theatre of the crucifixion of Christ, and in all Judea and Samaria, and in all the great towns and cities of the whole ancient Roman Empire, Eastern and Western, these rude and uncultivated Galileans did actually succeed in persuading hundred of thousands of persons, of all ranks, sexes, ages, and intellects, to renounce their former opinions and practices - to encounter proscription, confiscation of goods, banishment, and even death itself in numerous instances, through faith in their testimony, while every thing was fresh, and when the detection of any fiction or fraud was most easy!

Now, if it were possible to place your folly in an attitude still more inexcusable, I would ask you to show what there is in the Gospel, that is not infinitely worthy of God to bestow, and of man to receive? And where under the canopy of the skies, in any country, language, or age of time, is there any thing that confers greater honour on man, or proposes to him any thing more worthy of his acceptance, than the Gospel?

Can there have been a more acceptable model proposed, after which to fashion man, than that after which he was originally created? When he was beguiled and apostatized from God, could there have been deputed a more honourable personage to effect his reconciliation to God, than his only begotten and well beloved Son? And could there even be imagined a more delectable destiny allotted to man, than an immortality of bliss in the palace of this vast universe, in the presence of his Father and his God forever and forever? Now, with all these premises, will you object to this religion, that it requires a man to be pure and holy, in order to his enjoyment of this eternal salvation? Then lay your hand upon your face, and blush, and be ashamed forever!

But you say you love your companions! And who are they? Your fellow-rebels, foolish and infatuated like yourselves. The drunkard, the thief, the murderer, love their companions, the partners of their crimes. Conspirators and partisans in any undertaking, kindred spirits in guilty and daring enterprise, confirm each other in their evil machinations, and either from mutual interest, or from some hateful affinity in evil dispositions, coalesce and league together in bands of malicious depredation. A Cataline, a Jugurtha, a Robespierre, had their confederates. The rakes, the libertines, the freebooters of every colour, form their own fraternities, and have a liking of some sort for their companions. And wherein does your attachment to your companions differ from theirs? A congeniality of disposition, a similarity of likings and dislikings, all springing from you love of the world, and your dislike of the authority of the Messiah. And will not a change of circumstances convert your affections into hatred? Soon or late, if you do not repent and turn to God, you that are leagued in the friendships of the world, those friendships arising from the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life, will not only become enemies, but mutual tormentors of one another. Your warmest friends in your opposition to the Son of God will become King's evidence against you, and exasperate the flame that will consume you forever and ever. Break off, then, every friendship, alliance, and covenant, which you have formed with them that disdain the grace of God, and condemn the Saviour of the world, and form an everlasting covenant with the people of God, which shall never be forgotten. Then, indeed, you may love your companions with all the affection of your hearts, and indulge to the utmost every sympathy and social feeling of your nature. Then may you embrace, in all the ardour of fraternal love, those kindred spirits that with you have vowed eternal allegiance to the gracious and rightful Sovereign of all the nations of the redeemed, in heaven and on earth. Such companions are worth possessing, and their friendship worth cultivating and preserving through all the journey of life; for it will be renewed beyond the Jordan, and flourish with increasing delight through the endless ages of eternity.

But you have said that the gratification of all the impulses and propensities of your nature must be innocent, because they are the creation of God, and were sown in the embryo of your physical constitution. If under the control of that light and reason, under which God commanded your affections and appetites to move, your reasoning would be sound and safe; but if they have usurped a tyranny over your judgment, and captivated your reason, they are not to be gratified. They are like successful rebels that have dethroned their sovereign; and, because by violence and fraud in possession of the throne, they plead a divine right to wield the sceptre over their dethroned Prince. Such is the meaning of the plea which you urge in favour of your rebellious affections. When man rebelled against his Creator, the beasts of the field, till then under his dominion, rebelled against him; and all his passions, affections, and propensities partook of the general disorder - of that wild and licentious anarchy which ensued upon man's disobedience. And have you not in your daily observation - nay, have you not in your own experience, irrefragable evidence that the uncontrolled indulgence of even the instinctive appetites, as well as the gratification of inordinate passions and affections, necessarily issue in the destruction of the physical constitution of man? Is not the control of reason, is not the exercise of discretion in the licence of every animal indulgence, essential to the health and life of man? Then why crave an exemption from the universal law of human existence, in favour of that demoralizing course of indulgence, which you would fain call innocent in morals, though in physics evidently destructive to animal organization!

When reconciled to God through the gospel, the peace of God which passes understanding reigning in the heart, all is order and harmony within. Then, under the control of enlightened and sanctified reason, all the passions, appetites, and instincts of our nature, like the planets round the sun, move in their respective orbits in the most perfect good order, preserving a perfect balance in all the principles and powers of human action. Pleasures without alloy are then felt and enjoyed from a thousand sources, from which, in the tumult and disorder of rebellion, every transgressor is debarred. It is then found, that there is not a supernumerary passion, affection, nor appetite in man - not one that adds not something to his enjoyment - not one that may not be made an instrument of righteousness, a means of doing good to others, as well as of enjoying good ourselves. Why not, then, lay down the weapons of your rebellion, and be at peace with God, with your fellow-creatures, and with yourselves?

"Admitting, then, that the gospel is true - that in my present state and standing I am an alien from the kingdom of heaven, and that I wished to become a citizen, where shall I find this kingdom of heaven, and how shall I be constituted a citizen thereof?" Well, indeed, may you admit the gospel to be true, both on account of what it is in itself, and the evidence which sustains it. Only suppose it to be false - extinguish all the light which it sheds on the human race - make void all its promises - annul all its hopes - eradicate from the human breast all the motives which it imparts - and what remains to explain the universe, to develop the moral character of God, to dissipate the gloom which envelopes the eternal night the destiny of man, to solace and cheer him during the incessant struggle of life, to soothe the bed of affliction and death, and to countervail the inward dread and horror of falling into nothing - of being forever lost in the promiscuous wreck of nature - of sinking down into the grave, the food of worms, the prey of an eternal death?

It is like annihilating the sun in the heavens. An eternal night ensures. There is no beauty, form, nor comeliness in creation. The universe is in ruins. The world without the Bible is a universe without a sun. The Atheist is but an atom of matter in motion, belonging to no system, amenable to none, without a destiny, without an object to live or to die. He boasts there is none to punish him: but then there is none to help him - none to reward him. He has no Father, proprietor, or ruler - no filial affection, no sense of obligation, no gratitude, no comfort in reflection, no joy in anticipation. If he cannot be blamed, he cannot be praised - if he cannot be praised, he cannot be honoured - and man without honour is more wretched than the beasts that perish. Unenviable mortal!

What an abortion is the system of nature, if man lives not again! It is a creation for the sake of destruction. It is an infinite series of designs, ending in nothing. It is a universe of blanks, without a single prize. It cannot be. The Bible is necessary to the interpretation of nature. It is the only comment on nature - on providence - on man. Man without it, and without the hope of immortality, has nothing to rouse him into action. He is a savage, a Hottentot, a cannibal, a worm. You are compelled, then, to admit that the gospel is true, unless you put out the eye of reason, and refuse to hear the voice of Nature.

But is it not a happy necessity which compels your belief in God, and in his Son the renovator of the Universe? It opens to you all the mysteries of creation, the arcana of the temple of nature, and inducts you to the fountain of being and of bliss. It inspires you with motives of high and lofty enterprise, stimulates you to manly action, and points out a prize worthy of the best efforts of body, soul, and spirit. Is it not, then, "a credible saying, and worthy of universal acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief?"

But you ask, "Where shall the kingdom of heaven be found, and how may you be constituted a citizen of it?" The Prophets and Apostles must be your guide in deciding these great questions. Moses in the law, all the Prophets, and all the Apostles point you to the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world - the Apostle of the Father Almighty - the divinely constituted Chief of the kingdom of heaven. He has submitted his claims to your examination - he has invited you to test all his pretensions - and to the humble and docile he has tendered all necessary assistance, in deciding upon his person and mission.

His character is so familiar, so condescending, so full of all grace and goodness, that all may approach him. The halt, the maimed, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, found in him a friend and physician indeed. None importune his aid in vain. His ears are always open to the tale of woe. His eyes streams with sympathy on every object of distress. He invites all the wretched and repulses none who implore relief. He chides only the proud, and kindly receives and blesses the humble. He invites and beseeches the weary, the heavy laden, the broken hearted, the oppressed, and all the sons of want and misfortune, to come to him, and tenders relief to all.

In his official dignity he presides over the universe. He is the High Priest of God and the Prophet and Messenger of Peace. He has the key of David; he opens and shuts the Paradise of God. He is the only Potentate, and has the power of granting remission of all sins to all who obey him.

To receive him in his personal glory and official dignity and supremacy, as the Messiah of God, the only begotten of the Father - to know him in his true and proper character, is the only prerequisite to the obedience of faith. He that thus accredits him is not far from the kingdom of heaven. To assume him as your Prophet, your High Priest, and your King; to submit to him in these relations, being immersed into his death, will translate you into the kingdom of heaven. Why not, then, gladly and immediately yield him the admiration of your understanding, and the homage of your heart? Why not now enter into the possession of all the riches, and fulness, and excellence of the kingdom? He commands all men to repent - he beseeches every sinner whom he addresses in his word, to receive pardon and eternal life as a gracious gift.

Can you doubt his power to save, to instruct, and to sanctify you for heaven? Can you doubt his condescending mercy and compassion? Will not he that pitied the blind Bartimeus, that condoled with the widow of Nain, that wept with Mary and Martha at the grave of Lazarus, that heard the plea of the Syrophoenician woman, that cleansed the supplicating leper, that compassionated the famishing multitudes, that looked with pity (even in the agonies of the cross) upon an importuning thief, have pity upon you, and every returning prodigal, who sues for mercy at the gate of his kingdom?

Is there in the universe, one whom you can believe with more assurance, than the Faithful and True Witness, who, in the presence of Pontius Pilate, witnessed a good confession at the hazard of his life? Is there any person in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, more worthy of your confidence, than the sinner's friend - than he who, always, and in all circumstances, bore testimony to the truth? When did he ever violate his word, or suffer his promise to fail? Who ever repented of his confidence in Jesus, or of relying implicitly upon his word? Who ever was put to shame because of confidence in him?

Who can offer such inducements to obedience by his authority as the Saviour of the world? Who has such power to bless? He has all authority in heaven and on earth. He has power to forgive sins, to raise the dead, to bestow immortality and eternal life, and to judge the living and the dead. And has he not tendered a participation of his official authority to every one who submits to his government, and who, by him, is reconciled to God? If he have wisdom and power divine, has he not pledged these to the relief, guidance, and benefit of his people? Who can injure them under his protection - condemn whom he justifies - criminate whom he pardons - or snatch out of his hands, those who betake themselves to his mercy?

Was there ever love like his love - compassion like his compassion - or condescension like his condescension! Who ever could - who ever did humble himself like the Son of God? On whose cheek ever flowed tears of purer sympathy for human woe, than those he shed? Whose bowels ever moved with such compassion, as that which dissolved his heart in tender mercies for the afflicted sons and daughters of men? Who ever for his friends, endured such contradiction of sinners against himself; submitted to such indignities; sustained such accumulated sorrows and griefs; suffered such agonies of mind and body; as those which he endured in giving his life an offering for his enemies? Forsaken by his God, abandoned by his friends, deserted of every stay, surrounded by the fiercest enemies, the most implacable foes, whose hearts were harder than adamant, insulting the very pangs which they inflicted, he expired on the accursed tree! The heavens blushed at the sight - the sun covered his face - the earth trembled - the rocks split - the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom - and graves opened. All nature stood horror-stricken, when Roman soldiers, urged by blood-thirsty priests, nailed him to the cross - when the chief priests, scribes, and elders in derision said, "He saved others: cannot he save himself?" The person who perceives not, who feels not the eloquence of his love consummated in his death - the tenderness of his entreaties and expostulations, is not to be reasoned with - is not to be moved by human power. Will you not, then, honour your reason by honouring the Son of God - by giving up your understanding, your wills, your affections, to the teachings of the Good Spirit - to the guidance of his love? Then, and only then, can you feel yourselves safe, secure, and happy.

Need you to be reminded how much you are indebted to his long suffering patience already - to his benevolence in all the gifts and bounties of his providence vouchsafed to you? How many days and nights has he guarded, sustained, and succoured you? Has he not saved you from ten thousand dangers - from the pestilence that walks in darkness secretly, and from destruction that wastes at noon day? Who can tell but he has lengthened out your unprofitable existence to this very hour, that you might now repent of all your sins, turn to God with your whole heart, be baptized for the remission of your past transgressions, be adopted into the family of God, and yet receive an inheritance among the sanctified. Arise, then, in the strength of Israel's God - accept salvation at his hands - enter into his kingdom, and be forever blessed. You will not, you cannot repent of such a step, of such a noble surrender of yourself while life endures; in the hour of death, in the day of judgment, nor during the endless succession of ages in eternity. To-day, then, hear his voice: to-morrow may be for ever too late! All things are ready - Come. - Saints on earth, and angels in heaven - apostles, prophets, and martyrs will rejoice over you - and you will rejoice with them for ever and for ever. Amen!

THE END


 1  Revelation, chapter xviii.  4.


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