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selves at least with many intricate doubts. Paul therefore admonishes us, that the gospel which had now appeared was decreed by God before the foundation of the world. And to prevent any one from entering into a controversy for the purpose of discrediting the gospel by its novelty, he quotes the writings of the prophets, whose predictions we find to be now fulfilled. For all the prophets bore so clear a testimony to the gospel, that it cannot receive a better confirmation from any other source; and in this way God has so properly prepared the mind of his people, as to prevent them from feeling astonishment in consequence of the novelty of an unexpected event. If any reader objects that Paul contradicts himself because he says the mystery, to which God bare testimony by the prophets, had been concealed in all ages, Peter gives an easy solution of this difficulty, when he says, the prophets, in their careful inquiries concerning the salvation which was offered to us, ministered the things unto us, and not unto themselves. (1 Peter i. 12.) God therefore was silent in what he spoke at that time, because the revelation of those things, concerning which he wished his servants to prophesy, was kept by him in a state of suspense. In what sense Paul calls the gospel a hidden mystery in this passage, in Eph. iii. 9, and Col. i. 26, is not fully determined even among the learned. The opinion of those who refer it to the calling in of the gentiles is the most forcible, to which Paul himself expressly alludes in his epistle to the Colossians. (Col. i. 27.) I grant this to be one, but not the sole cause; for I think there is a greater probability in supposing Paul to have regarded other points of difference between the Old and New Testament. For notwithstanding all those subjects had formerly been taught by the prophets which Christ and his apostles ex
plained, yet they had taught them in such an obscure manner, when compared with this shining splendour of the light of the gospel, that we need not be surprised, if such things as are now done openly are said to have been hidden and concealed. Nor does Malachi (iv. 2) prophesy in vain, that the Sun of Righteousness would arise with healing under his wings; nor had Isaiah before failed in extolling, with such magnificent and splendid praise, the embassy of the Messiah. Finally, the gospel is not without reason called the kingdom of God; but we may more properly conclude from the subject itself, that the treasures of heavenly wisdom had been finally then opened, when God appeared, as it were, face to face by means of his own only begotten Son, and dispelled the ancient shadows of the Mosaic dispensation. Paul again states the end and design of preaching the gospel, which was mentioned in the beginning of the first chapter, that God may gather together all nations to the obedience of faith.*
* Cold must be the heart of that Briton, who does not rejoice to see his native land, and her descendants, the Americans, made, at this moment, the greatest means for accomplishing this glorious object, by so many and such active Christian Societies. When, however, we remember how little has been done by all Christendom for this purpose, and that the disinterested, amiable, and enlightened Fenelon adduced the lethargy of Protestants in propagating the gospel, as one of the strongest arguments against their system, since the Roman Catholics were at that time more active in this noblest of all objects, surely it is high time for all of us to awake, and with one heart, and one soul, to labour to the utmost in diffusing the kingdom of the gospel of peace. What can seven hundred missionaries do in evangelizing six hundred millions of our fellow-men? Let all the petty, disgraceful, and ruinous disputes between the various parties of professing Christians be forgotten, and let all our energies be devoted to the conversion of the whole world. Let us pray more, work more-spend more of our time, our talents, our influence, and our money, for this one undivided object; and
we shall soon see New Zealand itself, that land of cannibals, become the abode of gentleness, and of love, and of harmony. Then the Spirit of God shall be poured upon the world from on high, judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field; the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever. All God's people shall dwell in peaceable habitations, in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (Isaiah xxxii. 15-18.)
To what is Britain indebted for all her personal-all her social-all her civil-all her religious liberty?--To Christianity. To what was Howard indebted for his glory of cleansing, and decorating, and enlarging our prisons, and those of all Europe?-To Christianity. What powerful motive impelled Wilberforce to break asunder the shackles of the slave?-Christianity. Let us look at our colleges― our hospitals-our various seminaries of learning-our wonderful discoveries in mind and matter, and ask whence did such blessings flow?-From Christianity.
Fifty years before the Christian era, Cicero, the orator and the philosopher, advised one of his friends on no account, and for no price, to purchase British slaves, since they would be worse than useless. The Sun of Righteousness shone upon our land. Alfred, one great source of all our glory, translated part of the Scriptures; the Spirit of holiness visited us in love; and this same Britain prepared the way for the final emancipation of all slaves. Shall we then con fine these blessings to ourselves? Let us diffuse them to the utmost parts of the earth, by spreading the truths of the Most High; and all nations, the Jews and Arabs themselves, will rise up and bless us. Let it be the noblest glory, and the most unwearied labour,_ of every Briton, to place all the world side by side with England and Scotland. To accomplish this we must never cease to use every effort in advancing the cause of Christ, as the only sure and lasting means for drawing down upon us blessings from Infinite Love.
We live in a period of great, and active, and surprising excitement. Reform is in every thing, among all classes, and in all places the order of the day. If our reforms bottom on Christianity, as revealed in the Bible, without a regard to mere human systems and human policy, while we rely simply upon the God of heaven and earth for a blessing upon all the measures now in progress, or hereafter to be adopted, the glory of Britain will rise higher and higher. Let these be forgotten, the incendiarism, robbery, poisoning, murder;
nay, even the barbarism of Britain, will increase; and our splendour will cease with the neglect of our Sabbaths-with the increase of intemperance-with an indifference to family and private prayer-with the want of zeal for the cause of the gospel, and a forgetfulness of those glorious principles which made the apostles and the reformers martyrs to the love of Christ. We talk much about patriotism; but never let us rely with the least possible confidence on any patriot, however exalted his genius, extensive his learning, profound his erudition, or splendid his eloquence, who does not endeavour, in all his measures, to connect time with eternity, and to make Christianity his unceasing pole star. Guided by this he will be enabled to surmount the greatest difficulties, to set at nought the most dreadful dangers, and to triumph over the most powerful, rich, and determined opposition. The hand of Omnipotence will never desert him; and he will be honoured by stamping his own principles, and his own character, upon all succeeding ages. The gloom of superstition-the dreams of ignorance-the folly of fanaticism, and the madness of enthusiasm, will fly at his approach. He will spurn the low, mean, corrupt, compromising, and truckling views of a party; and, guided by the noblest disinterestedness, and the most generous love of mankind, will rely with confidence, in the midst of all contumely and reproach, on the sure approval of future ages. By this system of action the interests and the glory of his country will be united and blended with those of the whole world, and his reward will be a delightful peace of conscience, and the sure prospect of endless happiness.