« הקודםהמשך »
Permit me to bespeak the candor and indulgence of my
Reverend Brethern and of this Audience, while with the sentiments of esteem and affection due to a fociety, amongst whom, in the early part of my miniftry, I enjoyed the intercourses of friendship, and engaged in the services of my character, I request their serious regard to what may be offered from those words, which we find in
A CTS ii. 42, 46, 47.
And they continued sledfastly in the Apostles' doetrine
and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayer: And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to bouse, did eat their meat with gladness and
singleness of beart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.
ANKIND naturally wish, in every pursuit,
for che aids and supports of society. Who is not desirous, in the arduous enterprize, of engag. ing others; that the difficulties of it may be di
vided, and his own efforts rendered more easy and , successful ? Who is not fond, in the agreeable and prosperous undertaking, of communicating to others the benefits he hath obtained ? When men act in concert, their emulation is kindled; their powers are whetted; their hands are strengthened; and their pleasures, by being circulated, flow back again into their own bosoms, with an improved relish.
Religion, as well as other objects of human attachment and pursuit, wants the fuccour of social connexions, and disposes the heart to open its feelings, its sentiments, and its joys, to others. When Andrew and Philip had met with Jesus, how naturally do they impart the important difcovery to their nearest friends, and invite them to a share in the great blessing.
No sooner do we read of the three thousand being converted by the preaching of Peter, but we find them acting together in facred harmony, uniting in the same duties of devotion, and improving their social affections into pious friendship. They conti“ nued stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine, and “ fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in
prayer. And they continuing daily with one « accord in the temple, and breaking bread from “ house to house, did eat their meat with glad“ ness and singleness of heart, praising God, « and having favour with all the people.” “And
“ the Lord added to the Church daily such as « Tould be saved."
This is a pleasing and instructive view of the conduct of these converts; of the zeal which warmed their breasts; of the love which united their hearts : and it sets before us the happy effects of their deportment on the christian cause.
In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, a man lately despised, rejected, and crucified by his own countrymen, but raised from the dead by the power of God; (of which the effufion of the spirit on the day of Pentecoft was a convincing testimony); in his name there arises a fociety, of which the world furnished no model. It consisted not of a few enlightened and philofophic minds, whom an improved taste, cultivated manners, and the same studies had cemented; but of a great multitude, formed of men of various and remote nations, of different tongues, and of different religious para ties. “ All these are closely united by the bonds of fraternal love; by the obligations of the most pure and active benevolence. They all have but one heart and one mind, that of their Founder, They all worship the Almighty in spirit and in truth." Their business is devotion: their hearts dilate with love : their lips open in songs of praise. “ They eat their meat with gladness and fingleness of heart." Their time is divided between the services of religion, and the entertainments of
christian converse. There is no want or poverty; for those who had goods and poffeffions, chearfully sell them to divide the price to all, as every man had need. " We behold, as it were, a new, earthly Paradise: but the trees of it are all trees af
These converts exhibited a wonderful and pleasing spectacle. It is easy to conceive, that they must attract the notice of mankind. And, drawing the eyes of men upon them, is it surpris, ing, that these manners produced sentiments of esteem for the principles from which they arose ? Is it strange, that the same graces, which concili, ated the regards of men to themselves, should difpose others to embrace the faith which they had adopied ? Rather was it not to be expected, that men affected, impressed, and charmed with a des portment so full of unfeigned love and chearful
• Peu de temps après la mort de l'ENVOYE, je vois se fors mer dans un coin obícur de la Terre, une Société dont les Sages du Paganisme n'avoient pas même entrevu la possibi. lité. Tous ses Membres sont unis etroitement par les lieus n del amous fraternel & de la bienveuillance la plus pure & la plus agissante. Ils n'ont tous qu'une même Esprit, & cet Esprit est Çelui de leur FONDATEUR. Tous adorent le GRAND Erre en Esprit & en Verité, &c. En un mot; je crois contempler un nouveau Paradis Terrestre; mais dont tous les Arbres sont des Arbres de Vie Recherches Philofophiques sur les Preuves du Christianisme: Nouvelle Edition, par
C. Bonnet, a Geneve, 1770, p. 385, 6.
deyotion, should be ready to believe that God was with them of a truth : nay, should be desirous of joining themselves to fo holy, benevolent, and happy a community.
How different was this scene, which the Apoftles were the great inftruments of introducing,
from that prospect which they had entertained concerning the first establishment of Christ's kingdom. Their ambition had indulged the hope of filling some high pofts of honour and power in a temporal kingdoin. Their imaginations had looked forward to the time, when they should be employed under the standard of their master, to carry through the world the triumphs of his sword. They do, indeed, triumph in the name of their master. They do enlist subjects to his scepter. They do see the kingdom of Christ opening, and thousands flocking into it. But no sword is una sheathed; no throne is erected: no banners are displayed.
The weapons of their warfare are spiritual; the words of truth and grace, and the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. They find themselves not at the head of armies, but, fitting on the bench of teachers; unfolding che doctrine of salvation,followed and listened to with an attention that Philosophers could never merit, nor Scribes ever command. They see societies forming, whose