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ets of God. At one time the prophet Elijah stood alone, while the prophets of Baal were four hundred and fifty; but whether the disproportion is as great now, or not, we may not pretend to say ; though if we may know them by their fruits, as our Saviour directs, it would not be very difficult to compute their numbers.
One infallible mark of a false prophet or teacher, is, he has a disposition to persecute.---Thus did the false prophets persecute the prophets of the Lord; and thus do the many false teachers in Christendom persecute, as far as they can, the few who dare to testify the truth as it is in Jesus, and disprove their doctrines of error.
The distinguishing trait which St. Peter has given of false teachers is, that they should bring in damnable heresies; and he tells us what these heresies amount to, “Even denying the Lord that bought them; and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
All false doctrines, in one way or other, deny the Lord that bought us. They will either deny that Jesus gave himself a ransom for all men, or what amounts to the same thing, they will deny the final efficacy of this purchase. And when the false teacher treats on the great subject of the Saviour, he has ready at command studied methods of professing to believe in him, and of holding him up for others to believe and trust in, while at the same time he runs his whole doctrine in such a crooked, doubtful course, that about all he says he finally contradicts. False teachers who deny the Lord that bought us, do this work in an artful, cunning manner, they know it will not answer to profess to deny him in full, because this would be no deception ; people would pay no attention to their testimony. But they pretend to believe in him, and to be his faithful ministers. They pretend to understand the deep mysteries of his doctrine, which are so very intricate that none but, themselves, who have in a special manner been
let into the secrets of God, can understand. It belongs to this crafty scheme of error, to make the people believe that they must depend on what the teacher says, take his testimony on his bare word, and to think it a crime to attempt to reduce it to rational principles.
Reason is one of the greatest enemies with which false teachers have to contend ; they therefore endeavour to persuade the people to view reason as carnal, and inimical to religion, and by all means to lay it out of the case entirely. All this is necessary in order to prepare the mind to believe the strange and unreasonable notions which they have to impose on the simple.
These intimations, my friends, are what you know to be facts; you have heard false teachers speak of the revealed will of God, and of his secret will; you have heard them compare his revealed will with his decreetive will, and undertake to tell the difference. You have heard them speak against our reason, and endeavour to point out its dangerous tendency ; you have heard much said about hidden mysteries, into which we have no right to enquire; yet these very mysteries are the subjects on which these false teachers continually dwell, and in which they require the implicit faith of the people.
Prepared in this way, and armed in all this guise, the fox takes his course, and practices his work of heresy, even denying the Lord that bought
If one who dares to exercise his reason, and has boldness enough to question this false teacher, ask him how we should understand St. Paul, where he says that God “ will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth ?” he cunningly looks forward to see what the subject is leading to; he sees that its natural tendency is the salvation of all men. What now must he do? To allow this would not deny the Lord that bought us ; he immediately replies—It is God's revealed will that all men should be saved, but not his se
cret, decreetive will. If he be asked why God should reveal a will which is contrary to his decrees, he replies, that God is a Sovereign, and has a right to do as he pleases, and that we have no right to inquire into his secrets.
If the conversation be continued, and the passage be brought up again, this false teacher will tack like a fox, and say, the word all does not mean all without exception; and then he will run with triumph for some time, contending that there are passages in scripture, where the word all is used in a limited sense. Thus, like a fox, he crosses his own track.
If this false teacher is under the necessity of explaining St. Paul's testimony, that the one Mediator gave himself a ransom for all men, at one time he will say, that St. Paul meant all the elect, not all the impenitent. But if the argument press him hardly, he will be sure to shift his ground, and say, that Jesus did give himself a ransom for all, conditionally ; that is, if they will repent and believe. Thus he contradicts himself on every subject.
St. Peter says, that these false teachers “bring upon themselves swift destruction.” And this, my friends, is verily the case ; for if we deny the Lord that bought us, this very denial is our present and swift destruction. Our own confidence is destroyed, our hope demolished, our peace given to the winds, and our fears and horrors awakened.
Let us then turn away our ears from hearing those doctrines, which deny the Lord that bought us, and let us learn of Him, who is wisdom to the foolish, righteousness to sinners, sanctification to the unclean, redemption to the captive, and life to the dead.
MEN REWARDED ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS IN THE
DELIVERED IN BOSTON ON THE FIRST SABBATH IN DEC. 1819.
1 PETER III. 10, 11.
* For he that will love life and see good aays, let him refrain his tongue
from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil and do good, let him seek peace and ensue it.”
The first subject to which the attention of the hearer is invited, in order to obtain a profitable understanding of the passage read for consideration, is the principle, on which the argument of the text is founded. This principle is a certain fixed law in our nature, by which we are always induced to act for our own gratification, benefit or enjoyment; and by which we are always restrained from whatever is, in our apprehension, either incapable of promoting the objects of our desires, or of a tendency to prevent them.
This fixed law of our nature is that which renders us proper subjects of advice, caution, exhortation, command, threatening, rebuke, censure and punishment; it is this that justly accounts for all the conditional, or unconditional promises, which are wisely made by the divine Being, or by man himself to a fellow being, or to his offspring. Take away this governing law from the reasonable creature where it is placed by the Creator, and the very idea of influencing man to action is annihilated; for should you on the one hand threaten him
with the greatest possible severities even for the most inconsiderable action, as he has no regard to himself, the threatening would prove utterly abor. tive. So likewise on the other hand, should you promise him an immense reward for a momentary labour, as he values not his own enjoyment, the promise, in this case, would necessarily prove as ineffectual as the threatening in the former.
Should an objector say, that man frequently acts to his own injury, and as often neglects what is most for his profit, the reply informs him that the objection does no reach the principle against which it is intended; for the patient acts from the same law in receiving medicine which proves injurious, as in the use of that which is attended with the most salutary effects; and this is equally applicable to every other instance of self-injurious actio... But should we indulge the objector, and allow that man is capable of a design against himself, this would most surely render entirely null every possible promise and threatening, which could be set before him. But it is altogether impossible that any one should desire to lessen his own enjoyments, or augment his infelicity. Man is capable of acting for the promotion of that alone which is to his mind desirable.
My friends, the principle here argued lies at the foundation of all the actions of man. trace all parts of the immense fabric of human exertions, of human labour, of all the acquirements in arts and sciences to this principle. You may begin with a newly-born infant, its first exertions indicate a creature of want and desire, and as such you may trace him through all the various windings of the path of future life, whether he be virtuous or vicious, happy or miserable, on his journey.
This principle is most evidently that on which the argument of our text is founded. The Apostle does not say; For he that will hate life and see evil days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him eschew