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received ? Do not many neglect it ? Do not fome who assent to its truth, “go their way to their farms, or their merchandize,” regardless of it, neither confessing Christ before men, nor seeking an interest in him?

Ir the gospel is from God, to such neglecters of the grace it offers, it must be “a favor of death unto death !” And is not their number

great

? Doth it not increase from year to year, from age to age? To those who are taken up with sensual pleafures, and with mindingonly earthly things, St. Paul would say “even weeping you are enemies to the cross of Chrift, and your end will be destruction."

Let us be persuaded to bring home these conliderations to ourselves. We are deeply interested in them. 5. The secrets of our hearts will ere long be judged by the gospel of Christ.” To those who will not receive and obey the gospel, we have only to say, “ Notwithstanding, be ye sure of this, that the Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you."

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SERMON III.

. The Declensions of Christianity, an Argument

of its Truth.

LUKE xviii. 8.

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When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the

earth? 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be sav. ed; but be that believeth not shall be damned." So teftified the risen Savior. Faith is made a condition of salvation. But God requires only a reasonable service. He must then have given evi. dence of the truth to which he requires assent. He hath given it abundantly. Christians “ are compassed about with a cloud of witneffes."

The proofs of Christianity are of two kinds ; external and internal. Both are strong. 'United they leave infidelity without excufe.

Or external, the chief are miracles and proph. ecy

Miracles carried conviction to behold.

and were designed to give credibility to special messengers. Prophecy is a standing evi. dence, by which testimony is borne to the truth of revelation ; yea, it is a growing evidence, which gains strength by every fulfilment,

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Some may envy those who lived in the

age

of miracles, supposing them sufficient to banish every doubt. But the proof arising from the fulfilment of prophecy, which we enjoy above them, is equal, if not superior to theirs.

The prophecies contain sketches of the history of man, and of the plan of providence, from their respective dates to the end of the world. Thofe which relate to the declensions of religion, which were to take place under the gospel dispensation, will now only be considered.

From those declensions, arguments are drawn against the truth of Christianity. “Was Chriftianity from God, he would verify the declaration made by him who claimed to be his Son. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. But they do prevail. What was once said of its author, Behold the world is gone, after him, will now apply to its enemy. This religion is not therefore from God, but of man's device. Propt up as it is, by human laws, and supported by " the powers that be,” it totters towards ruin. Left to itself, it would foon fall and come to nought."

Such are the proud vauntings of infidelity, when “ iniquity abounds and the love of many waxeth cold." So when Christ hung on the cross, and when he slept in the tomb, ignorart of consequences, his disciples “ wept and lamented, and the world rejoiced;" but the time was short. Soon the world was confounded, and the “ for. rows of his disciples was turned into joy."

If the declensions which we witness, are fore. told in scripture, they are no occasion of surprize,

Yea, instead of weakening our faith, they may reasonably increase it. And when we consider the assurances given us, that these declensions were to antecede the universal prevalence of true religion ; they may also serve to increase our hope.

To fhew that these declensions are foretold, and that we may expe&t yet greater abominations, than have hitherto appeared, is attempted in the following discourse.

When the fon of man cometh shall he find faith on the earth

That Christ is here intended by the Son of man; and that faith will be rare among men at the com. ing of his, referred to, are not doubtful matters. But what coming of Christ is here referred to ? This is first to be ascertained.

The coming of Chrift, refers in the scripture, to several events. Sometimes to his incarnation sometimes to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Jewish polity; sometimes to his coming to judgment ; and fometimes to the beginning of ihat universal dominion which he is to exercise on earth in the latter days. Each of these is the subject of several prophecies.

Christ's incarnation, or his coming to dwell with men, and to obey and suffer for their redemption, was a principal subject of the old testament prophecies. “ To him gave all the prophets witness."

The divine justice executed on the Jews, in the destruction of their chief city, and polity, is also

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termed Christ's coming. This was the subject of several prophecies of old. It was foretold by Mo. ses, and sundry others who lived before the gospel day; but more particularly by Christ, in perfon, just before his sufferings. To this event the desolations foretold in the twentyfourth of Matthew, and its parallels in the other gospels, had a primary reference. The metaphors used to describe it are strong. They have been supposed to refer to the general judgment; and they have, no doubt an ultimate reference to it. But they refer, more immediately to another coming of Christ ; his coming to render to the Jews according to their demerits as a people, soon after they fould have filled up the measure of their iniqui. ty by his crucifixion ; which by the circumstances attending it, became a national act.

That this coming of Christ was particularly intended in those predictions, is, from several considerations apparent. That the Christians of that age, who were conversant with the apostles, and instructed by them, received this to be the meaning of those prophecies, and that they fled at the approach of the Roman armies, and escaped the destruction which came on the Jews, are matters of notoriety. And that this was the primary meaning of those prophecies, is further evident from an express declaration which they contain ;

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled." This closeth the prophecy. The whole must therefore have receiy. ed a primary accomplifhment," before that gener.

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