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On Sunday, the 3d, the first Bethel Flag ever hoisted on the rivers of China, was to have appeared at the mast-head of the Ship Pacific, of Philadelphia; and whilst preparing a discourse to the sailors, on the evening of Friday, the writer of this was called away to assist at the fire-engines. Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night, and Sunday, were all spent in sleepless anxiety, and unavailing efforts to extinguish the fire. It burnt till it arrived at the river's brink, and found no more materials to feed the flames.
The following Sunday, the sermon to sailors was preached at the anchorage called Whampoa, about eleven miles from Canton; and on Nov. 16th, the following discourse was delivered in an unconsumed native warehouse, called after its owner, Consequa's Hong. To the end of this building the fire of Canton extended, but being saved, it became a temporary dwelling for the English whose habitations were consumed. The congregation consisted of commercial agents, British and American Captains, Officers, Surgeons and others. The service commenced by reading the Prayers of the English Church.
THE WAY OF SALVATION.
ACTS XVI. 30.
« What must I do to be saved ?"
These words were originally spoken under very extraordinary circumstances. St. Paul and his companions, whilst deliberating whither they should go to preach the Gospel, having been forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word at that time in Lesser Asia; saw a vision, which directed them to pass, for the first time, into Europe. A man of Macedonia appeared in this vision, and prayed St. Paul, saying, “Come over into Macedonia and help us." The Apostle deemed that this was a divine intimation, and proceeded thither accordingly. There was at that time a Roman Colony at Philippi, and the place was governed by Roman laws. The religious customs were
them to say,
of course made up partly of the Paganism of Greece, and partly of that of Rome. Divinations, sorcery, and fortunetelling, were practised. Sometimes those who pretended to sorcery, magic, &c. were impostors; and, sometimes, there is every reason to believe, they were actuated by Satan, the father of lies and of false miracles, and of lying prophecies.
At Philippi there was a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. This young woman followed Paul and his companions for several days, crying out aloud, “ These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” This statement was consistent with the real fact; but it is supposed the design of Satan, in suggesting this assertion, was insidiously to identify the sorceress and satanic influences with the apostles and the divine inspiration, which, blending the two, would hinder the truth amongst the Pagans, by leading
our religion is from the same source as yours;" and would hinder it likewise amongst the Jews, who resided at Philippi, and who hated sorcery and divination, in which they were fully justified by divine command.
Paul was therefore grieved; and eventually, in the name of our Saviour, commanded the demon, or false spirit, to abandon the woman. It was done, and she was silenced. The false prophetess was struck dumb, and could no longer utter the responses, which she had been accustomed to do, for money paid to her masters. The proper effect of this would have been, for them to acknowledge the superiority of the Apostles, and that theirs was the true inspiration. They, however, actuated by a mercenary spirit, seeing that their gains were gone, seized Paul and Silas, dragged them before the magistrates, and accused them of being Jews, who exceedingly troubled their city; teaching customs, not lawful for those who were Romans to observe. And these magistrates, to satisfy the multitude, tore the raiment off Paul and Silas, laid many stripes upon them, and cast them into prison. The jailer, zealous in this bad cause, thrust them into the inner prison, and
made their feet fast in the stocks. This jailer was the man (whether a Roman or a Greek does not appear) who, that very night, came trembling, and falling prostrate before Paul and Silas, said, “Sirs, What must I do to be saved ?" An earthquake, which shook the prison, opened the gates, and loosened every prisoner's bonds, alarmed him, and at the same time convinced him, that these men were indeed the servants of the most high God, who shewed the true way of salvation. The jailer received no upbraidings for his gratuitous severity to the Apostle; but was readily and kindly answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The apostolic party further spake to the jailer the word of the Lord; he believed, was baptized, and rejoiced. His heart was changed-he was another man—a new creature. The jailer washed the prisoners' wounds, brought them into his house, and set meat before them, rejoicing and believing in God, with all his house.
From this interesting portion of sacred Scripture we infer,
· I. The necessity of salvation.
II. The way of obtaining it; and,
II. The effects of being saved.-As this is a subject which, in the New Testament, is addressed to, and concerns all mankind, we shall gather our illustrations from all the nations, and not from our own country alone.
I. To save, and salvation, in sacred Scripture, imply deliverance from evil, whether natural or moral.
The salvation of which we would this day speak is salvation from sin, and from everlasting punishment. And is there a necessity for this? Is man a sinner, one who has violated the divine law; and is the just retribution of sin eternal death? Is this the state of some men only? or is it the fallen condition of all men, those in power, and those out of power; high and low; rich and poor ; learned and ignorant. If this be the truth, the necessity of salvation is self-evident. And to prove that this is the truth,
we argue thus : The prevalence of much vice and misery in the world is universally allowed; and that man is prone to evil, and has often sinned, is admitted by every breast; the confessions of the penitent, and the admonitions of the moralist, and the complaints of most men, in every land, prove that man is depraved and sinful. But man's sense of moral evil is confined, chiefly, to offences against the social duties-against himself, in fact ; of the offences against high heaven, and the great God who there reigns, the perception of sinful man is blunted, or perverted, or lost. The revolt of our nature, and man's rebellion against God, the supreme Sovereign, has induced in every mind, even in the midst of abounding impiety, and practical atheism, a self-justifying spirit. Therefore man's opinion of sin is very far from being equal to the truth; it by no means comes up to the strong delineation derived from heaven, and contained in the Holy Bible. For example, take the sin of idolatry ; that of changing the glory of the incorruptible God, into an image made like to corruptible man, or to birds, or four-footed beasts, or creeping reptiles, or stocks, or stones. Intellectual spiritual man abandons the worship of Jehovah, and falls prostrate to these. Yet in India, and China, do we Christians, who should feel the deepest regret that God is so dishonoured, and our fellow creatures in such an apostate, low, degraded state, generally look upon idolatry with the utmost indifference; and still more, in the face of the strongest abhorrence against this abominable sin, expressed in the sacred page by the mouth of God's holy prophets, there are those who palliate, or excuse, or even justify it.
And, which strengthens our argument, the idolater hini. self, always, instead of considering his idolatry a sin, the more enthusiastic and mad he is after his idols, he deems himself by so much the more meritorious. “A deceived heart bath turned him aside," and he has not spiritual perception of the truth sufficient to detect the lie that is in his right hand. Man always finds an excuse for his besetting, prevailing sin; and so far is this carried, that some immoralities, which, by persons not concerned, are univer
sally condemned, are often thought excusable by the parties implicated. The pirate and the assassin, still suppose they may attain to heaven, and will keep up some forins of religion, or superstition. But is it reasonable that the opinions of sinful depraved mortals, concerning the demerits of sin, shall be more just and true than the revealed decision cf the righteous and holy God? Ought we not, in the exercise of common sense, to relinquish all apologies and excuses for sin, and receive with reverence the divine sentence concerning it. What saith the Scripture ? “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them," (Galatians iii. 10.) “There is no man that sinneth not,” (1 Kings viii. 46.) “ If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,” (1 John i. 8—10.) “If we say we have not sinned, we make God a liar;" we give the lie to heaven, from whence it is declared, “There is none righteous, no not one,” (Rom. iii. 10.) “Men together have become unprofitable, destruction and misery are in their ways.” The holy law considers every mouth stopped, every cavilling tongue silenced, and the whole world become guilty before God, and inexcusably so. “For the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen," God having shewn them to men; but “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God; neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened :" man is self-ruined, and, if heaven may be believed, he is without excuse. Now, it is further declared that “ the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men. The wages of sin is death : the wicked shall be cast into hell, and all the nations that forget God;" they shall be cast into outer darkness; shall be immersed in a lake of fire, fire that shall never be quenched, the gnawing worm that torments shall never die ; in that place “shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth ;' in that place there shall be punishment everlasting.
Whatever interpretation is put on these awful declarations of the sacred Scriptures, they fully confirm our argu