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your hearts, and hurt at your scornful rejection of Him whom their soul loveth, are nevertheless ardently desirous of your salvation? Are you not acquainted with Christians, whose utmost revenge, if they could have their will of you, for all your bard speeches, would be to be instrumental in turning you from what they believe to be the power of Şatan, unto God?
Let me farther appeal to you, Whether Christians of this des cription be not the true children of Abraham, the true successors of your patriarchs and prophets, rather than those of an opposite spirit, though literally descended from their loios. You must be aware, that even in the times of David, a genuine Israelite was a man of a pure heart ; and in the times of the prophets, apostate Israelites were accounted as Ethiopians.* Your ancestors were men of whom the world was not worthy : but where will you now look for such characters among you as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; as Samnel, David, Hezekiah and Josiah ; as Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and many others? While you garnish their sepulchres, have you not manifestly lost their spirit; This is a fact that ought to alarm you, and lead you seriously to examine whether you have not forsaken their faith. There is one thing which has particularly struck my mind, and which I would earnestly recommend to your consideration; namely, the temper of modern Infidels toward your fathers, toward you, and toward us.
You need not be told that deistical writers invariably treat your fathers with scorn and dislike. Just as Appion and other Greek writers poured contempt upon your nation ; just as the more ancient Moabites reproached, and proudly magnified themselves against the people of the Lord of Hosts ;t so do all our modern Infidels. But from the time that your fathers rejected Him in whom we believe as the Lord Messiah, though you have been exposed to the chastisements of heaven, and to much injurious treatment from pretended Christians; yet Deists, the common enemies of revelation, have been, comparatively speaking, reconciled to you. So, however, it appears to me. I do not recollect to have met with a single reflection upon you in any of their writings. On the contrary, they seem to feel themselves near akin to you. Your enmity to Jesus seems to be the price of their forgiveness : like Herod and Pontius Pilate, you became friends in the day of his crucifixion. Mr. Paine, though his writings abound in speers against your nation, prior to its rejection of Christ, yet appears to be well reconciled to you, and willing to admit your lame account of the body of Jesus being stolen away.* Ought you not to be alarmed at these things ? Seriously examine whether you have not forsaken the God of your fathers, and become the friends and allies of men who hate both Him and them.
* Psa. lxxiii. 2. Amos ix, 7.
† Zeph. ii. 10,
The hatred of Infidels has long been transferred from you to us. Whether, in the language of the New Testament, we be the true children of Abraham, or not, we inherit that reproach and dislike from unbelievers which was heretofore the portion of the godly Israelites. On what account were your fathers bated by the practical atheists of their day? Was it not because of their devotedness to God? It was this in David that provoked the resentment of the children of Belial, and rendered them his determined enemies. They were continually jeering at his prayers, his tears, and his trust in Jehovah ; turning that which in reality was bis glory into shame ; and afflicting him in his affliction, by scornfully inquiring, Where is thy God? Such is the treatment which the godly part of your nation received in all ages, both from heathens abroad and impious characters at home ; and such is the treatment which serious Christians continue to receive from ungodly men to this day; but are you hated and reproached on this account?
Of late years it has been frequently pleaded, that the principal objections to your embracing the Christian religion, are found in the doctrines of the trinity, the deity of Christ, and atonement by his death ; doctrines which the greater part of Christians hold to be taught in the New Testament. But those who impute your conduct to these causes, must have nearly as mean an opinion of
Age of Reason, Part I. pp. 6, 7.
+ Psa. xxii. 8. iv. 2. xlii. 3. xxix. 18. xl. 15.
I Psa. lxix. 10. cxv. 2. Joel ii. 17.
Micah. vii.. 8-10. Isa. Ixvi. 5.
your rationality, as they have of ours; with whom, they say, “ there is no reasoning; and that we are to be pitied, and considered as under a debility of mind in one respect, however sensible and rational in others.' What have the principles, which in our judgment are taught in the New Testament, to do with your acknowledging Jesus to be the Messiah, and the Christian religion to be of God ? Let these positions be admitted, and examine the New Testament for yourselves. If you were not considered as possessing a sufficient degree of good sense to distinguish between Christianity and the creed of any particular party of Christians, it is surprising that rational Christians should think of writing addresses to you.
For our parts, we could almost be satisfied that you should decide the controversy, whether the doctrines before. mentioned be taught in the New Testament, or not? As to removing these stumbling-blocks, as some call them, out of your way, we have no inclination to attempt it. Only imbibe the spirit of your ancestors, and they will presently cease to be stumblingblocks. Believe Moses, and you will believe Jesus ; and believing Jesus, neither his claiming to be the Son of God, and consequently equal with God, nor his insisting upon his flesh being the life of the world, will offend you. On the contrary, whenever the spirit of grace, and of supplication is poured out upon you, and you come to look on him whom you have pierced, and mourn, you will join in the worship of him ; and the doctrine of atonement by his death will be to you a fountain set open for sin and for uncleanness.
You live in expectation of being restored to your own land. We expect the same thing, and rejoice in the belief of it. The Old and the New Testament agree in predicting it. But the same prophets that have foretold your return to Canaan, have also foretold that you must be brought to repent of your sins, and to seek Jehovah your God, and David your king. Your holy land will avail you but little, unless you be a holy people.
* Lindsey's Chatechists, Inquiry 6.
+ Zech. xiii. 10– 14. xiii. 1.
+ Ezek, xx xvi. Luke xxi. 24.
Hus, iii. 6
Finally : You admit, I suppose, that though we should err ia believing Jesus to be the Messiah ; yet, while we deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world ; it is an error that may not affect our eternal salvation : but if the error be on your side, on what ground do stand? Your fathers, in this case, were murderers of the Prince of Life ; and by adopting their principles, you make the deed your
His blood lies upon you, and upon your children. The terrible destruction of your city by the Romans, and the hardness of heart to which you have been given up, are symptoms of that wrath which is come upon you to the uttermost. Repent and believe the gospel, that you may escape the wrath to come !
Beloved Brethren !
It is witnessed of David, that he served the will of God in his generation. Every generation has its peculiar work. The present age is distinguished, you know by the progress of infidelity. We have long been exempted from persecution ; and he whose fan is in his hand, perceiving his floor to stand in need of purging, seems determined by new trials to purge it. The present is a winnowing time. If we wish to serve the will of God in it, we must carefully attend to those duties which such a state of things imposes upon us.
In the first place, Let us look well to the sincerity of our hearts ; and see to it, that our Christianity is vital, practical, and decided. An army called to engage after a long peace, requires to be examined, and every one should examine himself. Many become soldiers when danger is at a distance. The mighty host of Midianites were overcome by a select band. A proclamation was issued through the army of Israel, “Whosoever is fearful and afraid,
let him return :" and after a great diminution from cowardice, the rest must be brought down to the water to be tried. Such, or nearly such, may be the trials of the church : those who overcome, may be reduced to a small company in comparison of those who have borne the Christian name. So indeed the scriptures inform us. They that obtain the victory with Christ are called, and chosen, and faithful.*
The manner in which things of late ages have moved on in the religious world, has been such as to admit of a large outer court, if I may so speak, for a sort of half-worshippers. A general relig. ious reputation has been hitherto obtained at a small expense. But should infidelity prevail throughout Christendom, as it has in France, the nominal extent of the Christian church has been greatly reduced. In taking its dimensions, the outer-court will, as it were, be left out, and given to the Gentiles. In this case, you must come in or keep out ; be one thing or another; a decided friend of Christ or an avowed Infidel. It is possible, that the time may come when all parties will be reduced, in effect, to two-believers and unbelievers.
“Never,” says a late masterly and moving writer, “ were times more eventful and critical, than at present ; never were appearances more singular and interesting in the political. or in the religious world. You behold on the one hand, infidelity with dreadful irruption, extending its ravages far and wide ; and on the other, an amassing accession of zeal and activity to the cause of Christianity. Error in all its forms is assiduously and successfully propagated ; but the progress of evangelical truth is also great. The number of the apparently neutral party daily diminishes; and men are now either becoming worshippers of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, or receding fast through the mists of scepticism into the dreary regions of speculative and practical atheism. It seems as if Christianity and Infidelity were mustering each the hosts of the battle, and preparing for some great day of God. The enemy is come in like a flood : but the spirit of the Lord hath lifted up a standard against him. Who, then, is
* Rev, xvii. 14.