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the people. Duly reflect on the important truths to which he testified. You cannot disbelieve his testimony without mourning-you cannot believe it without rejoicing. If you refuse to walk in his footsteps, you will tread the thorny road of iniquitybut if you follow him as your leader, he will lead you to the pastures of his love. If you disobey his commandments, you will find wretchedness and wo
_but if you obey him from the heart, you will discover that “the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever."
I conclude with the exhortation of the Apostle: " The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Delivered in the Lombard Street Church, Sunday Evening,
November 2, 1834.
and vill di :ce
TEST AND TRIAL OF DOCTRINES.
“ Prove all things: hold fast that which is good.”—1 THESS. v. 21.
There are many peculiar characteristics which hrough evidently distinguish the gospel and religion of Je
sus Christ, from all the creeds and religions which have been invented by the wisdom of men; and it seems a matter of no small moment, that we should be well acquainted with such important marks distinction; for by such assistance we can, with the utmost ease, detect false doctrine, and readily receive the true. One of these distinguishing peculiarities, we have most evidently set forth in the text, which has been chosen as the foundation of the present discourse.
When learned doctors have, by their profound researches and laborious studies, framed a creed, they are far from supposing that it belongs to them to prove it true in all its parts, but proceed to demand of the people an unhesitating consent to the faith which owes its origin to their profound study and wisdom. The promulgators of such creeds and such doctrines, may be justly represented, as standing before the people with their creed in one hand,
and the truly awful sanctions of their creed in the other. In this solemn attitude, they demand of the people to believe their doctrine implicitly, as a condition of obtaining the divine favour, and of inheriting a state of perfect bliss in the eternal world; while, in case they withhold their entire consent, they are threatened with the severity of the divine displeasure, which they are sure to endure in a state. of never-ending sufferings. These are the arguments, and this is the logic, which the wisdom of man employs, to enforce its doctrines on mankind. If you hesitate, if you venture to start objections, if you ask for proof of points which appear unreasonable, unscriptural, and even contradictory, you are immediately accused of impiety, and of a want of respect and reverence for religious truth; and if you finally refuse your full consent without further proof, you are sure to be denounced as a hardened infidel, and told that you must await your awful doom!
Very differently does the gospel and religion of Jesus Christ treat us. As it is a reasonable religion, it addresses itself to our reason and understanding. It calls on us to receive it on its being first proved, and cautions us against believing without evidence. “ Prove all things." This our text demands. In this requisition we are assured, that whatever is contained in the religion or faith of Jesus Christ, is capable of being proved, and that it lays no claim to our credence any farther than the proof accompanies its several propositions. We are here even admonished to proceed with caution, to examine minutely, to hold every thing in suspense until reasonable evidence brings the truth to our understandings. In
this way the wisdom of God distinguishes itself from the wisdom of men, and treats us in a manner as different from the treatment which we receive from man's wisdom, as these two wisdoms are different from each other.
The eareful attention of the congregation is now solicited to an illustration of what we have already suggested, which we shall find in the conduct of our blessed Saviour, in his treatment of unbelievers.-The Jewish commonwealth, to whom Jesus was sent, was in a state of darkness and unbelief, when he commenced his ministry among them. The first important fact which was necessary to be believed by the people, and to convince them of which he first laboured, was, that he was a teacher sent of God. To induce the people to a belief of this fact, Jesus did not proceed as many teachers have done, even in our times. We are often told, in a very solemn manner, by teachers employed by human wisdom and human authority, that God has sent them; and we have the authority of their most positive declarations to support the assertion. There are many weak minds, persons of delicate nerves, who, beholding the solemn visage of the preacher, and hearing the grave, deep toned modulation of his voice, yield at once to the truth of the assertion, and are thereby prepared to receive every thing he utters as coming from the authority of heaven. So did not Jesus. He never treated unbelievers in this way; nor by such means did he attempt to gain the confidence.of the people in his divine commission,
To what did Jesus refer the people for the proof of the fact that God had sent him? Hear his words:
"The works which I do in my Father's name, they ! bear witness of me." The miracles which Jesus wrought, were of such a nature and character as could not be mistaken. The physical senses took cognizance of them, and were not in the least liable in to be deceived. Had Jesus attempted to impose on the people by any works or performances of an occult nature; or had he endeavoured to persuade the people to receive him as a divine teacher by subtle arts and learned arguments, the case would have been widely different; and if he had succeeded to any extent, yet would he thereby have laid no solid foundation on which he could have built a church, that could not have been overthrown even by the same kind of impositions. But the evidences on which he rested to prove that he was a teacher divinely commissioned, were of such an astonishing character, so open to the inspection of all classes of the people, and under the eyes and inspection of his inveterate enemies, that they must violate the testimony of their senses in order to withhold belief.If Jesus had pretended to heal the sick, and had not actually done it, he would have been immediately detected; if he had pretended to give sight to the blind, and had not done it, he would have ruined his own character in less than three months; if he had pretended to raise the dead, and had not performed such a miracle, he would not have had his life spared, nor would he have deserved to live. Respecting such works no deception could have been practised. If he had not done these things, the people could not have believed that he did.
You recollect that Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, evidently to communicate to him the fact,