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ringing of bells. Ministers were forbidden to appear abroad in their distinctive dress. Yea, they were deprived of their salaries. Some of them were robbed of great sums of money; and were confined in prison. Cloots, a leading member in the French national Convention, used to say; “Kings and priests are worthless things: they are despots and corrupters."* If the Roman Catholic priests were corrupters, the French made no distinction between them, and the most unexceptionable Protestants. The whole order of the Gospel they utterly abjured.
Where the way is not thus prepared for an open attack; the operations of Infidelity against the administration of the Gospel, are more cautious, covert, and subtile; but calculated with vast design, to subvert the Christian religion, by first overturning its faithful minįstry.
The native covetousness of the human heart is enlisted into this service. Many are induced to withdraw, or withhold the support of the Gospel ministry. Many under the name of teachers have artfully led the unwary to infer from the gratuity of some of Paul's missionary labors among the heathen, that; the ministry of the Gospel is ever to be free of all regular expense; and that all ministers, who stipulate for their regular support, in return for their being devoted to a people, are hirelings and impostors. This is a suggestion, than which nothing can be more opposed to the word of God; or injurious to man, It is a prime stratagem of hypocrisy, and of Infidelity. These words of Christ are perverted, and pressed into this service, Freely ye have received; freely give. In relation to the power of iniraculous healing, which was superadded to the special commission of the apostles, our Lord gave them a charge; Freely ye have received freely give. (Matt. x, 8.) i.e. Make no merchandize of this special Divine delegation. Men would give almost any sum
'to be healed. Take nothing. But it is base wickedness to pervert these words of Christ into a prohibition to
* See Dr. Morse's Fast Sermon of 1799.
his ministers from asking their regular support. The words of Christ, which immediately follow, take this text out of the impostor's hands. “Provide neither gold, "por silver, nor brass in your purses; nor scrip for "your journey; neither two coats; neither shoes; nor “yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.”
It is the express order of God, that those, who preach the Gospel, shall live of the Gospel; that people shall aid their support according to their several abilities; and that they shall do it to such a degree, as that their minister need not entangle himself with the affairs of this lite, but may give himself wholly to the work of the ministry. When this support of the Gospel is covetously withholden, God charges the withholders with the sin of robbing him. (Mal
. iii, 9.) And they may well expect judgments, delusion, and ruin, in re. turn. The support of the Gospel then, and a faithful attention and obedience to its administration, are a most important rémedy against the innovating, Antichristian principles of these last days.
And a firm rejection of all erroneous and irregular preachers, is an important mean of withstanding the Antichristian principles of this period. And this is solemnly enjoined in the word of God. Relative to the last days, Christ_commands; “Take heed thal 1:0 “man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, "and shall deceive many.” Various predictions of the last days lead us to expect multitudes of false teachers, And that such' will be most influential in propagating the Infidelity of that period. Peter, when about to predict the rise and agency of Antichrist, thus introduce es the chapter; “But there were false prophets also "among the people, even as there shall be false teach"ers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable "heresies, denying the Lord that bought them, and "bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many "shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom "the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” Here we find much at least of that Infidelity is introduced by what the apostle calls, false teachers. This term may probably here be viewed as a word of considerable lat
itude. It must comprise all, who are found in the ac. tive promotion of the Infidelity of this period; or of sentiinents, that lead to it; whether they teach Atheism or Deism; or more special tenets under the notion of Christian doctrines; which yet are essentially errone, ous: Whether ihey do it with an express design to propagate Infidelity; or, being given up to delusion and fanatacism, please themselves that they are doing God service: Whether they propagate their tenets under the guise of politics, or religion; Whether they act under pretence of a commission from Christ, or not; or whether their communications be made in private letters, secret assemblies, a sermon, a voľume, a pamphlet, a tract, or a gazette. All, who actively undertake to direct the public opinion, so as to propagate Infidelity, or sentiments, which in fact tend to it, whether they per. ceive this tendency, or not, are the false teachers in this passage of Peter. They, from some motive, and in some form, undertake to teach men; and they teach them falsehood; which tends to unhinge their minds, and to prepare them for skepticism and licentiousness. These false teachers of various descriptions are predicted to be abundant in the last days; men of confi. dence and impertinence; as well as of base design: And many of them so subtile, that if it were possible they would deceive even the very elect.
Now the command of God is, that we should not be led by such persons, let them be of whatever profession; or let their zeal be what it may. "Take heed "that no man deceive you.. Mark them, who cause di"visions and offences, contrary to the doctrine, which ye “have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such, "serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the "hearts of -he simple.”. Here it may, with great propriety, be added, that to
, unite in the missionary exertions of the present period, is an important duty, and a powerful antidote against the Antichristian influence of our times. "A great mis- . sionary work, a remarkable propagation of the Gospel,
is to be effected. This is powerfully to aid the cause of Christ, under the darkness of Antichristian tyranny; and to prepare the way in due time to bring forward the introduction of the Millennium. And to this work men are called upon to put a helping hand. While the Most High will carry it forward, he will do it through the instrumentality of the friends of Zion, and of those, whom he will graciously incline to this pur. pose.
God will show that the silver and the gold are His. He will incline the hearts of his chosen to be. stow a portion of their attention and property upon the missionary object. This object has thus been promoted within eighteen years, to a degree unprecedented since the days of the apostles. The formation of the London Missionary Society, on the 21st of Septem. ber, 1795, presented to the evangelized world a second Pentecost. Great numbers of Societies and associations have since been formed in different parts of what has been called the Christian world, to promote this most noble design, either in sending out missionaries; or in translating the Bible into the different languages of the heathen, and distributing this precious book among perishing millions. The particular and pleasing histo, ries of these societies, the effectual doors opened, and the signal provisions and interpositions of Providence in the behalf of his servants, the people of God have perused with interest, pleasure, and wonder.
Ancient Divine predictions of this great event are express and striking. And they unite in fixing it about the present time. The Lamb appeared on the mount Zion, Rev. xiv, 1, at the reformation early in the six. teenth century. By and by, or after the Protestant cause had progressed through different nations for a convenient time, and the way was prepared, and the hour of God's judgment, in the subversion of the predominant Power of Papal Rome, had arrived, the Angel of the missionary cause, (verse 6,) begins his “flight through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting "Gospel to preach to them, that dwell on the earth, to "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people; s'saying, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour
"of his judgment is come; and worship him, that made "heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of "water."
That this sublime emblem predicts a remarkable, general, and efficacious propagation of the Gospel through the nations, none I trust will dispute. And that it is to have its effect in Pagan lands, is evident from the last clause of the text; where the message is introduced, by unfolding the volume of nature. “Wor "ship him, that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, "and the fountains of water.” As if they should say, We have come to inform you who made the yonder visible heavens; this great carth; the sea; and the fountains of water; what he demands of you; and how you may worship and enjoy him. The prediction seems evidently to fix the event about the present time. The Protestant Religion has progressed through the nations. The hour of God's judgment has come. table year of the Lord is nearly connected with the day of vengeance of our God. Isa. Ixi, 2. “For the day of vengeance is in my heart; and the year of my redeemed is come.” Isa. Ixiii, 4. The missionary An. gel has begun his flight. And the two great classes of events are collaterally progressing.
Parallel predictions of this blessed event corroborate the preceding exposition: And they show that this reinarkable propagation of the Gospel is but a short season to precede the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Now, shall we not aid this blessed work? Shall we not unite in it with the friends of Zion? Is it our interesting lot to have our season of probation at the im. portant period, when the blessed event of those ancient prophecies is beginning to be fulfilled? Gracious Parent of the world! Shall we not leap for humble joy and pious gratitude, that we are thus indulged the opportunity of being workers together with thee in so merciful and glorious an object, and at such a period as this? Who can withstand the motives of this blessed cause? Who will not lay his talents, all his powers of body and mind, his time, and his money, at the feet of Christ? This will be time, and money laid out to infinite ad