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ANALYSIS OF THE SERMON.
Contrast between the early and the late history of the Church. Brief review of the book of Acts; chiefly valuable for its account of the wonderful march of Christianity.-By what means, under Providence, was this effected ?--The preaching of the Apostles considered.-Paul's farewell address to the Ephesians.-Subjects open to the Christian preacher.—His duty to declare, equally and fearlessly, all the oracles of God.—The different parts of the Bible contain specimens of every variety of style, but its doctrines never vary.--Danger of exhibiting those doctrines under partial points of view.—The counsel of God, according to the law of nature. --The counsel of God, according to the law of revelation.—Three essential doctrines in Scripture: the doctrine of the fall, the doctrine of the cross, the doctrine of the Spirit.—The fall proved by experience, as well as Scripture.—The degree of natural depravity an immaterial point of dispute, since, at all events, it is such as to forfeit all our natural claims to Heaven.
— The atonement both necessary and sufficient, but not as a cloak for sin.—The power of the Spirit supplying the inability of the natural man to obey the law.—Its influence now shown, not in miraculous gifts, but in treasures of ordinary grace.--Reply to those who assert, that this is not preaching the Gospel.—General exhortation to religious toleration.—Distinction between toleration and indifference, illustrated by the example of Christ.–Farewell address.
“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book : and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."--Rev. xxii. 18, 19.
Acts xx. 27.
For I have not shunned to declare to you all the counsel of God.
To the pious mind, no history is so fraught with interest as that of the primitive Church of Christ, while the spirit of its founder was still visible among his followers, and the elect yet retained some fragments of the mantle of the departed God. This spirit did not, alas! continue long unbroken : the stream became less pure, as it flowed further from the fountain. Pride, vanity, selfishness, ambition,-all those grovelling passions, which Christianity was intended to extirpate, gradually resumed their empire over its votaries; and when the first perils of persecution had subsided, greater perils arose from dissensions among themselves. The Church history, soon after the first century, too well justifies the strong complaint of Bishop Heber, that was the world grew Christian, Christianity grew worldly.” The mind, disgusted by the scenes of hypocrisy which her later annals disclose, is relieved by turning back to that delightful book, which, deriving its name from the Acts of the Apostles, contains the record of the first martyrs of that faith, on which our loftiest hopes and fears depend.
The Book of Acts is the connecting link between the Gospels and the Epistles : it enables us more fully to understand the latter, and serves as a sort of running commentary upon them, by the local circumstances which it introduces to our view. It completes those prophecies which were intended to be fulfilled before the scheme of redemption could be fully developed, as it is in the latter books of the New Testament. It places before us, in the most artless and simple narrative, some of the most astonishing events that the annals of time have handed to posterity. The ascension of the blessed Jesus into Heaven, in the presence of a vast number of His disciples; the fiery unction which fell on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost ; the Holy Spirit descending in a rushing wind, and enabling them suddenly to speak in all languages under Heaven; the violent death of the first martyr, Stephen, with a glorious vision of beatitude before him, and angels beckoning into the celestial train ; the sublime preaching of Peter, and his inspired