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Tess rebellion against God. To show that this is not the import of the passage, it might be sufficient to remark, that the connection is a refutation of the assumption. The subject being utterly distinct from that to which it is thought to apply, the argument it was supposed to furnish, is entirely nugatory. But perhaps you will ask for a rational understanding of the passage; I will suggest one. Please read the

verse thus; "My spirit shall not always strive against man." This reading, if correct, you must acknowledge, will materially alter the sense. That it is correct, is made to appear from the connexion. The reason given, why the strife will cease, is, " for that he also is flesh;" and it is added, "yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years." In accordance with this sense, are the words of the Psalmist, "He knoweth our frames; he remembereth that we are dust." But Isa. 57: 16, is directly to the point. "For I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made." But besides this lucid illustration of the prophet, your own reading will furnish repeated instances in the scriptures, where the term with is improperly used for against. I ask you now, seriously to reflect; and if you are satisfied that the connexion will not warrant the common use of the text-and if your view of its application militate against clear and explicit scripture testimony-admit that one stumbling block, at least, is removed.

Having summarily disposed of the first passage, let us now briefly examine the second, found 2 Cor. 6: 2,"Behold, Now is the accepted time; behold, Now is the day of salvation." That the apostle cited this as the sense of some former scripture, is evident from the first part of the verse. For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee;" and then adds, as giving the

sense and fulfillment of this scripture, "Behold, Now is the accepted time; behold, Now is the day of salvation." In referring to the original scripture, Isa. 498, we learn, that the prophet is uttering a prophecy of Christ, or the gospel dispensation, and therefore the use to which you apply it, is entirely irrelevant. No man has a right to limit the Holy One of Israel, as to the times and seasons which he has put in his own power, nor do we manifest a desire rightly to divide the word of truth, in applying a whole day, or dispensation of God, to the term of a single revolution of our earth. The whole context, whether of the original prediction, or the quotation by Paul, shows the misapplication of the passage. With as good a plea of consistency, might the primitive church have cut off from the hope of salvation, all succeeding generations, as a minister of the 19th century, limit the time of mercy to the fleeting hours of a solar day.

But, that not the shadow of a doubt may rest on this subject, be pleased to turn with me and read, Isa. 49: 6, "It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." This, and its connexions, are clear indications, that the gospel kingdom in prospect was the burden of this prophecy, and the quotation by an apostle, was a mere declaration that the prophecy was then in a state of fulfilment. But this is not all; not a word connected with the quotation from Paul has the least reference to the subject on which you intended the citation to apply. If this were its import, why did not the apostle make the application?

I am persuaded you will not upbraid me with prolixity, nor with invidious remarks, if I dwell on this theme some minutes longer. Preachers, who would

not be thought to lack understanding, go on from Sabbath to Sabbath, and from year to year, and from youth to age, telling from the same pulpit, to the same hearers, "Now is the accepted time-this day you have an opportunity to secure your salvation, by making your peace with God-to-morrow, or to-night, may be too late." To say nothing of the arrogance of this course, where is the consistency, the propriety of these annunciations? If salvation be of grace, is the Lord's hand shortened that he cannot save? Ifit be of works, who shall say when he, or any other, has earned a blissful immortality? Do not, my friend, I beseech you, again use this passage for the same pur pose, until a thus saith the Lord shall plead your justification.

"He

The text next to be considered is Mark 16 : 16, that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." In noticing this passage, I shall not at present urge that certain fathers of the church reject the last twelve verses of this chapter* as spurious, because it can be examined, under the impression that it is genuine, in much less time. That it has served as the foundation of many discourses, is not more evident, than that it has been used without the example of either Christ or his apostles. It is no part of the commission given by Christ to his disciples, nor did either the master or servant thus preach. But to illustrate the text more fully, we will, if you please, turn to the passage and read its connexThe commission is contained in the preceding verse, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." In this short, but comprehensive command, is contained the whole commission

ion.

*Jerome says, that few of the Greek copies he had seen, had the last twelve verses of this chapter. They are still wanting in many MSS. and are not comprehended in the canons of Eusebius.

of the Master of Assemblies, to his humble followers. To preach the gospel, and that only, was the imperative command of the risen Saviour. Without dwelling on the term gospel, which was the burden of the apostles' directions, we can easily determine that the text under consideration was merely a description of the consequences which would follow the preaching of the gospel, and that, therefore, it had nothing to do with the message, which they had in charge to deliver. If it had, the apostles were unfaithful to their trust, for we find not the least vestige of it in their preaching. Was the message true, before the apostles heard or delivered it? if it were, the unbelief of the whole world could not make it void; if it were false, the belief of millions could not make it true. Truth is, and ever must be, independent of the credence or infidelity of those to whom it is declared. Nor can belief, or the want of it, extend farther than the mind of him who receives or rejects the message which is delivered. In the 14th verse, "Jesus upbraided them [the disciples] with their unbelief and hardness of heart." In the next verse he gives the commission, and in the succeeding verse, represents the consequences that would flow from unbelief, the same unbelief which then laboured in their minds. For it is a remarkable fact, that they were then ignorant of the breath of their commission, and of the spirituality of the kingdom they were to set up at the hazard of their lives. They were then in a state of damnation, or condemnation, the same state in which all unbelievers have been since their day, while unbelief continued, and no longer. You will take my idea from John 3: 18, "He that believeth not is condemned already." Verse 19, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." Thus you see, that the condemnation is in this world, where unbe

lief exists, and that it is the effect of, and co-existent with, a disbelief of the truth. Thus unbelief leads to bondage, to darkness, and fear; belief gives joy and peace, and causes men to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free.

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Another circumstance to be considered is, the rule by which believers were to be known. The rule follows the verse to which you have alluded, in these words, which you will do well to remember in your next dissertation on this subject. "And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils [demons]; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. And in the last verse it is said, "And they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." Now, sir, let us inspect the word and the testimony. On your hypothesis, what soul can look for salvation? Either lower the tone of your text, to a temperal consequence, or you land in the darkness of intellectual midnight. Is it possible, my dear sir, that you can remain ignorant of the absurdity of the argument generally deduced from this citation? Does man merit any thing of God by giving credit to the message which he has sent--or rather can we refuse assent to a proposi-· tion supported by unquestionable testimony? You will not, most surely, admit that assent is to be given with the lips, while the understanding is unenlightened. Man may enjoy the satisfaction arising from the belief of good news-he may suffer in consequence of disbelieving the good news, "the word of truth, the gospel of his salvation," but remember, that unbelief shall vanish, for all shall be taught of God; the deaf ear shall be unstopped; the tongue of the dumb shall sing; the lame shall leap as a hart; and the glory of

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