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“ as they have been taught,” and take care that their q“ conversation be such as “ becometh the Gospel of Christ ;” ever bearing in mind the declaration of the * Apostle, that they who would live in peace must first be perfectly united in the common faith, and then “ the God of love peace
will be with them.”
a Phil. i. 27
r 2 Cor. xiii. 11. See Hammond's interpretation of xatagtigouds. Also Elsner, as quoted by Schleusner, and his own explanation of 1 Cor. i. 10.
JOHN X. 16.
Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold :
them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice ; and there shall be one fold, and one
shepherd. THE careful investigator of revealed truth will not fail to be struck with many passages in the sacred canon, which point to a state of moral and religious perfection hitherto without example in the world ; when Christianity shall obtain its due influence over the opinions and conduct of mankind, and the fruit of righteousness “ shall be peace, and the effect of righte“ ousness quietness and assurance.” Such predictions will furnish him with a reply to those sophists, who would depreciate our holy faith, by insidiously comparing the external result of its precepts with the greatness of its pretensions; and profess their inability to conceive, that the Son of God would descend from heaven, to establish a religion apparently so feeble in its moral operations, and hitherto received by so inconsiderable a portion of those, whose present comfort and eternal salvation it was confessedly designed to promote.
It may indeed be justly urged, in reply to these suggestions, that the real advantages derived to man from the incarnation and sufferings of his Saviour, would be very inadequately represented by a mere view of the outward circumstances of Christians. The ameliorating and sanctifying influence of our holy religion ; its powers of restraint and encouragement; the comforts and the joys which it imparts; cannot be fully appreciated, but by tracing it in the privacy of domestic habits ; in the character and conduct of those who are least known and regarded by the world; in the closet of the penitent, in the house of the mourner, or the chamber of the diseased. It may also be remarked, that
no conclusive argument against the beneficial effects of Christianity can be drawn from the comparatively limited sphere of its acceptation among the nations of the earth. For it would not perhaps be difficult to shew, that many parts, even of the heathen world, are now partakers in temporal benefits, which are the legitimate fruit of Christianity; and we are by no means justified in imagining, that those only to whom the Gospel has been preached, will profit by the sacrifice of atonement made by him, who is b«s.the Saviour of all
men,” but in a more especial manner of those that believe. The cwisdom of God may have determined to render the cross of Christ available, though in a manner incomprehensible to us, to the salvation of those, who have not been permitted to hear the glad tidings of his coming. And, without presuming to decide upon a subject not clearly revealed, our confidence in that justice and mercy inseparable from the divine nature, should prevent us from
b i Tim. iv. 10.
c See Note CXLIX. Appendix.