« AnteriorContinuar »
fiember their obligation to mark vice with their dise approbation, wherever they meet with it, from a regard to the public good; by warnings and reproofs where they can be given, and on all occasions by their actions, particularly by shunning the company of the vicious. They may hereby. lose the favour of some, who are capable of doing them essential service as to worldly concerns, and incur the displeasure of others, who are not very scrupulous about the justice of the means they employ to gratify their resentment; they may be ridiculed as precise, and hated as morose Christians; but they will have discharged an important duty, which they owe to the world, and must look for the reward of the sacrifice, which they have made, to the reflections of their own minds and the recompense of a future life.
Were all good men thus to unite together to encourage one another and to discountenance vice, it could not fail to restrain it's progress. Young men, who are at present afraid to do right, would acquire more courage, and those who are further advanced in life would not find such strong temptation to desert the company they have joined, We should not then find vice walking abroad withput shame in open day, nor virtue hiding itself from view for fear of censure; but they would both resume their proper stations-vice would skulk into obscurity and darkness, and virtue shine forth in all it's genuine lustre before the light of Heaven,
A DISCOURSE DELIVERED AT TAUNTON, SEPT. 3, 1793.
BEFORE THE SOCIETY OF UNITARIAN CHRISTIANS,
Another Parable spake he unto them : The Kingdom of
Heaven is like unto Leaven, 'which a Woman took and hid in three Measures of Meal, till thë Whole was leavened.
CHRIST delivered this parable for the encouragement of his disciples. He had been employed in instructing them in the nature of the kingdoin which he came to establish, and had already sent them out to announce it's approach. But the apostles, apprehending it to be of a temporal nature, and imagining, in common with the rest of their countrymen, that all extraordinary divine favours were to be confined to the Jews, never conceived that this kingdom was to be extended beyond the limits of Judæa: nor could they see that there was much probability of it's arriving even at this degree of extent. Twelve men, such as they were, without learning, power, or
authority, seemed but ill qualified for spreading the new doctrine throughout so large a country, in opposition to established opinions, and all the influence of the great : still less did they appear prepared for propagating it throughout the world. They, who were reprehended so often for their want of faith in other instances, would probably feel no great con. fidence in regard to this subject, where, according to human apprehension, there appeared to be so little prospect of success. To strengthen their hopes of the general prevalence of the Gospel, Jesus assures them, that, as in the natural world great changes arise from small and inconsiderable causes, a little leaven pervading and fermenting a large mass, so it would likewise be in regard to his doctrine and the number of his disciples; that the doctrine should spread, until it was diffused over every quarter of the globe, and his disciples increase from a small and inconsiderable number, until they included the whole human race.
This parable, therefore, may be considered as prophetical, foretelling a grand event, which has not yet been accomplished, but will one day certainly take place, the universal prevalence of the Christian religion ; of which we have likewise clear intimations in the prophetical writings of Scripture. The stone, which smote Nebuchadnezzar's image, and was intended to represent a kingdom the God of Heaven would set up, “ is to become a great mountain, and to fill the whole earth," Dan. ii, 34, 35,
44. The prophet Isaiah tells us, " that it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top
of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it," Is. ii, 2 : and Malachi, “ that from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same, the name of God shall be great among the Gentiles,” Mal, i, 11.
The language of Christ in the text may be considered not only as prophetical of a great event, but likewise as intimating in what manner it is to be accomplished; not instantaneously and tumultuously, but gradually and secretly, as that substance operates, to which the kingdom of Heaven is compared: for when Christ has recourse to the same simile upon another occasion, there is evidently an allusion to this property, Mat. xvi, 6, where, cautioning his disciples against the doctrines of the two prevailing sects among the Jews, he tells them" to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees," intimating, that their doctrine was not only pernicious, but also of a subtle and insinuating nature, pervading men's minds before they were
In like manner Christ may here intend to declare, that the advancement of his religion in the world would be by imperceptible degrees, until it had extended itself throughout the whole mass of mankind. The progress both of truth and errour is nearly alike; but there is this difference between them, the spreading of the one is partial and tema.
porary; that of the other, universal and eternal. the one reaches to one portion of the globe, or to one age of the world; the other to every country under Heaven, and to every future period of time.
Such, we have reason to hope, will be the issue of things in regard to those two important truths, the unity of the divine Being and the humanity of Christ. God has (for reasons which are no doubt wise and good, though not obvious to us) suffered these doctrines to be corrupted and lost, in almost every part of the Christian world. The virtuous struggles of those, who have attempted to withstand the progress of errour, or to restore the original truth, have proved both alike unsuccessful. The advocates for a plurality of gods, or of objects of religious worship, have long had and still continue to have on their side the weight of numbers, the influence of riches, and the power of civil government; while the defenders of the strict unity of God are few, despised, and persecuted. In this country, in particular, they are liable, for making an open profession of their sentiments, to penalties, which rank them with apostates from the Christian faith, and, if enforced, would deprive them of the best . rights of society.
But the benevolence of the divine Being will not, we have reason to believe, permit him to suffer things to remain in this condition to let truth be thus degraded and errour triumphant. A period will certainly come for the revival of the truth, and for