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. In order to fortisy the minds of his disciples against the severe trials they were to undergo, our blessed Lord, in the 28th verse, adds the following exhortation: "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the foul; but rather sear him which is able to destroy both foul and body in hell."
This passage contains a decisive proof of two very important doctrines, the existence of a foul distinct from the body, and the continuance of that foul after death (both of which, in direct oppofition to this and many other pat sages of scripture, some late writers have dared to controvert ;) and it plainly resers the apostles to the consideration of a suture lise, in which all their views, their hopes and sears, were to center, and by which their conduct in this v rid was entirely to be regulated. The worst their ene. « could do to them in this lise was to kill the body, - .iich must some time or other be destroyed by age or disease. But God was able to kill the foul, which was formed for immortality, to annihilate it at once, or to condemn-it to everlasting punishment. It was, therefore, of insinitely more consequence to avoid his displeasure, and to secure his approbation by performing their duty, than by shamesully deserting it to escape the inssiction of the bitterest evils that their sellow creatures could bring upon them.
In consormity to this advice he tells them, "that he that endureth to the end shall be saved: and that he who lofes his lise for his sake in this world, shall sind it in a sar more exalted sense in the next*."
This was solid comfort and substantial support. But unless our Lord had given them irresistible miraculous evidence of the reality of this suture reward, unless they had absolute demonstration of its certainty^ it was utterly impossible that they could be so mad as to sacrisice to this expectation every thing most valuable in this lise, and even life itself.
As a still surther mpport under the terrisying prospec which our blessed Lord had held up to the apostles, he assures them that the providence of God would continuali" superintend and watch over them.
"Are not two sparrows, says he, fold for a sarthing, and one of them shall not sall to the ground without yoer Father; but the very hairs of your head are all numbered Fear ye not, therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows*."
Here we have that most important and comfortable doctrine of a particular Providence plainly and clearly laid down.
That he who erected the immense and magnisicent sabric of the universe will continue to regard and to preserre the work of his own hands, and maintain what is called the general order of nature, and the ordinary course of human affairs, is so consonant to reason and common sense, that sew even of the pagans who believed the being of a God, entertained any doubt of this general superintendence of the Deity over the worlds he has created, and the inhabitants he has placed in them. But when we descend from this comprehensive view of things to the several constituent parts of the general system, and to every individual of every species of animated beings dispersed throughout the whole; when we reflect how very inconsiderable a place this globe that \vs inhabit holds amongst the celestial bodies, how very small a portion it occupies of unbounded space, and how insinitely minute and insignisicant every human creature must appear in the vast mass of created beings, we can hardly think it possible that the care of the Supreme Being should extend to ourselves; we cannot help searing that we shall be lost and overlooked in the immensity of creation, and that we are objects sar too ftnall and minute to sall within the sphere of our Maker's observation. The more we reason on this subject, the more ground we shall sind for these apprehensions; and there is nothing, I will venture to say, in the whole com
* MstfK x. 7.9, 30, 31.
pass of what is called natural religion or modern philofophy, that can in the smallest degree tend to allay or to remove these natural, these unavoidable misgivings of the human mind.
Here then is one of thofe many instances in. which we hi can have no certainty, no solid ground for the sole of our foot to stand upon, but in the Gofpel of Christ. Our reason, though sent out ever so often in search of a resting place, returns to us, like Noah's dove, when the waters covered the earth, without any token of comfort. It is scripture only which in this important point can give rest unto our fouls. There we are assured that every individual being, even the least and most contemptible, even the sparrow that is fold for less than a sarthing, is under the eye of the Almighty; that so sar from man being too inconsiderable for the notice of his Maker, the minutest parts of his body, the very hairs of his head, are all numbered. These very strong instances are plainly chofen on purpofe to quiet all our sears, and to banish from our minds every idea of our being too small and insignisicant for the care and protection of the Almighty.
This most consolatory doctrine of a particular Providence, of a Providence which watches over every individual of the human race, places the Christian in a situation totally different from that of every one who disbelieve* revelation. The latter must conceive himself under no other government but that of chance or fortune, and of course must consider the whole happiness of his lise as expofed every moment to the mercy of the next accident that ©lay besal him. The true believer on the contrary has the most persect conviction that he is constantly under the protection of an almighty and mercisul God, in whom he lives, and moves, and has his being; "whofe eyes are over the righteous, and whofe ears are open to their prayers;" that therefore if he lives, so as to merit the approbation of his heavenly Father, he has every reason to hope for such a degree of happiness, even here, as the impersection of human nature will admit; and he is certain that nothing dreadful can besal him without the knowledge and permission of his great Protector, who -wil! even in that case rapport him under it, and render it ultimately conducive to his good.
The next passage in this chapter to which I shall dire3 your attention, is that very remarkable one which has sumished the enemies of Christianity with so much pretence for obloquy and invective against the Gospel, and has been the source of no small uneasiness and dismay to fome of its warmest friends. The passage I mean is this; ** Think not" (says our Lord) " I-am come to send peace on earth, I came not to send peace but a sword; for I am come to set a man at variance against his sather, anJ the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's foes shall be thoii of his own household*."
What shall we say now (exclaims the insidel) to this extraordinary declaration? Here ws have the Author ot the Christian religion himself openly and explicitly avovring that-he came to send a sword upon earth, to diUbbt all the tender endearing ties of domestic affection, to set the nearest relations at variance, and to arm them w:i Inextinguishable rage and rancor against ea.h other.
But can this be really the sense of our Saviour's words i Can He mean to denounce war and destruction to the haman species? He whofe whole religion breathes nothing but peace, gentleness, kindness, and compassion, to every human being; who made charity or the love of man the great characteristic mark of his religion: who expressly forbade his disciples " to call down sire from heaven" on thofe who had insulted them; who in this very chapter commanded them " to be harmless as doves; and declared that he came not to destroy men's lives, but to save themf?" It is evidendy impossible that the author of such precepts and such prosessions could mean literally to spread rain and desolation over the earth. What then was his meaning? It was to obviate an error into which the apostles would be very apt to sall, and which proba
* Mitth x 34. 35, 36, f Matth. X. 16. Luk«ix.
"bly our Saviour saw rising in their minds. You tell 113 (they perhaps said within themselves,) you tell us that we shall be persecuted, tormented, and put to death, and that, even by those who are most nearly connected with us. But how is this possible? How can all this happen under your protection, under the reign of the Messiah, The Prince Of Peace, under whom we have always been given to expect tranquility, repofe, and happiness ? To this supposed reasoning our Saviour answers; You are mistaken in your idea of that peace, which I, your Messiah, am to give you. It is not immediate temporal peace, but peace in a spiritual sense, peace in your own minds, and peace with God. Ultimately indeed I shall establish peace in every sense of the word, and " shall make wars toto cease in all the world* but at present, and indeed for many years to come, I shall not bring peace but a sword upon earth. The promulgation of my religion will be productive of much dissension, cruelty, and persecution, not only to you, but to all those who for many ages afterwards shall preach the Gofpel in puritjrand truth. The true caufe of this will be the wickedness and the serocious passions of men; but the occasion and the pretence for it will be the holy religion which you are to promulgate. In this sense, and in this only, it is that I may be said to bring a sword upon earth; but they who really »bring it, are the open enemies or pretended friends of the Gofpel.
Still it is said by the adversaries of our saith, that however these words may be interpreted, the sact is, that Christians themselves have brought a sword, and a most destructive sword, upon earth: that they have persecuted one another with inconceivable rancor and sury; and that their dissensions have produced more bloodshed, misery, and desolation, among mankind, than all the other wars of contending nations put together.
To this I answer in the sirst place, that the charge as here stated is not true. It is not true that wars of leligion 'have been more frequent and more sanguinary than any
* Psalm xlvi. 9.