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tians in every age, against those who shew the same spirit, and pursue the same object. That there are men of this description in our own age is abundantly known. For forwarding my object, in this discourse, and the apostle's, as I understand him, in this exhortation, it is not necessary that I should trace the occasions, the rise, the diffusion of the antichristian spirit and character of our times: though in doing this, much is found to strip the votaries of irreligion and infidelity of their claims to attention and respect. Leaving it to inquiry and controversy to prove, or disprove, a combination and conspiracy for extinguishing Christianity, we take up the matter as it stands. There are, in these days, teachers of infidelity, irreligion and immorality. Men who endeavour to pervert the principles, and undermine the faith, of their contemporaries.
“ They love not the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is truly said of men who may exceedingly differ in many respects from one another.
Some infidels, or abettors of infidelity, ex
press press high respect for the honour of Deity : thoie who are immoral in their writings, and in their lives, have cast off revealed religion, and natural religion also, if by that word is meant, acknowledging and regarding the moral government of God. Whoever in writing, or conversation, or by his conduct, attempts to undermine and overturn the faith of Christians, or the love and practice of good morals, and true religion, is an Antichrist, loves not the LORD JESUS, is an Anathema : this part of his character is, and ought to be, an execration to all true Christians.
They who are the enemies of the Gospel, sometimes, present themselves as dispassionate reasoners : sometimes, as disinterested and generous philanthropists, seeking to inform and correct the ignorant, and those who are misled by education and prejudice, and authority : fometimes, they indulge in banter and fatire, and sarcastical remarks : fometimes, the rudeness and vulgarity of grofs abuse is employed : at other times, polite address is insinuating, entertaining, and ensnaring. It is not possible to enumerate all the ways in which the Gospel and good morals
are attacked: but it is proper to observe that, not the least malignity and poison may lurk under that teaching or species of writing that speaks nothing of the Gospel at all, bui proposes and defends maxims and characters that are unchristian and antichristian. I fear, it requires but little acquaintance with modern authors to find, their heroes and heroines, their favourite characters, destitute of religion ; and yet held up as objects of efteem, if not models of excellence. By such exhibitions, the Gospel of Jesus is, in effect, despised: fuch writers say, in effect, it is unnecessary or false, or hurtful, and to be rejected.
My brethren! Is the design of the irreligious, and of their writings known to you? do you perceive the effect, or the evident tendency, of the reasoning and wit, and learning, and ridicule which they employ in conversation, or in writing, by openly opposing the Gospel, or by excluding it from their fystem, to be subversive of faith, and the destruction of good morals? let such men, such writings, such attempts, be held in abhorrence. Let them be Anathema Maranatha.
VARIOUS have been, and various still may be, the appearances assumed by enmity and hostility to the Gospel. I have referred to acuteness, learning and address. We do not desire you to depart from truth, and a just estimate of the qualities and powers, and acquirements, by which the enemies of the Gospel may be distinguished: if they are as splendid and superior, as their friends represent them, or as they imagine themselves, in their abilities, penetration, and inquiries; let candour do them all justice; but let not your abhorrence be diminished. Let not the discovery and admiration of talents, prevent the indignation which the abuse of them excites and deserves. Be not so dazzled with acuteness and wit, and well turned phrases, as not to see their tendency and effects; as to forget, one moment, the foundations of your faith, and the blessedness of those who live by faith. Indeed eminence in abilities and in any quality whatever, consistent with irreligion and infidelity, ought to add to our regret, and abhorrence also, towards the enemies of the Gospel : in the estimate of faith, such eminence adds to their guilt : such eminence, I fear, experience will add, in
creases their perniciousness and influence. Their light alas ! leads to ruin: their fascinating torch turns men away from the fplendors of the Sun of Righteousness: intoxicated with their dreggy draughts, men forget the fountain of living water, the ever flowing streams of pure delight.
I HAVE mentioned eminence and being refpectable, for the sake of argument and illustration, not admitting, but allowing, a claim to high degrees of ability, in those who oppofe or undermine the Gospel. · Faith declines no comparison with infidelity, as to powers and distinction of any kind, natural or acquired: in acuteness, research, learning, and in wit itself, the superiority is not on the side of irreligion. I am persuaded that the most presumptuous of the blasphemers would blush to claim a superiority, in any of these qualities, over the believers of the Gospel.
ENMITY and opposition to the Gospel are abominable in whomsoever they appear, and in what manner soever they manifest them. selves. But there are various degrees of enmity and opposition, and therefore of your