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“O that the happy hour were come !" About three hours before his death, he was overheard to say, “I have fought the good fight-I have fought the good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith : henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but to all them also who love his appearing. I long to depart, and be with - his voice failed. He afterwards said, “Oh! what a sun shall I see rise to-morrow—the glorious Sun of Righteousness!" When the last moment arrived, he was perfectly aware of his situation, and rejoiced in the hope of the glory of God. A little before his departure, it was observed, that he could not expectorate. Something was given him to drink, which, meeting with the phlegm in his throat, occasioned a little struggle. He was laid again on the pillow, apparently fetching his last breath ; when suddenly, in a strong voice, widely extending his arms, and lifting up his dim eyes, as if he had a view of glory, he exclaimed, “ There! there! Lord Jesus, come!” As he said this, with a surprising smile on his countenance, his eyes closed, and without one parting struggle, he entered the joy of his Lord.
THE PRACTICAL ATHEISM (F MANKIND.
Eph. ii. 12.
Without God in the world. Such was the state of the Ephesians previously to their being brought to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. May I take the liberty to ask you all, what you think of it? Are any of you in a similar condition? Are there any who would wish to be in the same situation? I ask the latter question because there are too many around us,
who seem weary of the gospel, and appear to think it would be an advantage, if they could get rid of Christianity. But if there be any that mind present, let me intreat them to weigh the matter impartially, and examine, what are the benefits they expect from extinguishing the only light that shines in this dark
world. For surely, none will pretend that if Christianity is false, there is any other revelation on which we can depend ! Verily, if the patrons of Infidelity are eager to make proselytes, it cannot be from a principle of benevolence: it must be chiefly from enmity to the gospel, from pride, and a desire to keep themselves in countenance in what they hardly dare believe. I know not what advantage they can promise their disciples if they are in the right: and if they should be mistaken, -what, oh! what, must be the consequences to both?
“ Without God in the world.”_Were these a wise and enlightened people? Were they free from previous restraints ? Were they in an enviable and happy state ?
In order to determine these questions, we must examine more particularly the meaning of the phrase. inquire,
First, What sort of people are they, to whom this character belongs?
To the heathen, who never heard, or at least never embraced the gospel. Such were the Ephesians once, to whom this Epistle was immediately addressed. They, and other heathens, indeed, had gods many, and lords many. The Ephesians were devoted to the great goddess Diana, who was worshipped, they said, by all Asia and the habitable world ; and they pretended that they had an image that fell down from Jupiter. They were a Grecian colony, and the Greeks are said to have had thirty thousand gods; of whom they had so many images that in some of their cities, it was easier to find a god than a man. But gods made with hands were no gods. Some of their philosophers partially saw the folly of the vulgar superstition. However, they knew not the true God. Some of them were speculative atheists. Their guilt was mitigated, though not excused by the absurd superstitions of the vulgar; and the want of any genuine revelation.
But they were, generally, dissembling hypocrites, who countenanced the popular errors, even if they saw through them. Others were unhappy sceptics. And others, superstitious idolaters. Now, they are all said to have been without God, because they were without the true God, destitute of the most essential
ideas of God: as a Being absolutely perfect; possessing infinite excellence and glory; maintaining a wise and righteous moral government over all intelligent creatures : as one who admitted his true worshippers into the closest friendship with himself, and can do this consistently; as the shield and exceeding great reward of his people, who will make them eternally happy.
Almost all the above will apply to modern infidels, though their guilt is far more aggravated. It has been questioned, if the world could produce a confirmed speculative atheist : but now, many lay claim to the horrid character! Unconscious nature is deified in part, and the existence of an intelligent First Cause is disputed and denied. As if men were ambitious of enjoying the privilege of illigitimate children, who, having no known father, may therefore act as they please, with no one to call them to account, or keep them under controul. Others admit that a God exists, but deny his interesting himself in the affairs of men. They cannot endure the idea of their responsibility, and of his constant inspection and moral government. But if God has no regard to our conduct, surely he can have none to our happiness : for, consider how much the happiness of mankind depends on the disposition of others toward them, and their treatment of them. And if God cannot deny himself, he cannot suffer us to deny him with impunity. Perhaps some may affect not wholly to deny the difference between moral good and evil, who yet deny a future state. But surely, if there be a Moral Governor, there must be a future state of rewards and punishments. Some may admit this, and yet deny revelation. But O how desirable and important must be a revelation of what men never have attained without it-just ideas of God's nature and government, and especially of a Saviour and a Sanctifier.
But, alas, this sad description will apply to all the unregenerate; though they not only acknowledge his being, but admit in theory the principal truths of his word. You may own the Being of God, the Inspiration of the Scriptures, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, and yet be without God. If you have not a spiritual knowledge of
him, attended with approbation of his true character; if you are not in covenant with him, not at peace with him, not interested in his favor; if you do not treat him as God; if you are without a just and realizing sense of his glory, without sincere and supreme love to his character, without a solid title to his friendship, without real conformity to his will and image; if you are not habitually influenced by' a regard to his glory ;-you are emphatically " without God in the world."
And now let us inquire, SecondLY, What estimate must we form of their condition, who are “without God in the world ?”
How should we commiserate the state of the heathen! It becomes those who reject Christianity to reflect, what would have been the state of the world without its introduction ; and what is the present state of those that possess not this blessing—the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Hindoos, Britons ! Men steal ideas from revelation, and then cry up the sufficiency of the light of nature !
How foolish and criminal are they who wish to get rid of Christianity and all other religion too! Are they likely to live happier than true Christians in this world ? Will their notions make them better members of society ? Would it be an advantage if their sentiments prevailed universally?
Will they have the advantage over true Christians, at the hour of death? Have they better means of obtaining a satisfactory answer to these questions—Whence comest thou? Whither art thou going? What doest thou here? What wilt thou do hereafter ?
Have they a surer guide than the Bible ?—more likely to produce uniformity of opinion, or correctness of morals ; tending to more enjoyment; inculcating more benevolence; elevating to nobler hopes ?
If the idea of a God could be banished from the world, or if any man could banish it from his own mind, would it make him happy in this world ? A beautiful world, wherein you are surrounded with evidences of his being, perfection, and glory? A world polluted with sin, where you are surrounded with depraved fellow-creatures, and exposed yourself to temptations? A world in which
you are liable to numberless calamities and pains, and to death itself; where you cannot long remain, but must soon be called out of it?
Ah! can you find another world without him ? A heaven, where you shall be happy without him? Or, a hell, where you shall be safe from his anger ?
Alas! all the hope of the infidel is “ an eternal sleep"never to quit the grave! never to feel the bite of a worm, which can make his soul its prey !
But can he ascertain this exalted boon-this super-evangelic hope ? Ah! no. He cannot wink so hard, as to shut out some tormenting rays of light; and a day is coming, which will blaze through his eyelids, and force him to see an
But none of you go so far: you admit, there is a God. Perhaps you have sometimes wished there was not. Some are conscious of disregarding him; and therefore hope he will be above regarding them; hope he will be found indifferent to their moral conduct.
If that be not your case, can you wish to be without a directory concerning his will, a guide to duty, a guide to happiness, a discovery of the way to pardon and salvation ?
Having this in the scriptures, how aggravated is their guilt, who admit its truth, and yet neglect so great salvation ! who seldom think of him, never pray to him, but are taken up wholly with earthly things !
But how happy are they who are interested in God, who walk with him daily, count his favour better than life, view his hand in all that befals them, and live to his glory, in hope to be, as soon as absent from the body, present with the Lord.
Eph. ii. 12.
Having no hope. MISERABLE condition indeed! Of whom is the Apostle speaking? Is he describing the state of the damned ? No;