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PART II.

THE SPECIAL DANGERS AND CORRESPONDING

DUTIES OF CHRISTIANS IN THESE DAYS,

CHAP. I.

THE DANGERS OF CHRISTIANS.

The real springs of the safety, prosperity, and triumphs of the Church of Christ are hidden from the world. Its true strength is in the Divine favour and blessing, realized and enjoyed through faith and prayer. In those signs of the times which, to the outward eye, are full of threatenings and dangers, and apparently pregnant with ruin, the Christian can find encouragement and hope. Dangers become the harbingers of prosperity and triumph, if thereby the servants of Christ are led to more lively faith, and more ardent prayer. The God of peace and love, of truth and righteousness, reigns with unlimited power over the earth ; and thus our God delights to honour the faith, and to answer the prayers, of his people.

That which completes the Christian armour, enables the Christian to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand, is, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. The Church attains its last deliverance from its adversaries through incessant prayers. Luke xviii. 7, 8. Rev. xiv.15–18.

Faith and Prayer are specially called forth in such seasons of dangers and difficulties as those in which the Church of Christ is now placed. It is then a great help to believing prayer, distinctly to discern the dangers of the Church on the one side, and the sufficient ground of its assured hope of triumph on the other. Being thus brought to see our real position, we shall be quickened to that duty in which God's own elect cry day and night unto him, and at length experience his full deliverance.

One important part of the ministerial office is that of a Watchman. This office calls us, among other duties, to discern the signs of the times, or those various events of Providence, whether of danger or of success, which correspond with the anticipations of God's word, and furnish a help to the true Church of Christ, to guide it, in the path of duty and safety, through all its perils to its glorious destination.

The true Church of Christ on earth includes all who believe on him with the heart, call upon his name, confess his truth, and love him supremely, and truly love all their fellow men and especially his people, of whatever denomination or however scattered. They are all really one in Christ Jesus. However differing in external circumstances, and of whatever minor importance those differences may be, there is a blessed unity in grand essential truths that distinguishes this Church from every

other class of men. There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

This Church will ultimately triumph over all its enemies, that it may be a blessing finally to the whole earth. As the gates of hell shall never prevail against it, so God has determined that the kingdom and dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. The dangers of those who belong to this Church are in general those to which it is exposed from the powers of darkness, and the stubbornness of evil, in the way to the full establishment of its holy and beneficent kingdom. There are no dangers but what have been distinctly foreseen, and so foretold as to furnish us with God's mind upon them, and an effectual guard against them.

The Word of God is the only true light to the feet and lamp to our paths. Its main object is to set before us Christ Jesus, the head of the Church, and the Saviour of sinful men, that, truly believing in him, we may be preserved from every danger, partake of his Spirit now, and share his kingdom and glory for ever.

That word distinctly points out our present peculiar dangers, and our duties with reference to them; and my object will be to state them from the plain and direct testimony of the Scriptures.

Let us notice dangers mainly outward, and dangers more inward.

I. The DANGERS MAINLY QUTWARD are the spirit of Infidelity, Lawlessness, and Popery.

1. The SPIRIT OF INFIDELITY. This comes from Satan himself. It was the first temptation of this our great enemy ; Yea, hath God said ye shall not eat ?—ye shall not surely die.

His full dominion at the time of the first Advent of our Lord, might be discerned in the actual state of the world. The whole world lieth in the wicked one : Idolatry covered the earth. We yet see the same malignant influence in its full power in lands still wholly Pagan. He has been however dispossessed of much of his usurped empire, and in professedly Christian lands that which we have now to encounter, is the spirit, rather than the open dominion of Infidelity.

There is indeed almost a bare-faced open infidelity, nearly avowed as such. This has ever subsisted among a few. In later periods, on the Continent, it took the form of a system of Rationalism. * A similarly open infidelity. with mushroom growth, has made rapid progress, under the name of Socialism, among the middle and lower classes in our country. Many are little aware of the rapidity of the rise and spread of this evil spirit in our own land. Associations are formed at the principal towns in different parts of the country by it, and salaried missionaries have been sent to all parts of the land. They have periodical publications and a great number of abominable tracts. They profess to bring about the regeneration of the world, by principles directly contrary to the word of God, and deny alto

* The Rev. Mr. Sidow, from Potsdam, thus described in 1842, the condition of Germany, in regard to religion and morals, especially during the past century. · Error, under almost every form, had generally prevailed, and through many of them, men lived without God in the world. There were the Naturalists, who saw nothing but that which was obvious to their senses, or, as they considered, directly to be inferred from it. Others talked indeed of a God, but were not less atheistical than the others. The Pantheists proposed a sort of universal life, as composed of the countless multitudes of individual lives ; but they acknowledged no living, personal God, distinct from his creatures, preserving and governing them. Then they had the Rationalists, who strangely connected themselves with the religion whose foundations they undermined. From the Bible they took away all inspiration, and from its recorded facts, everything supernatural and miraculous. And in this way had infidelity spread most widely, while very little was known of spiritual religion, even where all belief in Christianity had not been cast away. But within the last twenty or thirty years particularly, a very different, and a much happier state of things had been growing up.

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