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* be of God, but the things that be of men *." The weakness, the infirmity, or, if you will, the insufficiency of these messengers of the new covenant, was their glory, and their boast, Their motive was, " that the power of Christ “ might rest upon” them t, and be manifefted by them. To men of the world, indeed, the doctrine appeared not more foolish, than the ministry was weak.

* Mat. xvi. 23•

+ 2 Cor. xii...

VOL. III.

a

SER

S E R M ON

XI.

The Subject continued.

1 Cor. i. 25.

The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

PART II.

I

Have now, as I purposed in the first place,

shown the inability of the natural means employed in promulgating the gospel, to effect the end.

I PROCEED to consider, fecondly, the rapid and unexampled success of the means that were employed. As to the rapidity of the success, need I use many words to evince a point fo evident, and so universally acknowledged ? The canon of fcripture was not finished, that generation had not passed, when Jesus Christ had disciples and churches in Judea, Samaria, Syria, Phenicia, Mesopotamia, Arabia, the countries of Afia Minor, Greece, Macedonia, Italy, Egypt, and as far as Ethiopia. This we learn, partly from the books of the New Testament, partly from the authentic remains of the apostolic fathers. Whilst the faith of

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the gospel was deeply rooted in all those who profeffed it; whilft nothing but faith could induce any one to make the profeflion ; whilst the profeffors themselves were harassed on every side with the most violent persecutions,

the church of Christ, in spite of all oppofition, and every species of discouragement, increafed daily. In less than three centuries, for I reckon not from the birth of Christ, but as in a computation of this kind we ought to reckon from the first publication of the gofpel at Jerufalem on the day of Pentecosts (in lefs than three centuries), Chriftianity having pierced into Gaul, Spain, Britain, and the African countries lying on the Mediterranean, became the predominant religion of the Roman empire, which comprehended the greater and better part of the then known world. Nor was its extent limited by the empire. It did indeed, with wonderful celerity, overspread the most populous countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Since its establishment by human laws, it hath been put on so different a footing, and the methods taken for propagating it, have been, on some occasions at least, fo completely altered, and so little warranted by the spirit and precepts of that religion, that the success or want of success of these methods can hardly affect our present argument.

Now, as it is admitted on all hands, that the fuccess of the first preachers of the gospel was great and rapid, I maintain that it still

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remains

remains unexampled. I do not mean to state a comparison between conversion and conquest; between subduing the mind by persuafion, by what our apostle emphatically calls the foolishness of preaching *, and conquering the body by the sword. In the one, both the reason and the will are gained by teaching ; in the other, a feigned affent is sometimes extorted by violence, and maintained by terror. It does not therefore in the least concern my argument, what the success was of the Mahometan, I say not doctrine, but arms. Their engine was war, not preaching. The weapons of their warfare were carnal, those of the gospel spiritual. Their aim was fubmiffion, not belief; the external profesion of the mouth, not the internal conviction of the understanding. When the like methods came to be adopted by Christians, (for too soon, alas ! they were adopted, a sure sign that the religion of Jesus was then grossly corrupted and debased), the success is doubtless to be accounted for in the same manner. Every candid person will admit, that the success of Charlemaign over the Saxons, is no more an evidence of divine favour, than that of Mahomet over the Arabs.

But when all attempts of this kind are fet afide, one will perhaps be at a loss what to bring into comparison with the first promulgation of the gospel. It is not, however, for want of numerous and repeated trials, even I Cor. i. 2I.

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of their missions, we must pronounce them inconsiderable. In many places there is not now a vestige of their labours. In other places, the traces that have been left are, I may fay, equivocal, as well as few. Father Charlevoix, one of their own people, in his account of the North-American savages, observes, that the missions had been very unsuccessful among them; and, what is more fur. prising, mențions one missionary, who had ingratiated himself so far with one of their tribes, that they would even have chosen him for their chief, who nevertheless had not been able to persuade one single person among them to embrace Christianity *.

Well, but if the attempts have not proved fo successful in the West, what wonders in the way of conversion have not been performed by a Saint Francis Xavier and his affociates in the East ? Indeed there is no man in these latter ages who has been so much, and I believe so deservedly, celebrated for his labours in this way, as this friar, whom Rome hath dignified with the title of the Apostle of the Indies. He was certainly a most zealous pro. moter of a cause which he doubtlefs believed to be the cause of God. His pious intentions deserve the commendation of those who can pity his errors and absurdities. Regard to the voice of conscience, even though a misin, formed conscience, is still respectable. But is it not well known, that this famous mifliona. * Letter xxxi.

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