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JOHN X. 16.

Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.


THE careful investigator of revealed truth will not fail to be struck with many passages in the sacred canon, which point to a state of moral and religious perfection hitherto without example in the world; when Christianity shall obtain its due influence over the opinions and conduct of mankind, and the fruit of a "righteousness "shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance." Such predictions will furnish him with a reply to those sophists, who would depreciate our holy faith, by insidiously comparing the


a Isaiah xxxii. 17.

external result of its precepts with the greatness of its pretensions; and profess their inability to conceive, that the Son of God would descend from heaven, to establish a religion apparently so feeble in its moral operations, and hitherto received by so inconsiderable a portion of those, whose present comfort and eternal salvation it was confessedly designed to promote.

It may indeed be justly urged, in reply to these suggestions, that the real advantages derived to man from the incarnation and sufferings of his Saviour, would be very inadequately represented by a mere view of the outward circumstances of Christians. The ameliorating and sanctifying influence of our holy religion; its powers of restraint and encouragement; the comforts and the joys which it imparts; cannot be fully appreciated, but by tracing it in the privacy of domestic habits; in the character and conduct of those who are least known and regarded by the world; in the closet of the penitent, in the house of the mourner, or the chamber of the diseased. It may also be remarked, that

no conclusive argument against the beneficial effects of Christianity can be drawn from the comparatively limited sphere of its acceptation among the nations of the earth. For it would not perhaps be difficult to shew, that many parts, even of the heathen world, are now partakers in temporal benefits, which are the legitimate fruit of Christianity; and we are by no means justified in imagining, that those only to whom the Gospel has been preached, will profit by the sacrifice of atonement made by him, who is b❝ the Saviour of all

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men," but in a more especial manner of those that believe. The wisdom of God may have determined to render the cross of Christ available, though in a manner incomprehensible to us, to the salvation of those, who have not been permitted to hear the glad tidings of his coming. And, without presuming to decide upon a subject not clearly revealed, our confidence in that justice and mercy inseparable from the divine nature, should prevent us from

b 1 Tim. iv. 10.

c See Note CXLIX. Appendix.


forming any conclusions, which may even seem to derogate from the perfection of these attributes.

Still however it may be allowed, that, if we limit our consideration to the visible effects of our holy faith, neither the records of history, nor the testimony of actual experience, can warrant our belief, that the reign of the Messias has yet been attended by all its predicted temporal blessings; and we are irresistibly impelled to conclude, that a far more widely extended reception of his Gospel, a far more beneficial operation of his commandments, is to be expected. The encouragement, which appears to be given by the language of holy Writ to this expectation, has indeed been often abused. Of the d theories which have been built upon it, some have been in the highest degree extravagant and mischievous, giving the reins to every inordinate propensity of the human heart, and sapping the foundations of all established authority, whether civil or re

d See Note CL. Appendix. e See Note CLI. Appendix.

ligious; while others, though less injurious in their tendency, have partaken more of visionary speculation, than was consistent with the sober interpretation of revealed truth. But without dwelling upon the sinful absurdities, which have rendered the former class abominable in the view of every pious and intelligent Christian; or further particularizing the opinions of good and learned, though fanciful writers, who have perhaps awakened a prejudice in the minds of some, even against the truth itself, which their exaggerations have disfigured; it is an historical fact, that in age of the Church a belief has prevailed, that a time of greater doctrinal and moral perfection was approaching; in which Christianity should shine forth with a lustre as yet unknown, and its professors should be perfectly united in faith and affection.


To such a period, the language of our Saviour in the text appears to direct our attention : "Other sheep I have, which 66 are not of this fold: them also must I "bring, and they shall hear my voice;

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