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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BELIEVERS [SER. VI. present subject. The redeemed, we are informed in the visions of John, constitute “ a “ great multitude which no man can num“ber'.” From whence will these be collected? Bear with me, whilst I state the result of a serious and careful examination of the subject.
1. They who die before they can exercise their reason, infants who are incapable of distinguishing their right hand from their left, I believe, so far as I can believe, where there is no positive or decided information, are included in the gift of God to his Son Jesus Christ. Although their original guilt is such as would fully justify God in rejecting them, yet, not having sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, it seems most agreeable to the spirit which pervades the whole oeconomy of redemption, to conclude that they belong to the redeemed of Christ, literally, out of every kindred, and people, and nation, and tongue. The words of Christ seem to convey the same meaning, in his address to his disciples, who rebuked them that brought little children to him..“ Suffer little children," says AND THE MEN OF THE WORLD. he, “ to come unto me, for of such is the “ kingdom of God;" that is, they compose the largest part of my redeemed people. This is a more natural view of the meaning of these words, than to consider them as explanatory of the temper of mind requisite for being a follower of Christ; or even to suppose that they constitute so large a proportion of the visible Church, as properly to be called the kingdom of God.
t Rev, vii. 9.
Besides, infants, never having had the opportunity of improving or abusing the law of nature, cannot be judged by that law; and, never having enjoyed the offer of the Gospel salvation, cannot be judged by the Gospel ; and, never having been capable of moral action, cannot be judged according to their works, which, the apostle teaches us, is to be the rule for judging. I conclude, therefore, on these grounds, that they constitute the greatest number of the elect, and that to them all, of heathen as well as of Christian descent, the blood of Christ is applied, in that manner in which we know that it was applied to Jeremiah and John the Baptist, who were sanctified from the womb.
2. Among the most degenerate Christian Societies, there still is a remnant whose garments are undefiled.
I mean those societies who do not deny the only Lord God who bought them. They who do, are not Christians; they come not under the name; they belong not to the family. The reason why this remnant are not known, is because they are in obscurity. When iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold, true believers are generally found in the humble, obscure walks of life. They therefore attract no notice, but remain in retirement, like the flower
“born to blush unseen, “ And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”
In their circle, they possess the spirit and display the conduct of believers; but are happily removed, through God's favour, from the noise, and bustle, and persecution of the world. Such were the seven thousand in Israėl who had not bowed unto Baal, and whose mouth had not kissed him, though Elijah thought that he alone was left to serve God. These believers, thus unknown, when collected together, will form a mass, and will swell the number of the redeemed. Amongst them, I have no doubt, will be found many from those denominations whom we justly think erroneous, who have been kept from the pollutions of their brethren".
.3. In the Millennial period, the number of the redeemed will be vastly increased. Then Satan will be bound. Nations, and kindreds, and tongues will acknowledge Christ, to the glory of the Father. The power, prevalence, and extent of sin will be abridged. In consequence of this, the causes which diminish the human species will be fewer. It is most probable the atmosphere will be more salubrious. Undoubtedly there, will be no oppression, and no wars; comparatively little sickness and sorrow. The earth will easily, if not spontaneously, produce her fruit. The nature of wild beasts will be altered, and literally there will be
u In these two particulars, I cordially agree with the venerable Mr. J. Newton. See his Messiah, Ser. 48. With bis view about the heathen, I cannot concur. The reply to a question on this subject, made by an excellent professor of divinity in Scotland, is admirable, and contains all that can or ought to be said. If we are so happy as to be received into heaven, we will be pleased to see Socrates, Plato, and other heathen there. But if we do not find them there we will be perfectly convinced that God will be able to give a good reason for their exclusion.
nothing to “ hurt or destroy in all God's “ holy mountain ?.” All these particulars will add, beyond calculation, to the number of the inhabitants in our world; and, as by far the greater part will be believers in deed and in truth, will add to the number of the redeemed. Perhaps the aggregate of population in the thousand years will equal that of all the preceding period”..
From these different sources, the myriads of the blessed spirits of just men made perfect will be made up, and these conjoined will form a mass superior in number to that of the condemned and rejected. Thus that blessed company, which is the least in number in this world, at any one period of time, will ultimately, when gathered together in one, be the most numerous. Let no one, then, be discouraged at the small number of believers. Even should they always be the least, it is better to be excellent with a few, than sinful with the sinful multitude.
You have heard a scriptural description of the people of God in some leading particulars, all tending to prove their separation, their distinctness from the rest of mankind,
2 Isaiah xi. 9. y See the Sermon on the Millennium, in vol. 1.