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They are, according to Christ's declaration, “ babesk," and distinct from the wise and prudent. In consistency with this, the apostle, addressing Corinthian believers, says, “ Ye see your calling, brethren, how " that not many wise men after the flesh, 56 not many mighty, not many noble, are “ called: but God hath chosen the foolish 5 things of the world to confound the wise; “ and God hath chosen the weak things of “ the world to confound the things which 56 are mighty; and base things of the world, “ and things which are despised, hath God “ chosen, yea, and things which are not, to “ bring to nought things that are!” The fact, thus avowed by Christ and his apostle, as well as taught in other Scriptures, has been frequently adduced against Christianity. Its enemies, like the Pharisees of old, scornfully ask, “ Have any of the rulers, or “ of the Pharisees believed on him" ?” Not that all believers belong to the humblest class of men ; for among the Jews and Gentiles, in primitive times, and in all subsequent ages of the Church, many in exalted stations, and of noble descent, have been followers of k Matt. si. 25. 1 1 Cor. i. 26–28. m John vii. 48.
Christ. The mass, however, of Christians, are to be found in the middle and lowest walks of life. Worldly consequence and affluence are hostile to that self-denial which the Gospel requires. They foster human corruption, and are unfriendly to Gospel holiness. It is truly as the Redeemer said, " How hard is it for them that trust in “ riches to enter into the kingdom of God! “ It is easier for a camel to go through the “ eye of a needle, than for a rich man to “ enter into the kingdom of God”.”
How many professors, who started fair in the Christian race, and walked humbly before God, apparently, whilst they were poor and unknown, have shipwrecked their profession, and turned back to vanity, when God blessed them with wealth, and exalted them to honour! Unless we have grace granted to withstand temptation, prosperity is injurious to an extreme, if not ruinous. Few believers under it, exhibit the same godly simplicity, unaffected humility, persevering zeal, holy deadness to the world, which they did when struggling with adversities. I can appeal, and do appeal with confidence, to
n Mark x. 24, 25.
every one in this assembly of this description, for the truth of the remark. This is the reason why, comparatively speaking, so few of the higher classes of society are real followers of the Lord Christ. And in this reason we see the wisdom and justice of God, in the dispensations of his grace, since he acts towards us as moral agents, and not as “ stocks and stones.” His people, generally, are according to the description of the prophet, “ an afflicted and poor people'," left in the midst of those places which are enlightened by his truth. For such persons his Gospel is peculiarly calculated, as supplying them with adequate consolations to support them under their distresses, and powerful motives to excite them to do their duty in spite of every difficulty. They thus dwell alone, and are not reckoned among the nations; being every where spoken against, as persons of no worldly consequence or excellence.
V. and lastly, The people of God are distinguished from the men of the world, in the fewness of their numbers.
n Zeph, iii. 12. '
They constitute but a small proportion of human beings, inhabiting this earth.“ By “ estimates lately made, the whole population " is supposed to amount to eight hundred " million of souls. Of these, 181 millions 166 are sunk in the most deplorable darkness “ of heathenism, and idolatry: 140 millions
are Mahometans: 9 millions are Jews: “ and only 170 millions are nominal Chris“ tians! But of these so called, there are “ 90 millions Roman Catholics: 30 mil“ lions Greeks and Armenians: and 50 mil“ lions only remain to bear the name of “ Protestants. Granting that this calcula“ tion may not be perfectly exact, (for how “ is it possible to be so on such a subject ?) “ yet what an affecting picture of the state “ of mankind does it present to view! More “ than the half of the globe are totally desti“ tute of the means of grace; and of the 5 other half, but a very small portion of
them can be said to enjoy these means in “ any degree of purity. The multitude of “ the nations know not the true God, but “ blindly worship stocks, and stones, and “ devils. The healing beams of the Sun of * righteousness have never visited these ha“ bitations of darkness and crueltyp.” '
Similar to this has been the state of the whole world from the earliest ages. Equally small, in proportion to the number of unbelievers, has been the number of believers. So true it is, as Christ hath said, “ Many « are called, but few are chosen?” Are there then few that will be saved? The question was put to our Lord, who waved answering it directly". From the tenor of his answer, however, we clearly collect, that the majority of those who enjoy the light of the Gospel, having arrived to years of discretion, will seek to enter into heaven, but not through the strait gate, and therefore will not be able. Will Satan's subjects, then, exceed those of the Prince of Peace? Will the monuments of divine wrath be more numerous than those of divine mercy? No, by no means. “In the multitude of people " is the king's honour,” saith the wise man'. This is a maxim which will apply to the :p Pringle's Prayer for the Revival of Religion recommendeil; p. 25. .
7 Matt. sxii. 14. gr Luke xii. 23, 24.