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SERMON I.

MISTAKES CONCERNING THE NUMBER OF

THE RIGHTEOUS.

Rom. xi. 2-4.

M

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Wot ye not what the scripture faith of Elias ? How he

maketh intercesion to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars ; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him ? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not, bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

" W HO can understand his errors ?” How numerous, how various, how opposite to each other, are the mistakes of mankind! The lives and the language of many seem to imply a full persuasion, that there is very little evil in fin; that the difficulties of religion are by no means great ; that it is an easy thing to be a christian ; that if there be a hell, few are wicked enough to be turned into it; and that the generality of our fellow creatures are in a fair way for heaven. This persuasion is as false as it is fatal. “ Enter ye in at the strait gate : for wide is the gate, « and broad is the way which leadeth to destruction,

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cand many there be which go in thereat : because • strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth “ unto life, and few there be that find it.”

It is possible, however, to fall into another extreme, and to draw an unwarrantable conclusion respecting the state of religion, and the number of its adherents ; and even wise men, and good men, are liable to this. “ Wot ye not what the scripture faith of Elias ? how “ he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, “ Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged “ down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they “ seek my life. But what faith the answer of God “ unto him ? I have reserved to myself seven thousand « men, who have not bowed the knee to the image « of Baal.”

. . . We are going then to examine the opinion that reduces the number of the righteous. We shall lay open the various fources from which it proceeds, and by discovering the cause, we shall prescribe the cure.

Sometimes we draw the conclusion from THE PECULIAR STATE OF OUR OWN MINDS. By the indifposition of the body, or the depression of the animal fpirits, our minds are foon affected ; we become sad, gloomy, peevish, suspicious. In this situation our minds are unhinged, and easily receive a falling motion; we are more alive to the influence of fear than hope; the darker the intelligence, the more credible ; one direction is given to every occurrence, and the invariable inference is, “all these things are against "me.” And such seems to have been the condition of Elijah. His language betrays acrimony, petulancy, and despair.

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