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may have been impossible to render them clear to beings, such as men in their present state of existence; others, because though a fuller revelation were possible, it yet may have been unnecessary or inexpedient: of both these points we are evidently incompetent judges. It is however certain, that on many the most perplexing difficulties of natural religion, Christianity offers a full and satisfactory folution, Thus we are no longer startled at that inequality in the
ways of Providence, so apparent in this present world, when we are assured that this life is merely a state of probation and discipline, but that in the next this inequality will be compleatly rectified; for at the awful hour of the last judgment there will be “no respect of persons with God.” On other points the gospel scheme offers a solution which, though connected and consistent in all its parts, yet partakeş of that obscurity which the nature of the subject seems to render it impossible to avoid, while the human faculties remain in their present limited state. Thus as to the origin of evil, we are informed that moral evil was introduced on earth by man's transgression ; that death, and other natural evils, were its consequence; that as soon as it was introduced, a remedy was provided by the interposition of that divine Being, “.d without whom (it is declared) no
thing was made that was made.” The mode of this interposition is certainly mysterious and obscure ; but are we to wonder at this on such a subject. In many circumstances however, particularly those of a moral kind, even we can perceive the consistency and the advantages of this mode of interpofition, obscure as it is, when metaphysically and abstractedly confia dered.
e Rom. ii. II. d John i. Compare 3 and 14 verses, Compare also Col. i. from 12 to 22.
That the same divine Being, who created mankind, should intepose to rescue his own creation from misery and ruin, feems even to our reason natural and consistent; that the effect of this interposition should, in a certain degree, be as extensive as the consequences of man's original transgression ; that “eas in Adam " all die, fo in Christ shall all be made alive,"? while individuals, fhall still be responsible for their own conduct, and be judged according to the use they have made of the means of improvement afforded them all this seems natural and confiftent: that our Redeemer should appear upon earth in our own nature, to adapt his mode of instruction to that nature-to conciliate our affections, as well as rouse our fears—to guide us by example as well as by precept, and by his poverty and sufferings convince us how little estimation we should annex to mere temporal good, and teach us humility, patience and resignation--virtues the most difficult and important in this scene of trial,all this is surely in the highest degree
wife and merciful ; that by his resurre&tion from the dead, and ascension into heaven, he should give the fullest and plainest proof of our own resurrection, and of his return to judgment, and that' he being appointed to judge us, he should partake of our nature, that we may be as it were experimentally certain that « he is not one who cannot be touched with the
feeling of our infirmities, but that he was in all “ points tempted, like as we are, yet without finall this is surely admirably fitted to cherish vital religion and presevering virtue, in beings fo feeble and so frail as man,
Thus the Christian system of doctrines seems in many points fo rational and consistent, that we cannot with any plausibility consider it as the offspring of wild fanaticism ; in others it is exceedingly myf: terious and obscure'; but in those only, where from reason and experience we are led to expect mystery and obscurity ; yet even here we can discover some collateral circumstances which confirm the prefumpti: on that the whole system wasfounded, not on delusive visions, but on real facts. The character of our Lord as a spiritual Redeemer-bis sufferings and death being a necessary part of his scheme—the effects of his interpofition being designed to extend to all nations, and to form a universal religion the rejection of the Jews, and the abolition or suf
Heb. iv. 15.
pension of the Mosaic law, forming a part of that plan he came to execute.-These ideas were all so contrary to the original views and national prejudices of the 'apostles, so inconsistent with their religious opinions, as well as their temporal interests, that we cannot suppose they were led to adopt and to spread fuch doctrines by spiritual delusion or interested artifice; nor can we account for their embracing them, otherwise than by admitting that they received them in the way which they thmselves state, and that they e were convinced of their truth by the facts which they detail,
It is also worthy of remark, that even the inost mysterious do&rines of the gospel have a direct connection with the leading facts which establish the divine original of its general scheme. If the apostles declare Christ Jesus to have been the Son of God, the Saviour of man, and the judge of the world, they at the same time' relate his miracles, his instructions, his resurrection and afcenfion, by which they were assured of his character and dignity. If they speak of the Holy Spirit, as assisting in the work of redemption, they also testify that they themselves felt his powerful influence, in communicating to them the gift of tongues, with other miraculous powers, and visibly forwarding the diffusion of the Christian faith. If they describe in strong terms the moral corruption of mankind, the misery and degradation which arise from it, and the expediency, or even the pecessity, of a divine interposition to rescue the hu
man race from its effects; the truth of these reprefentations is notoriously and lamentably proved by the history of every nation and every age, and the self-condemning reflections of every individual, who reviews with seriousness and candour his past life, and traces the base and unworthy motives which too frequently mix with and pollute even his very
best acti, ons. Shall we then reject a fystem, which lays its foundation on a fact so undeniable as the corruption of man, and which offers a scheme of redemption, the efficacy of which is established by proofs so clear as those which support the Christian faith : shall we, I say, reject this system as wild and fanatical, merely because we cannot comprehend the exact mode in which this divine interposition produces its effects, or the precise degree to which its efficacy extends ; surely this would be at once most arrogant and irra. tional.
To conclude this view of the speculative do&rines of the gospel, It is easy to observe, that even the most mysterious of them are introduced in a MANNER very different from that in which experience proves to us. fanatics would have introduced them; they are not stated to have been conveyed to the apostles in direct visions, or sudden extafies and illuminations, uncon. nected with any real history, and separated from all the events and circumstances of their common life. No-we find this system of do&rines was gradually introduced by our Lord, in his different parables and