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an humble reliance on the veracity and the God, werking by love," by fineere and cheerful obedience, from heartfelt gratitude and reverence to God, and active good will to man, is an effential condition of final acceptance.
And while the occafional obfcurity of the fcriptures does not prevent them from guiding the humble and illiterate Christian in his way to heaven, we perceive that it may serve many important purposes in moral discipline; it excites the curiofity, and fixes the attention of the learned and inquifitive, while it furnishes an object of enquiry, that if rightly used, will, at once, exercise their understandings, and improve their hearts to many who may, perhaps, by their happy fituation, and their intellectual characters, be almost exempted from other material difficulties in their probation, it forms a trial of their candour, humility, and ferious defire to trace the Divine will.
That it alfo affords occafions for disputes and contention, for heresy and schism, for heat and violence, furely is not inconfiftent with the general tenor of God's moral government, in which every thing, as it is valuable when rightly employed, is capable of being proportionably perverted and abufed: nor fhould it be forgotten, that this very obfcurity of fcripture affords the strongest reafon for that mutual forbearance and good will, amidst diversities of opinion, which crowns the Chriftian
Christian character, and forms the very bond of peace, and of all virtues. Surely beings, fuch as we are, ignorant and fallible, fhould never forget, that the more grounds there are for doubt and contrariety of opinion, the more obviously it is our duty to "receive those that are weak in the faith, but not to " doubtful difputations," and to cultivate that charity, without which he who liveth is dead before God.
The warmth and earnestness of St. Paul's epiftles not imputable to enthufiafm.
FROM what has been hitherto adduced, it seems fufficiently evident that the obscurity, fo much complained of in the epiftles of St. Paul, arifes in a great degree from the language which the apostle was led to use, as most natural to himself, and the generality of thofe whom he addreffed, and best adapted to the facred fubjects which employed his pen; from the nature of epiftolary compofition abounding with allufions, which, though clear to those for whom they are immediately intended, are obfcure to readers of a diftant country, and an age long fubfequent; and from the incompetence of the M 2 human
human faculties to comprehend, fully and diftinctly, the whole extent, and the exalted and myfterious objects of the Christian scheme.
It has been fhewn that these various circumstances, far from proving the apoftle a wild and vifionary fanatic, tend to confirm the authenticity of his works, and the truth of his claims to a divine infpiration. But in addition to these circumftances, the obfcurity of these epiftles undoubtedly arifes, in a great degree, from the warmth of the apostles' mind-from the rapidity of his thoughts-from his neglecting to point out exactly the connection and method of his difcourfes, and to afcertain the diftinct object of every part.
Does it however neceffarily follow that we must impute this warmth, this rapidity, this apparent neglect of regular method, to the violence and inco herence of enthusiasm? Surely to affert this would be to take the whole question for granted.-Warmth and zeal are indeed natural confequences of fanaticifm; but they are not decifive proofs of it, except they arise to a degree for which no other adequate cause can be affigned, or except their effects are abfurd and extravagant, inconfiftent with reafon, and therefore unworthy of God.
In order then to decide this question, we must confider what causes may have produced this warmth in
the apoftle, under the circumftances in which he was placed, without fupplying any just grounds for queftioning his claim to a divine authority.
Now, in confidering the probable caufes of fuch warmth it is evident, that if St. Paul was really directed by inspiration to preach the gospel, he could not but feel the great dignity and importance of the facred fubjects which he treated of. Christianity in every view of it was calculated to roufe the warmeft feelings of devout joy and gratitude, reverence and felf-abafement, în every pious mind. The unparalleled virtue and benignity of its author, his fupernatural wifdom and power, his cruel fufferings and death, his divine and myfterious nature, his afcenfion and exaltation, the fupremely important character he bore, and the final effects of his interpofition as Redeemer and judge of the world-all thefe united formed fuch an object, as no human mind could contemplate with coolness and indifference, when convinced of its reality, as we suppose the apostle to have been, by direct and irrefiftable proofs.
Christianity was not lefs calculated by its doctrines to roufe fimilar feelings; it decided all thofe queftions, and folved all those doubts, which perplex and deprefs the foul of man, when looking forward to futurity; it affured him that he fhould not remain in the darkness of the grave, but fhould rife with a new and incorruptible body to eternal exiftence; that he fhould
fhould, in the very next ftage of his being, be judged by Christ Jefus, and receive according to his use of the means of improvement afforded him in this prefent life. That though bound to perform the whole law of righteoufnefs, his weakness and his guilt were not without a remedy; that if he prayed for ftrength and affistance, God would bestow it; and if he repented, his judge would pardon; for he had died to redeem him.
But the Chriftian was not called on merely to yield to this interefting and awful fyftem of doctrines an inactive affent-his profeffion required a total change of principles and conduct, a total renunciation of the crimes, as well as the prejudices and errors of his former life; he was called on to forfake the multiplied pollutions of idolatry, and worship the one true God; to live foberly, righteoufly, and godly in this life, looking for his reward to another world, where eternal happiness or mifery would await him, according to the fentence of that Jefus, the certainty of whofe existence was frequently proved (efpecially to St. Paul) by plain and uncontrouled miracles exhibited to his fenfes, and even wrought upon himself.
With fuch an impreffion of the gofpel as this, was it natural, I might almost fay was it poffible, for the apoftle to receive Chriftianity, and to dedicate his life to preaching it, and yet regard it with coldness,