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may have been impoffible to render them clear to beings, fuch as men in their present state of existence; others, because though a fuller revelation were poffible, it yet may have been unneceffary 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 fatisfactory folution. Thus we are no longer startled at that inequality in the ways of Providence, fo apparent in this present world, when we are affured that this life is merely a ftate of probation and difcipline, 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 perfons with God." On other points the gospel scheme offers a folution which, though connected and confiftent in all its parts, yet partakes of that obfcurity which the nature of the fubject feems to render it impoffible to avoid, while the human faculties remain in their prefent limited ftate. Thus as to the origin of evil, we are informed that moral evil was introduced on earth by man's tranfgreffion; that death, and other natural evils, were its confequence; that as foon as it was introduced, a remedy was provided by the interpofition of that divine Being, ❝d without whom (it is declared) no"thing was made that was made." The mode of
c Rom. ii. II. d John i. Compare 3 and 14 verses. Compare also Col. i. from 12 to 22.
this interposition is certainly mysterious and obfcure;
That the fame divine Being, who created mankind, fhould intepose to rescue his own creation from misery and ruin, feems even to our reason natural and confiftent; that the effect of this interpofition fhould, in a certain degree, be as extenfive as the confequences. of man's original tranfgreffion; that as in Adam "all die, fo in Christ shall all be made alive," while individuals fhall ftill be refponfible for their own conduct, and be judged according to the ufe they have made of the means of improvement afforded them-all this feems natural and confiftent: that our Redeemer fhould appear upon earth in our own nature, to adapt his mode of inftruction 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 fufferings convince us how little estimation we should annex to mere temporal good, and teach, us humility, patience and refignation-virtues the most difficult and important in this fcene of trial, all this is furely in the highest degree
wife and merciful; that by his refurrection from the dead, and afcenfion into heaven, he fhould give the fullest and plainest proof of our own refurrection, and of his return to judgment, and that he being appointed to judge us, he fhould 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 fin"— all this is furely admirably fitted to cherish vital religion and prefevering virtue, in beings fo feeble and fo frail as man.
Thus the Chriftian fyftem of doctrines feems in many points fo rational and confiftent, that we cannot with any plaufibility confider it as the offspring of wild fanaticism; in others it is exceedingly myfterious and obfcure; but in those only, where from reafon and experience we are led to expect mystery and obfcurity; yet even here we can discover fome collateral circumstances which confirm the prefumption that the whole fyftem was founded, not on delufive vifions, but on real facts. The character of our Lord as a fpiritual Redeemer-his fufferings and death being a neceffary part of his fcheme-the effects of his interpofition being defigned to extend to all nations, and to form a univerfal religion; the rejection of the Jews, and the abolition or fuf
f Heb. iv. 15.
penfion of the Mofaic law, forming a part of that
It is alfo worthy of remark, that even the most myfterious doctrines of the gospel have a direct connection with the leading facts which establish the divine original of its general scheme. If the apostles declare Chrift Jefus to have been the Son of God, the Saviour of man, and the judge of the world, they at the fame time relate his miracles, his inftructions, his refurrection and afcenfion, by which they were affured of his character and dignity. If they speak of the Holy Spirit, as affifting 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 vifibly forwarding the diffusion of the Christian faith. If they defcribe in ftrong terms the moral corruption of mankind, the mifery and degradation which arise from it, and the expediency, or even the neceffity, of a divine interpofition to refcue 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 actions. Shall we then reject a fyftem, which lays its foundation on a fact fo undeniable as the corruption of man, and which offers a fcheme of redemption, the efficacy of which is established by proofs fo clear as those which fupport the Christian faith: fhall we, I fay, reject this fyftem as wild and fanatical, merely because we cannot comprehend the exact mode in which this divine interpofition produces its effects, or the precife degree to which its efficacy extends; furely this would be at once most arrogant and irrational.
To conclude this view of the fpeculative doctrines of the gospel, It is easy to, obferve, 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 vifions, or fudden extafies and illuminations, unconnected with any real history, and separated from all the events and circumftances of their common life. No-we find this fyftem of doctrines was gradually introduced by our Lord, in his different parables and