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everlasting doors” of mercy which our gracious Redeemer hath opened wide to all mankind ? Far, very far, from us, my brethren, be such presumption-I must add, such rash, unholy, uncharitable presumption. But, if the redemption purchased by the blood of Christ be essential to the salvation of men, and if the Gospel be intended by its divine author, for universal belief and acceptance, why, objects the unbeliever, “why was it not made known at an earlier period? Why was this greatest of all blessings reserved for “the last days,” for “the ends of the world,” as they are termed ? And, why do we find the faith of Christ so imperfectly promulgated, even at the present hour? Why are unnumbered millions of our fellow creatures still left to “ sit in darkness” and in the “shadow of death,” ignorant of the true God, and knowing not even the name of a Redeemer?'
Now, the whole of this objection against the credibility of the Gospel, whatever be the precise form it takes, seems to rest almost entirely on two positions, neither of which has any solid foundation. For, first, it supposes that infinite Goodness would not confer a signal blessing on any of the sons of men, without extending it in like manner, and in equal degree, to all. And, secondly, it supposes that, on the principles of the Gospel, no provision is made, either for the salvation of those who died before the coming of Christ, or of those to whom, since that event, the saving truths of his religion have never been proclaimed.
The first of these assumptions is refuted even by daily experience and observation. It is alike contradictory to the whole tenor of God's dealings with man, in all his dispensations of nature, of providence, and of grace.
How dissimilar are both the methods and the measures by which the Almighty, in the ordinary course of nature, distributes his gifts to his creatures! For instance, how various in kind and in quantity-how unequal is the produce of different soils and climates! How unlike are the talents, the tempers, the constitutions of men, not only in different ages and nations, but even in individuals, existing at the same time, possessing the same advantages, and inhabiting the same country!
Again, in what different proportions does the Most High bestow the blessings of his providence on the subjects of that moral government, which has undoubtedly commenced in this life, though it will not be perfected till we shall have passed into another state of existence. « The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding."
Lastly, in the communication of revealed religion itself, not only very different propor
tions of light and knowledge have been granted to those who were confessedly the objects of it, in distant ages, but also the testimony vouchsafed to them of its truth, has been materially different, both in kind and degree.
God hath indeed manifested himself to the sons of men “at sundry times, and in divers man
The Patriarchal, the Mosaic, and the Christian Dispensations areintimately connected, and derive from each other much important illustration and support. But they differ, as well in the evidence by which they were originally accompanied, as in the extent to which they have made known the will of the Almighty, respecting the present conduct, and future condition of man.
They, too, who have lived under one and the same dispensation of religion, but at different periods of time, have often been placed in circumstances most dissimilar, with respect to the very grounds of their faith. To all, indeed, in every age, evidence to satisfy, and knowledge sufficient to direct, reasonable beings, have been amply afforded. Yet the situation of the Jew, for example, who lived between the time of Malachi and the Advent of our Saviour, differed materially from that of him who witnessed the prophetic spirit showered down on the peculiar people of God; and it differed yet more widely from the condition of his earlier ancestors, who beheld the stupendous wonders wrought by the Almighty for their deliverance in Egypt, in the wilderness, and on their first entrance into the Land of Promise. We ourselves, also, are placed in circumstances very unlike those of the first converts to Christianity, who daily beheld the miracles and daily listened to the words of “God manifest in the flesh."
There is therefore no foundation whatever for the main position on which the objection of the unbeliever evidently rests. It is most plainly contradictory to the general analogy of nature, and the general tenor of God's moral government of the world, which agree exactly with the method he has seen fit to pursue in communicating the revelation of his will to fallen man. Equally groundless is the assumption, that on the principles of the Gospel, no provision has been made for the salvation of those who died before the coming of Christ, or of those to whom, in after times, the saving truths of his religion have never been made known. For, if the view now taken of this important subject be, as I firmly believe, consistent with the oracles of truth, the death of Christ must have been retrospective as well as prospective, in its effect. It must have reached back even to the fall of man, and the earliest promise of a Redeemer, and forward to the final consummation of all things.
Thus, if the sinner fail to obtain eternal life, through his own guilt and impenitence—if, when “the Sun of Righteousness hath arisen,” he wilfully close his eyes against his healing beams, and rashly preferring to“grope in the noon day, as in the night,” ultimately “stumble and fall,” surely, this is no reason for “charging God foolishly,” ordaring to question the all-sufficiency of that Divine Redeemer, “who would have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” The Almighty has unquestionably provided for the final happiness of all ; though it is equally certain, that he has allotted to mankind in different ages, and even in the same age, situations of greater or less advantage, with respect to the knowledge of his will. Reason indeed suggests, and the Word of Truth confirms the idea, that a just and omniscient God will neither demand of frail and fallible beings, qualities incompatible with the condition in which he has placed them, nor require from those who have never even heard his Name, degree of perfection which he has been pleased to deny them the knowledge, or the power, to attain. Accordingly, the holy scriptures assert, that, “ in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him;" that “when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto