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character, or must be good.- in the next mark of distinctionbeBut in this we are not left to the tween Christianity and all other mere light of human reason. / religions, which is, Divine revelation is abundant in II. The ground of acceptance. ascribing all possible moral ex | That man is, naturally, in a cellence to God, as a Being es- state of sin and ruin, is obvious sentially and unchangeably holy, to every reflecting mind, and has just and good, wise and faithful, accordingly been perceived and and summarily assures us that | lamented by most writers a“ God is love." In these sacred mong the heathen philosophers; writings we are assured that indeed a consciousness of guilt God is the fountain of all exis- and exposedness to punishment tence, the creator and preser- is common to men ; hence the ver of Angels and men ; that his anxious inquiry, “Wherewith dominion in the natural and shall I come before the Lord, moral world is universal and and bow myself before the Most perfect; that his providence ex- High God?” tends to all events, and that he The best answers to this most governs moral and accountable interesting question, furnished creatures by the most perfect from philosophic investigations, laws; that he is the kind and are wholly unsatisfactory. beneficent parent of the whole | Most of the heathen writers creation, and encourages his on this subject, manifest some rational offspring to address him notion of sacrifices, of some in prayer and praise.
kind, to appease the anger of Such a Being, and such only, their Gods and obtain their facan be the proper object of wor- vor. This, probably, originated ship. He is present and knows in some knowledge of ancient all our wants, and is able to sat. | tradition, conveying partial inisfy them. He governs all e- formation from the possessors vents in the universe ; all crea- of divine revelation on this subtures and events are in his hand, ject, but so mangled and perand he can protect and save us verted, as to be totally insuffifrom evil. He is the father of cinent to relieve the wounded our spirits and the former of our conscience, or to enable the bodies, and is the kindest of sinner to contemplate, with comparents, and a very present help posure, his appearance before in trouble. Into the bosom of God. such infinite sufficiency, and The next relief attempted by parental love the full soul may philosophy, is-by a virtuous life, pour all its troubles; in him the or by repentance and reformafatherless findeth mercy-and tion; but alas, how insufficient he hath said, “call upon me in the this, for the transgressor !day of trouble and I will deliver What rational hope can be dethee, and thou shalt glorify me." | rived from this to the sinner
But how shall guilty, unwor- who “ owes ten thousand talents thy sinners have access to such and has nothing to pay ?" a Being of infinite majesty, per- Were his repentance and refection and purity ?
formation even perfect, they The answer to this most in- could have no influence to atone teresting question will be found for past offences, and could be only adequate to present duty. I " the word was made flesh and But when we consider the great dwelt among us,” and “God imperfection of human nature, | was manifest in flesh.” In this even in the best, they appear to | mysterious union of natures, fall far below the standard of our Lord Jesus Christ was obepresent duty, and greatly in- dient to death, even the death of crease our guilt and desert of the cross, and truly magnified condemnation. What shall we the divine law, and supported think then of the absurd and both its precepts and sanctions. superstitious rites which gene- The final condemnation of all rally obtained among the heath- / sinners would have proved the en on this subject, and of the immutable determination of God unhallowed usages practised for to punish sin according to his this purpose, by them in their threatenings; but this proves still religious festivals, on days of more—it evinces that God is atonement ? Or what can more / righteous in taking vengeance, deeply impress the mind with a and that in his government over conviction of the necessity of a man, he treats him as he would divine revelation, than the knowl be willing to be himself treated, edge of the notions and usages in a change of circumstances. of heathen Idolaters?
The obedience and death of The Christian revelation re- | Christ in our nature and place, presents our sin and misery as is the highest conceivable divine they really are; it clearly evinces testimony to the rectitude of the the impossibility of the most moral government of God over distant, well founded: hope of man; and is therefore the most acceptance with God, from any full and complete expression of or all the devices of man, and holy affection, exhibiting the proves that « reason pursued is most conclusive proof of the despair.” But at the same time, perfection of divine government it opens a new and glorious door and of the evil of sin; and thus of hope: It reveals the media- lays a foundation for the pardon torial plan of redemption by and salvation of sinners through Jesus Christ.
Christ, in the way of divine apThis assures us, that God has pointment, so as to be at once a fixed on a method for the dis- vindication and expression of play of mercy to the guilty, the righteousness of God in his through a mediator ; that this government of man, an exhibimediator is the Son of God, the | tion of the most profound wissecond person in the divine dom, and of the richest grace. Trinity in unity ; that he was | Yea, all divine perfections are to redeem sinners of mankind here not only displayed; but unito God by making atoneinenttedly displayed, it is “ grace for their sin, and bringing in reigning through righteousness everlasting righteousness; and to eternal life by Jesus Christ that to fit him for the media- | our Lord.” torial work, he should be united Hence it appears, that “Jesus to our nature, by the assump-Christ is the way, the truth and tion of it into a personal union the life,” and that “no man with his divine nature; and ac-cometh to the Father but by cordingly we are assured, that him ;' that he is able to save, to the uttermost, all who come ity begin and end in those things unto God by him; that this gos- which are private and personal. pel foundation of acceptance After all which has been written with God for sinners, is worthy by poets, philosophers and morof God, honorable to law and alists, not drawn from the holy justice, a most wonderful ex- | scriptures, on virtue and moralpression of divine grace, and | ity, they teach us nothing more safe and happy for the believing sublime than the love of our sinner, and superior to all the country; and to die for our counplans devised by man, whether try is treated by them as the Jew or Gentile, ignorant or most sublime virtue, even when learned, as the heavens are life is sacrificed, not to render higher than the earth.
the inhabitants of our country Faith in Christ is the divinely | more wise, more devoted to the appointed way in which we be- | good of mankind, or to the fear come so interested in his atone- and service of God; but more ment, that his righteousness rich, more honorable in the esavails for our pardon and accep. | teem of those who esteem the tance with God, evidently, be- honor which cometh from man, cause by this we are so united and more triumphant over other to him that the Father's appro- | nations in war. Hence, Alex. bation of his mediatorial work ander the Great, Julius Cæsar may be properly and fully ex. and Charles the XIIth, of Swe. pressed in the bestowment of all den, who were great generals, saving mercy on us for his sake. and the two first great conque
The most guilty and misera rors, have been celebrated as ble of our race may, therefore, the first of men. But in the hope in divine mercy through view of Christianity, their splen. him, come to God by him, and did virtues are weighed in the be assured that “those who so balance and found wantingcome he will in no wise cast | They sought the glory of their out."
country by the calamity of many III. The Christian religion is nations, and succeeded to grandistinguished from all others by deur in the blood of murdered its system of morality.
thousands; and that glory which It has been common to the they respectively sought for founders of religious systems to their country was really its inculcate something under the greatest shame and misery, and name of virtue or morality, but hastened its ruin. in most instances many essen | The morality which Christitial branches of virtue have been anity teaches and inspires, is omitted, and many things in that which conduces to the best culcated which were really vi- good, the highest perfection and cious; and what is still worse, felicity of the subject—which the true and essential distinc- coincides with the best interest tion between virtue and vice has of mankind, and which is dibeen commonly overlooked ; rectly subservient to the glory of hence the very best systems of God. This brief description of heathen morality are essential- the outlines of virtue will not be ly deficient.
disputed; but where can it ezAll human systems of moral-'ist except in the mind seeking
that happiness for itself which any conscious existence beyond consists in union to the best this life. The best of them interests of the whole family of rather wished for it than firmman, and exertions to promote ly believed it. On supposition of it; and union to the glory of its reality they imagined such, God and the best good of his enjoyments for the virtuous as kingdom, and the happifying agree with the taste of men in view and contemplation of the in this life, in earthly things, most perfect state of the moral and generally describe their system. But this is nothing Elysium as a place for the enelse than to “ love the Lord our joyment of the pleasures of God with all our heart and our sense, and speak of this as only neighbor as ourselves," which is for a limited duration. Their the well known summary of conceptions of the punishment Christian morality, given us by of the wicked were equally conits divine founder.
fused and erroneous. From the holy scriptures we The Christian scriptures dislearn that God is love, friendly pel this thick darkness, and to the highest perfection and bring life and immortality to felicity of the moral system.- light. From these we learn This is the expression of his with certainty that the existcharacter in his government of
ence of our souls will be permaman, and in the mediatorial nent after the present life, and system, and this is the duty that our bodies will be restored which he requires of man, and to life in a general resurrection this constitutes the perfection at the end of this world, and be and felicity of the redeemed in reunited to the soul; and that the heavenly state. “ Him that we shall then be judged accordovercometh," saith the Divine ing to our works, and our final Saviour, "will I make a pillar in state be fixed in happiness or the temple of my God, and he misery, according to what we shall go no more out; and I will have done while in the body, in
upon him the name of my this life, and that this state will God, and the name of the city be eternal. of my God, which is New Jeru Notwithstanding the invisibilsalem, which cometh down out ity of that world and that the of heaven from God, and I will condition of its inhabitants is write upon him my own name.” not very particularly revealed,
How does the boasted splen- or perhaps would not be clearly dor of philosophic virtue and understood by us, in the present morality fade before that of state, if it were, we are fully Christianity, like the glow assured, that the wicked and all worms of night before the rising who know not God, and obey sun!
not the gospel, shall be wholly IV. We observe, once more, excluded from the divine favor, that Christianity is distinguished shall be given up to the full dofrom all other religions by the ininion of sin, and be the monurelributions of futurity.
ments of God's holy displeasure Great have been the doubts forever. The scriptural repread uncertainties of philoso- sentations of their .state are awphers whether man would have | ful beyond conception, and deep
ly impress the mind with the ber and variety of religions in thought that “ it is a fearful the world. They say that athing to fall into the hand of the mong the many hundreds of reliving God;" and that we are | ligions adopted by man, as there called by all the dreadful reali- can be but one which is true ties of that desperate state, to and divine, there is a presumpfly from the wrath to come, and tion against the truth of each, to lay hold on the hope set be- 1 in proportion to the number of fore us in the gospel.
religions professed in the world, On the other hand, the gos and therefore the evidence in pel assures us, that the souls of favor of Christianity is only as - the righteous at death, enter in one to many hundreds; i.e. there to peace, that they rest from are hundreds of probabilities of their labors, are completely de- its falsehood to one of its truth. livered from all sin and sorrow, To this there might be various are assured of the everlasting answers, we mention one only, favor of God, and are united in as abundantly sufficient, viz.the praises of redeeming grace; That Christianity is equally opand that at the end of the world posed to all other religions in their bodies shall be raised glo- the world, in all the articles of rious and immortal, and be re- distinction which have been animated by the soul, and the | made. All other systems of whole man be completely bles religion agree in exhibiting absed in the full enjoyment of surd and unworthy ideas of the God to all eternity. Rejoic object of worship, the ground of ing in the clear manifestation of acceptance, the system of mothe divine fulness, the unveiled rality and the retributions of fuglory of the triune Deity, in the turity; in the nature of the case, displays of redeeming grace, it is therefore evident they canand in the certain prospect of an not be true. This infers a strong eternity of unremitting felicity presumption in favor of Chrisand usefulness in praising and tianity, it is opposite to all other shewing forth that grace, and in systems, if they are absurd and the most perfect reciprocation false, this must be true and diof holy friendship forever." vine, or there is no true religion
Who can think of the blessed in the world. It therefore rests exercises and enjoyments of the on its own evidence, in the same spirits of the just made perfect, | mancer as if no other religion and the still more complete had ever been propagated in the blessedness of the redeemed af world. In testing the truth and ter the resurrection, and not divinity of Christianity, thereaspire with all the powers of the | fore, we must enquire, is the soul after a name and a place religion itself agreeable to reaamong the redeemed from a son, worthy of God and suitable Inong men ?
to the nature and condition of
man, in its doctrines, its duties CONCLUSION.
and its prospects, or as it res1. The preceding view of pects the object of worship, the Christianity clearly shews the | ground of acceptance, the sysweakness of Infidel objections tem of morality and the retribuagainst it, founded in the num- / tions of futurity? And is it at