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of a mysterious nature, since Christ himself has given us an example of the obedience due to the following apostolic precept...." Let no man think of himself more highly than he ought to think ; but let him think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” This condescending Saviour was content, as Son of man, to remain in the humble ignorance of which we speak. If, in order to have satisfied his curiosity, with respect to the day of judg- : ment, he had attempted to explore the secret counsels of the Almighty, there can be no doubt but his gracious Father would have admitted him into that impenetra-i ble sanctuary. But he rather chose to leave among his followers an example of the most perfect respect and resignation to the will of that Father.
What was said by St. Paul concerning heresies, may, with propriety be applied to that obscurity, which accompanies the doctrines of the Gospel. " There · must be heresies among you, that they which are approved, may be made manifest.” Mons. de Voltaire, who saw not any utility in the proof here mentioned by the Apostle, was accustomed to censure revelation, because the doctrines it proposes are incapable of such incontestible evidences as mathematical problems.... He considered not, that lines, circles, and triangles, falling immediately under the senses, are subjects of investigation peculiarly suited to the natural man. He. recollected not, that many of Euclid's deinonstrations. are as incomprehensible to the greater part of mankind, . as the mysteries of our holy religion are incomprehensible to the generality of philosophers. And lastly, he perceived not, that, if all men were to pique them-. selves upon their skill in mathematics, and were equally interested in the proportions of circles, squares, and triangles, as in those relations, which subsist between fallen man and an incomprehensible God, there would be excited, among ignorant mathematicians, as niany warm disputes, as are continually arising among ill-. instructed christians,
The justness of these observations will become more apparent, if we consider the importance of that virtue, which is called, in scripture language, “ The obedience of faith.” Man originally suffered himself to be seduced with the hopes of wonderful effects to be produced by the fruit of a mysterious tree ; founding his fráil hope upon the simple declaration of the tempter. God, in order to humble the soul, is pleased to restore us through the hope of powerful effects to be procluced by the truths of a mysterious revelation ; a sweet liope, whose only basis is the simple declaration of the God of truth. And it is undoubtedly reasonable; in every respect, that the cause of our restoration should be thus directly opposed to the cause of our fall. The obedience, that is unattended with difh. culties can never be regarded as a reasonable proof of our fidelity to God. Had He merely commanded us to believe, that “ The whole is greater than a part ; or that two and two make four:” in such case, no room would have been left for a reasonable distribution of rewards and punishments. The Deity could not possibly have been disobeyed, since we can no more refuse our assent to these manifest truths, than we can deny the existence of the Sun, while we are rejoicing in his meridian brightness. It appears, therefore, perfectly necessary, that every truth, proposed to the faith of man in his probationary state, should have an obscure, as well as a luminons side, that it may leave place for mature deliberation, and of consequence, for the merit or demerit of those, who are called to o the obedience of faith.”
To desire a revelation without any obscurity, is to desire a day without night, a summer without winter, a sky without a cloud. And what should we gain by such an exchange? Or rather, what should we not lose' ; if those intentional obscurities, which conceal some parts of celestial truth, should be as needful to man in his present situation, as those clouds, which fre· quently deform the face of the heavens, are beneficial to the earth? The faith, which is unaccompanied with any thing mysterious. no more merits the naine of faith, than the tranquility of a man, who has never been in the way of danger, deserves the name of bravery. An expression of our Lord's to one of his doubting disciples, is sufficient to throw the most convincing lizht upon this matter: “ Thomas," said he, “ because thou hast seen me, thou hast BELIEVED :" but what recompence or praise can be due to such a faith? * Blessed are they that have Dot SEEX, and yet have BE. LIEVED
To conclude. What occasion would there be for the exercise of either wisdom or virtue, was the one only gooʻl path presented so clearly to our view, that it would be dfficult to make choice of any other? Or to what good purpose could true philosophy serve, which has no other usc, except that of teaching us to regulat”, our principles and govern our actions, in a manner more suited to the perfection of our nature, than is customary with those, who are led by prejudice and passion?
i rom all these observations, it may justly be argued, that to insist upon having religious doctrines without obscurity, and a revelation without mystery, is to destroy the design of the supreme Being, wlio hath placed us here in a state of trial. It is to confound the gaol with the course, the conflict with the triumph, and earth with Heaven. Nay more : it is to confound the creature with the Creator. That, which is finite, must never hope to comprehend the heights and depthis of infinity. Archangels themselves, though endued with inconceivable degrees of wisdom and purity, will continually find unfathomable abysses in the diving nature. And if so, is it not to abjure good sense, as well as revelation, to turn our back upon the temple of truth, because there is found in it 6 a most holy place," where the profane are never suffered to enter, and the furniture of which, even true worshippers can neither clearly explain, nor íully comprehend.
IN ANSWER TO THE GRAND OBJECTION OF PHILOSC• PHERS AGAINST THE DOCTRINES OF THE GOSPEL,
IT IS ARGUED THAT THE ADVANTAGES OF THE REDEMPTION ARE EXTENDED, IN DIFFERENT DEGREES, TO ALL MANKIND, THROUGH EVERY PERIOD OF THE WORLD,
· AS sophistical reasoners had a hundred objections to propose against the doctrines of Socrates, who was a true philosopher; so the philosophers of this age are industriously framing objections to the dactrines of that Gospel, which unerring wisdom has announced to the world. To determine, whether or not those objections are just and unanswerable, we shall here consider that, which appears to be the most weighty, in the balance of those two companions in error, Mons. de Voltaire and J. J. Rousseau. « If your doctrine of Redemption,” say they, “ is really as important as you represent it, why has it been preached only for these last eighteen centuries? If it was of so much consequence to mankind, God, without doubt, would have published it sooner, and more universally.
Answer. The doctrine of Redemption, was not primarily necessary to mankind : since there was a time, when unofending man stood in no greater need of a Redeemer, than a healthy person stands in need of a physician. At that time, natural religion was suitable to the state of man, and the doctrines of deism were the spiritual food of his soul. But, as me. dicine is not less necessary than nutriment to a sick person, so falien man stands in need of the Gospel, as well as of natural religion. And as strong nourishment would be a species of poison to a man enervated by a ragior fever, so the tenets of theism administer, ed alone to a sinner, who burns with the disorderly fervor of pride, must inevitably prove fatal to the health of his soul. Thus the presumption of some philosophers is encreased by the doctrines of deism, as the fever of a debilitated patient is redoubled by those very cordials, which would encrease the strength of a vigorous person. And this may serve as a proof, that the natural religion of sinless man, is as little adapted to man in his corrupt estate, as the sweet familiarity of an affectionate infant, is suitable to the character of a daring and disobedient son.
It is necessary here to observe, that there are two kinds of deism ; that of the humble sinner, who is not yet acquainted with the Gospel, and that of the presumptuous reasoner, who rejects it with contempt. The centurion Cornelius, who lived in the practice of piety before he was perfectly acquainted with Christ, and the penitent publican alluded to by our Lord, were deists of the first class, and such as might well be esteemed the younger brothers of christians. The second class is made up of those theists, who trample Revelation under their feet, and who may properly be called the presumptuous pharisees of the present day. It is the haughty deism of these men, that a false philosophy would substitute in the place of the Gospel.... The judicious author of “ The new Theological Dictionary,” has characterized these two kinds of deism with an accuracy, peculiar to himself. “ Deism,” says he, " was once on the high way from atheism to chris“ tianity ; but to day it is usually found upon the road 6 from christianity to atheism." *". To assert, that the doctrine of the Redemption has been announced for no more than eighteen centuries, is to suppose there can be no appearance of light tillithe sun has risen above the horrizon. So soon as the work of redemption became necessary, in that very day it was announced to man. When our first parents had received from their merciful judge the sentence, that condemned them to inisery and death, he immediately gave them a promise, that in some