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HAD this teaching been of such effential importance to mankind (Scripture every where represents the world as perishing without Christ's interpofition), can it be iinagined that it would have been put off till four thousand years, from the beginning of the world, should be elapsed ? that it would have been communicated to so small a part of the human species that its light would have been suffered to be almoft extinguijhed by popery?

Besides, if we appeal to scripture (and it is the fcripture scheme we are to explain) we find, that though Christ is indeed represented as a light come into “ the world, a teacher come from God,” &c. yet he is held forth as a deliverer from other and incomparably greater evils than ignorance; viz. The tremendous calamity of death ; and the adventitious consequences of adventitious vice, of that atrocicus vice, which, probably the influence of the author of all evil has introduced, and which, without his influence, had never been [8], any more than, without him, there would have been such a punishment as Hell (which deliverance, I suppose, is what scripture means, when it speaks of pardon through Christ); from neither of which evils any teaching whatever, could naturally deliver mankind, circumstanced as they now Teaching, though effectual in reforming the moral character of an offender, does not, we find, restore to a spendthrift, the estate he has lost, or the constitution he has destroyed, or raise to life the parents whose hearts he has broke; or himself, when debauchery has hurried him out of the world, or the iron hand of justice has shortened his days.

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mankind on an evil being, is little better than elephantis. sing; for that the objection still returns, Why the universal Governor did not himself provide, that neither Satan, nor any other being, should prove wicked. But the answer to this seems to me not difficult, viz. That, if the Deity had proposed thus to over rule, by force, the wills of free agents (that he has made the best pofsible use of moral motives, we are to take for granted) he must have counterafted his own design in creating them free; which would have been inconsistent conduct in the Deity. Now it is, of two evils, the least (tho' still a real evil) that Satan act im-' properly, than that infinite Wisdom act inconfiftently. But this requires much explanation.

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The scripture account of an hostility must either be taken literally, or wholly rejected. An allegory it cannot be, any more than Christ's being a sacrifice, a propitiation, an altar, a door, a vine, a fhepherd, and so forth, can be understood literally. If there be in scripture, no real, but only an allegorical enemy of our world [SATAN), there is no real but only an allegorical patron and deliverer [Christ]; if there be no real Devil and his angels, with whom the wicked are to be punished, there is no real punishment to be feared by wicked men. If there be no real evil Being, who has the power of death, there is no real Saviour, who comes to destroy death, and him who has the power of death; if there be no real kingdom of SATAN, ihere is no real kingdom of CHRIST; if by Satan is to be understood only a poetical personification of evil, then

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[8] This particular requires more explanation than there is room for here.

by Christ we are only to understand a figurative personification of good ; if, in short, there be no real spiritual hierarchy, there is no infinite Spirit. For all are alike asserted in fcripture, and must either stand or fall together. The scripture-doctrine of an hostility taken literally, is intelligible, and solves the difficulty of the origin of evil; taken metaphoricaliy, it is unintelligible. The scripture doctrines of expiation, vicarious fuffering, &c. taken metaphorically, are, as any other metaphors, admiffible; literally, are without meaning. And, by this canon may be determined universally, what scripture views are to be taken literally, and what metaphorically, so as to obtain intelligible schemes of fcripture doctrines.

It is contrary to all just methods of philosophizing, to advance fuperfluous causes in accounting for effects, or phænomena. If, therefore, the scripture-doctrine of a spiritual hoftility will alone account for the necessity of Christianity, all other explanations of it into expiation, imputation, vicarious suffering, merit, fatisfaction, fitness, reward to Christ, mere teaching, and if there be any other, ought to be thrown aside, as not wanted, even if they were consistent, which they

are not.

SUPPOSING it granted, that the true account of the apparent evil, both natural and moral, which prevails in this world is, the effect of the hoftility of powerful malignant fpiritual beings; and supposing it likewise granted, that Christianity is the deliverance of our species from this peculiar and adventitious distress, as an enslaved nation is, by a patriotic hero, delivered from tyranny ; fuppofing all this granted'; it would be still more satisfactory, if we could solve some parti. cular difficulties, which encumber fuch enquiries; as, how contests are carried on between hoftile fpirits; how fuch beings gain advantages and conquests over one another; how particularly the hoflile party may be imagined to have proceeded in their operations against our world; how they produced, in the elements, in the human body, and by consequence, in the human difpofition, those irregularities, which we lament; and how, especially the most formidable evil of death (which according to Mr. Locke, and many other capital reasoners, is, naturally, utter extinction) was introduced into a world, where, originally, it had no place; how, on the other hand, the great Patron and Deliverer of this world proceeded in undoing this extenfive mischief; how, particularly, his coming into this world, not in his own fuper-angelic character,

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but in that of a mortal man, and how, especially his .. being himself a certain time in the state of death, and

returning again, to human, but immortal life; contributed to the attainment of this grand object. All this contains undoubtedly matter of much fpeculation, as well as of considerable difficulty. But what subject of enquiry is not attended with difficulty, if we attempt to investigate it minutely? And what solution of such difficulties, as these, can be expected to be wholly unexceptionable?

The End of the First VOLUME.

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