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merciful, and (what is worse still) not only did these things themselves, but took plea-from Matth. sure likewise in those that did them.” ‘...."...". In this light it is that the apostle represents the state of the heathen world, while is to them, it was under the guidance of unassisted reason: And if our reason seems to guide us...". any better now ; if it rejects those detestable deeds of darkness and impious modes of John ii. 19. worship which it once reverenced and embraced, it is not because its faculties are in the en". themselves any clearer or stronger than they were, but because it has submitted its weakness and ignorance, its pride and passions, to the light and authority of the Christian revelation. (a) Take but away the direction and restraint of this authority, and it will act just as it did, and relapse into the same extravagances, the same impiety, the same folly and superstition, that prevailed on it before. And if the Pagan religion, when supported with the highest improvements of human understanding, fell so far short of being a rational service, what shall we say to the Mahometan, which invelops itself in ignorance, and makes its main foundation the gratification of mens brutal lusts and appetites ? One would really wonder how so corrupt an institution came to spread so wide in the world, but that there was a concurrence of circumstances, at that time, which did not a little contribute to its propagation. (b) When Constantine and his followers had made the profession of the Christian religion not only safe, but honourable, bishops grew ambitious, and minded nothing so much as their advancement to the best preferments. Schisms and heresies overran the church. Rites and ceremonies were more esteemed than purity of heart; and a general corruption infected both clergy and laity alike. This juncture God, in his just judgment, permitted Mahomet to lay hold on, to set up a new religion, (e) which being a kind of medley, made up of Judaism, the several heresies then in the East, and the old Pagan rites of the Arabs, (with an indulgence to all sensual delights, and the inforcement of secular power and violence), did too well answer his design in drawing or forcing men of all sorts to the profession of it; insomuch, that it soon gave birth to an empire, which, in eighty years time, extended its dominions over more kingdoms and countries than ever the Roman could in eight hundred. And although it continued in its strength not above three hundred years, yet out of its ashes have sprung up many other kingdoms and empires, of which there are three at this day the largest and most potent upon the face of the earth, viz. the empire of Turkey, the empire of Persia, and the empire of the Mogul in India, which God, in his all-wise Providence, has permitted still to continue, for a scourge unto us Christians, who, having received so holy and so excellent a religion through his mercy to us in Christ Jesus our Lord, will not yet conform ourselves to live worthy of it *. This we must observe, however, that God does not always approve those actions and designs, which, to demonstrate the wisdom of his Providence, he is sometimes pleased to permit and prosper; that a religion propagated by force, and supported by methods of external strength, is so far destitute of any proof that its original is from heaven; and that, when it contains such doctrines as are repugnant to the dictates of right reason, or the known properties and attributes of God, it can be the product of nothing else but human invention.
(a) Rogers's Necessity of Divine Revelation. (b) Grotius, de Verit lib. vi. (c) Prideaux’s Life of Mahomet. * [Since the period at which our author wrote, the extent and power of these empires have been greatly diminished; whilst that of the Mogul has been in fact annihilated. But we lately saw another power, founded in atheism, spread its dominion, un
doubtedly for the same purpose, over all the Chris-
A. M.4037. (a) When therefore we find Mahomet establishing his religion by the dint of the *... ... sword, persecuting with war all that would not submit to it; and threatening with no
vaig. Ær. 33, less than death all that pretended to dispute the least article of it; (b) whereas the * * *_Christian, quite otherwise, was planted in weakness and disgrace, in tears, and prayers, and patience, and watered with the blood of many thousands of its professors: When we find him allowing of fornication, justifying adultery, and talking of war, rapine, and slaughter, as things enjoined and commanded by Almighty God; whereas, what we have learned from Christ and his apostles, is, (c) “to possess every one his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence; to live peaceably with all men;” and instead of invading any other's property, (d) “to take joyfully the spoiling of our goods, knowing that we have in heaven a better and an enduring substance:” When we find him, the better to allure his followers, telling them (e) of pleasant gardens, curious fountains, delicate beds, and beautiful women with black eyes and fair complexions in Paradise, with whom they shall enjoy continual pleasures, and solace themselves with amorous delights to all eternity; whereas we are told, that in the resurrection we (f) “neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven,” where we shall come to company suitable to our glorified natures, (g) “to the general assembly and church of the first-born, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to an innumerable company of angels, to God the Judge of all, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant:” When we compare these things together, I say, we shall find the one abhorrent to the nature of God, injurious to the dignity of mankind, and a contradiction to that eternal law of righteousness which is written in every one's breast; but the other agreeable to the notions we have of the Supreme Being, and consonant to the rational dictates of our nature. If we proceed to compare the transactions of Christ's life with those that are related of Mahomet; how our Blessed (h) “Saviour went about doing good, healing all manner of sickness and of disease among the people, giving sight to the blind, and feet to the lame, and life to the dead;" how the miracles which he wrought were solemn and grave, acts of his love to mankind, and demonstrations of his omnipotence; and (i) how those who embraced his religion, in virtue of those miracles, were men of innocence and simplicity, who lived good lives, and feared God, and were therefore under the Divine protection, secured from the deceivableness of error; whereas the followers of Mahomet were a gang of robbers and plunderers, void of all piety, and all humanity; himself a bold ambitious man, greedy of empire, and resolved to raise himself even at the destruction of his fellow creatures; and the miracles reported of him, (such as (k) his cleaving the moon in two; the trees going out to meet him; the stones saluting him; the camel and the shoulder of mutton speaking to him; and his wonderful journey to heaven, with all the strange sights he there beheld), are, to the highest degree, absurd * and ridiculous: If we compare these things together, I say, we shall soon perceive in whom the characters of a true prophet meet, and who is to be deemed the wicked impostor; whose > to (a) Prideaux's Life of Mahomet. (b) Stanhope's Sermons at Boyle's Lectures. (c) 1. Thess. iv. 4, 5. (d) Heb. x. 34. (e) Prideaur's Life of Mahomet. (f) Matth. xxii. 30. (g) Heb. xii. 23, 24. (h) Matth. iv. 24. (i) Grotius de Verit.
(k) Prideaux's Life of Mahomet.
has four hundred horns, and, from one horn to another, is a journey of a thousand years; of the angels which support the throne of God, and have heads so big, that a bird cannot fly from one ear to another; of the key of the treasury of one of Moses's subjects, which was so heavy, that it weighed down a camel; and of the wives, and different shapes of angels, some of which are like men, others like horses, bulls, and
bout the angel of death, whose head is so big, that,
cocks, &c. with many more nonsensical absurdities of the like nature. Nichols's conference with the Theist, vol. ii. part iv. [See likewise White's Bampton Lectures.]
religion was intended to civilize and sanctify human nature, and consequently is the From Math. gift of God; and whose calculated to gratify the cruel and carnal appetites of rude bar-.'...'. barians, and consequently is the forgery of man. - is to the end, The Jewish religion indeed derived its origin from heaven, and Moses seems to glory...”. in the excellency of its institutes, when he asks the people. (a) “What nation is therejohn on io so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law which I set before ** you this day ?” and yet, if we were to descend to an examination, we should soon perceive, in many great discoveries, the pre-eminence of the Gospel above the law. (b) 1. That there is a God, and that there is but one God; that the only one God is incorporeal, invisible, immortal, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, of infinite justice, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Supreme Governor of the world, and of all things therein, and a gracious rewarder of those that seek him, is absolutely necessary to be known by all who would attain eternal life; and it cannot be doubted, but that the faithful, from the beginning, had this knowledge of God; but then, before the coming of Christ, they had not so certain, so clear, and so distinct a knowledge of these things as we have now under the Gospel. For over and above the knowledge of these things, which the pious, before Moses, had either from a serious contemplation of the works of God, or from the tradition and instruction of the patriarchs, and which the Jews, in succeeding ages, had from the writings of Moses and the prophets; we Christians have a more clear, more distinct, and evident manifestation thereof from the books of the evangelists and apostles. The faithful, under the Jewish dispensation, did, without doubt, believe God to b an invisible and omnipresent Spirit; and yet his frequent appearances, sometimes under one resemblance, and sometimes under another, the building of an ark, a tabernacle, and temple, whither he was pleased to call his people together into his immediate presence, and to talk with them (as Moses (c) expresses it) face to face, must necessarily turn their eyes and minds towards the mercy-seat; make them apprehend God shut up, as it were, within the holy of holies, and consequently perplex and obscure their notions of his spirituality and omnipresence: Whereas there is no room now, under the Gospel, for any gross conceptions of the Deity, when we are called upon, not to turn our eyes towards a visible tabernacle, but (d) “to pray everywhere, in any place, lifting up holy hands;” and are taught by Christ, (e) that “God is a Spirit, and that they who worship him, worship him in spirit and in truth.” The believers under the law were persuaded, that all things were ordered and governed by an all-wise and all-powerful Being; and yet the most sagacious of them were not able to account for the justice of Divine Providence, in suffering the wicked to prosper, and the righteous to be afflicted. But now this difficulty every common Christian is able to solve, by the help of what he has learned from the Gospel concerning the retributions of a future state; and can apply to all such cases the reflection made by Abraham, on the rich man's desire of some relief from Lazarus, (f) “Son, remember that thou, in thy lifetime, receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” . 2. The nature and obliquity of sin is what men, in all ages, could not but perceive; but how to account for its cause and origin they were at a strange loss: And therefore some imagined a pre-existent state, from whence they brought depravity along with them; while others devised two contrary principles, equally actuating the world, the one the author of all the good, and the other of all the evil they did. (g) “The wickedness of man (as Moses tells us) was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually;” but whether these expressions are to be ex
(a) Deut. iv. 8. (b) Smalridge's Sermons. (c) Deut. v. 4. (d) 1 Tim, ii. 8, (e) John iv. 24. (f) Luke xvi. 25. (g) Gen. vi. 5,
A. M.4037, tended to the whole race of mankind, and so are a proof of the general depravation, has to. ... been doubted by some; whereas all such doubts must now be silenced by the plain asvuig. Er. 33. sertions in the New Testament, that (a) “by one man sin entered into the world, and death * * *_by sin,” so that, (b) “by the offence of one, judgment came upon ah men to condemnation;" that all who are of the race of mankind “are sinners, ungodly, enemies of God children of the devil, and by (c) nature the children of wrath; that (d) when they would do good, evil is present with them, having a law in their members warring against the law o their mind, and bringing them into captivity to the law of sin;” and that this is the state of depraved nature, wherein men are born, (e) and wherein those that live and die shall (f) “ be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” 3. And as the Gospel gives us a more distinct account of the origin and demerit of sin, so does it furnish us with a clearer discovery of the method whereby the guilt of it is atoned. Those who lived under the Mosaic dispensation were saved by the same means of redemption as we who live under the evangelical; but the mystery of our common redemption was not, in any degree, so fully manifested to them as it is to us: And hence it is, that the apostle compares the writings of the Old Testament to a (g) light, or (as the original is) to a candle shining in a dark place; but the revelation which was made by Christ in the Gospel, to the day-dawn, and the day-star arising in our hearts. The revelation made to the Jews was to them a light, but a faint one; it shone, but in a dark place. The nativity, life, and death of Christ, the several offices of his Mediatorship, the remission of our sins through his blood, the sanctification of our hearts by his Spirit, and the glories of the world to come, were taught them, not in words at length, but in figures, and a dark vail was over the writings, as well as over (h) the face of Moses, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold his doctrine any more than they could his countenance. In a word, (i) they were saved, as well as we, by the blood of Christ; but there was as great a difference between their knowledge of the mystery of our redemption by the sacrifice of the death of Christ and ours, as there was between that dark cloud wherewith God led the people at one time, and that pillar of light wherewith he guided them at another. 4. And as the Gospel gives us clearer notions of the expiation of sin, so does it exhibit a fuller assurance of our being justified, or having our sins pardoned thereby. Religious persons who lived before the coming of Christ, knew that they were sinners, and that they therefore had need of the mercy and favour of God for the remission of their sins; but then, being not sufficiently instructed in the method of obtaining God's favour, they could not but groan sorely under the weight of them. Severe curses were denounced in the law against all who should in any case transgress it; these curses were plain, and easy to be understood; but the promises of a pardon, through the merits of a Saviour, were more intricate and involved. When therefore the danger which threatened them was so apparent, and the methods of their escape so obscurely notified to them, it is no wonder if their fears did very much overbalance their hopes. Hence it is, that the spirit by which they were governed is, in the Gospel, represented as a spirit of bondage, but the spirit by which we Christians are influenced is a spirit of adoption: (k) “Ye have not now, says the apostle, received the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, ABBA, Father,” i.e. whereby we are as well assured of the love of God as a child is of the affection of an indulgent father; as surely entitled to the joys of heaven as an adopted son is to the inheritance of him, who therefore adopted him, that he might make him his heir; for
(a) Rom. v. 21. (b) Ibid. ver, 18. . (3) Eph. ii. 8. (d) Rom. vii. 21, 2s. te) see the Appendix to the Dissertation on Original Sin, vol. i. (f) 2. Thess. i. 9. ) 2 Pet. i. 19. (h) 2 Cor. iii. 7. (i) Smalridge's Sermons, (k) Rom. viii. 15, &c. (as the apostle goes on to display the privileges of the Christian dispensation) “the Spi-from Matth. rit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if chil-... dren, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” - is to the end, 5. And as the assurances given us of this inheritance are greater; so, lastly, is the ...d inheritance itself much more plainly revealed to us in the Gospel than ever it was be-jo. fore. Whatever could be learned of a future state from the light of reason, that, and the end, much more, was known to the Jews: What by reason and by revelation was made To known to the Jews concerning an immortal life, that, and much more, is manifested to us Christians. The texts in which a future state is revealed to the Jews are few, and here and there thinly scattered in some particular books of the Old Testament; but there is no one book, scarce one chapter, in which this doctrine is not taught in the New. Those in the Old Testament are not so clear of ambiguity, but that they are capable of another interpretation; those in the New are so plain and perspicuous, that there is no room for the most ignorant to misapprehend, or the most impious to pervert them: And therefore it is with great justice, that the author of the epistle to the Hebrews (who himself was excellently versed in the knowledge of the Jewish law) hath observed, that (a) the “law had only the shadow of good things to come, but not the very image of the things,” i. e. it did but obscurely and faintly typify the glories of heaven; not give us so bright an image, and so lively a representation of the rewards of another world, as is pictured out to us, and, in all its full proportion and lineaments, accurately described in the Gospel. (b) Upon the whole therefore it appears, how incomparably happy we Christians are under the Gospel, above what the Jews were in the time of the Law, God having placed us under the best of dispensations, under the clearest discoveries and revelations, and given us the most noble, rational, and masculine religion; a religion the most perfective of our natures, and most conducive to our happiness. And what indeed can be a nobler privilege, what a more generous and delightful pleasure, what a more powerful incentive to obedience, than for a rational creature clearly to discern the equity, the necessity, the benefit, the decency, and beauty of every action he is called upon to do; and thence to be duly sensible how gracious a Master he serves; one who is so far from loading him with fruitless and arbitrary impositions, that each command, abstracted from his authority who gives it, is able to recommend itself, and nothing required but what every wise man would choose of his own accord, and cannot, without being his own enemy, so much as wish to be exempted from ? (c) “Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see (says our Saviour to his disciples, and in them, to all professors of his religion in succeeding generations); for I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them, and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” But in vain were these great privileges conferred on us, unless we make an answerable improvement of them; and far from blessed shall we be, when we come to appear before the dread tribunal, unless we endeavour (d) “in all things to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself