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members being acted upon by the volitions of that spirit, should become fit instruments of its operations during its union with the body. The superior excellence of the mechanism of the human body, may likewise be understood from God's declared resolu. tion to raise the bodies of the righteous at the last day, incor. kuptible and immortal; which, it is supposed, is the state in which the human body would have been continued by the use of the tree of life, if our first parents had not violated the law of their creation. And, having raised them in this excellent form re-united to their spirits, he will continue them so united for ever, that this most admirable piece of material mechanism may remain an eternal monument of his divine skill in its forma. tion.
Next, with respect to the human spirit, although its faculties are greatly weakened, and their operations are exceedingly oba structed, through the disorder introduced into the human frame by our first parents eating the forbidden fruit, its faculties are of such a nature, and its operations are so excellent, as plainly to demonstrate, not only that man was originally made after the image of God; but that, at the resurrection, when the human fpirit is joined to a body fashioned like to the glorious body of Christ, its faculties will appear vastly superior to what they are now supposed to be. Wherefore, in respect of their spirits, the human fpecies may be beings of an order eminently excellent. The fin which hath been, and still is in the world, is no proof of the meanness of the human nature; otherwise, as Taylor justly observes, No. 133, the angels who sinned, will be proved to be as mean and contemptible in their nature as men. As little will the weakness of infancy, the imperfections of our views in the first stages of life, and our being subject to pain, disease, and death, prove us to be an inconfiderable part of the creation ; fince, as the same author remarks, the Son of God experienced in our nature all these disadvantages, and yet loft nothing of his original excellence. In short, for any thing that appears, there may be in the human mind, powers and faculties equal to those of the highest angels, which, in the future state, when the soul is united to its glorified body, will display them. felves in an admirable manner; agreeably to our Lord's declaration, Matth. xiii. 43. Then all the righteous shine forth as the VOL. III. Co.
fun in the kingdom of their Father. The human fpecies, both in respect of their body and spirit, being of a nature so excellent, their preservation must be acknowledged an end not unworthy of the infinite wisdom of God to accomplish, even by so great an interposition as the mediation of his own Son.
4. Although mankind, through the disobedience of their first parents, have been degraded below their natural rank, who, as Taylor suggests, can tell whether the trials which in this degraded state they are expofed to, may not be more severe than the trials allotted to any other species of the rational creatures of God? The corrupted diseafed bodies, in which our spirits are lodged, and which have a great influence, not only on our paffions, but on our powers of perception and reasoning; the ftate of infancy and childhood, in which we remain fo long subject to animal appetites and paffions, without the aids of experience and reason, and in which habits of sensuality ate early formed; the pernicious' influence of the evil examples which continually furround us ; with many other disadvantages, all concurring to render a right conduct in our prefent ftate extremely difficult; I fay, these things considered, the virtue of beings placed in such unfavourable circumstances, though it be not a perfect virtue, may in some respects excel the more perfect virtue of other beings who are not exposed to such
a long and severe course of trial as that to which mankind are · fubjected. Wherefore, to produce a virtue thus tried, may have been an end not unworthy of the mediation of the Son of God. Efpecially if we add,
5. That the virtue of beings circumstanced as men are, and exercised under such embarrassing difficulties and temptations, being superior to the virtue of other intelligent creatures, who have not been so exercised and tried, it is far from being unream sonable to suppose with Taylor, that by their trials and acquirea ments, the redeemed of the human species may be fitted for nobler employments and higher charges than other beings, who, perhaps, were naturally superior to them, but who are their in feriors in this second stage of their existence, not having been exercised and improved as they have been. To use the before mentioned excellent author's words: “ Who can tell how 3
* widely, fuch as have honourably paffed through the trials of és this state, may be dispersed through the universe ; how much " their capacities shall be enlarged; what offices and trusts will '“ be put into their hands; how far their influence shall extend; “ and how much their falvation may contribute to the good or" der and happiness of the universe ?! Something of this kind feems to be intimated in those expressions of scripture, in which the redeemed of the human species are represented as made kings and priests unto God, even the Father, and in those parsages, where it is promised to him who overcometh, that he hall fit with Christ on his thront, tuen as hé overcame, and is set down with his Father on his throne. And fince we know by revelation, that some of the angels are at present employed as ministring fpirits to fuch of the human race as shall be heirs of salvation, May not the redeemed of the human species, now raised to an high degree of perfection, be themselves employed according to their different capacities, in the like offices to beings of an inferior nature? And notwithstanding the number of mankind, who, from the beginning to the end of the world, are to be thus exalted and rewarded, though great, may be but small in comparison of those who shall perish, this, instead of being an objection to the foregoing conjecture, is rather a confirmation thereof; because, being a proof of the severity of the trial to which mankind are exposed, it enhances the virtue of those who pass through that trial with honour, and theweth, that notwithstanding their number should be comparatively small, it was not below the dignity of the Son of God for the sake of saving them, to affume the human nature, and to continue united to it for ever, as an eternal monument of what he did and suffered for their salvation.
6. We may even ask, with Taylor, “ Who can determine « how far the scheme of redemption may exceed any scheme of « the divine wisdom in other parts of the universe ? Or how far “ it may affect the improvement and happiness of other intelli
gent creatures, even in the remotest regions ?" The divine dispensations towards men, may be made known in other fystems by revelation, even as the fin and punishment of the angels, have been made known to us. Besides, we are told expressly, Ephef. iii. 10. That now to the governments, and to the powers in Сс 2
the heavenly regions, the manifold' wisdom of God is made known through the church. · And Saint Peter assures us, 1 Epistle i. 12. That these things the angels desire to look into. It is therefore the sense of revelation that the heavenly hofts study the wisdom and grace manifested in our redemption; and that they increase their stock of knowledge, by contemplating those displays which God hath made of his love in his dealings with mankind. If so, is it unreasonable to suppose, that the mediation of the Son of God for the salvation of men, will be made known to other systems of God's reasonable creatures; to whom also, if they stand in need of it, the benefit of Christ's death may be extended? And although they should not need any atonement, because they have not finned, the knowledge that such an atonement was required and made for others; may have an influence in supporting God's government, even among them, and in confirming them in their obedience for ever.
7. Lastly, as there is but one God who made and ruleth the universe, however different the methods may be by which he governs his rational creatures dispersed through the immense regions of space, it is reasonable to conclude that these methods are all connected by some general principle, which hath such influence in them all, as to form one great and effectual plan for promoting the virtue and happiness of the whole. Now, who can tell whether the mediation of Christ for the salvation of the human fpecies, may not be a principle of the kind just now de. scribed ? And whether it may not contribute to promote the virtue and happiness of all the rational creatures of God to whom it shall be made known, as well as to promote the virtue and happiness of the human species, for whom it was more immediately intended ? It is true, we are ignorant at present of the manner in which Christ's mediation will operate among
the various fystems of God's rational creatures. But when a commu, nication is opened among the different orders of intelligent beings difperfed through the universe, it is reasonable to think that the manner in which the mediation of Christ operateth, in promoting the virtue and happiness of the rational creatures which compose these different systems, will be discovered. And when that period arriveth, the mediation of Christ for the salvation of
the human species, will doubtless appear a transaction highly worthy of God to have appointed, and of the Son of God to have accomplished, even by a method fo unexpected as his sufferings and death in the human nature.
Upon the whole, from the foregoing views of the human species, which are by no means irrational, this our system, in which the purposes of God respecting us, are brought to pass by trials and by a scheme of providence, which, for ought we know, have no place any where else in the universe, may exceed all the other systems, so far as to render the scheme of our redemption, and the mediation of so great a person as the only begotten Son of God for accomplishing it, highly worthy of the divine wisdom, notwithstanding the dimensions of the earth, our present dwelling-place, be inconfiderable compared with the immensity of the creation ; and notwithstanding our species may, at first sight, appear inferior to the other rational creatures of God. For, as hath been already thewed, the effe&ts of the mediation of Christ for our salvation, may in many respects be highly beneficial to all God's rational creatures to whom it is made known; to those who inhabit the remotest regions of the universe, and even to such of them as hold the highest ranks in the scale of the creation.