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" with God and Christ, as Christ is with God; members of each “ other; heirs of God, and coheirs with Christ; heirs of all things," &c. Expressions which, have the strongest tendency to raise in us an unbounded love to God, and an equal one to our neighbour, and which include and convey the most exalted, and at the fame time the most solid, conceptions of this great system of things. And if we suppose that these high titles and privileges are, according to the Scriptures to be hereafter extended to all mankind, the divine original of the Scriptures will receive a new acceffion of evidence on this account.
PROP. XXIV. THE DOCTRINE OF THE NECESSARY SUBSERVIENCY OF PAIN
TO PLEASURE, UNFOLDED IN THE SCRIPTURES, IS AN EVIDENCE OF THEIR DIVINE AUTHORITY.
THE Scriptures give frequent and strong intimations, that the ultimate happiness which they promise, is not to be obtained in this our degenerate state, but by a previous passage through pain. “Blessed are they that mourn. We must rejoice in tribulation.
The “ palm-bearing multitude comes out of great tribulation. The « Captain of our salvation,” and therefore all his soldiers, “must be « made perfect through sufferings. Without shedding of blood, there 56 is no remission of sins. It is good for us to be afficted, that we may
learn to keep the commandments of God." The Jews must be captivated, and undergo the severest afflictions, before they can be made happy finally, as the people of God. " Man must eat his 66 bread in the sweat of his brow all his life, and return to dust at last; 66 and
still the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head, “ and gain readmiffion to the tree of life, whose leaves shall heal the « nations,” &c. &c. Now there is a surprising correspondence between such expreffions as these, and many modern discoveries, which shew that pain is, in general, introductory and subservient to pleasure; and particularly, that such is the present franie of our natures, and constitution of the external world, which affects our organs, that we cannot be delivered from the fenfuality and selfishness that feize upon us at our first entrance into life, and advanced to spirituality and disinterestedness to the love of God and our neighbour, we cannot have our wills broken, and our faculties exalted and purified, so as to relish happiness wherever we see it, but by the perpetual correction and reformation of our judgements and desires from painful impressions and associations. And all philosophical inquiries of this kind seem to cast a peculiar light and evidence upon the Scripture-expressions before mentioned, and to make their accuracy, and congruity with experience and observation, be much more seen and felt.
THE MUTUAL INSTRUMENTALITY OF BEINGS TO EACH OTHER'S HAPPINESS AND MISERY, UNFOLDED IN THE SCRIPTURES, IS AN ARGUMENT OF THEIR DIVINE AUTHORITY,
TO this head is to be referred all that the Scriptures deliver concerning good and evil angels : Chrift, the Lord of all, becoming the Redeemer of all; Adam's injuring all his posterity through his frailty; Abraham's becoming the father of the faithful, and all nations being blessed through him; the Jews being the keepers of the oracles of God, and of the true religion ; tyrants being scourges in the hand of God; the fulness of the Gentiles being the occasion of the final restoration of the Jews; and, in general, the doctrine that God prepares and disposes of every thing so, as that nothing is for itself alone, but every person and nation has various relations to others; cooperates with them through Christ, “ who is the head, and through " whom the whole body being fitly joined together, and compacted
by that which every joint supplieth, increaseth and edifieth itself in “ love, till all things, both in heaven and earth, arrive, in their “ several orders, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Now, whoever compares these Scripture expressions and doctrines with the various mutual relations, fubferviencies, and uses of the parts of the external world, heavenly bodies, meteors, elements, animals, plants, and minerals, to each other, cannot help seeing a wonderful analogy between the works of God and the Scriptures, so wonderful as juftly to entitle the last to the appellation of “ the word of « God.”
And thus we may perceive, that the Scripture-account of the fall of man, his redemption by Christ, and the influences exerted upon him by good and evil angels, is so far from affording an objection against the Chriftian religion, that it is a considerable evidence for it, when viewed in a truly philofophical light. God works in every thing by means, by those which, according to our present language and short-fightedness, are termed bad and unfit, as well as by the good and evidently fit ones; and all these means require a definite time, before they can accomplish their respective ends. This occurs to daily observation in the course and conftitution of nature. And the Scripture doctrines concerning the fall, the redemption by Chrift, and the influences of good and evil angels, are only such intimations concerning the principal invisible' means that lead man to his ultimate end, happiness in being united to God, as accelerate him in his progress thither. According to the Scriptures, Adam hurts all, through frailty ; Christ saves all, from his love and compassion to all; evil angiels tempt, through malice; and good ones affist and defend, in obedience to the will of God, and his original and ultimate design of making all happy. These things are indeed clothed in a considerable variety of expressions, suited to our present ways of ading, conceiving, and speaking (which ways are, however, all of divine original, God having taught mankind, in the patriarchal times, the language, as one may say, in which he spake to them then and afterwards); but these expressions can have no greater real import, than that of signifying to us the means made use of by God; he being, according to the Scriptures, as well as reason, the one only real agent in all the transactions that relate to man, to angels, &c. And to object to the method of producing happiness by his or that means, because of the time required to accomplish the end, of the mixture of evil, &c. is to require, that all God's creatures should at once be created infinitely happy, or rather have existed fo from all eternity, i.e. should be Gods, and not creatures.
PROP. XXVI. THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES MAY BE INFERRED FROM THE SUPERIOR WISDOM OF THE JEWISH Laws, consi
A POLITICAL LIGHT, AND FROM THE EXQUISITE WORKMANSHIP SHEWN IN THE TABERNACLE AND TEMPLE.
ALL these were originals amongst the Jews, and some of them were copied partially and imperfectly by ancient heathen nations. They seem also to imply a knowledge superior to the respective times. And I believe, that profane history gives sufficient attestation to these positions. However, it is certain from Scripture, that Mofes received the whole body of his laws, also the pattern of the tabernacle, and David the pattern of the temple, from God; and that Bezaleel was inspired by God for the workmanship of the tabernacle. Which things, being laid down as a fure foundation, may encourage learned men to inquire into the evidences from profane history, that the knowledge and skill to be found amongst the Jews were superior to those of other nations at the same period of time, i... were supernatural.
THE WANT OF UNIVERSALITY IN THE PUBLICATION OF RE
VEALED RELIGION IS NO OBJECTION TO IT; BUT, ON THE
First, That objections of this kind ought never to be admitted against historical evidence ;, and, in fact, are not upon other subjects. It is evident, as was observed in the beginning of this chapter, that to allow the truth of the Scripture history, is to allow the truth of the Christian religion. Now it is very foreign to the purpose of an inquiry into the truth of the Scripture history, to alledge that it has not been made known to all mankind in all ages, and under all circumstances of each individual. It must require much abstracted and subile reasoning, and such as can never be put in competition with plain historical evidence, to connect this objection with the
proposition objected to. This is therefore, at least, a strong prefumption against the validity of such an objection.
Secondly, This objection seems to derive its whole force from such positions relating to the moral attributes of God, as make it necessary for us to suppose, either that he deals with all his creatures at present in an equally favourable manner, or, at least, that nothing shall be ultimately wanting to their happiness. Now the first fuppofition appears, upon the most transient view which we take of things, to be utterly false. There are differences of all degrees at present, in respect of all the good things which God has given us to enjoy; and therefore may be in the best of all good things, revealed religion. And indeed, if it was otherwise in respect of revealed religion, one ftrong argument in its favour would be wanting, viz. its analogy with the course of nature. The moral attributes of God are to be deduced from observations made upon the course of nature. If, therefore, the tenor of revelation be agreeable to that of nature, it must be so to the moral attributes of God. But if any one fupposes, in the second place, that, notwithstanding present and apparent differences in the circumstances of God's creatures, there are no real and ultimate ones; at least, that the balance will ultimately be in favour of each individual finitely, or perhaps infinitely; I answer, that this suppofition is as agreeable to revelation as to natural reason ; that there are as probable evidences for it in the word of God, as in his works, there being “ no acceptance of persons with God, no difference “ between the Jew and the Gentile,” according to the Scriptures ; and that we may infer as strongly from the Scriptures, that Christ will save all, as it can be inferred from philosophy, that all will be made happy in any way; both which positions I shall endeavour to establish hereafter, with the mutual illustrations and confirmations which these glorious doctrines of natural and revealed religion afford to each other. And the gradual diffusion of the Patriarchal, Judaical, and Chriftian revelations, compared with the prophecies relating to the future kingdom of Christ, and with the present circumstances of things, will afford great fatisfaction and joy to every pious, benevolent person, who inquires into this subject. These considerations will incline him to believe, that the Gospel will, sooner or later, be preached to every creature in Heaven, in Earth, under the “ Earth, &c.” and not only preached, but received, obeyed, and made the means of unspeakable happiness to them. And thus this objection will be removed, not only in speculation, and according to reason, but, in fact, from the prefent unhappy objectors; and “they “ will look on him whom they have pierced."
Thirdly, having shewn that a gradual and partial promulgation is not inconsistent with the fuppofition of a true revelation, we may farther affirm, that the particular time and manner, in which the several Patriarchal, Judaical, and Christian revelations, have been published to the world, are even arguments in their favour. This subject has been well handled by various learned men, particularly by Mr. Arch. Law, in his “Confiderations on the state of the world,
&c. These gentlemen have thewn, that, cæteris manentibus, which is in these things always to be previously allowed, the dispensations recorded in the Scriptures have been, as far as we can judge, perfe&ly suited to the ftates of the world at the times when these dispensations were made respectively; inc. to the improvement of mankind in knowledge speculative and practical, to their wants, and to their ability to profit in moral accomplishments; so that, if we suppose either much more, or much less, light to have been afforded to mankind in a supernatural way (cæteris manentibus; and particularly their voluntary powers over their affections and actions, or free-will in the practical sense, remaining the same), their advancement in moral perfection, in voluntary obedience to, and pure love of God, would probably have been less : which suitableness of each revelation to the time when it was made, and to the production of the maximum of moral perfection, is an argument for the system of revelation, of the same kind with those for the goodness of God, which are drawn from the mutual fitnesses of the finite and imperfect parts of the natural world to each other, and to the production of the maximum, or greatest posible quantity, of happiness,
PROP.' XXVIII, THE EXCLUSION OF ALL GREAT DEGREES OF ENTHUSIASM AND
IMPOSTURE FROM THE CHARACTERS OF CHRIST, THE PROPHETS, AND APOSTLES, PROVES THEIR DIVINE AUTHORITY.
THAT Christ, the Prophets, and Apoftles, cannot be charged with any great degrees of enthusiasm or imposture, seems allowed by many unbelievers; and is evident from the first view of their discourses and writings, and of history, sacred and profane. We might say, that much more is evident. However, for the present, let us only suppose all great degrees of enthufiasm and imposture excluded, and inquire how far their divine mission may be inferred from that supposition.
First, then, if all great degrees of enthusiasm be excluded, Chrift, the Prophets, and Apostles, must know, whether or no they were under the influence of the divine spirit, so as to prophesy, speak, and interpret languages which they had never learnt, and work miracles. Indeed to suppose them not capable of distinguishing these powers in themselves and each other, is to charge them with downright madness.
Secondly, since then they claimed these powers every where, as the seal of their commiffion from God; if they had them not, i.e. if they had not divine authority, they must be impostors, and endeavour to deceive the world knowingly and deliberately. And this impofture, whether we consider the affront offered to God, or the injury done to mankind, or its duration, its audaciousness, &c. would be the deepest and blackest that has ever appeared in the world. It is therefore excluded by supposition; and consequently, since a less degree will not account for a false claim to divine au