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nation to the will of God. Now how upsuits able to the inculcating such lessons as these, would such a triumphant conqueror have been, as the Jews expected; a conqueror surrounded with all the luxuries of royal affluence, and whose hands were stained with the blood of slaughtered enemies. But, when we see the teacher of these doctrines called out to the practice of them; when we see him poor and afflicted, yet patient and submissive; tempted, yet firm and unshaken; reviled, yet reviling not again ; persecuted to death, yet praying for his murderers; how nobly does example add energy to precept! what encouragement have his followers to suffer patiently, when they see the Captain of their salvation thus eminently made perfect through sufferings !
But, 3dly; The modern infidel brands the Gospel with the name of foolishness, for requiring him to believe what he cannot perfectly comprehend. But where is the pretended unTeasonableness of requiring this? Is it any dishonour to the creature to give credit to the testimony of his Creator in these points? Is it any hardship to submit his own understanding to the depths of infinite wisdom? Or if he proudly refuses to do so, what is this, but, like the presumptuous giants of heathen mythology,
to pile mountain upon mountain, and attempt to scale even heaven itself? We will own that there are mysteries in religion, which surpass our comprehension :--the plurality of persons in the unity of the Godhead, the manifestation of God in the flesh, the operations of the Holy Spirit, the restitution of the scattered particles of our bodies to their ancient functions, we understand not, we pretend not to understand, inuch less, as some have injudiciously done, to explain and define. Yet, where is the hardship or unreasonableness of believing them on the authority of God, the revealer, though we know not the mode or quality of the things revealed? Or, where would be the merit of believing them if they were presented for our acceptance with all the clearness of intuitive knowledge or irresistible demonstration?
But farther : Where is the justice of objecting to mysteries in religion alone? Every thing within and around us is mystery. The revolution of the planets, the transmission of light, the production of animals, the vegetation of plants, the gravitation and cohesion of inatter, the vital union of soul and body, with their mode of acting upon each other; these are all mysteries, which the proudest understanding will not pretend to fathom, and yet must be forced to acknowledge, as having a real existence and use for all the purposes of life. If then in things natural we cannot attain to demonstrative certainty, but are forced to acknowledge and act upon principles, which we cannot comprehend, how unreasonable is it to expect that we should perfectly comprehend all things spiritual; and when the whole material creation is one continued inystery, to wonder that God himself, the Creator, should be unsearchable in his moral dispensations, and his providential ways past finding out; to teach man that important lesson—to wonder and adore !
But, 4thly, The infidel brands the Gospel with the name of foolishness, because it exacts from him the performance of several duties, which are opposite to the bias of inclination, and seem to bear hard upon human nature.
This is the true basis of all infidelity, whatever other causes men may pretend to assign for their unbelief. — “ The christian doctrine does not “ comply with the ambitious man's desire of " honour, nor the miser's hunting after wealth, si nor with the voluptuous and debauched in " their pleasures and vicious enjoyments; but “ crosses all such appetites, by enjoining humi"s lity, contentedness, contempt of the world,
“ sobriety, chastity, and temperance *.” Hence the tears and clamours of infidelity: hence the general cry of unbelievers, that the preaching of the cross is foolishness. Unwilling to quit their lusts, they affect to despise the religion which condemns them: unable to wean their groveling affections from things below, they would be thought to disbelieve the doctrines of the Gospel, which tend to raise them to things above: in one word, they love darkness, rather than light, because their deeds are evil.
But after all, what are these heavy restraints, which the infidel complains of, as a sore burden too heavy for him to bear? Would the infidel then have no rule of conduct in life? Would he have all the fences of decorum broken down, and the exuberance of human lusts let loose upon the common of nature, unfettered and unrestrained? Or, again, was there ever a religion in the world; nay, was there ever a system of human law or civil, policy, which did not lay some restraint upon the gross and brutal inclinations of human nature? Or can it be thought any hardship to practise the duties of temperance, chastity, sobriety, and patience; of justice, equity, charity, and truth, which are
clearly taught by reason as well as religion, and which every considerate heathen saw to be apparently conducive to the happiness of individuals, as well as of public societies? And if to these the Christian Legislator has superadded some sublimer sentiments of morality, they are such as no less clearly approve themselves to every candid mind. To bear injuries patiently, to forgive, as we hope to be forgiven,-to extend our kindness to all men, in imitation of the great Parent of nature, who sendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust,--to deal with others, as we should reasonably wish to be dealt with ourselves in the same circumstances,—to govern our vicious thoughts and inclinations, as well as to abstain from vicious acts,--to raise our souls from present gratifications to the contemplation of sublimer, though distant enjoyments; these are improvements in morality, which indeed carry the christian system far beyond any other the world ever saw, but which, at the same time, most clearly tend to promote the dignity and happiness of man, and therefore cannot justly be rejected by any one, who wishes to act consiste ently with the dictates of reason, who is not guided by blind lusts and brutal passions.
Thus we see, then, the foolishness of God, ' when rightly weighed, is wiser than men. The