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suited. Christians, under the temptations of ease and security, would forget themselves, and go to sleep; they are therefore obliged to their adversaries for disturbing them, that they may awake, like Samson, and discover their own strength. So little reason have we! \a fact to be terrified with the threatenings of our adversaries, that we invite them to enter with us upon a comparison between the word and the works of God. For it will be found true, as I shall endeavour to shew, that the invisible things of God, that is, the things concerning his Being and his Power, and the oeconomyof his spiritual kingdom, whiqh are the objects of our - faith, are clearly seen from the creation of the world, and understood by the things that are made.
Having much matter to propose, I must not indulge myself in the use of any superfluous words. A plain and unadorned discourse will be accepted rather foP the meaning than the form; and as I am about to consider the works of God in a new capacity, I must bespeak your attention, not without a degree of your candour also, to excuse an adventurous excursion into an unfrequented path of divinity.
Let us enquire then, how the religious state of man, and the spiritual kingdom of God, as the Scriptures have made known to us: that is, how Christianity, as a scheme of doctrine, agrees with the works of God, and the ceconomy of Nature? In consequence of which it will be found, that the Christian Religion hath the attestation of natural philosophy; and that every other religion hath it not.
Our Bible teaches us these great principles or doctrines; that man is now in a fallen state of forfeiture under Sin and Death, and suffering the penalties of disobedience: that, as a religious being, he is the scholar of heaven, and must be taught of God; that
the Almighty Father of men and angels gives him life and salvation by his Word and Spirit; in other words, by Christ and the Holy Ghost: that there is danger to us from the malignity and power of evil spirits: that a curse hath been inflicted upon the earth by a flood of* water: that there is no remission of sin without shedding of blood; and that a divine life is supported in us by partaking of the death of Christ in the Paschal or Sacramental Feast of the Lord's table; that there is a restoration to life after death by a resurrection of the body; and lastly, that the world which we inhabit shall be destroyed by fire.
These are the principles, at least the chief of them, which are peculiar to the Scriptures. He that believes them is a Christian; and if the works and ways of nature have a correspondence with these principles, and 4vith no other, then ought every natural philosopher to be a Christian believer.
I. Let us proceed then to examine how the case stands. The unbelieving philosopher supposes man to be in the same state of perfection now, as when he came from the hands of his Creator. But the infirmities of his mind, with the diseases and death of his body, proclaim the contrary. When the death of man is from the hand of man, according to the laws of justice, it is an execution: and it is the same in its nature, when inflicted upon all men by the hands of a justjGod, The moral history of man informs us, that he offended God by eating in sin. His natural history shews us, that, in consequence of it, he now eats in labour and sorrow. The world is full of toil and trouble; and for what end, but that man may earn his'daily bread ? The hands of the husbandman are hardened, and his back is bowed down with the cultivation of the earth. Thorns and thistles prevail against him, and multiply his labour. While some are toiling upon the earth, others are doomed to work underneath it. Some are exercised and wasted with works of heat: some for a livelihood are exposed to the storms and perils of the sea; and they who are called to the dangers of war, support their lives at the hazard of losing them.
The woman, who was first in the transgression, is distinguished by sorrows peculiar to her sex; and if some are exempt, they are exceptions which confirm the 'general law; and shew, that the penalty doth not follow by any necessity of Nature, but is inflicted.
Many are the unavoidable sorrows of life; but if we consider how many more are brought upon man by himself, it is plain his mind is not right: for if he had his sight and his senses, he would see better and avoid them.
Suppose human nature to be perfect; what is the consequence? We not only contradict our own daily experience :, but we supersede the use of Christianity, by denying the existence of those evils, for which only it is provided. The whole system of it is offered to us as a cure for the consequences of the fall. From the accommodation of its graces, gifts, and sacraments to the wants of our nature, we have a demonstration that our minds are in a distempered and sinful state: as the drugs and instruments in the shop of the surgeon are so many arguments that our bodies are frail and mortal.
II.' The Scriptures declare farther, that man, thus born in sin and sorrow, would grow up in darkness and ignorance, as to all heavenly things, unless he were taught of God: whose word is therefore said to be a light. The case is the same in nature. For how doth man receive the knowledge of all distant objects? not by a light within himself, but by a light which comes to him from heaven, and brings to his sight a sense of the objects from which it is reflected. What an uninformed empty being would man become in his bodily state: how destitute of the knowledge of all remote objects, but f jr the rays of light which come to bim from without? . Such would he be in his religious capacity without the light of revelation, which was therefore sent out into all lands, as the light of the sun is diffused throughout the world: The people that walked in darkness (which is the state we are born to) have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light sinned*. The Scriptures declare that we are in a state of stupidity and death, till we are illuminated by the Gospel: Azvake thou that steepest, and rise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light f. But they cannot make our souls worse than our bodies would be without the visible lights of heaven; and therefore in this respect, the physical state of man answers precisely to his religious state; and if we duly observe and reflect upon the one, we must admit the other also, or oppose the testimony of our senses.
III. The Gospel informs us, that there is a light of life to the soul of man, and a divine spirit of God which quickens and inspires; and that the whole ceconomy •of grace is administered to us by the persons of the Son and the Holy Ghost. And are not the principles of man's natural life maintained by a parallel agency in nature? Do we not there also find a light to animate, and a spirit to inspire and give us breath? The divine Spirit, from his nature and office, takes its name from the air or natural spirit of the world, which supplies us with the breath of life. On the day of Pente-' cost he descended from heaven under the outward sign * Js;i. ix. a, i Eph, v. 14,
of a rushing mighty wind; that from his philosophical emblem we might understand his nature and operations; who, like the wind, is invisible, irresistible, the medium of life and the inspirer of the prophets and apostles, who all spake as the Spirit gave them utterance. The air is the instrument of speech, and the vehicle of sound. Such was the divine Spirit to the apostles; by whose aid and operation, their sound went out into all lands. The ways of the Spirit of God in the birth of man unto grace, are hidden from us: we distinguish him only by his effects: so it is in nature: we hear the sound of the wind, but we cannot tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth. Thus did our Saviour himself illustrate the operations of the Holy Ghost from those of the air: and, what is very remarkable, he communicated the Holy Ghost to his disciples under the outward sign of breathing upon them.
In the invisible kingdom of God, there is a sun of righteousness which rises upon a world thatlieth in darkness; raising up the dead to anew life, and restoring all that sin and death had destroyed. So doth the visible world present to us the great luminary of the day, whose operations are in all respects like to those of the sun of righteousness. In the morning it prevails over darkness, and in the spring it restores the face of Nature.
When the Scriptures say that the powers of the Word and Spirit of God are necessary to the souls of men; they say no more than what the most scrupulous philosophy must admit in regard to their bodies : »for certainly mankind cannot subsist without the sun and the air. They must have light, to live by as well as to see by; and they must haye breath, without which they can neither live, nor speak, nor hear.