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MreHan° *n ^ aPologv ^os tne sufficiency of reamer in de- son in religion, you have confounded christiaIhristian n^Y wit^ ^ inventions of the doctors. The religion, religion of Jesus is not a compound of mystery, absurdity, and persecution. It is not what the divines have made it in their systems. It is not Trinity in Unity j a creed turned into a riddle j nor does it teach the doctrine of a slaughtered God, as a victim of infinite merit, to appease an inexorable Deity. This is a doctrine erroneous and despicable. But the religion of "Jesus is that natural truths which is older than the creation. It is a republication of the pure law of nature, which flows from the reason and fitness of things, and was promulgated by Jesus, the blessed servant of God, at a time when the condition of mankind was miserable j when they were sunk in immorality and wickedness; and had deviated from the paths of virtue, in which theifc happiness lay, and by walking in which alone .they could attain to it. It was for this reasons God was pleased, thro his innate goodness, tojend them an extraordinary person to reclaim them, and so let them right '%. the way of living j that his design in creating them, which was to communicate happiness, might be accomplished. This person was the most glorious of all creatures, and honoured with the title of the only begotten Son of God, that is, his well beloved Son, on account of his miraculous conception, his resurrection from the dead, and his being the promised Messiah, the great Prophet and Savior of the world. We arc all the sons of God, and begotten, which is a figurative expression in the Bible, to express God's acting as a kind father,—to denote the divine paternity, in his producing such beings as we are into a new and happy state of existence, and in his preserving and delivering us from evil, by an active omniscience equal to the intricate ways of men, and to the perilous condition of individuals. Thus Moses tells the Israelites, of the rock which begat thee thou art unmindful And the prophet fays to the Jews —Andfay, to the stock, thou hast begotten me j upbraiding them for their idolatry, at the fame time that they enjoyed every divine blessing under the theocracy. A great number of texts might be brought together to this purpose, to shew the true meaning of the phrase begotten: And as our Lord was more excellent than all other beings, - as he loved righteousness and
hated iniquity more than any one else, and for this reason was anointed with the oyl of gladness, and exalted above his fellows, therefore he is styled the only begotten Son of God. There is no difficulty at all then in forming an idea of the Deity's begetting, or having a begotten Son, since no more rs meant by it than his fending the most perfect creature he could produce, called by the name of Jesus, to save the human race from their sins, by giving them a fine system of morality, a complete draught of natural religion, and intreating them to live according to it. 'With mis surely we oupht not to find fault, but rather with the highest gratitude return our most hearty thanks to our creator, for his beneficence, in fending us a person of so spotless a character, who committed no sin, intended ho fraud, required no divine homage, nor in the least affected to be like God j tho by his power, goodness, and extensive benevolence, he very much resembled him'—in sending such a person to revele doctrines worthy of God, and of men to believe and practise, having a direct tendency so establish virtue, order, and hpppiness in
the world; —— . and for enabling him
to recommend these doctrines to the consideration of mankind, by many strange and wonderful works performed, in order to excite the attention, and prove to them his divine authority.
How much this was wanting in she world —What need there was of such a messenger and message, to bring mankind to worship the Lord their God, a'nd serve him alone; to love him with all their hearts, fouls,
strength strength and mind; and to imitate bis moral and amiable perfections; — to bring men to be of a meek and humble, peaceable and charitable spirit; to forgive and love their enemies, and to do unto others what they would have them do unto them j—not to be rash in judging, uncharitable in censuring, hor revengeful in resentments j but to be of a kind and forgiving disposition towards all men, as they would expect and desire, that God would forgive themselves in judgment, and admit them to the mansions of the blessed in a future state; — how much such reveled doctrines were wanted, with evidences of power and wisdom more than human to support them, we are told by as great a reasoner as ever lived. • "The knowledge of one God, maker of "all things, and a clear knowledge of their "duty was wanting to mankind. This part "of knowledge, tho cultivated with care, a by some of the heathen philosophers; yet "got little footing among the people." All men, indeed, under pain, of displeasing the Gods, were to frequent the temples. Every one went to their sacrifices and services. But the priests made it not their business to teach them virtue. If they were diligent in their observations and ceremonies; punctual in their feasts and solemnities, and the tricks of religion, the holy tribe assured them, the
Gods Gods were pleased, and they looked no farther. Few went to the schools of the philosophers, to be instructed in their duties, and to know what was good and evil in their actions. The priests fold the better pennyworths, and therefore had all their custom. Lustrations and processions were much easier than a clean conscience and a steddy course of virtue; and an expiatory sacrifice, that atoned for the want of it, was much more convenient than a strict and holy life.
And if they had gone to hear the philosophers, they would have found their several systems short of the perfection of a true and complete morality — Scattered sayings, conformable indeed to right reason, and excellent in themselves, but what, as incoherent apothegms, could never make a perfect morality. Tho there was a law of nature, known to these wise men, yet no body undertook to give it all intire, as a law — there was no finished Code written, that mankind might have recourse to, as their unerring rule. Natural religion, in its full extent, was no where taken care of by the force of natural reason. The philosophers were but private men. They could do little more than bear their testimony, and have the satisfaction to deliver their fouls, when the world was armed against truth. To remove the loads of rubbish, which by degrees had been , thrown