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SECT. XXIV.

Of the Date, and Efficacy of the Christian Dispensation.

The ob-« T) UT if this Religion is a Difjeaion. « J-^ pensation of lb excellent a Na"ture, as to teach many more laving "Doctrines, for the enlightening of the "Understanding, and prescribe many "more wholelbme Laws, for the Re"gulation of human Life, than the "deepest Re-learches of Philosophy "could ever attain; a how comes it to "pass, that it was not discovered "sooner, or that it is not now commu"nicated to all? The Notion, we have "of God's universal Benevolence, would "tempt us to think, that a Remedy of "this sovereign Nature lhould immedi"ately, and as loon as there was Occa"lion for it, have been equally dis"penfed to all his Children, since all "had corrupted themselves, and had "an equal need of it. 'Tis inconsistent "with the Character of God, who is "no Respecter of Persons, but heholdeth

« all 'Vid. Christianity wold, Qpc, e. 14. tsjfm.

"all the Dwellers upon Earth without "Partiality and Prejudice, to be good «* and merciful to a few only, but cruel "and unmerciful to the rest. If he "acts always for the good of his Crea** tures, what Reason can be afilgn'd, "why he lhould not, from the Begin"ning, have discovered such things, as "make for their Good, since the sooner "this was made, the greater would his "Goodness be; whereas, upon the "Supposition, that Christianity has all "this Perfection in it, it cannot be de-" "nied, but that God left all Mankind 4t for 4000 Years together, and even "to this Day, the far greater Part of "them, destitute of sufficient Means to "perform their Duty, and preserve "themselves from sinking into a cor"rupt and degenerate State; which "cannot but bear hard upon his Justice "and Mercy; supposing, I say, that "Christianity has all this Perfection in "it: But, according to the present Ap"pearance of things, it seems to have *' no such "Virtue ; nor can it be esteemed "a proper Remedy to the Corruptions "of Mankind, when its Effect is ib lie— "tie seen in Experience. For what "impartial Man, who has compared *' the former and present Condition of "Mankind, can think the World much

"mended

i( mended since the Time of Tiberius; "or, tho' ever so well versed in Church". History, can, from the Conduct of "Christians, find that they are arriv'd "to any higher State of Perfection, than "the rest of Mankind, who are suppos'd "to continue in their Degeneracy and "Corruption?"

Answer- It would but badly become us, who 2?» *?y have such imperfect Notions of the

shewing, ,_, . . r 1 r 1

thataRe- Things, that are before us, to pry into the veiation Counselsof theJlmightyr; but there are certo° some tam hints,which may be gather'd from the more Works of his Creation and Trovidence, r£an °r to teach us the Reasons of his other Difansonant penfations. 'Tis allow'd on all Hands, *•his that Godh, for the greater display of his Crmtiof Goodness, has very wisely created disand Pro- tinct Orders of intelligent Beings, one avidewe. ^ove another; and, consequently, that there is a very great Inequality between the several Parts of the moral Creation. Every one, that looks into the World, will find, that Men have not, only vastlydifferent Capacities for discovering the Obligations of true Religion and Morality, but that their Opportunities and Advantages likewise are different. Some not only enjoy greater Strength of Reason, but are much more likely (if their

Faculties

* Ftjlcr'i Usefulness of the Christian Revelation.

Faculties were but equal) considering
the Circumstances, in which they are
placed, to form righter Notions about
these important Points, than others:
and, if the Rectitude of human Nature
consists in the Practice of Virtue, these
Persons certainly enjoy better Means,
and more favourable Opportunities, of
pursuing their supreme rational Happi-
ness, than those, whose Knowledge,
and, consequently, whose Practice of
Religion and Morality is corrupted and
depraved by false and dishonourable
Notions of God, and by a low and ex-
travagant Superstition. Now, as there
is apparently a Diversity of Beings, and,
among Beings of the lame Species, a Di-
versity of Gifts and Capacities, of Ad-
ministrations and Means, in the rational
System; why may not the great Go-
vernor of the World make the lame, or
a greater Difference between Mankind
by a particular Revelation, granting it
to some, and denying it to others, as is
most visibly and constantly made in the
common Course of his Providence?

A Revelation, in stiort, is a volun- Js no In* tary Favour and Donation of God, which, l^e of however we may wifli or desire, we have PartkJiH, no Right to claim and demand j and therefore, cas God is not oblig'd to I i make

Clarke's Evidence.

make all his Creatures equal, to make Men Angels, and endow them with the fame Faculties and Capacities ; so neither is he bound to make all Men capable of the fame Degree, or of the fame kind of Happiness; or afford all Men the fame Means and Opportunities of obtaining it. For we mistake the Matter much, if we think, d that the Impartiality of God consists in treating all his Creatures, even of the lame Species, alike. It does not stint him in the free Distribution of his Favours, wherein he may act with what Variety, and make what Difference, he pleases; but it regards chiefly, if not altogether, the Execution of Justice: and the most that it supposes is, that God is equally desirous, that all Men should obtain that Happiness, which is suitable to their particular Stations, Capacities, and Circumstances; and that, in Quality of their Governor and Judge, he has given them sufficient Means to know and practise all, that he requires of them; and will equally favour and reward the equally sincere (whatever the Difference of their Advantages be) in Proportion to their Tho', a • Improvements and Services.

Sw? Had we indeed anY reason t0 think> nary Fa- * that God would judge Men for the

vourto Trans

its.

* Foster's Usefulness. 'Bp of Lend. ad.fcast- Let.

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