« AnteriorContinuar »
I Must not forget to mention here, that, though infidels may ridicule the doctrine of divine assistances, Christians cannot but acknowledge the grace of the Holy Spirit aiding the persecuted Jews and Christians. Much might be also said of the restraints on the one hand, and of the interposition of Providence on the other, respecting the preservation of the Scriptures: and it ought ever to be remembered, that while we are able to fee some of the fecondary causes of the preservation' and safe conveyance of the holy Scriptures, we ought not to overlook the first- cause: in these secondary causes we are made to perceive the wisdom and care of an over-ruling providence.
On this argument we have been led insensibly to compare the Jewish and Romish churches together. There is a remarkable resemblance between them, in communicating the Scriptures to the world: In this character both are equally unexceptionable. The Jews deny the truth of Christianity; Papists reprobate Protestantism. But, by the Jewish writings, men are convinced of the truth of Christianity: "we alledge, and - • ■ prove "prove, that Jesus is the Christ:" and the Bible is the Protestant's strong hold against the errors and corruptions of Popery. The Jewish writings contain descriptions exactly corresponding to their history in formertimes, and to their history at this day: and in the books which Roman-Catholics and Protestants acknowledge to be divine, are descriptions of a system to which we find nothing agreeing in ancient and modern times, the wonderful system of Popery excepted. How singular and striking, and affecting, are the descriptions of the Antichristian power! Can they possibly apply to any thing but to Papal Rome, and her exorbitant claims; her once extensive power, her bigotry, intolerance, cruelty, superstition, and idolatry? And the more exactly she is described, the more are we established in the belief of the Scriptures; not only because their prophecies are fulfilled, prophecies too of so uncommon a nature; but, especially, because their truth is acknowledged by those they describe.
Are not we prepared, by considering these things, to join the Apostle Paul in his devout exclamation, " O the depth of the riches R 2 "botfc "both of the wisdom and knowledge of '*god!" The fall of the Jews was the riches, the salvation, the establishment of the Gentiles, and an awful warning to the Christian church; and the defections, and idolatry, and superstitions of the Roman-Catholic church, serve to confirm the faith of Christians; and to enhance their esteem for, and attachment to, the holy Scriptures. If the fall of both, and their diminishing, are the advantage of men, it is natural for us to say, with the apostle, in the chapter referred to, "how much more their fulness!" What a glorious period will that be, wherein the veil shall be taken from Israel, and Rome shall forsake her abominations; and a pure offering, a spiritual worship, shall be every where offered up; and all men shall receive and obey the truth as it is in Jesus!
In reviewing what has been suggested on the preservation and transmission of the New Testament, we are well warranted to say, as before of the Old Testament, it is divine: it is preserved entire, it is transmitted safely: The preservation and transmission of the Gospel, afford satisfying evidences qf its truth. ♦ If,
If, my friends, we have good reason to make these conclusions, what shall we say of those who despise this salvation \ who live as if they could demonstrate the Scriptures have no just claim to this origin? but, if they cannot demonstrate this; in neglecting and refusing the Scriptures, for aught they know, they may be " fighting against God."
And can men be reconciled to live in a state like this? If there is but a probability that this Gospel is true, though we should forget all the evidences of authenticity, in its nature, and history, and effects, how can they be reconciled to this state? how can their conduct be explained?
It is not difficult to explain their conduct, without supposing them possessed of a demonstration, that Christianity may be safely neglected. We can account for their ease and indifference, without supposing they are rationally convinced of the falsity of revelation.
Men are prejudiced against what costs them trouble, crosses their inclinations, and
interrupts interrupts their favourite pursuits: engrossed by present objects and pleasures, they lose fight of distant and future ones: they are pleased with what countenances them, and justifies their conduct: they magnify every appearance of reason into demonstration, that sooths and favours them: they listen not to demonstrations that overturn their system and condemn their practice. Passion and dissipation annihilate argument, extinguish faith.
How careful then ought Christians to be, lest the irreligious should find in them what countenances and justifies their conduct, and confirms their prejudices against the Gospel!
There is one order of men, whose morals and conduct sliould be peculiarly blameless, nay eminently holy and exemplary, because of the enemy*
My Fathers and Brethren!
Suffer the word of exhortation. Ours is an office of high responsibility: " We are "allowed of God to be put in trust with the