« ForrigeFortsett »
our social duties and to personal virtue most excellent, comprehensive and perfect. The christian religion speaks to us with authority; and its sanctions are new and powerful. No system ever promulged to the world can be justly compared to Christianity in these respects. In morals they were defective ; in theory, perplexing and absurd ;- in the sanctions to virtue, miserably imbecile.
Let us then for a moment consider, that an obscure, illiterate Jew was the author of this religion, so pure, so rational, so comprehensive, so profound, so consoling, so efficient. Is not the conclusion irresistible, that he was inspired by that Spirit, who knows all things, and is the source of intelligence and wisdom? No sage, with the best means of acquiring knowledge, with all the adyantages of a learned education and of elaborate research, ever gave a system so perfect, so full of discoveries respecting the character of God and the duties and the hopes of man. For every effect there must be an adequate cause. The religion of Christ then was from heaven: the doctrines he preached to the world were taught him by the Spirit of God.
In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we find no sectarian spirit, no bigotted prejudices, no
exclusive views ; nothing to nourish selfconceit or spiritual pride. It is calculated for an universal religion ; its blessings are of. tered to the penitent, the humble and pious of every age and nation. Unlike the systems adopted by human policy, it attaches compar. atively trifling importance to rites and ceremonies ; and teaches us that moral goodness consists in humility, in purity, in self-government, in sincerity, in charity. It lays the foundation of virtue in the heart; and enjoins the regulation of the passions; which, unsubdued and undiciplined, are the occasion of all our vices.
To an attentive and unprejudiced reader of the Gospels it must be obvious, that Christianity is a very different thing from what it is represented to be in some scholastic systems of theory. It is addressed to the poor and the illiterate, and insists not at all upon metaphysical distinctions and speculative opinions. The dogmas of theologians have but little support from the Christian religion. The additions of human philosophy have corrupted the simplicity of the Gospel. If we attend to its declarations, we shall find, that what, above all things, it inculcates as important, is a humble, devout, grateful spirit tor
wards God; and a kind, forgiving, charitable disposition towards our fellow men—and to prevent all mistake on this point, it teaches us, that the evidence of our piety and love to God arises wholly from our benevolence and candor, to our brethren of mankind.
A fundamental, an explicit doctrine of the Gospel is, that God is merciful ; that he is in himself propitious; that all our privileges, all our enjoyments and all our hopes are to be referred to his original, essential and unsolicited goodness. That attribute of the Deity which disposes him to pardon the penitent and to bestow favors on man, is not the effect, but the cause of Christ's mediation, and of all the blessings dispensed tous through him. “We testify,” said the Apostle John, “that God sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” "Herein is love that God loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." "God so loved the world, that he sent his only begotten Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”
It is, in my opinion, an essential error, a sentiment, militating with both the spirit and letter of the Gospel, to say, that God is in himself implacable and unpropitious; and
that it is contrary to his nature and attributes
It will be readily granted, that the sacred Scriptures represent Jesus Christ to have been divinely commissioned not only to be the Instructor, but the Savior of mankind. He is not only "the Light of the world ;" but he is the Mediator, the Redeemer of sinfül men. He is a spiritual deliverer ; and is
made the propitiation for the sịns of the world. The Scriptures certainly represent mankind to be in a state of moral blindness and ignorance ; and therefore to need divine instruction and direction to be unduly attached to things temporal and sensual; and, therefore, to need pardon and reformation. The Gospel teaches us, that the truly penitent will find forgiveness ; and, that through the divine mercy, the sincerely virtuous and holy will be made eternally happy. The Gospel also represents Jesus Christ, as the dispenser of these blessings ; as our Mediator and Intercessor or Advocate, in consideration of whose sufferings and ministry immortal life is to be. conferred on man. The manner precisely how this is to be effected, or the degree of efficacy attached to the sufferings and mediation of Christ is difficult fully to explain or positively to state. It is not, however, such as to set aside the free, rich grace of God, in pardoning the sinner, or to render needless on our part deep repentance and sincere obedience. Neither Paul or Peter were crucified for us-yet both were crucified on account of their adherence to religious truth-Nor are we baptiz ed into the name of either of these Apostles, or of any other great and good