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management, or render the intelligence incredible, fup. posing the prince to be wise, as well as gracious? The case is precisely the fame with God. If it be but granted, that it is Mercy extended to those who escape, this abfolutely destroys the force of any objection that can be drawn from the number or circumstances of those that perish.
There is in this respect a beautiful and instructive analogy between the course of divine Providence, and the mę. thods of divine grace; and much in both mult be resolved into the wisdom aud fovereignty of God. There is an immenfe variety in the distribution both of natural advantages and spiritual blessings; and it is vain for us to. expect that we fhould be able to afsign the whole, or indeed alınost any, of the grounds either of the one or the other. But if neither fort is merited, if both are the ef. fects of free undeferved bounty, this cuts off all cause of complaint; and as to the difference which we observe in fact, particularly with regard to the last, we must be content to fay, with the apostle Paul, “For God hath conclu46 ded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upw on all the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and w knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, " and his ways past finding out!"*
From these obfervations it will plainły appear, that departing from the principles above laid down, is a very great injury to the cause of truth, and strengthens that of infidelity. If they are founded upon the word of God, as I hope has been fufficiently proved, then no good can poffibly flow from sofiening or disguifing them, in order to lessen their opposition to the pride and prejudices of corrupt minds. Has such conduct in fact lessened the number of in dels, or reconciled them to the doctrine of Chrift? On the contrary, have they noi become more numerous, and more boldi in their opposition to the gospel, in proportion to the attempts that have been and are made to fuit it to their taste ? Nay, have they not made use of innumerable parages from Christian writers in support of their own cause? For in all such cases, as Christians speak
Rom. xi. 3.29.33;
merely the language of natural religion, or magnify the present powers of the human mind, in order to rear up a self-righteous scheme, they are considered by infidels, and justly, not as defending the gospel with success, but as yielding up the great point in debate, and coming over to their own party.
I proceed now to make some practical improvement of this subject. And, in the
ist place, From what hath been said, you may see the real, the unspeakable moment of propagating Chriftian knowledge. It is indeed, so far as it is cordially embraced, turning men“ from darkness to light, " and from the power of Satan unto God.” These .words have a deep and interesting meaning, if understood as above, but not otherwise. Let us only suppose those who deny or call in question the absolute necessity of salvation through Chrift, employed as missionaries in converting the Heathens : how cold, how ambiguous and inconclusive the arguments with which they would endeavor to press the change ! But the view of it given above, must in the strongest manner dispose every serious person to fupport such a design, and powerfully animate to diligence those who are employed in carrying it into execution.
It is allowed byall, that doing good, andcommunicating happiness, is the most excellent character; that promoting the interest of our brethren of mankind, isa natural fruitand expression of our love to God, and an imitation of the divine benignity. But what comparison is there between any acts of beneficence that regard only the present life and the welfare of the body, and those that affect the everlasting interest of an immortal fpirit ? As far as God's redeeming grace is superior to his providential care, so far must our fincere and successful endeavors to promote the falvation of the foul, excel any relief or help we can give to the wants of the body.
The last of these purposes, however, is often celebrated by infidels, in opposition to the other, which they delight in treating with derision and scorn. But as nothing can be more evident than its comparative excellence, supro
fing its reality ; so there is not the least contrariety between the two designs : so far from it, that they are strongly connected together, and are always best promoted in conjunction. There may be indeed single instances of perfons, from oftentation or other false motives, parting with their goods to feed the poor, who have no true love to God or their brethren. But in general, it is certain, that those who have their treasure in heaven; who love " riot the world, nor the things of the world ;" which, however hard a saying it may appear, is the real character of every Christian, will more easily communicate of what they pole's to those who stand in need. True religion always enlarges the heart, and strengthens the social tie. Every believer must view his poor brethren in several endearing lights, as children of the fame heavenly Father, as under the fame original guilt, dependent on the same Saviour, and preparing for the same judgment; whereas wicked men, however various their characters, do habitually, by luxury and self-indulgence of some kind or other, feed their pride, increase their wants, and inflame their appetites. This not only gives them a narrow turn of mind, but often wastes their fubstance; and so necessarily obstructs their liberality, by taking away both the inclination and ability to bestow.
And as those who have a just concern for the everlasting interest of others, will be most disposed to relieve their present distresles; so the bounty of such will always be best directed, and followed with the happiest effects. They never separate the two great ends, of making men happy in this world, and heirs of eternal life ; and will therefore have it as their chief care, to promote industry and fobriety in all whom they take upon them to supply. It is too often feen, that what is dignified with the finest names, and represented as the effect of generosity, humanity, and compassion, is wholly without merit in the giver, pernicious and hurtful to the receiver. How many diffolute livers are not covetous, only because they are under the dominion of a contrary passion? In the mean time, what thev bellow, is either entirely thrown away by an indifcriminate profusion; or, as is more commonly the case, it
is worse than thrown away, being confined to the most worthless of all wretches, who are their aflifiants or companions in their crimes. In opposition to this, a re:1 Christian, supremely governed by the love of God, will direct every action to his glory; and while compaflion, strengthened by a sense of duty, excites him to deal his bread to the hungry, he will have a still superior solicitude to preserve them from fin. Instead of an injudicious fupply of fuel to their lust, which is easy to a slothful, and gratifying to a carnal mind, he will endeavor to fit them for heaven, by suitable instruction; and rescue them from want and idleness in this world, by lawful industry.
These two great purposes have been jointly promoted by the society in Scotland for propagating Christian knowledge. They have been promoted with a moft laudable zeal and diligence, and with a success fully equal to the means the society are possessed or furnished with for carrying them on. The promoting of true religion, loyalty, and industry, in the highlands of Scotland, was the first object of their care: and the importance of encouraging it has been represented in the strongest light on many former occasions of this fort, and is well knowii. But there is another part of their design, to spread the knowledge of Christ, the only Saviour of sinners, among the unenlightened Heathen nations. On this, the subject of niy discourse leads me to speak a little more particularly.
Of the importance of such a design every one who believes the gospel must be sensible. But, except the very restricted efforts of the society, little or nothing lias ever been attempted by the British nation. And is not God, in his righteous providence towards us at present, manifeitly and feverely punishing us for this neglect ? Are we not engaged in war with a potent and formidable neighbor, in which the supreme Disposer of all events hath vi. sibly written disappointment on every one of our attempts? Did not this war take its rise from the disputed limits of our territories in America ? And are not our colonies in that part of the world exposed to the most cruel and merciless depredations ? Are not families, which ought to be
quiet and peaceable habitations, frequently alarmed in the dilence of the night with the cry of war; and the tenderest relations often butchered in each other's presence, and that by a people of a strange language, while the weak mother and helpless infant can only lift a fupplicating eye, but cannot alk for mercy? Who then are the instruments of this cruelty ? Must we not answer, Those very Indians, a great part of whose territory we possess, and whom, with a contempt equally impolitic and unchristian, we suffer to continue in ignorance of the only living and true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent?
Such a particular interpretation of the language of Providence may be thought bold; but there are many circumstances which, in a manner, constrain us to confess its propriety. We have been a nation early and long favored with the light of divine truth, and are therefore Lound to communicate it to others.
That distant country was a refuge to many of our pious forefathers, when flying from the rage of ecclesiastic tyranny; and the territory either taken from, or ceded to us by these people, has been the great source of wealth and power to this nation. But what seems chiefly to warrant this application is, that the care taken by our enemies to convert the Indians, is the chief, if not the single cause of their fuperior interest among that people. Their free, indeser:dent manner of living, makes the Britih temper, character, and customs, in all other respects more agreeable to them.
But being once converted, not to the Christian faith, but to the Remith fuperfiition, they are inviciablyattached to the French interest. And that politic, but fraudulent nation, are able to cover and excule their own treacherous defigns, hy the nagovernable and favage barbarity of their Indian allics.
C:n there be therefore a inore noble, a more important, or more necessary exercise of Christian charity, than enabling the society to carry on their useful and falutary • schemes, especially to extend their millions to the Indian tribes? Who ta krows the value of immortal fouls, can refute to contribute his share in promoting this excellent defie? Wo that fears the jiuli juden:ent and difplendinga