Графични страници
PDF файл

that it is contrary to his nature and attributes to pardon the penitent. The language of Christianity is far otherwise: It teaches that the Deity is gracious and ready to forgive the humble, penitent and returning sinner. To reveal this glorious attribute of God, Christ came into the world. Nor is this at all inconsistent with the doctrine, that God has constituted his Son our Mediator and Redeemer, by whom he sees fit to bestow spiritual and immortal blessings on mankind. Whilst the Scriptures speak of Christ as a Savior, and as being made a sacrifice for sin, (which goes to show the heinousness of moral evil) they expressly declare, that it was owing to the grace of God, that Jesus, our divine Lord, was commissioned to dispense pardon and life to a sinful world. If men would lay aside their prejudices and prepossessions, they would find this consoling doctrine in any page of the evangelical history.

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 sinful men. He is a spiritual deliverer; and is

made the propitiation for the sins 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 baptized into the name of either of these Apostles, or of any other great and good

man. It seems therefore to be destroying the plain sense of Scripture, to consider Christ merely as a martyr to the truth.

Although there exist among professing Christians various sects, and different opinions as to some doctrines believed to be taught in the Gospels, it is apprehended that this diversity of sentiment is not so great as is often represented: And that in all great and essential truths, they are generally agreed, notwithstanding some verbal difference which appear when they engage in disputation and controversy. To any one, who carefully peruses the Gospels, or other books of the sacred Scriptures, we think, it will be evident, that mankind are represented to be in a fallen and degenerate, yet probationary state; that liable as they are to sin, and feeble comparatively as are their moral powers, they still are subjects of hope and of mercy, and capable of becoming renewed and holy; that however unable they are, strickly speaking, to merit any thing of their Creator, and their salvation is to be resolved into the free grace of God through the Redeemer, yet are consideration, repentance, reformation and sincere obedience indispensably requisite to justify their hopes of pardon and eternal life; and

that, though they need divine assistance in avoiding sin and in discharging their duty, still they are without excuse if they live in vice, and must themselves zealously and faithfully strive to make their immortal happiness secure. In a word, that God has graciously provided for our improvement and felicity; and that if any perish, it will be owing to their own folly and wickedness.

The supernatural works performed by Jesus Christ, the founder of our holy religion, are also to be brought into view, in considering the various proofs of his being inspired and assisted of God. In the course of his ministry, he wrought miracles the most wonderful and beneficent, displaying at once the power and goodness of a heavenly messenger. It was truly a philosophical remark of Nicodemus, the Jewish rabbi, addressed to our Lord, that "no one could do such works as he did, except God was with him."—It has indeed been pretended, that miracles are contrary to our experience, and imply a suspension of the laws of nature: and, therefore, cannot be supposed to be real and genuine. But, surely our experience is too partial and limited to warrant us in pronouncing a thing impossible, merely because it has not come within our

own personal knowledge and observation. And to deny the possibility of miracles, is to limit the power of omnipotence. It is strictly rational and philosophical to suppose, that he, who established the order of nature, may change or suspend it, according to his sovereign will. He who formed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into him the breath of life-he, certainly, can cure the most inveterate diseases by his word; and, at his will, can re-animate the dead body which slumbers in the tomb.

It is proper to remark, that the miracles recorded in the Gospel are such as we might expect would be performed by a benevolent being, in support of his claims to the character of a divine instructor. They discover neither caprice nor ostentation, though frequently done publicly and in the presence of those who were disposed to scrutinize and to object. They were designed for the relief of the afflicted and distressed; and the occasions, on which they were performed, were suitable for the exertion of supernatural power in one commissioned to enlighten and reform the world.

But not only must we admit, that miracles are possible, and that those ascribed to our

« ПредишнаНапред »