Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

branch of our faith; but natural religion has neither of these. The salvation of man is the result of the triumph of Jesus Christ over Satan: natural religion knows nothing of either party. Our whole life here upon earth is a struggle against temptation from the powers of darkness, under which the grace of God only is able to support us, but natural religion says not one word either of grace or temptation. . So that upon the whole, if there is a doctrine among Christians, which can render their whole creed ineffectual and impertinent, it is this, that religion (properly so called) is natural to man: from which the inferences are obvious, that nature has been encroaching upon religion, and undermining civil society, ever: since its claims were set on foot hy some speculating divines, and taken up on their authority, by the Deists. How we shall get back again from nature to Christianity, God Almighty knows! The progress is up hill, and

, therefore difficult and doubtful. The case of the Heathens at the propagation of Christianity was not nearly so bad as that of Christians, relapsed; by this road, into infidelity. They saw and confessed, that nature had carried them into error and mişery: that they were become fools by pretending to be wise: and so they were glad to take a better guide. But when men have taken the blind guide as the best of all, and think they can see every thing by their own light; they will go on in their own way till it is too late to turn back. All we can do, with hope of success, is to warn others not to follow them.

The clergy of this church are admonished by the canons, to preach against Popery four times in a year ; but if they were now to preach forty times in a year against this modern religion of nature, it might be more to the purpose,

Moralists, then, may boast of their dignity as the please : our religion is made for men who hars :65: heir dignity; and it will succeed only upon toga who glory in their infirmities, and determine to anos nothing but Christ crucified. He who sets up lis dignity, independent of revelation and divine grase, hath forgotten that he was baptized; and hath inverter a new Gospel, as subversive of the old, as tbe vain tra ditions of the Scribes and Pharisees were subversive of the Mosaic Law. The wise men of this world (as that think and call themselves) err grossly upon this subject; giving us representations of human nature, as much differing from fact, as the scenery of pastoral, with all the artificial ornaments of poetry, differs from the ignorance and rusticity of real life. In this our modern reasoners are condemned by the Heathens, who have left us true and striking descriptions of human corruption. They never pretended that their religion was natural : their gods were traditional ; they were the gods of their fathers ; they signified the different powers of the created world; and their whole ritual was a system of erpiation by sacrifice, such as natural religion never owned nor thought of, Let scholars consider this fact*.

Heathens did not allow of a light of nature as a sufficieut guide in religion of civil life: and their writings abound with tes timonies of its insufficiency and corruption, Nec naturq potest justo secernere iniquum.

Hor. Sat. Lib. i. 3. nolepov yy pavles vilet lov mphaporn x; wavles pingou, ton. • Do all mankind drink of the cup of error when they come into life? Yea, said he, they all drink of it." Cebes in Tab.

Αθαναίος μεν πωλα θιες, νομων ως διακειται

Τιμα“ Worship the immortal Gods as it is laid down by the law." Haveler we take this precept, which is as it were the first commande

dig

Set

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Another obsei vation which occurs is this; that if cub. children are born in sin, and nature has this propenFursity to evil, parents and teachers may thence underErmic: stand, how absolutely necessary it is for them to begin

their instructions early; to bend nature, while it is tendivix der and will yield to correction: for the sin that is bred

in them will grow, if it be neglected, as fast as they the

grow; its seeds will strike deep root into the soil; and subre: afterwards, when you would sow the seeds of godliness

you

find the ground occupied, (past all recovery,) with on ti the weeds of nature.

Lastly, as the origin of evil is a question which has

tortured the wits of men in all ages, let this consideraLifters: tion satisfy us, that God has permitted evil for the sake the only of greater good : that his attributes and divine Hearr powers could never have been understood and admi

red by us, if they had not been opened by that scheme

of redemption, in which mercy and truth are met tolit gether, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. fied: Never let us torment ourselves with asking the ques

tion" could not God have prevented the fall of uch: man?" Thus the Jews ignorantly reasoned about the 1 death of Lazarus—" could not this man, who opened

the eyes of the blind, have caused that this man should not have died?To be sure he could; but the glory of God, and the instruction of mankind, were better secured by his death, than they could have been by his preservation. Therefore Christ said of his sickness, this sickness is not unto death; it hath not happened

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

10

ment of heathenism, nothing can be found in it like what is now called natural religion. For, if you, law, here signifies the law of nature, then they held polytheism to be natural: if it means the common law of cies and kingdoms, then it puts all men under the traditionary worship of their country, and refers them only to the gods of their futhers,

[ocr errors]

that death may be at the end of it, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. Lazarus died, that Jesus might raise him up;

and man is fallen, that God may be glorified in his restoration. Here every wise and good man will rest; this consideration is sufficient for us at present; and as for those deep counsels of God into which we are now not able to penetrate, let us trust, that they will be farther re. vealed to us in a better state “ When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

)

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

THE first part of the following work is extant in a French translation; and may be purchased, for the use of such young people as are learning that language, with the English, at Messra. Robinson's, Paternoster Row.

« EdellinenJatka »