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sels, and ways, and of the spiritual and invisible world; it is unreasonable to expect any other, than that many things in such a revelation should be utterly beyond our understanding. For was there ever a time, when, if there had been a revelation of the very truth in philosophical matters—concerning created things, which are of a vastly lower nature, and must be supposed more proportioned to our understandings—there would not have appeared many things, not only to the vulgar, but to the learned of that age, absurd and impossible ? ny of those positions in philosophy, which are now received by the learned world as indubitable truths, had been revealed from heaven to be truths in past ages, they would have seemed as impossible as the most mysterious Christian doctrines do now. I believe, that if, even now, there should come a revelation from heaven of what is the very truth in these matters without devi. ating at all to accommodate it to our received notions and principles, there would be many things in it that would seem absurd and contradictory. I now receive principles as certain, which once, if they had been told me, I should have regarded as difficult as any mystery in the bible. Without doubt, much of the difficulty that we have about the doctrines of Christianity, arises from wrong principles that we receive. We find that those things which are received as principles in one age, and are never once questioned, are yet exploded in another age, as light increases. If God makes a revelation to us, he must reveal to us the truth as it is, without accommodating himself to our notions and principles; which would indeed be impossible: for those things which are our received notions in one age, are contrary to what are so in another; and the word of God was not given for any particular age, but for all ages. It surely becomes us to receive what God reveals to be truth, and to look upon his word as proof sufficient; whether what he reveals squares with our notions or not.
I rather wonder that the word of God contains no more mysteries in it; and I believe it is because God is so tender of us, and reveals only such things as he sees that man, though so weak a creature, if of an humble and an honest mind, can well enough bear. Such tenderness we see in Christ towards his disciples; he had many things to say, but forbore, because they could not bear them yet. Though God does not depart from truth to accomodate himself to our manner of thinking, yet I believe he accomodates himself to our way of understanding, in his manner of expressing and representing things, as we are wont to do, when teaching little children.
§ 36. What can be more reasonable, than to believe a man, when he tells us, that he is sent from God to heal the diseases of our souls, and, in order that we may believe him, heals all sorts of men, of all manner of diseases, by a touch, or a word ; and plainly shows that he can do it when he will, and let the disease be what it will ? He tells us, that he will deliver us from spiritual and eternal death; that he will raise us from the dead, and give us eternal life; so that we shall live for ever, and not die; and to prove this, he gives evidence that he has power over men's lives, by restoring them after they are dead ; and rises from the dead himself. He tells us, that he will bestow heavenly glory upon us; and will translate us to heaven ; and, to confirm us in this belief, tells us, that we shall see himself, after his death, ascend into heaven. What more could we desire ? He tells us that he will undertake for us, and appear for us before God; and that we need not doubt, if he pleads for us, he shall procure acceptance, and, that we may see that it is true, he asks of God concerning a man who had been dead four days, that he may come to life again ; and tells God, that he asks it for this end, that we may see that he always hears him, and grants what he requests; and accordingly, at his request, the dead man comes to life.
37. “ What argument more proper (says Dr. Tillotson) to convince them of another life after this, than to see a man raised from the dead and restored to a new life? What fitter to satisfy a man concerning heaven and the happy state of those there, than to see one visible taken up into heaven? And what more fit to assure us that the promises of the gospel are real, and shall be made good to us, than to see him who made those promises to us, raise himself from the dead, and go up into heaven, and from thence dispense miraculous gifts abroad in the world, as evidences of the power and authority with which he is invested ? All the philosophical arguments which a man can bring for the soul's immortality and another life, will have no force upon vulgar apprehensions, in comparison of these sensible demonstrations, which give an experiment of the thing, and furnish us with an instance of something of the same kind, and of equal difficulty with that which is propounded to our belief.”
§ 38. Why was not Christ, after he rose from the dead, during his stay upon earth, with his disciples, as he was before? The very different states that Christ and his disciples were now in, would not allow of it. Christ, before his death, while in his humiliation, was in a like state with them. He was subject to hunger and thirst, as they were; he needed sleep as they did; he needed the like defence from the weather that they did, and the like : but when he was risen from the dead, the case was exceedingly altered; he then began his exaltation. He put off mortality, and all the infirmities of his body. The nature of his body was different from theirs, as things celestial differ from things terrestrial. Mortal beings are not apt for a cohabitation with immortal ; nor terrestrial
with celestial; nor corruption with incorruption. God will not thus mix and confound heaven and earth.
§ 39. Much of the scriptures is apt to seem insipid to us now, as though there were no greater matter of instruction in it; because the points of instruction most plainly contained in it, are old to us, and what we have been taught from our infancy. The doctrines are so plain to us now, that there scems to have been no need of a particular revelation of such things ; especially of insisting upon them so much. But how exceedingly different would it bave seemed if we had lived in those times when the revelation was given, when the things were in a great measure new, at least as to that distinctness and expressiveness of their revelation ? If we had an idea of the state of the world, when God gave the revelation, they would appear glorious instructions, bringing great light into the world, and most worthy of God.
$ 40. It was not allowed under the Old Testament, to hate personal enemies, to wish for revenge, or to pray for their hurt; except as speaking in the name of the Lord. So that there is no inconsistence between the religion of the Old Testament and New, in this respect. The apostle Paul himself doth thus imprecate vengeance on his enemies ; 2 Tim, iv. 14. “ Alexan. der the coppersmith did me much evil; the Lord reward him according to his works.” Revenge, or a desire of it, was forbidden by the law of Moses, Levit. xix. 18; yea, there, the love of our enemy is implicitly commanded. Doing good to enemies, is required, Exod. xxiii. 4, 5. “ If thou meet thine enemy's ox
5 or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou seest the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldst forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.” And this was agreeable to the sense of the saints of those times, as appears from Job xxxi. 29. - If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him.” Prov. xxiv. 17. “Rejoice not
. when thine enemy falleth, nor let thine heart be glad when he stumbleth.” And xvii. 5. “ He that is glad at calamities, shall not go unpunished.” We cannot think that those imprecations we find in the Psalms and Prophets, were out of their own hearts ; for cursing is spoken of as a very dreadful sin in the Old Testament; and David, whom we hear oftener than any other praying for vengeance on his enemies, by the history of his life, was of a spirit very remote from spiteful and revengeful. He himself in the Psalms gives us an account of his wishing well to his enemies, and doing good to them, Psalm vii. 4; praying for them, and grieving at their calamities, Psalm xxxv. 13, 14. And some of the most terrible imprecations that we find in all the Old Testament, are in the New spoken of as prophetical, even those in the 109th Psalm ; as in Acts i. 20. Jer.
xii. 3. We have instances of this kind even in the apostles and the disciples of the Lamb of God, as 2 Tim. iv. 14. Peter says to Simon Magus, " Thy money perish with thee.” They wish them ill, not as personal, but as public enemies to the church of God. Sometimes what they say is in the name of the church, see Jer, v. 34, 35; Matt. i. 19.“ Then Joseph, her
. husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.” This is a remarkable and eminent instance of a Christian spirit ; and this verse is an evidence, that that meekness, gentleness, forgiveness, and kindness to enemies which the Gospel prescribes, were duties under the law, and before Christ came.
§ 41. I once told a boy of about thirteen years of age, that a piece of any matter two inches square, was eight times as large as one of but one inch square; or that it might be cut into eight pieces, all of them as big as that of but one inch square.
He seemed at first not to think me in earnest, and to suspect that I only meant to make game of him. But when I had taken considerable pains to convince him that I was in earnest, and that I knew what I said to be truc; he seemed to be astonished at my positiveness, and exclaimed about the impossibility and absurdity of it; and would argue, how was it possible for two inches to be eight inches ! and all that I could say, did not prevail upon him to make him believe it. I suppose it seemed to him as great a contradiction, that what was but just twice so long, and twice so broad, and twice so thick, should yet be eight times so big; as that twice one should make eight, or any other absurdity whatsoever. And when I afterward showed him the truth of it, by cutting out two cubes, one an inch, and another two inches square ; and let him examine the measures, and see that the measures were exact, and that there was no deceit; and cut the two inch cube into eight equal parts, and he counted the parts over and over, and took the parts one by one, and compared them with the one inch cube, and spent some time in counting and comparing; he seemed to be astonished, as though there were some witchcraft in the case; and hardly to believe it after all. For he did not yet at all see the reason of it. I believe it was a much more difficult mystery to him, than the Trinity ordinarily is to men; and seemed to him more evidently a contradiction, than any mystery of religion to a Socinian or Deist.
§ 42. Some may be ready to object against the Christian re. ligion, that there seem to be innumerable difficulties, and inconsistencies attending it, but that a multitude of heads have been employed by many ages, till at length such solutions have been found out for many of them, as are in some measure plan. sible.
To this I answer, That as there has been a long time to answer objections, so there has been a long time to strengthen them. As there have been many ages to solve difficulties, so there have been as many to find out difficulties and inconsistencies. Besides, there has been all this time to make difficulties more plain, and bring out inconsistencies more to the light; and by thorough and exact consideration, to make them more manifest and apparent. Time wonderfully brings truth to light, and wears off by degrees false colourings and disguises. The truth will always have most advantage by time. Appearing inconsistencies being well founded, will grow plainer and plainer, and difficulties more and more evident. Time will discover more circumstances to strengthen and confirm them, and so pretences of solution will appear more and more evidently absurd and ridiculous. When parties contend by argument and inquiry, time greatly helps that party which has truth on its side, and weakens the contrary. It gradually wears away the sandy foundation, and rots away the building that is not made of substantial materials. The Christian religion has evermore, in all ages, had its enemies, and that among learned men. Yea, it is observable, that there have commonly been some of the most subtle of men to scan the Christian scheme, and to discover the objections that lie against it, and have done it with a good will to overthrow it.-- Thus it was in Judea, in the infancy of the church. The Scribes and Pharisees, and the wise men among the Jews, employed all their wisdom against it. Thus, in the first ages of the church, not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble were called. Christianity had the wisdom, learning, and subtlety of the world to oppose it. In latter ages, how many learned and subtle men have done their utmost against Christianity? So that the length of time for persons to strengthen their own side in this controversy, brought as an objection against Christianity, is much more an argument for it, than an objection against it.
$ 43. If there be a revelation from God to the world, it is most reasonable to suppose, and natural to expect, that he should therein make known not only what manner of being he is, but also that he should lead mankind to an understanding of his works of creation and providence. These things the Christian revelation opens to us in such a manner as might be expected. This alone gives any tolerable account of the work of creation, and this reveals to us the scheme of providence, and what is God's main design in the whole, a design worthy of himself. And we are shown how these events all point to this main work of power, wisdom and grace. We have a particular account how this greatest work has actually been wrought in the fulness of time, as to those great acts which are the main