Sivut kuvina

niards; they live peaceably, and abhor strife and contention, and are even ignorant of malice and revenge, &c." And a little after he adds, “ They have a genius sharp and full of vivacity; very susceptible of learning and all the impressions of sound doctrine; and very readily embrace the catholic religion ; nor are they indeed averse to any part of morality, but have perhaps better dispositions for it than most of the rest of the world ; because they live free from the hurry and care of business. When they had once received some ideas of our religion, they were so inflamed with a desire to be partakers of the sacraments, and service of the church, and to have fuller knowledge of it, that their instructors had need of extraordinary patience, to moderate their impetuosity, and to answer the numerous questions which they propounded. Certainly, these nations would be the most happy in the world, if they had but the knowledge of the true God. And those Spaniards, who treated them so very inhumanly, are obliged to acknowledge the natural goodness of their tempers, and happy dispositions for all kind of. virtues.”

Besides these, and numberless others, we see from an instance in scripture that a Gentile could be “ devout and fear God” could be “ constant in prayer" and “ abundant in good works *; and that this was accepted before God. And if others in the heathen world have grace sufficient to do the like, or sincerely do the best they can, (as from the accounts we have of them, we must reasonably and charitably judge they do), who can doubt but the common father of men looks upon them with the same gracious eye? and though the unsearchable wisdom of his providence thinks not good to carry the gospel into the countries where they are interspersed, yet, surely a memorial of them will be preserved before him; and when he shall come to take an account of his servants, inasmuch as they did not bury but improve the one talent which they received, he shall admit them into their Master's joy, with well done ye, &c.

If the adorable goodness of God, and the innocent simplicity and laudable efforts of many in the heathen world, incline us to favourable thoughts of them; let us see what countenance the sacred writings give us herein.


* Acts, X. 2, 3, 4.

1. There

1. There seems to be room for arguing from the many declarations of the justice and strict equity of God*; it scarce appearing to human apprehension, if the sincere moral Heathen (such as probably the great patriarch pleaded for) should perish, with the wicked, that “ihe judge of all the earth would do right t." For where wil

ful ignorance or the rejecting of revealed religion 5n · secular views is not chargeable, what is it that the most just God can condemn or punish?.. 119

Not believing or obeying the gospel it cannot be; far he can require no more of any than he gave them means of attaining to, and càn punish only the having acted beneath the abilities men were possessed of: but it is impossible for any to believe what they never heard, or practise what they have no notion of If men have done their utmost towards improving their natural faculties, and acted suitably to the deductions made aacording to the clearest light of unassisted reason, shall he, whose ways are most equal, pass by the due use of what he gave unrewarded, because he gave no more! Surely nothing is actually good or evil, odious or 'acceptable to God, if patience in afflictions, meekness in bearing affronts and injuries, universal justice and charity are not approved of by him when conspicuous in a Heathen; for in all reason, they having had less happy means for attaining to those excellencies, should render them more amiable, and (to abuse a term) meritorious than in a christian. But yet, so low, imperfect, and debased with so many alloys are the greatest of human attainments, that however the Almighty be suppossed to deal with the heathen, we dare not, or at least are unwilling to pronounce it inconsistent with equity, incompatible with justice.

2. But the supposition we would willingly make is certainly most agreeable to that impartial goodness and philanthropy of God, which the sacred writers so much celebrate; in them we find, that he who is Lord over all is " no respecter of persons,” but is “ loving unto every man:” and “rich unto all that call upon him :" that“ he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and be saved . Which expressions must be curbed with extraordinary limita


* Ezek. xviii, 25, 29, &c. Rom. ii, 11. + Gen, xviii. 25. Rom. v X. 14. § See Acts x. 34. Psal. cxlv. 9. Rom. X. 12. 2 Pet. iii. 9. 1 Tim. ïi. 4.

Vol. IX. Churchm. Mag. Aug. 1805. S tions,

[ocr errors]

tions, if they are at most, only applicable to the visiblo church.

And, however some men study glosses and evasions, it is not easy, clearly to reconcile, what the apostle saith of God with their rigid determinations; “who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe *." For how is he the “ Saviour of all men,” if he hath left the greater part without the possibility of attaining salvation ? And how is he more especially the Saviour of such as believe, if he be in no degree so to others ?

3. All the texts declaring the extensiveness of the redemption by Christ, if taken in their striciest and most obvious sense, favour such a supposition: as when he is said to have given himself a ransom for all, to be the Saviour of the world,” to have “ died for all,to have “ tasted death for every man,” to be “ the propitiation for the whole world,to have “ taken away the sing of the world, and reconciled it to God, &c ." And doubtless, it sets a brighter lustre on the goodness and love of God to mankind, and a more eminent value on the mediation of his Son, if he, who before all days saw through the extent of eternity, and knew every individual of the yet unborn ages, did not confine his salvation to men living in some particular times, and under some particular circumstances; but for the infinite merits of the Redeemer, put the whole race of mankind into a condition of being accepted upon their sincere endeavour to make the best use of the several means he should vouchsafe to give them. And this is agreeable to the most natural import of St. Paul's comparison, “ As by the offence of one," &c. I viz. that the merits of Christ were beneficial to as many as received detriment by the fall of Adam. And the manner of reasoning made use of by that apostle elsewhere, seems to be of the same force; “ If one died for all, then were all dead §."

For if we at all restrain the merit or design of Christ's death, we render the apostle's argument inconclusive. For if Christ died only for some, it may be still urged,

Tim. iv. 10. See the Arguments for Universal Redemption irresis-. tihly stated in Dr. Barrow's Sermons on this text.

• Editor,

f 1 Tim. ï. 6. 1 John iv, 14. 2 John i. 29. 2 Cor. v. 19.

Cor, v. 15. Heb. ii.. 1 John ii,

Rom v. 18.

§ 2 Cor. v. 14.


that the rest might not be dead, that is, might not be so fallen in Adam, as to need his dying for them.

4. The universality of a future judgment, which the scripture most expressly and frequently declares *, will furnish us with another argument; for reason telleth us, that judgment supposeth the party judged to have been in a capacity of acting different ways, well or ill, of acting or not acting; and the scripture confirms it, assuring us, that every man shall be judged “ according to his works f;" for no work of a inan can be judged either good or bad, which was not in his power to do some other way, or oinit.

Since then a wise God will make a solemn scrutiny into the works of the heathen as well as of others, it is plain they might possibly have so acted as to be acquitted; and indeed it cannot be denied without palpable absurdity, that all men might act according to their best abilities, and to say that God expects any more of them, is to cast a cloud on his wisdom; to affirm that he will punish the not having done more, is to charge him with manifest injustice. "If then“ as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law X.,” why shall not they who have done well, without a revealed law, be saved without having had a promise of it? When God shall" render to every inan according to his deeds, to them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory and honour and immortality ; eternal life : but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth; but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath; tribu-. lation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile. But glory, honour and peace to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile Ş.”

Many things are said no less favourably, where the heathen world is more directly treated of. That of our Lord seems most apposite to their

“ The servant who knew not his Lord's will, and did commit things Worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes 17" and if it be so, a ferv stripes is doubtless too light a term to express eternal damnation. And St. Paul telleth the Athenians, that “ the times of this heuthen ignorance God winked atq,” which sure imports, that he would pass over what men acted in invincible ig

case ;

* Matt. xxv. 32. şib, ü7, 8, &c.

Acts. xvii. 31. + Rev. xx. 12. Rom. ij. 1%.
U Luke xii. 48. Comp, 47.

Acts xvii. 30.


norance, and make other proportionable allowances. Neither was the Gentile world absolutely ignorant of aļl duty, to the Supreme Being; hence the apostle affirms that the.“ God who made of one blood all nations,” &c. did it with intention that “ they should seek their Lord, if haply they might feel after and find him *." Which, though it might be difficult, as the expressions intimate, because of the shortness of human understanding, was yet possible, since “ he is not far from every one of us," it being most evident, that“ in him we live, and move, and have our being.” Nor had he left himself" without witness” of the goodness of his nature, even during the times when he suffered all nations to walk in their own ways; in that he gave them rain and fruitful seasons,” &ct. If then the consideration of their own life and being, might assure the heathen of the existence of one from whom they received it, and the continuance and seasonable effusion of his bounty establish them in a belief of his good will towards them, they acted beneath themselves if they were not induced to revere, adore, and love him. And therefore, as we see in the first to the Romans, the wrath of God was revealed from heaven upon them, not because they were in ignorance, but because they held the truth in unrighteousness, that is, when they knew and had sufficient means of knowing what was right and fit to be done, they did it pot. They had the knowledge of God from the visible things of the creation ; but they “ liked not to retain God in their knowledge;" they ir glorified him not as God, nor were thankful” for the good things received from him. They transgressed all the dictates of justice and humanity in their treatment of one another, and fell into vices which nature manifestly abhorred, and reason abominated. And though they knew the righteous judg. ments of God against all these crimes, they not only committed them, but had pleasure in them that ran into the same guilt with themselves.

God was then so far manifested to the Heathen by the work of creation, as to render them “ without excuse" in their unrighteousness, idolatry, &c. in their not knowing as much as they might have done, or practising according to their knowledge. They had been excuseable if they had exerted their best abilities; and accordingly the

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« EdellinenJatka »