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ocular exemplification of the truth of this passage to the present state of the Jews, who for the same sin are now sunk, and degraded, and scattered over the face of the whole earth. If we survey the present state of the world, we shall also find, that almost every nation is exalted or degraded, in proportion to their obedience or contempt of the gospel. What nation at the present day is superior to the English? If we look at her colonies, if we look at her in a political, commercial, or any other point of view, we shall find that in honour, and rank, and wealth, and influence, she is chief among the nations. And why is it thus? It is because England (although there is much in her to be lamented, and some classes of her inhabitants are almost proverbial for their wickedness) is, nevertheless, as a nation, distinguished both by her attachment to the gospel at home, and by her continued and strenuous exertions to send it abroad. In this respect, she honours God; and therefore God, according to the declaration of his word, thus honours and exalts her.
I do not by this statement mean to hold forth temporal advantage as an allurement to men to embrace the gospel, because no such blessings are individually promised, and therefore they are on no account whatever to be expected. But I do assert, that in a national point of view, the greatest advantages and blessings of a temporal nature are derived from receiving and obeying it. And the reason is plain: individual rewards and punishments are reserved for a future state; but as men in that state cease to exist in a national capacity, it necessarily follows, that, as nations, they can neither be made miserable nor happy; and, therefore, national blessings are bestowed, and national punishments are awarded, to them in the present life.
Object. 3. There are many things in the Bible which it is very difficult to understand. If it be the word of God, why is it not written in a plain and intelligible manner, so as to be easily understood ?
Ans. The Bible undoubtedly contains many things which the mind of man cannot fully comprehend; but they are not such things as it is absolutely essential for him to be acquainted with. Every part of divine truth, the knowledge of which is immediately connected with salvation, is so plain and clear, “ that he may run that readeth it;” (Hab. ii. 2.) and “the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” (Isa. xxxv. 8.) Instead, therefore, of allowing the difficulties which the Bible contains to be of any weight, as objections against it, I assert that they ought rather to be looked upon as additional proofs of its authenticity, being what, in a revelation from the infinitely wise God, we might naturally expect. If a philosopher can with perfect ease speak in such a way that an ignorant unlearned man cannot understand him, is it at all to be wondered at, that, when God speaks, his address should contain some things that shortsighted ignorant men, whose eyes are blinded by the god of this world, cannot comprehend? I also observe, that if this be considered as a valid objection, it will be found, on examination, to militate as much against natural as it does against revealed religion. There are a thousand objects in the world which we cannot comprehend, and a thousand occurrences are perpetually taking place in the earth, by the permission of the God of nature, which we cannot explain or account for on any principles whatever. And yet, notwithstanding all this, we still allow God to be the God of universal nature, and the moral Governor of all worlds. It is therefore highly improper and unreasonable to bring this forward as an objection in the one case, since we do not look upon it as such in the other. If notwithstanding these apparent difficulties, we still admit the agency of God in the works of nature, why do we not act consistently, and allow him, on the same principles, to be the author and source of the religion which is revealed in the Bible? Reason and nature, instead of opposing, evidently come forward in this instance to lend their aid, and bear their testimony to the truths of revelation. There
is a union and harmony in all God's works and ways: and if the Bible, instead of being opposed to, harmonizes with what we see of him, as he appears in the creation and government of the world, we ought not to bring this forward as an objection, but rather to look upon it as a strong presumptive evidence that they have both one and the same Author: that the same divine and glorious Being, who “hath made the earth by his power, established the world by his wisdom, and stretched out the heavens by his discretion,” (Jer. x. 12,) hath also given the Bible to teach the rational creatures whom he hath formed the knowledge of his will, and to guide them in the path that leads to holiness, happiness, and heaven.
Objection 4. Several of the doctrines of the Bible are exceedingly unreasonable, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, and the innocent suffering for the guilty, which is the case in the scripture doctrine of the atonement.
Ans. There is not a single man upon the face of the earth that can fully comprehend the mode of his own existence, in the union of flesh and spirit, their mutual co-operation, and the influence which they reciprocally, have on each other. It is therefore highly absurd for any man to object to the Bible, because he cannot understand the method in which the divine Being is there represented to exist. Let him first understand himself, before he presumes to reject the scriptural doctrine of the divine nature, because it is beyond the comprehension of his shallow powers: and when he has accomplished the former, he may then (at least with more appearance of propriety) express his objections to the latter. As to the objection of the innocent suffering for the guilty, which undoubtedly was the case when Christ died upon the cross in order to expiate the sins of the world, this, I reply, is a thing which occurs in everyday life; yet God is the righteous Governor of the world, and no one can say that such events take place without his permission. How frequently do children, through the wickedness of their parents, suffer for faults of which they
are innocent; and subjects, through the tyranny of a wicked king, for crimes which they have not committed ? The captain of a ship sometimes drinks until he is intoxicated, in consequence of which he sinks his ship, and every soul on board perishes : and so, in a variety of similar events, the truth of this remark is exemplified. This objection, therefore, is as much opposed to the conduct of God as moral Governor of the world, as it is to the Scripture doctrine of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I observe further, that this doctrine, as it is revealed in the Scriptures, is entirely void of the injustice, which the majority of those who urge this objection generally represent to be connected with it. There was no injustice whatever on the part of God, when he laid the sins of his people upon Christ; because it was, on the part of Christ, a voluntary act, and agreeable with his own undertaking, as the Redeemer of the world. There was a mediatorial reward connected with the office which he sustained, and which resulted from the sufferings he endured. “ He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name : that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” (Phil. ii. 9.) “He is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead ; that in all things' he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell.” (Col. i. 17.)“He is now gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God, angels, and authorities, and powers being made subject unto him.” (1 Pet. iii. 22.) There is, therefore, in this view of the subject, no unrighteousness whatever on the part of God; and seeing he does (as is evident to every observer) govern the world by instrumentality, there is nothing at all unreasonable in the idea of his having effected its redemption in the same way. Were this doctrine, bowever, open to the objections to which some men suppose it
liable, still, if God has revealed it, we are bound to receive it. We may sit in judgment upon the evidence by which the divine authority of the Bible is supported, but we have nothing to do in this way with its contents. We have no right to proceed beyond the investigation of the truth of it. If we obtain satisfaction on this point, it is immediately our duty, however contrary its doctrines may appear to our darkened understandings, to bow in subjection to its supreme authority, to receive it in the spirit of humility, and endeavour, by divine grace, to regulate our conduct according to its precepts.
Objection 5. Christians eat animal food, and pay no attention to the distinctions of caste; and therefore their religion ought to be rejected, on account of its permitting such improprieties.
The distinction of caste which prevails amongst the Hindoos, has originated in the wickedness and craft of designing men.. It is merely a chain which they have forged, with which to bind the ignorant and unthinking part of mankind, and to prevent their enjoyment of that liberty which is their natural right, and their just due as rational creatures. God hath made of one blood all the nations of the earth, (Acts xvii, 2 ;) and, therefore, all the nations of the earth, except the Hindoos, neglect and despise caste. I see no external mark of caste which God has put upon the bodies of men, nor any thing in the natural world which tends to support the idea that he has appointed such a distinction. It is, on the contrary, self-evident that all men are made of the same materials : the same blood flows alike in the veins of all. This, therefore, with the similarity which there exists in the form, the stature, the body, the mind, and the disposition of all mankind, is sufficient to convince every rational man, that God has appointed no such distinction as this, which is so warmly advocated by the generality of the Hindoos. As to Christians eating animal food, this, I reply, forms no part of their religion. Europe does not produce sufficient grain to support its inhabitants. · In their native country, they