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able, yea, impious, than such a practice? The benevolence of God has designed as much happiness for men, as is consistent with a state of probation; and which would be infinitely more than they now enjoy, if they would but live according to his appointments. But even in the miseries which men suffer, whether as the consequences of their own folly, or as the inseparable accompaniments of the present transient existence, the Divine Being has mingled the means of alleviation and of recovery. In this does he show himself to be really the Father of the human race. That such a Being would at all times grant every necessary help towards the improvement and happiness of his rational offspring, it is reasonable to suppose. As a Father, it behoved him to interfere for the salvation of a world enveloped in spiritual darkness, suffering the miseries resulting from general corruption in mind and morals; and vainly inquiring respecting a life beyond the grave. Mens condition, as we have seen, had become desperate. Then was the time for the interposition of a Father's authority, when the voice of reason and nature, and all the ordinary means of providence, bad proved insufficient to the preserving in mens' minds of a sense of duty. Surely it cannot be, that this interposition was withheld.
We have, moreover, the evidence, arising from the character of Jesus and of his doctrines, to confirm us in the opinion that God did not withhold the assistance which men needed; but that, on the contrary, the declaration of the Christian is
true, 'God spake unto man, in these latter days by his son. How merciful, persuasive, and paternal' were the means resorted to for the recovery of his rebellious children; and how' abundantly did the love of our heavenly Father manifest itself, in that, when the world was overwhelmed with trespasses and sins, he had recourse to mercy, and not judgment—to persuasion, and not severity; he committed unto us the word of reconciliation."
How suitable that word was to the condition and circumstances of man, and how well adapted to • reconcile the world unto God,' a few examples will amply testify. Men had wandered from God, and had defaced his image in their hearts:.' The messenger of salvation came in the brightness of the Father's glory, presenting an image of the divine perfections. The nations of the Gentiles håd gods many and lords many: Christ proclaimed the Lord our God to be one Lord, and that He only is to be worshiped. In the worship of the idolater, moral purity and personal holiness were too often entirely neglected: Christ taught men to approach the Father with purity of heart and chastened affections; for that such only could end joy his favour. The disciples of the heathen sysé tems of theology, were proud, and revengeful, and turbulent: Christ taught a system calculated to effect a reformation herein; Blessed;"says he, are the meek, and the merciful, and the peacemakers; for they shall obtain mercy. The moral maxims of the ancients were scattered in learned treatises and obscured by logical technicalities,"
and therefore out of the reach, or rather, above the comprehension, of the great bulk of mankind : The maxims of Christ were so plain, and his method of imparting instruction so simple, that they penetrated the understandings and the hearts of the lowest and most illiterate men. By all former teachers, the poor and the distressed had been ineglected. Heathen philosophers, in the pride of their hearts, had conceived, that poverty, was a sufficient cause for neglect, and a legitimate object of contempt and oppression. The distinctive mark of Christ's teaching, was his addressing biniself particularly to the poor. In the manners of the idolater, the distressed were unlieeded, and the infirm abandoned, and the weak oppressed: Christianity was calculated to redress these evils; it said 'weep with them that weep'do good and distribute, hoping for no earthly rewardbear one another's burdens'— be kindly affectioned one towards another. The religion of the idolater provided not for the regulation and well-being of domestic life. The life and liberties of the wife, and children, and servants, were, in a great measure, dependent on the will of the father and head of the family: and, at the best, the wife might be ild-used and abandoned with impunity; the child and the servant might be treated ungenerously: | Christianity introduced a better system; it exhortled husbands to love their wives, and to treat them with kindness-fathers, not to provoke their children to wrath-servants, to perform their duties, not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but as serying the Lord Jesus Christ, and as in the sight of God-masters to adopt the golden rule of benevolence with respect to their servants, remembering that their Master in heaven hath no respect unto persons. The ancients were in the most distressing uncertainty respecting a future life, and all their reasonings seem to have ended in vain theories and unsatisfactory speculations: Christ taught with authority, that, which they; with all their research and learning, had not been able to ascertain : The hour cometh when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the son of man and come forth.' The views which the idolater entertained respecting a future state were gloomy and uninviting: I had rather be a rustic, and work for a poor man in life,' says the Achilles of Homer, 'than possess a large empire amongst the deadthat is, amongst those who had passed from human life, into the fabled Elysium of the blessed. Christianity says, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard; neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which are reserved for those who love and obey God.' The system of the idolater committed the souls of the virtuous into the bowels of the earth, where, amongst shades, and spectres, and creatures of the imagination, they led a life of listlessness and discontent: Chris tianity says, “Ye shall be admitted into the mansions of your Father in heaven, and be introduced to an innumerable company of angels; ye shall associate with the spirits of the just, and enjoy more of the presence and favour of God, and be the companions and friends of Jesus, the mediator of the new and spiritual covenant. The religion sembly!" Ch
of the idolater not only presented men with a gloomy abode, but a discontented, exclusive, as
Christianity presents us with a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, standing before the thirone, and before the Lamb;
-saying blessing, 'and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, Be unto our God for ever." Idolatry represented its deities as utterly unworthy of power, by the deeds which they pe
perpetrated, and by their con demning of men to eternal torments for following their example : Christianity says, “Thou art worthy, O'Lord, to receive, glory, and honour, and power; for thou hast created all things for thy pleasure that is, for the pleasure of beholding all
ne rational 'creation' finally virtuous and happy, The systems Systems of th
the idolater resigned the world to a blind and resistless fate, superior even to the gods themselves; and this relentless power might, for aught they knew, finally involve all things and beings in one common ruin: The religion of our blessed Lord says, 'Christ shall reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed' is death. And when all things shall be subdued unto Christ, then shall the son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."
Was not the system which contains such instruction as this, applicable to the benighted state of the ancient world? Would it not apply a remedy to the mental and moral diseases under which mankind suffered? And must it not be acknowledged;