Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

obey his supreme Lord, and to acknowledge the Author of these great and good Gifts : So far from it, that God was in a manner expelled from his own Creation, and Stocks and Stones and the Beasts of the Field were exalted and set up to receive the Honour and Worship due to the Creator. The Morality of the World became answerable to the Religion of it; and no Wonder: For why should he not turn Brute himself, who can be content with a Brute for his God? The Wonder lies on the other side, that God should continue his Care and Concern for fuch Creatures; that he should be willing not only to forgive their Iniquities, but that he should contrive the Means of their Rea demption; and that in so wonderful a Manner, as to send his own Son into the World, not only to instruct and reform them, but to redeem them by making Atonement for their Sins by his own Blood. Who that confiders this can help faying with the Psalmist, What is Man that thou art mindful of him? or the Son of Man, that thou vihtest him ?

Though these Reflections should naturally lead us to admire and adore the Goodness of God, who has done so much, when we deserved fo little ; for what stronger Motive can there be for Gratitude, than undeserved

X 3

Favour?

Favour? yet have they oftentimes another Effect: For, when Men consider that God does nothing without Reason, and at the same time see so little Reason why God Thould do so much for them, they begin to suspect whether he has done it or no, and to imagine that the whole History of the Redemption is a cunningly devised Fable. To consider the Son of God coming down from Heaven, living among Men, and at last Thedding his Blood for them, fills them with Wonder and Astonishment: And when they look on the other Side, they can fee nothing in Man that bears any Proportion to this concern Thewed for him, or that yields any Argument to justify the Wisdom of God in this Method of his Redemption.

It must be owned, there is something plausible in this Way of reasoning; and the more fo, as it pretends to do Justice to the Wisdom of God, and cannot be charged with any great Injustice done to the Character of Man. But this Prejudice, be the Foundation of it good or bad, lies as strongly against the Works of Nature, as it does against the Works of Grace: For it is as hard to con, ceive that God should create this World for the sake of placing in it fuch Creatures as we are, as it is to conceive that he should

send

making fuch Creatures, it will be no hard

fend his Son to redeem us. If you can justify the Wisdom and Goodness of God in

Thing to justify his Wisdom and Goodness in redeeming them: For to open a Way for Men to escape out of a State of Misery is a more divine, and beneficent Act, than the putting them into it. If you stumble at the Dignity of the Redeemer, and think that the Son of God was too great a Person to be concerned in saving Men; for the same Reafon you

Thould think that God, or the Son of God, was too great a Person to be concerned in making such Creatures as Men: and from these and the like Confiderations you may as well conclude that God never made the World, as you do that he never redeemed it. But, in spight of all these

fee plainly, that this Earth was made for the Habitation of Men, wicked and inconsiderable as they are. Since therefore

your Confequence will not hold in this Case, you have no Reason to depend on it in the other ; but rather to think that, fince it was agreeable to the Wisdom and Goodnefs of God to exert his Power to make such Creatures, it was also consistent that he should exert his Power to save and to redeem them.

Reasons, you

. It can serve to no good Purpose to give Men a great Opinion of themselves, and of the considerable Figure they make in the Universe; nor can it be done with Truth and Justice. Experience, which shews, us daily our own and the Follies of those about us, will be too hard for all Reasonings upon this Foot: and the Mind of Man, conscious of its own Defects, will see through the Flattery, which ascribes to it Perfections and Excellencies with which it feels itself to be unacquainted. Or, could a Man, in spight of his own Experience, be persuaded to think himself very considerable, and worthy of all that God has done for him; this. Opinion could tend only to make him proud and conceited, and to think the Dispensations of Providence with regard to himself to be rather Acts of Justice, and due to his Merit, than the Effects of Goodness and Benignity

in the Governor of the World. Such an - Opinion would in a great Measure exclude a Sense of Dependence, and in a greater still a Sense of Gratitude ; which are vital and

fundamental Principles in Religion. 10. But, if we fet out with taking a proper View of ourselves in the first place, and

with considering the many Imperfections and · Follies to which we are liable as rational

Agents,

Agents, the many Weaknesses and Infirmities which surround us as animal Creatures : and then survey the Works of Providence, and the great Care of God over us, manifested in his various Dispensations in the natural and moral World; we shall easily enter into the true Spirit of the holy Psalmist's Reflection, What is Man, that thou art mindful of him? or the Son of Man, that thou vifteft bim? It is a Reflection naturally proceeding from the Sense of our Dependence on God, and leading to the highest Degree of Gratitude, whilst we contemplate with Admiration the greatest of his Favours, and consider ourselves as unworthy of his least.

This is the natural Sense which the Reflection in the Text suggests to us: Yet has it, as I observed before, been used to other Purposes ; and some have thought it unworthy of God to suppose that in the great Works of Providence he had any special Regard to fo inconfiderable a Part of the whole, as the Race of Men appears to be. The Objection, they think, grows stronger, when the Scheme of Providence displayed to us in the Gospel of Christ for the Salvation of Man is laid before them; and it appears to them astonishing, that God should interest himself so particularly in an Affair, which

seems,

« AnteriorContinuar »