« AnteriorContinuar »
ment of the World, and that he will neglect us in the moral part of it ? that he regards us as Animals, but has no Regard to us as rational Agents ? Can any Man think seriously of God, as a reasonable, just, and upright Being, and suppose this to be the Case ?
Now, these Confiderations lay a Foundation for a just Expectation from the Goodnefs of God of his Assistance in our Case, where it is most wanted ; that is, for his Assistance to us as rational and moral Beings, as capable of being happy or miserable by Virtue or by Vice.
There is a Similitude and Proportion in all the Works of God: And it is reasonable to infer, from the visible Regard shewed to us in one Respect, the Regard had for us in all; especially in the principal and most concerning Relation in which we stand towards him ; that is, as rational Agents. And this leads us directly to suppose that God will provide for our Well-being as moral and religious Creatures, with a Care, at least, equal to that shewn for us in our natural Capacity in this world.
Join now to this Presumption what the Gospel has exprelly revealed to us, and see
whether the whole is not of a piece, and confiftent.
The Gospel tells us, that God has sent his Son to redeem us: You wonder he should take so much Trouble for such Creatures : But is it not as becoming his Goodness to redeem us, as it was to make us ? You will say perhaps, we are since that become Sinners. True ; and yet ever since that he has preserved us, and afforded us the Blessings of this Life: And is it not of a piece to open to us the Hopes of a better? Mistake not my Meaning: I do not mean to infer from what God does for us in this World, that he is bound in Justice to do as much for us in respect to another. I know of nothing that he is bound in Justice to do for us. But surely it is safest Reasoning upon the Ways of Providence from the manifest Works of Providence: And by seeing how God has dealt with the Children of Men as part and as Inhabitants of this natural World, it is reasonable to conclude in what Manner he will treat them as part of the moral World. ; And, if we consider what we see and know of the Works of Nature, and of the Good we enjoy from them, and compare them with the greater Works of Grace, as manifested
in the Gospel of Christ Jesus, we may easily discern the Consistency and Harmony of God's Dealings in both Cases ; and see too, at the same time, that the Methods of Providence by which we hope to be saved, and which we have from Revelation, are liable to no other Objections, than the Methods of Providence by which we live, and which we see daily with our Eyes. In both Cases the Works of God are indeed wonderful, and we unworthy of the least of them: And we may justly say of both, Lord! what is Man, that thou regardest him? and the Son of Man that thou vifteft bim?
Then Peter opened his Mouth, and said, Of a
Truth I perceive that God is no Respecter of Persons : But in every Nation he that feareth bim, and worketh Righteousness, is accepted with him.
HESE Words, if not carefully
attended to, may seem to carry T
a Sense contrary to the Meaning of the Apostle in delivering
them. St. Peter in the Text declarës, that God, without respect to any national or personal Privileges, was ready to admit all People into the Covenant made with Christ Jesus; provided they were duly prepared for fuch Admission, Some from his Words have concluded that there is no Y 4
Necessity of becoming Disciples of Christ, but that it is sufficient if we live according to the Principles and Light of Nature: forasmuch as every one who feareth God, and worketh Righteousness, is accepted with bim : And thus supported, as they think, by one Passage of Scripture, they have been em-. boldened to despise and reject all the rest as of no use to them, and to put their Salvation upon their own Strength, in opposition to the Method revealed and declared by the Son of God. This Error is common, as well as dangerous : And, since the great Regard which some pay to moral Virtue is purely Opposition to the Gospel, it is worth while to examine this Passage of St. Peter, and to place his Meaning, in a true Light, that the Doctrine of the Gospel may not be overthrown by its own Authority.
The Jews had a Notion that the Blessings of the promised Messias were to be peculiar to themselves, and not to be extended to any other Nation' or People whatever, whom they looked on as Aliens from God, and not ander his Care and Protection, as they were. Hence in the Prophets they plead their Privilege, and tell God, that he is not God of the Heathen, but of the People of Israel : *hich Conceit of theirs St. Paul refers to