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Mystery in all Ages, being kept secret in the Counsels of God; but, since the Coming of Christ, 'tis no longer a Mystery, but is manifest and made known to all Nations and People. Here then, you see plainly, the Opposition is between Mystery and Revelation: What God has reserved to himself, without communicating the Knowledge of it to the World, that is a Mystery j what he has revealed, is no longer a Mystery, but a Manifestation of his Will and Purpose. In this Sense, I presume, there lies no Objection against the Gospel: That it wa^once hidden in the secret Counsels of Providence, but is now, by the Revelation of Christ Jesus, made known to all Men, can afford us no Matter of Complaint, but may administer to us great Joy, and be a Subject of Praise and Glory to God; inasmuch as our Eyes have seen, and our Ears heard, those Things, which many righteous Men and Prophets have desired to see, and have not seen them, and to hear, and have not heard them.
As the Gospel itself is in this Sense styled a Mystery, so are the several Parts of it likewise: I stew you a Mystery, says St. Paul; we stall not all sleep, but we stall all be changed. He did not mean that he would . shew them what they could not comprehend, K 3 but but that he would declare to them the Purpose of God, which they were ignorant of. The same Use of the Word you may meet with in our. blessed Saviour himself: When he had described the future State of the Church in Parables to the Jews, and came afterwards to explain them to the Disciples, he tells them the Reason of his Proceeding: Because j says he, unto you it is given to knoio the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but unto them it is not given. All Futurities, because known.only to God, are Mysteries .> but, when revealed, they are no longer so, being made known and manifest. Thus, 'tis plain, St. Paul uses the Word in i Cor. xiii. where he joins the Gift of Prophecy and the Knowledge of Mysteries together: 'Though I have, says he, the Gift of Prophecy, and understand all Mysteries and all Knowledge: Where 'tis plain what he means by Mysteries, since they are to be understood by the Gift of Prophecy. In the fourth Chapter of the same Epistle he shews what Account we are to make of our Pastors and Teachers: Let a Man, says he, so account of us, as of the Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of the Mysteries of God. His Meaning is not, that they were Preachers of Mysteries in the vulgar Notion of it, that is, of Things which
no-body can understand; but that God had entrusted them with his Purposes and Intentions in the Salvation of Mankind, which they, like good Stewards, were to dispense to the whole Family, by declaring and revealing the whole Will of God.
The same Apostle says, Chap. ii. 7. We speak the Wisdom of God in a Myjlcry; and in the next Words explains what he means by Mystery, even the hidden Wisdom which. God ordained before the World to our Glory; And in the tenth Verse he tells us, this is . no longer hidden, but the Mystery is laid open; God having revealed it unto us by his Spirit. In the same Sense we read of the Myjlery of Faith: Where we are not to understand the Apostle to mean incomprehensible Articles of Faith, but the Revelations of God's Purposes and Designs, which through Faith we receive, and are therefore styled the Mysteries of Faith.
In this Sense the Gospel is full of Mysteries; as containing the secret Purposes of God's hidden Wisdom in the Redemption of the World, which were made manifest by Christ Jesus, who brought Life and Immortality to Light. Against this Gospel Sense of Mystery the common Objections have no Force; since Mysteries here are not understood to be such K 4 Things Things as Reason cannot receive, bat such Things as proceed from the hidden Wisdom of God, and are made manifest in the Gospel of Christ.
Let us then, in the second Place, proceed to shew, That the Notion of Mysteries, against which the Objection lies, does not belong to the Gospel. The Objection represents a Mystery as a Thing inconceivable, and altogether irreconcileable to human Reason. But such Mysteries there are none in the Gospel of Christ. If Men, learned of unlearned, have run themselves into Contradictions by endeavouring to explain the Mysteries of God farther than he has ex-< plained them, be that to themselves: Let not the Gospel be charged with their Errors and Mistakes. Nothing indeed has proved more fatal to Religion, than the vain At-tempts of Men to dive into the unrevealed Mysteries of God, and to account for, upon Principles of human Reason, the Things which proceed from the hidden Wisdom of God. All the secret Purposes of Providence are, in the Sense of the Scripture, Mysteries $ as likewise all Knowledge which God has not revealed. Of such Mysteries are there many: But then they concern not us to inquire after; if they did, God would revea|
them. them to us. God has declared to us, That he has au only-begotten Son, and that he vras the Person who came down from Heaven for our Deliverance: That he has an hofy Spirit, who shall sanctify our Hearts, arid be assisting to us in working out our salvation. This, and agreeable to this, is the Scripture Doctrine: And a Man would be put to it to fi* any Absurdity, or so much as seeming Contradiction, upon this Doctrine, Or any thing said concerning it in Scripture. Concerning these Persoiis there are indeed Exceeding great Mysteries, which are not revealed: God has not told us, or enabled us to conceive, how his Son and his Spirit dwell in hirri, or how they came from him. These therefore are properly Mysteries, which are hidden in the secret Wisdom of God, and which we are no-where called upon to inquire after. It is easy, I think, to take God's Word, that he has a Son and a Spirit, who dwell with him and in him from all Eternity j a Son who came to our Assistance, a Spirit who is ever with us to guide us into Truth: These Things, I say, are easy to be believed, without entering into the Difficulties arising from natural and philosophical Inquiries, which the Scripture nq-where encourages us to seek after: And,