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a Man would be thought beside himself, who should act in the same Manner. · As to the two other Points, The cleansing Sinners from their Iniquity, and enabling them to live virtuously for the future; or, in other Words, the Sanctification and Grace promised in the Gospel; I shall not enter into the Consideration of them particularly, because the same Way of Reasoning is applicable in these Cases, mutatis mutandis ; and therefore I shall leave them to your own Reflection.
Upon the whole; The only true and fair Way of judging of the Gospel is, to consider what is the true State of Mankind in the World. If Men are in a State of Purity and Innocence, no Redemption is wanting, and the Methods prescribed in the Gospel bear no Relation to their Circumstances : But, if Men have every-where finned, and come short of the Glory of God, the Law of Nature cannot help them to those Blessings, which by the Law of Nature are forfeited; and there is manifestly a Necessity to have recourse to other Means to obtain Salvation.
It may be said, for it often is faid, That, whatever Degree of Light Men have, it will make little Difference in the Case; since an equitable Judge will consider Men and
their Merits in proportion to their Abilities. Allowing this Maxim to be true, yet it plainly goes no farther than this; That God will not punish Men for not doing the Things which their natural Powers enabled them not to do. The Argument cannot go farther : You cannot argue from the Weakness or Stupidity of Men, that they shall be rewarded. It may be a good Reason not to beat a Man when he does amiss, because he is a Fool, and knows not what he does; but it is no Reason to honour or to advance him. And therefore a Religion founded in this favourite Principle cannot be said to have the Words of eternal Life; for no Plea, no Claim for eternal Life can possibly be raised out of it.
Considering therefore Religion under the Character given in the Text, That it has the Words of eternal Life; we shall have Reason to conclude with St. Peter, That our only
is in God, and in him whom he hath sent, our blessed Lord and Redeemer; and with him to say, Lord, whither shall we go? Thou, Thou only, hast the Words of eternal Life.
And we believe, and are sure, that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Hebrews vii. 25. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the
uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing be ever liveth to make Interceffion for them.
#85946ER HEN we consider the great
a and wonderful Work of our hogy new year Redemption, though we cannot
** account for every Step of it to
* our own Reason and Understanding, yet neither can we imagine it to be the Effect of mere Will and arbitrary Appointment, and void of all Foundation in the Reason and Propriety of Things. All the Works of God are Works of Wisdom; and, as far as our Capacities give us leave tò judge, we discern evident Marks of Wisdom
in them all, and discover a Fitness and Propriety in every thing with respect to the End which it is intended to serve or promote. If this be so in every Instance in which we. are able to make any Judgment, it is a great Presumption that it is, and must be, so in all other Instances, which are too high and great to be viewed and measured by human Understanding : And we have one positive Argument that it is so, arising from the natural Notion we have of God, and of his Attributes of Wisdom and Justice. It is impossible to suppose such a Being to do any thing by Chance, or in compliance to mere Will and Humour. No: Every Act of God is the Act of infinite Wisdom, and is founded in the necessary Reason and Propriety of Things: And it is as true of the Works of Grace, as it is of the Works of Nature, That in Wisdom he has ordained them all. "
It is one thing not to be able to discern the Reasons of Providence, and another to suppose there is no Reason in them. The Reasons, that made it either necessary or proper for Christ to die for the Şins of Mankind, may be removed out of our Sight: But to suppose that Christ really did die for the Sins of the World, and yet that there was no Reason or Propriety in his so doing,