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and of the name in baptism, we proceed till he hath informed himself whether it
the same all the days of my life.” works *. -But it is plain, that St. Paul's
First then, we promise to “ renounce argument requires him to mean by faith, " the devil, and all his works, the pomps the whole system of the christian religion " and vanities of this wicked world, and (which is indeed the meaning of the word " all the finful lufts of the flesh.” “ The in many other parts of fcripture); and by “ devil, the world, and the flesh,” is a works, which he sets in opposition to it, comprehensive mode of expressing every the moral law. So that in fact, the apos. species of fin, however distinguished; and tle's argument relates not to the present from whatever source derived: all which question; but tends only to establish the we not only engage to renounce as far as superiority of christianity. The moral law, we are able; but also to take pains in argues the apostle, which claimed on the tracing the labyrinths of our own hearts; righteousness of works, makes no provision and in removing the glosses of self-deceit. for the deficiencies of man. Christianity Without this, all renunciation of sin is pre- alone, by opening a door of mercy, gave tence.
him hopes of that salvation, whico the Being thus injoined to renounce our other could not pretend to give. gross, habitual fins, and those bad inclina Upon renouncing sin, believing the arti. tions, which lead us into them; we are cles of the christian faith, and keeping required next to “ believe all the cles God's holy commandme as far as sinfu " of the christian faith.” This is a na man can keep them, we are intitled by tural progression. When we are thoroughly promise to all the privileges of the gospel. convinced of the malignity of fin, we in We“ become members of Christ, children course wish to avoid the ill consequences “ of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of it; and are prepared to give a fair “ of heaven.” We are redeemed through hearing to the evidence of religion. the merits of Chrift; pardoned through There is a close connection between vice the mercies of God; and rewarded with a and infidelity. They mutually support each blessed immortality. other. The same connection subsifts be. This account of our baptismal vow contween a well-disposed mind, and the truths cludes with a question, leading us to acof religion : and faith perhaps is not so knowledge the necessity of observing this involuntary an act, as many of our modern vow; and to declare our belief, that our philosophers would persuade us.
only hope of keeping it refts upon the After « believing the articles of the aslistance of God.
Gilpin. “ christian faith,” we are lastly injoined to " keep God's holy will and command
$ 153. On the Creed--the Belief of God. ~ ments." Here too is the same natural The creed begins with a profession of Progression. As the renunciation of sin our belief in “ God the Father almighty, prepares the way for faith, so does faith, maker of heaven and earth.” lead directly to obedience. They seem The being of a God is one of those related to each other, as the mean and the truths, which scarce require proof. A end. “ The end of the commandment," proof seems rather an injury, as it supfaith the apostle, “ is charity, out of a pure poses doubt. However, as young minds, "heart, and good conscience, and faith, though not sceptical, are uninformed, it "unfeigned.” Faith (which is the act may not be improper to select out of the of believing upon rational evidence) is the variety of arguments, which evince this great fountain, from which all christian great truch, two or three of the most virtues spring. No man will obey a law, limple.
See Røm, ji. 28. and indeed great part of the epistle.
The existence of a Deity, we prove, are thus marked with the characters of from the light of nature. For his attri- design, there can be no difficulty in acbutes, at leaf in any perfection, we niuit knowiedging the author of such designlook into scripture.
of such amazing contrivance and variety, A few plain and simple arguments to be a being of infinite wisdom and drawn from the creation of the world power. We call a man ingenious, who the preservation of it and the general makes even a common globe, with all the consent of mankind, strike us with more parts of the earth delineated upon it. conviction, than all the subtilties of meta What shall we say then of the author of physical de duction.
the great original itfelf, in all its granWe prove the being of a God first from deur, and furnished with all its various inthe creation of the world.
habitants ? The world must have been produced The argument drawn from the prefereither by design, or by chance. No other vation of the world, is indeed rather the mode of origin can be supposed. Let us last argument advanced a step farther. see then with which of these characters it If chance could be fuppofed to produce is impressed
a regular form, yet it is certainly beyond The characteristic of the works of de- the highest degree of credulity, to suppore, fign, is a relation of parts, in order to it could continue this regularity for any produce an end-The characteristic of the time. But we find it has been continued: works of chance is just the reverse.-- we find, that near 6000 years have made When we see stones, answering cach other, no change in the order and harmony of laid in the form of a regular building, we the world. The sun's action upon the immediately say, they were put together earth hath ever been regular. The proby design: but when we see them thrown duction of trees, plants, and herbs, hath about in a disorderly heap, we say as con ever been uniform. Every seed produces fidently, they have been thrown so by now the same fruit it ever did. Every chance.
species of animal life is still the fame. Now, in the world, and all its appen- Could chance continue this regular ar. dages, there is plainly this appearance of rangement ? Could any thing continue it, deiign. One part relates to another; and but the hand of an omnipotent God! the whole together produces an er.d. The Lastly, we see this great truth, the being sun, for instance, is connected with the of a God, witnessed by the general conearth, by warming it into a proper heat, fent of mankind. This general consent for the production of its fruits; and fur- muft arise either from tradition, or it must nishing it with rain and dew. The earth be the result of men's own reasoning. again is connected with all the vegetables Upon either supposition, it is an argument which it produces, by providing them equally strong. If the first supposition be with proper foils, and juices for their allowed, it will be difficult to asign any nourishment. These again are connected source of this tradition, but God himselt
, with animals, by supplying them with food. If the second, it can scarce be supposed And the whole together produces the great that all mankind, in different parts of the end of sustaining the lives of innumerable world, should agree in the belief of a creatures.
thing, which never existed. For though Nor is design fhewn only in the grand doubts have arisen concerning this gefabric of the world, and all its relative neral belief, yet it is now pretty well appendages: it is equally shewn in every ascertained, from the accounts of travelpart. It is seen in every animal, adapied lers, that no nation hath yet been discoverin all its peculiarities to its proper mode ed, among whom fonie traces of religious of life. It is seen in every vegetable, fur- worship have not been found. nished with parts exactly suited to its fitu
10, says the objector; yet still we ation. In the least, as well as in the greatest find single persons, even in civilized coun. of nature's productions, it is every where tries, and some of them men of enlarged apparent. The little creeper upon the capacities, who have not only had their wall, extending its tenacious fibres, draws doubts on this subject; but have pronourishment from the crannies of the claimed aloud their disbelief of a divine fones ; and flourithes where no other plant being. could live.
We answer, that it is more than proli tren the world, and every part of it, Labie, no man's infidelity on this head was
ever thoroughly settled. Bad men, rather enough about them to deserve misfortune; endeavour to convince themselves, than and bad men virtues, which may deserve are really convinced.-But even on a lup- success. Why should imprudence, though position, that a few such persons could be joined with virtue, partake of its reward? found, what is their testimony against so Or the generous purpose share in the pua great a majority, as the rest of mankind ? nishment, though connected with vice? The light of the sun is universally acknow Thus then we see the being of a God ledged, though it happens, that, now and is the universal creed of nature. But then, a man may be born blind.
though nature could investigate the simple But lince, it feems, there are difficulties truth, he could not preserve it from error. in fuppofing a divine creator, and pre- Nature merely takes her notions from ferver of the world, what lyttem of things what she sees, and what she hears, and does the atheilt fuppose attended with hath ever moulded her gods in the likeness fewer. He sees the world produced be- of things in heaven, and things on earth. fore him. He sees it hath been created; Hence every part of the creation, animate and is preserved. Some account of this and inanimate, hath, by turns, been an Datter muil be given. If ours displease object of worship. And even the most re. hip; let us have his.
fined nations, we know, had gross conThe experiment bath been tried. We ceptions on this head. The wiselt of them have had many atheislical creeds: none indeed, by observing the wonders of creof which hath rood the teit of being ation, could clothe the Deity with wisdom handed down with any degree of credit and power : but they could go no farther, into future times.
The virtues of their heroes afforded them The acheil's great argument indeed the highest ideas of perfe&ion: and with againit a Deity, is levelled at the apparent these they arrayed their gods; mixing injustice of his government. It was an also with their virtues, such vices, as are objection of ancient date; and might have found in the characters of the best of had its weight in heathen times: but it is one of the blessings, which attends chrif. For just notions of the Deity, we must tianity, that it satisfies all our doubts on have 'recourse then to revelation alone. this head; and gives us a rational and Revelation removes all these absurdities. ealy solution of this poignant objection. It dispels the clouds of ignorance; and What if we cbserve an inaccurate dif- unveils the divine majclly, as far as it can tribution of the things of this world be the object of human contemplation. What if virtue be depressed, and vice tri. The lax notions of libertinism, on one umphant? It is nothing, says the voice hand, which make the Deity an inobservant of religion, to him, who believes this life governor; and the gloomy ideas of superto be an inconsiderable part of his being; lition, on the other, which suppoie him to a point only in the expanse of eternity: be a dark malignant being, are equally who believes he is sent into this world, exposed. Here we are informed of the merely to prepare himself for a better. omniscience and omnipresence of God. This world, he knows, is intended neither Here we learn, that his wisdom and power for reward, nor punishment. Happiness are equalled by his goodness; and that his unquestionably attends virtue even here, mercy is over all his works. In short, we and misery, vice: but it is not the hap- learn from revelation, that we are in the piness of a splendid ftation, but of a hands of a being, whose knowledge we peaceful mind; nor is it the milery of low cannot evade, and whose power we cannot circumstances, but of a guilty conscience. refilt; who is merciful and good to all his The things of this world are not, in their creatures; and will be ever ready to aslift own nature, connected either with happi- and reward those, who endeavour to conness or misery. Attended sometimes by form themselves to his will: but whose one, and sometimes by the other, they are justice, at the same time, accompanying merely the means of trial. One man is his mercy, will punih the bold and carea tempted with riches, and another with less finner in proportion to his guilt. poverty; but God intends neither an ele.
Gilpin. vated, nor a depressed situation as the ultimate completion of his will.
§ 154. On the Creed continued the Belief Besides, if worldly prosperity even was
of Jefus Chrift. the indication of God's favour, yet good med may have failings and imprudenciçs After profesling cur belief in God, the
creed proceeds with a profession of our be- which proves not only his existence; but lief « in Jesus Christ, his son, our Lord.” that he is our Lord, or the Messiah-and
A person celebrated as Jesus Christ not only that he was the author of a new was, we may suppose, would naturally religion; but that this religion is true. find a place in the profane history of his Upon examining the grand scripture times. It may not be amiss, therefore, to evidence on this head, we find the greatest introduce the evidence we are about to stress laid upon miracles and prophecies: collea, with the testimony of some of the both of which are direct appeals to God, more eminent of the heathen writers, who by a claim to supernatural power. And have mentioned him. They will at least though both these modes of evidence are inform us, that such a person lived at the calculated as well for us who live in retime we assert; and that he was the au moter times, as for those who lived in the thor of a new religion. I shall quote only earliest; yet the evidence from miraSuetonius, Tacitus, and Pliny.
cles seems more particularly addressed to Suetonius *, tells us, that “ the em- them; as that from prophecy is to us. peror Claudius drove all the Jews from They were the eye-witnesses of the miraRome, who, at the instigation of one Christ, cles of the gospel, of which we have only were continually making disturbances.” the evidence at second-hand. Whereas
Tacitus t, speaking of the persecution prophecy is a mode of evidence, which of christians, tells us,
“ that the author of increases through every age. The early that name was Christ, who was put to christians had it in part; but to us this death by Pontius Pilate, in the reign of amazing web is still more unfolded; and Tiberius.”
more of its wonderful texture displayed.Pliny's t testimony is more large. It Let us examine each in its order. is contained in a letter, written to the Among the eye-witnesses of the gospel emperor Trajan, defiring his instructions miracles, were many learned men, as well with regard to christians. . He blames as unlearned. The former had opportheir obitinacy in refusing to sacrifice to tunity and abilities to examine the works the Roman deities—but from their own before them; to trace out fraud, if any confeflion can draw nothing, but that they such were latent; and did unquestionably assemble, on a certain day, before sun-rise receive them with all that circumspection -that they pay divine honours to Christ which was due to such wonderful exhibi. as a God that they bind themselves by a tions, before they embraced the christian facrament not to steal, nor to commit adul- faith: while the most ignorant spectator was tery, nor to deceive-and that, after the
a competent judge of matter of fact; and performance of these rites, they join in many of our Saviour's miracles were such one common meal. Nay, he examined, he as could not possibly, from the nature of says, two of them by torture: yet still he the facts themselves, be coloured with finds nothing obnoxious in their behaviour, fraud. except their absurd fuperftitions. He It had a strange found to the prejudices thinks, however, the matter should be in. of mankind, that a crucified malefactor quired into: for christianity had brought was the Saviour of the world, and we religion into great disuse.' The markets cannot suppose, that any man, much less were crowded with victims; and scarce a that a multitude of men, would embrace purchaser came near them.
such a belief without clear conviction : These writers afford us sufficient tef- especially as no worldly advantage lay on timony, that Jesus Christ lived at the time the side of this belief; and the convert we affert; and that he was the author of a even renounced the world, and embraced new religion. They had opportunities of a life of persecution. Let us consider the being well informed; could have no in- single miracle of Christ's resurrection. terest in falsifying; were no converts to Jesus had frequently mentioned it before the new sect; but talk of Christ, only as his death; and the thing was so far in they would of any fingular person, whom general credited, that the fepulchre was they had occasion to mention. Their tef- fealed, and an armed guard appointed to timony therefore is beyond cavil.
watch it. We may well suppose, thereLet us now proceed a step farther, and fore, that his favourers would naturally, examine the scripture evidence of Christ, upon this occasion, reason thus: “ Jelus * In vita Claud Cæf.
| Lib. IS:
hath now put his pretensions upon a fair his people, a man of sorrows, and acfiue. He hath told us, he will arise from quainted with grief. Here we see the the dead on the third day:-here then let Lord of righteousness numbered with us fufpend our judgment, and wait the re- tranfgreffors—we see his hands and his folt. "Three days will determine whether feet pierced we see him made an offer: he be an importor, or the real Messiah.” ing for fin—and we see realized that ex-It is very natural to suppose, that the traordinary idea of death without corfavourers of Jesus would reason, after his ruption. death, in a manner like this: and it is be It were an easy matter to carry this Fond credibility, that any of them would comparison through a more minute detail have continued his disciples, had they of circumstances: but I mean only to trace found him falfifying in this point. But the outlines of this great resemblance, we know they did continue his disciples to compleat the picture would be a coafter this. We know also, that many pro- pious work. selytes, convinced by this very event, em Besides these predi&tions, which related braced the christian religion.-We have immediately to the life and death of Chrift; all the reason in the world therefore to be there were many others, which deserve lieve, that they were fully satisfied. His notice Among these the two great leadmiracles were io them a sufficient proof of ing prophecies were those of the calling bis pretensions. All candid men would of the Gentiles, and of the dispersion of have acquiesced, as they did; and in their the Jews, belief we have a very strong foundation The calling of the Gentiles was one of for our own.
the earliest prophecies of the Old TestaAgain, with regard to prophecy, we The Jews were distinguished in observe, that the writers of the Old Testa- appearance, as the favourite people of ment seem, in various parts, to characterize God; and they were sufficiently elated some extraordinary person, who was in upon that distinction. But if they had at process of time to make his appearance in tended closely to their prophets, they might the world. The marks are peculiar, and have discovered, that all the prophecies, can neither be mistaken nor mifapplied. which described the happy state of the " He was to be born of a virgin--he was church, had evidently a more distant prof, to turn the hearts of the disobedient to pect, than to them. Those early promises, the wisdom of the just-though dignified in particular, which were repeated to the with the characters of a prince, he was to patriarchs, were not merely confined to be a man of sorrows, and acquainted with their posterity; but included all the nagrief—though described to be without fin, tions of the earth*.” And when the later he was to be numbered with transgreffors prophets, as the great event approached,
-his hands and his feet were to be Ipoke a plainer, and a more intelligible pierced he was to be made an offering language, the whole nation might have for fir-and was never to see corruption.' understood, as Simeon, and some of the -These prophecies were published many wisest and most intelligible of them did hundred years before the birth of Chrift; understand, that "a light was sprung up and had been all along in the hands, not to lighten the Gentiles. only of the Jews, but of all men of letters. The prophecy of the dispersion of the The Old Testament had been early trans. Jewish nation is also very antient, being lated into the Greek language; and re. attributed by Moses to the patriarch Jacob. ceived into the politeft libraries of those “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, . times.
until Shiloh coine.” Whatever may be the With these ideas, let us open the New precise meaning of the word • sceptre in Testament, and it is obvious that no pi&ture the original; and though it may not percan be more like its original, than these haps properly signify that idea of regal prophecies of Christ in one Testament, are power, which it conveys to our ears; yet to his history in the other. Here we see it certainly means some badge of autho. that extraordinary virgin-birth unravelled. rity, that implies a formed and settled goHere we fee a life fpent in turning the vernment. And as to the word " Shiloh,' hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of all commentators, jewith as well as christ. the juf--Here we find the prince of ian, explain it to mean the Melliah-The
See Gen. xii. 3. xviii. 18. xxii, 18. xxvi. 4.