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such provision, as to render to every man according to his work, and assign to his subjects special advantages in proportion as they conform themselves to his laws. So that, be his rule of morality as perfect as it will, it must in a vast variety of cases be left entirely unsupported. Revelation therefore is highly expedient and useful in this view, viz. to enforce a proper rule of duty, as well as discover and fix it. And accordingly some persons, who will not allow it to be necessary in the last mentioned respect, yet admit of its being so in the other. If it suggests to any one more knowledge, and more motives for the practice of virtue, than otherwise a man can have; if it supplies him with more arguments and reasons to engage him to do his duty, or sets them in a plainer and clearer light than they would be without revelation, in this case it becomes of singular use and service to mankind d.

Besides this, revelation is necessary, when men have once transgressed their duty, to teach them the conditions of pardon, and the means of reconciling themselves to God. Every sinner, who considers things, must be sensible that he is upon ill terms with his Maker, and that his iniquities have separated between God and him. And if he hath any thoughts of renewing his acquaintance, and making his peace with God, he must be very solicitous to know whether any thing in his own power can contribute towards such a reconciliation. His reason perhaps may tell him, that sorrow for what is past, and amendment for the time to come, are the most probable means of recommending him to the divine compassion. But his reason can give him no complete satisfaction in the point: and it may persuade him, that God in his justice is more concerned to punish the offender, than in his mercy to forgive the penitent. Besides, this same reason of his, if it be corrupted by wrong education, or influenced by superstition, (which is likely enough to be the case,) will be more apt to lead him wrong than right; and instead of real amendment, will make him have recourse to some ridiculous rites and superstitious vanities, which, though very troublesome to himself, are of no estimation in the sight of God, and have no manner of tendency to regain his favour. In this situation, how desirable must it be to have a messenger as it were from heaven, with the offers and the conditions of pardon in his hand! and how beautiful would be the feet of him that bringeth such good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation !

d Dr. Sykes’s Prin. and Connex. p. 244, &c.

As revelation was highly expedient, and much wanted, upon these several accounts; so, considering the perfections and goodness of God, men might humbly hope that he would afford one. They have not indeed any right to it, nor could they reasonably complain of being unjustly dealt with, if it was withheld. But, however, though not due from the justice, it might humbly be expected from the mercy of God; and they might hope that a Being of his gracious goodness would give them some intimations of his will, as their highest perfection consisted in knowing and obeying it. And it seems indeed a little wonderful, that men who talk so much of the benevolence of the Deity, as our modern unbelievers affect to do, should not be able to see that this must incline him to vouchsafe his assistance, where it is so much wanted, and of so great use, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide their feet in the way of peacef. If the God and Father of mankind can leave them exposed and helpless, as the ostrich does her eggs in the earth, forgetting that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them 8; if he is hardened against his offspring, as though they were not his; notwithstanding we cannot perhaps complain of the justice of such proceeding, because we have deserved it, yet admire the benevolence of it let him who can. A being of another character could do no less, and a being of a benevolent one would surely do more; it might very reasonably be expected, that he would make some discovery of his will, and that, as the Psalmist argues, because gracious and righteous is the Lord, therefore will he teach sinners in the way h.

e Isaiah lii. 7.

Having thus asserted the want of a revelation in general, and shewn that there was some reason to expect one, let us now cast our eyes upon that of the gospel in particular, and see whether the contents of it be worthy of God, and the proofs of it such as ought to satisfy a reasonable man. For though its being worthy of God is in itself no direct proof that it actually came from him, yet, on the other hand, if it contains any thing plainly unworthy of God, that will prove that God is not the author of it:

f Luke i. 79.

g Job xxxix. 14, 15.

h Psalni xxv. 8.

and the reason is, because we know from our natural notions of his perfections, that God can reveal nothing unworthy of himself, or inconsistent with those perfections. But look through the gospel from one end of it to the other, and you will find nothing of this kind. The whole plan of it proceeds upon a supposition, of the truth whereof we may all be convinced by sad experience, that we are at present in a lapsed and degenerate state. And the grand design of it is to rescue us out of this state of degeneracy and corruption, and restore us to the glorious liberty of the children of God i In order to this it acquaints us, that though we are enemies to God by wicked works, yet he is in a disposition to be reconciled to us ; that the great Reconciler, or Mediator in this affair, is his only begotten Son, who was himself the sacrifice offered up in homage to the divine holiness, and to his own and his Father's love of mankind; that he committed the word, or ministry, of reconciliation to his apostles, who have given men the knowledge of salvation by the doctrine of remission of sins; and who, as Christ's ambassadors, beseech them in his stead, and in his name, to be reconciled to God. This is the general scheme of Christianity, equally full of grace and glory; which is so far from being likely to have been contrived and invented by a few ignorant and wicked impostors, that it seems to be entirely worthy of the holiness, wisdom, and goodness, from which it is supposed to proceed. If we examine more minutely into the particular doctrines of this religion, we shall find some that surpass the understanding, but none

i Rom. viii. 21.

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that contradict the reason of mankind : i. e. we shall find some doctrines concerning mysterious truths, which are indeed above reason, but not contrary to it. Nor is this any wonder, since the human mind is not of such a vast, extensive capacity as to be the measure of all truth; nor is it at all improbable, that a revelation made by God should contain some doctrines which reason by itself could not discover; and which, after they are revealed, reason is still unable perfectly to comprehend. And if men will have no religion but what is absolutely without mystery, the consequence will be, that they must have no religion at all; for even natural religion, or the religion of reason itself, in the first and leading articles of it, concerning the nature and perfections of God and some others, has difficulties which quite distress our reason, and depths which the line of human understanding cannot fathom. Our comfort is, that if Christianity has its mysteries, they are mysteries not of iniquity but of godliness. Whether their nature be fully comprehended or not, their practical tendency cannot justly be denied; as they are engagements and motives to the purest and most sublime morality that was ever heard of in the world.

The morals of the gospel teach men nothing but what is excellent and holy, and what may well become a Being of infinite wisdom and purity to prescribe to his creatures. Here is nothing barbarous or bloody, idolatrous or wicked, or even superstitious and vain; but the worship of God is exalted to as great a spirituality as is consistent with our condition, and all the duties in effect comprehended in two, the love of him, and of one another. “ The sa

craments, the ceremonies, the priesthood, are but

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