« הקודםהמשך »
and the fall of man, there is a striking difference. To them, we hear of no promise, no redemption. To us, redemption and restoration are offered. Man is still represented as drawn into sin by temptation, and not in consequence of his own spontaneous revolt. We have to contend with a powerful adversary-powerful in exciting the passions to gross sins, and powerful to mislead, through the deceiveableness of sin. Hence, the propitiation and mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the aid of his Spirit afforded to enable us to work out our salvation.
Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God! towards the angels which fell, severity; but to wards fallen man, drawn into sin by temptation, goodness, if we accept and continue in his goodness. If we resist temptation, through the aid of Him who knows how to succour them that are tempted, no power can prevail against us. For He who cast down the angels that kept not their first estate, can still cast down all the powers of darkness, and enable us to triumph over all our souls' enemies. But if we give way, if we sin,though the day of mercy may be extended, yet we have the awful reflection, that we have thus far advanced to an assimilation with the nature of the Devil ; and so far brought ourselves into his condemnation. And, without repentance -- without rising out of this condition, we must continue for ever in a state of separation from God, and in a dreadful association or connexion with the malignant spirit.
The world, the flesh, and the Devil, make up the grand combination of enemies against which we have to contend. Without pretending to explain these terms to their full extent, I will just observe, that the flesh assails us by those passions and appetites which we pos'sess, as constituent parts of our fallen nature. These, without the controlling influence of the Spirit of Christ, tend to excess and to wrong objects, and consequently to sin. The world diverts from the paths of piety, by the corrupt example of those around us, and by the powerful influence of external objects, attracting our affections to themselves. The Devil, a spirit opposed to every thing of goodness, enters into our passions, stimulates them to evil, gives power to corrupt examples, and unreal value to external objects ; but, above all, draws off the mind from the love of God, and the remembrance of his goodness, and represents the sublime enjoyments which are to be found in the Divine presence, as to be dreaded rather than desired. And, though the world or the flesh may generally be the medium, through which the attack is made on our fidelity to God; yet whoever carefully investigates the subject, will discover certain impressions and excitements, which are unmixed satanic influences.
OF REWARDS, AND PUNISHMENTS.
The doctrine of Rewards and Punishments, nem cessarily embraces the Immortality of the Soul, and the Resurrection from the Dead.
It is not my intention, at presents to enter into a formal refutation of those sceptical reasonings, which have been advanced against the Immortality of the Soul, and those other Divine truths which are brought to light. by the Gospel. Men, who deny every thing which cannot be tested by the outward senses, will deprive themselves of the most pure and dignified enjoyments, which the Author of our existence intended for us, Nor indeed do the principles of scepticism stop here. There have been men of bright talents, who might have been orna, ments to the age in which they lived; but, by adopting these principles, they were led on from doubt to doubt, until they not only denied the truths of Divine Revela-, tion, but were placed in the same predicament with respect to the most familiar and indubitable transactions and objects around them. Assuming, as a general proposition, that the testimony of the outward senses does not amount to absolute certainty, they have gone on to argue, that we cannot certainly kriow any thing. Those things which the common sense and common faculties of mankind denominate as facts, occurring under our own observation, they have supposed may be only ideas, and hence, even our own actions, health, disease, or broken bones, the separation from friends, or the loss of life, may be nothing but notions, in which there is no reality at all.
The Academics, who were a branch of the Platonic school of philosophy, "laid it down as an axiom, that nothing can be known with certainty: the Pyrrhonists maintained that even this ought not to be positively asserted." (Adams' View, Introduction, p. 33.)
Absurd and disgusting as these propositions must appear to the enlightened mind, they were, even within the last century, dignified with the name of Philosophy; and volumes were written to establish, and to refute them.
And those who deny the doctrines of revealed religion, cannot maintain their opinions with greater plausibility, than that which was used to support the sceptical jargon I have mentioned or, in other words, to maintain the ignorance of man, against all wisdom and against all truth.
Though human reason never could lead the mind up to an acquaintance with God, his attributes, and his will concerning us; with the means which He has provided for our redemption, or the existence of the soul after death; yet, these things being revealed or brought to light by the Gospel, are supported by the testimony of unperverted reason.
But to my mind, one of the most conclusive arguments in favour of Divine Revelation, is, that it goes
beyond the evidences of the senses, or the discoveries of human reason. It is an important argument in favour of Reason, that it opens to us a wide field of knowledge, of action, and of enjoyment, which lies beyond the reach of the senses. For this is one of the striking ada vantages that we enjoy above the brute creation. The same mode of reasoning will apply to Divine Revelation, as exalting our condition abuve what it could possibly be, if we possessed no higher principle than reason. For though reason enlarges our sphere of action, of usefulness, and of enjoyment; yet it also unfolds to us the miseries to which we are heirs, more fully than the brute creation can be made sensible of. The ox is led unconscious to the slaughter, and feels nothing of the terrors of anticipation. We see the powerful causes of change, disappointment, and affliction, that surround us. Were there nothing for the mind to rest upon, but such objects as come within the reach of the senses, and the calculations of human reason, we should be miserable indeed. It is, therefore, a source of peculiar gratitude, that “life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel." The beasts possess the faculties of sense. Man, though he possesses these faculties in an inferior degree, still rises above the brute creation, by the exercise of reason. This gives him a commanding advantage over the rest of animated nature; but it is only a partial advantage. Though it enlarges his knowledge, his powers, and his enjoyments, it also abundantly enlarges his sphere of sufferings and distress. It therefore still remains for Dia vine Revelation to direct his views, to regulate hís affections and pursuits; and to give animation to his hopes, and support to his mind, through all the vicissitudes that can attend him. Før, as Reason leads to discovea