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the external manifestation of our glorious Redeemer may be compared to a sun, whose rising was preceded by a dawn, which benignly opened upon the first inhabitants of the earth ; and whose setting is followed by a lovely twilight, which must necessarily continue till he shall again ascend above our horizon, to go down no more. In this point of view, the scriptures uniformly represent the sacrifice of Christ. St. Paul expressly declares, that, “by one offering, he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified;" that is, all those in every nation who fear God and work righteousness. Heb. x. 14; Acts x. 35. We argue, therefore, with this apostle, that, “as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Rom. v. 18.

From these observations we conclude, first, that the gospel has been more or less clearly announced, ever since the time in which a Redeemer became necessary to man. Secondly, that Jesus Christ openly manifested himself in a time most proper for such a discovery. Thirdly, that the work of redemption is as necessary to mankind as the assistance of medicine is necessary to those who are struggling under some dangerous disease. Fourthly, that an explicit knowledge of the Redeemer and his salvation is as desirable to those who feel themselves ruined by sin, as the certain knowledge of a physician possessed of sovereign remedies is consoling to the patient who apprehends his life in imminent danger. Fifthly, as languishing infants may be restored by the medicines of a physician with whom they are totally unacquainted, so Jews, Mahometans, and heathens, provided they walk according to the light they enjoy, are undoubtedly saved by Jesus Christ, though they have no clear conception of the astonishing means employed to secure them from perdition. And, lastly, that the grand argument advanced against the gospel by M. de Voltaire and J. J. Rousseau is abundantly more specious than solid.




In refuting the objection of superficial moralists proposed in the preceding chapter, we may perhaps have afforded them ground for another, full as specious and solid.

OBJECTION._“If it be allowed, that in every age salvation has been extended to all the true worshippers of God, whether they have been pious Jews, such as Joseph, Hezekiah, and Josiah; just men among the gentiles, such as Melchizedek and Aristides ; or heathen philosophers who have walked in the fear of God, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato; and if all these virtuous men have been saved without subscribing to the doctrines of the gospel, why may not deists and modern philosophers be permitted to enjoy the same salvation, while they reject those doctrines ?”

ANSWER.-There are three grand dispensations of grace. Under the first, every heathenish and unenlightened nation must be ranked; the Jews under the second ; and Christians under the third, which is a dispensation abundantly more perfect than either of the former. The followers of Mahomet may be classed with modern Jews, since they are deists of the same rank, and have equally deceived themselves with respect to that great prophet who came for the restoration of Israel.

Those Jews, Mahometans, and heathens who fear God and work righteousness” are actually saved by Jesus Christ. Christ is the truth and the light; and these sincere worshippers receiving all the rays of truth with which they are visited afford sufficient proof, that they would affectionately admire and adore the Sun of righteousness himself, were the intervening mists removed by which he is concealed from their view. But it is wholly different with those who, beholding this divine Sun as he is revealed in the gospel, determinately close their eyes against him, and contemptuously raise a cloud of objections to veil him, if possible, from the view of others. Every virtuous heathen was accustomed to manifest a love for truth ; while many of our philosophers, in the pride of their hearts, reject and despise it. The former wrought out their salvation, though favoured only with the glimmering dawn of an evangelical day; the latter, surrounded with the meridian brightness of that day, are anxiously seeking the shadowy « verts of uncertainty and error. The former were saved according to that apostolic declaration, “ Glory, honour, and peace to every man that worketh good, to the” Christian and the “ Jew first, and also to the gentile ; for there is no respect of persons with God.” Rom. ii. 10, 11. And of this number was the apostle Paul, who obtained mercy because he was ignorantly a persecutor of the truth, “living,” at the same time, “ in all good conscience before God.” 1 Tim. i. 13. Nor can it be doubted, but the same grace with which St. Paul was visited in these circumstances will, in various degrees, illumine and purify every soul that reseml·les him in uprightness and sincerity. The latter will be condemned by virtue of the following declarations :

“ This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John iii. 19. 6 God will render unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the” Christian and the “ Jew first, and also of the gentile.” Rom. ii. 8, 9.

From these citations we may infer, that, in several proportions, the salvation of virtuous heathens will differ as greatly from the salvation of faithful Christians, as the brilliancy of an agate differs from that of a diamond. Many mansions and different degrees of glory are prepared in the house of our Father. John xiv. 2.

- There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars ; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also will it be in the resurrection of the dead,” when God “ will render unto every man according to his works.” 1 Cor. xv. 41, 42.

The highest degrees of glory are reserved by the righteous Judge of all the earth for the most faithful of his servants. The honourable privilege of being seated at the right hand of Christ will be conferred upon those who have trodden in their Master's footsteps, through the narrowest and most difficult paths of resignation and obedience. On the other hand, God will display the most terrible effects of his righteous anger upon those who have trampled under foot the greatest and most frequent offers of divine grace, according to that exclamation of the apostle, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation !” Heb. ii. 3: since thus obstinately to despise the highest degrees of glory which may be attained under the gospel, and daringly to brave the threatenings denounced against those who reject that gospel, discovers in the heart a cold indifference to real virtue, together with a sovereign contempt for the divine Author of it.

As true virtue, like a beautiful plant, is continually rising to a state of maturity, so true philosophy is constantly aspiring to the highest attainable degrees of wisdom and purity. If any man neglects those means which conduce to the perfection of virtue when they are once proposed to him, he gives evident proof, that he has neither that instinct of virtue, nor that true philosophy, which cannot but choose the most excellent end, together with the surest means of obtaining it. What would our philosophers say to a man who, affecting to aspire after riches, and being called to receive a large quantity of gold, should inconsistently refuse it, in the following terms ?“ Many persons have been rich enough with a little money to prevent them from starving, and I have no inclination to exceed them in point of fortune.” The objection proposed in this chapter is founded upon a like sophism, and amounts but to an equal argument:

“ Jews and virtuous heathens have received assistance sufficient effectually to secure their salvation, and we have not presumption enough to desire any extraordinary advantage above them.”

It is difficult to form a just idea of the conceitedness of those boasted moralists who despise every help afforded by


the gospel, because some heathens without such assistance have been acceptable to God. We may compare it to the supposed self-sufficiency of a contemptible subaltern officer, who, being presented with a more honourable commission from his prince, should reject it, and cry out, • The commission is false, and they who present it are no better than deceivers. I have no anxiety to quit my present post. I aspire to no higher honours than those I possess. Many thousands have faithfully served his majesty in the capacity of subalterns; nay, common soldiers themselves have received testimonies of his royal approbation; and why should my services afford him less satisfaction than theirs ?” Was a corporal in my hearing thus to excuse his rejection of a monarch's offered kindness, I should suppose, either that he had no just conceptions of the honour intended him, or that he was withheld from accepting that honour by motives too unworthy to be avowed. But this excuse would be insolent as well as pitiful, had the terms of the commission run thus : “ Either serve your prince with fidelity in the post to which he exalts you, or expect to be treated with the utmost severity.

Now, such is the case with all those who obstinately reject the gospel, and perseveringly trample under foot the richest offers of unmerited grace. They either reject the truths of revelation through haughtiness of spirit, or they are held back from embracing them through the secret gratification of some inordinate appetite. Observe here the ground of those memorable declarations of our blessed Lord :-“Preach the gospel to every creature.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark xvi. 15, 16. “ He that believeth not the Son," after hearing him evangelically announced, “shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. He is condemned already; for every one that doeth evil hateth the light” of the gospel, “neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John iii. 18, 20, 36.

Upon this principle, as conformable to experience as to sound reason, the gospel is not absolutely rejected, except by those who are either visibly corrupted, as Pilate

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