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what liberty has any to object to its mode of administration? The heathen have no more reason to complain than all would have had, if no Saviour had been furnished ; or than the rebel Angels have because this provision had been limited to man.
Here is the mistake of many. They impugn God's justice, when his justice never prompted salvation for any. They arraign his mercy, when the very idea of mercy implies the absence of all claim on the part of those to whom it is shown.
We have heard the strongest arguments which can be adduced in favour of the final happiness of the heathen; and what do they prove? that there is hope for any considerable number of them? No — that any of them will certainly be saved ? Not even that. How uncharitable then
nay, how cruel is it to allow such inconclusive reasons to subvert an opinion which, as all know who have examined it, rests upon no slight grounds, and which in its practical operations is so infinitely important !
The arguments which constrain me to act on the belief that the adult heathen perish, are the following:
I. In the first place they are condemned by the light of nature. They pervert that knowledge of right and wrong which they possess. The degree of this knowledge differs in different
countries; but all have it in some measure, and it is according to that measure, that each is to be judged.
And here I cannot but notice the futility of one of the popular objections against the perdition of those who have never heard of Christ. It is often asked, and with an air of triumph, will the heathen be condemned for infringing a law which has never been promulged to them, or rejecting a Saviour of whom they have never heard ? or as it has just been expressed, “ for involuntary and hence necessary ignorance?" No; this is not the ground of their condemnation. It is not by a law or a gospel of which they are ignorant, that they are to be tried. What God has committed to them, through reason, conscience, tradition, their codes of law and systems of morals, he will require of them - no more. But on this principle of perfect equity, there is reason to believe that none can be acquitted.
In every country where there are letters, there are judicial or sacred writings, by which they profess to be governed. Now it cannot be denied that the great body of heathen violate all these rules of conduct; while it is almost as evident that none obey them all. I have time to adduce a few instances only bearing upon this point.
In China it is an old and well known maxim,
that “heaven cannot have two suns; nor the people two kings; nor the nations two rulers ; neither can there be two to receive supreme honour.” And yet it is questionable whether there is one exception to universal idolatry in the empire. Rammohun Roy, the Hindoo Brahmin, extensively known in Christian countries, in his translation of the Vedas or Hindoo sacred books, has this remark : “ The greater part of the Brahmins, as well as other sects of the Hindoos, are quite incapable of justifying that idolatry which they continue to practise. The Vedas hold out precautions against framing a deity after human imagination — their whole tendency is to lead an unbiassed mind to a notion of a supreme existence.” Now India is a land of the grossest, most debasing idolatary, except where the light of western religion and science has been shed.
It is not only idolatry, but many other obvious sins, which the books and consciences of these great pagan empires, charge home upon all their inhabitants. Babajee, the converted Brahmin, in speaking of the moral conduct enjoined in the Shasters, concludes by saying, “ a saint (one to whom alone heaven is promised,) must be free from lust, anger, covetousness, intoxication, envy, and pride ; such a man is not to be found on earth."
The missionaries in the different countries to which they have gone, all concur in the declaration that they have found none among the heathen who appeared to live up to the light they enjoy. To show that this is no misapprehension, and as a second step in the argument —
II. The infallible word of God confirms this condemnatory sentence of the law of nature. The first division of the Epistle to the Romans is devoted to this very discussion. It enumerates the sources of knowledge open to all classes of hea. then. It specifies the grand doctrines of natural theology, which they are capable of deducing from these sources.
It denounces their conscious and flagrant impiety in “ changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image, and the truth of God into a lie.” It presents in long and black array the other crimes of which they are guilty, and to which they have been judicially abandoned.
These considerations are employed to establish the truth, that "both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin ” — that "there is none righteous, no not one,” and consequently that “ by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified in God's sight.” Such is the sweeping conclusion which the word of God deduces from those equitable premises which have been quoted, - though misapplied, that “the Gentiles who have not the law, are a law
unto themselves," and “ in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him.” Instead of gathering hope from these revealed principles of the divine administration, they tend to prove the justice of the declaration : “ For as many as have sinned without law, (the revealed law) shall also perish without law.” — Rom. ii. 12.
If then the heathen are guilty without one exception which the spirit of inspiration has affirmed - if there is no hope for any except through the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is equally declared, I remark as the third step in my argument
III. There is much more reason to believe that those who have come to years of responsible action, and are ignorant of the gospel, are not saved through Christ, than the contrary. The following considerations suggested by Scripture appear to me to prove this position.
1. To those whose faculties will admit of the exercise of faith — faith is a necessary prerequisite to salvation. This will not be questioned in reference to those who have heard of Christ. But it is expressly said to be necessary in those who have no such knowledge. In the 10th chapter of Romans, “ the Scripture saith, whosoever be