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they confefjed, that they were pilgrims and Serm. strangers on the earth: and looked for a city X. which has foundations, whose builder and ma- Hebr. xi. ker is God. The meaning therefore of that 10. 13. text is, in general, that the doctrine of a future state had been fet in a much clearer light by the gospel, than before.
Obj. 3. St. Paul writing to the Christians at Ephesus, who were once in the darknesse of Heathenism, reminds them : that at that Eph. ii.
time they were without Christ, being alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.
But these expressions should not be understood absolutly, as if those persons had not, and could not have, any knowledge of God, or hopes from him.. For in the epiAtle to the Romans the Apostle says of Gentil people, that whereas they knew God, they Rom.i. glorified bim not as God: and that they knew the judgement of God, though they did not act accordingly. Therefore those Ephesians also, before their conversion to Christianity, were without God, and without bope, comparativly. They had not that knowledge, and that hope, which they now had through the
SERM. gofpel, nor which the Jews had; they having
covenants of promise, delivered to that peo-
Obj. 4. Still it may be urged: Would it
I anfwer: No. This would not be of use. If you met a Heathen, who already had an apprehension of future recompenses for good and bad: [Which is certainly the general expectation of all people upon the face of the earth: though their ideas may be low and imperfect, yet however fomewhat inviting and agreeable for the good, and disagreeable and frightful for the bad :) would you venture to tell him, that he has no foundation for such a belief? and that it is to be had from the gospel only?. I think, we thould be cautious of faying any
thing, which would tend to diminish in men SERM. honorable apprehensions of the Deity.
X. It cannot but be of advantage for men to have honorable sentiments of God, as a being of wisdom, power, righteousneffe, goodnesse and equity. Otherwise, what reason can they have to receive a revelation, which may be depended upon as true and genuine ?
And it must always be sufficient to induce men to receive a revelation, to thew them, that it has uncontested marks and evidences of a divine original, from miraculous works performed in support of it: and that it affords men inany advantages, superior to those of the light of nature.
Accordingly, St. Paul was not wont to deny or contest, but to emprove the natural notions, which men had of religion. This we perceive in his discourse at Athens, faying : God that made the world, and all things A&s xvii. therein, does not dwell in temples made with 24. 25. bands : neither is he worshiped with mens hands, as if he needed any thing. And, that he is not far from every one of us.
For in him we
27... 29 live, and move, and bave our being. As certain also of your own poets bave said : For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then, as we
Serm. are the offspring of God; we ought not to think, X. that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver,
or stone, graven by art and man's device. And
in another discourse to Heathen people he xiv. 17. says: God bad not in former times left bim
self without witnese, though he had not given them an express revelation, forasmuch as be did good, and gave us rain, and
fruitful seasons, filling our bearts with food and gladnese.
And it seems to me, that St. Paul often argues the truth and certainty of future recompenses, in a rational way, much in the same manner that we have now done, from
the consideration of the present state of things, 2 Theff. and the perfections of the Divine Being: See
ing it is a righteous thing with God, to recompense tribulation to them that trouble
and to you who are troubled, rest with us,
when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, ... to take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel. This, he says, is a righteous thing with God: that is, it is. reasonable, and fit, and becoming the divine perfection.
And in the epistle to the Hebrews it is said: Heb. xi. He that cometb to God, must believe, that he is,
i. 6. 7.
and that he is a rewarder of them that dili- Ser M. gently seek him. Which is as much, as to
X. say, that there can be no religion without believing, that God' is, and that he is a rewarder of virtuous and upright, and an avenger of evil men. If therefore the light of nature does not teach these principles, there can be no natural religion: and they who have not the benefit of revelation, are excusable in their irregularities. But that is contrarie to the Apostle's long and full argument at the begining of the epistle to the Romans. Where he says: That which may God is manifest in them: ... For the invisible 19... 21. things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. So that they are without excuse : because that when they knew God, they glorified bim not as God. And again : As many as have fined without law: that is, who have not had the benefit of revelation : Mall also perish without law. They shall not be judged by a revealed law, but by the laws and rules of reason only.
be known of Rom. i.
3. In the third place I proposed to take notice of some enquiries, relating to this