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with immortal glory. He rose, that we might rige also; to testify to an unbelieving generation, that he was indeed that Holy one, of whom David had said in the Spirit that he should not see corruption; and, above all, to confirin this momentous truth, that after our sojourn here on Earth, a future life yet remains for us, and that eternity, which is by all either feared or wished, shall by all either be suffered or enjoyed,
For forty days after his resurrection, Jesus shewed himself openly, pot indeed to the Jews who had crucified him, but to witnesses chosen before of God, and sufficient both in number and character to authenticate the fact. On the fortieth day, he was received up into Heaven, having first solemnly blessed His Apostles, and commanded them to publish these truths to all nations. On them did the Holy Ghost soon after descend, to sanctify and strengthen them for their labours ; and they, cheerfully accepting the task, went forth into the vineyard of Christ, “ proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.” Nar was their preaching vain. The words of the prophet were fulfilled, “ Bel did indeed bow down, and Nebp stooped.” - The Gentiles came to the light of their God, and Kings to the brightness of his • rising, for the idols of the Heathens were confounded :" " instead of the thorn came up the fir tree, and instead of the brier came up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Thus have I given you a summary account of the great mystery of Redemption : to the serious contemplation of these facts, and their important consequences, I shall dismiss you after adding a few words of practical inference.
“ My Brethren,” says the beloved Apostle, “ if Christ so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” It is the great reproach, not indeed of Christianity, but of Christians, that, in defiance of the character and commands of its Founder, amity and general condescension have yet made but little progress among mankind. Difference of age, abili. ties, and education, ever have, and ever will produce disparity of opinion in all subjects of human cognizance; as well may we hope that every seed shall produce a tree of equal vigour, as that all men shall judge alike in all matters : yet, instead of applying that gentleness, whịch the consciousness of our own imperfections might recommend, to rectify the errors of our fellow creatures, or heal the wounds they have occasioned; we aggravate the first by our prejudices, and irritate the latter by our ill-judged violence. What! are we not all Brethren ? are we not all bought with a price? are we not all depraved ? This at least is evident, that they most need Charity for themselves, who are least willing to bestow it on others. [The conclusion is unhappily lost.] · ON THE ETERNITY OF FUTURE
Esse aliquos Manes, et Subterranea Regna-
No circumstance has so much disturbed the philosophy of the ancients, and the impatience of the moderns, as the existence of natural and moral evil. To the former it was unaccountable on any reasonable principles, and embarrassed their fairest theories; and though it has been rendered less mysterious to the latter by the revelations of God, yet to all it is involved in darkness, and is peculiarly perplexing to those who value too highly their own ideas of the Divinity. By the Christian Gospel the certainty of future rewards and punishments is clearly established ; and as the eternal duration of the latter involves in it the excess of evil in both its kinds, this doctrine has met with a proportionate difficulty in its reception. That an all-merciful God should create an human being, well knowing at his birth that he will purchase for himself endless misery, has appeared so repugnant to the received notions of Divine Goodness, that many have presumed to doubt, and some boldly to deny the truth of so alarming a proposition ; and as few difficulties can resist a favourite theory, it has been discovered that the Holy Scriptures contain no conclusive evidence of this doctrine. But as " the terrors of the Lord" are among the great instruments of salvation, we should needs be cautious how we diminish their efficacy; and I fear it may be shewn, that the infinite duration of future torments is rather rendered probable than contradicted by our limited knowledge of divinė dispensations, and (which is more conclusive) that the testimony of Revelation is very direct and convincing.
The idea generally entertained of the goodness of God, to which this doctrine is supposed so repugnant, has been" an unlimited disposition to promote the happiness of all his creatures." With this extensive attribute, thus unqualified, not only the eternity of future punishments, but the smallest degree of existing evil, is to our limited understand ings irreconcileable; but then they are each equally so: infinite benevolence cannot admit of “ majus or minus," it is one and immutable. The most transient head-ach, and the damnation of all mankind, are in this view involved in the same mystery. Actual evil does exist, and cannot be inconsistent with the moral perfection of God: it is evident, therefore, either that we are mistaken in supposing such an attribute inherent in the Almighty, or, that being utterly in the dark upon the subject, we can neither affirm or deny any thing concerning it. To maintain then that such must be the nature of Divine Benevolence, and thence infer the impossibility
of infinite vengeance, is to talk ignorantly and at random.
But, perhaps, on a more thoughtful consideration of the subject, we may suspect that we are a little too hasty in thus investing our Creator with those attributes* which we think fit to assign him; and may see that this idea of perfect love, is but the
* I have often been struck with our presumption in defining the attributes of the Deity; a subject with which, like most of which we are ignorant, we make rather too free. The usual ideas entertained of our Maker amount to little more than this; we take all those qualities which we find in ourselves contributing, as we think, to our perfection, and adding infinity to them, fancy we have an adequate idea of the “ Ens Entium." Whereas it is not clear that there is the least similitude between the nature of the creature and his Creator: and it is morally certain, that an infinite variety of perfections must dwell in Him, of which no seeds are yet sown in us. The more direct path appears to be the same which we adopt in common life: to draw our inferences concerning his nature and character from the manifestations of it in the affairs of this world, and in express revelation, remembering only the humility with which we should enter on a subject so awful and incomprehensible. Were the mysteries of the Eleusinian Ceres enveloped in darkness, and shall JEHOVAH be the subject of our petulant speculations ?
Methinks the contradictions into which we so often fall, might teach us more humility: we can only consider the attributes of our Maker singly, and in exalting one, we perpetually degrade another ; yet it is curious, that the attribute which we most frequently disallow, is that which is most fully evidenced-his Omnipotence, Pope says,
Of systems possible, if 'tis confest,
That Wisdom infinite must form the best laying down this truth as the foundation of his system. Cannot God then be at once All-wise and Almighty? Yet if this postu