Immagini della pagina

flesh.* The grant of this invaluable blessing Thall be extended to Gentile finners, as well as to Jewish people. Thus all who are baptized with water have the promise (understanding thereby a sovereign gift, or exhibitory grant,) of being baptized by the holy spirit. And under this dispensation are, in fact, more frequent instances of regenerating grace; where. by every divine law, of standing obligation, becomes as written on the heart, and resides in the inward parts with an authoritative and lovely influence. The law of God and the inward man are in sweet amity. Without regenerating, transforming influences, the person must be termed “ a natural man,” and his mind - a carnal mind,” which is averse to subjection to the law of God; but when he is “ born

again,” made“ a new man,” and “ renewed in " the spirit of his mind,” by the sovereign agency of him who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, and which renewal no means, as such, would ever effect, he begins to delight in the recti. tude, purity, and perfection of the law. What we cannot hope to be equal to we may love and adore. To this we may add, in illustration of what God says, “I will put my law in their inward parts," that, on supposition of divine influence being equal in an Old Testament and a New Testament faint, this mode of speaking may denote, that the excel. lency of the means, on similar subjects, would be productive of superior effect. But there is, moreover, great reason to conclude, that God's gracious power is exerted to a greater degree on individuals than in any former period ; if we consider the united testimonies of the prophets, John the Baptist, our Lord himself, and his apostles.


. Afts ü, 16, 17,

From this detail of the divine dispensations, I hope it appears, that, while grace lays the foundation, equiry prefides over and secures the glory of the whole superstructure and each department.

[blocks in formation]


Of the UNIVERSAL Aspect of revelation.

§ 1. We should distinguish between the aspeet and the

boundaries of revelation. § 2. All revelation from Adam to Noah had an universal aspect. $ 3. Also to Abraham and Mofes. $ 4. The want of univerfality in the actual acquaintance of mankind with revealed truths, from Abraham to Meffiah's advent, accounted for. § 5. The aspeet of the christian revelation, universal. § 6. How to reconcile this with matter of fact. $ 7. Corollary.


§ 1. E should carefully observe the differ

ence between the actual boundaries and the aspect of revelation. The latter is universal in every period, at least as to the most important parts of it; the former has been, in most ages, very partial. Thus light, air, water, natural liberty, are designed for the use of all, or the grant of them bears an universal aspect, but the actual use is not so extensive.

§ 2. Whatever divine revelation was made to Adam, Enoch, and Noah, it had undoubtedly an univer fal aspect, there being no express restriction of its promulgation and use to one more than another ; nor any affignable reason existing for such a restriction, though there is little doubt that the actual knowledge of the sacred discovery was very unequal.

Through Through carelessness, worldly pursuits, and sensual gratifications, it is easy to conceive how many perfons, families, and even tribes or large neighbourhoods, would lose the clearness of certain revealed truths, however interesting and important, while they were no less intended by the exhibitory grants of sovereign benefits than others who enjoyed ad. vantages far superior. The afpeet of the original promise, “that the Messiah should bring deliver“ ance to men," was to Cain as well as Abel; to the daughters of men as well as the sons of God; to Ham and Japheth as well as to Shem.

§ 3. It may, at first, be not so easy to apprehend, how what God revealed of his will to Abraham and Moses had an aspect so diffusive and universal. But when we consider that there is a wide difference between the instruments and the objeets of covenant favours, the difficulty will vanish. Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and his descendants to the time of the Messiah, were not only the objects but also the instruments of covenant bleslings. While the Ifrael. ites alone (including profelytes) were the honoured inftruments of introducing the promised blessing ; while it was said to Abraham, " I will make thee “ the father of many nations, and in Isaac shall thy “ seed be called ;” it is evident from the encourage, ment given to profelytes, and from the coincidence of the Abrahamic promise with the gospel, that towards the obječts of the covenant its aspect was universal. Had any one of the human race stepped forward, and put in a claim of admission in virtue G4

of of the clause inserted in the sacred statute in favour of profelytism, the Jews had no right to dispute that claim; which demonstrates, that even the revelation which of all others is deemed the most restrictive, absolutely excluded no man.

$ 4. It is not difficult to account for the want of univerfality in the actual acquaintance of mankind with revealed religion from the time of Abraham to the Messiah's advent. For,

1. Antient predictions of a Saviour were necessary in order to encourage and establish the belief of finners from the beginning; which to an impartial mind must appear to be a truly amiable trait of moral government. And, in pursuance of the fame end, the more specific and particular these predic. tions were the more valuable they must be. But it is plain,

2. That the truth of these predictions could not be ascertained, by identifying the person for the conviction of all the world, but by such limitations and exclusive rites as were in fact enjoined upon the Israelites. By not mixing with other nations their genealogies were kept exact, whereby the predictions, the life and glory of which were derived from their specific character, were easily traced ; the evidence of his springing from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the tribe of Judah, and family of David; the time of his coming, and the place of his nativity; must break forth with peculiar lustre, and constitute no small part of the evidence of Christianity.

$ 5. The

« IndietroContinua »