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religion. Other religions prescribe, invite, threaten --but this pardons, renews, changes the state and disposition. Other religions deal with man on the footing of his own powers, and make the best they are able of his circumstances—Christianity brings in a new power, creates new circumstances, gives new life and feelings and pursuits, reveals new and divine agents for effecting man's salvation, presents a foundation of forgiveness in the sacrifice of Christ, opens a way for obedience in the direct help and aid of the Holy Spirit.
All this is so congruous to the precise exigencies of man, as to constitute a summary argument, requiring no detail of proof, of the divine origin of Christianity. It so completely answers the case—it so meets the very necessities and desires which men in every age have expressed, though incapable of devising, any means of satisfying them, that it carries along with it a perfect conviction of its truth.
It is true, this remedy is most surprising and incomprehensible in many respects—but this does not lessen its suitableness nor its admirable efficacy, as it is practicably fitted for the relief of man's wants. It is surprising, it is stupendous, as we shall have to notice in our next lecture. But the Revelation being clearly admitted on its undoubted external testimony, all the matter of it rests on the truth of that God that cannot lie; and the subsidiary proofs, from the suitableness, in some respects, of its mode of supplying our wants, are in no way lessened by its stupendous or incomprehensible character in other points of view. For there are not wanting topics of observable suitableness to the reasonable and accountable nature of man, in the application of this great remedy. 1. The gospel works by proposing ADEQUATE MO
It opens to man all his real danger, and excites fear. It proposes divine
encouragement, and inspires hope. It sets before him the terror of judg
ment, and the joys of heaven; and awakens correspondent anxiety and apprehension of consequences. İt invites man to repentance and salvation, by presenting to him new truths, new facts, new assistances, new prospects. All is intelligent motive, addressed to a reasonable being. The stupendous redemption, in its pardon and in its grace, places him in a situation, and discloses to him circumstances, which move and actuate his determinations and efforts.
2. Further, it places man in a new and more favourable STATE
a state wholly different from that in which he was before the revelation of Christianity, because then a hopeless degeneracy rendered his condition on earth, not so much one of probation, as of gloomy forebodings and dark despair. But now man is by the gospel raised to hope, and is called on to follow the bright prospects opened before him, Invitations, warnings, calls to repentance, denunciations against pride and unbelief, proposals of reconciliation, are addressed to him. He is told that his state hereafter is to depend on his manner of passing this probation, receiving these offers, and accepting this salvation. In short, just as God's natural government places him in a state of probation as to the duties and happiness of this life; so does the dispensation of the gospel, as to spiritual and eternal blessings.2
3. Then it proposes to man A SYSTEM OF MEANS adapted to his powers and faculties. He is to obtain grace and help in the use of certain methods of instruction, appointed for that end, by Almighty God. The reading of the holy Scriptures, the public and private worship of God, the sacraments, the formation of habits, abstinence froin scenes of temptation, the society and converse and example of the pious; these, and similar things, are the means which Christianity
sets before him. Into the design of this system of means he must fall. He can obtain no grace, no divine aid, no relief, no pardon, no renewal of mind, no direction, no comfort, except as he heartily and humbly places himself in the attitude of a diligent disciple. This is altogether and most remarkably adapted for such a creature as man, and precisely agrees with all the dealings of God with him in his general providence, where little is accomplished but by the intervention of means.
God, indeed, acts according to his own merciful will, in the ways of religion, as in the operations of nature and the works of providence. He gives grace, he awakens the minds of men, he disposes of events as he pleases. But all this is designed to bring us to use the means of religious improvement, which we were neglecting. Every extraordinary operation of mercy falls into the system by which God ordinarily works.
4. These methods of Almighty God in the application of the gospel, entirely agree with THE OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES OF MAN, IN THIS WORLD. Every thing around us corresponds with this particular plan.
The world is so presented to man, his duties so arise, his trials so embarrass, his social affections so excite him; he is exposed to that interchange of peace and trouble, of dissatisfaction and repose, of solicitation and forebodings—that he is manifestly in a state of things adapted to this probationary operation of the gospel and this system of means. All is unintelligible without the facts of the great remedy of salvation in its moral working—all is clear and consistent with them.
5. Once more. The remedy we are considering, both in its stupendous features, and in its method of operation, is calculated to DRAW OUT to the utmost ALL THE POWERS AND FACULTIES OF MAN. It ad.
dresses his heart; it works upon him by the discovery of immense love in Almighty God giving his own Son for him. It presents God as a father in all his benignity, his grace, his pity, his long-suffering.
Now nothing can fully unlock the powers of the human heart but love-whatever addresses powerfully man's affections, in connexion with the discovery of elevating truth to the understanding, raises him to the utmost effort-terror drives him in upon himselfgratitude and love draw him out into voluntary and persevering enterprise.
Now the remedy of the Bible restores man by presenting God as a father, a friend, a compassionate and gracious sovereign, stooping with infinite condescension to succour and save his creature.
Thus all the faculties of man are carried out to the utmost. He has the very thing proposed to him which suits his nature, which excites his whole soul, which inakes him most active and energetic in the noblest of all pursuits.21
6. Thus it CARRIES HIM ON TO HIS TRUE END an end, not narrow and earthly and debasing—but the highest, the inost pure, the most ennobling that can be conceived—an end which man never could have discovered, and which nothing but the divine condescension and grace in redemption could have devised or made practicable. It makes the ever-blessed Creator the end of his creature--it presents God as the centre of felicity. It sets before man the pursuit of God's favour, the preparation for the enjoyment of God, the hope of a state permanent, exalted, glorious--as the end to which he must direct all his powers; and, in doing so, the gospel falls in exactly with his nature and its capacities as originally formed by the divine wisdom.
What an adaptation, then, appears in this peculiar
discovery of Revelation.' A remedy of any kind, and working in any way, would make the Bible suited to man-suited is too weak a term—a remedy would make the Bible the glorious, joyful tidings of salvation
But the remedy is yet enhanced in all its bearings upon him, when, though stupendous in some views, it yet, in others, meets his reasonable and responsible nature, works by motives, places him in a state of probation, proposes a system of means, corresponds with his actual situation in the world, draws out all his faculties, and carries him on to his highest end.
IV. But further, the Bible is adapted for man, because it is CALCULATED FOR UNIVERSAL DIFFUSION UNDER ALL THE ENDLESS DIVERSITIES OF HIS STATE AND CHARACTER; and this as well in matter as in manner.
For when we turn from considerations like the preceding ones,
which relate to the Christian religion in its most general aspects, as speaking with a tone of decision and authority, as unfolding all the difficulties of our situation, and as discovering an adequate and surprising remedy for our misery; when we turn from all this to a view of Christianity in the form of its communications-when we ask, Is the religion suited to man generally; man in all ages, man under all circumstances; in a word, is it meant for universal diffusion ?-we find that, both in the MATTER and MANNER of Revelation, there is a remarkable correspondence with the state and wants of the whole race.
1. For as to the MATTER, it has little in it that is peculiar, exclusive, local, temporary. Its last dispensation, the Christian, is not, like the religion of Paganism, or the imposture of Mahomet, modelled for a particular people, and the vices and habits prevalent amongst them. It is not even like the limited and introductory religion of Judaism. It is adapted for