« AnteriorContinuar »
FROM THE MOST
EMINENT PROSE WRITERS.
RELIGIOUS. PART II.
INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF THE CHRISTIAN
FIRST, the morality of the gospel gives it an infinite superiority over all systems of doctrine that ever were devised by man. Were our lives and opinions to be regulated as it prescribes, nothing would be wanting to make us happy: there would be no injustice, no impiety, no disorderly passions, harmony and love would universally prevail; every man, content with his lot, resigned to the divine will, and fully persuaded that a happy eternity is before him, would pass his days in tranquillity and joy, to which neither anxiety, nor pain, nor even the fear of death, could ever give any interruption. The best systems of pagan
ethics are very imperfect, and not free from absurdity; and in them are recommended modes of thinking unsuitable to human nature, and modes of conduct which, though they might have been useful in a political view, did not tend to virtue and happiness universal. But of all our Lord's institutions the end and aim is, to promote the happiness, by promoting the virtue, of all mankind.
And, secondly, his peculiar doctrines are not like any thing of human man spake like this man.' One of the first names given to that dispensation of things which he came to introduce, was the kingdom, or the reign, of heaven. It was justly so called; being thus distinguished, not only from the religion of Moses, the sanctions whereof related to the present life, but also from every human scheme of moral, polical, or ecclesiastical legislation.
The views of the heathen moralist extended not beyond this world; those of the Christian are fixed on that which is to come. The former was concerned for his own country only, or chiefly; the latter takes concern in the happiness of all men, of all nations, conditions, and capacities. A few, and but a few, of the ancient philosophers spoke of a future state of retribution as a thing desirable, and not improbable: revelation speaks of it as certain; and of the present life as a state of trial, wherein virtue or holiness is necessary, not only to entitle us to that salvation which, through the mercy of God and the merits of his Son, Christians are taught to look for, but also to prepare us, by habits of piety and benevolence,