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THE MORAL DESIGN OF THE CHURCH AS SHOWN BY
In the foregoing part of this work I have brought forward the evidence to prove that God, by a direct act of revelation and appointment, has ordained one visible body, compacted into one visible form or polity, which is His Church. Thus far we have considered only the fact, and not the reason-only the positive appointment, and not the moral design of God. As we have therefore found external evidence to convince us that God has thus ordered His Church, the next step is for us to inquire why He has done so.
That all the works of God are pointed, by His perfect wisdom, at some aim, is an axiom as inseparable from the reason of man as the idea of God Himself. We need therefore only to inquire what is the aim or end of the Divine wisdom in the institution
of His Church. In seeking an answer to this question, it is plain that we are not at liberty to form to ourselves à priori conceptions of His design. We are so greatly ignorant of the intrinsic nature of the Divine Mind, of the extent of the causes which have brought mankind to their present state, of the condition of man as viewed in combination with the whole scheme of God's universe, of the laws and conditions which
the invisible world, of the nature of evil, and death, and will, and of all other mysteries and realities which make up the constitution of man, and his relation to God, that we cannot, without presumption, venture upon a conjecture, antecedently to examining the express revelation of God, as to the final cause and great moral design of the particular mode in which He has been pleased to cast the economy of our redemption. This is not said as if
any poses of God could be for a moment opposed to the pure reason and conscience of His creatures. Let reason and conscience, unclouded by the passions, and the prejudice of a secret leaning, be fairly left to work, and they will be found to issue in a perfect harmony with the Mind from which they have their being. But there is no part of theology in which men are guilty of more unfairness than in the investigation of final causes.
Minds at other times the most equitable are, in such examinations, found to be warped and biassed. Some early prejudice, some collateral effect, some foreseen conse
of the pur