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satiable desire after happiness—yet every thing you try, deludes, disappoints, or disgusts you. You are directed by your reason — impetuous passions interpose. These two parts arc equally natural to you—yet they are ever at variance, opposing, thwarting, and torturing one another.
In a short time, after leading this wretched incoherent life, disease and infirmity coma on; you grow weary of the world—yet a certain instinct makes you unwilling to die. You hate life, yet are afraid to lose it. Nature gave you an appointed time—yet she has not reconciled you to her appointment. You die then at last in the same perplexity, in which you lived; amidst fears and wishes > uncertain where you are going, and what is to be your portion.
If the religious account of man has its difficulties; certainly this is worse; this is surrounded with insurmountable difficulties, with palpable contradictions.
Blessed be God! if we take the Gospel for our guide, we have there light enough to unravel our difficulties; and comfort enough, to animate us under all our distresses.
This state is not the original creation of God. He is raising us from it, by the mediation of his Son, to a state of perfect peace, innocence and happiness in a better world. All present evils, grievous as they are, have a tendency, if properly received, to promote this end. Nothing, but the grossest disbelief, can defeat this purpose.
I. In examining the extent and progress of redemption, we are immediately encountered with, by one great difficulty, which has staggered the faith of many, and rendered some unwilling to admit the universality, and others even the reality of this Divine mercy.
The The difficulty is, what is to become of the great majority of mankind, the nations, which never heard of this salvation; if it be really necessary to the whole race of man.
But it is a gross error, to consider the gospel as a partial religion, confined to a few ages and countries of the world. It is the religion of mankind.
Redemption is as universal a gift as creation. As in Adam all die, so in Cbrijl jhall all be made alive.
Though, for reasons best known to God, it was necessary that the Mediator should live and die and suffer in some part os this vast œconomy; yet all generations, from the first beginning to the end of the world, share alike in the benefits of his atonement. The benefits of the mediatorial scheme began with sin, and continue as long as sin continues reclaimable.
If you ask me how the ages before Christ received these benefits, I answer
that it was by the pious use of sacrifices. * There is no tolerable account to be assigned of their institution, but that they were appointed by heaven, immediately upon the fall, to prefigure the great sacrifice of the Redeemer, and to appropriate its salutary effects to serious worshippers by faith and repentance. The only difference between them and latter generations is, that they looked' forwards towards it through the shadows and types by which it was exhibited to their faith; we in these later ages receive and believe and apply it as a past event.
But the difficulty, you will fay, still
"• After all, that has been wrote upon the subject ** of sacrifices, I am still forced to ascribe their origin to "Divine appointment: to ascribe such an institution, as "this of sacrificing animals, wholly to the invention of "men, especially to the men of those times, seems very u unnatural." Bijbop La<w'j Theory of Relig. p. 50.
Dr. Delauy has proved this Divine appointment in a manner equally lively and satisfactory. Rev. examined with Candour. Vol. I. Diss. 8.
remains: what becomes of the heathens, who soon lost the spiritual purpose of the institution, amidst the uncertainty of traditional religion; and of the numerous modern nations, who have never heard of Christ or his atonement?
The general mercies of God depend not upon human error and corruption. His preserving Providence, whether we gratefully reflect upon it, or not, invariably acts for the good of man. The fun shines, the heavenly bodies move, the elements act for the promiscuous use of the thankful and unthankful. Thus too it is in religion: though the encreasing corruptions of the world induced him to enter into a new covenant with Abraham and his posterity; yet his general mercy through a Redeemer was still extended to the common race of mankind; they had sufficient powers to work out their salvation; and such blinded but well-meaning worshippers, as had the proper moral dispositions,