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IV. Nevertheless, God is just, and wise, and good.-It is certain, that in the divine government of the world, there is no partiality. Acts 10: 34, then Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth him and doth what is right, is accepted of him. Rom. 3:29. 1 Tim. 2: 4-6. Col. 3: 11. And it is certain, not only that the omniscient and wisel Governor of the world, who alone has a perfect knowledge of the situation of every individual and of mankind at large, chose the most suitable time for the appearance of Christ; but also that he determines with inscrutable wisdom the particular periods in which the knowledge of the truth is diffused over the different nations of the earth in greater abundance. Tit. 1: 3, he manifested his word in due times. 1 Tim. 2: 6, who gave himself to be a ransom for all; to be published in due time. Gal. 4: 4, when the fulness of time was come, God sent his Son ote ηλθε το πλήρωμα του χρονου when the time was fulfilled or had arrived, which was appointed of the Father (see v. 2.) comp. v. 2. Rom. 11:30–34.2
V. Luke 12: 48, to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required. That unbelief, anotia which (according to John 3: 18, 36, Mark 16: 16), subjects its possessor to the sentence of damnation, is not even possible with those who have never heard the Gospel. John 15: 22. Rom. 10: 14. And those passages themselves presuppose in the unbeliever an acquaintance with the Gospel. Comp. John 3: 19, 32-34. Mark 16: 15. John 6:40. 14: 21.3 And in $74, it is proved that Rom. 8: 29 &c. does not exclude those who have not been called, from the hope of salvation. This
1 Rom. 16: 27. comp. v. 25. . 2 Comp. Reuss' Opusc. Fasc. II, p. 151–160. 3 Object of the death of Jesus, p. 685.
remark, combined with Illustration X and SV 69, 72, form a reply to the objection which has been urged to the christian religion : “ that the ethical system of Jesus appears to degenerate into a narrow particularism (sectarianism], by teaching that we must first believe in Jesus himself, in order to become truly reformed and acceptable to God, and eternally happy.'
And it likewise affords an answer to the question“ what are the
prospects of those who have never had an opportunity to hear of Je
Are they incapable of any virtue truly acceptable to God? And what is the situation of those who have indeed heard of Jesus, but have been unable, though sincere in their inquiries, to convince themselves of some of the doctrines which he taught, e. g. relative to his person? Is faith in theoretical doctrines any thing of a meritorious nature ?"
VI. Matth. 25: 24, thou wicked servant, thou knewest that I reap
where I did not sow. VII. Internal divine influence. It is not incredible ($ 37, 115) that the sensibility of conscience may also be awakened and rendered more acute by the internal influence of the omnipresent God, upon the souls of those who are obedient to her first emotions; as well as by the contemplation of the works of creation, and by the strong impression made upon them by some important occurrences in their lives ($ 69). And the feelings of gratitude to God, of reverence for him, of confidence in him, and of longing for him, can rise beyond the sphere of distinct knowledge : for the Spirit helpeth our infirmities : for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Rom. 8: 26. Nor is it at all unworthy the Redeemer of men
1 Staüdlin's Sittenlehre Jesu, Vol. I, p. 560. 2 Tüb. gel. Anzeigen for, 1800, No. 49, p. 389. 3 Acts 14: 17. Rom. 1: 21. 2: 4.
(1 Tim. 2: 3), to give additional knowledge by immediate communication to such conscientious (Acts 10: 35) individuals as have faithfully improved the knowledge possessed by them; if such additional knowledge is necessary to the tranquillity of their minds and to their stability in the course of virtue and religion. Mark 4: 24, unto you that hear shall more be given ; for he that hath, to him shall be given. An angel was sent to charge Cornelius to send for Peter Acts 10: 1-6. An angel directed Philip to go the way on which the Ethiopian eunuch met him (Acts 8: 26 &c.)"; and Naaman, the Syrian, became acquainted with the prophet Elisha, in a natural way, without the intervention of any thing miraculous.?
VIII. Rom. 2: 12, as many as sinned without the (written) law, shall also perish without the law. Comp. § 17. Ill. 1.
IX. Luke 12:47. Matth. 11:21-24. Compare 5 58. Ill. 6.
X. Luke 16: 10. Rom. 2: 10, glory, honour and peace to every one that doeth good, to the Jew first and also to Greek. Comp. $$ 37, 115. Reussii opuscula sup. cit. p. 144—151. Hess' Bibliotheca of sacred history, p. 431. Roesler's System of doctrines held in the christian church during the first three centuries, XLIII.
XI. Rom. 2:10. comp. 8 63. Ill. 4. Mori. Epitome Theologiae Christianae, p. 128. “The Scriptures do indeed teach, that on those who become acquainted with christianity, who embrace and practise it, God will bestow a very high degree of happiness; but they inform us, also, that God will judge every man, with a just reference to his individual conduct and the knowledge which he possessed.
1 Reussii opusc. Theol. Fasc. II. p. 129, 139. Cless' Essay on the doctrinal system of the New Test. p. 96. Acts 11: 14.
2 2 Kings 5: 2 &c. Michaelis’ Dog. p. 528.
The salvation of those to whom a divine revelation was given,
is suspended on their faithfulness in the use of it. Those who enjoyed the favour of a divine Revelation, will be judged according to their fidelity in the use of this important aid (1). For as a distinguished preference was given them (2) by the faithful use of which they might have attained a higher grade of perfection, and thus also a higher degree of happiness (Rom. 2: 10); there will be more required of them, and their unfaithfulness will entail on them a severer punishment (3). Whoever, wilfully and without examination, rejects doctrines published to him by divine authority, or at least pays but little attention to them, is guilty of disobedience to the dictates of his conscience (§ 69), and is therefore in point of faithfulness, inferior to the pagan
who entertains a reverence for the Deity (4). And as it is of the utmost importance to us, to whom the christian doctrines have been made known, that we make a proper use of them ; we shall, in the fifth Book, enter into the particulars of this subject.
1. Rom. 2: 12, as many as have sinned under the law, shall be judged by the law.-John 12: 48, the doctrine, doyos which I have taught shall judge him in the last day. James 2:
1 Diss. II. in Apocal. quaedam loca, in cap. 21: 12.
12, so speak ye, and so do, as they who shall be judged by the law of liberty. John 15: 22, 24.
II. Although Cornelius had previously been “a devout man and one that feared God” (Acts 10: 2, 4, 35) his being made acquainted with christianity was nevertheless not unnecessary (Acts 11: 14); but the opportunity afforded him to become acquainted with it, was given as a reward of his piety (10: 4 &c. 31 &c. 34 &c.) It is represented as being an answer to his
prayers (10: 4, 31), as an evidence of the divine impartial approbation of him (v. 35), and as a dispensation of divine providence to which he owed his salvation. Acts 11: 14, call for Simon Peter, who shall tell thee words by which thou and thy whole house shall be saved.
III. Luke 12: 47. Matth. 10: 15. 11:20-24. Comp. 58. Ill. 6.
IV. Those to whom a divine revelation has been given, should ever remember that they owe certain duties to this revelation itself, as well as to that light of reason and conscience, which they have in common with the pagan world."
Nevertheless the salvation of christians cannot be merited by their
But although the disobedient shall not be sav. ed, and future blessedness will be bestowed on the obedient in different degrees, proportionate to their faithfulness in this life, and though it may thus far
1 Ueber den Zweck des Todes Jesu, p. 684.