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I COR. i. 23.
We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a Stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishnefs. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, the power of God, and the wisdom of God; because the foolishness of God is wifer than men, and the weakness of God is ftronger than men.
E need not to be informed that, even the first appearance of Christianity in the world, there were not wanting wicked and audacious infidels, who branded it with the opprobrious names of weakness and foolishness. And, that this unhappy race of men is not yet extinct in the world, our own experience in private, and the many daring attacks which are publickly made both upon the divinity of Christ and the doctrines of his
Gofpel, but too plainly declare to every mai, who has a juft regard for the interests of religion. What then can be the foundation of fo heavy a charge against a religion, which feems to carry with it marks of the strongest benevolence, and to recommend itself to the approbation of all men, by a fyftem of the purest and most enlightened doctrines? Doctrines, which tend to rescue us from all uncertainty and error here, and open to us the moft chearing profpects of a state of future happiness; which, therefore, it is certainly every man's intereft to wifh at least to be true: For if the doctrines of Christianity be hot true, what is there within the compass of either antient or modern learning, fufficient either to heal the wounds of present fuffering, or ward off the ftings of future apprehenfion? What then can balance the weight of these great confiderations, or induce men to reject a religion so truly desirable, and effential to human happiness?
Why truly, the Jew of old wished to have the law of Mofes perpetual: but the Gospel declared it to be a dead letter, and of none effect: He expected a glorious and trium
phant Meffias: but the Gospel declared him to be of humble birth, a man of forrows and acquainted with grief.
Again, The modern infidel thinks, that nothing should be impofed upon him, as an article of faith, which he cannot perfectly comprehend; and that nothing should be required of him in point of practice, but what arifes from the impulfe of nature: but the Gofpel not only demands his belief of many. things above the narrow limits of his capacity, but, what is ftill worse, exacts from him the performance of feveral duties, which are oppofite to the bias of inclination, and seem to bear hard upon human nature itself.
This is the true state of the grounds of that antient and modern infidelity, by which the doctrine of the cross is branded as foolishness. Let us, therefore, try if we cannot remove these vain prejudices of foolish men, by shewing that the plan of the Gospel dispensation is in these several articles perfectly agreeable to the rules of true wifdom, and equally fuitable to the honour of God, and advantage of
And ift, With regard to the abrogation of the ceremonial part of the Mofaic law, we may justly obferve, that it was from the first of a temporary nature, and plainly intended to give way to a fuller and more extensive display of the divine will, to which it bore, in all its parts, a clear and diftinct relation. In early times, indeed, it was of great ufe to mankind, that the purity of truth did not every where and entirely lofe its luftre, but remained in one fmall corner of the earth, where it was fuffered to take root and fill the land. But it was furely neither agreeable to the goodness nor intention of God, that it fhould remain shut up and confined there for ever. Nor indeed would the Jews themfelves allow it to do fo: For even they had fo blended error with truth, fuperftition with religion, and vice with virtue, that a farther discovery of the will of God was become as necessary to them, as to the rest of the world. God, therefore, in mercy, fent his Son into the world to difpel the dark misfts of ignorance, and to fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord, even as the waters cover the fea. What reafon then had the Jew to complain, that the Gospel exchanged the shadow