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of the mediation and death of his own Son : that he invites them to repent of their sins, accept of the Saviour by faith, and offers them the assistance of his Holy Spirit, to render all the means of grace effectual to their present and final salvation.
This view of the Christian religion will assist us to perceive, that it is distinguished from the first covenant, or law of innocence. That, peremptorily required the exact performance of the whole extent of enjoined duty as a condition of life: the mandate of Christianity is to be considered only as a means by which we are to obtain gratuitous blessings. That, threatened man with death and everlasting destruction on the first transgression : this, calls for repentance on every act of disobedience, and promises forgiveness to the believing penitent. That, demanded a ready and perfect obedience to every moral injunction, even after the commission of sin, but offered no assistance, and promised no mercy: whereas this delightful system affords every suitable and necessary aid for enabling us to practise those imperative duties, and performing those beneficial services, which it inculcates. That, promised rewards only proportionate to the work done: this religion offers a remuneration infinitely exceeding our most prompt and cheerful compliance with the will of God, our utmost effort to promote his honour and interest,--a boon inconceivably rich, glorious, and eternal.
Thus we see that Christianity has its own peculiar duties and obligations, which were never enjoined by the law of innocence, and of which it did not admit, such as repentance for having sinned, and faith in a mediator. The terms of the old law of works were, 6 Do this and live: transgress, and die;" leaving no room for compunction, nor hope for salvation. So that when Jesus
commissioned his apostles, and their successors in the ministry, to preach repentance, it was by virtue of a new and better dispensation, originating in the free and efficacious grace of God. The help of the Holy Spirit enables persons to relinquish sin, resist evil, and conform to the requisitions of the Christian religion : in which respect, the law fails to grant any ability to lapsed man to fulfil its obligations. Throughout the Christian system there is an abundant display of grace, which evidently accompanies every precept it contains.
We also perceive a striking distinction between the Christian religion, and what some authors term the Religion of Nature. It reveals many important truths, of which the heathen were ignorant, and teaches a purer morality than any with which they were acquainted. There were a few honourable exceptions among them; but, viewing them en masse, they were awfully ignorant, and proverbially wicked. What is feeble reason, without the pure light of divine revelation ? or, what is passion, without the grace of the gospel ? Supposing we admit, that reason may expatiate on many excellent topics, such as the being and perfections of God, his providence and government of the world, the immateriality and immortality of the human soul, the difference between moral good and evil, a future state of rewards and punishments, the necessity of men being good and useful here, in order to their being safe and happy in another world: yet, all this would fall very far short of including the moral condition of man as a fallen and guilty creature, and the gracious provision made for effecting his recovery, as revealed in the Scriptures.
The doctrines of a Trinity of persons in the unity of the Godhead the divine and human natures in the
person of Jesus Christ--the personality, divinity, and
operations of the Holy Spirit—the necessity of divine influence to enlighten, awaken, and renew the heart the indispensableness of combining human agency with divine energy in the performance
in the performance of Christian duties, in order to obtain and secure salvation and eternal life,these were not discoverable by the utmost stretch of unassisted reason, but are perspicuously and comprehensively revealed in the Holy Scriptures: yet are they in no respect absurd, or contrary to the most improved reason, nor in the least unworthy of the infinite wisdom, essential rectitude, or any other of the glorious perfections of God.
The Christian religion is also distinguished from the Mosaic Institution, or the Jewish law of ceremonies. God was pleased to give his ancient people the Jews various rites and ceremonies, partly with a design to prevent them from embracing the abominable idolatry and blind superstition of the surrounding heathen: but chiefly to typify those greater and better blessings and privileges which were to be introduced by the Redeemer, at his advent. Now, though inscrutable wisdom saw all these ceremonial usages to be suitable to the Jews under their dark dispensation ; yet, it must be confessed, that they were both painful and expensive, a heavy yoke of bondage hard to be endured.
But the Christian religion exhibits, in a most luminous manner, these doctrines and blessings, which previously were represented by obscure types and shadows. It delivers believers from the difficult yoke of Moses, and brings them under the light and easy injunctions of the Redeemer. It unveils the mystery of the Mosaic Institution, prescribing a mode of worship which is less pompous, and more plain and spiritual. The rites it establishes are few, significant, instructive, and in no respect unpleasant, or burdensome. The precepts it lays down, are level to a common capacity, and highly reasonable. The promises it offers, are large, numerous, and precious. The motives it furnishes, are most forcible and engaging. The examples it proposes, are bright and attracting. The assistance it gives, is mighty and certain. The reward it ensures, is abundant and everlasting.
ወ Chapter H.
THE ERRORS, PROGRESS, AND ASCENDANCY OF POPERY.
“ Let no man deceive you by any means. For that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition : who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped : so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceiveableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”—St. Paul.
A SACRED edifice assumes different aspects, according to the different mediums through which it is contemplated. Place a Roman Catholic and a Protestant Christian near this church: and, on the ground of religion, while they behold it, what a disparity will there be in their ideas and feelings ! In attending to the sentiments of the Protestant, an author of considerable celebrity will much assist us.
This noble eminence was erected by the zeal of Romanists in days of awful darkness and gross superstition. Hence he says,—“ One of the most striking situations for a religious and reflective Protestant is, that of