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mountain, and attempt to fcale even heaven itfelf? We will own that there are mysteries in religion, which furpass our comprehen fion the plurality of perfons in the unity of the Godhead, the manifeftation of God in the flesh, the operations of the Holy Spirit, the restitution of the fcattered particles of our bodies to their antient functions, we understand not, we pretend not to understand, much lefs, as fome have injudiciously done, to explain and define. Yet; where is the hardship or unreasonableness of believing them on the authority of God, the revealer, though we know not the mode or quality of the things revealed? Or, where would be the merit of believing them, if they were prefented for our acceptance with all the clearness of intuitive knowledge or irrefiftible de monftration?
But farther; Where is the justice of ob jecting to mysteries in religion alone? Every thing within and around us is mystery. The revolution of the planets, the tranfmiffion of light, the production of animals, the vegeta tion of plants, the gravitation and cohefion of matter, the vital union of foul and body,
with their mode of acting upon each other; these are all myfteries, which the proudest understanding will not pretend to fathom, and yet must be forced to acknowledge, as having a real existence and ufe for all the purposes of life. If then in things natural we cannot attain to demonstrative certainty, but are forced to acknowledge and act upon principles, which we cannot comprehend, how unreasonable is it to expect that we fhould perfectly comprehend all things fpiritual; and when the whole material creation is one continued mystery, to wonder that God himself, the Creator, should be unfearchable in his moral difpenfations, and his providential ways paft finding out; to teach man that important leffon,―to wonder and adore!
But, 4thly, The infidel brands the Gospel with the name of foolishness, because it exacts from him the performance of several duties, which are oppofite to the bias of inclination, and seem to bear hard upon human nature.
This is the true bafis of all infidelity, whatever other caufes men may pretend to affign for their unbelief." The chriftian doctrine
"does not comply with the ambitious man's "defire of honour, nor the miser's hunting "after wealth, nor with the voluptuous and "debauched in their pleasures and vicious
enjoyments; but croffes all fuch appetites, "by enjoining humility, contentedness, con"tempt of the world, fobriety, chastity, "and temperance *." Hence the tears and clamours of infidelity: hence the general cry of unbelievers, that the preaching of the cross is foolishnefs. Unwilling to quit their lufts, they affect to defpife the religion which condemns them: unable to wean their groveling affections from things below, they would be thought to difbelieve the doctrines of the Gospel, which tend to raise them to things above: in one word, they love dark. nefs rather than light, because their deeds are evil.
But after all, what are these heavy restraints, which the infidel complains of, as a fore bur den too heavy for him to bear? Would the infidel then have no rule of conduct in life? Would he have all the fences of decorum
*Collyer's Sacred Interpreter.
broken down, and the exuberance of human lufts let loose upon the common of nature, unfettered and unrestrained? Or, again, was there ever a religion in the world; nay, was there ever a system of human law or civil policy, which did not lay fome restraint upon the grofs and brutal inclinations of human nature? Or can it be thought any hardship to practise the duties of temperance, chastity, fobriety, and patience; of juftice, equity, charity, and truth, which are clearly taught by reafon as well as religion, and which every confiderate heathen faw to be apparently conducive to the happiness of individuals, as well as of public focieties? And if to these the Christian Legislator has fuperadded some fublimer fentiments of morality, they are fuch as no less clearly approve themselves to every candid mind. To bear injuries patiently,-to forgive, as we hope to be forgiven,—to extend our kindness to all men, in imitation of the great Parent of nature, who fendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust,—to deal with others, as we should reasonably with to be dealt with ourselyes in the fame circumftances, to govern our vicious thoughts and inclinations, as well as to abstain from vicious
acts,-to raise our fouls from present gratifications to the contemplation of fublimer, though diftant enjoyments; these are improvements in morality, which indeed carry the christian system far beyond any other the world ever faw, but which, at the fame time, most clearly tend to promote the dignity and happiness of man, and therefore cannot juftly be rejected by any one, who wishes to act confiftently with the dictates of reafon, who is not guided by blind lufts and brutal paffions.
Thus we fee, then, the foolishness of God, when rightly weighed, is wiser than men. The Apostle, in my text, farther adds, “and "the weakness of God is ftronger than men.'
The truth of this I might fhew in a variety of inftances. But, unwilling to trespass too long upon your time and patience, I shall confine myself to that fingle one, which the Apostle St. Paul seems to have had principally in view, the miraculous propagation of the Gofpel of Chrift. Whoever well confiders the circumstances under which the religion we profess made its first appearance in the world, may justly call it the weakness of God.