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our faith founded, and not upon the ability of any man, or set of men, to explain particular portions of Scripture, and to answer the objections which may be made to them. Otherwise, our faith, instead of refting on the power of God, would rest on the weakness of man, and might be fub. verted every day. Now the evidence that may be produced for the divine miflions of Moses and Jesus Christ, is such as never was produced in favour of any others laying claim to divine missions, since the world began; and it is fuch, as no person can reject, without being obliged to believe a series of absurdities, and impoflibilities, that, in any other case, would choke the faith of the greatest bigot in Christendom: which is bringing the matter as near to demonstration as a matter of this kind is capable of being brought, or as any reasonable being would defire it to be brought. · Thus much being premised, to prevent mistakes, I shall proceed in the next Letter to the consideration of the first fe&tion, the subject of which is that of Miracles.
AN INQUIRY INTO THE PROPER MODE OF ATTAINING AN
EXACT KNOWLEDGE OF CHRISTIANITY, WITH A PRACTICAL ILLUSTRATION. THE great variety of opinions maintained by the various divisions of
1 Christians, and the unchriftian inanner, in which these various opi. nions have ever been maintained, an effect not of contentions about truth, Jude iv, but of that corruption of human nature which the Gofpel was in. tended to remedy, make it defirable, not that all men should agree in opinion, (for with faculties so weak, and comprehensions fo limited, fach union is perhaps impoflible :) but that the grounds of these unavoidable differences, should be reduced into as narrow a compass as poffible: and it may greatly contribute to this desirable end, if all those disputes which are merely verbal, i, e. merely about words to which men neither have, nor can have any ideas ; or what is the fame thing, any clear ideas, were removed. Real differences of opinion, in which men clearly understood their own, and their opponents meaning, would be found very few indeed, and perhaps many of these of no importance. · Now as we confider that all the knowledge respecting Chriftianity, which it is possible for us to attain, must be derived from the Holy Scriptures, we shall foon perceive that the truths relating to this wonderful dispensation, are either
1. Such as could always be attained by the natural powers, and cuftomary applications of the human facuịties, or they are
2. Such as no application, nor any use of our natural faculties, could ever have discovered.
Of the first fort, are all thofe historical facts recorded in the gospel, which, like all other facts whatsoever, are objects of sense, and liable to the observation of every bye-stander Of the second fort, are the effects or consequences of these facts fo recorded, which no acquaintance with the mere facts thensfelyes could ever make known; and which effeAs or conta fequences we can only learn from divine revelation, and can only receive as true, upon divine authority, Heb. ii. 4. An attention to these different forts of truth, will show us with perfe&t precifion, the proper Office of human reason in the acquisition of religious knowledge in these days, and this attention will serve to secure us from the perpicions effects of a blind
and ignorant zeal on one hand, and of a mistaken use, and presumptuous application of reason on the other, to subjects utterly beyond its reach. :
Now 'ALL 'our knowledge of the nature, dispositions, and will of God, must be derived from his works, or his word : and it is to the powers of our own reafon exercised upon one or the other of these subjects that we must be wholly indebted for all the knowledge which we can possibly have of them. For though we may rely with perfect confidence upon the truth of inspired writings, meaning by that expreflion, the writings of inspired men ; yet the reality of their inspiration, the authenticity of their writings, and the meaning of the language used in these writings, can alone be ascertained by the use of human réafon : and let not a hasty zeal lead any one to suppose. that we disbelieve the reality, disregard the efficacy, or depreciate the value of that divine assistance which is promised to fincere inquirers into these important subjects, John xiv. 26. As far as our intellectual faculties are concerned, we are taught to pray that our understanding may be enlightened, Ephef. i. 17-Col. i. 9. as far as our dispositions and a&tive powers are concerned, we are assured, if we do our endeavour, God will work in us to will and to do, Phil. ii. 13.—and we may rely with the most perfect confidence upon the divine promise, because 'we know most assuredly that God is faithful to his word, and just to his promises, Luke xi. 19. But though we are promised the divine affistance, yet we are not promised that we shall know at what time, upon what occasions, or in what matters, these promises are made good to us, nevertheless we may rest sure of God's help in time of need, Heb. iv, 16.-Nor Should our ignorance of these particulars at all trouble us ; we are assured that man doth not live by food alone-not merely by that food, without which life cannot be supported; and that it is in God we live and move, and have our being : yet we know no more how these benefits which respect our present, than those which respect our future life, are conveyed to us. ESSAY UPON THE MEANINGS OF THE WORD LAW, AS USED
. . BY ST. PAUL, TEXT.--Rom, ii. 12.-- For as many as have sinned without Law, thall also perish without Law; and as many as have Ginned in the Law, thall be judged by the Law,
EXPLANATION.-- For as many as have sinned without Law (without any defined rule of conduct) shall also perish without Law; (without being amenable to any defined rule of conduct) and as many as have finned in The Law, (under the Mosaic Law) shall be judged by The (Mosaic) Law.
TEXT.-Rom. ii. 13. For not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law shall be justified.
EXPL.--For not the hearers of the (Mofaic) Law are just before (in the fight of) God, but the doers of (the compliers with) the (Mosaic) Law, ihall be justified.
TEXT.-Rom. ii. 14.-For when the Gentiles which have not the Law do by cature the things contained in the Law, these having not the Law, are a Law unto themselves,
EXPL.- For when the gentiles which have not the (revealed) Law (of Moses) do by nature the things contained in the (moral part of that) Law, there having not received the (revealed) Law, are a law unto (i. e. have a rule of conduct within) themselves. TEXT.-Rom, ii, 15.-Which thew the work of the Law written in
their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing, or else excusing one another.
EXPL.-Which thew.the work (the efficacy and influence) of the Law, (which is) written in their hearts (by their conduct.)
TEXT.Rom. ii. 17.-Behold thou art called a Jew, and restest in the Law.
EXPL.-Thou art a Jew, and restest in the Law, (art satisfied with the Mofaic Dispensation.) · TEXT. - Rom. ii. 18.-Being instructed out of the Law; and –
· EXPL.–Being instructed out of the (Mosaic) Law,--through break· ing the (Mosaic) Law. · TEXT.-Rom. ii. 23.-Thou makest thy boast of the Law, .
EXPL.--Makeft thy boast of the (Mosaic) Law, (as having the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the promises.) . TEXT.-Rom. ii. 25.-Circumcision profiteth if thou keep the Law ; but if thou be a breaker of the Law · · EXPL.-Circumcifion profiteth if thou keep the (Mosaic) Law ; but if thou be a breaker of the (Mosaic) Law
TEXT.-Rom. ii. 26, 27.--Therefore if the uncircumcifion keep the Law, shall it not be accounted for circumcision; and if it fulfil the Law, Thall it not judge thee who dost transgress the Law.
EXPL.-Therefore if the uncircumcision (the Gentiles) fulfil the (Moral) Law, shall it not, (thall not their conduct) judge thee who hast the sign of circumcision in thy Heth, and who breakest. the (revealed and written) Law (of Moses), of which Law this circumcision is the distinguishing token, Gen. xvii. il. .
TEXT.-Rom. iii. 19, 20, 21.-What the Law faith, it saith to them who are under the Law. By the deeds of the Law shall no fleth be justi-fied. For by the Law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteouf. ness of God without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.
EXPL.- Whatsoever things the (Mofaic) Law faith, it saith to them ALOne who are under the (Mofaic) Law: and by the deeds of the (Mofaic) Law, (that is, not by the conduct required by that Law, but by the conduct of those who acknowledge that Law) shall no man be justified: for by the (Mosaic) Law, i. e, by a comparison of the conduct required by the Mosaic Law, and the actual conduct of those under the Mofaic Law,
is the knowledge of fin, i.e, of offence against the Mofaic Law. But the · righteousness of God (not the holiness of God, but Christian salvation, which has no concern with the observance of the Mofaic dispensation) is witnessed by the nature of the Jewish ritual, and the predictions of the Jewish prophets.
TEXT.-Rom. iii. 27.--Boasting then is excluded; by what Law ?Of works? Nay, but by the Law of Faith. A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law.
- EXPL.-- Boasting is equally excluded by the Law of works, whether these works are done in compliance with the Mofaic dispensation, or of the moral law, as discoverable by natural reason, or of the gospel ; for should men do ALL that they are commanded to do, they would then be but unprofitable servants, Luke xii. 10.
TEXT.-Rom. iii. 31.--Do we then make void the Law ? Yea, we eftablish the Law.
EXPL:-Nor does (the gospel) the Law of faith make void (of all usefulness) the (Mofaic) Law, because the Christian dispensation receives the confirmation and establishment of its truth from the rites and prophecies of the Moraic economy, Matt, v. 17.
TEXT.-Rom. iv. 13, 14.--For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham-through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith : for if they which are of the Law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect. · EXPL.-. For the promise that Abraham 1hould be heir of the world was not made to him and his feed through the (Mosaic) Law : for if the Jews were heirs (of the world) in confequence of their having received the Law from Mount Sinai, faith would be void, (of all usefulness) and the promise (nade to Abraham in consequence of his faith) uiterly insignificant.
TEXT.--Rom. iv. 15.-- Because the Law worketh wrath. - EXPL. -For it is of the eilence of Law, to have penalties annered, and denounced to non-compliance with its commands. · Promises, indeed, may be made, without any conditions; but a law which does not subject the violators of it to penalties, i. e. to punishment, or in St. Paul's words, to No law. Unconditional prornises are therefore matters of peculiar favour, 1. e. of grace, and such was that made to Abraham, Gen. xv. 5. Nevertheleís, favour or grace does not imply the absence of reasons in the giver, but of right or claim in the receiver.
TEXT.-Rom. v. 13.-Until the Law, sin was in the world ; but fin is not imputed where there is no Law.
EXPL. --Until the (Mosaic) Law fin was in the world ; mankind were under a Law, i. e. the Law of nature, written originally by their Creator
upon the flethly tables of the heart; for had there been no Law during that i period, there could have been no tranfgreflion ; i. e. fin could not have been in the world. But the (Mosaic) Law entered that sin might abound -might become more manifiji by positive and specific declarations of punishment,
TEXT.-- Rom. vi. 11, 15.-Ye are not under the Law, but under grace. Shall we fin then because we are not under the Law, but under Grace?
EXPL.-Ye are not under the (Mosaic) Law, but under the gracious dispensation of the gospel. Rom. vii, 1, 2. I speak to them that know the (Mosaic) Law; which
Law hath dominion over a (Jowith) inan as long as he
liveth: and to a woman is bound by the (Mosaic) Law vii. 3. to her husband as long as he liveth: but when her
husband is dead, ihe is freed from the engagement of the Law to him, and therefore cannot violate that Law by any freih engagements subsequent to his death: in the fame manner Christians are now loosed from ALL obligations to the (Mosaic) Law. For the Mosaic dispensation being fulfilled, Matt. v. 17; and Chrift, the end of that Law, Rom. x. iv. being come, it ceases from having any obligatory force. For while men lived under revealed difpenfations, which neither of fered forgiveness of sin, nor aflistance to human frailty, the consciousness of sinful conduct, Rom. iii. 20. ex
cited apprehensions of unavoidable punishment; but Tol, III. Churchm. Mug. Nov. 1802.
Rom. vii. 4: these apprehensions are now done away by the gospel, vii. 5. offers of pardon. But says the Apostle rá nadmata
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place, that no deliverance from punishment could be vii, 14, &c. expected after such peremptory declarations. For we
know that the (Moral) Law (of God, however made known to us,) is /piritual, i. e. it is consonant to that Law, which, however overcome by present tempta