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yet received it; and be restored in purity, and perfection, to such as have unhappily rejected it: and finally, let us beware left in any of us bę found an evil Heart of Unbelief ; let us take care that we be not of those, who, either in Principle, or Practice, draw back unto Perdition ; but of them that believe, to the saving of the Soul.
The Scheme of Providence,
With regard to The Time and Manner of the several Dispensations of Revealed Religion.
Crescat igitur oportet, et multum vebementerque proficiat,
tam fingulorum quam omnium, tam unius hominis quam totius Ecclefia, ætatum ac seculorum gradibus, intelli
gentia, scientia, fapientia. Vinc. Lir. Common. 1. 28. If Wisdom and Understanding be to be found with the An
cient, and in Length of Days, that time is the Oldest from which Men appeal to the Infancy of the World; and this advances more the Veneration that is always due to the grey Hairs of the Aged, who must be presumed to know more than the Young; who likewise shall bave much to answer, if when they coine to be Old, they do not know more, and judge better than they could who were old before them. And this is the best way to preserve the Reverence that is due to Age, by boping and believing that the next Age may know more and be better than that in which we live; and not to rob that of the Respeet that will still be due to Antiquity, by unreasonably im. puting it to the Time which we have outlived.
Lord Clarendon. Efr. p. 220.
But when the Fulness of the Time was come,
God sent forth his Son.
HE Coming of Christ in the Flesh is a Dir
pensation so full of Wisdom and Goodness, that in whatever view we consider this, it will appear most worthy its Divine Author. The precife Time in which he was manifested, though it has been made the subject of more Cavils, ancient and modern, than any other Circumstance attending it, yet I doubt not but, upon a fair examination, may be discovered to bear the same Characters.
On this head the following Questions are usually asked. If the common Father of Mankind be infinite in Goodness, and the Christian Scheme be the only acceptable way of worshipping him, and absolutely necessary to our Salvation ; Why was it not communicated to the World much sooner ? Why was this greatest of all Blessings kept back to the last; - to the End of the World, as it is called ? * Nay, “if God always acts for the good of his Creatures, what reason can be affigned why he should not from the beginning ' have discovered such things as make for their
good ; but defer the doing of it till the time of • Tiberius?'*-Allthe late Adversaries to Christianity lay the greatest weight on this Objection; .
C. Blount, (or the Author of a Letter to him figned A. W lately publithed under the name of Dryden in the fumC4
and accordingly several Arguments have been offered to remove it; I shall select some few of them, which seem the most conclusive, and add such farther Observations as may help to set the whole in a proper Light.
When the Fulness of the Time I was come. The Apostle in this Chapter is comparing the Ages of the world, to the Life of Man, and its feveral Stages; as Infancy, Childhood, Youth, Maturity. If we reflect on this Comparison we shall find it very just in general, and that the World itself, or the collective Body of Mankind, as well as each particular Member ; has from low beginnings proceeded by a regular gradation in all kinds of Knowledge ; has been making flow advances towards Perfection, in its feveral Periods; and received continual improvements from its infancy to this very Day." And though in both cases this progress be sometimes interrupted, and the course of this world and its Inhabitants appear,
like that of the Heavenly Bodies, to fuffer some Retrogradations ; yet we have reason to believe that these are such, for the most part,
mary Account] was so very confident of its being unanswerable, that he was willing to rest the whole Cause of Infidelity upon it. Miscellaneous works, p. 210, &c. The Author of Christ. as old, dwelt very largely on it in many parts of his Book ; and not to mention Chubb and others, the Author of Deism fairly stated still repeats the same thing over and over again, from p. 87 to 95, as if no answer had been ever made to it.
1 Or the proper Seafon, v. Tit. 1. 3.
• For a general explanation of this, see Edwards's Survey of all the Dispensations of Religion, &c. V. 1. p. 396. and V. 2. p.615.-21, &c. or Mr. Worthington's Essay on Man's Redemption, c. 8. &c.