« السابقةمتابعة »
character of the children of wrath, instead of being the children of the covenant, or of adopr tion.* "But to as many as believe in him, tọ them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name.'
They who believe not in the divinity of his mission, believe not in his authority to proclaim the forgiveness of sins. Nor will they acknow. ledge themselves to be under an obligation to obey his precepts, or to imitate his example. They that believe not in his having been unjustly crucified, must believe him to have been a criminal or an impostor. A belief in his death was a pre-requisite to a belief in his resurrection from the dead; upon which every future hope depends. For as the apostle argues with the Corinthians, "if Christ be not risen, then is your faith vain, and ye are yet in your sins."
Thus we see a Belief in the divine mission of Christ, that he was pre-eminently the Son of God; that he had power from above to proclaim pardon and reconciliation, is essentially necessary to the formation of the Christian character. It is necessary to inspire a confidence in God, that he has assumed the encouraging title of a re
* See Note D.
conciled Parent, who is willing to reinstate his rational offspring, in all the blessings which naturally belong to the filial relation; of which blessings they might, without injustice, have been disinherited :-that he will, in every respect, act towards them as a wise and beneficent Parent-that unto them who no longer continue to be "contentious and disobedient to the truth, but who, through the influence of faith, seek, by patient continuance in well doing, for glory, honour, and immortality, he will communicate the inheritance of eternal life."
It is easy to perceive that this filial confidence is to be in exercise, through every period of the Christian's life. It forms the Christian character. He lives by faith. It sanctions.all his hopes. It animates to the most arduous contests in the Christian warfare. It inspires patience and resignation in seasons of affliction and distress. It is the life and spirit of genuine prayer, which is constantly enjoined; and from which such aids are to be expected.
By these Characteristics of the nature and practical influence of faith, it is to be distinguished from a mere speculative Belief, which occupies the head without improving the heart; which having no influence upon any worthy affection, can be of no benefit to Man, and
which contains nothing to recommend it to the approbation of his Maker.
We have remarked that one characteristic of a rational Faith is, that it is founded upon a solid Basis. It is not an arbitrary unauthorized expectation; a creature of the fancy, or a conjectural hope. We must know him, in whom we place our confidence, and have competent evidence that we have not mistaken his character. Prudence demands that we make due inquiry into his character, dispositions, declarations, and promises. If these be correspondent to our wishes, it, may be extremely impertinent to expect that he will communicate to us every minute circumstance, in his plans to befriend us; and it may be both ungrateful and dangerous to reject his kind offices, unless we be made acquainted with the whole of their nature and extent.
Every Christian maintains that his faith is founded on this solid Basis: that the evidence of the truth of a Revelation which has animated his hopes, are numerous; and that they are as convincing as the nature of human testimony, and the manifest wisdom and goodness, which characterise a plan ascribed to a wise and good God, can render them. He asserts, that of the multitudes, who have studied the evidences of Chris
tianity, with earnestness and impartiality, few, very few, have rejected this religion as a fable. The majority have perceived that objections, the most formidable, were founded upon ignorance or misconceptions; and that they are gradually dying away with the ignorance which sug gested them,
As, in these Disquisitions, we are still occu pied in tracing the internal evidences of å divine revelation, both to the Jews and the Gentiles, it will be proper to reserve our own ob servations, until we shall have closed our pursuit, Should the plan we have adopted, contribute in any degree to remove some of the objections which are still made to our holy religion, we shall be amply rewarded for our endeavours. It is our ambition to lend our feeble aid to the advocates for Christianity, by evincing that every one who receives it, as the choicest gift from hea ven, is much better able" to give a reason for the hope that is in him," than the Unbeliever to give a reason for his rejection of these hopes, as the phantoms of a deluded mind,
In a former disquisition, we attempted to trace the influence of the Jewish Revelation, in
protecting those principles of true religion and virtue, which are demonstrably essential to human felicity, from being extinguished by human depravity; and in acting as a gradual corrective of this depravity, preparatory to the subsequent and final Revelation of God. We have now attempted to shew that the blessings of Christianity, as distinct from those of the Jewish dispensation, consist in their being professedly extended to the whole human Race, without the most distant appearance of a partiality towards a particular people :-that they are introduced by one, who is of a more exalted and perfect character than any of the former prophets; who was pre-eminently the Son of God:-that it reveals the Deity to us, no longer as a God of terror, but as a Father, universally benevolent, seeking to be reconciled to his offending offspring :-that he is uniformly acting towards us according to the choicest of those parental principles, with which he has inspired the human breast; not only by making ample provision for our support, but by superintending our Education, instructing us by perfect precepts and perfect example :-that the sufferings to which his intelligent offspring are exposed, in their passage through life, are inflicted by parental affection, in order to correct their Errors