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use the light we have, we shall be happy: the great mistake is, that men suppose they should have better evidence for the things of another world, could they overcome these difficulties which cross them in a search after nature: and this would be an advantage to religion, if it were so; but that it is not, appears from the following considerations; for, Secondly, the difficulties which arise in considering the natural properties of things, affect not the certainty and reality of their existence: if they did, we could be certain of the real existence of no one thing: there cannot be two more distinct inquiries, than when we examine whether a thing really is, and when we examine what it is; these things do not at all depend one on the other : as we can examine the properties of some things, without reflecting whether there ever were such things or no, (as for instance, an exact circle or square,) so we can examine and come to the certainty of the existence of things without knowing, or attempting to know, their properties; for the peasant knows there is a sun and moon as surely as the astronomer. Nor is this true only in things that are objects of sense; but also in those, the existence of which we collect from reason. From visible effects to invisible causes the argument is conclusive; though in many cases it extends only to the reality of the cause, and does not in the least lead to the knowlege of its nature : thus when we see distempers cured by plants or drugs, we are sure that some virtue is in them, on which the effect depends, though what, we seldom or never can tell.

Now, in the case before us, what sort of knowlege is necessary to support religion in the world ? If we are sure there is a God who will judge the world, is not that a sufficient foundation for holiness? if such an event will certainly take place, it concerns not us to know how. Since then our Saviour has given us the best evidence of the certainty of a future state and of the soul's existence after death, it is impertinent and unphilosophical to confront it with difficulties arising from our conceptions as to the nature and manner of these things: it is in truth to set up ignorance against knowlege.

Since, then, religion depends on the certainty and reality of these and other like articles, and not in the least on a knowlege of their nature or philosophical account of them, it had been absurd in our Saviour, who was a preacher of religion only, to have entered into those difficulties which did not belong to his province; and it is ridiculous in us to expect the solution of them in the gospel, when, if solved, they would not serve any one point in which the gospel is concerned. It may however be said--all this is true, where the existence of things is out of doubt; but when this is doubtful, these seeming contradictions, which arise in considering the nature of things, shake greatly the presumption of their existence. In the third place, therefore, it is shown that the gospel has given us the best evidence of our own immortality and a future state, that can be conceived or desired. Two things on which our resurrection to life depends; as we learn from our Saviour's answer to the Sadducees-ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. We

e can desire to know nothing more than that he can raise us, and that he will: the first is to be learnt from our natural notions of God, the second from his declared will, i. e. the holy Scriptures: as to the power of God, it cannot be brought into question without throwing off all pretence to natural religion; it remains therefore to inquire after his will : now we have our Saviour's promise for our resurrection often repeated : he also raised persons from the dead, and he raised himself; he therefore has the power : take both propositions then together, and they will amount to this, that he who has the power of raising the dead has promised to raise us. God, we know, can

. not lie, and therefore must ratify every word which he spoke by his holy child Jesus; and hence arises a security which no doubts can shake. As to difficulties in nature and philosophy, he answered them when he himself rose from the grave.


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The prejudices which men conceive against the gospel vary according to the views under which they consider it: as some take offence at the gospel for not clearing up the doubts and difficulties which religion contained before, so others take offence at the new doctrines introduced by it: this attached itself even to many of Christ's disciples : what purpose of religion or morality, it is said, can be served by our receiving articles of faith which we cannot understand ? This charge, if it were as true as it is heavy, might possibly shake the foundations of the gospel : but to set the matter in a clear light, we must consider the different notions of the word mystery, as used in the gospel, and as in common use amongst men at this time: hence it will

appear, I. that the objection does not reach the gospel sense of the word, and cannot affect its mysteries : II. that the use and sense of the word which is liable to this objection, does not belong to the gospel ; as it does not contain any such mysteries as may justify the complaint.

First then, the whole design of the gospel in the salvation of mankind, is styled a mystery, because it was kept secret since the world began, in allusion to this time of secresy and silence; but on the revelation of it by Jesus Christ it is no longer looked on as such, but as the manifestation of God's will and. goodness to men ; see Rom. xvi. 26. : the opposition here is between mystery and revelation ; in this sense therefore there can lie no objection against the gospel. As the gospel itself is in this sense styled a mystery, so also are the several parts of it: I show you a mystery, says St. Paul, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. Other instances of the same kind enumerated. Against this gospel-sense of mystery the common objections have no place. It is therefore, in the second place, shown that the notion of mysteries, against which the objection lies, does not belong to the gospel. It represents a

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mystery as a thing inconceivable, and altogether irreconcileable to human reason : but such mysteries are not in the gospel of Christ : men may have run into contradictions by endeavoring to explain the mysteries of God farther than he has explained them; but let not the gospel be charged with their errors : nothing is more fatal to religion than attempts to explain and account for the hidden wisdom of God on principles of human

Concerning the persons of the Godhead there are indeed great mysteries, which are not revealed : God has not told us how his Son and his Spirit dwell in him, or how they came from him : these therefore are properly mysteries, hidden in his secret wisdom, and which we are no where called on to inquire into : we might readily take God's word for them, without entering into natural and philosophical inquiries ; especially as they are well qualified to be objects of faith. Common sense might teach us not to call God to account, or pretend to enter into the reason of his doings.

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Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me.


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In the beginning of this chapter we read, that the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Christ, to inquire of him whether he was indeed the great Prophet so long expected by the people, and foretold by the prophets, or whether they were still to expect and wait the coming of another. Our Saviour detained the disciples of John, till he had made them eye-witnesses of the mighty power that was in him. They saw, at the command of his word, the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers cleansed, the deaf restored to hearing, and the dead raised up to life again : they saw likewise, that these mighty powers were exercised without giving the least suspicion of any worldly design ; that no court was made to the great or wealthy by singling them out either for patients or for disciples. The benefit of the miracles was chiefly the lot of the poor; and as they were better disposed to receive the gospel, so were they preferred before the rich and mighty to be the disciples of Christ. When the Baptist's disciples had seen and heard these things, our Saviour thought them sufficiently enabled to satisfy John in the inquiry on which he had sent them : • Go,' says he, • and show John those things which ye do hear and see : the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.' Then follow imme

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