« PreviousContinue »
and imperfections, and prepare them for a future Inheritance :--that the Assurance of a future Inheritance was reserved, as the last and best gift to the human race :—and that the representations given of it, present us with the most powerful motives which the human Imagination can conceive, to practise holiness, and dispose us to "deny all ungodliness and every worldly lust, and to live soberly, righteously, and Godly in the present world :"-and, finally, that a firm belief in these truths is absolutely necessary, because it is by such a belief alone that they can become influential. This is a faith, and this only, that will enable us " to overcome the world.”
We have thus attempted to fulfil our engagements, when we proposed “to investigate the important principles contained in each Dispensation, as far they respect the moral state and 'nature of Man; and as they discover to us the plans of Deity in promoting the cause of virtue and happiness, through the medium of pure and undefiled Religion.” It is hoped that these investigations, however imperfect, will have manifested “ the close connection which subsist between the different parts of the divine ceconomy, and have enabled us to trace the correspondence between the nature of Man, bis best affections, most exalted desires and expectations, and the plans of Providence concerning him."*
As far as we may have succeeded in this attempt, we shall have displayed the superlative excellency of Christianity.
* See Preliminary Observations to the Jewish Dispensation, Page 77.
ON THE PECULIAR MANNER IN WHICH THESE
BLESSINGS ARE COMMUNICATED TO MAN· KIND: O'R, THE MEDIATORIAL OFFICE OF
It will be acknowledged, with one voice, that the great blessings of Christianity are revealed to us by the Messiah; the last messenger from heaven. He it is who has promulgated pardon to the penitent; brought life and immortality to light; hath placed before us a promised inheritance, and both by precept and example, hath instructed us in our duty, that we may become qualified for the enjoyment of it.
These are facts which every Christian admits; but there is a great diversity of opinion respecting various peculiarities which characterise his mission; or, in other words, what are the precise ideas which the Scriptures authorise us to entertain concerning the mediatorial office of Christ? What has he done or suffered more than the other prophets and teachers of righteousness, in the ceconomy of man's salvation? That there are obscurities respecting this subject, must be inferred from the diversities in opinion concerning it, so prevalent among Christians. These obscurities ought to convince every reflecting mind, that accurate conceptions concerning it, cannot be of equal importance, with a belief in those doctrines which have hitherto engaged our attention. Wherever there have been sincere endeavours to obtain a know. ledge of the truth, involuntary ignorance will not disqualify the penitent and obedient children of God, for the enjoyment of that inheritance, for which their piety and exemplary virtues are preparing them. Yet the subject is not of small importance. It is desirable and useful to form just conceptions of every part of the Christian scheme; but to know the extent of our obligations to the great Saviour of mankind, must be peculiarly gratifying to every expectant of the promised blessings. While it satisfies, what may be termed a devout curiosity, it may inspire him with deeper gratitude, and deeper humility, towards an offended parent. It may teach him rightly to appreciate the extraordinary merits of his Saviour; and give an additional energy to those animating motives, which
the preceding doctrines are calculated to inspire. We may farther observe, that as indications of Wisdom consist in the choice and adaptation of means to the important ends proposed, we are authorised to infer that the wisdom of the Most High will shine with augmenting lustre, in proportion as we are able to form clear conceptions of such adaptations.
Whoever pays due attention to the current language of the New Testament, will perceive that this last Messenger from heaven, is always mentioned with a peculiar elevation of style. He is distinguished from every other Prophet, by a greater diversity of titles; and this exclusive application of titles, must refer to some peculiarities in his character and office, which render them exclusively pertinent. :: The other prophets are considered in the light of servants, and occasional messengers. Jesus Christ is represented as the beloved Son of God. They were pious and faithful, but they had many of the moral infirmities incident to human nature. He was perfect in the eyes of a holy God. Many have suffered martyrdom for the truth, but of no one has it been said, that he