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THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, BEING, LIKE ITS DIVINE AUTHOR, THE SAME YESTERDAY, TO66 DAY AND FOR EVER," OUGHT TO BE RECEIVED AND EMBRACED, JUST AS IT IS REPRESENTED AND HELD OUT IN THE SCRIPTURES OF TRUTH, 66 WITHOUT ADDING THERETO, OR DIMINISHING FROM IT."
THE truth of this propofition is fo evident, as to
admit of no fort of doubt in the minds of those who are rightly instructed in the knowledge of divine things and there cannot be a more agreeable subject of Christian meditation, than to furvey the various means and inftruments, by which God has been pleased to convey this comfortable instruction to man. For this purpose we are affured, that the fame "God, who at fundry times, and in divers "manners, spake in time paft unto the fathers by "the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto
"us by his Son." The only difference, which is here pointed out to our notice, refers to the times, and to the manners, in which God hath spoken; for under all this variety with respect to the mode of revelation, the fubject was the fame, and the speaker the fame, the voice of the one true God proclaiming the "one Mediator between God and men, the "man Christ Jefus, who gave himself a ransom for "all." It was in confequence of his giving this allfufficient ranfom, that he became that powerful Mediator, who alone could make peace between heaven and earth; and who, according to the terms of the everlasting covenant of grace and mercy, did of his own free love, and unmerited goodness to man, graciously undertake to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to put away fin by the facrifice of himself; which facrifice, an apostle tells us, "was verily fore"ordained before the foundation of the world."t Hence it is, that the plan of this glorious defign is fo often mentioned in fcripture as God's purpose, which he had purposed from the beginning-his "eternal purpose, which he purposed in Chrift Je"fus our Lord;"S his "purpose and grace which "was given us in Chrift Jefus, before the world
began ;" which had been foreordained, or predestined in the counsel and decree of the bleffed and glorious Trinity, who had been pleased to bind
• Heb. i. 1, 2. † 1 Tim. ii. 5, 6.
1 Peter i. 20.
§ Ephef. iii. 11. || 2 Tim. i. 9.
themselves by an everlasting covenant to the accomplishment of it. This, we have ground to believe, is the true fcriptural notion of predeftination; not any abfolute, unconditional decree for the falvation of particular perfons; but only God's general purpose aud refolution of fending his Son into the world, "that whofoever believeth in him, should not perish, "but have everlasting life."* With a view to this merciful purpose, the scripture describes, in terms fufficiently adequate to the human capacity, the feveral parts, which the three persons in the Godhead, and man too by their appointment, have to act in this blessed scheme, according to the brief account given of it, by a venerable writer of the primitive church, in these words" the Father well pleased, "the Son adminiftering and forming, the Spirit nou"rifhing and increafing, man himself gradually pro"fiting and attaining towards perfection." Such is the beautiful representation, which may be drawn from fcripture of the mysterious fcheme of falvation provided for fallen man; and of the feveral parts, which the adorable Three in Jehovah have been gracioufly pleased to affign to themselves in carrying on this mighty work of love and mercy to the hu
"Known unto God are all his works from the be"ginning of the world," particularly that which is the crown and glory of all the reft, the redemption
St. John iii. 16.
Irenæus, book iv. chap. lxxv.
of mankind by the facrifice and death of his beloved Son. But had not this act of mercy been alfo revealed and "made known" to men, as foon as their fituation required fuch a comfortable difcovery, they could have had no hope of being reconciled to God; no encouragement to ferve the Lord with gladnefs, or to declare with grateful joy," that his mercy "is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all gene. "rations." It was juftly observed by a writer of diftinguished rank in this country, "that if it was "the intention of God to pardon man; to reclaim "him from his finful ftate; to encourage him to "love, fear, and ferve his creator, and to restore "him to a capacity of performing fuch acceptable fer"vice, it was abfolutely neceffary, for promoting "that defign, to acquaint man with his intentions; "to give fuch proof of those intentions as should "convince and thoroughly perfuade those to whom "the revelation was made, and to preserve such " evidence of that revelation to mankind, as fhould "be fufficient to fupport their faith and hope, and
give them ground to rejoice in the God of their "falvation."* Now all this has been done in the most complete and fatisfactory manner, by that fame wife and gracious God, in the unity of whofe effence we are taught to believe, that "there are "three who bear record in heaven" to the eternal E 2
* See Some thoughts concerning religion, &c. by the late honourable Duncan Forbes, Lord Prefident of the Court of Seffion.
purpose of man's falvation; and who have not left themselves without witness on earth to that covenanted fcheme of grace, mercy, and peace, which was in much compaffion exhibited to fallen man, as foon as his deplorable condition called for the comfort which was thence to be derived. The words, in which the inspired historian relates the promise of mercy, are,
"that the feed of the woman should bruise the head "of the ferpent ;" that there fhould, in the fulness of time, be born of the posterity of Eve a Redeemer or Deliverer; who, by making fatisfaction for the fins of men, and reftoring them to the love and favour of their offended Maker, should thereby bruise the head, and destroy the power and dominion of that old ferpent the devil, who had beguiled our first parents into fin, and gained, as he thought, a fignal triumph over them.
Thus early was the gospel preached, and the glad tidings of falvation published to the human race.The account given of it by Mofes, is fhort and concife; but the revelation itself, as coming from God, was no doubt full and explicit. One thing is obvious, that the change which took place in Adam's condition, as the confequence of his fall, would neceffarily lead to a correfpondent change in his religi ous fervice and we may reasonably conclude, that fuch a form of worship would be instituted, as might exhibit his dependence on the covenant of grace entered into by the THREE GREAT ONES in deity, one of whom was to unite the human nature with his