temporal interest. are derived from the proper proofs of it; which proofs arise from our moral nature, from the presages of conscience, and from our apprehension of a God as a righteous governor and judge; which nature, conscience, and apprehension, are all given us by Him; and also from the confirmation of these dictates of reason by "life and immortality brought to light by the Gospel."

But the proper motives to religion





ARGUMENT.--The chief objections against natural religion, as involving in it the idea of God's moral government, and a future state of retribution,―being answered, the question of revealed religion is here considered. As a preparatory step to the credibility of Christianity, its great importance is exhibited. It is an authoritative republication of natural religion, in the pure simplicity thereof; and it reveals a new and merciful dispensation for the restoration of man. The consequent serious obligations of duty, and the sinfulness of negligence or obstinate unbelief. The distinction between moral and positive duties.

HAD the light of nature been in itself sufficient to render Revelation useless, it would not have been given.

But considering the religious state of the heathen world before Revelation, and its present state, where, unaided by the light thereof, it is absurd to say that it was unnecessary. Even supposing it possible for a few to have reasoned out a system of pure natural religion, the great bulk could not; and then it would have wanted authoritative sanctions and supports; so that it would be as extravagant to affirm that mankind are completely happy now, and incapable of being made better, as to reject Revelation on the pretence of its being superfluous.

But some persons, admitting the truth of Revelation, deny its importance; and assert, that Christianity being only designed to corroborate and enforce the duties of natural religion, it is immaterial whether we act in obedience to the former or the latter. Hence, an inquiry into the importance of Christianity properly precedes that of its credibility.

Now if God has revealed His will, we cannot safely disobey it, unless on the clear assurance that the reasons for its promulgation are inapplicable to us; but this is impossible; and our ignorance, as is clear from the Analogy of Nature, is no excuse for


But the importance of Christianity appears:

I. Because it is both a republication of natural religion, in its genuine simplicity, declaring the pure

character of God as the Creator, moral governor, and righteous judge of the world; and also an authoritative publication of it by the evidence of MIRACLES AND PROPHECIES.

For though these were intended to prove a particular dispensation, viz. the Redemption; yet they may also forcibly prove God's general Providence over the world; and though speculative objections might be urged against miracles, proving natural religion; yet practically there could be no stronger proof given to human creatures of an authoritative commission from Heaven, than the miracles recorded in the Gospel, to have been performed by Christ. Hence, the Mosaic Law, and the Gospel, are authoritative publications of the religion of nature; they give a new proof to it; and exhibit, as well, God's general Providence, as also His particular dispensations for the recovery of fallen


Moreover, life and immortality were brought to light by the Gospel; and the great truths connected with our future state, were thereby taught, with a clearness to which the light of nature is but darkness.

Again, as Christianity accomplished these ends on its first introduction, by the miraculous method of its first publication; so it was to serve the same purpose in future ages, by means of an instituted visible church. Miraculous powers were appointed to introduce it, and

a visible Church to continue it. Had not the latter been instituted, the results of the former must have died away, with the age wherein they were wrought. But a visible Church being the repository of the oracles of God, and having an instituted form of instruction, and external religion, is a standing memorial before men's eyes to hold up the light of revelation, in aid to that of nature; and also to enforce and propagate it through all generations; and by a general regular discipline of admonition and reproof, as well as instruction, to "edify the body of Christ,” i. e. to train up His members in piety and virtue, for a higher and better state. Hence, the importance of positive institutions also is obvious; for the visibility of the church consists in them; take them away, and you lose the very notion itself; and consequently all the advantages it is calculated to secure. These advantages are palpable, on a comparison with the condition of mankind in the heathen world, and of those in Christian lands, with respect to the enforcing of practical religion.

Neither is there any validity in the argument from the perversion of Christianity, and the little influence it has had. For the same may be applied to the manifestation of the Law of Nature by reason, which must have been from God, and which has been rendered ineffectual in the same manner: to deny this, would be

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