had given them, which was to love, and not to hate, and as gentiles were in the same moral condition, that the Hebrews were before the giving of the law, therefore the gentiles, had a moral principle in them, by which

they knew the difference, in some degree, between right and wrong. And this idea is confirmed by Rom, Ii. 14, 15, "For when the gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, for these having not the law. are a law unto themselves, which shew the work of the law written in their hearts." And there were some among those gentile nations, (wicked as the nations were,) which were really virtuous, instances of which, were Herailitus, Socrates, Solon, &c.

And agreeable to this moral principle of which I was speaking, in the infant state of the most ancient gentile nations, that was, from the time that their language was confounded, and they received many languages, and were scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, as is said by Moses, Deut. Xxxii, 8, "When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam." For it was from that time that they became distinct nations, and having different languages from what they spoke when they had but one language, they had, of course, different names for God, and the Son of God, according to their different languages* But the Egyptians, Tyrians, Persians, Greeks, Chinese and Gymnosophists or Indians of India, all had some correct ideas of God, and his Son. The Egyptians called him Osirus, and his Son, Orus. The Tyrians called him Belus, and his Son, Adonis. 'The Persians called him Oromazes, and his Son, Mythras. The Greeks called him Jupiter, and his Son, Apollo. The Chinese called him Supreme Monarch, and his Son, Kiuntse. The Indians of India called him Vistrou, and his Son, Brama. And it appears from the writings of the Chevalier.

Ramsay, and others, that they entertained the fok lowing ideas, viz.: That in the first generations of men, (which was called the golden age,) God and his Son delighted in men, and used to visit and converse with them; whereas men then lived righteously, and order, peace and happiness were universal. But wickedness being introduced, and men becoming corrupt, and wicked, God and his Son withdrew from the earth, into an inaccessible retreat. Then followed the iron age, which should continue until God should see fit to send his Son, who should appear among men, and attack the evil principle, and overcome it, and destroy it, and restore the golden age.

And although there were individuals among them who entertained and taught these ideas until the coming of Christ; yet the nations in general soon lost all ideas of the true God, and from various causes, they at length believed in a numerous plurality of deities, of whom they made images, and worshipped the works of their own hands, or else from some vain imagination or other, they worshipped beasts, or serpents, or birds, or flies, as it is written, Rom. 1, 28," And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things that are not convenient," &c.

But now, the point in question is, what reason have we to suppose that they must be eternally miserable? whereas it is acknowledged that they lived, and died ignorant of the true God. And we are assured they could not have eternal life without this knowledge. "For this is life eternal, that they might know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Hence, we see that the knowledge of Jesus Christ is essen. tial for eternal life, as well as the knowledge of the true God, yea, it is impossible to know the true God without Jesus Christ, “ For no man knoweth the Father, but he to whomsoever the Son

will reveal," Matth. Xi, 27. Well, as they never" heard of Jesus Christ, how could they know him, or believe on him ? " How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ? R«m. X, 14, Will God condemn them eternally for not believing in him of whom they have never heard f "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"" Gen. XVIII, 25. And nothing can be more conspicuous than it is, that they never had any opportunity of hearing of, and believing in the true God in Jesus Christ, in the present world. It is therefore certain according to Scripture declarations that they had an opportunity of believing in the true God in Jesus Christ, after temporal death had pas. sed upon them. For the Prophet Jeremiah saith, Lam. INT, 31 on to 35, “For the Lord will not cast off forever, for though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his · mercies, for he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men, to crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth, to turn aside the right of a man before the face of the Most High, to subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not."

Now, while my Free-will brother will labor with all his wit to reconcile the eternal damnation of all those gentiles with the equal ways of God, whose arguments, I confess, I know not how to state in this case, (for although I was long on the Arminian ground, I could never reconcile this. point to my own satisfaction.) The Calvinist brother, with a mournful voice, perhaps, will reply: That God is a Sovereign, and has a right to do with his creatures what he pleases, even to make them eternally miserable without ever informing them why.

And nothing can be more incongruous than: such a reply, for I do not dispute that God has a right to do with his creatures as he pleases; nay, I rejoice that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The point in dispute, therefore, is quite


from that; the point in dispute, is this: whether God ever is pleased to deal so with his creatures, as to make them eternally miserable for not doing that which they could not do, and any man ischallenged to show that God ever did, or ever will deal with any of his creatures contrary to that justice, equality, goodness, and compassion with which he has taught us to deal one with another. In other words, the point in dispute is, whether God will, in any case, “turn aside the right of a man from before the face of the Most High," which Jeremiah saith, that he does not. And as I know that according to Calvinism it is thought that man has no right before the face of the Most High. It will probably be asked, what right has man before the face of his Maker? To which I answer : As man is brought into being without his. own choice or consent, he has a right to trust in his Maker, that he will support him, and save him eternally; and that he will punish him for his sins no more than he deserves; and that when he has received the due reward of his deeds, his Maker will show him pity, and give him eternal life by grace. This is not only according to the plain sense of what I quoted from the third chapter of Lamentations, but is the obvious sense of the tenure of Holy Scripture, that God would have men trust, hope, and believe that he will deal with them thus, and if he requires them to trust, hope, and believe thus, surely they have a right so to do. Thus we have ascertained what the right of a man is before the face of the Most High, which he will not turn aside.

And as those gentiles were very wicked, and were from one generation to another punished for their wickedness, by famines, by pestilences, by destructive wars and earthquakes, and various other calamities, which may be seen abundantly in the books of the Prophets, and that death carried them out of time. There is no just premises,

that I can see, from which to conclude that they must suffer eternally, for they must be acknowl edged: by all who are candid to be the servarit who knew not. his. Lord's willy, and did commit things worthy of stripes, and was beaten with few, and glory to the eternal God, whose ways are all equal* He knew how to inflict the few stripes upon every one of those ancient gentiles, which stripes I conclude from the foregoing considerations as well as many others,, have ended long ago. - Let us now take a concise view of Israel in the same age of the world, whose condition we must consider was quite different from that of the gentile nations, because at the beginning of this space of time, God gave them the law, which law, although it could not give life by imparting righteousness, Gal. Hi, 21: yet it gave the knowledge of sin, Rom. Hi, 20:: and therefore it entered that the offence might abound, Rom. v, 20. And as Israel had the law given to them, we shall find that the offence abounded in them, much more than in any other nation, which we see must have been the necessary consequence, for no sooner had they received the law, than they began to transgress its precepts, insomuch, that to punish them for their rebellion, they were detained forty years in the wilderness, until one generation was wasted

away, before they were suffered to enter the land of Palestine which had been promised to their fathers, to be given to their children. After they were settled in Palestine their rebellion was such, that for their punishment they were given into the hands of their cruel enemies, and were grieviously oppressed, sometimes, ten, twenty, or forty years at a time, no less than seven times, in the space of four hundred and fifty years. And in the days of their Kings, iniquity kept increase ing, until the days of Rehoboam, when the nation was divided into two kingdoms. From that time, we often read of both capital cities being filled

« VorigeDoorgaan »