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tion of religion, as a trial; and against the general constitution of nature. Secondly, Reason is able to judge, and must, of the evidence of revelation, and of the objections urged against that evidence; which shall be the subject of a following Chapter. *
But the consequence of the foregoing observations is, that the question upon which the truth of Cbristianity depends, is scarce at all, what objections there are against its scheme, since there are none against the morality of it; but what objections there are against its evidence: or, what proof there remains of it, after due allowances made for the objections against that proof: Because it has been shewn, that the objections against Christianity, as distinguished. from objections against its evidence, are frivolous. For surely very little weight, if any at all, is to be laid upon a way of arguing and objecting, which, when applied to the general constitution of nature, experi.. ence shews not to be conclusive : and such, I think, is the whole way of objecting treated of throughout this Chapter. It is resolvable into principles, and goes upon suppositions, which mislead us to think, that the Author of nature would not act, as we experience he does; or would act, in such and such cases, as we experience he does not in like cases. But the unreasonableness of this way of objecting will appear yet more evidently from hence, that the chief things thus objected against, are justified, as shall be farther shewn, + by distinct, particular, and full analogies, in the constitution and course of nature.
But it is to be remembered, that as frivolous as objections of the foregoing sort against revelation are, yet, when a supposed revelation is more consistent with itself, and has a more general and uniform tena dency to promote virtue, than, all circumstances con-
* Chap 7
# Chap, 4. latter part; and 5, 6.
sidered, could have been expected from enthusiasm and political views; this is a presumptive proof of its not proceeding from them, and so of its truth : because we are competent judges, what might have been expected from enthusiasm and political views.
Of Christianity, considered as a Scheme or Consti
tion, imperfectly comprehended.
IT hath been now shewn, * that the analogy of nature renders it highly credible beforehand, that, supposing a revelation to be made, it must contain many things very different from what we should have expected, and such as appear open to great objections: and that this observation, in good measure, takes off the force of those objections, or rather precludes them. But it may be alleged, that this is a very partial answer to such objections, or a very unsatisfactory way of obviating them: because it doth not shew at all, that the things objected against can be wise, just, and good; much less, that it is credible they are so. It will therefore be proper to shew this distinctly, by applying to these objections against the wisdom, justice, and goodness of Christianity, the answer above + given to like objections against the constitution of nature ; before we consider the particular analogies in the latter to the particular things objected against in the former. Now, that which affords a sufficient answer to objections against the wisdom, justice, and goodness of the constitution of nature, is its being a constitution, a system, or scheme, imperfectly comprehended; a scheme, in which means are made use of to accomplish ends ; and which is carried on by general laws. For, from these things it has been proved, not only to be possible, but also to be credible, that those things which are objected against, may be consistent with wisdom, justice, and goodness ; nay, may be instances of them: and even that the constitution and government of nature may be perfect in the highest possible degree. If Christianity, then, be a scheme, and of the like kind, it is evident, the like objections against it must admit of the like answer. And,
* In the foregoing Chapter. † Part i. Chap. 7. to which this all along refers.
I. Christianity is a scheme, quite beyond our comprehension. The moral government of God is exercised, by gradually conducting things so in the course of his providence, that every one, at length, and upon the whole, shall receive according to his deserts; and neither fraud nor violence, but truth and right, shall finally prevail. Christianity is a particular scheme under this general plan of providence, and a part of it, conducive to its completion, with regard to mankind: consisting itself also of various parts, and a mysterious economy, which has been carrying on from the time the world came into its present wretched state, and is still carry. ing on, for its recovery, by a divine person, the : Mes.
“ who is to gather together in one, the children of God that are scattered abroad," * and establish “ an everlasting kingdom, wherein dwelleth righteous
." † And in order to it, after various manifestations of things, relating to this great and general scheme of Providence, through a succession of many ages ;-(" For the Spirit of Christ, which was in the prophets, testified beforehand his sufferings, and the glory that should follow: unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto us by them that have preached the gospel ; which things the angels desire to look into :")-after various dispen
* John xi. 52.
+ 2 Pet. ij. 13.
# 1 Pet. i. il, 12.
sations, looking forward and preparatory to this final salvation, “ In the fulness of time,” when infinite wisdom thought fit, He, “ being in the form of God, made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and, was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross: wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth ; and that every tongue should confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." * Parts likewise of this economy, are the miraculous mission of the Holy Ghost, and his ordinary assistances given to good men ; the invisible government which Christ at present exercises over his church; that which he himself refers to in these words, t “ In my Father's house are many mansions I go to prepare a place for you;” and his future return to “judge the world in righteousness," and completely re-establish the kingdom of God. “For the Father judgeth no map ; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son : that all men should honour the Şon, even as they honour the Father. I All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth. § And he must reign, till he hatb put all enemies under his feet. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father ; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. And when all things shall be subdued unto bim, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. || Now little, surely, need be said to shew, that this system, or scheme of things, is but imperfectly com
* Phil. ii.
John y. 22, 23. ll i Cor. xv.
+ John xiv. 2.