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resignation, which his example could not have displayed. Indeed, the whole of his character would have been much less noble and sublime. It is the nature of virtue to brighten in distress. The more it is oppressed and afflicted, the more exalted and glorious does it appear. It was also mentioned, that the sufferings of Christ were expedient, perhaps indispensable, to make him a proper propitiation for the offences of mankind. It seems to be one of the established laws of heaven, that without submission to sorrow-nay, without shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sins. Forgiveness without an atonement, might inspire the subjects of God's government, with disadvantageous notions of his wisdom, and his justice it might tend to embolden offenders, and multiply crimes. But without farther resuming what was formerly said, we shall now proceed, in the FOURTH place, to shew, that the sufferings of Jesus were expedient, to make room for his bringing more fully to light, a future state of immortality and glory. Their expediency in this respect, will appear, whether we consider them as preparing the way for a fuller demonstration of the existence of this future state, or
as making out more clearly the path which conducts to it.
FIRST, Let us consider their expediency, in order to prepare the way for a fuller de
monstration of its existence.
That death is not the extinction of our being, seems to be the natural sentiment of the human mind. We cannot bear the idea of falling into nothing. While the soul exults in the prospect of an endless existence, it is filled with dread-it is seized with horror at the thought of annihilation. And these hopes-these longings of nature, seem to be countenanced by our worthiest conceptions of the attributes of deity. Would infinite wisdom and goodness, have formed a being like man only to exist for a few days? Would his benevolent creator have endowed him with such exalted powers and capacities, and given him so short a period to exert and to improve them? Consider also the present unequal distribution of things. Vice often in this world prospers and triumphs, while virtue is despised, and oppressed, and afflicted. But if a God of righteousness governs the Universe, we
expect there will be another, and a better state, where these seeming disorders will be rectified-where vice will be punished, and virtue blessed and rewarded. These we think are nothing more than the just conclusions of unbiassed reason; but alas! when we consult the analogy of nature, how strangely do they appear contradicted! Every thing in this inferior system, seems to be formed only for destruction. The flowers of the field wither, and never revive. The trees of the forest fall, and they rise no more. The inferior animals return to their kindred earth, and no living fire ever kindles their ashes again. Man lieth down in the dust, and what certainty have we that he shall ever arise? The appearance of his own frame, as well as of every object around him, afford but little hope. The faculties of mind seem to be dependent upon the state of the body. They grow with its growth, and strengthen with its strength. When the latter decays, the former appears to decay also. The pulse stops; the breath goeth out, and the spirit at the same time seems to be for ever ex
Such are the endless doubts and perplexities, in which unassisted reason is involved. The arguments on both sides seem so equally balanced, that she is uncertain to which she ought to lean. How important then-how necessary, a light from heaven to remove her doubts, and unfold to her that future world, which, unaided, she cannot descry. Accordingly, when Jesus appeared upon earth, he brought the gladsome tidings of eternal life to bewildered men. He reinstated nature in her hopes, and dispelled the darkness with which she was encompassed. He revealed the heaven of heavens to mortal view, and poured unclouded light upon the path of immortality. Without perplexing the mind with tedious, intricate reasonings, he confirmed our faith by express and explicit promises. "I am,
(says he) the resurrection and the life, and "he that believeth in me shall never die. "This body will indeed drop into the dust; "but the soul, his better part, shall escape "unhurt, and even the body itself shall be "one day rescued from the dishonours of "the grave, and restored to life immortal and glorious." And lest his promises should fail to produce their due effect, he confirms
them by the most convincing proof, an astonished world ever beheld. He himself submits to suffer the pangs of dissolution, lies down in the chambers, of the tomb; but soon rises again victorious, visibly ascends into heaven, and leads captivity captive. Thus did he place the doctrine of a future life, upon a foundation which nothing could overturn. He promised us that we should not for ever remain the prey of corruption, and as a proof, that what he promised he was able to perform, he himself arose from the tomb. This is an evidence by far the most satisfactory, that the human mind could obtain. For what can be a more striking proof of immortality, than to see one of our own nature rising from the dead, and taking possession of it? What so proper to convince us, that the promises of eternal life are true, as to behold HIM, who delivered them, himself coming forth triumphant from the grave, and visibly ascending into heaven before us. Were the most subborn infidel left to chuse for himself, a proof of his future existence, would it be possible for him to desire a plainer, and a more perfect demonstration. But it is evident, that had not Jesus suffered and