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displeasure on the part of God shewn to one religion than to another, whether Christian, Mahometan, or Pagan? To which I answer, that in the Jewish dispensation, which proceeds from God, a marked displeasure is shewn and declared by him against all idolatry whatever; and that with respect to Mahometanism, its diffusion and existence may be permitted by the Almighty, because it crushes and extirpates idolatry wherever it is preached, and because by this means it is an excellent prepárative for a future reception of the divine truths of the Gospel. For speaking generally, it may be necessary that the numerous inhabitants of large districts must have their minds freed from idolatry, before the refined doctrines of the Gospel can with any effect be inculcated on them; and if so, this seems a very reasonable cause why the existence of the Mahometan religion may at present be suffered; and why such men as Numa, Confucius, Zoroaster, and others, in former times, might have been suffered, because they all diffused knowledge, and very beneficial knowledge, in the unlettered and uninformed ages in which they lived. But though these men, or some of them, pretended to
have a peculiar intercourse with God, none of them ever presumed to tarnish and diminish God's glory so far as to make them, selves equal with God; (had they been so impious, most likely they would not have been credited, or have attracted the vengeance of God, like Herod and Sennacherib ;) neither have we the least reason to suppose, from any part of the character of our Saviour, that he would have said, that he and the Father were one, without being authorized by Almighty God : and accordingly. his assertion to this effect, corroborated by the mighty mass of evidence which presses on the human mind, such as the necessity of a Redeemer in consequence of Adam's disobedience, the promise of God to bless mankind with one, the particular declaration by prophecy of the time of his coming, the peculiar marks by which he was designated and to be known when he did come, the miracles he wrought, his crucifixion and resurrection, his own affirmation of being the Son of God confirmed by a voice from heaven, altogether satisfy every candid and reflecting character, that Jesus Christ was in truth the Son of God, and, as such, the end and fulfilment of the ilaw. Under this idea the Scriptures and
their whole æconomy may be compared to the temple of Solomon, whose beauty and magnificence, Josephus observes, was great beyond all imagination : whereas to those who deny the divinity of Christ, this glorious temple has no high priest; it is a palace without a sovereign. But whatever may be the opinion of these people, every thinking mind must admit, that the weight of evidence in favour of the divine mission of Jesus Christ is irresistible; it is not to be refuted; it is such as no other religion ever gave or could give; it is such as David declares in the sixty-fourth Psalm, “ All men j« that see (or examine) it, shall say, This hath * God done: for they shall perceive that it is ** his work." And as Socrates argued that the 'soul of man from its excellency and perfection proceeded from God, the same argument holds exactly true with respect to the Christian religion; all other religions shewing their unworthiness of God by the impurities, the priestcraft, and the evident subserviency of their doctrines to secular views, rather than to the promotion of the glory of God, and the real welfare of man : whereas the doctrines of the Gospel are all pure, holy, and virtuous, and evidently calculated to establish the happiness
and perfection of the human character, and the glory of God, in the highest degree; and, therefore they are entirely worthy of God, and of his support and approbation ; more, particularly, as they are consistent with, and analogous to, the declaration God has been pleased to make of his own character, as o the Lord God, merciful and gracious," &c. of his governing the world not only in equity and judgment, but in lovingkindness, and that he is loving unto every man. All that our blessed Saviour ever said or did proceeding in practice in exact conformity to this gracious theory, and the doctrines of all other religions, more or less, contradicting it, it is a most reasonable presumption and.strong internal evidence, that the divine mission of Jesus Christ was entirely agreeable to the will of God, and of his own appointment; especially as the life and doctrines of our Saviour were in every respect, without exception, clearly subservient to the promotion of those views and purposes, which God was pleased to declare he meant to observe towards the human species, in redeeming it from sin and death, and ultimately to reward the righteous with glory and everlasting happiness. But it is now time that I should state, by an
induction of particulars, that perfect coincidence and agreement which prevailed between our Saviour's words, doctrines, and actions, and the supernatural peculiarities remarkable in each of these ; as this species of evidence is, I apprehend, calculated more strongly than any other to delineate and determine the nature and truth of intellectual character, whether divine or human.
We know the confined and false sense in which the Jews considered the office of the Messiah; but we have nothing to do with their narrow ideas on this sublime subject : God had much nobler views in contemplation, in sending his Son into the world, than the elevation of the Jewish state. But he was under no necessity to impart his designs exclusively to these people, whose rebellion and ingratitude (though it never did) ought to have subdued that selfish pride, which led them to imagine their paltry nation to be of more consequence in the eyes of God than the welfare of all the rest of mankind. This excessive pride, which was for ever shewing itself, God was himself obliged several times to check and rebuke, and to tell them, that he had not chosen them for their own sakes, for they were “a rebellious, stiffnecked, stub