Page images
PDF
EPUB

ac

do to you ;” and, upon the whole, considered merely as a scheme of rules, is excellent. But this code is little known, and feebly inculcated, either by the instructions or the lives of the Bramins. And, since it is believed that not man but God sins when the former does evil ;—that the waters of the Ganges can purify the soul ;—that it is meritorious to expose aged parents and friends, or even to accelerate their death, by choking them with the mud of the sacred river ;and that prostitution may, in certain cases, be an acceptable homage to Divinity, it is easy to perceive how far this system, in its principles and rites, tends to undermine the interests, and to efface the impressions of humanity and morality.

One peculiarity in the religion of the Hindoos deserves, Unsocial spion this subject, to be particularly noticed. More exclusive than any other system of superstition, it admits of no accessions. Even the economy of the Jews, although committed to one people, and limited in its solemnities of worship to one spot, was open to the reception of proselytes from the Gentiles, and cherished an ardent zeal for the illumination and conversion of all other nations. But the religion of Hindostan, claiming an high antiquity and a divine origin, is altogether unsocial. Partaking of the

rit.

[ocr errors]

gloomy spirit of the cast, according with the illiberal genius of the whole Hindoo polity, but repugnant to the feelings of true benevolence, the system of Brama sternly interdicts all religious intercourse with the rest of mankind, and indignantly repulses their approaches to association.

Christianity.

General view.

With pleasure we turn from this absurd and selfish superstition to the contemplation of our hoLY RELIGION, which is a ministration of the most exalted truth, and, as celebrated in the song of angels, breathes “ good-will to men.” And with no vain triumph, we may proceed to contrast the scheme of Christianity with this splendid and imposing, but unsocial and immoral institute of Paganism.

By the former we understand revealed religion, especially as it refers to that method of salvation through Jesus Christ, which constitutes the gospel of the grace of God, and is most clearly propounded in the New Testament.

Assuming the information of natural religion, the suggestions of common sense and common feeling concerning the existence and attributes of Divinity, besides correcting, confirming, and enlarging those intuitive or acquired notices of heavenly things, which constitute what has been called natural religion, she adds to them her own supernatural and singular but not incongruous, discoveries. In common with the religion of Brahma, Christianity holds the unity of the Godhead; but she connects with this the mysterious yet animating doctrine of Trinity, which, pervading the whole system, gives life and interest to every part. The character in which she represents the only object of worship, is at once most sublime and condescending, most venerable and alluring, most glorious and generous, altogether immaculate, yet most propitious to sinful man. Let us hear her delineations. “He sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grashoppers before him: he stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in. He hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the heaven with his span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance. Behold the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and counted as the small dust of the balance; behold he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering. Yet, thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a humble and contrite spirit,

'Theory.

ens

to revive the spirit of the humble and the heart of the contrite ones. For his name is, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” But, at once to illustrate the benignity of his character, to obtain satisfaction to his justice, and ascertain the hopes of fallen and helpless man, we are told, that “ God so loved the world as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” And more clearly to develope the scheme of salvation, it is added, that “ All have sinned and come short of the glory of God; but we are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth as a propitiation, (or expiatory sacrifice for sin) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness in the remission of sins, that he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”

The glorious peculiarity of our holy religion is the mediation of Jesus Christ: the interposition, the atonement, and the intercession of the great God our Saviour, on behalf of our degenerate race. These are the characteristic discoveries of Christianity. These give a noble interest to its

Distinguishing character.

facts, dignity to its doctrines, force to its precepts, and significancy to its institutions. It may be viewed in various relations, but in all there is a perpetual recurrence to Christ and his cross. Consider the Gospel as a compilation of facts, and is not the account given of “ God made manifest in the flesh,” its grand historical peculiarity ? Consider the Gospel as a system of theoretic truth, and Jesus is the basis of the whole ; for are not the Godhead and the mediation of Christ, the sum of its high discoveries ? Is not “ Christ crucified,” “ the truth as it is in Jesus,” its glorious summary, its distinguishing doctrine ? Consider the Gospel as a scheme of salvation; and does it not unfold, through the interposition of the Son of God on our behalf, vicarious sufferings, a surety-righteousness, and redemption entirely of divine generosity *. Consider the Gospel as a ministration of experimental piety, and Jesus Christ, with the great truths concerning his death, are the vital spirit of our religion ; for, realised by faith, they become the food of the enlightened mind, the solace of the renovated spirit: “ His flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed.” Consider the Gospel as an institute of religious service, and, throughout the whole economy, Christ and his

* 2 Cor. v. 21. Eph. i. 7, &c.

« PreviousContinue »