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for no man can do thefe miracles that thou doeft, except God be with him." God, who is perfect in wifdom, would choose no improper or unfuitable means. Their wifdom might not at firft appear to men. It did not at firft appear. The world cried folly and weakness. But "the foolifhnefs of God is wifer than men ; and the weak nefs of God is ftronger than men."
IN God's hand any means are fufficient to ef fect his defigns. The rod of Mofes, when ftretched out by divine order, availed to bring all those plagues on Egypt, by which God made himself known and feared. When Ifrael left that land, is availed to open them a paffage through the fea ; and afterwards to bring back its waters to the def truction of their enemies.
COULD we fee no fitnefs in divine appointments, we should remember that "we are of yesterday and know nothing," and not dare to arraign divine wisdom, or charge folly on God. But in the cafe before us, his wifdom is in many respects difcernable, as will appear from a confideration of fome of the objections which are made against the gofpel, and against the means appointed of God to, propagate it.
ONE of the objections is taken from the fupposed unsuitableness of the means. Confidered in itself this made an objection. It is faid the allwife God would not have appointed them-that to appoint a company of poor, despised, ignorant fishermen, as prime minifters of a religion, is fuffi. cient to prove that it is not from God, who al
ways useth the beft means and moft fuitable inftruments.
Ir is not strange that this should have been objected at the beginning of the gospel day, before any effect of the apoftles labors appeared. It is a natural objection for the proud, who thought themselves the beft judges of wisdom and propriety, to have made at that day. But it comes with an ill grace from modern infidels, who cannot de. ny that Christianity triumphed over the power and learning of the world combined against it, though fuch means only were used to propagate it-fuch weak inftruments employed in it. Naaman, the Syrian, reasoned at first like one of these objectors, but the fuccess which attended the prophets directions convinced him of his error. Why has not the fame the like effect on these? Surely," had this counsel been of men, it would have come to nought." Under the circumftances in which Christianity made its appearance, it would have been easily overthrown; but the power of the world could not overthrow it, or prevent it from fpreading far and wide. It continued-it profper. ed-and every oppofing fyftem fell before it. Means and inftruments which human wisdom would have judged most suitable, could have done no more. The fuccefs of measures in a conteft like this, proves their fitness.
UNDER this head it is further objected that the first minifters of the gofpel were ignorant of the arts and sciences cultivated by the polifhed nations of the age-that therefore, they were defpifed, efpecially by the Greeks.
DESPISED they might be by those who "profeffing themselves wife had become fools." Yet they had all the knowledge which their work required imparted to them from above. The language of the schools would have been ill adapted to the fimplicity of the gofpel. It would have been unintelligible to many of thofe to whom the gofpel was fent. The gospel offers falvation to the unlearned, equally as to the learned-fhould be expreffed, therefore, in language easy to be understood. Had the apoftles and evangelists used the abftrufe language of the schoolmen, to many they would have spoken in an unknown tongue. Had the fcriptures been written in fuch language, they would have been much more obfcure than they now are.
THOUGH the gospel is plainly written, it may be rendered dark and myfterious, by a metaphyfic drefs. It is a peculiar excellency of the fcriptures that they are moftly written in the plain language of common fenfe-fo plainly, that " he may run who readeth them."
Two of the New Teftament writers were men of letters, Paul and Luke; and we find more obfcurity in their writings, especially those of the former, occafioned by allufions to the fciences and ufages of the age, than in the other writers of that holy book. The Apocalypfe is indeed abftrufe, but this is not occafioned by the language, which is plain, but by the fubject. That book is chiefly prophetic; and therefore expreffed in the metaphors of prophetic ftyle. Prophecy is
not generally defigned to be fully understood, till explained by the accomplishment.
To take occafion from those who might object to the illiterate character of primitive gospel min. ifters, a Paul, and a Luke were found among them; but neither of them was among those first called to the Chriftian miniftry. Those first sent forth to preach the gospel were unlearned men. The great truths of the gofpel had been taught, and many had received them before these (especially St. Paul) had become believers-that the faith of the first followers of Chrift, might appear, "not to Яand in the wisdom of men, but in power of God."
HAD the primitive ministry been learned philofophers, c or renowned rhetoricians, fufpicions might have arifen that mankind had been deceived, that they had been bewildered by the fubtilty of science, or charmed by the fafcinating power of eloquence, into the belief of a scheme which they did not understand. This cannot be fufpected when the character of the firft Chriftian minifters is confidered, and the progrefs which had been made in propagating the gofpel, before any of the learned were joined as their affiftants in the work.
THE propriety of the gospel method, may be farther argued from the nature of the gospel. Wisdom of words is not neceffary to communicate gofpel truths, or deep penetration, fufficiently to understand them. It was a remark of the apoftle "that not many wife men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, were called." The fame
obfervation may yet be made. People of plain common sense more often receive the gospel, and favor the things of true religion, than thofe who affect fuperior powers, and to understand all myfteries. Those who are wife in their own imaginations, often reject the counsel of God against themselves, and put from them offered falvation.
THE manner in which the apoftles and their fellow laborers preached the gospel, hath also been objected to as unwife. Their preaching was chief. ly a plain unaffected exhibition of truth, laid before those who heard them, and left with them. To produce faith in Chrift, they declared the time, place and circumftances of his birth, referring to the prophecies which foretold them-declared the concurring teftimonies of angels and inspired perfons, who gave witnefs for him-exhibited sketches of his life-his teaching-his miracles-declared his prediction of his own death, with the manner, time, and place--alfo of his refurrection on the third day, and the fulfilment of thofe predictions. They referred to his foretelling Peter's fall and recovery; Judas' treachery and end, with the events which followed-they refer. red alfo to Chrift's teaching and miracles-to those which attended his fufferings and refurrectionthey adduced the evidence which they had of his death and refurrection-declared the opportunities which they had with him after his paffiontheinftructions they received from him-the orders which he gave them, and his afcension from the mount of Olives, of which they were witneffes, "confirming their words with figns following."