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al knowledge, has so long hung down its head, and human reason exercised upon the things which are seen, and are only temporal, has been placed, by christians too, in schools of learning, and elsewhere, in the chair of infallibility, as the inventer, and arbiter of things divine. This has been greatly owing to a strong prepossession long handed down, (even from the days of Platonic Christianity,) which the refigious world had conceived in favour of common notions, innate ideas, and the like.

The Jews were born under the Law, and so they had the Law by nature, that is, from their very birth, which the Gentiles had not; and it should be remembered that "we who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles," are the very words of our Apostle himself, and yet it would be the height of absurdity to affirm of the best Jews that ever lived, that they did by nature the things contained in the Law." But to affirm this of the Gentiles is the very first born of contradictions, and that whether they were converted to Christ or not: for if they were converts to the faith of Christ, it was certainly by grace, and not by nature, that they "did the things contained in the Law;" but if they were not converts, but still "servants to sin, and under the power of Satan," it was impossible they should do them at all, or even "shew the works of the Law written in their hearts." -So that, let this sentence be racked, and tortured to any possible degree, in the present position of the words, as they now stand in our translation, the wit of man can never extract common sense out of it, or force it to speak any thing which will not be a flat contradiction to the whole scripture.

God had spoken of a new covenant that he would make in the latter days, when there should be no longer difference between Jew, and Gentile; but, in the words of the prophet Joel, "whoever should call upon the name of Jehovah should. be saved." Upon which the Apostle immediately breaks out in those remarkable words: "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall. they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." The Gentiles of

whom the Apostle speaks were converts to christianity, and were made so by his preaching. They did the works of the law, that is, the moral duties of it, by the obedience of faith, without the rites, and ceremonies of the Mosaic Law.

Paul's chief object in his Epistle to the Romans, was to prove that the Gospel reveals a righteousness unknown to the Law, which is derived solely from faith, and to which Jews, and Gentiles had an equal claim. In order to prove this, he shews that both Jews, and Gentiles are under sin; that is, that God will impute sin to both, and that the only possible righteousness which is practicable, and acceptable, is a righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ.

The passage under consideration is thought not only to afford a strong objection to the necessity of revelation in teaching the knowledge of God, but also to place the moral sense of right, and wrong upon natural principles, and not on the revelation of God's will as the rule of obedience, and the test of truth, and righteousness. The connection stands thus: "For when the Gentiles, which have not the Law by nature," (I use the correct translation here,) "do the things contained in the Law, these, having not the Law, are a Law unto themselves; which shew the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another. If what natural religionists call natural conscience is meant here, and is so intended by Paul, what are we to think of this Doctor of the Law, who has told us by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, that when persecuting the christians, he did it with no less conscientiousness than zeal?

Conscience is the judgment which the mind forms of its own acts; and it approves or disapproves as the conduct agrees or disagrees with the principle or rule which it thinks right. To assert that nature dictates what is morally right,' is to assert a power of judgment without knowledge, and of righteous decision without a rule, or to restrict the rule of right to temporal concerns only, both in its origin, and extent. A case may be fairly made between the Jews, and Jesus Christ.-The Saviour most conscientiously did, and suffered the will of his Father, in being spit upon, scourged, and crucified the Jews inflicted upon him the ignominious

sufferings of the Cross, but they did it ignorantly, and ma ny of them, no doubt, conscientiously; and very probably their zeal was greatly heightened by the five first verses of the 13th chapter of Deuteronomy. Paul was very conscientious in aiding Stephen's death, and in the persecution of the christians' in general. Stephen was equally conscientious in yielding to the stroke of death under the fierce peltings of the raging mob. The conscience of Paul, in this transaction, was governed by the blind bigotry of Jewish superstition, while that of Stephen was governed by the illu mination of the Holy Ghost. The conscience of Paul soon after this murderous scene, exhibits as striking a contrast to its former character, as it was different from Stephen's. After his conversion to christianity, he suffered many things for conscience sake, in earnestly contending for the christian faith, in behalf of which Stephen died; and finally died himself in support of the truth, which before he had conscien tiously opposed. Hence the difference between enlightened, and ignorant consciences. As I have before observed, the passage under consideration has reference to the Gentile converts in the Church of Rome, and elsewhere, unto whom the Jewish law never was given; for, says Paul, in another part of his Epistle to the Romans, "I could wish myself accused from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen accor ding to the flesh, (or, as the translation would perhaps be better, "be separated from Christ instead of my brethren,") who are Israelites, to whom pertained the giving of the law." Paul's doctrine was, that by the works of the Law no man could be saved, and that faith was the only mean of justification, and salvation. The Gentiles under the Gospel dispensation, who have not the Law of Moses by nature, are conscientious in obeying the law of faith, or the gracious Gos-> pel of Jesus Christ, and by this means they shew the works of the Law, (consisting in the service of the one only, and true od, Gof whom they were ignorant until taught by Paul; : for how could they believe in, or serve him of whom they had not heard? &c.) written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, (governed in its decisions by the rule. of the Gospel,) and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another. But it seems that their thoughts

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accused or else excused one another; it is as impossible for a mind to think without an object to think about, as it is to create something out of nothing. The Gentiles could no more think of God, or the duties he required as such, without knowledge, than they could believe in him of whom they had not heard, or hear without a preacher, or some person to teach them. That the Apostle had an eye to the distinction above taken, between the Jews, and Gentiles, is further evident from the passage itself, by leaving out the parenthesis in which the quotation is found. The connection then stands thus: "For there is no respect of persons with God; for as many as have sinned without law, shall perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my Gospel," (not according to the laws of nature.) The consciences, of course, which are established upon the Gospel, are qualified for accusing or else excusing, in consistency with the judgment of God by Jesus Christ at the last day. The Gospel gives no other rule for judging than the Gospel itself. "He that believeth" (in Jesus Christ) "shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." Conscience may be con formable, or repugnant to truth; it is, consequently, no certain rule of moral rectitude, even when it feels certain, because the certainty of an opinion is no proof of its being a right one. It is a maxim of every law, both human, and divine, that a man ought never to act in opposition to his conscience; but it will not from these follow, that he will, in obeying the dictates of his conscience on all occasions, act right. A thousand crimes may follow the dictates of conscience; and their perpetrators may even have the complacency of conscience at their expiring moments. But this their conscientious composure can be no proof to others of the rectitude of their principles, and ought to be no pledge to themselves of their innocence in adhering to them. It was with a view to such delusions of conscience, that our blessed Lord told his disciples that "the time cometh that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doeth God service." All the bloody persecutions which have fouled the christian. name, and all that party spirit which issues in bitter recrimi

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nation amongst the different denominations of christians, their intolerance, and uncharitableness towards one another, proceed from the same source. Such conscientious conduct, although professing to have the defence of truth for its only object, is itself most injurious to its interests. That is the only unerring rule of judgment by which the conscience can in righteousness accuse or else excuse, which consists in the conformity of the ideas of the mind with the word of God, both in letter, and spirit.

One other scriptural authority in favour of natural religion is derived from the first chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans; which is thought by the Christian Philosopher to prove that the things of God are known without the revelations of God's spirit. It stands thus in our translation: "For the invisible things of him (God, taken from v. 19.) from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power, and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." The unhappy effects of dividing the scriptures into verses, which was a plan of human device, for the purpose of reference only, and of erroneous pointing in the original, appear in but few instances more evident than in the present. By such arbitrary conduct, sentences are broken, and their meaning subverted; from whence have arisen erroneous apprehensions of scripture, and unrighteous conscientious deci sions. I will transcribe so much of the connection as is necessary for a correct view of the Apostle's meaning, in which I will use Doctor Dwight's translation; wherein he has pointed the verse a little differently from its common reading. "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek; for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith," (or, as Macknight renders it, for the righteousness of God by faith is revealed in it, (the Gospel) in order to faith,) "as it is written the just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and. unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them," (or among them.) "For the invisible things from

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