Sayfadaki görseller

would have given his creatures the plishment of any important unfaculty, and the means of know-dertaking; and it is owing to some ing him, if he is not good. It is natural imperfection that wise painful to any being to have oth- men do not form a perfect plan. ers justly despise and abhor him. But God was capable of forming

It is no objection against the good. a perfect plan, and his goodness iness of God, that he causes many would necessarily bied him to

and sore evils to visit mankind in form the best possible plan. The this life, and that he will punish same goodness would also lead some forever, according to their him to execute it in the best posworks. Pure goodness is in its sible manner. own nature impartial, and will The absolute and universal soylead any being to sacrifice a less ereignty of God is no less appagood, if it is necessary, to secure rent from reason. Before the exa greater. But it is a dictate of istence of creatures, there was no reason, that the existence of both other being for whom God could natural and moral evil is neces- have created all things. He must sary to promote the general good. therefore have made all things for Creatures can enjoy God no far- himself. And since the creation ther than they have a knowledge of innumerable creatures, God of his perfections. It is a dictate must still make and cause all of both reason and experience, things for himself, if he regards that the more saints know of the the greatest, wisest, and best obdivine character, the greater will i ject, which it is possible for him be their felicity in heaven. But to regard. His absolute soverthe existence of both natural and eignty must necessarily result moral evil is necessary, to furnish from his perfect supremacy and an occasion for the full and com- goodness. And these perfections plete display of the divine perfec- not only give him a right to make tions. The greatest good of the as many creatures as he pleases, universe therefore absolutely re- and to form their characters as he guires, and will forever require, pleases, but they bind him to do the existence of both natural and both according to the good pleasmoral evil, to be the constant oc- ure of his will. casion of the perfect and increas- · The perfect and entire depena ing display of the divine glory. dence of creatures on God, is also

The universal decrees and agen- appareat from reason. Every thing cy of God, are also apparent and that begins to exist, must necesdemonstrable from reason. The sarily have a cause for its existomniscience and perfect goodness ence. But every successive voof God must necessarily have in-lition of the mind begins to exist, duced him from eternity to form and therefore must have a cause the best possible plan to promote of its existence which is adequate the greatest possible good in the to its production. This is true of universe. And a perfectly wise every breath and of every motion. plan must necessarily include The invention and application of every object, every creature, and second causes to any events, in every event wbich was necessary order to account for their existto the greatest perfection of the ence, independently of the first universe, and which was possible cause, is perfectly idle and vain. for God to foresee and determine. Second causes are necessarily deEvery wise man forms a plan be- pendent, and have no efficiency in fore he proceeds to the accom- themselves. They are only par



ticular modes of the divine opera. I to their Creator and each other, tion. Independence is necessa- bind all creatures to love God rily an incominunicable attribute supremely and their neighbour as of the Deity.

themselves. It is a dictate of The duty of the unconditional every man's conscience, that we subenission of creatures to God, ought to value every object in necessarily results from the rela- proportion to its worth in the tion in which we stand to him, as general scale of being, which independent creatures. The su cludes every object and every premacy of God gives him a right interest in the universe, and to the throne, and lays every crea- choose to give up a less good, if ture under indispensible obliga- it is necessary, to secure a greats tions to submit to his will in all things.

This truth is so apparent frem The essential and immutable dif- reason, that mankind have alference between right and wrong, ways acknowledged it to be right, is also clearly manifest. from the and have invariably justified those things that are made. This dis- who have acted according to it, tinction does not depend upon the when the public weal was in den. will of the Deity, but is founded ger. But if a greater good ought in the nature of things. No pre- always to be chosen in preference copt, either buman or divine, can to a less good, in temporal things, ever make selfishness right, or be- why not in eternal things? Who pevolent affections wrong. In can set any bounds to benevolence spite of their sophistry and un short of pure disinterested affecwearied exertions to destroy this tion, and show that thus far ought distinction, infidels have never creatures to go, and beyond that been able so effectually to blind point, selfishness is right? their own consciences, or the con- The justice of the eternal pubsciences of others, as to pre-ishment of the wicked is another vent thein from asserting this dis- plain dictate of reason. It is the tinction. It is a distinction to unanimous voice of mankind, that which mankind universally con- guilt deserves some punishment. sent, in spite of their hearts. No When the viper fastened on Paul's one can help despising and blam- hand, the barbarians instantly ing those

who act from malice supposed that it was a manifestaprepense, or from supreme self-tion of divine justice for some preishness, while every person es

vious sin. Those who believe in teems them who act from benev- the final salvation of all mankind, olent intentions.

acknowledge that the evils which The duty of pure disinterested are inflicted by Divine Providence benevolence is another truth which in this life, are a just punishment does not depend on revelation of sin. But who can fix on a time for its support. It is as really when sinners will deserve no more the duty of the heathen nations punishment? Neither punishment, to love God with supreme affec- nor time, nor repentance, can tion and their neighbour as them have any tendency to remove guilt. selves, as it is the duty of Christ- ; Though a finite crime should not ian nations who enjoy the light deserve an infinite punishment, of revelation. The essential per- yet it will always deserve some fections of God which are mani-punishment. But if guilt can nevtest from his works, and the re- er be removed, it will always be sation in which creatures stand I agreeable to justice that sinners should be punished according to Skeptic, or Infidel. The unlearntheir works. I proceed to show ed as well as the learned, the high some of the reasons why the apos- as well as the low, are alike under tle Paul, under certain circum- the necessity of seeing this evistances, generally reasoned from dence, in a greater or less degree, -- the book of nature. Paul was the and of feeling its force.

How chief apostle to the Gentiles, and many who have had no regard for was probably instrumental in turn the Bible, have been compelled ing more souls from sin to holi- to see and feel the force of the ness, than any other man who has essential and fundamental truths ever preached the gospel. We of the gospel, which are clearly inust therefore suppose that he seen from the objects around them, had some good reasons for his gen- and which are according to the eral practice.

dictates of their own reason and One reason why he generally conscience. This accounts for the appealed to the book of nature un- fact that the apostle Paul and othder certain circumstances, proba- ers who have reasoned of rightbly was, because the evidence in

eousness, temperance and judgfavour of the peculiar truths of ment to come, by appealing to the gospel, which arises from this facts and self-evident truths, have source, is less subject to evasion so often made the most stupid and than any other. Mere declara- hardened sinners tremble in view tions can be explained away, or of their guilt, and the certainty of evaded many other ways. But an approaching destruction. there is no reasoning against facts.

REMARKS. It is an infallible maxim that ac- 1. In view of this subject we tions speak louder than words, may see the reason why mankind and certainly they are more une- are more disposed to complain of quivocal. Mankind may reason those preachers who reason from away the divine declarations, but the things that are made, than of they can never reason away the those who appeal only to scripworks of God. These bear in- ture, and leave them at liberty, to contestible evidence of his su- 1 explain it as they please. Few premacy

and goodness, wbich bind people are disposed to complain of him to do what is wisest and best those preachers who appeal only with every creature in the uni- to scripture in support of their verse. They may turn all the di-positions, and leave them at libvine requirements into a selfish erty to construe the passages in channel, but they can never des- their own way. But let a man troy the essential and immuta- explain the scriptures according ble difference between right and to the fundamental and self-eviwrong, and make selfishness right, dent principles of natural theoloor benevolent affections wrong. gy, and reason in support of those They can never destroy the rela: principles, from the book of nattion in which we stand to God and ure, and he is instantly opposed, each other, nor the obligations to and censured as a bold, metaphybe holy which grow out of that re- sical, and speculating preacher. lation. Hence,

Some say they cannot understand The evidence which arises from him, and others that he carries facts is more convincing. It com- truth and duty farther than the mends itself to every man's con- Bible does. And this is undoubtscience in the sight of God, whe-edly true, according to their explather he is a Deist, Universalist, | nation of the scriptures. But why

Solomon says,

are mankind so much more dispos. cal critics and expositors succeed ed to complain of those who rea- in wresting and explaining away son from the self-evident princi- every one of those passages which ples of theology, in support of the teach any of these doctrines, they peculiar and primary truths of the cannot explain away facts, nor gospel, than of those who appeal change the nature of things, from only to the Bible, and leave them which all these doctrines are ap. at liberty to explain it as they parent and self-evident. please? The plain ar! obvious 3. If the primary and self-denreason is, because the book of nat-, ing truths of the gospel are deure cannot be so easily explained monstrable and apparent from reaaway as the book of revelation. son and facts, then those are just

2. If the primary and essentially called fools who deny them. truths of the gospel are demon- David says, " The fool hath said strable and apparent from the in his heart, there is no God." things that are made, then that And in another place, “yet they time and money might have been say the Lord shall not see, neidevoted to wiser and better purther shall the God of Jacob regard poses, that has been spent in la- it. Understand ye brutish among bouring to explain away those the people, and ye fools when will passages of scripture which assert ye be wise.” them. It is needless to attempt Wisdom crieth aloud, saying, , to prove that the Bible, in its ob- How long ye simple ones will ge 1 vious sense, teaches all the pri. love simplicity, and scorners demary and self-denying truths of light in their scorning, and fools religion, which have been the sub.hate knowledge? O ye simple, unject of so much contention and derstand wisdom, and ye fools, controversy in every age of the be ye of an understanding heart.” world. The fact that so much Those are justly called fools who ingenuity, sophistry and persever disbelieve their own senses, deny ance have been exercised in ex- those things that are apparent and plaining away and perverting the self-evident, and act without reaobvious meaning of scripture, is son. But all those who disbeliere suficient proof of that. "Had not or deny the primary and peculiar the Bible plainly taught the doc- doctrines of the gospel, are chargetrines of total depravity, divine able with all this folly. For the sovereignty, the universal decrees primary truths of the gospel are and agency of God, election, self-evident, and according to the reprobation, a future and eternal dictates of every man's reason and punishment of the wicked, and the conscience, duty of disinterested benevolence, 4. In view of this subject, we the world would never have been may see that the shades of differfavoured with so many ponderous ence between professors of relig. volumes of commentaries and ex-ion, in their opinions on theologi. positions of the Bible, having for cal subjects, are of some impor- . their object to explain away the tance. Some professors believe true sense of these doctrines.- that God works all things after the But if these doctrines are de- counsel of his own will, and causmonstrable and apparent from rea- es all things to take place accordson and facts, as has been suffi- ing to his eternal purpose; and ciently proved, then all this labour others believe that second causes and expense is utterly in vain, and produce many effects without the might have been saved. If bibli- | direct agency of the first canse.

Some professors believe that the ing view of these truths is apparsovereignty of God consists in his ent and demonstrable from reason creating all things at first, and in and facts, and necessarily results inflicting punishment upon the from the nature of things, and the

, wicked, when and where he pleas- essential perfections of God, which es, while they deny that it extends are clearly seen from his works. to forming the moral character; Those, therefore, who cordially others believe that “ God hath embrace the correct view of these mercy on whom he will have mer- truths are friends of God, and will cy and whom he will he harden- be received to heaven, while those eth, and worketh all in all." Some who reject the correct view of the professors believe that creatures same truths hate the light, and are dependent on God for breati shall be driven away into the and food and raiment, but deny blackness of darkness forever, that we are dependent on him for 5. If the Apostle Paul under our actions; and others believe certain circumstances, generally that even the king's heart is in reasoned in defence of religion the hand of the Lord, as the riv. from the things that are made, ers of water; he turneth it whith- because this kind of evidence is ersoever he will,” and that “ we more unequivocal and convincing, are not sufficient of ourselves to then is it wise for students in think any thing as of ourselves.” theology at the present day to de- . Some professors believe that un- vote all their time and talents to conditional submission consists in the science of biblical exegesis, and submitting only temporal inter- none to natural theology? ests, for the sake of Christ and It was formerly thought to be heaven; and others believe that it an indispensable requisite in a consists in forsaking all that they theological education, that young have and in being willing to have men should have a thorough knowGod save or destroy them forever ledge and profess a firm belief in as he pleases. Some professors the truth and utility of .

the essenbelieve that the benevolence which tial, primary and self-denging, the gospel requires, consists in doctrines of the gospel, which ap. love to God for the sake of ever- prove themselves to every man's lasting happiness, and love to conscience in the sight of God, man for the sake of promoting And while the clergy of New Eng.' their temporal gratification and land firmly believed and faithfully interests, while others believe that preached these doctrines, they ' it consists in that pure disinter- were able to “stand against the ested affection which will neces- deceit, the power and malice of sarily lead any persons who pos- earth and hell;" they were able sess it, to give up any temporal or to stand against infidels and erroreternal good for the sake of pro- ists of every description.” They moting a greater good. And we were able to stand against Athe. frequently hear persons assert that ists, Deists, Universalists, and these different shades of opinión Unitarians. They were “able are not important, and should not to stand against Arminians, whe. be made a condition of contention ther they appeared under the coland separation. But this opinion ours of Wesley” or any other prois faise and absurd. If one view fession and appearance. They were of these truths is correct, the “able to stand against Antinomiother is false and dangerous. And ans, notwithstanding their lofty we have seen that the self-deny- preiences to orthodoxy and their

« ÖncekiDevam »