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prescribed, that it can never be approved by him, nor does it fully satisfy themselves. The prophet Micah introduces superstitious zealot inquiring, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord? Shall I come before him with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I offer my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" The prophet answers, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" The Baalites thought to obtain an answer from their god by costly sacrifices, long and vociferous prayers, and cruel lacerations of the flesh. But the sacrifice, which the true God requires, as an attendant on prayer, is real repentance, a humble heart, and the dedication of ourselves to him. The apostle supposes, that some may give all their goods to the poor, and their bodies to the fire, and yet not have that love, which is the end of the commandment.
There are few, in the present day, who are in danger of running to great extremes in religious expenses and self-denials; but there are those, who take that for religion, which will not satisfy them in the end. They are strangers to that sincere repentance of sin, that supreme love to God, that active faith in unseen things, that unreserved and humble obedience, which alone will give solid peace to the conscience, and ensure a title to heavenly happiness. They content themselves with a zeal for particular opinions and
forms, the observance of uninstituted days, the experience of transient affections, and an abstinence from certain indifferent pleasures. To men of this description may be applied God's reproof and exhortation to Israel. "Bring no more vain oblations; your appointed feasts my soul hateth. Wash ye, make you clean; cease to do evil, learn to do well."
True religion is plain and simple, obvious to the understanding and adapted to the condition of man. It consists in a love of the character, and a submission to the will of God, in benevolence to men and a readiness to do them good, in the denial of ungodliness and worldly lusts, and in the choice and practice of those things which are pure, virtuous and lovely. As we are corrupt and guilty creatures, our religion must begin with repentance of sin and renovation of heart. As God exercises his mercy to sinners through the atonement of a Redeemer, our repentance must be accompanied with faith and hope in God's mercy through the Redeemer, whom he has ordained.
This religion will satisfy the mind. A false and hypocritical religion, however laborious it may be, usually leaves a suspicion, that there is something amiss-something wanting. But to them who love God's law there is great peace. The work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance forever.
Every thing around us declares, and our own experience confirms this solemn truth, that there must be such a thing as religion, and that this only can
make us happy. All nature proclaims the existence of a Deity, who made, upholds and governs the world. As God has put in all men a desire of happiness, he has certainly provided some object to satisfy it. We find nothing in the present world adequate to this desire. Trial has been made by men in all ages, what the world can do; and still they are, as they were at first, restless and uneasy, seeking happiness in worldly things, but finding none. Happiness then must be in another world; and if ever we find it, we shall find it. there. To obtain the happiness of another world, we must be weaned from this. Pride, ambition, avarice, anxiety, discontent and fleshly lusts must be subdued. Humility, purity, benevolence and pious affections must be introduced. These are springs of enjoyment; the others sources of misery. So they are here; and so they will be hereafter. If we make light of religion in general, or if we frame to ourselves a religion destitute of piety to God, benevolence to men and personal sobriety-a religion which allows the dominion of passion, lust and earthly affections, and still hope for happiness, we contradict our own experience, and the experience of all mankind. What religion is, God hath shewed us in his word. To this we may resort and find instruction of this we may learn, and find rest to our souls.
No. 1. THE first general and striking declaration of God's preceptive will was from Mount Sinai. The Vol. I. No.7. PP
whole transaction was in the highest degree solemn and tremendous. Near three millions of people were conducted by the hands of Moses and Aaron from Egypt to the wilderness. It was already evident that God was with them. A fiery cloud led them by day and defended them by night. The Red Sea divided to favour their escape; but stopped the pursuing enemy, and became their grave. Their hunger was satisfied with bread from heaven; their thirst with water from the rock. The third month brought them to Sinai. God determined to manifest himself to the congregation, and to make them hear his voice. Of this previous intimation was given. Two days were allowed to prepare themselves. On Mount Sinai God would descend; on the third day, he did descend. (Exodus xix. 16, 17, 18.) The darkness, in which the mountain was hid; its tremulous motion, the flashing lightnings, the raging tempest, and roaring thunder, roused the attention of the multitude; the trumpet of God, waxing louder and louder, was the summons to approach. The Divine Majesty appeared at the top of the mount, surrounded with angels like flames of fire; a voice, loud and articulate, addressed this vast concourse, and was distinctly heard by each, pronouncing the Ten Commandments. This wonderful transaction is celebrated in the book of Psalms, and often spoken of by the prophets and apostles. A more manifest and terrible display of the Divine Majesty need not again be expected before the consummation of all things.
The words now uttered, and afterwards written by the finger of God himself on tables of stone, are every way worthy of our attention, being of moral and unalterable obligation. Other legislators have imposed laws upon their people, as dictated from above, but the Israelites could not be imposed upon; they had the testimony of their own senses, and the correspondence between what they heard and what was written gave validity to these tables, which Moses produced.
There are two tables, the one contains our duty to God, and. the other our duty to men. I shall give some attention to each.
A short preface asserts the right, which God had to prescribe a law of universal obligation. (Ex. xx. 2.) The right, which God claims in the Israelites, is at once of a general and of a peculiar nature: "I am the Lord," self-existent, and from whom existence in every other instance is derived, "thy God," whom alone you ought to worship. Elohim, the word here used, was the most ancient name by which the Eternal had been pleased to discover himself to his creatures, and in which he claimed their homage and service. So far the claim is universal. In God we all live and move and have our being. To God we owe cheerful, constant and universal obedience. A claim of a peculiar nature is added; "which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." This deliverance was fresh in their minds, and deeply affected them. A stronger motive to obedience could not have been urged. It reminds us of what, in our own situation, may be pecu
liar. Have we passed safely through helpless infancy; have we been raised from beds of sickness; in danger have we found a way of escape; have we had our wants wonderfully supplied; have we been advanced to stations of honour, of profit, or of usefulness? These, and such like considerations, bind us to our duty, and incline us to say, "All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do."
The first commandment is, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
The divine nature, although simple and uncompound, is so exalted and glorious, that it exceeds the comprehension of the most perfect created intelligence. The Old Testament asserts the unity of the divine nature; the New, reveals a distinction in this nature, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. There is one God, and in the Godhead the scripture speaks of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. So far our information carries us, and a step farther we dare not proceed. The discoveries of the Old Testament are not so full as those of the New. The language used makes it evident that a part only was known, and accommodates, with great ease, to future discoveries. The name, for instance, by which God is mentioned, has a plural termination; the praise, ascribed by the celestials, whom Isaiah beheld, is thrice repeated. The command, concerning the Messiah, is in peculiar language; "Awake, O sword, against the Shepherd, against the man who is MY FELLOW,-" These expressions alone do not amount to a discovery of the distinction which I have mentioned, as re
vealed in the New Testament, before us makes it an indispensabut when once this revelation ble duty to acquaint ourselves was made, we see in these ex- with God; to cherish the affecpressions evident traces of that tions, and to persevere in the serdistinction. vice which the Creator demands of all and each of his depending creatures. PHILOLOGOS.
Future dispensations may improve the knowledge now communicated, as much as the present dispensation has improved the knowledge formerly communicated. It is required that we acquaint ourselves with God. Use such light as is given; expecting in due time a brighter day. A more worthy object cannot employ our thoughts, nor can one more astonishing be proposed to our faith. Let none remain ignorant of what is most worthy to be known. Let them be established in the faith. He that cometh to God must believe that he is. This is the root of all religion. Genuine faith will always be operative. It works by love, and purifies the heart. Faith in God will lead us to worship him. A negative precept includes the affirmative," Thou shalt have no other gods but one," is a command to worship him and him alone. Naaman's resolution,
Thy servant will henceforth of fer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord," although expressed negatively, includes his resolution for the future to worship the God of Israel only. A competitor is inadmissible. A mongrel worship prevailed in Samaria. 2 Kings xvii. 28-33. Such worship is not acceptable. God requires all our heart, and all our soul, and all our strength, and all our might. Any thing which divides the heart is highly offensiye, spoiling like the dead fly the fragrance of the apothecary's preparation. The commandment
(To be continued.)
ON THE SAINTS' PERSEVERANCE.
YOUR object avowedly is to promote, with a spirit of candour and enlightened zeal, "the doctrines of the reformation," those old doctrines, which were brought into this country by the first settlers, and are expressed generally and for substance, in the confessions of faith used in the Presbyterian churches in Scotland and in the United States. The doctrine of the saints' perseverance is one article in these confessions. It is not questionable, I believe, in what sense this doctrine has been generally understood. It means, that those who are renewed by the Holy Spirit, do always retain some inward moral quality distinguishing them from the unregenerate. Many words are not necessary to prove, that this is the common understanding of Christians, as to this doctrine. It is evident from the writings of those, who have espoused it, and from the passages of Holy Writ, which have been used for this purpose. The very term signiThe saints are fies as much. said to persevere persevere in what? In that, doubtless, which constitutes them saints. A son is said to persevere in obedience
to his father; but if he should become disobedient and his father should still love him, no person would express this, I suppose, by saying, that the son persevered in his father's love, nor would it be said of a sleeping in fant tenderly guarded by a mother, that it persevered in its mother's attention.
it, of persons after conversion falling into the same state of carnality as before, though he will not pretend that these instances are very frequent. The advocate for the new doctrine says, that this falling from holiness happens frequently to every renewed person; in short, that the life of a saint is nothing but a succession of perfectly holy exercises and perfectly sinful ones.
Under the title of "the doctrine of the saints' perseverance," ideas have lately been exhibited, which do by no means correspond with those which this term has usually conveyed. We are • now told that regenerate persons do frequently, very frequently, lose all those moral qualities, which they first received in regeneration, and which distinguish them from the unrenewed; but that, notwithstanding such loss, the love of God towards them is continued; or, in other words, they still retain their interest in the covenant of grace.
As this doctrine is not common in the church of Christ, let us consider to what it is like. Is it like that Calvinistic doctrine found in the Assembly's Catechism, and in the sermons of those, who have been reputed orthodox divines? It has one point of coincidence. Both agree in this, that the regenerate will never be lost, the love of God being unalterably fixed upon them. Is this doctrine like that which has generally been held by Arminians, viz. that the regenerate may fall away from holiness and miss of eternal life? With this too it has one point of coincidence. Both allow, that men may, and actually do fall from holiness. The Arminian says, that there are instances, and that the scriptures suppose
With very high respect for the talents and piety of some, who entertain this belief, I beg leave to suggest the following thoughts,
1. That it appears very much like abuse of language to call this "the doctrine of saints' perseverance." According to this theory, in what do the saints persevere? To persevere is to persist in an attempt, not to give over, not to quit a design. Because God continues to love them, can they be said to persist in the love which God has for them? Can they be said not to give over-not to quit that love which God has for them? In this love which God exercises, the person has no more activity than a building has in the mo tion of those rays of light which fall upon it. Should we say of such a building, that it perseveres in sunshine? Should we say of a rock lying at the bottom of the ocean, that it perseveres in water? The doctrine above stated might indeed be denomimated the doctrine of divine perseverance, but certainly not the doctrine of the saints' perseverance. But,
2. Should we use the term "saints' perseverance" in so ex. traordinary a latitude, as to understand by it, a saint's continu