« AnteriorContinuar »
shall, I must admire those eter- plished, there would no where nal purposes, which his wisdom appear the least trace of moral and love adopted, and which his beauty, or joy. The good of power will accomplish. Į
the world depends on the Your third objection is, that strength of opposition, which is Calvinism represents God, as an maintained against the cause of arbitrary, vindictive Being, and sin. If God should cease to opholds the frightful doctrine of end- pose and punish sin, he would le88 punishment. If arbitrary
to be a good ruler. means, acting without reason, we Should he stand an inactive specdeny that God is arbitrary. We tator of the rising influence and hold, that he never entertained a far spreading mischief of iniquisingle design, and never per- ty, he would resign all title to forms a single action, without our love and reverence. He such reasons, as fully justify it would resemble a king, who, in the view of his own wisdom, from a spurious benevolence, and in the view of all qualified from indolence or depravity, judges. Nor do we ever apply should let theft and murder prethe term, vindictive, to God, as vail, without taking any effectual implying, that he has a disposi- measures to put a stop to them, tion to punish for the sake of and save his kingdom from ruin, punishing, or to be pleased with We venerate God, as the moral the misery of his creatures. The Governor of the world, the Lord hath no pleasure in the death Guardian of being in general. even of the wicked. He would It belongs to him to seek the never inflict punishment, were it highest welfare of the whole. In not necessary for the general human governments, the general good. His heart is as benevo- good is frequently inconsistent lent when he punishes, as when with the happiness of some inhe blesses ; when he frowns, as dividuals. To make a sacrifice when he smiles. He is as good of such individuals, suppose of - in the desolating hurricane, as in traitors and murderers, in order the cooling zephyr ; in the fu- to counteract the hurtful influ- rious storm, as in the refreshing ence of their example, and se, shower ; in the far sweeping in- cure from injury the great interundation, as in the gently flow- ests of society, is never supposing rivulet. By sensations of ed to detract from the benevopain, as well as of pleasure, by lence of government. “Capapunishment, as well as by re, city and inclination to punish disward, he seeks the welfare of his order in a state is never thought kingdom. Sin, my brother, is a to render an earthly prince less great evil. If sin should be suc- lovely in the eyes of his loyal cessful and
and triumphant, the subjects. That temper of mind, throne of God would be subvert on the contrary, which should ed, his law trampled upon, his induce him to connive at disor, honour laid in the dust, and all der, however it might go under order, virtue, and happiness an- the name of benevolence, would nihilated. If the ultimate de- by all the friends of good gorsign of sin should be accom- ernment be accounted injustice
to the public."* And why gotten Son. There was 'suffishould it be thought to detract cient love in the heart of God, to from the honour of God, that, in save sinners without the death order to promote the holiness of Christ, had it been consistent and happiness of his everlasting with righteousness. The neceskingdom, he punishes unrelent. sity of an atonement does not ing sinners?
arise from the want of benevoBut I will not enlarge. The lence in God. The atonement subject is ably treated by several was appointed by the most ex, writers, particularly Edwards, in tensive benevolence. God is his reply to Chauncy, which you disposed to pardon and save sinmay consult at your leisure. I ners. But in doing this, he will refer you, above all, to the scrip- not neglect the honour of his tures. There, my brother, you throne, nor the interests of the will learn, that vengeance is the moral system. If salvation is prerogative of God, and that the bestowed on sinners, infinite be endless punishment of the wick- nevolence requires that it should ed is one way, in which he is de- be done in such a way, as will termined to display his excellen- prevent the direful effects of sin. cies, to vindicate the honour of The atonement is that way. It his violated law, and to promote is the expedient of divine wisa the most valuable interests of dom to counteract the influence, the universe.
and avert the pernicious conseYour fourth objection arises quences of human transgression. from the doctrine of atonement. Without such an expedient, that It is the objection of Socinus. influence must have been coun«The doctrine seems inconsistent teracted by the personal sufferwith the natural benignity and ing of transgressors. Through placability of God. It paints him, the atonement, God can grant as being merciless and inexorable, remission, without giving up his until full satisfaction is made to authority, or holding out a pubhim for the breach of his laws, lic license to commit sin. and a full price paid for his mer- Through that medium, the fulcy.” Į rejoice in this opportu- ness of divine grace can safely nity to declare, that I regard flow out to penitent offenders. these distortions of evangelical While mercy triumphs, it is not truth, as originating in the piti- at the expense of Jehovah's ful weakness and dishonesty character, or the general good. of God's enemies. Calvinism On the contrary, if God should never considers the atonement, forgive sin without any atoneas the cause of divine love ; but ment, it would be a virtual acmaintains that divine love is knowledgment, that he had the sole cause of human salva- enacted a law so rigorous, that it tion, and of the atonement, as the ought to be repealed, and issued only suitable medium of mercy threatenings, which he felt himto sinners ; according to that in self obliged to retract. Such a spired declaration, God 80 loved proceeding, my brother, while the world that he gave his only be exactly agreeable to the Socin?
ian scheme, would be so great a * Fuller's Letters.
blemish in God, as would destros
the bliss of heaven ; yea, I shud- It is the glory of Calvinism, that der at the thought, it would be it faithfully describes that God, such a treacherous desertion of whose holy administration is an his office, as Ruler and Guardian unwelcome reproof, disturbance, of the universe, and give such a and alarm to impenitent transstamp of imperfection to his gressors, and excites the enmity character, as would render it un of the carnal mind. But it has fit to adore him, and even justify this glory too, that its God is open rebellion.
venerated and loved by all the The last objection, which you holy, in whose view he is clothed specify is, that many are ready with infinite excellence. to say, they cannot feel a perfect Such, my brother, is the spirit veneration and love for such a of genuine Calvinism. I glory character, as Calvinism ascribes to in being its professed and conGod. I allow the fact, my scientious advocate, not because brother. Yet nothing results I value it as the ensign of a parFrom it unfavourable to Calvin- ty, but because in my view it ism.
contains the substance of sacred It is possible the persons al- truth, and echoes the voice of Juded to have such a temper of God. Such, as I have imper. mind, as indisposes them to love fectly described, is the character and venerate God in his true it has taught me to ascribe to the character. Through the influ- great Being of beings. How atence of a depraved heart, the tractive, how venerable, how gloHoly One of Israel may be an rious ! object of dislike and aversion. This, then, is the sum. If The God, whom the Bible re- you ask, what is God? I anveals, is by no means pleasing to swer, God is love. If you ask, the wicked. The sight of him what prompted his eternal defills them with dismay. This crees? I answer, love. If you we esteem no small part of his ask, what is the great motive of purity and glory. What agree. all his operations? My answer ment hath light with darkness? is, love. If you ask, what object If God's character is infinitely he aims at in the great variety of benevolent, it must be repug- natural and moral evil, which ex. nant to the feelings of the self- ists under his
all directing ish; if holy, to the feelings of providence ? I answer, the ob, the impure. If he is a just ject of perfect benevolence. He Judge, his face must be dreadful means it for good. Love is the to guilt. It is the glory of Cal. sum of Jehovah's excellence, vinism, that it does not adminis- the ornament, the crown, the ter soporific poison to the con- glory of his character. In the sciences of men ; that it does bosom of divine love originated not give peace to the wicked by all created existence, and the concealing or discolouring the grand system of the universe. character of Jehovah ; that it Divine love shines forth in the does not seduce and ruin the whole series of providential dissouls of men, by inculcating such pensations. Love exceedingly a notion of God, as they can abounds in redemption. Its al easily associate with their crimes, mighty energy founded, has pre
tected, and will enlarge and ex- for which preparation is more alt the kingdom of Christ. Di- serious, more important, more vine love will be inexpressibly necessary ; the hour of death. admired and glorified at the Though it is appointed unto judgment day. The clear sight all men once to die, yet few know of it, will, at that awful, decisive the time of their death. Hence period, fill the saints not only the propriety and even necessity with resignation, but with trans- of constant readiness for that awports of serenest :joy ; and the ful event. Many persons, howfruition of it will create an eter- ever, by a gradual decay, or nal heaven in their souls. That the malignant nature of their infinite love, which is the moral disease are sure the time of glory of Deity, has every thing their departure is near. How to allure our affection, to gain serious the day, how affecting our confidence, to raise our ado- the moment, how overwhelming ration and praise. It sweetly the scene, when a person gives attracts us by its most amiable up the last hope of life, and mildness ; while it awes us by makes not another effort to live. its superlative majesty. It hum- Perhaps the hour of death itself bles us by its transcendent dig- is not more terrible ; yet such a nity; yet exalts us by its en certainty of death takes place gaging condescension. With sometimes days, or weeks, or warm affection for your soul, I months, before the last hour arbeseech you, my beloved broth- rives. er, to be reconciled to God, and When disease and despair from this moment, let it be your have banished hope, and the dublessed employment, to under- ties of hope, a peculiar course stand and imitate his love. of conduct, a particular class of
CONSTANS. affections, should direct the
person. Though you be not
it will be too late to read or ON PREPARATION FOR DEATH.
hear instructions on the mo“ All should be prophets to them.
mentous subject. If you read selves; foresee
and remember the following Their future fate, their future fate hints ; if they afford you direcforetaste :
tion and comfort in the day when This art would waste the bitterness
you are descending to the dark of death. The thought of death alone, the fear valley and shadow of death, hapdestroys."
py will it be, that you have taken
up this pamphlet ; happy will be Men of prudence habitually the heart, which presents you prepare
for future events, for fu- this paper. ture hours, days, and years ; in What then are the duties inthe morning for the day, and incumbent on the person, who desummer for winter. In child- spairs of life, who feels the senhood preparation is made for tence within himself, that the youth, in youth for manhood, time of his departure is at hand! and old age. An hour bastens, Justice puts in her claim; justice.
demands his first attention. Jus- would not be important, when a tice is the first step in religion. head or member of the house is Unless a man“ do justly,” it is in departing ? What brother or sis. vain that he pretends “to love ter would not utter some words of mercy," to walk humbly." tender affection ? What mother To point out all the particulars would not wish to give some adof justice, is impossible. A vice respecting her daughters, man's own business, engage- her sons; their education and ments and connexions, will be destination in life? What father an index to show him his duty. would not have much advice and : Sometimes will the father find many commands? justice to his children a delicate The person having discharged and arduous service. All the his duty in the domestic circle, he children of an house have the may examine whether somewhat same claim on the father's sup- is not to be done to promote relig. port. Those fathers, therefore, ion. Has the person no fault to who, from partiality, or a pride confess, no forgiveness to ask, no of keeping their estate: undivided, restitution to make, no thanks to make a favourite of one son, in- express to his instructor, no restead of securing him a portion proof for any offender, no comwith the rich, only entail on him fort for any sorrowing Christian? the judgments of God. God Has he no testimony to give in does not suffer this robbery of behalf of God? These things one part of the family to enrich being accomplished, it may be another to pass with impunity. time for the person to separate Many instances are known of himself from the world, to exthose denied an equal inherit- clude all unnecessary visitants. ance, who are in affluent circum- Time is precious to the dying. stances, while the favourite of the They have not a moment for visfather is in poverty and obscurity. its of form or curiosity. In gen
In dying circumstances men eral, company is injurious to should carefully discharge the their lives; it is not friendly to duties of generosity, gratitude their self recollection, their de and charity. These may be se- votion, their spiritual comfort. rious duties. The heart of the Undoubtedly this was one graman may be much fixed on re- cious design of God in so genewarding a benefactor, making a rally ordering sickness to pregratuity to some friend, or be- cede death, that by their suspenstowing some charity; but these, sion of business, and their secluthough perhaps indispensable du- sion from the world, men might ties of the dying, cannot lawfully be made to consider, to combe performed by his executor. mune with their own hearts, to
Justice being done, the person acquaint themselves with God, has a right to the confidence of and prepare to die. the family ; then is a time for Having excluded the world, a advice, and sometimes direction serious review of past life may respecting domestic concerns. · be greatly instructive. Now is Whose domestic system is so
a proper time to recollect the nicely arranged, so precisely ex• days that are past, the years that ecuted, that direction or advice are gone.' God's dealings with