Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

magnify his being, and power, by uttering such absurd jargon. It must be acknowledged, that, in the holy scriptures, the Supreme Deity is often represented as invested with the form, and as agitated by the passions of men; the Eternal, whom no line can circumscribe, nor period bound, who is being simply considered in, and of himself

, to whom nothing of assignable forms, colours, or qualities, attach; the uncaused cause of every thing; a being who has no relation to time, not being older to-day than he was yesterday, nor younger to-day than he will be to-morrow; who has no relation to space, not being a part here, and a part there, or a whole any where; whose circumference is no where, and whose centre is every where; I say, it must be acknowledged that this, being sometimes condescends to .speak of himself in a manner with strictness only applicable to temporal, and finite beings; but all this is done in pure compassion to the weakness of our limited comprehensions. We, on this account, should be exceedingly cautious not to mistake the language of occasional parable, and similitude, intended as an accommodation to weak, sensual, human intellects, for solemn asseveration, and decisive avowal. Our incapacity is no less manifest in our attempts to scan the æconomy of heaven, as it consists in the real, and essential government of God in our world, as it is in itself, than in attempting to comprehend infinity. To form a theory cr a system of the government of God, correct, and harmonious in all its parts, requires a knowledge co-extensive, and commensurate with the essential nature, and relations of things, visible and invisible; knowledge short of this nust expose a system-maker of decrees, who attempts the work, to perpetual blunders, and contradictions: and the impiety, and profanity of resolving these errors, and contradictions into the sovereignty of God, is too evident to need remark. “The 'secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deut. 29. 29. Reason has nothing that it can object to this order of things, for it is dependant upon revelation for all that it knows, and it is an act of great impiety to arraign the Deity for not having communicated to man more upon

[ocr errors]

the subject of things, which were otherwise unknown, than by revelation, he has in his lapsed state. To say that any thing is supernatural, (as is the nature, and existence of spiritual beings to man) is only saying that it is something which, by the necessity of our own nature, we are as incapable of knowing, as it is, as we are incapable of seeing spirits. If, therefore, supernatural, and divine things be ever revealed to us, their nature, as it is, cannot possibly be revealed to us; that is, they cannot be revealed to us as they are in their own nature; for, if they could, such things would not be supernatural, but such as were suited to our capacities. If an angel could appear to us, as it is in its own nature, then we should be naturally capable of seeing angels; but, because our nature is not capable of such a sight, and angels being supernatural objects; therefore, when angels appear to men, they must appear in some human or corporeal form, that their appearance may be suited to our capacities. It is just thus, when any supernatural or divine matter is revealed by God, it can no more possibly be revealed to us, as it is in its own nature, than an angel can appear to us to make itself visible by us, as it is in its own nature: but such supernatural matter can only be revealed to us by being represented to us by description. Thus revelation teaches us this supernatural matter, that Jesus Christ is making perpetual intercession for us in heaven. For Christ's real state or manner of existence with God in heaven, in regard to individuals, or his church, cannot, as it is in its own nature, be described to us, it is, in this respect, ineffable, and incomprehensible; and, therefore, it is revealed to us under an idea which gives us the truest representation of it that we are capable of; which, however, falls entirely short of that hypostatical relation, as it is. If any one, from the revelation of the intercession of Christ in heaven, should infer that the Son of God must, therefore, either be always upon his knees in acts of mental or vocal prayer; or prostrate in some humble form of a supplicant, he would make a very weak inference. Because this revealed idea of Christ, as a perpetual intercessor in heaven, is only a comparative representation of something that can110t be directly known, as it is in its own nature, and only teaches us how to believe something, though imperfectly, yet truely, and usefully of an incomprehensible matter: just as our own ideas of wisdom, and goodness do not teach us what the divine wisdom, and goodness are, in their own natures; but only help us to believe something truly, and usefully, of those perfections of God which are in themselves inconceivable by us. There is no infering any thing from these ideas, by which divine, and supernatural things are represented to us, only the truth, and certainty of that like, ness under which they are represented.

With respect to the manner, and nature of God's decrees, our ideas of them as they are in themselves, fall as intirely short of the truth as our knowledge of the principle of voli. tion in the divine mind are short of the truth. The rela. tions of things, and persons visible, and invisible, and the fitness rusulting from thence are, the rule of God's actions, and it is upon this principle that God must act according to his own nature; and therefore nothing could be fit for God to do, or worthy of him, but what had the reason of its fitness in his own nature; and if so, then the rule of his actions could not fall within our comprehension, and consequently reason cannot be a competent judge of God's proceedings, and all plans of his decrees which are not revealed must fall as short of the truth, as does the comprehension of the human mind of adequate ideas of the eternal, immutable, and essential nature, and relations of things, as they are in the divine mind To ask the reason or foundation of any one of the divine attributes, is the same as asking the reason or foundation of them all and to seek for the reason or foundation of all the divine attributes is seeking for the cause of God's existence. The nature, and reason of things considered independently of the divine will or without it, have no more obligation in them than a divine worship considered independently of, and without any regard to the existence of God. For the will of God is as absolutely necessary to found all moral obligation upon, as the existence of God is necessary to be the foundation of riligious worship and the fitness of moral obligation, without the will of God, is only like the fitness of religious worship without the existence of God. No man has even yet been able to reconcile the decrees of God as consisting in the predetermination of sinful acts, and the execution of that decrec by the agency ofman as the necessary cause of it, without in. volving the immoralconsequence of man's unaccountability. The secret of all the errors upon this subject seems to be, that men are not contented to stop short of knowing the se cret things of God; and, although they are compelled to do so, they persist to draw consequences predicated upon

that knowledge, which are, however, as contradictory to many plain truths revealed as if they had been drawn from the principles of the Alcoran, and pressed into the service of the christain religion. The vain abstractions, and philosophical jargon upon this subject have served no end of true religion; but only helping people to wrangle, and dispute away that sincere obedience to God which is their only happiness. I should not object to any theory of decrees were it unproductive of ill practical consequences. The design, and purposes of God, I have no doubt, are vast, and variegated, infinitely beyond my conception; but that share of reason by which alone I could pretend to know or judge any thing about this stupendous plan is so small, and I enjoy it in so imperfect a manner, that I can scarce think or talk intelligibly of it, or so much as define the faculties of my reasoning. As the existence of God, as such, necessarily implies the existence of all perfection; so the will of God as such, necessarily implies the willing every thing, that all perfection can will. As the existence of God according to his revelations of himself, and our own experience, contains all perfection, cannot for that reason have any external causes; so the will of God, because it is all perfection, cannot, for that reason, have any external rule, or direction; but his own wilt is wisdom, and his wisdom is his will; his goodness is arbitrary, and his arbitrariness is goodness. My great concern is to cast myself implicitly upon God, being thus good, and perfect, and to bear in mind the powers or faculties he has given me, and the obligations he has placed me under for using, and cultivating them in his service, trembling at his word, and yielding obedience to his authority. God has no, more given us our reason, and a revelation to settle the secret order of his government, or to find out his secret will,

[ocr errors]

and to form a theory of his decrees upon, which destroy the
responsibility of his moral agents,then he has given us senses,
and appetites to taste the nature or discover the ingredi.
ents of future happiness. I should not oppose, nor say any
thing about the opinions of religious men concerning the
decrees of God, were I not convinced that a particular view
of them which seems to be current is one great cause of in-
difference to, and often of the rejection of the Gospel. I do
not pretend to deny God's decrees, but rest upon them for
my salvation. They are not only the rock of the christain's
safety, but, according to my appréhension of them, they ata
ford the strongest encouragement, and most irresistable in-
ducements to sinners to believe in Jesus Christ, and flee
from the wrath to come. The decree is, "he that believeth
shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.”
I only deny the DIVINE, DECREE OF MEN, or the systems
of their divising as applicable to the government of God.
All that I would desire from any denomination of religion
is merely that they should not use their theories of decrees,
and the operations God's Spirit to the preversion of the prac-
tical designs of christianity, and to cheat men out of their
souls. It would be uncharitable beyond the feelings of
my heart, to charge any people with a design so wicked; the
consequences however are not less fatal. Men are often
honest in the wrong:

The idea which I have so often
mentioned in its common acceptation, relative to the ope-
rations of the Spirit in regeneration, is the one upon which
the theory of decrees is built, which prevent the practical
influence of the christian religion, in a more enlarged, en-
nobled, and truly divine sense, upon individuals, society, and
even government; as they contradict the plain meaning, and
design of the Gospel upon intelligent moral beings. How
different are the following passages of scripture? Now is the
time, this is the day of salvation”-unto whom? unto those
to whom the Gospel is preached. “The commandment
which I command thee this day it is not hidden from thee,
neither is it far off, it is not in heaven that thou shouldst
say who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us
that we may hear it, and do it; neither is it beyond the sea
that thou shouldst say who shall go over the sea for us,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »