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and bring it for us that we may hear, and do it? - But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart that thou may do it.” “See I have set before thee this day a blessing, and a curse; a blessing if yeobey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day—and a curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord. I have not spoken in secret, in dark places of the earth, I said not unto the seed of Jacob seek ye me in vain. Look unto me, and be ye saved all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else, I have sworn by myself, the word hath gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, &c. Put away from you all your transgressions whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart anda new spirit, for why will you die O house of Isreal; for I have nupleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye. Say unto them as I live saith the Lord God I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way, and live.”
and live." I ask whether it is fair or honest dealing towards God for men to devise evasions, and equi. vocations by which to break the literal force, and truth of these declarations? Does the commission which Christ gave to his disciples authorise such devices?
Mahomet seems to have had no little use for the doctrine of decrees, and God's sovereignty, in the propagation of his religion, which have prevailed, in a very high degree, amongst several religious christian denominations; and, what is very remarkable, is, that the very arguments which are now used as an excuse for not urging the Gospel upon its own evidence, and in favour of waiting for physical operations, was a most prominent one with the False Prophet. A great writer, of the last century, observes, “There is no subject he (Mahomet) more frequently recurs to in his Alcoran” (than that of miracles) "being greatly interested to remove the doubts which were raised in the minds of many by his disclaiming the working miracles; a power which till then had ever been looked upon as the prerogative of the prophets. The demands and reasonings of his opposers in regard to miracles harrassed him very much. They assured him by the most solemn oaths, and protestations, that
they would submit implicitly to his guide in religion if he would once gratify them in this particular. To avoid this paramount test, and proof of a divine religion, and commission, and to satisfy the people on this head, the following ate some of the reasons which he employed: Ist. The sovereignty of God, who is not to be called to account for what he gives or withholds. 2nd. The uselessness of mitacles, because every man is fore-ordained either to believe, or to remain in unbelief; and this decree no miracles could alter. 3d. The experienced inefficacy of miracles in former times. 4th. The mercy of God who had denied them this evidence, because the sin of their incredulity, in case he had granted it, would have been so heinous, that he could not have respited or tolerated them any longer.” Campbell on Miracles. The doctrines of fatalists upon the subject of the divine decrees, is not unlike that of Mahomet, except in this: Mahomet acknowledged that the means of grace neglected or rejected, aggravated the condemnation of men; whereas, those who are fatalists believe, that Gospel offers slighted, impose no aggravated condemnation, but that the condenination of sinners proceeds from Adam's transgression. This, by a necessity of reason, and the nature of the divine economy, is true, if the occasional physical agencies contended for as antecedents to the faith of the Gospel, is true. There is another class of christians who believe that men have natural, and not moral ability; and that they are condemned for not using their natural powers. This seems to be an absurdity upon the first blush. There cannot be any sin in the mere existence of men; if there is, it proceeds from their creator, who gives thenı being; which no person will believe. Sin consists in acts of disobedience. Without light there cannot be vision, and without law there cannot be transgression. Adam transgressed, and, by, trans-gression, incurred the penalty of death. But why was the human race preserved; why permitted still to exist after transgression? Was it not in consequence of the promised seed of the woman-was it not by virtue of a mediatorial governor, the Prince of Peace? Are men then preserved by grace, to sin against Gospel offers, and opportunities, without accountability or condemnation? Are we Gentiles to be judged by Moses, and not by Christ? Is not the government of God, under the Jewish as well as the Gospel dispensation, a moral government, and does not the moral character of the subjects of each, take its complexion from its relation to the law, consisting either in acts of obedience or disobedience? I call the Gospel the law of faith. This law no person can know or believe in by nature--it is a divine, a supernatural proclamation of grace; and it can only be learnt in the divine, and supernatural terms in which it is made, and believed in, by the evidence which established, and supports it; being thus learnt, and believed, it confers upon man moral ability. The devils may know, and believe the Gospel, as published to our world; but that knowledge, and belief can never confer upon them moral ability to serve God, nor prepare them for receiving his favour; because his mercy, and blessings are not offered to them on condition of faith, and obedience. Their knowledge, and faith produce in them no more the grace of salvation, which is offered to the human race in the Gospel, nor a fitness to receive it, than the knowledge, and belief in one criminal, of a reprieve being offered to another, by receiving of which he is restored to the possession, and enjoyment of his natural, and civil rights, confer upon him to whom the reprieve was never offered those rights, and privileges. Men, and devils sustain different relations. Salvation is offered to one in the Gospel, and not to the other and it is absurd to talk about the similarity of the faith of each as it relates to Jesus Christ. Faith in the law produces condemnation to a sinner, as it is the cause of trembling to devils. Faith in the Gospel produces justification, and life in man, and is decreed by God for this purpose; such a faith, however, does not mitigate the anguish, and trembling of devils, for the provisions of the Gospel were not designed for their benefit. King Jesus is the king of terrors to devils. Over them he reigns in dreadful justice: while he is the Prince of Peace to man, as he, through death, hath destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, that he might deliver them who, through the fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage.
In the Gospel, or gracious moral government of God, there is a no less close, and necessary connexion between cause, and effect, than there is in the natural government. Mankind are not born with spiritual knowledge or faith, nor with the dispositions, and desires which proceed from them--with love to God, and good will to man, the genuine fruits of the Spirit, which are the necessary consequences of the true faith of the Gospel in the soul, and are made so by the decrees of God's throne, according to his wisdom, his power, &c. In order to this knowledge, and faith, which lie at the bottom, and are the efficient causes of the renovation of the intellectual, and moral character of man, God has decreed, ordained, and established the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to be taught by parents, and the minis. try, or "those who labour in the word, and doctrine." Upon their shoulders a most dreadful responsibility lies, as it is upon the faithful discharge of their duty, according to God's decree, that the knowledge of him through Jesus Christ, is communicated by his word, "for by grace are ye saved through faith, and that” (or this affair, namely, your salvation through faith,) "not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2. 8.; "therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace.” Rom. 4. 16. “Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with or by the word of truth.” James 1. 17–18. This faith cometh by hearing the word of God. Rom. 10. 17. God purifieth the heart by faith. Acts 15. 9. This is the wisdom that is from above, which is pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality or wranglings, and without hypocrisy. James 3. 17. It was on account of these vast consequences, resulting from the faith of the Gospel to individuals, and society, that Paul felt, and expressed in such emphatic terms, his high sense of responsibility in the discharge of his duty in preaching the Gospel with faithfulness in its simplicity, and truth; he observes, that “necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel.” 1 Corinth. 9. 16. Were christian denominations to realize, that it is by the faithful,
and practical preaching, and teaching of the Gospel, as the mean, according to the decrees of God, that the world is to be filled with the knowledge of him, and that righteousness, and peace are to fill the earth, they would have little inclination to spend their time in unprofitable disputation about the secret things of God; or to make mankind believe that the scriptures are a sealed book or a dead letter.
I cannot conclude this chapter without bestowing a few remarks upon Paul's Epistle to the Romans, which is more frequently relied on to prove the notions of election, which exist amongst Antinomians, and Fatalists than any other part of Scripture. A more singular perversion of scriptural authority was never made, than the use to which Paul's Epistle to the Romans in respect to God's decrees evince. That Epistle was written to refute the same ideas about decrees which were entertained by the Jewish christians, that it is now brought to support. The errors, and vain disputes concerning faith, and works, justification, and sanctification, election, and reprobation, &c. which have so long vexed, and distracted the minds of christians, have all arisen from one grand mistake of applying to themselves, or other particular persons, now certain phrases or passages which plainly referred to the then state, and condition, not of particular persons, but of whole churches when the Epistle was written. Perplexed, and puzzled with these knotty points, many well meaning christians have either been drawn aside from paying a due regard to those moral, and weighty exhortations, which are most easy to be understood, and of infinite obligation to be put in practice; or they have been driven to distraction, and despair by them. The same mistaken notions which some of the converted Jews formed from some of Paul's expressions, are entertertained by some christians in our day, viz. the doctrine of fate, God being the author of sin, &c. which is wresting the scripture to their own distinction. For example, Roin. 1. 28. where it is said, that God delivered the Gentires to a reprobate mind. Rom. 7. 17. It is no more I, who work it out, but sin dwelling in me. Rom. 9. 19. Whom he will, he hardeneth, ver. 21. Hath not the potter power, over the clay, &c. chap. 11. 8. And the rest are blinded as it is