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Can such children claim from God then claims from us, as the their insulted benefactor a con. first duty, a supreme regard to tipuance of his kindness? Much his character and laws, which is less can they expect, or even to be manifested by the duties of hope from him further means of piety, prayer, worship, fear, enjoyment, and a more splendid love, attendance upon his insti. establishment ! I leave this case, tuted ordinances, and a reference my dear brother, to be decided to his will as the only rule of our by the advocates of a religion moral and religious conduct; in consisting of moral duties; re. short, an unreserved submission ferring you however to a single to his laws and government. He, passage of Scripture, in which as the Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah, as the Father and Ruler has a right to this regard, he de. of men, claims his rights with the mands it as his right, and accord. affecting benignity of a God, ing to my view of his character “A son honoreth his father, and government, he cannot disand a servant his master; if then pense with it. I should even say, I be a father, where is my honor? with reverence, it would be an and if I be a master, where is imperfection in his government my fear ?" Mal. i. 6.
if he could. If I understand any thing of But this is not all. While God's character and moral gov. God makes his own glory the ernment, and of our relation to chief object of his works and him as his dependent creatures, government, he has made holi. a supreme regard to him as the ness or conformity to his images first great cause and last end of the condition, on which his ra. all things, is the foundation of tional creatures are to enjoy su. all true religion in the heart-as preme happiness. The connex. indispensable to the perfection ion between holiness and future of his moral government, as it is felicity is inseparable. The hapto the happiness of his rational piness of a future life, is repre. creatures. Perfect excellence sented as consisting in the enjoy. being entitled to supreme love ment of God's favor and pres. and regard, and God being per. ence. How, let me ask, can a fect excellence and the only Being soul enjoy the divine presence, of that character in the universe, without supreme love to the di. it results that intelligent creatures vine character ? What joy can must give to him the first place a soul experience in the presence in their hearts, or they do not of a God, to whose attributes conform to the standard of moral and laws, it is not previously re. Tectitude, which God has estab. conciled ? How can a soul be lished ; and if they do not con. delighted with the favor of God form to that standard, they can. in heaven, which has never loved not be entitled to the happiness him supremely on earth? Is the which results from such conform. heart to be changed after death ? ity. Hence we are repeatedly in. This, we are forbid to believe. formed in the Scriptures, that A man may, in this life, perform
the fear of God is the beginning moral duties, without any par. of wisdom ;" the foundation on ticular regard to his Maker, and wach the whole system stands, without any particular relish for his character and government. earth in a state of trial and proba. He may perform good works to tion, furnished with intellectual his fellow men, even from a sense powers to learn the character of of their fitness and propriety, God and our own duty ; with without performing a single act the word of God to direct us, and of homage to the Supreme Being, a free will to accept or reject the although, as I have before re- offers of salvation. To complete marked, without a reference to the means of salvation, a Mediator God's will, he will rarely per. has been provided, to make an form them with uniformity, even offering of himself for our sins in the view of the world. But and satisfy that law which we the natural heart is enmity have violated, and which we our. against God; and if such moral selves are certainly unable to sat, man dies without a change in the isfy. In this state, the seeds of affections of his heart, what qual. holiness are to be planted in the ification will he possess for that heart, and are destined to grow heaven, whose employment con. and ripen into a full harvest of sists in loving and praising God ? felicity in a future life. Holiness, How will he relish the joys of in this life, is the germ of heaven. pure and holy spirits ? It is im. But holiness, in a scriptural sense, possible. Even in this life, noth- and indeed in any sense, is a dis. ing is more painful to a man tinct thing, from a principle of than the presence of a kind ben. morality. Morality or good efactor whom he has injured. works respect our fellow.men ; Were a man of mere morality to holiness respects God. It is that be instantly transferred to the state of the heart which proceeds presence of the glorious Jehovah, from supreme love to God, faith his sense of ingratitude to his in Christ, and entire submission Maker and Benefactor, would to the divine commands. With. fill his soul with unutterable tor. out this holiness, the Bible in, ment. To a soul, not previous forms us, no man shall see the ly prepared, by pious affections, Lord. And this holiness is in. to relish the joys, that must spring dispensable to the performance from the presence and favor of a of good works. As faith with. pure and holy Being, heaven it. out works is dead; so good works self would be a hell. Au unho. are the fruit of faith. And acly being cannot be happy in the cording to the gospel, it is not immediate presence of a holy possible for moral duties to be God; at least, in my apprehen. acceptable to God, unless they sion it appears to be impossible. proceed from faith and holiness, llence it appears that regenera. or from a supreme regard to tion and holiness of heart, are in God's will, as their spring or mothe very nature and fitness of tive. things necessary to the enjoy. These doctrines involve the ment of heaven; and the gospel necessity of regeneration, a doc. doctrines realiy stand as well on trine which many men, called the immutable order of things in Christians, deny, and which the the universe, as on the positive morality-system utterly excludes. declarations of Christ and his I know not how men who believe apostles. We are placed on this the Scriptures can reason away a
doctrine so fully and expressly the breath of life. Why is it revealed as that of the new-birth. more improbable that God should The passages of Scripture which exert his sovereign power, in directly assert the necessity of regenerating the soul, to make such a change, I need not recite; it a suitable being to dwell they must be familiar to you, but in immortal glory, than that he I will make a few remarks on should form the body, as a suit. this subject.
able being to inhabit the earth ? That the heart of man is nat. It should be observed that the urally destitute of holiness, or Supreme Being reserves to himtrue love to God, is equally self exclusively the glory of crea. proveable from the Scriptures ation. He created man and the and from observation. That tke universe with all its furniture. natural heart is at enmity with He has placed the animals, plants, God, one would think any per. and minerals of this globe at the son must admit, who reads histo- disposal of man. We have the ry, or observes the state of soci. means, under his providence, of ety within his own view. But I multiplying the number of ani. want no other evidence of the mals and plants, at pleasure ; fact, than that which is furnished we can modify and use the spe. by the men who make morality cies which he has made, but ob. or good works the basis of all serve, we can create nothing ; religion and the ground of ac. we cannot add a single new spe. ceptance with God. The dispo. cies to those which God has sition to exclude the duties of pi. made. If the heart of man, in ety as of primary importance, its natural state, is not qualified in a scheme of religion; or a dis to be an inhabitant of heaven, position to obtain salvation, by and must be renovated, how is the merit of moral duties, in ex. the change to be effected! The clusion of the merits of Christ's Scriptures every where represent righteousness, without a supreme the change of affections in the love to God and his laws, heart, as a new birth or creation; and an entire dependence on and if such is the change, who sovereign grace, is to my mind but God is to be the Creator ? a demonstration that the nat. Regeneration consists in an ural heart is “ enmity against entire change of the affections. God.” Indeed it is an astonish. The natural man's affections are ing proof of pride and ingrati. placed on temporal enjoyments tude, that men who acknowledge and obiects of this life. Hence the themselves to have been created social duties are the sum of his without any agency of their own, religion. The affections of the reand who cannot raise an arm or generate heart are placed onGod, draw a breath without the agen, as the first and noblest object cy of their Creator, should at. of love; on Christ as the Retempt to prove that they can oba deemer, through whom man has tain salvation by their own access to God and happiness, works, without divine aid, and and on the will of God as the without the infusion of a princi. only rule of his conduct. It ple of holiness by the same Spir. looks to God as the Author of all It which first breathed into man good; trembles at the thought of
offending him ; submits cordial. conforming to thelaws of the Su. ly to his commands and dispensa. preme Lawgiver. As his laws and tions ; and reposes with delight character are the most excellent, and unshaken confidence on his and as intellectual happiness can promises. The real Christian proceed only from truth and ex. does not, in his moral conduct, cellence, it results that man must make his own honor, interest, enjoy the most happiness, when or reputation, the primary rule his heart is reconciled to the di. of decision; but endeavors to vine laws, and most conformed regulate his actions by God's to the divine character. law ; " for of him, and through So far are the duties of piety him, and to him are all things.” and religion from being painful, In short, his heart recognizes the that the human mind, roving great truths delivered by our from one temporal object to Savior, that the first and great another, unsatisfied with the commandment is to love the pleasure they afford, perplexed Lord our God with all the heart, with doubts, and like Noah's soul, strength, and mind; and that dove, finding no solid ground the second is, to love our neigh. on which to rest, never enjoys bor as ourselves. This is un. permanent peace until it has questionably the order of pions sought a refuge in that ark of di. affections; the order of nature; vine safety, the Redeemer's king. the order of moral fitness ; and dom. The soul of man, is, I the order of the gospel. And am persuaded, never tranquil, how is it possible for men who till the will is subdued, and has study the universe and read the yielded, with implicit submisScriptures, to attempt to invert sion, to God's sovereign grace. this order? From what cause - This submission, however humil. proceeds this unnatural perver. iating it may appear to the natsion of truth, as immutable as ural man, is accompanied or folGod himself ? Is it not the nat. lowed with unspeakable satis. ural pride, and the evil propon. faction. The most dignified at. sities of the human heart? Why titude of feeble, sinful man, is does man wish to dispense with that of a penitent at the foot of the duties of piety, and obtain the cross imploring pardon from salvation upon the strength of an offended God; and I firmly duties performed to his fellow. believe, that every man must be men ? Is there any thing painful brought to this posture, before or mortifying in piety, and a he can enjoy any permanent dependence on divine grace for tranquillity of mind in this life, salvation ? If there is, the heart or possess any qualification for is wrong. There is certainly the happiness of the next. no durable pleasure in sin. These sentiments may perhaps Long before I had these views expose me to the charge of of the gospel scheme of salvation, enihusiasm. Of this I canI was convinced that sin even in not complain, when I read in the this life, produces more pain and gospel, that the apostles when they misery, than real pleasure. No, first preached Christ crucified, my friend, there is no substantial were accused of being full of satisfaction in this life, except in new wine ; when Paul was
charged by Felix with being a reject the doctrines of the divinity madman; and when Christ him. of Christ, of regeneration, of the self was charged with performing atonement, of saving faith, and miracles through the influence of of free grace; follow the footsteps evil spirits. If therefore I am of the chief priests, scribes, and accused of enthusiasm I am not pharisees ; substituting external ashamed of the imputation. It duties for the doctrines of the is my earnest desire to cherish cross. But, in my apprehension, evangelical doctrines, and no we must receive these doctrines, other. That the opinions here or reject the Scriptures, as a expressed are substantially true, forgery, and Christ as an impos. I firmly believe ; and I number tor. To reject the Scriptures as it among the strong arguments in forgeries, is to undermine the favor of the truth of these doc. foundation of all history; for no trines, and of revelation, that books of the historical kind stand pious men in every age, have en op a firmer basis, than the sacred tertained similar views, and ex. books. The correspondence of perienced corresponding affec. the geographical descriptions, tions of the heart. In every pe interspersed in various books, riod of the church, and in every with the real state of the coun. country, where the true religion tries described, as it now exists, has been professed, men of piety will demonstrate the historical have had substantially the same truth of the Scriptures, beyond views of the character of God, and the possibility of cavil. of the daty of man; the same If then the Scriptures are ascer. supreme love to their Maker ; tained tobe faithful histories, or re. the same submission to his will, lations of many facts still capable faith in his promises, and zeal in of unequivocal proof, we have a his cause, as were manifested by pledge that the writers have not de. Abraham, by David, and the ceivedus, in regard to facts not now apostles. This uniformity of af. equally susceptible of proof; and fections among pious men, in we have the strongest ground to distant countries and periods of believe that they are what they time, affords a solid proof of the are declared by the writers them. truth of their religion, and of its selves to be, the records of God's divine original; for nothing is' revealed will. No historical facts uniform but truth; nothing un. are better attested than the mir. changeable but God and his acles performed by Jesus Christ;
and to deny the facts is to set Nor is the opposition to this afloat all history. If Christ then scheme of religion, in my appre performed the miracles ascribed hension, less an argument of its to him, he must have been a dia truth. In every age, men who vine person, or a mere man pos. are unwilling to submit to God's sessed of divine powers for par. Sovereignty, and who desire to ticular purposes; but he could not have as little dependence as pos. have been a mere man, for he sible on his power and mercy, expressly declares that “Before bare opposed the religion which Abraham was, I am,” John viii.' gives to God his true place in the 58. “And now, O Father, glo. universe. The men who now rify thou me with thine own self, Vox, II. Nem Series.