« AnteriorContinuar »
of other systems of being, to creatures, unless he can by this give them more striking im- advance the good of the whole.” pressions of the governing jus. From the following quotatice, wisdom, and holiness of tion we learn what his senti. God, and more effectually to ments were on a very controguard them against every ten- verted subject. dency to vice, and secure their “ The will of God, with reinviolable attachment to virtue. gard to the manifestations of it And even sin itself, though in to us, or our finite conceptions its native tendency and the de- of it, is distinguished into two sign of the agent, it be a malig- branches ; viz, his secret, and nant and destructive evil, yet his revealed will. His secret may be, and in fact has been will means the same thing with overruled, as an occasion of his eternal counsels, whereby the more various and glorious. he laid the plan of all future en display of the perfect purity, vents from everlasting, in a justice, and even benevolence most wise, free, absolutely imof God; it has, under the ad- mutable and infallible manner; ministration of infinite wisdom, so that those things which seem given occasion to the plan of to us the effects of natural causredemption, and to all those as es, or merely casual and contonishing manifestations of di- tingent events, are entirely subvine mercy, patience, long suf., servient to the secret purposes fering, and of rich, triumphant of the infinite, eternal mind, grace, which are shown to our and are so many instruments rebellious world. And as for of fulfilling his pleasure." Afa the misery of incorrigible sin- ter quoting the passage, in ners hereafter, we may be as which God says; My counsel sured it will be no greater than shall stand, and I will do all my their own demerit, and the gen. pleasure, he thus proceeds ; eral order and happiness of the “ Even those various, unstable universe require.”
and free volitions and move. That passage in Ezekiel, ments of the human mind and As I live, saith the Lord, I have will, which seem to come un. no pleasure in the death of the der no government or restraint wicked, he thus explains; «God but that of itself, are yet most has no pleasure in the death of exactly ordered and overruled the sinner, in itself considered. by God to accomplish the pur. It is no pleasure to him to pun- poses of his own will. And ish, merely for the sake of herein, as an excellent writer making or seeing his creatures observes, we may observe the miserable. It does not gratify profound and unsearchable wise his nature to inflict pain ; and dom, power and purity of God; he never does it, but to answer that while man worketh freely, some great and benevolent pur- yet therein and thereby God pose. It is not the nature of worketh powerfully; and while. God to measure out pain to his man worketh sinfully, God
worketh purely and justly. The our duty, and the purpose of freedom of man's will is not God respecting events ; a dis. controlled by the infallibility of tinction obvious to every conGod's counsel, nor can it, (that siderate man. But the expeis, man's will) interrupt or dis. dience, and even the propriety appoint it, ( that is, the divine of using the terms, secret and counsel.) And on the other revealed, in the sense abovehand the sinfulness of the will mentioned, is seriously doubt. and ways of man is not justifi- ed. ed or excused by the infalli. II. The natural character bility and purity of the counsel and state of mankind. of God. Now this will of God's “The love of Christ was ex. counsel or decrees is called se- ercised towards objects, which cret, because it lay hid in his had nothing in them to attract breast from eternity, and can- love, but every thing to pronot be known by us until he voke hatred ; for his love to fulfil it in his works, or declare his people originally respected it in his word." He then men them, as rebellious sinners, tions God's revealed will, by creatures in ruins, ruined by which his pleasure is made their own guilt; creatures who known to us; first, by his com- had stripped themselves of mands, which discover our du- moral beauty, and become ty; and secondly, by his prov- wholly unlike and contrary to idence, by which he accom- their Maker, and consequently plishes, and so discovers what had no disposition to love the was purposed in his own mind Lover, or, so much as to acfrom everlasting. At It is of cept of his free mercy.”—“The great importance, that these love of Christ stooped, in some different views of the will of respects, to the very depths of God should be kept distinct in hell, into which sinners had our minds. God's secret will fallen in the temper of their is the reason and rule of his hearts, the desert of their own conduct ; but his reveal- crimes, and the sentence of a ed will is the great rule of ours. broken law." I may add, that God's revealed Speaking of sinners, who are will is, that all men should obey given up to strong delusion, to his laws, and be holy and hap- believe a lie, he says; “ On py; and yet it is evident from the preaching of christianity, fact, that this is not his secret the evidence of the truth soon disposing will ; that is, he does overpowered their assent; but not, as the great disposer of the pure, selfdenying, spiritual events, will, or determine to nature and tendency of its docbring about the universal ho trines and precepts, being conliness and salvation of our fal. trary to all their dearest lusts len race.” The distinction he and interests, soon produced makes is, in short, between the in their hearts a secret dislike, law of God, which points out and by degrees a direct open
hatred of those truths, as the unvaried affection in his heart great enemies and disturbers from everlasting to everlasting. of their idol lusts and pleasures. All these things, (that is, the And this is an exact descrip- sins of his people,) were per. tion of thousands in every age. fectly foreseen by him from Their understanding is com- eternity. If we view him in pelled to believe such and such his divine nature, we at once doctrines to be true; but their behold infinite majesty and wills and affections rise up with infinitely condescending love fury against them, as severe blending their glories in him, and disagreeable to their pre- illustrating and commending vailing taste. They do not each other. If we view him like the pure, humble, lowly, as man, &c.” making his char, benevolent, forgiving spirit, acter to consist of godhead and which the gospel requires. humanity. Hence they reject these rigid " The love of Christ is the doctrines and laws, not because love of an infinite, eternal Be their understandings have no ing, and so has no conceivable evidence of their truth and limits either in degree, or duequity, but because their in. ration.” clinations are opposed to them. “It was the pure benevolence Thus the contrariety of the of Christ, which gave existence things which the gospel reports to universal nature ; for all to the vitiated tempers of sin- things were made by him, and ners makes them angry with the without him was not any thing truth of the reports, and some made, that was made. He was times with the very persons of as glorious and happy as he those who report them."* could be from everlasting i
III. The character of Jesus happy in the enjoyment of his Christ.
own perfection, and his Fath: “ The love of Christ is un- er's love. It was, therefore, changeable. It exists the same from mere selfmoved goodness
that he created all ranks of be• It is well known that Doctor Tap- ings, and particularly angels pan's views of the character and works of unrenewed sinners differed, in some
and men.” respects, from the views of many Cal. “ The love of Christ is as vinists. The controverted question high as the most High God chiefy respects the nature of means, himself ; for, it is the love of and the outward, visible acts of obedience, him who which sinners performn. This question, which has an important relation to AND SUPREME. GOD." gospel preaching, and to experimental · In a discourse on the words religion, was investigated with great of Thomas. mu Lord and me labour and ability in the controversy between the Doctor and the Rev. Mr. God, he says ; “ The words Spring. Impartial and close examin- contain an ample and excellent ation of what was written on both confession of his faith thatsides is earnestly recommended to all who wish to understand the subject Jesus is the Lord and God;
Jesus is the Lord and God; that clearly, and to judge according to truth. absolute, supreme power and dominion belong to him; that It is taken from the last ordi. he is not only by office Lord nation sermon which the belove and Christ, but by nature God, ed Doctor preached. From the dignity of his media- “ The unsearchable riches of torial character he infers and Christ may denote his personal ascends to the dignity of his excellencies. Thus understood, divine essence, which is presup- they point us to the wonderful posed and required in every assemblage of divine and human part of his office ; which office perfections in that mysterious could not be discharged to any person, whose name is Immaneffectual and saving purpose, uel, who is the image and ef. if he were not true God, as well fulgence of his Father's glory, as true man. Nor otherwise in whom dwells all the fulness would the apostle have given of the Godhead, to whom the him the title of God, nor would titles and attributes, the works he have received it. For noth- and honours of divinity are asing could be more provoking cribed ; who yet was made to the great and jealous God, flesh and tabernacled among than to ascribe divinity to a us. What treasures of macreature. And therefore had jesty and meekness, of dignity Christ been a mere created Be- and condescension, of glory and ing, he would have severely humility, of justice and mercy, reproved Thomas, for address- are united in his character !" ing him in this manner; which IV. The atonement and jushe does not, but on the contra- tification. ry, commends and blesses him “In the way of forgiveness for it. We hence deduce an and reconciliation the gospel irrefragable proof of the proper has opened to us an astonishGodhead of our Lord Jesus.” ing and unparalleled scene of
In respect of personal beau- divine compassion and love ; ty and amiableness, the chief and has assured us, that since objective ground of love, he God could not consistently and says ; “ Christ infinitely sur- honourably pardon such a race passes the loveliest of crea- of rebels without a satisfaction tures ; for all the glories of first made to his injured law Deity are wrapt up in his won- and justice, and since we could derful person. All the beau- not make it ourselves ; he ties we behold and admire in therefore sent his own eternal the world are but faint traces, Son from heaven to make it for scanty emanations and imita. us; who by assuming our nations of the uncreated Original. ture and substituting himself in In short, the charms of Christ our stead, gave himself to death are infinite, immutable, eternal, as a propitiatory sacrifice for without wane or diminution our sins; and that in virtue for ever.”
hereof we shall be assuredly One more passage on this pardoned and accepted upon sublime subject is subjoined. our repentance, and faith in
plishes it ursues and accophe
ts and right
Christ; not for the sake of our has laid out his scheme, he faith, or repentance, or any oth- steadily pursues and accom. er work of ours, but on the ac- plishes it, without varying in count of his merits and right- the least from the original cousness."
model. Whatever God does V. Predestination and dis- in time was planned out in his tinguishing grace.
own infinite mind from ever. « The love of Christ is a lasting; and on the other hand, distinguishing love. It distin- whatever designs he formed guishes those fallen human from everlasting, he steadily creatures, whom it finally saves, pursues and accomplishes in from sinning angels, and even time. God, having formed and from elect and happy angels. It settled his whole scheme of also discriminates them from government, is now constantly thousands of their own species, carrying it into execution by many of whom are less sinners his wise, holy, and powerful than themselves, who are how- providence. God has a hand, ever permitted to go on, and in some sense, in every event seal their own destruction.”- that takes place in all parts of He declares that the foresight his creation. There are no of the sins of his people “ did such things as accidents or case not prevent him from loving ualties, or unforeseen and unexthem, and determining their sal. pected changes with respect to vation."
God; for he always has a full These words of the Psalmist, view of all events past, present, Blessed is the man whom thou and to come, and they are all choosest, he thus paraphrases; under his regulation and influ.
Blessed is the man whom ence. thou selectest by thy free and VI. The necessity of regengracious choice, without any eration. previous merit, contrivance, or The following reflection fol endeavours of his own; whom lows a discourse on self de. thou distinguishest from others nial. “We infer that no one who are left to themselves.” can be a true disciple of Jesus
Attempting to show that the Christ upon the principles of government of God affords unrenewed nature. If christmatter of joy and praise, he janity is so contrary to the reasons thus ; "God from eter- reigning sentiments and incli. nity had a full view of all pos- nations of fallen man ; then sible plans; and accordingly he it is absurd to suppose, that then laid out the whole scheme any person, without a change and model of his future con- of heart, is prepared to embrace duct. Every wise workman, Jesus Christ and become his before he enters upon any work disciple. How can a man, of importance, first forms in his whose prevailing temper is mind an exact plan of what he selfish, be truly disposed to de. intends to do, and when he ny himself? How can a man,