« AnteriorContinuar »
you, and death-Behold, now is the accepted time: be. hold, now is the day of salvation!"
Let saints arise and irim their lamps, and stand in the posture of servants waiting for the coming of their Lord.
Let sinners awake from stupidity, and attend to the concerns of their souls: for he, that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. Amen.
For the Hopkinsian Magazine. LETTER
IN MAKING A PROFESSION OF RELIGION.
My Dear Friend-Many scenes which God mercifully causes bis creatures to pass through in this world, if properly improved, are well adapted to make a deep and salutary impression upon ilieir minds as long as they exist. This is eminently true respecting the public and solemn covenant 'you expect shortiy to make with the greatest of all beings, and for the longest possible period of duration. Scarce any events in this life are more interesting and solemn than publicly entering into covenant with God and his people, in the presence of the holy and heart searching Jehovah, and his visible and invisible, holy and unholy creatures. To assist you in forming a proper estimate of the nature, solemnity and importance of this transaction, I cheerfully devote this hour; and the more so because I have ever been pained when I have seriously reflected upon the apparently thoughtless manner in which I first made this engagement.
As a preliminary remark I cannot but indulge my feelings in saying to you, 0, is it possible that such guilty, loathsome and ill-deserving creatures as we are, can be permitted to take the name, the seal, and the covenant of such a being as God is upon us? Look back but a few weeks, and what was your character and condition? With a heart full of enmity against God, whose infinitely glorious and lovely character you both saw and hated, how would you have fain fled forever out of his holy and righteous hands. Is it possible for us to describe or conceive an object in kind, more hateful and illdeserving than God saw you to be? How justly might the "greatness of his excellency” have been displayed in casting you off forever, for exercising such ennity against infinite goodness and loveliness?. If it is not now, what an awful uncertainty it then appeared to yon, whether you would ever be raised to heaven, or sunk to the bo wrest hell? - Whether you should ever be brought to condemn yourself, and justify God in your righteous condemnation, or remain an enemy to hin forever?
And since you have been led to hope that
you have, through grace, become a new creature, how has your guilt been augmented by numerous if not constant sins, much more aggravated, because committed against greater light and love. What grief have the sins of each day of your life occasioned in the heart of the blessed God, whose pure, permanent and infuite goodness constantly fills the universe with his glory. Oh! what a load of guilt and unworthiness must lie upon you forever, for such numerous and aggravated sins, against such a God as Jehovah is. Is it possible that such sins can be forgiven? And what is a greater wonder still, and the one I have had particularly in my mind while indulging the foregoing reflections, can such creatures as we are be admeilted into fellowship with God, and those holy beings in heaveu who have never sinned? Such infinite grace and condescension alone, is enough to fill the universe with endless astonishment, rapture and praise. How necessary, how glorious and wonderful does the way of salvation through Christ appear? My soul even here, catches the sentiment of the “new song” which none can learn but those who have been redeemed from this sinful world, through the blood of the Lamb. Nothing but the moral obligation we are under to devote ourselves immediately, exclusively and forever to the service of such a God as the Bible and nature reveal, can equal the privilege of thus doing. If you should be honest and sincere in devoting yourself to God, the covenant will be as lasting as the interminable ages of eternity, and draw after it consequences, of the importance of which you can at present have no more adequate concej tion, than of the duration of endless existence. In the language of scripture, it will be “a perpetual covenant, never to be forgotten.”
The nature of the covenant which all mankind ought to make, and which all real ehristians do make with God, is simply the giring away of themselves, and all their interests entirely and forever into his bands, and a solemn engagement to be constantly for him in their affections, conduct and influence. It is a vow which can never be taken back or annulled, to obey from the heart all the commands which God has revealed to us, walk in all his precepts with godly sincerity, and act constantly and with all our strength for the highest interests of his kingdom, whether in prosperity or adversity, in life or in death, in happiness or in misery. It implies the everlasting renunciation of all our selfish hopes, selfish interests and selfish enjoyments.
Can you do this from the heart, and thus give away yourself and all your temporal and eternal interests entirely and forever into the bands of your holy and sovereign Creator? If you can, you are entitled through infinite grace, to the seal of God's everlasting covepant, to a seat at bis table, to the fellowshlp of the Lord Jesus Christ and his people, and to all the precious joys and sorrows of the christian life. You will be entitled to the watch and care, the warnings and admonitions, the instructions and faithful discipline of the church of Christ upon earth. You are entitled to the gracious promises of God to his people, which will raise every one of them from their sins, the sorrows and the sufferings of this life, to the per
fect holinoss and bliss of heaven. You are an heir to those joys which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered the heart of man." You are entitled to feast your soul forever upon the glories of the ever blessed God, to penetrate as far as you can the incomprehensible perfections of his character, and to adinire and adore him with increasing interest and joy forever, as new beauties and glories perpetually burst forth upon your astonished, enraptured mind. You are invited and entitled to gratify and feast all your thirst for knowledge by forever contemplatlog his great and marvellous works, especially the great work of redemption, the glory of which eclipses all his other works. You are even entitled to a humble part in the perpetual celebration of that new song, whicb the highest angel in heaven can never learn. But remember that these promises are made to none but those who persevere in holy obedience to their Creator.
The solemnity of entering into such a covenant with God will nev. er be fully appreciated by you in this life.
It will draw upon you the eyes, the frowns, and if you are truly faithful to God, the persecution of the world. But what is far more interesting and affecting to you, it will make your sins unspeakably more criminal. Alter having solemnly vowed to be faithful to God, as long as you exist, if you should ever turn from him to your selfish interests and enjoyments, as you doubtless will every day if not every hour you live upon the earth, that instant in your affections, you join all his enemies in the universe, and become a trailor to his throne. This engagement will add to all your others, a voluntary obligation, the violation of which has ever been justly considered a most heinous and detestable crime.
Such is he wature and solemnity of the engagement you are externally about to make. I may have said nothing but what you have frequently heard, but I was desirous of recalling and fixing your attention upon these reflections, that you may act understandingly when you take upon yourself the name, the seal, and the covenant of the Great Searcher of Hearts. And I pray God you may act from the heart as well as from the understanding, for his cause in this place needs all your influence, all your prayers, and all your exertio s. The evils which prevail here ought to make the hearts of the righteous bleed, and fill their souls with such ardent holy desire, that their prayers would ascend without ceasing for God to 'bave pity for his holy name,' and appear to vindicate the honor of his glorious perfections,--that he would save sioners around us who are bent on destruction, and just ready to take the awful plunge from the highest heaven of privilege, into the lowest hell of despair and misery.
It would give me much pleasure to believe that I may hope ever to receive your prayers, and those of all my other dear friends who love the precious cause of truth, of Zion, of Christ; for which I hope ever to be ready to endure self-denial and affiction, if that is the will of God, which is always right, and ever best. Yours, truly,
For the Hopkinsian Magazine. GOD'S GOVERNMENT OF THE MORAL WORLD. Mr. Editor—In the course of my miscellaneous reading, I recently perused a sermon, from which I selected the following extracts, as deserving more than ordinary attention. The design of the sermon was to illustrate this sentiment: God intends, by the instrumentality of his word, to accomplish the good pleasure of his will in the moral world. From this sentiment, briefly illustrated and strikingly enforced, the preacher deduces the two inferences wbich follow, and which I bave selected as differing materially from much of the preaching of modern times, and as demanding serious consideration,
"1. If, in every thing, God has acted with a view to a fixed end, then, whatever has taken place, has formed a part of his plan or purpose. He has created all things to promote a certain design. Every intermediate step in the process, necessary to the end, must have been before him, and received the sanction of his will." It is his province, since both means and ends are dependant on himself, to determine the means, by wbich he will accomplish his designs.
From the nature of his infinite perfections, we cannot but suppose, that God saw at one glance, with boundless comprehensive view, the best possible end of being, and the best possible means of accomplisbing that end. We cannot, therefore, suppose that he would permit any thing to exist, which, under all the circumstances of its existence, and in its assigned and appropriate place, sbould not be best calculated to execute his infinitely wise and holy determinations. He has under his control, and has always bad, all the agents, both in the natural and moral world; and nothing could, at any time bave taken place, which he did not see wisest and best, in relation to all purposes.
All the natural and moral evil there ever was, or will be in the universe, as well as all the holiness and happiness, must stand connected with his grand plan of government. And this is a view of the subject, that cannot fail to be peculiarly grateful to a pious mind. It is a matter, for which the holy universe will forever bless God, that he has as direct a control over the volitions and actions of all wicked beings, as he has over those of holy beings; and that he is controlling the former, as well as the latter, to declare bis richest and highest praise.
'Tis infinitely desirable that he should control the wicked, by an agency, as direct, positive and efficient, as he does holy beings. If his eye were not fixed upon all the path of the wicked, and bis hand did not place their steps, who can tell, what the result of their wicked conduct might not be! But as it is, God holds theni in his hands, and controls all their ways for his own glory.
On this point the Scriptures are remarkably explicit and full“I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; that frustrateth the tokens of liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turn
such a way,
eth wise men backward and maketh their knowledge foolish.” form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; 1, the Lord, do all these things: Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.'
The Bible teaches us that God absolutely, directly and continually controls the wicked, as well as the righteous. He employs them in those departments of his moral government, for which he has fitted them by his invisible agency. How important is it, that sinners should feel this; and that the righteous too, should know and acknowledge it.
This view of God's purposes and operations, brings him near to every one of us; and attaches an incalculable importance to all our thoughts and ways. To God's wise and benevolent plan of administration, not a single movenient of one of his creatures is a matter of indifference. The great and mighty events and revolutions that take place in the natural world, and among the nations of the earth, are not more important, when viewed ia conjunction with the great scheine of providential operations, than the seemingly, most indifferent actions of an obscure individual. How wonderful is that Being, who surveys immensity with a glance, and at the same instant, numbers the hairs of our head, and notices every sparrow that falls to the ground.
2. If God orders all things for the best, then, those who would take out of his hands the right of determining the existenee of sin and its consequences, do actually prescribe limits to the prerogative of the Most High. They know not what they do. We doubt not their intentions may be good; and that they act under an impression, that they are doing God service, and are saving his character from reproach: But we must be permitted to doubt, whether they take the best method to accomplish their object, and to exhibit the glory of his wisdom and benevolence. It is
very difficult to perceive, now an infinite Being, who has created all things with a view to a particular end, should yet be so situated, with regard to the means necessary to promote that end, as that they should form no direct part of his plan, but be left to exist as a matter of bare permission, or chance. I
say chance, because a permission that excludes positive decree, puts the whole system of means on the ground of mere contingency. It is equally difficult to conceive how the will of an infinite being can be otherwise than efficient.
The impotency of human purposes, consists in an inability to control the means necessary to the end. But as both the means, and the end, lie equally in the purpose of God, and must, of necessity, according to the present constitution of things; God must create and control the one, by an agency, as direct and efficient, as he does the other. How can the divine Being know, with respect to any given event, that is future, that it will come to pass? Does he know it only, because he will permit creatures to act in a given way? Then what is it, that renders it certain, that they will act in a given way?