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It is moreover worthy of remark, that what service or obedience we owe as christians, and in terms of the divine economy of redemption, we owe immediately to Christ. For, as he tells us,
If ye love me, keep my commandments': 'Which precept, the same inspired historian, who wrote it for our learning, does, in another part of his writings, express in the following language, this is the • love of God, that we keep his commandments .' No words could more strongly mark St John's sentiments, respecting the Deity of his blessed Master than these, since they clearly assert the love of Christ, and the love of God, to be the same intluencing principle, or motive for keeping those commandments, which Christ calls · HIS,' and the apostle calls • GOD's.'
Bought,' therefore, or in other words, enlisted, as we are, into Christ's service, with a price }, we may confide in his invigorating assistance in every stage of our christian course, or through the whole of the race that is set before us.' And this invigorating assistance it is which christians are called upon
to confide in, as the GRACE that is in Christ • Jesus*. How far this grace, diffused from the head through the body collectively, or to the several members individually, is, or is not, IRRESISTIBLE, the church to which we belong enquireth not; al
though though the church does readily acknowledge, that, upon extraordinary occasions, and for answering any immediate purpose of divine wisdom, He who is the dispenser of grace, in general, can give to it what irresistible force he pleases. But, in the ordinary course of his dispensations, I hope I speak the words of truth and soberness when I say, that the christian pastor ought strenuously to recommend it to those under his charge, to receive the grace by which they are saved',' as if it were RESISTIBLE ; thankfully to use • the measure of this gift of • Christo,' which they may have had vouchsafed unto them, and earnestly to pray, that the grace ‘of our Lord’ may to them be exceeding abundant, with faith and love which is in Christ Je
I St John xiv. 15. 3 1 Cor. vi. 20.
2 1 St John v. 3. 4 2 Tim, i. s.
I have dwelt the longer on this • hard to be un• derstood' subject, because there is too much reason to fear, that the two current opinions relative to it— the impossibility of keeping God's com• mandments,' and · the irresistibility of grace,' opinions not warranted by Scripture, are, when practically viewed, of the most pernicious tendency; the former being a perpetual source of discouragement, and the latter an inlet to security; against both which enemies of our peace we can never be too carefully guarded. Our gracious Mas
2 Ephes, iv. 7.
I Ephes, ii. 5. 8.
3 1 Tim. i, 14.
ter requires no more of mankind in general, or of individual men in particular, than the husbandman requires of his fields, and the vinedresser of his vines, viz. that they bring forth fruit in due season, and according to the culture bestowed. Our obedience therefore not reaching to the extent of the standard prescribed is no objection to the possibility of its being brought to this standard. We ought to grow in grace, as we grow in years, otherwise we are unworthy of the vocation wherewith we are · called. Yet as some are capable of greater bodily exertion than others; in like manner are some capable of attaining higher degrees of obedience in matters spiritual than others. In every one, however, there ought to be “ a willing mind ;' so that, as the strong in Christ' must be, and will be ready to confess, that they are not sufficient of themselves to think any thing as of themselves ',' the weak may with comfort and confidence say, that ' through • Christ, who strengtheneth them^,' they shall be enabled to do all things' which he requires of them, or expects from them ; all in short, which, in our present state, is compatible with the imperfection of our constitution, or which is attainable by our best endeavours.
1 2 Cor. iii. 5.
1 Philip. iv. 13.
WHAT has hitherto been offered in the way of instruction to the lovers of christian science leads us now to the consideration of the most abstruse, and most difficult to be apprehended, of all the theological dogmas. I mean the much laboured doctrine of PREDESTINATION: a doctrine which, however clear and comfortable, even in its most rigid form, it has been pronounced by its numerous abettors, yet appears to me, when viewed in that form, to be a doctrine of a very different aspect indeed, and which, I am not ashamed to confess, I cannot behold as either clear' in itself, or comfortable' in its relation to man. Undoubtedly predestinate' is a scripture term • Whom he did foreknow, he • also did predestinate to be conformed to the image
of his Son,' &c. asserts St Paul. And this assertion it is which constitutes the foundation-stone of that enormous fabric, which contending sects have reared on this thorny ground. Nay, as if this single text embraced the whole system of christianity, it has been dignified by the ridiculous appel2 B 2
! Rom. viii. 29, 30.
lation of the believer's golden chain.' But, whether the verb poopisw,' to which so much importance is attached, be fit of itself, or be designed by the apostle to claim that importance, ought, in my opinion, to have been looked into with more exactness of enquiry than seems to have been bestowed upon it. That the apostle made use of it with a view to the eternal happiness purchased for us by Christ, the church to which we belong does most readily acknowledge, and piously believe. But that he meant any such doctrine to be conveyed by the term, as modern predestinarians have chosen to draw from it, is quite another matter; and what no christian ought to receive, until more and better evidence be adduced than I have yet seen offered in its support. St Paul speaks much of an eternal . purpose,' ' an everlasting covenant,' . an eternal · promise';' expressions which the apostle's current
1 Ephes. iii. 11. Heb. xiii. 20. Tit. i. 2. We first meet the verb trgoopisa in Acts iv. 28. It is there very properly translated determined before' - Herod and Pontius Pilate,' says St. Peter, with the Gen. tiles, and the people of Israel were gathered together, for to do whatso• ever thy hand, and thy counsel determined before to be done. The apostle, in this passage, may be considered as repeating what he bad previously asserted, (Acts ii. 23.) • Him' (that is Christ) ' being deli. • vered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye '(the people of Israel) • have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and * slain.' How completely does this text develope the apostle's sense of the verb aqoogosou? True, it was determined before that Christ should suffer by the wicked hands of the people of Israel, yet were they not predestined in the sense of Calvin and his followers) to the commission of this barbarously ungrateful act. Else, how are we to reconcile such