Imágenes de páginas

None of that regules beg of these thing they do no

562 MARKS OF A WORK OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD visible church, within his visible church; for by visible Christians or visible saints is meant, persons who have a right to be received as such in the eye of a public charity. None can have a right to exclude any one of this visible church but in the way of that regular ecclesiastical proceeding, which God has established in his visible church.— I beg of those who have a true zeal for promoting this work of God, well to consider these things. I am persuaded, that as many of them as have much to do with souls, if they do not hearken to me now, will be of the same mind when they have had more experience.

And another thing that I would entreat the zealous friends of this glorious work of God to avoid, is managing the controversy with opposers with too much heat, and appearance of an angry zeal; and particularly insisting very much in public prayer and preaching, on the persecution of opposers. If their persecution were ten times so great as it is, methinks it would not be best to say so much about it. If it becomes Christians to be like lambs, not apt to complain and cry when they are hurt; it becomes them to be dumb and not to open their mouth, after the example of our dear Redeemer ; and not to be like swine, that are apt to scream aloud when they are touched. We should not be ready presently to think and speak of fire from heaven, when the Samaritans oppose us, and will not receive us into their villages. God's zealous ministers would do well to think of the direction the apostle Paul gave to a zealous minister, 2 Tim ïi. 24-26 : “And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance, to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

I would humbly recommend to those that love the Lord Jesus Christ, and would advance his kingdom, a good attendance to that excellent rule of prudence which Christ has left us, Matt. ix. 16, 17: “No man putteth a piece of new cloth into an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up, taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse Neither do men put new wine into old bottles; else the bottles break and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish. But they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." I am afraid the wine is now running out in some part of this land, for want of attending to this rule. For though I believe we have confined ourselves too much to a certain stated method and form in the management of our religious affairs; which has had a tendency to cause all our religion to degenerate into mere formality; yet whatever has the appearance of a great innovation—that tends much to shock and surprise people's minds, and to set them a talking and disputing—tends greatly to hinder the progress of the power of religion. It raises the opposition of some, diverts the minds of others, and perplexes many with doubts and scruples. It causes people to swerve from their great business, and turn aside to vain jangling. Therefore that which is very much beside the common practice, unless it be a thing in its own nature of considerable importance, had better be avoided. Herein we shall follow the example of one who had the greatest success in propagating the power of religion : 1 Cor. ix. 20— 23, “ Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."










§ 1. The God that is the Creator of the world, is doubtless also the Gov. ernor of it: for he is able to govern it. He that had power to give being to the world, and set all the parts of it in order, has doubtless power to dispose of the world that he has made ; to continue the order he has constituted, or to alter it. He that gave being at first, can continue being, or put an end to it; and therefore nothing can stand in his way. If any thing stands in his way, he can put an end to its being, or diminish it, and weaken it as he pleases. He that constituted the world in a certain order, can, if he pleases constitute things otherwise, in another order, either in whole or in part, at once or gradually; or, what is the same thing, he can cause what alterations he pleases in the state of things, or cause the state of things to proceed in what course he pleases. He that first gave the laws of nature, must have all nature in his hands : so that it is evident God has the world in his hands, to dispose of as he pleases. And, as God is able, so he is inclined, to govern the world. For, as he is an understanding being, he had some end in what he did, when he made the world : he made the world for some end, otherwise he did not act as a voluntary agent in making the world. And, if this world did not come into being by the voluntary act of some cause, then it was not made. That being never acts voluntarily, that has no end in what he does, and aims at nothing at all in it. Neither God nor man is properly said to make any thing that necessarily or accidentally proceeds from them, but that only which is voluntarily produced. Besides, we see in the particular parts of the world, that God had a particular end in their formation. They are fitted for such an end. By which it appears, that the Creator did act as a voluntary agent, proposing final causes in the work of creation : and he that made the particular parts for certain ends, doubtless made the whole for a certain end. And, if God made the world for some end, doubtless he will choose to have this world disposed of to answer that end. For his proposing the end, supposes, that he chooses it should be obtained. Therefore, it follows, that God will choose to take care that the world be disposed of to the obtaining of his own ends, which is the same thing as his choosing to have the government of the world. And it is manifest, in fact, that God is not careless how the affairs and concerns of the world that he has made proceed, because he was not careless of this matter in the creation itself; as it is apparent, by the manner and order in which things were created, that God, in creating, took care of the future progress and state of things in the world. He contrived that things might so and so proceed and be regulated, and that things might go in such and such a course, and that such and such events might be produced. So that it is manifest, the Creator is not careiess of the state of things in his world. This being established, I now proceed to show, that it must be, that God maintains a moral government over the world of mankind.

First, If it be certain, that God is concerned, and does take care how things proceed in the state of the world that he has made, then he will be especially concerned how things proceed in the state of the world of mankind. This is manifest by three things : 1. Mankind are the principal part of the visible crea ation. They are in the image of their Creator, in that respect, that they have understanding, and are voluntary agents, and can produce works of their own will, design and contrivance, as God does. And the Creator looks upon them as the principal part of his visible creation, as is manifest, because he hath set them at the head of his creation. He has subjected other things to them. The world is evidently made to be a habitation for man, and all things about him are subordinated to his use. Now, if God be careful how the world that he has made be regulated, that his end may be answered, and that it may not be in vain, he will be especially careful of this concerning the principal part of it, and in the same proportion that it is principal or superior in his own account to the rest. Because, if that superior part be in vain, there is much more in vain, than if a less part was in vain ; so much more, as his loss (as I may say) is so much the greater, in its being in vain, according as the part is superior in his account.

2. The more God has respect to any part of the world he has made, the more concerned he will be about the state of that part of the world. But it is manifest, by the creation itself, that God has more respect or regard to man, than to any other part of the visible creation; because he has evidently made and fitted other parts to man's use. If God be concerned how things proceed in the world he has made, he will be so chiefly in that part of his world that he has set his heart most upon.

3. It is evident, that God is principally concerned about the state of things in the world of mankind. In creation, he subordinated the state of things in the inferior world, to the state of things in the world of mankind; and so contrived, that the affairs of the former should be subservient to the affairs of the latter. And therefore God will not leave the world of mankind to themselves, without taking any care to govern and order their state so, that this part of the world may be regulated decently and beautifully, that there may be good order in the intelligent, voluntary, active part of God's creation, as well as in the inferior and inanimate parts of it; especially in what concerns it as an intelligent, voluntary, and active, and so a superior part of the creation: or, which is the same thing, he will take care that the world of mankind be well regulated with respect to its moral state, and so will maintain a good moral government over the world of mankind. It is evident, by the manner in which God has formed and constituted other things, that he has respect to beauty, good order and regu. lation, proportion and harmony; so, in the system of the world, in the seasons of the year, in the formation of plants, and of the various parts of the human body. Surely, therefore, he will not leave the principal part of the creation, about the state of which he is evidently, in fact, chiefly concerned without making any proper provision for its being in any other than a state of deformity, discord, and the most hateful and dreadful confusion. And especially so, in what relates to those things in them, by which alone they are distinguished, and are superior and more valuable than the rest of the world, viz., their intelligence, and will, and voluntary actions; and therefore, upon the account of

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »