Imágenes de páginas

nation into its rigid form), who, notwithstanding his professions of orthodoxy, had the audacity to say, that the fourth petition of our excellent Litany, 'O holy, blessed and glorious Trinity,' &c. barbariem sapit, SAVOURED OF BARBARISM; and when the modes of expression, which his followers make use of, are compared with their master's audacious language, something beyond suspicion will be found to justify me in presenting the reader with this second objection to the doctrine which requires, or even seems to require, conformity with the errors of Faustus Socinus.

The third consideration, which will be found to operate as an insuperable objection to the doctrine of predestination, respects the very basis on which it stands; a basis which, though plausible in the extreme, and most congenial with the sentiments of the pious and devout mind, is, for reasons which I shall here assign, not altogether adapted to sustain such a fabric. The divine decree of election and reprobation is said to be for the manifesta* tion of God's GLORY, and for the glory of his so'vereign power over his creatures. The GLORY of God I hold to be the same with his · ESSENCE,' and consequently to be above our conceptions; in which case, God's 'GLORY' is clearly something incapable of addition or diminution from any such cause as the happiness or misery of his creatures. There is perhaps, in the whole compass of revealed truth, no part more misunderstood, or more frequently misapplied, than the scriptural term “THE GLORY OF • God.' Its occurring so often in the Old Testament, and the illustrations of it which the New Testament affords ', do clearly prove it to be something superior to the ideas commonly entertained of it, as synonimous with honour,' renown,'.

renown,'' grandeur,' &c. These illustrations point out the glory' to be something which appeared, which could be seen, and even looked upon ; something by which JEHOVAH made bimself visible to man, and therefore something a-kin to light, splendour, effulgence, &c. and which, being sensible and substantial, had no relation to any quality, perfection, or what we term attribute; consequently void of all relation to man, and in no way to be, by him, either increased or diminished. On the other hand, there is in Deity a quality or attribute-a quality revealed to our great and endless comfort; of which, by the allowed rule of analogy, we can have an adequate conception.

conception. That quality is ' MERCY,' the darling attribute of the Most Iligh, and the most attractive ornament in his crown, who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. On this it is that all flesh ought primarily and ultimately to depend. For this it is in which we are immediately concerned ; since it was for the display of bis mercy that God did originally forin

God, it must be allowed, would have been for ever 'glorious' in himself, and in the contemplation of his own essential perfections, (let the epi



St John i. 14. i. 11. xii. 41. Heb. i. 3. Revel. xxi. 23.


thet glorious be received in its common acceptation), although no such thing as creation had ever taken place, and although creation itself were instantly annihilated. But I apprehend that I am warranted in advancing this, as an incontrovertible truth, that God could not be, or could not have ever been

merciful Being,' without the existence of some created being, nay more, of some offending creature, to be the happy object of the most lovely and endearing of his attributes. If therefore the transactions of eternity are traced back, ' a parte ante, ' as the schoolmen speak, and if Jehovah is found making an eternal decree on man's account, it is certainly more characteristic to say of such a decree, that it was framed for the manifestation of • the MERCY,' than · for the manifestation of the

GLORY of God;' which, in the scriptural import of that term, requires no such manifestation. And how far a decree of mercy is removed froin every thing under the name of reprobation, I shall submit to the very teachers of this reprobating doctrine, who, I should think, would find some difficulty in reconciling it to the first article of their catechetical instruction, couched in these terms • Man's chief end is to GLORIFY God, and to enjoy • him for ever.'

Upon the whole, as the church is, on the one hand, careful not to widen the way of life,' which Christ himself has declared to be narrow';' nei


Matt. vii. 13

[ocr errors]

ther, on the other hand, must any attempt be made to narrow the extent of the Redeemer's me. rits, by limiting the objects of his mercy, much less to plead the authority of an eternal, but unrevealed decree for such limitation. How properly, therefore, has the church affixed to its article of Predestination, a solemn warning to the 'curious' and carnal,' against this ' inost dangerous downfal,' of having it continually before their eyes; when even the hardy assembly at Westminster was obliged to confess, that the doctrine of this high mystery

of predestination is to be handled with special

prudence and care !'. How much better is it therefore for the christian pastor to be wholly silent on this deeply mysterious subject, than, by any weak attempt at explaining it from the pulpit, to hazard the souls of those for whom Christ died ! • God's promises' must be received by clergy and laity, in such wise as they are generally set forth * to us in holy Scripture ; and, in our doings, • that WILL of God is to be followed, which we

have expressly declared to us in the word of • God.' No promise of God is however more clearly set forth in holy Scripture than this, that * God our Saviour WILL HAVE (4:26) ALL MEN to • be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the *truth'Such an express declaration as this, was there none other, ought to satisfy every one calling himself a christian : And, were people once so


I Tim. i. 4

satisfied, they would have abundant scope for edification, without plunging into the unrevealed secrets the hidden things' of either prior or future eternity. They would never, from a preposterous and most unbecoming curiosity, · seek to be wise above what is written ;' but would always remember the distinction which Moses laid down in

• the secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed be• long unto us, and to our children for ever, that

do all the words of this laro'.'

such cases,

we may

i Deut. xxix. 29.


« AnteriorContinuar »