« السابقةمتابعة »
inseparably connected. Thus they are represented by the apostle John; " By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments-If a man say, I love God and hate his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?"
To ascertain, then, whether we are saints, we have only to enquire, whether we love our neighbour as ourselves? This enquiry is greatly facilitated by the continual
9. Our subject exposes the criminality of enslaving the Africans, and holding them in perpetual bondage. They are our neigh-presence of our neighbours, in bours, whom we are bound to love every predicament, whether of as ourselves, and to whom we wealth or poverty, health or sickought to do whatsoever we would ness, joy or sorrow, friendship or have them do to us, were they in enmity. How, then, do we habour situation and we in theirs. itually feel towards them? How Is this the love by which Christian do we habitually treat them? Have nations have been actuated, this we reason to think, that we ever the rule which they have followed, feel towards them that disinterestin exciting wars among the Afri- ed, impartial, perfect love, which can tribes, in buying and kidnap- is the fulfilling of the law? It is in ping defenceless men and inoffen- vain for any to imagine, that they sive women and children, in ex- love God and have been born of posing them to pestilence and the Spirit, while they indulge bitdeath in the noisome holds of ships, terness and wrath and anger and and in consigning them to inces- malice towards their fellow-creasant labour and a scanty subsis- tures, and practice clamour and tence, under a burning sun and the evil-speaking, dishonesty and oplash of the whip, upon their plant- pression. A performance of the plant-pression. ations? It is believed, that nothing relative duties is as essential to in the conduct of Pharaoh and his true religion, as an attendance task-masters, of Mohammed and his upon the offices of devotion.— Arabs, of Popery and the Inquisi-These ought ye to have done, tion, was ever more repugnant to the law of love, or more abominable in the sight of God, than the slave-trade, and the consequent slavery of the Africans.
10. What has been said, may teach us how to determine the important question, whether or not we are saints. If we are saints, we have been born of God, and, however inconstantly, do, habitually, love God and our neighbour, as the Divine law requires. True love to God and true love to men, are the same in nature, and are
and not to have left the other undone."
Finally. Our subject teaches us, what would make this a happy world. It is natural for men to complain, that the times are bad. They may be so; though not much worse, than they always have been. The Scriptures call this an evil world. But it is so, because the inhabitants are hateful and hating one another,' and continually 'bite and devour one another.' If mankind could be persuaded to obey the second commandment in
not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others,' and let that mind be continually in them, which was also in Christ Jesus.' And,
Let sinners be exhorted to begin to love one another. Mere natural affection is but an instinct, without any moral quality, implanted to counteract the native selfishness of the human heart, and to preserve the human species. All that love to others, which proceeds from selfish motives, transgresses, instead of fulfilling the Divine law. It is the incumbent duty of sinners to love their fellow-creatures, with a truly disinterested affection. Until they do this, they will remain totally void of that holiness, without which, no man shall see the Lord." AMEN.
[Concluded from page 101.]
Having, in a former essay, endeavoured to prove, that God has decreed the wicked conduct of mankind, and that his decrees afford them no excuse; I proceed, as was proposed, to draw a number of important and practical inferences.
1. If the decrecs of God afford no excuse for the wicked conduct of mankind; then his universal agency can afford them no excuse for their wicked conduct. The agency of God is in perfect harmony with his decrees. It is a mere execution of his decrees.Whatever God chooses to do, his own Almighty arm accomplishes with infinite ease. But we have seen that the decrees of God do
not afford mankind the least excuse for sinning. They do not alter the nature of virtue or vice; they do not destroy the free moral agency of the creature; they do not free him from condemnation in the sight of God, for his sinful conduct; nor do they alleviate the stings of a guilty conscience. But since this is the case with respect to the divine decrees, it must also be the case with respect to divine agency. The agency of God, being the execution of his decrees, cannot destroy the accountability of moral beings, nor remove their obligation to do right, in the least possible degree. Hence God says, "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit he mean
eth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath accomplished his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks."
2. Since the decrees of God afford no excuse for the wicked duct of mankind, there can be no inconsistency between his decrees and commands. Many suppose, that if the doctrine of divine decrees be true, they must be entirely inconsistent with the commands of God. This would, doubtless, be the case, if the decrees of God afforded any excuse for the trans. gressor. But we have seen that mankind have not the least excuse for their iniquities, either from the divine decrees, or from the divine conduct. What discrepance or inconsistency, then, can be shown between the decrees and commands of God? Let sinners bring forth their strong reasons, produce their cause, and show whether the ways of the holy and wise God are equal or unequal. This, God challenges them to do. "Hear ye now what the Lord saith: Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice. Hear ye, O mountains, the Lord's controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth For the Lord hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel. O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me." Who will presume to impeach the divine character, or the divine conduct, or the divine commands? The commandments of God are perfectly just, and his ways are equal. No inconsistency whatever can be made to appear between the divine purposes and the divine requisi
tions; and nothing can remove the obligation of mankind to obey.
3. Since the decrees of God afford no excuse for the wicked conduct of mankind, it was perfectly consistent with his character to decree the existence of moral evil in order to promote the greatest good. Many contend that it is inconsistent with the holy character of God, to suppose that he determined the existence of moral evil, even for a greater good, or for wise. and benevolent reasons. But the light of our subject destroys the force of this objection. Since the decrees of God do not destroy, but confirm the free, moral agency of his creatures, and they are highly criminal for their evil conduct; what inconsistency can be attributed to the divine character? Supposing God causes the wrath of man to praise him, and restrains the remainder of wrath; who shall find fault and reply against him? While he says, "I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things;" he says also, "Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!"
4. Since the decrees of God afford no excuse for the wicked conduct of mankind, it must be very wicked and dangerous for any to plead the divine decrees as an excuse for their wicked conduct.Mankind are ever ready to avail themselves of every plea, and fly to every subterfuge. Though they naturally hate the holy purposes of God; yet they are very willing to urge them as an excuse for sinning, and to make them a cloak for their iniquities. This was the case with the Jews of old. They said, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge; we are delivered to do all these abominations." But this must be highly criminal in the sight of God. Who
nothing to do with the heathenish and atheistical doctrine of fate. A denial of the divine decrees, in their true and scriptural sense, leads to fatalism and infidelity. But since the decrees of God, as revealed in the holy scriptures, afford no excuse for the wicked conduct of mankind, it is totally absurd and unreasonable to say, that they are in any way connected with Uni
can be innocent, when he urges the holy and wise purposes of God to justify himself in sin, and excuse his flagrant breaches of the divine law? Who can innocently rise up before God and say, The purposes, which you have formed from eternity, afford me a reasonable excuse for my transgressions?' Will sinners dare to risk this impious plea in the day of judgment? Will they risk the salvation or de-versalism. It is absolutely cerstruction of their own souls upon this groundless, vain and wicked excuse? It has been demonstrably proved, in a former essay, that sinners can draw no argument from the decrees of God to justify their conduct in the least possible degree. How vain, idle and blasphemous, then, must it be, for sinners to rise up before God and say, "We are delivered to do all these abominations!" It is against such persons, that God has denounced a dreadful woe and a bitter curse.
5. Since the decrees of God afford no excuse to mankind for their wicked conduct, no argument can be drawn from the doctrine of divine decrees in favour of universal salvation. Many persons, in order to cast a slur upon the doctrine before us, and bring the purposes of God into contempt, will cry out, "This is Universalism!" "This encourages licentiousness, and teaches that all mankind will finally be freed from the punishment due to their sins!" But this is a false and slanderous assertion. Universalists, in general, are violently opposed to the true doctrine of divine decrees; and they express their opposition in the most opprobrious terms. There are some, however, who hold to a kind of fatality, which neither they nor any one else can explain; and from this they pretend to infer the universal salvation of mankind. But the doctrine of divine decrees has
tain, that mankind are altogether criminal for their wicked conduct, notwithstanding the divine decrees; and consequently, it is as certain, that God will punish the incorrigible transgressor. If the decrees of God afforded any reasonable excuse to mankind for their wicked conduct, we might then reasonably infer the doctrine of universal salvation. But it appears from our subject, that the decrees of God afford not the least excuse for the least transgression. They cannot destroy the nature of sin; they cannot destroy, but absolutely confirm the free, moral agency of the creature; and they cannot remove the sentence of the divine law, nor the remorse of a guilty conscience. What inference, then, can be drawn in favour of Universalism? Those who assert, that the doctrine of decrees is Universalism, "know neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." It is a mere subterfuge, to get rid of the doctrine. It is a mere evasion of God's holy and eternal purposes. Besides, if the doctrine of divine decrees affords any ground for the doctrine of universal salvation; why should the openly profane and immoral, the infidel and sceptic, and the Universalist himself, be so violently opposed to it? The fact, the plain and demonstrable fact, that persons of this description are so constantly and violently opposed to the decrees of God, is a strong and
incontrovertible evidence in favour of the doctrine, and that it is directly opposed to Universalism.
6. Since the decrees of God afford no excuse for the wicked conduct of mankind; it is highly impious, as well as impertinent, for any to say, in view of this doctrine, If we are to be saved, we shall be, do what we may; or if we are to be damned, we shall be, do what we can. This is altogether a misrepresentation of the doctrine before us. It is a perversion of the word of God, and a perversion too, of which common sense, ought to be ashamed. Was it not decreed, that Christ should suffer and make an atonement for sin? Was not this foretold and promised, four thousand years before he appeared in the flesh? Why then, might not the Divine Redeemer have said, If I am to make an atonement for sin, I shall, whether I appear in the world or not? Such an assertion is as absurd as it would be for me to say, If I am to finish this essay, I shall finish it, whether I write any more or not. That is, if I am to finish it, I shall, whether I finish it or not. But is not such language ridiculous? Is it the dictate of common sense? Who of my readers will assert, in such language as this, If it is decreed that I shall read this essay, I shall read it, even though I throw it aside and never again look into it? That is to say, If it is decreed that I shall read this essay, I shall, whether I read it or not. So you might argue with respect to your fields and labour. You might say, If I am to have a harvest of wheat, I shall have it; though no seed should ever be applied to the ground. But who would thus pervert plain common sense, in temporal affairs? Who, when his dwelling is on fire, will lie down in his chamber, and say, If it is decreed that I shall be saved from the
flames, I shall be, do what I may; and if it is decreed that I shall be burned to death, I shall be, do what I can? Would any one thus act the part of a madman? How then will any one presume to say, in view of eternal things, "It is no matter what we do? if we are to be saved, we shall be, do what we may; or if we are to be damned, we shall be, do what we can?”After Paul had declared the purpose of God, that none of the ship's company, who sailed with him, should be lost, but that they should all escape safe to land; did he tell them that this should take place, let them do what they might? No. For when the ship-men were about to flee out of the ship, he said to the officers, "Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved.". So of sinners. Though the purposes of God are steadfast as his throne; yet let them be assured, that
whoever believeth, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned." The perversion of this doctrine is nothing
The apostles were slanderously reported, with respect to the same glorious and important truth. "As we be slanderously reported," says Paul, and as some affirm that we say, Let us do evil, that good may come. Whose damnation is just."
7. Since the divine decrees afford no excuse for the wicked conduct of mankind, the character of God may be vindicated in punishing impenitent sinners according to his decrees and according to their deserts. If the divine purposes afforded mankind any excuse for their wicked conduct, they might then be released from punishment on the ground of justice. But we find, in view of our subject, that the conduct of sinners is altogether criminal, and that they fulfil the decrees of God by "wick-. ed hands." Such is the declara