صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

tive wickedness. If, in any given case, it would be right for a man to give a part of his substance to another person, it would be wrong for him to withhold it. All the reasons, that may be pleaded in justification of any action whatever, will go to disapprove and condemn the neglect of it. If it be right for God to make his own glory his highest and last end, in the government of the world; then, to suppose he governs for any other end, is, in effect, charging him foolishly, or taxing him with wrong.. It does not appear, that he is at liberty to seek any interest but his own; and that, if he were to do it, he would lose his right to the confidence of every creature. It being a clear case, that the glory of God is the best and most wor. thy object to be pursued, it becomes certain, that a God of rectitude will propose this as the end of all his counsels and works. Whatever he does, in eternity, or in time, will have this in view; and he will leave nothing undone, that can be of any use to accomplish this valuable purpose. The best plan, that God can devise and execute, to stamp excellence and lustre upon his kingdom, and to establish the honour of his own name, must be the one, which is actually put in practice by his almighty hand. To suppose otherwise, would be to say, either that God is not aiming at his own glory, or else, that he is incapable of obtaining the end he has in view. Either of which would be too impious and profane for any sober man. That God has

[ocr errors]

planned and will accomplish such a system of government, as will fill the universe with his praise, is evident from that view of the scriptures, which we have taken, since the present subject has been under examination. For this matchless, this unparalleled purpose, he has given being to the universe, as an immense whole, and to every individual crea ture, however magnificient, or minute. For this purpose, only, he regulates them in their place, and perpetuates them in their order. For this purpose variety is mixed with uniformity, pleasure accompanies pain, and a vast complication of events, baffling all the calculations of men, evinces a mysterious providence in the whole. As creation is the theatre, upon which God displays himself, so it furnishes the instruments, by which he carries on and completes the work of glori fying his own name. All sorts of creatures bear a part in this most important concern; though, in some, if not in all, instances, in a manner quite imperceptible, or inexplicable, to us. All intelligent creatures, from the highest to the lowest, have a sphere of influence allotted them.. All in one way, or another, are used as God's instruments to build up and adorn his own kingdom. Saints are chosen vessels, in one department, and sinners in another. Thus have we found the true ground of confidence in God, such as is absolutely necessary to a comfortable view of our relation to the supreme Being, as dependent creatures. We have found, that he

worketh all things after the counsel of his own will; that he counsels and seeks his own glory as the final end of government; and uses his creatures, as instruments in promoting it, and that this makes it safe for all creatures to put their. trust in him. Though this result of our inquiry appears to be in the most perfect agreement with reason and scripture; yet will not some be apt, with the perplexed and confounded Nichodemus, to cry out, "How can these things be?" It is well known, that every important bibledoctrine has met with objectors; and no one, perhaps, was ever more resolutely assailed, with a view to discredit it by the dif ficulties, with which it is attended, than that of man's dependence on God and subordi nation to him, as a mere instrument of his glory. A great many things have been suggested, and vehemently urged against this. doctrine, with a view to overthrow it, and to prove it cannot be consistent with certain other sentiments, which are allowed to be contained in the gospel. Whether these ob-jections are consistent with a humble submission to the authority of God, and that meekness in receiving the ingrafted word, which the apostle enjoins, I shall not stop here to inquire. And though I can see no possible way of giving a proper gloss to the bible,consistently with discarding the leading ideas, which I have been endeavouring to set before you, in that series of sermons, which is not yet closed; and though, upon any

other plan of doctrine, it seems to me we must lose our confidence in God entirely and for ever; yet, as objections are frequently offered, and that too with much zeal and spirit, and as I wish not to quit the present subject, without having given it a fair and thorough examination, as far as I am able to do it; I shall attend to some of the more common and considerable objections that are advanced against what I have been labouring to establish from the scriptures. If the ob jections, to which I shall attempt an answer, do actually seem to have weight with any of my hearers, I hope they will be enabled to give, at least, a candid ear to what may be proposed for their consideration, and that their attention will not be called to any thing captious or evasive. May it be our care to give every consideration all the weight it deserves. The present day's discourse I intend to devote entirely, to the examination of a single objection, of one which, as it is in the mouth of every objector to our doctrine, so it is conclusive against us, if it has that foundation in reason and truth, which the objector seems to suppose. It is this, viz. that if men are but the instruments of Providence, the instruments, by which God works and fulfils his own plan of govern ment, and, consequently, their actions are only the effect of a divine influence upon them, then their conduct is all necessary, which destroys their liberty and moral agency, and reduces them to the condition of

mere machines, which are incapable of ei ther praise or blame.

I know of no objection against that theory of human dependance,which I have been laying before you, of which more is made than of the present one. The idea seems to be confidently taken, as if it were too intuitively evident to need an argument for its support,that a creature, who has no exercises but such as are immediately wrought in him by the power of God, can be no more of a moral agent, and no more liable to be called to an account, than the clock, which moves only by virtue of those mechanical powers, on which all its operations depend. It is true, indeed, that men cannot be the instruments of Providence, as we have endeavoured to prove that they are, without being as dependent for every exertion they put forth, as is the machinery and motion of the clock. Every thought, purpose, and external action, must be the effect of the divine will, must be a workmanship of the divine hand; or it cannot be viewed in the light in which we have viewed it, viz. as the means, by which the supreme governor carries his own purposes into effect. And whatever is an effect of the divine will, or the product of almighty power, must, we confess, be necessary, as necessary as is the will of God, which causes it. This is no more than to say, that cause and effect are necessarily connected, or that there can be no cause without an effect, any more than there can be an effect without a

« السابقةمتابعة »