網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[ocr errors]

actions of life. Hence there is the same propriety in exhorting them to eat, and drink, and do every thing to the glory of God, as there is in exhorting them to do any thing at all. And hence too that whole sys. tem' of unregenerate duties, which has been built on the principle, that sinners are passive in regeneration, and of course are under an ethico-physical inability to do any thing in a holy and gracious manner, apa pears to be without the least foundation in Scripture, or reason.

INFERENCE 9.--Since God works in all mankind both to will and to do, there appears no reasonable objection against the doctrine of divine decrees. If God be a perfectly wise agent, he must determine all his own conduct. But he cannot determine all his own conduct without determining how he will work in us both to will and to do; and by determining this, he must necessarily determine how we shall will and do through every period of our existence. It is just as certain, therefore, that God determines all our actions, as that he determines all his own. But the divine decrees, so long as they lie in the divine mind unexecuted, have no more influence upon us, than they had before we existed. And when they actually reach us, or when God actually fulfils them upon us; he only works in us both to will and to do, agreeably to his eternal purpose; which operation we have seen is entirely consistent with our own free agency. Nor do the decrees of God subject us to the least disadvantage, with respect to time or eternity. For since God works in us both to will and to do, it absolutely depends upon his determination, whether we shall be holy and happy, or sinful and miserable, in this life and in that which is to come. And if all this de pends upon his determination, it is of no consequence

to us, when he determines our characters and conditions, whether in time or eternity; because we know from the perfection of his nature, that his determination must be precisely the same, whether formed be. fore, or since he brought us into existence. In a word, if there be no objection against God's working in us both to will and to do, there can be none against his decreeing from eternity to work in us both to will and to do. His decrees have no influence upon us until they reach us, and when they do reach us, they reach us by that divine agency, which coincides with all the liberty we are capable of exercising, or even of conceiving.

INFERENCE 10.-It appears from God's working in all men both to will and to do, that he governs the moral, as well as the natural, world. This is denied by many, who believe in divine providence. Though they acknowledge, that God has a controlling influ. ence over all the material and animal creation; yet they suppose, that it is out of his power, to govern the free and voluntary actions of moral agents. But if he works in all men both to will and to do of his good pleasure; then he governs the moral, as well as the natural, world, and both by a positive agency, and not a bare permission. It is impossible for the Deity to govern any of his creatures or works, by permission; because his permission would be nothing short of annihilation. A prince may exercise permission towards his subjects, because they are able to act, without his support or assistance; but God cannot exercise per. mission towards his reasonable creatures, because they cannot act, without his working in them both to will and to do. The Deity, therefore, is so far from permilting moral agents to act independently of himself; that, on the other hand, he puts forth a positive influ,

1

ence to make them act, in every instance of their conduct, just as he pleases. He bends all the moral, as well as all the natural world to his own views; and makes all his creatures, as well as all his works, answer the ends for which they were created. Hence this will forever remain a just definition of his Providence; “His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions."

INFERENCE 11.--If sinners are able to act freely, while they are acted upon by the Deity; then they have no manner of excuse, for neglecting to obey any of his commands. They all acknowledge, that they have no excuse, for neglecting to obey any divine command, which they are able to obey; and that they should be able to obey all the divine commands, were it not for their dependence upon divine influence, in all their moral exercises: so that finally all their excuses centre and terminate in their absolute dependence upon God. If, therefore, this shelter fails them, all their excuses vanish, and every divine command lies upon them in its full force and obligation. But we have shown, that their dependence affords them no protection, because it is not the ground of their inability. They can act as freely, as if they were not dependent; and they are as able to obey the divine commands, as if they could act of themselves. They can love God, repent of sin, believe in Christ, and perform every religious duty, as well as they can think, or speak, or walk. They have no cloak for the least sin, whether internal or external. And if they are ever brought under conviction by the divine Spirit, their excuses will all forsake them, and their consciences will condemn them for impenitence, unbelief, and hardness of heart, as much as for any other sins, in the course of their lives. Their mouths will be stopped, and they will stand speechless

and self-condemned before God. They will feel, that their inability is a crime, and not a calamity. They will feel, that they have been free and voluntary in all their disobedience, and therefore deserve God's wrath and curse, both in this life and in that which is to come. Such are the views and feelings, which sinners must have sooner or later, if they ever embrace the gospel and secure the salvation of their souls. Let them, therefore, immediately give up all their excuses, which cannot stand before the bar of God, nor even before the bar of their own enlightened consciences. Let them no longer cast the blame of their sins upon God, but take it to themselves, and repent in dust and ashes. God now commandeth all men every where to repent; and except they do repent, they must unavoidably and eternally perish.

INFERENCE 12.Jf God works in saints both to will and to do in all their gracious exercises; then they ought to be clothed with humility, and walk softly before him. “Who hath made them to differ? and what have they that they have not received?” All their fu. ture exercises are under the divine influence, without which they can do nothing. Let them always ac. knowledge God in all their ways, that he may direct their paths. Let them watch and pray without ceasing, and work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. Renouncing all self-dependence, and remembering Noah, Lot, David, Peter, and themselves, let them trust in God alone, who is able to keep them from falling, and to present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. Amen.

SERMON XI.

LOVE THE ESSENCE OP OBEDIENCE.

ROMANS xiii, 10.
Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

IT appears from the words to which this passage refers, that the Apostle is here speaking, not of the ceremonial law, which ceased at the death of Christ; but of the moral law, which still remains in its full force and obligation. This law, which is founded in the nature of things, and which is level to every capacity, has been very generally misunderstood and perverted. The Scribes and Pharisees, and even Paul himself before his conversion, totally misapprehended its proper meaning. Nor is it much better understood now, than formerly. This, however, is very easy to be accounted for. Those, who are unwilling to do their duty, are always unwilling to become acquainted with it. An undutiful child is disposed to misunderstand his father's commands; an unfaithful servant is apt to mistake his master's orders; a rebellious subject is

prone to misconstrue the laws of the state; and the same spirit of disobedience inclines all classes of sinners to misunderstand the first and fundamental rule of duty. But a clear knowledge of the nature and extent of the law of love seems to be very necessary, in order to understand the doctrines and duties of the gospel, and to reconcile them with each other. It is a matter of real importance, therefore, to set the declar. ation in the text in a clear and consistent light. And in order to this, it is proposed,

« 上一頁繼續 »