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ing, and ruling mankind, add exuberant testimony to these great doctrines of natural religion.

Sincere Christians seem divided, as eminently concerns my Essay, into two classes. The one class are of opinion, that every man is endowed with self-sufficiency, adequate to render himself an object of divine approbation, in respect of conformity to the requirements of revealed religion. The other class hold fast an opinion, that God is partial to some persons as persons, and that this partiality is the reason of their exclusive election, redemption, calling, and perseverance to the end of life. What is the natural consequent of the first opinion but pride of one's own virtue, and unmercifulness in respect of the vices of other persons? And what is the natural consequent of the last opinion but enmity to God, and partiality of benevolence towards our fellow-creatures respecting their soul concerns?

The more consistent defenders of the opposing hypotheses, indefatigably assail the moderate man on each side, and expend on him, and on each other, all their shafts. What is their better work? An edifice of doctrine is raised on either hand: but as these edifices advance in magnitude, symmetry, and elegance, the inadequacy of their foundations becomes more and more apparent: and I apprehend, the growing consistency of their respective speculations may be of use; for a superstructure raised on a bad foundation, as it improves in magnitude, symmetry, and elegance, discovers proportionably to all attentive surveyors, but B 3

the

the prejudiced builders, the inadequacy and deformity of its basis.

For my own satisfaction, I have assiduously examined the foundations on which the sufficient self system, and partial God system are built respecting the former, as I was ever a firm necessitarian, mere hypothesis glared as its foundation: but as to the latter, I was not a little surprised to find that this also leans with its whole weight on mere hypothesis; an hypothesis which seems incapable of any collateral aid.

The scripture doctrines of divine election, atonement for sin, and of regeneration, seem to have been the most embarrassed with unfounded inventions which are inconsistent with the foregoing evident doctrines; they consequently need impartial review, for where there is inconsistency between the objects of our supposed knowledge, there is also untruth. Error alone shuns investigation, truth courts free examination.

O Lord, be pleased to save theologians on the one hand from a fantastical affectation of new discoveries in the Philosophy of Christianity, and on the other hand from reposing in hitherto attainments, from an unfounded opinion, they know all that is knowable in the present state, in which we see merely in part and know merely in part: but after the example of St. Paul, not as though they had already attained, either were already perfect; may thy servants follow after; if they may apprehend that for which themselves are apprehended of Christ Jesus.

We

We proceed to consider some of the more remarkable scripture Truths, which seem affected by the former positions on Power and on Human Preference: I will endeavour to reduce what I have to advance to the headsDivine Power, Preference, and InclinationHuman Sin, and the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ-Gospel Regeneration—and a future State of Retribution.-We now attend to the former of these.

Fountain of Truth! Dispel those mere shadows of thee, which distort and tarnish thy illustrious perfections. O teach us knowledge of thyself, and of thy testimonies!

PART THE SECOND.

Of POWER, PREFERENCE, and INCLINATION, as attributed to GOD.

THE Holy Scriptures inform us, God made

man after or according to his own image; not his form or shape, as some have fancied; for both male and female are alike after his image: And the same testimony assures us that GoD is a Spirit: We conclude that the MIND and AGENCY of man is a resemblance of God's.However defective our knowledge of God must necessarily be, yet we ought not to desist from endeavouring to know God, since our knowledge admits of progression. As a wise Father remarks with complacency the efforts of his

young

young Son to comprehend something of his maturated appearance and advanced intellect, or to prattle concerning them; so, no doubt, our humble efforts to acquaint ourselves with God, and to speak of him in our own way, are very far from being displeasing to our heavenly Father.

SECTION I.

Of the Nature of Divine Power, Preference, Inclination, Choice, Purpose, and Will.

POWER, or direct necessity, I consider as the primary Attribute of the Deity, in order of nature; for, if the Power attributed to God be infinite, in the highest sense of infinite, it involves all possible valuables and excellencies. Wherever there is actual being or abiding of what is valuable or excellent, we are, I think, intuitively certain there is power in that respect. If God is perfect in any excellence, he must be infinite in power in that respect. If God is perfect in all kinds of excellence, he must be infinite in power in all respects. Power, in an exclusive sense, must belong unto God: for infinite power is essentially connected or united with the being and abiding of unlimited excellency, as indispensably as with his wonderful working.

Power in an exclusive sense is rightly applied

to

to every essential attribute of Deity, itself excepted. All the Perfections of an infinite Being must not only be infinite, but in this respect, be infinitely connected. The essential Perfections of Deity are like a chain, touch one link, and you affect all. If God was not infinite in Self-sufficiency or independence, he would not be infinite in Power. If God was not infinite in Presence, he would not be infinite in Power.-If not infinite in Duration, he would not be infinite in Power.-If not infinite in Intelligence, he would not be infinite in Power: If not infinite in Love, he would not be infinite in Power:-If not infinite in Preference of thing to thing, according to their excellence as objects of conception, he would not be infinite in Power:-If not infinite in Might, he would not be infinite in Power :-And if not infinite in Liberty, he would not be infinite in Power. Again, if God was not infinite in Power in respect of self-sufficience, he is not self-sufficient:-If not of infinite Power in respect of presence, he is not infinitely present: -If not infinite in Power in respect of duration, he is not eternal:-If not of infinite Power in respect of intelligence, he is not infinite in understanding:-If not of infinite Power in respect of love, his love is limited :-If not of infinite Power in respect of preferring object to object according to their nature as valuable, he is limited in his preference :-If not of infinite Power in respect of might, he is not almighty-And, if not of infinite Power in respect of opportunity, his liberty is limited.

Confusion of thought on this necessary connection of the divine essential attributes, has

caused

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