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to something independent or not hanging, and in itself sufficient to sustain the whole chain as that the lowest link exists. The lowest link we appositely conceive and perceive to be the works of God: the next link we perceive and conceive to be divine volition: the next link we conceive and perceive to be divine púrpose: the next link divine choice: and the next link, beyond which our eye cannot reach, we conceive to be things in conception possible to be chosen from. Now because we can see no further, shall we infer there is no further intervening link or links before the suspending staple? No: Imagination raises many questions, but reason says, We are finite intelligences, we must stop some where, nor is it ever within the reach of human capacity to explain ultimate causes, or show the last connection of any objects. It is sufficient, if the steps, so far as we go, are supported by experience and observation." The chain is evident by observation and by what we experiment in ourselves. By right reasoning, we know that it is fixed to an independent Being of essential understanding-affection-preference and dominion in respect of possible acts for choice of acting. But as we cannot see the intervening links between this self-sufficient being and his desiring, and actually chusing to act extraneously, we rationally rest, and improve what we actually know: Or in other words, aided by experience, I go back from the works of God to the will of God-from the will to the purpose-from the purpose to choice from the choice to objects in conception to chuse from. Here I must stop. From these G 3

I can

I can demonstrate the eternal existence of a personage of essential understanding,-essential love, essential preference, essential dominion, But how and why, desire arose and consequently choice arose, and arises in a Being with these essential perfections, I confess my inadequacy to say. I know it was and is, yet the why and how, I have not ability to explain; I can discover that these essential attributes are indispensable and essential to the existence of inclination, but am inadequate to discover the reason of divine inclination itself.

I finally remark, that, according with scrip tural representation, all the divine choices respecting our world, centre in, or are virtually involved in, our LORD JESUS CHRIST: the primary elect object:* the beginning and the ending the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature: the brightness of the Father's glory, and express image of his person, upholding all things by the word of his power: by and for whom all things were created, who is before all things, and in whom all things consist: and who is head of the body, the church-that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, according as it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell **-Concerning this glorious personage, the prophet affirmed that his goings forth have been from everlasting for ever of old; that is to say, commensurate with divine inclinations. The same adorable person the

Psalm lxxxix. 19. Isai. xlii. 1. Rev. i. 8. Col. i. 15. § Heb. i. 3. Col. i. 16, 17. Col. i. 18. 19. ˆ†† Mic, v. 9.

the intelligent Solomon called WISDOM, which the LORD possessed in the beginning of his way, before his works of old; who was set up from everlasting, from the beginning: who was brought forth before the earth was, before the mountains and hills were settled, and when there were no fountains abounding with water: who rejoiced in the habitable parts of his earth, by anticipation; and whose delights were with the sons of men.+ The same adorable object, the evangelist John denominated, the Word of Life, theWORD that was in the beginning with God, and which was God; for it seems strikingly evident that he penned the beginning of his gospel with special reference to the first chapter of Genesis, and accounted this mysterious being, the essential word by whom God created the world, by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made that was made: who he also called the Son of God,beloved Son, the Son of the Father in truth and love,-only begotten Son, or proper Son. This same glorious personage the apostle Paul denominated, Christ the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ seems called the word to mark the celerity of his creating work :-seems called wisdom because wisdom went essentially to the divine original choice; and because choice goeth to the essence of wisdom, before which, we have no evidence that wisdom could more than virtually exist; and seems called power, because power is essential to wisdom itself, and to every wise inclination, action, or causation. I shall

? Prov. viii, 1 Cor.i. 24.

I shall not attempt to discuss in this essay the scripture doctrine of trinity in the unity of GoD, or to examine the various hypotheses on the modes thereof; being of opinion that it is a mystery which philosophy cannot unravel, and which no man is called to explain before or after he commences personal religion and vital christianity; but shall only observe, that admitting there are three persons in one God, they are rightly conceived to have individually infinite intelligence and infinite love; consequently, that their preferences are co-incident, whilst the frequent application of the term counsel to divine wisdom respecting the divine inclinations in the sacred writings, naturally lead us to conceive of a plurality of persons, and of harmonious inclination, in every instance of its existence. Probably the creed called Athenasian, (setting aside its unwarrantable denunciations on theologians who hold it with shades of difference) is the flower of philosophical attempts to define the doctrine. As for facility of speech we frequently include men, women, and children, virtually, when speaking to, or of a man in the singular; let this reflection, joined with scripture example, be my apology for doing similar in what I have written, or may write respecting the Deity; that is, for my speaking to, or of God the Father in the singular, as virtually involving the Son and Holy Spirit, who, it must be admitted, in some sense, takes priority.

To close this Section-All the divine inclinations, as being the inclinations of an infinitely perfect and self-sufficient being, must

be

be absolutely independent and self inclinations, that is which involve self-determinations. The liberty of God, like his ability and might, is infinite, and can only be bounded, even in our conception, by absurdity and contradiction to its own nature; and on the same ground, the divine agency must be free, and absolutely independent agency.

SECTION II.

Of the Objects of Divine Choice.

THE most general and sublime object of Divine Choice, of which we are favoured with any conception, is Causation. God is the efficient reason of every valuable existence, himself excepted; and doubtless there was opportunity for chusing whether to be a causer, or be exercised in another way or in other ways, of which we have no conception: His infinity of intelligence and self-sufficiency involve it. The next general objects of divine choice seem to be immediate agency, and mediate efficiency. And the next general class, still following nature, are the effects of his causation; namely, works of creation and works of Providence, as persons and things which have existed, do now exist, or will in futurity exist.

Creation is extended to all substantial existence, the Creator excepted; and also to all modes

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