Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

position being inconsistent with the perfection of Divine nature. Lastly, that ruling being essentially of chusing beings, and consequently with previous chance of obedience and disobedience, it follows that future rectoral, or merciful interpositions of God, can be but hypothetically planned or purposed.These things premised;

I think God graciously gave to Adam this positive restriction, because of its tendency to continue his obedience, and to enforce greater obedience to the law of nature, or moral law, especially to that part of it which ariseth from man's relation to God. For first, it was consonant with the honour of God, having made man lord of the world, to assert his own sovereign dominion over man himself by a visible or sensible sign, which also tended to man's safety as a visible testimony, that he must hold all his present enjoyments of his Creator as his great sovereign; and that while he saw himself lord of the creatures, he might not forget to reverence God as a subject. And secondly, This restriction was a testimony of his liability to a change of state, to be laid up in memory for his greater caution. The prohibited tree was also an evidence of his freedom of choice in respect of evil, while the tree of life was a visible evidence of his freedom of choice respecting good. The following I conceive to have been more special designs of the Lord's commanding Adam.

1. To sensibly, and thus strikingly manifest his actually ruling human beings, and righteous assumption of authority, respecting their moral deport

ment.

2. Another end probably was, to sensibly, and thus strikingly manifest to ruled beings, the importance and interesting nature of conformity and of nonconformity to the preference, decrees, and laws of God however discovered.

3. To sensibly, and strikingly manifest the im

portance, and interesting nature of faith in, and unbelief of, the truths which God reveals to men; or that without faith it is impossible to please God.

4. In case of their persevering obedience, to assist their consciousness of God's approbation, and self-approbation.

5. In case of their persevering obedience, to be a sensible introduction to a higher conscious communion with God, as manifesting their assimulation in preference, choice, purpose, and will with God.

6. In case of persevering obedience, to be a sensible and striking manifestation of their filial temper, allegiance, and fidelity.

7. In case of their transgression, to render strikingly obvious, the Divine requirement of a rational and perpetual humility and self-abasement, from our first parents, and also from their posterity, generated under the degradation of a criminal and depraved ancestor.

8. Another intention of this special interposition, in case of their transgression, probably was, to lay a foundation in fact, for a deduction of reason in all generations, that justification unto eternal blessedness, cannot be attained by the assumed innocence of any man, or by endeavoured conformity to the Moral Law, notwithstanding its precepts have tendency to promote individual and social happiness.

9. Another end, on supposition of their fall, seems to have been, manifesting a foundation in fact, for the rational conclusion, that the good prepared for mankind, and actually enjoyed by human persons, did originate in the forbearance and mercy of God. When I contemplate the fall of man, and the Divine righteous threatening, I am inclined to account the procreation of a single descendant of Adam a mercy-food a mercy-raiment a mercy— instruction a mercy-in a word, every good enjoyed

a mercy.

10. I will add, another purpose probably was, to

lay a more sensible and striking ground, for rational and perpetual gratitude to God for the good we have enjoyed, do possess, or hope to attain.

Without enlarging on these, having considered the Law of Morals, and Law of Innocence, we lastly pay attention to the LAW of FAITH.

SECTION V.

Of Sin against the Gospel.

THE LAW OF FAITH. This great Law of God, manifested to our fallen parents, and now exhibited in the Holy Scriptures, differs from the former as originating from compassion, Divine compassion to the guilty: but like the law of innocence was given in a constitution form.

Faith may be considered in so large and general sense, as to be applied to our knowledge, that God is, and that he is a rewarder of all who diligently seek him, [Heb. 11. 6.] That the heavens and the earth were originally created by the word of God, [Heb. 11, 3,] and that God hath manifested the chief good of man by holy men speaking as induced by the Holy Ghost,-by his son the Lord from heaven, and now by the writings of the Old and New Testaments. In a word, faith may be taken so extensively as to embrace all its objects and subjects recapitulated from history by the writer to the Hebrews, the eleventh chapter; and also all facts relative to the triumphs of Divine faith since the apostolic age. But faith may be considered in a more special sense, and the subject before us, the law of faith, like the law of innocence consists in a

rewards, but answers of prayer. And consequents of neglecting prayer are not truly conceived punishments, but negative effects of the neglect.

Prayer is not a positive requirement, and for that reason a duty; but prayer is a duty which we owe ourselves, and an exercise to which God has given us the utmost encouragement in his Holy Scriptures; an exercise which all may consistently engage in, who believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of all who diligently seek him.-God hears prayers for temporal mercies,-has heard the prayers of sailors in jeopardy, noticed graciously when wicked Ahab humbled himself, and our Lord put the matter beyond all doubt by this erotesis, "If earthly parents know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more shall your heavenly, Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

That God hath connected human endeavour with his gracious concurrence, in respect of experimental Christian religion, seems fully evident from the following selection of scriptures.-Isa. i. 16-18. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." ch. xxx. 18. "Therefore will the Lord wait that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the LORD is a God of judgment; blessed are all they who wait for him.” ch. lv. 3. "Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear and your soul shall live." Ezek. xviii. 31, 32. "Make you a new heart, and a new spirit, for why will ye die? I have no pleasure in the death of him who dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn and live ye." Mark i. 15. "Repent ye and believe the gospel," John v. 40. "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." ch. vi. 44. "No man can come to me, except the Father who hath sent me

F

وو

draw him:-Every man-who hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me.' Acts iii. 19. "Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." 2 Cor. v. 20. "We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." ch. vi, 17, 18. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you; and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters saith the Lord almighty."

Comparing these and numerous other scriptures, I think we rightly infer,

That Divine concurrence respecting spiritual objects is graciously connected with human endeavour, even with that endeavour which rises no higher than mere wishes expressed in prayer, and humble endeavour to understand and practise from innocent motives.

That the Scriptures compose an obvious foundation for a deduction of reason in all generations, that any man under the gospel, and every man who is serious, may co-operate with God in respect of a gospel-good that courts his acceptance.

Lastly, That the gospel, and the glorious benefits it contains, are a stream of sovereign love and mercy constantly flowing towards perishing sinners, which would benefit the most undeserving, were it not for their criminal rejection of the proposed munificence. Or they are an emanation from the Father of lights, as the God of grace, shining upon a benighted world,- —an emanation that conveys righteousness and healing, that destroys the dominion of sin, enkindles holy love, and beatifies the soul; where there is not a sinful resistence to, or criminal nonconcurrence with their avowed design.

Thou, O Lord, hast, kindly encouraged us to seek thy face. Thou hast given assurance that if any

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »